I think I will start by laying out where we are right now. Then I'll talk about what our goals are for the next year. And then I'll probably talk about some of the things I'm thinking about doing to get us there.
Right now we have $1,000 in savings, $11,500 in credit card debt, ~$10,000 in unsecured debt, $8,600 in a car loan, and ~$18,000 in student loans. Ay yi yi.
So our biggest goal for the next year is to buy a house. I know, it sounds crazy right? But we want to get out of the house we're currently in, there aren't many nice rentals in this town, and housing prices here are really low so we'd probably pay less in a mortgage than we would in rent (especially considering how hard it is to find a place that takes dogs.) With Michael being in the Army we'll be able to get a VA loan, which means we'll only need a few thousand dollars for the VA funding fee and a few miscellaneous expenses. Thanks to refundable credits, we'll be getting about $4,000-$5,000 in our tax refund early next year. That should be enough for us to buy a house and throw a little in to pad our savings.
If we own a house, I'm not comfortable having only $1,000 in our savings account, so right now I'm shifting focus from tackling our debt to building up our savings. Our biggest area that can be improved is food. I've been making an effort to eat out much less, and have actually been pretty successful. One big thing I need to work on is meal planning, I still haven't really gotten into it. I'm going to sign up for WIC soon, because we definitely qualify. That should definitely help our grocery bill. I also recently learned about the SHARE program, where this group buys food in bulk and sells packages of it at the discounted rate, and all they ask you to do is volunteer two hours of your time anywhere, doing anything! Another thing I'm contemplating is couponing. I did some reading about it last night, and being a stay at home mom, I really do think I have the time to coupon. I'm thinking of getting rid of cable, or at least downgrading to basic cable. I've already cut our Christmas budget almost in half. I've also start cloth diapering Matilda with diapers I had bought when McKaleigh and Adelaide were younger. I'm thinking we'll be able to double our savings by the time our tax refund gets here.
I'm going to be going through every area of our lives, trying to figure out how to pinch those pennies! I think home ownership is the motivation I've been needing to really get serious about our finances.