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"so tempted to suggest other things."

Thanks ThyPeace. When you have time, will you divulge? I'm always looking for ways to better our situation. The more items I cross off of the "to do" list, the greater the need for fresh ideas to to reinvigorate!
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We are only doing what is necessary to prevent more expensive problems, and we continue to kick a lot of other deferred maintenance issues down the line. Stuff like this isn't in the budget. It should be. Most repairs and maint are foreseeable and should be planned for, but I haven't figured out how to budget money that I don't have, so there is a fail.

While you are in paydown mode, doing only what is necessary to prevent further issues is a good step. If you can't find something like a side hustle or selling something to pay for it, then dip into your emergency fund, and, if you need more, slow your paydown by just paying the minimums on the rest of your debt. Do whatever you can to not add to your debt if at all possible.

Once you get most/all of the debt paid off, I would suggest putting a 'home repair/maintenance' category in your budget. Typically, something around 1% of the value of your home per year should take care of most things. If you know you're going to need something large, like a new roof or a new HVAC, sooner than your fund will get up to that level, then you will need to bump the amount up at least initially. You should also have categories to pay for things like car repairs/maintenance (new tires are not an emergency) and things that occur periodically, like driver's license renewals, or car registration.

If you want to pay for improvements or updates, like a new kitchen or adding a deck, then you need to put an 'improvement/update' fund into your budget, and save for that, so you won't need to take out debt.

In the win column, I made a bit over $2k at the side hustle. I wish I could reproduce that on a monthly basis but that isn't the case yet. I should be able to do so down the road, but not during the full-time-job stage of life. Still, it was good to offset the home repairs this month and stay on track. Our debt is smaller this month, not larger.

Good job on that!

AJ
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"Do whatever you can to not add to your debt if at all possible."

Every single day-week-month!
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Every single day-week-month!

Exactly. Just keep going. This approach, along with the discipline you are continuing to show, is an excellent sign for you and your family. Indeed, the fact that you are able to continue in the face of the largest catastrophe (and all the accompanying craziness) we have seen in our lifetimes, is even more remarkable.

Keep it up!

ThyPeace, so tempted to suggest other things. But that would be a distraction from what you are doing so well, and one reason you are doing it well is because you are focused on Doing One Thing Well. So just keep doing it.
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The biggest news of the month is our daughter's graduation from HS. We were incredibly blessed to find out this week that she received a full four year scholarship to an in-state university. She finished HS, received news of the scholarship, and got a job at Home Depot all in the same week.

Congratulations all around!

- HCF
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Mazel Tov!

Fuskie
Who wonders if he'll find her in Tools, Plumbing, Paint or the Garden Center...

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"so tempted to suggest other things."

Thanks ThyPeace. When you have time, will you divulge? I'm always looking for ways to better our situation. The more items I cross off of the "to do" list, the greater the need for fresh ideas to to reinvigorate!
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When you have time, will you divulge? I'm always looking for ways to better our situation.<\i>

Financially, I would say you are heading toward solid ground. You just need to keep going. When you get there, if you continue to be financially prudent, you will build your net worth substantially and eventually end up with a nice nest egg.

Similar bootstrap approaches apply in other areas of life. It reminds me because my financial problems were part of a larger problem. For me, my financial problems came from an ugly breakup, one that still costs me in both financial and emotional pain 17 years later.* Getting myself financially fit was only one piece of rebuilding from the ashes.

I built an ethical framework reading things like _Ethics for a New Millennium_. I learned all that I could absorb about healthy relationships (David Schnarch’s _Passionate Marriage and Steven Stosny’s work on compassion were most useful to me). I tried a dozen times to lose the weight I’d gained, and finally had to learn that my weight is directly controllable by controlling the stress in my life first and then making incremental sustainable changes in eating habits (very similar to debt payoff, except that I could pay off my debts when buried in stress and could not lose weight in that situation).

I’ve finally re-learned exercise and fitness. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can take classes to better myself. All part of a constant effort to improve.

So when I think of where you are on your journey, I see all the things that can grow out of constant, steady effort to better oneself. But it’s one thing at a time —- this year has been a lesson in what happens when I take too much on. A significant amount of it doesn’t happen, and that has been a frustration. In this, the quarantine has been a benefit to me, because I have more time to focus and somewhat less to focus on. Quality improves that way. So I don’t want you to lose focus on your most immediate issue. Take care of that, then focus on the next thing on the pile.

ThyPeace, incrementalist most of the time.

*This may sound as if it’s all someone else’s fault. It’s not. I take full responsibility for the destruction. Though the ending was probably inevitable, if I had been wiser, calmer, and more compassionate, then ensuing damage would have been reduced.
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