Erika's Story: How I halved my mortgage in just 10 months!
In 2013 my husband and I embarked on the adventure that is 'having a mortgage'. In 2014 we became new parents. Within 12 short months, our lives - and finances - had turned upside down!
After the birth of our daughter, we carried on spending the way we always had (as if we still had plenty of disposable income). Needless to say, that didn't work very well.
We continued to eat out a lot (we savoured this 'time out' more than ever!) and put most of our impulse buys and household bills on the credit card. This is what we'd always done... except this time we had no plan on how to ever pay it back. Every time we tried, We kept getting surprised by bills!
We thought we were spending responsibly, we were extravagant. But, suddenly we didn't have enough left over to cover regular bills.
We spent a good 12-15months in this cycle, just doing what we'd always done, but getting more and more stressed and overwhelmed. The word "drowning" popped into my head many times.
Something had to change.
There's an old saying, "acknowledging there is a problem is 80% of the work"... well, maybe it's a significant part, but it's not the solution. Not by a long shot. We knew something had to change. We simply had no idea how to do it.
I tried many many spreadsheets. Ones I had created myself and 50 or so templates downloaded from online.
I tried a few online programs that had good reviews. They just made me depressed. They allocated our income to every bill and we had nothing left!
If we have to live so strictly it's suffocating and by the end of it, we have nothing to show for it except up-to-date bills... well there isn't much motivation to be found there.
We found we were still overwhelmed (but this time it was because it looked like everything was a lost cause), we threw in the towel many times, and had a spending splurge in rebellion to the spending restrictions. Bottom line, we were actually getting worse, not better.
And we had goals!
We wanted to get ahead on our mortgage so we could move to a different school catchment area in a few years.
How was that ever going to happen?
What we needed was:
a way to map out where we need to be by the time our daughter moves from Kinder to School;
a way to map that back to today so we can get started on the road; and most importantly,
a third party to be accountable to
Instead of my husband or myself going on a spending splurge where the consequence is an argument between us, we needed to be on the same page. We're stronger together. We needed an outside person helping us with our plan, helping us through the surprises life throws at us (variable income, unexpected bills, etc), and someone else that's keeping an eye on our progress with us.
Someone that really enjoys this stuff and gets excited when we have wins, and gives support when we don't.
We almost found it!
In my online searching, I found a program by David Wright (click here to see David's bio) which helped us with the first two dot points.
So, we got started! We used the program to firstly do an audit on our finances. Wow. Talk about an eye-opener. It wasn't that we didn't realise how much money we were spending on things (we knew our coffee habit was wasted - but delicious - money). It was the proportions. From memory we were spending something in the vicinity of 40% of our income on desirables, rather than necessities.
No wonder we couldn't contribute any extra to the mortgage. And an education fund? Forget it.
Once we had the information on where we were, we utilised the most important and valuable part of this program over all others -- we rolled the plan forward several years to see how much extra we needed to put onto the mortgage each fortnight to be at least 10 years ahead in 3 years time.
Would you believe it... it was actually possible!
We got started. We followed the plan.
Then life happened.