Thursday, August 26, 2010

Livin' Like No One Else!!! Debt from my POV

Okay. So this is the first post I've done so I'll start by letting all you curious readers a little about myself. Born a few years ago to two caring parents, the first of three; not three caring parents, but siblings. Spent the first 18 years of my life in Monroe, GA, about 20 minutes from Athens, GA, home of the horrific Georgia Bulldogs (and yes "dogs" is spelled d-o-g-s, not d-a-w-g-s) and about an hour from Atlanta. Grew up as an outside kid who never really watched TV but always looked for the nearest tree to climb, trail to explore, or pinecomb to throw at someone. I grew up playing baseball and was sure I was destined to be a major leaguer with the Chicago Cubs, a dream I have not given up on, by the way. Played sports all of those 18 years and had some scholarship offer to play baseball at some smaller schools. That's when pride stepped in and said "you are too good to play at anything less than a Division I school." I forgot to mention that I was planning on going to the Naval Academy out of high school, to play baseball. Short story is I didnt get in. Oh well. Back to pride. Grew up a Georgia Tech fan, not because I had influence from family members, who were all UGA fans, but because I knew that I wanted to be called "Boss" from UGA graduates. So I decided to go to GT, where I spent 3.5 years bouncing around from major to major (Architecture->Aerospace Engineering (2 weeks)

->Management ->Biology (thought maybe I'd be a doctor) ->Earth & Atmospheric Sciences). Let me say a little about the latter major. The movie "Twister" came out in 1996 and I thought/think it was/is an awesome movie. Weather was awesome, especially severe weather. GT didn't have a Meteorology program and EAS was the closest they had. However, after a year in that curriculum I was unimpressed and uninspired. I decided to transfer. So in the Spring Semester of 1998 I enrolled in the University of Oklahoma Meteorology program, one of the best in the country, I might add. Spent 2.5 years there (yep, total time adds up to 6 years) and graduated May of 2000 with a B.S. in Meteorology, minor in Hydrology. Okay, since I'm getting tired of typing, I'll shorten this. Moved back to GA, got a job teaching 7th grade math in Griffin, GA, hated it, and quit 7 months later, afterwhich I was accepted to the the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC). Went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL in April of 2001, got commissioned as a United States Navy Ensign, and moved to Charleston, SC in August of 2001. Dana and I met through a mutual friend, thanks Arynn, and as Dana has so eloquently put it in the blog title, got engaged and then married. The rest Ill save for those who have any questions.

So, let's talk about debt since this is the reason I'm posting. As you can imagine 6 years of college is not cheap. Let's just say it was a little more than Dana's one year of grad school. In any event, it was all paid for by Mr. Stafford, as in Stafford Loans. Teaching wasnt exactly bringing in the dough, so when the Navy said they would give me $12k, I was sold. I never really had had a high paying job so when I got this bonus and was receiving Ensign pay, I thought I was rich. Got the car I wanted (Explorer previously mentioned in Dana's post) and spent money as I wanted, although I had never really been a freewheeling spender.  I never really thought much about debt until the time arose where I was posed with the idea of having one car and getting rid of the only car I had really wanted/enjoyed or drive 2 cars, one of which you never want your friends to see you drive.  Thankfully I had a loving, smart wife who made me realize that we have a future to think about.  We needed two cars and not one sweet SportTrac.  In the long run, it was the right decision.  I drove 14 hours to trade in the SportTrac for a car I had never even seen.  Even though I had to live with the Champagne Beige Pontiac Grand Am for a little while, it allowed us to use the money I was making more effectively.  The point. Sometimes it is more important to drive a grandma car for a while to make life better later.  Fast forwarding, I have had the fortunate opportunity to serve my country but at the same time live a humble life and pay off everything that Dana and I share (with the exception of our house).  There are times when I asked myself, and Dana, "why cant I just enjoy life right now with the money that we have?", cause lets face it; it is tempting to just spend when you get the first pocketful of dough.  I didnt want to be an old man when I could finally enjoy life, right?  Well, the wisdom that Dana has has let me see the light.  We have sacrificed little and gained a lot.  We have put money into IRA's and into savings (not without a fight from me, of course) and still able to live a good life.  I'll end this diatribe with this.  I was hard-nosed and fought Dana every step of the way but let me tell you this.  It feels awesome to be out of debt and wouldnt change anything about it.

On a different note, isnt my kid cute?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Livin' Like No One Else!!!!! In the beginning...

It's finally happened...8 years in the making...plenty of ups & downs & falling off the debt wagon along the way...

WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! except for the house, which is A-OK in the world of Dave Ramsey and our family!

I am so excited and so relieved that this has finally happened and I'd like to share our journey.  Hopefully, it can be an inspiration to others who are saddled with debt, big or small.  I can be a bit long-winded, so I'm going to split this up into installments.


When Chris & I met, he was a brand new JO in the Navy and I was working 50+ hours a week just to gross a whopping $14.500/year.  Both of us had school loans & a car loan apiece and Chris had some credit card debt leftover from his college days.  I won't go into detail about Chris's portion (he can feel free to talk about his on his own), but we split the total debt of just under $100,000 pretty evenly.

My school loans totaled a little over $30,000 and my car loan at that time was about $13,000.  Because I made next to nothing in income, my loans were in deferment building up interest all along the way.  Some of you know that I went to a small, private college for my undergraduate degree - well, I left Wesleyan without any debt.  My school loans were for graduate school where I took out the living allowance.  I mean, they offered it so I might as well take it, you know?  2 semesters later, I had a B+ in my sole completed course to show for it.  $30,000+ for ONE class.  Can you say, "stupid tax with zeros behind it?"

We moved to upstate New York for Chris to complete some Nuke training with the Navy a month after we got married.  I got a job at a local daycare.   Needless to say, it didn't take long for us to realize we were barely scraping by.  I pretty much have a pathological fear of being broke and I could see us heading there rapidly.  The very first step to debt freedom came out of basic necessity.  We could barely afford our car payments.  We had to make a decision:  keep Chris's nice, new Explorer SportTrac and sell my car OR sell his Explorer and buy a less expensive, more gas-efficient car.  Chris's favorite (hahahahaha) car entered our lives at this point - his champagne beige Pontiac Grand-Am.  The granny-mobile (no offense to grannies, but Chris was mortified to have to drive this vehicle) became a VERY motivating factor for Chris to get out of debt.

At this point, thanks to the vehicle changes, we were making enough to live on and we were living cheaply, but we were not yet making the necessary decisions & sacrifices to actually get us out of debt.  We had merely stabilized our situation, so at least things were no longer getting worse.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Klaw vs Oat Cereal

 I hope this works...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Latest on Klaw!

Okay...I've been waiting to cover Klaw's latest & greatest doctor appointments until I had as much information as possible.

I'll start with the easy stuff:  He is just over 16lbs and just over 25".  He is growing exactly like he should be and everyone from his pediatrician to the geneticist are very happy with his growth and development.  So far, he seems to be a little ahead of average on the development chart...much to my dismay.  I am not ready for a mobile Klaw.  However, Chris & I are both overachievers, so I guess it's understandable.  He started having some issues with reflux, so he's been getting a little rice cereal added to his Monogen at every meal. Thankfully, this was enough to help him out and we haven't had to move on to medicine.  He still has to eat at least every four hours, so I am feeding him on demand throughout the day and then setting my alarm for every 4 hours at night.  Once he hits the 5 month point, we should be able to go 5 hours between feedings.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I am looking forward to that extra hour at night.

Our pediatrician wants us to start introducing Klaw to slightly thicker rice cereal with a spoon...Klaw just wants to rip the spoon out of my hand, kick the bowl over & gag himself.

Okay, now for the more technical stuff:  Klaw's biochemical workup was great.  His c14 levels are...are you ready for this?...NORMAL!!!!  YES!!!  NORMAL!!!  His l-carnitine levels are also right at the normal level.  This is music to my ears because this is basically confirmation that the formula & pantothenic acid supplement are working.

We also sent his blood off for a DNA workup.  He has the V283A mutation, which has been reported fact, he has a double copy of it, which means he got the SAME mutation from both Chris & me.  Naturally, I asked the genetics counselor if this meant we were related and she assured me that it did not mean that we were secretly first cousins but that somewhere in our background, we most likely share similar ethnic ancestry (not necessarily relatives...I asked again!!!).  They found another variation that has not been reported before and they do not believe it will bear any clinical significance (fingers crossed).  Our next appointment is in October and they will be able to let us know if there are any clinical symptoms that correlate with V283A at that time.

Now, for everyone who knows me...I can't wait until October.  I really can't wait knowing that I have the full power of Dr. Google with me!  So, I did a little searching and from my not-so-scientific research, it looks like this particular mutation is fairly common in ASYMPTOMATIC patients.  It's not always asymptomatic and his secondary variation could definitely be a factor, but how often do you find potentially good news doing a google search regarding something medical???

And since he's so freaking cute...
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