End of the year financial review for 2014

There is nothing like a year end review of your finances to give you a bit of a heart attack. This morning, I went through all my old budgets to calculate how much we’ve paid in debt and interest in 2014. It’s interesting to get an annual view, especially when you are making goals for 2015.

If you want to do your own review and don’t have budget sheets handy, just go back to you bank statements and add up all the payments you made to creditors. If you check your final statements for 2014, they should list how much you paid in interest to each of those creditors. Since we only had four debts left in 2014 and three of them are involved with our taxes, I needed to get those numbers anyway.

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Last year, I didn’t do a full debt roundup but I did calculate the amount of interest we paid in 2013: $6,990.

So how did we do in 2014?

In February, we paid off my car. Total paid on the car in 2014: $10955.80.

In June, we paid off my husband’s student loan. That month our total debt dropped below $100,000. Total paid on Jeff’s student loan in 2014: $21,433.32.

In July, we started hammering away at the home equity line. My goal is to have that paid off by the end of February. Total paid on the home equity line in 2014: $31,772.60.

If you include interest, we paid $71,352.98 on four debts. We paid $5,418.56 in interest. That means we paid off $65,934.42 in debt in 2014.

When I first looked at all of those numbers, I was a bit shocked. That’s a LOT of money. We also did some work around the house, had some significant car repairs, paid some vet bills for one of our cats, made some investments in our business, made our tax payments, and increased our savings a bit. We were able to do all that and still pay almost 52% of our take home pay in debt payments.

This also helped me confirm that we can pay off our remaining debt in 2105. Our current balance is $64,504.21. That consists of $15,649.97 on the home equity line and $48,854.24 in student loans. If we were able to make $71,352.98 in payments in 2014, we should be able to do that again in 2015 as long as I can find another teaching contract or find other ways to increase our income. We are already looking at the later just in case another teaching contract does not come through.

This has also made me start thinking of all the awesome things we will be able to do once we are debt free. We should be able to pay off the house in a few more years. We will be able to increase our retirement contributions and give more. We will also be able to start traveling again.

While these numbers gave me a few heart palpitations, they also gave me hope for the future.

Have you done a financial review for 2014? Have you made financial goals for 2015? 

Early morning rambles: Dirty Dishes, Debt Progress, Space Heaters, and why I love Amazon

With all my goal planning for 2015, I’m trying to get myself on a more regular schedule. This is difficult because as a college instructor my schedule is different each day. Still, I know I can do better. Today is the first day of doing better.

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Today, I woke up at 5:30 because this is the time I need to get up on my early days. This is often difficult on Wednesdays because I usually teach until almost 10pm on Tuesdays. Yup, Tuesday is my early day and my late day. Oh joy! But today, I did it. Now I wasn’t very productive for my first half hour. Actually, I wasn’t productive at all but that first half hour allowed me to get my bearings and do a bit of planning for the day.

The first think I noticed was a pile mountain of dishes. The reason we have so many dishes is because we have been eating at home a lot (frugal win!) and have been very busy working on projects to bring in extra money (yay money!). That leaves little time or concern for dishes until they are about to leap off the counter and attack you!2014-12-10 06.12.07 That was a very scary thing to see at 5:30 in the morning. First thing on my list: dishes. I started the dishes at 6:00. It didn’t take long and the after shot is much better.

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I also started some iced tea. Making iced tea saves us a tremendous amount of money. I always fill up my water bottle before leaving the house. My husband drinks black tea and I drink green tea. You can purchase large tea bags at Wal-Mart so you aren’t dealing with a ton of little bags. By 6:30, the dishes were done, tea was steeping, and I had coffee in my hand.

My next order of business was to get our finances updated. My husband gets paid biweekly on Wednesdays and today is pay day. I typically update our check register and budget on the days he gets paid. I entered all the transaction since the last time I updated the check register and added Jeff’s paycheck to the balance. I then added any bills that would come out of the account over the next two weeks.

Since most of our bills are due at the beginning of the month, I made a $2,000 debt payment on our debt snowball. This brought the balance on the home equity line to $19,460.02. I was doing a happy dance to see that balance drop below $20,000. In July, the balance was almost $47,000. I still have another $2,700 to pay toward the snowball before Christmas but that will happen next week when I get paid.

By 7:00, I was done with the personal finances. I took a few minutes to chat with an old friend who was also up and running fairly early. By 7:30, I was out of the shower and dressed for the morning portion of the day (A.K.A. jeans and a hoodie). I went back down to my office to get my company’s books updated since I deposited some checks yesterday. Instead of turning up the heat in the entire house, I used my space heater.

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I didn’t notice all that dust before I took the picture. It’s interesting what you see when you use a flash! I dusted it after I took the shot, but I wanted you to see how things really are around here. I am probably the world’s worst housekeeper. Oh well. The space heater saves me a ton of my gas bill and keeps my office nice and toasty. I just love it, dust and all.

We are still on budget for Christmas. I hate shopping so I’ve been doing most of mine on Amazon. I have picked up some great lightning deals and since I have been shopping early, I am also building up media credits. Amazon has an interesting offer for Prime members. If you are a Prime member, you get free two-day shipping. However, Amazon will give you a $1 media credit if you opt for slightly slower shipping. These credits can be used for books, music or movie rentals. I have built up a bunch of these credits and I’m still getting my packages in 2-3 days. Win-win!

It’s now 9:30. I feel like I have accomplished a lot this morning. I don’t need to leave for school until noon and my chores are already done. I’ll probably end up writing some more content for my other website, Accounting In Focus and work on my goals a bit more.

Do you feel more productive when you get things accomplished early in the day? What frugal things are you doing to stay on budget this month?