Running naked is like living without a budget

I ran 11 miles yesterday. Naked.

That probably got your attention. Actually, what I mean by “naked” is that I ran without my Garmin GPS watch, which will tell me my distance and pace. These watches are a great tool for almost any athlete. I’ve had mine for over a year now and it revolutionized my running because it gave me all sorts of great data that I could use to compare against different training runs.

I charged my watch the night before my run to make sure it was ready to go. But I went to turn it on as I was prepping to make my way out the front door, but nothing. No sign of life on the thing. Well, darn. I grabbed my ‘regular’ watch that would at least give me my overall time as a last resort.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to do a long run without my Garmin because I had a little epiphany about life and money. As I was on my run, the only data I had was the total time I had run. I didn’t have my GPS to tell me if I had started out too fast or if I was being too conservative with my pace. It was all based on feeling and I “hoped” that I was running at a consistent pace but there was always a question in my mind of whether I would run out of energy too soon, or not push myself enough and finish too slow. Sometimes it can be good to run ‘naked’ and not be tied to a watch but in this case I equate running “naked” with living life without a financial budget.

Think about it. You’re going along and make a few purchases at the beginning of the month. No biggie. Maybe a few more swipes of the debit or credit card a few days later. Go out for lunch. Then go out to dinner the same day. Maybe you only order an entrée instead of a drink to go with it. It still adds up. All the while, you’re running “naked”, not able to track how much is being spent or how much you’re allowed to spend, based on a budget.

I am still learning how to improve and simplify our budgeting process. I definitely made it too complicated in the beginning, and that wasn’t appetizing to Sarah. Oh, and I didn’t include her in the conversation. I just said “this is what we’re doing”. Where’s the teamwork in that? (Nowhere!)

Do you have a budget? What do you like or dislike about it?

No more minimums

We are in the process of paying off school loans. After all the consolidation was said and done after graduation, I ended up with 3 different loans. One private and one government subsidized loan, and then another private loan that was technically in my dad’s name, but we had an understanding that I would make the payments. (He bailed me out in my last year of school, as I had maxed out all the private money that I could get access to). I think the total balance after 3 years at Baylor was around $70,000.

Fast forward. Just the other day, we paid off the 2nd loan – 2nd in the order of smallest to largest, à la Dave Ramsey’s baby step #2 (the debt snowball). So now we’re only staring down the barrel of ONE Sallie Mae loan. This is exciting, all things considered.

So, we are looking at one more student loan at a current payoff balance of $30,500. Here’s the kicker: I have paid on this loan since about December 2004. The other day I logged in to my account because I was curious what the payoff balance was: $30,500. Then I looked at the original principal balance. To my dismay, it was $31,200. This means, that after paying 5 1/2 years of minimum payments (approx $350 – $450 over the years), the principal balance has only come down by $700. Bottom line: minimum payments suck! I looked at my payment history and the split between principal and interest, and the principal is finally outweighing the interest. We don’t plan to keep paying the minimum on this loan since it’s our last one. We are ready to attack this one with as much intensity as we can muster up. Here we go…

Do you have school loans? Do you have an estimated payoff date them?

Two (cars) become one

We are considering becoming a 1-car family. I say “family” even though it is just S and I now. We expect kids to come along in the not too distant future so we have to take little ones into consideration when discussing a decision like this.

Our “better” car is 13 years old – a 1997 Honda Accord with 185k miles. Our other car is a 1996 Toyota Camry with 135k miles. I am somewhat attached to the Accord since it was mine before marriage. Lately though, S has pointed out to me some signs that it is just getting old. S had the Camry and overall it is a good car, just needs a little TLC – like installing the replacement door handles that have sat on my shelf for over a year.

I had thought lately about what life would look like with only one car between the two of us. Now, the main reason that I was thinking this could work for us is because I work from home, and S only works three days/week. I rarely go anywhere during the day unless I am meeting friends for coffee/breakfast. All that to say, there are very few times where we are both out of the house separately.

For example, a friend in Waco works from home and his wife stays at home with their 4 kids. They only use one car because typically one of them has to stay at home with the kids. I’m sure there are times when she could take the kids and he would need to leave the house also, but I think this is rare and it can be planned for.

So I mentioned the idea to S on the way home one afternoon. To be honest, I tried to make it sound like a loose thought that was more of a passing one, than one I had actually put some valuable thought into. She took to the idea more than I expected. We have since been throwing around the idea and need to get some things in order so that we may list our cars on Craigslist – like tracking down titles and getting cars washed.

Here is the financial breakdown of what we’re thinking:

$3,500 – Accord
$2,500 – Camry
$1,000 – money sitting aside from stuff we sold
$3,000-ish – money we have saved up that we’d purposed for a car, just haven’t been sure how to take action

Approx $10,000 total. Now, since our lifestyle permits this flexibility of only having one car, we both believe that we could be happier with one solid car than 2 slightly solid cards. I feel quite confident that we could get a really good card that meets our needs for between $9k and 10k – like maybe a Prius 🙂 Oh, and we do not plan to go into debt for an updated car, or even for a 2nd car. It is not an option, if you were wondering.

In the event that I were to get a different job where I had to drive to an office, we would definitely need a 2nd car, but we have time to save for that. I don’t know what that savings plan would look like at this point, but I feel confident that it wouldn’t be anytime soon.

A few other hurdles that come to mind:

  • Less flexibility
  • Plan ahead when we are scheduled to be somewhere at conflicting times

Benefits:

  • Save on car insurance – put the money towards 2nd car
  • Save on (some) gas
  • Opportunity to strengthen marriage through communication and selflessness

What are your thoughts on being a 1-car family? Would your lifestyle allow it?