Usually, December is a hard month in which to really "pay down" debt. With Christmas shopping (which, for us, includes driving = $ for gas) and the electric bill starting to rise, this just usually isn't a very fun month.
But December 2007 will go down as a great one in the Faughn house!
We budgeted for Christmas throughout the year and are going to be right at the budget. We still have a couple more gifts to purchase, but we still have money left, too. So that came in right on schedule. Our family helped very much. We all set a limit (that was equal for everyone) on what we would spend on Christmas presents. We set a limit where we could get each person something he/she wanted, without feeling the pressure to buy anything huge. It took some savvy shopping, and some online work, but we met that goal.
Also, our electric bill (for November; paid in early December) was low for this time of year. We have been staying around 50 degrees and have actually been up in the 70s for a few days in late November, so our heater didn't have to run all that much. Also, when we went out of town for Thanksgiving, we turned the unit way down, so it would hardly run. While our water bill was a bit high, it was more than covered by the lower electric bill.
We have had two negatives this month, though. First, we have had to travel a bit more than expected, so we are going to barely make our gasoline budget (if we make it). Gas prices have come down just a bit, which is helping, but we are still paying quite a bit (about $2.85 on average). Also, our DirecTV bill had a mistake on it and the mistake was ours. We had been paying it, but we had been unintentionally late a couple of times. We just did not realize that our payment was due on the 1st of the month, and we had been waiting until the 2nd week of the month, because we pay all our bills out of that one paycheck. We had to pay the extra money, but we also had DirecTV move our "due" date back so we can continue paying without the late charge. We also went ahead and paid January's bill early.
Now, for the big "upside" factor. For the past 3 months, I have been teaching a class for Faulkner University, one night each week, on the Book of Acts. I finished last week and quickly graded all papers and sent in the necessary paperwork on the night of the final. I was hoping to get my paycheck before Christmas (kind of a "special" holiday treat). They were good to me, and we got the paycheck yesterday.
Add all these up, and December became a banner month for us:
1. First, we got cash to pay for our entire trip to the Freed-Hardeman University lectures in February. The trip is already taken care of, which will be a big help in January's budget.
2. Second, we are up to date on all bills (since we got our mistake taken care of with DirecTV). We have never been behind before--and still haven't intentionally--so this is a great relief.
3. Finally, and most exciting for us, is the fact that we paid off...are you ready for this?...over $1100 in debt this month! We did that while going Christmas shopping and taking another 2 trips out of town! By sticking to out budget and using the extra money from my class, we were able to attack our debt.
When you have good news, you just have to share it. And this was great news to us. We're not debt free, yet. But we are working on it, and this month really pumped us up to work even harder in 2008 to finish our journey out of debt!