Today is kind of a big day at FNP. My husband and I have a big announcement. Scroll down if you want the short story. Read on if you want the backstory.
After we had Baby FNP, I started to think of her before me, focusing on her future education and the activities I could put her in.
My first stop was to enroll her in music. After shopping around, I was dismayed to see that the music classes for a 3 month old were a staggering $160 for 6 weeks!
$160 for 6 weeks. Let’s just sit back and let that sink in — focusing on the fact that this is for a newborn who would most likely either sleep, cry, or spit up throughout the entire session. And, it didn’t include a $50 activity pack required for every student.
So music was out. But then so was swimming ($140 for 9 weeks), drop in daycare ($25/2 hour session), and trips to museums ($20/adult).
I was living in a city where everything was available to me, yet because my family and I were in debt, we couldn’t afford to give her what I thought she deserved.
What can I give my daughter?
^^^^ That question rang through my mind. Sure, diversity is free and there are free or inexpensive classes offered at the library. But here’s the issue — what happens when she’s older and can appreciate or want this exposure but my husband and I still owe over $50k to student loans and credit cards?
We had to make a change, and we had to do it fast while FNP Baby was still young enough to not be affected.
We racked our brains on what we could do differently. We could budget tighter, live off of Ramen. I could take on more clients (even though I am drowning almost every night in work, trying to keep up). My husband could drive for Uber after work instead of coming home. We could sell our furniture and our car.
But would we be living? Would we be able to watch our daughter grow during this crucial age?
We had to make a sacrifice…
…And what we came up with broke my heart.
Back in August, we decided on an exit strategy. What was holding us back was our location. Our beloved Chicago was tying us down, keeping us poor.
Even though we lived in one of the cheapest areas in the city that was still safe, we were not making enough money to pay down debts fast enough. We are only contributing about $100-200 a month on it.
Both my husband and I needed to do the cardinal rule of debt payoff: Make more. Spend less.
So, husband went looking for a new position in a less expensive part of the United States (or internationally, since he is an EU citizen).
The call that shocked us all.
FNP Husband probably sent in roughly 50 applications until he started to receive call backs. The first few were misses. The job paid too little, the benefits were crappy, the position was boring or uninteresting to him.
Then, a small college in Wyoming called. They sent both of us out to visit, paying for our travel expenses. And while the town didn’t exactly wow us (it reminded me of rural Illinois where I grew up minus a Target), the job did something no other job had done before — excite us.
We all traveled home with butterflies in our stomach. If they offered him the job, were we really going to do this? It was a 15 hour drive, a 4 hour flight with a layover. We knew no one in the area. What about FNP Baby and her support system?
Still, we wanted this. And they wanted him too. A few days after returning home, they offered him the job. We negotiated the salary to factor in moving costs and occasional travel back home. And when they gave us that + amazing benefits, we said yes.
So in case you want the summary:
In order to get debt free, we’re officially moving over 1k miles from Chicago to Wyoming in 2 months time.
The new debt plan
Before we said yes, I crunched the numbers. In Chicago, we were saving $389 a month (if everything went as planned). In Wyoming, we anticipate saving $1,069 per month! Furthermore, the new job’s retirement plan is about 4xs better than my husband’s current one, meaning we will be adding an additional $5-10k to our retirement per year!
This is primarily because Wyoming has no state taxes, our overall cost of living will be lower (though rent will actually remain the same), and we anticipate spending less on entertainment and shopping now that we are living in a smaller town.
Goodbye Target impulse shopping! I’ll miss your $8 cardigan sweater!
My goal is to put at least $500-600 per month on debt starting with hospital bills and credit cards. Once credit cards are done, we will do a massive snowball and start hitting my student loans.
The other $500 + extra income from my and husband’s job will go to travel back to Chicago (which we anticipate doing 3xs per year), future international travel, and long term savings for retirement and potential down payment for a house savings.
And then, after the student loans are paid off, we plan on coming home. Yes, you read that right. We plan on coming home.
The other exit plan.
Neither my husband and I know if we will like it in Wyoming. We don’t know if we will be able to pay off much loans as we anticipate. But, if we do the math correctly, we think two years will be enough to be credit card and (my) student loan debt free (roughly $34k).
Two years is the perfect time for us to reevaluate if what we are doing is working and if it is worth it for Baby FNP. In November of 2017, we will sit down and make the decision. Until then, we are staying put.
I know this sounds crazy and extreme. It is. And that’s the point. But we have to do something. We have to go to the ends of the earth to give ourselves and our daughter the lives we deserve. Even if this is temporary or fails horribly, we will do it together in the name of freedom.
So, goodbye debt. Hello Wyoming. We’ll see you in January.
What extremes would you go to become debt free?