February 13, 2013

Guess What Guys? We're Not Millionaires.

Before I flew over to Germany I went out with a few girlfriends for dinner and drinks. 

When my check came, it was around $40, and I was trying to quietly calculate how I should pay for my meal. 

Should I pay for it in cash? I need to fill up the gas tank this week before I drive Brutus an hour and back for his vet visit and USDA stamp. 

Should I swipe our debit? What's the date? When does our car payment automatically come out? Is there enough money in there? 

Should I charge it? Which credit card isn't maxed out yet? 

One of my friends laughed and said "What do you mean? You guys are rich!" when I ended up slipping and saying aloud that I didn't know which method of payment I should choose. 


After our silly $30,000+ wedding this past summer, four carload/UHAUL trips from Massachusetts to Florida, Florida to Massachusetts, Massachusetts to Texas and Texas to Massachusetts....then flying over to Germany....we've spent a lot of freaking money in the last twelve months. 

Luckily, the team in Orlando reimbursed our travel money both ways, but we were still there for over a month during preseason (preseason is unpaid, mind you), setting up our apartment, buying groceries, etc....most of which was charged to credit cards with the mindset that we would pay them off once TJ started getting paid during the regular season. That didn't happen. 

Texas has yet to reimburse us our travel money. They owe us over $1,000 (which I charged to a credit card that has been accumulating interest since November because the team thinks that they can continue to ignore us and the PHPA). We again, set up our apartment, paid for groceries, cable, internet, etc. The paychecks that we received while we were there were going straight to minimum debt payments, our car payment/insurance, TJ's student loans, and trying to play catch up. Since it was our decision to leave Texas, we had to pay our own way home. Tack on another $1,000. 

The team in Germany paid for both of our flights over here, but not for Brutus or extra luggage. Brutus was $400 and the luggage was $200. Brutty's vet appointment and USDA stamp was around $200. There's $800 more. 

The team here in Germany only pays once per month, so TJ didn't actually receive a paycheck until February 1st. 

Holy hell, as you can imagine - it's been a stressful past few months. 

"Why are you doing this, then?" I'm sure some of you are thinking. 

Well, because it hasn't always been like this. We've hit a bump in the road. This hockey season in particular (due in a large part to the lockout), screwed us over, as well as many of our friends who also play minor pro hockey. 

My point in sharing all of this personal information is to give you a little glimpse of what "living the hockey life" can sometimes be like. 

It's not as glamorous as one might assume. 

I saw Tweets etc. from hockey fans during the lockout who were all riled up about NHL players arguing over million dollar contracts. 

Well, guess what guys? We're not millionaires. 

Not even close. 

You're welcome for my gift of transparency. 

Right now, this is our reality ... 
living paycheck to paycheck and trying to crawl out of our financial hole. 

I've always looked at our five credit cards as five separate entities
a $850 bill here 
a $4,300 bill there 
but when I added them all together I was shocked to see that we owe over $10,000. 

I spent the better part of yesterday calculating math figures and calling creditors to see if they could lower our interest rates. They did. I guess sometimes it doesn't hurt to ask. 

So, where do we go from here? 
Well, our plan right now is to give the Debt-Snowball Method a try. 
We're going to focus on paying off our smallest debt first and then tackle the larger ones. 

I'll keep you updated on our progress. 

When did I become a grown up with grown up problems?
Have you ever been in our financial situation?
Have you given the Debt-Snowball Method a try?
Leave some advice below:

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58 comments

  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing this! It's nice to see someone be so honest and real about their problems, especially something like finances. We are in the same "boat" as well, though I haven't even worked up the guts to figure it all out. With only one income (I'm currently job-less,) plus wedding debt, and school loans.. it ADDS UP FAST!!!

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    1. Haha well I appreciate that - I don't think TJ was too keen on me sharing our personal finance info, but it's real life and obviously many people can relate to it!! Ugh, debt adds up soooo fast. It was really an eye opener for me yesterday to so much debt written out and black and white. Good luck to you, Cayla!!

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  2. You've got to check Gail Vaz-Oxlade's website out. It's amazing and her resources are so user-friendly.

    http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources.html

    I especially love "Gail's Interactive Budget Worksheet". I've used it for years.

    Good luck!!

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    1. Allison, thank you so much for sending me this info! Her site and resources REALLY are amazing. Lifesaver! (or, sanity saver lol)

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  3. I've never been in your financial situation, as the only debt we have is our mortgage... but I can tell you that things are tiiiiiight now that we have our 1st baby on the way. We seriously thought we had our finances in order and were ready to add a 3rd person to the mix, but oh. my. word... Prepping for your 1st child is expensive. AND we're down to only 1 of us working full time. That's where it's really hurting us. I think it's safe to say that although we're able to pay our bills, we're definitely at our worst financial times... even maternity clothes from Old Navy and Target add up. Good thing we like each other because we're spending most weekends and nights at home... together on the couch :)

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    1. Congrats on your baby! How exciting! I can understand the stress and frustration you're experiencing bringing a bebe into the mix. Luckily I've heard that babies don't cost toooo too much money in the beginning. LOL - I hear you on that one - TJ and I have learned to enjoy staying in and annoying each other :)

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  4. I'm sure all that AND being a 1 income (I'm assuming?) house hold can be rough! People that have two incomes/household don't get it! Even if I was making minimum wage 40hrs/week- thats quite a bit of money! But nope we are a 1 income family as well and it definitely can be hard! Sounds like you are being super responsible about it though so good for you!

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    1. We rely mainly on TJs income (when it's in-coming, lol), because I freelance and don't always have the same set amount of hours or income each month. I'm definitely trying to be responsible about it...I'm not liking this forced grown-up thing, lol! Good luck to your family! xo

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  5. Yeah, we started the debt snowball about 7 years ago and got out of debt pretty quick. We're trying to pay off our house now and be 100% debt-free. It's a balance between saving and spending of course. We want to live our lives and have fun but our big goal is to be debt free for the rest of our lives (we're in our 30s).

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    1. That's reassuring to hear that you got out quickly, Brad! Good luck with the remainder of debt and reaching your goal!!

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  6. thanks for this. Hubs and I threw at 25k wedding last year too, and are still crawling out of the hole. We're just tackling it one small card at a time, and trying to still have some fun on a budget while paying it off. I'm right there with you, and have those thoughts every time we go out. <3

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    1. Ugh, if I could do it all again I'd have a courthouse wedding and then a small party in my parents backyard. Our 2 year engagement, coupled with the introduction of Pinterest was such a curse. Fun on a budget and paying off slowly but surely is KEY!

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  7. I am currently in a very similar financial situation - didn't get there in the same way, but pretty much the same end result. I'm working on the snowball method too. Although I haven't even paid off the first card yet, I do see the debt shrinking & I know it'll work in the long run. My main focus right now is not using my credit cards at all as I don't want to add anymore debt! Here's hoping we're both able to crawl out of our financial holes!

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    1. That is so great that the debt is shrinking, Janet! The snowball method is based mainly around the psychological effects of seeing your debt shrink...since writing this post this morning I'm trying to figure out if working on our highest card or paying off our lowest card first makes the most sense to me. I wish you luck, Janet!!

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  8. Oh my, that is a big mountain of worries to tackle right there. I'm sorry things have been rough for you two! I may have never been in the situation of a lot of debt and was always lucky enough to get by, but I owe that to my family most of all probably. I remember being forced to a four day work week last year and left with a lot less hours. People have the same misconception about my job as about TJ's apparently. Just because I am a lawyer does not mean I make big bucks. I really don't to be exact. Last year, especially with thousands of dollars going to the bar exam, not being able to work for months and having to live off my prior paychecks during that time, I ended up counting every penny and living from one paycheck to the next. It was not a great feeling and there were many times that I could not participate in something, had to give up on something or did not get a good night's sleep because I was so anxious about this situation. I even thought I would have to move back home at some point. Thankfully, things have been figured out since the new year has started and I am working on refilling my accounts. I guess it does help to be a foreigner here with a non-existent credit history so no one will give you a credit card ;-)
    I hope you can get your situation tackled eventually. The method sounds like a good idea, because it takes a one step at a time approach. Good luck with all of it! I am sure you are doing the right thing for you and your family and it will all get better eventually! Fingers crossed for you guys!

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    1. I'm SO happy that you were able to pull yourself out of that situation...gosh it must have been so stressful for you! Yes...I suppose it was a blessing in disguise that you wouldn't have been able to apply for a card.....just like no one will approve me now for another one, hahaha!!

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  9. Oh yeah people seem to think military is rich too! That is not the case. We usually have a set amount that is our equivalent to $0 anything over that set amount at the end of the pay period we either put on the CC or into savings. It has helped tremendously.

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    1. I like that idea! Unfortunately anything extra will be going straight to debt....but hopefully within a year we can start using our savings account! Oiiiii.

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  10. I am in major credit card debt thanks to one income, and then a child while only having one income. We relied on my credit cards a lot while my husband was in school. I, too, am trying the snowball debt system. I just paid off one small card, and now I am onto the next. It did feel great to pay off the one card. I am hoping when my husband is promoted this summer we can pay more towards our debt.

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    1. That is FANTASTIC that you paid off at least one card! You give me hope!

      I will be keeping your family in my thoughts and hoping that your husband gets that promotion!! xo

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  11. Wait! You mean you don't drive a Bentley or have champagne flowing out of your water taps because your husband is a professional athlete? ;-) I am glad you "keep it real." You guys are the people I thought about during the lockout. Not someone making $7 million.

    Debt snowball...I did not have a lot of debt but I used that method to pay mine off (just had a few little things to pay off). For me it was the psychological effect that helped me. Paying off the smallest debt gives you the confidence you can do this. I got my information from Dave Ramsey. I recommend it to people all the time. I think it's great.

    p.s. being a grown up is not fun! Except for knowing I can eat ice cream for dinner if I want.

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    1. No Bentley for us, haha! :)

      The psychological benefits I "get" for sure - I'm just not sure if I will be happier with paying off a small card or a large card first. Coincidentally, our highest card also has the highest interest rate, while our lowest card is currently at 0% until September.

      Haha I definitely enjoy the ice cream or cheese and wine for dinner benefits of being an adult, too :)

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  12. Been there! Geez do I freakin know what you're talking about. And it sucks. I mean, we're the same way. We make good money, my husband is super awesome at managing it & saving and yet there's always something. Something always comes up that screws us over. We are almost done paying what we accumulated this last year which was lower than normal, but it's so tough to stay on top of things & actually move forward. This crazy athletic life is tough sometimes. This is when I long for the security of 'normal' life. But it's fun in the meantime. :) Hang in there girl, the debt snowball thing should work!

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    1. There is ALWAYS, always something! It feels like we can never get ahead! We knew we'd fall behind after the wedding, but we weren't anticipating THIS!!

      That's sooo great you're almost finished paying off last years debt. I have girlfriends whose husbands play baseball, and they struggle the same as us....so at least we aren't alone!

      I hope the snowball method words...I really don't have any other options at this point lol.

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  13. Thanks for the honesty. We're in the same boat...
    I'm going to have to check out this "snowball" method.
    And... Thanks for reminding me that I need to call one of our credit card companies. I cancelled the card 2 years ago. It had fraudulent charges, and was rarely used, high interest rates... Well, I just (last month!) found out they'd raised the limit (huh?), have NOT reversed all the fraud charges AND are charging me $80 a month in security fees. My debt has increased by nearly $1400 since I cancelled the card! Needless to say I'm TICKED.
    I wish us BOTH luck!!! :)

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    1. Definitely look into the snowball method! Since writing this post I'm almost feeling like "psychologically" I would feel better about paying off our highest card, so I think I'm going to focus on our highest card with the highest interest, and then double minimum payments on our smaller cards. I'm still trying to figure it all out!! Jeeze, this adult thing is tough work!!

      That STINKS abut the fraudulent charges!! I would be on the phone with them every day getting it taken care of!!!

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  14. I LOVE the debt snowball method!!! We started it a few months back and it's so gratifying to scratch that first debt off the list! I even went so far as to approx. calculate the months that each of our debts will be paid off... It was nice to see that it really won't take as long as I'd thought using the plan. I say good for you girl! Stick with it, it's so worth it!

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    1. You definitely have my mind ticking with making a little timetable of when everything can be paid off by, month by month. I like that. I'm now looking at the GIANT number $10,000 staring me in the face...but I think if I break it into months it won't be so scary and it will feel just a little bit more mangeable!

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  15. Wow!! First of all, on behalf of all Texans, we're sorry!! ;)

    I can't say I relate to you completely, but I do feel ya on some levels. I am a part-time photographer, part-time freelance graphic designer, and my husband is a full-time musician. And while he does REALLY well for a musician, we still find ourselves in the same boat you are in at times. Our paychecks are not regular; we can't just "wait until Friday" because we never know for sure when money will be flowing in. So I get ya.

    But all this craziness has led us to live a full life, which I am grateful for! I'll be praying for your financial situation!

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    1. I went to college for dance and my little sister studied art...my mom always joked and made it clear that "starving artists" were real, true life people and that it would probably be a reality if we went after those dreams. Freelance and working in the arts industry is tough, so I definitely relate to you!!

      That's fabulous that your husband does so well - I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers tonight as well :) xo

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  16. That is tough! It is also kind of funny how people perceive your financial situation from the outside(assuming you are rich). We are in about that amount of debt too, mainly due to my hubs who is a spendaholic compared to me...lol. The debt snowball is a good idea - I've done the math on our personal situation and even though it feels nice to get the little cards paid off, you save more $ paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first - but if they are all around the same, I say snowball it! :)

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    1. I agree! I'm trying now to make a little timetable of when I'd like everything to be paid off by...and I think attacking the one with the highest interest rate first definitely makes the most sense in our situation!! Good luck to you, Natalie!!

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  17. We are in the same boat and just bought my childhood home. My biggest fear is losing it. But we started the snow ball and have paid off 3 cards so far!

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    1. Mallory that is AMAZING news to hear that you paid off three cards! You keep me inspired and motivated to do this!! xo

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  18. Thank you for sharing such an honest post sweet girl. We all go through our ups and downs and the outside world never really knows what goes on behind closed doors! We hit a slump in December but through prayer and small changes, we are back on track again.
    x

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    1. I'm so glad that you're back on track again!!! Hopefully we will be there soon, too :) xo

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  19. I really need to learn to be better about managing my money and paying off my debt! I do good for a little while and then I'm like oh it would be nice to go to san fran for the weekend or Tahoe or whatever and while those things are really close and all the little things add up! Keep us updated on your progress!!

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    1. Little things definitely turn into biiiig things! I will for sure keep everyone updated on progress, I think it will keep me accountable, too :)

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  20. Wow that sounds really stressful, but great that you are finding a way to crack down and eliminate some of the debt and ultimately the stress. I've gotta say, in Germany, Penny Markt is my savior.

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    1. Absolutely!! Penny Markt and Netto! It's actually amazing (and a major part of the reason why we decided to come back to Germany!) how much money you can save living here in Europe...all we really spend on is food here, so it's great we can focus on bills!!

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  21. Whenever I'm not having the best time financially, I tend to look at others and think "why can't I be rich like them?". Then, I remind myself that they very well may be in the same (or even worse) situation than I am. We all handle it differently and it's quite easy to swipe that credit card and no one ever know you don't actually have the money to pay for that extravagent vacation or designer purse. So just because people may LOOK rich, doesn't mean they are.

    I tend to live paycheck to paycheck and sometimes it royally sucks. I always feel like I'm spending and never getting a chance to save. Talk about frustrating! I count the days until I can pay off at one credit card, just so that money can go towards the next.

    Oh, I also count the days until I win the lottery....that I never play.

    Thanks for being so honest! Good luck!

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    1. You're definitely right. I saw a quote on Pinterest the other day that said "Some people are so poor that all they have is money." It gave me a bit of peace.

      Hahahaha I definitely look forward to the day that we win the lottery as well ;) .. sometimes it feels like the odds of that happening are higher than paying off all of our cards!

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  22. Oh I can't even imagine what you're going through right now. Luckily you know there will eventually be light at the end of the tunnel but long bubble baths and lots of wine help in these situations. Lol...good luck my dear! It'll get better soon!
    xoxo

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  23. I think it is awesome that you wrote this post. People typically don't like to talk about money (myself included)! We're definitely in the same boat you are - and we are trying to pay off our credit cards as well - smallest to largest. I'd love to think that we would pay them off, cut them up, and never use them again. The reality is that we will keep them around in case of emergencies.

    Money sucks, the end. :)

    XO
    Lacey @ CHARM + Sass

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    1. I'm glad that you could relate to the post! Finances are definitely a personal thing - and I'm not really sure if my husband was 100% on board that I wrote about our debt - but it's real life and it's relatable.

      That is my goal - to have all of our cards paid off and save them just in CASE there is an emergency. Slowly but surely we will get there :) Good luck to you !! xoxo

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  24. I will start a new job and will thankfully be making more money. I hope to really get some debt knocked out this year. Fingers crossed!

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    1. I'm crossing my fingers for you - debt seriously sucks. When did we grow up and grow into these problems!? More money more problems, that's what I say, lol.

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  25. The debt snowball method is marvelous! The only debt Leo and I had going into our marriage was his school loan and his truck. We did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and had our debt paid off before graduating the course. I think he has an online class as well, but I think everyone should take the class- it's that good! :)

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    1. That is AWESOME to hear, Kim! I've heard many benefits about taking his classes - I was actually looking into enrolling in one when we were in Texas, but then we moved again lol. I've made it a mission to have all of our debt paid off before the New Year, and hearing all of these stories about paying off hefty school loans keeps me hopeful :)

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  26. I've been doing the Debt Snowball, too. Combine that with Suze Orman's advice, David Bach and "All Your Worth" by Senator Elizabeth Warren. "All Your Worth" is my financial bible. She developed the 50-30-20 principle with her daughter. 50% goes to needs (i.e. utility bills, rent, insurance, etc.), 30% to wants (i.e. your free to spend however you want...which is where cable bills, phone bills & credit card bills land), and 20% goes to savings. Most magazines and financial gurus now recommend this budget. You have got to read the book. It changed the way I manage my money. And thankfully, it helped me to grow my income, too.

    It is so simple to create the 50-30-20 budget. The Debt Snowball is great to set goals in maximizing the other parts outside of the 50-30-20 where you may lack. That's why I'm doing it. It gave me a plan to save for the emergency fund and focus on paying off the student loan debt and prep to buy a house.

    It's not easy getting a handle on personal finances, but once you find a program that works for you...money all of a sudden becomes a simple thing to manage. It's getting the pain in the ass crap out of the way (budgeting, saving, paying off debt), then automating how you handle money, and then learning how to build wealth after you conquer the budget. That's the steps to managing money.

    Trust me, it took me years to figure this all out. Elizabeth Warren's book was a godsend.

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    1. I really like that 50-30-20 idea!! Thanks for passing it on to me. The idea of making a project out of our financial situation really sort of sent my head into a tail spin. I keep thinking "how the hell did we get here!" We're definitely going to tackle the snowball method for a few months, but in the meantime I definitely want to download that book - we need all the help we can get lol. Thanks Michelle!

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  27. we totally did the Dave Ramsey thing and it helped a lot! It is so encouraging to get one thing paid off! and that helps you work harder to get the next bill taken care of! You end up having more money than you thought because it was being all spread out and you get to focus it on one... it snowballs :) and then at the end you get to KEEP all the money you were spending each month on paying bills! it is so fun.

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    1. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience with it. The way you explain it actually really does make it sound like it'd be fun to pay your bills .. who knew, haha!!! We are definitely giving it a go starting with this months bills - hopefully I have an experience like yours to share in a few months! xoxo

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  28. Moving around adds up fast.. I know exactly what you mean. And somehow Malcolm ended up costing us around 500 pounds to move back to the USA - not including vet appointments, pet passport, etc. Ugh.

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    1. Wow 500 pounds just for the flight? Holy moly!!!!!! What do y'all fly? How much does your dog weigh?! We fly Lufthansa and Brutus is about 85 pounds, we say 100 with his crate and bed ... and it's $450USD. Their seats down in cargo are sometimes more than ours, it's ridiculous!

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  29. This is so true! Luckily we have two decent incomes, but I have a MOUNTAIN of student loan debt. I cannot even imagine ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I try to be thankful that is my biggest problem in life. Let us know how the snowball method works! I may have to try that- sounds like mentally it may be the most hopeful option. Thanks for sharing!

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  30. You are so brave to share this - people make crazy assumptions that are often SO wrong!

    xx
    Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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