Sunday, July 9, 2006

Going home...

This weekend our family went "home". My husband and I went to college in Wayne, NE, population 5500 (give or take) at Wayne State College, enrollment 5000 (give or take). Because we married after my second year of college, Wayne became our first home together. And because we lived in Wayne year round, unlike most of the college students who went back to their home towns during the summer, we not only were a part of the college community, but lived and worked in the community of Wayne itself. We fell in love with the community and have many happy memories of our time spent there. Ultimately we decided to leave Wayne following graduation (though we have more than once considered moving back should the right employment opportunity present itself), but we try to visit every year or two to check our our old home.

The second weekend each July, the city of Wayne, America holds
The Wayne Chicken Show; a weekend filled with fun and activities centered around a chicken theme. It's the perfect opportunity to go visit town and our family and friends. We have a very special family who live in Wayne who made our college transition much easier and who 12+ years later remain an important part of our lives, The Rose's. Dan, Kyle, Megan, and Marissa were Scott's "adopt a student" family our first year in Wayne. Little did they know that when they adopted him as an incoming student, they got two for the price of one. They fed us countless Friday night meals, I lived with them for a short summer session, and Dan eventually became Scott's boss at Tom's Body and Paint Shop, their family owned auto body shop. Over the years we have though of them as just another part of our family...a third set of parents and siblings. So naturally our girlies have to go visit Grandma Kyle and Grandpa Dan once in a while.

This was Brea's first visit to Wayne. Lexi has been there two other times, once to visit the Grandparents Rose when she was only 7 weeks old, and a second time to experience her first Chicken Days. (She actually had also been to Chicken Days in utero...but I'm sure she doesn't remember much of that trip!). In typical Grandparent style, the girls were spoiled, shown off, and loved all weekend long. We ate unhealthy fair type food (mmmmm...funnel cakes), got a little pink in the sun, and even let go of our inhibitions long enough to participate in the giant chicken dance. Yes, it's all a bunch of silliness...but it's also good, clean, small town fun.

We're now back at our current home now, but we will return to Wayne again. And I'm sure we might even celebrate a couple more Chicken Days in the years to come. We'll eat good food, drink good drinks, and share time with friends and our family of Roses. It's always good to be able to go home.

Scott and the girls with "The Chicken"

Lexi and her live chicken experience

The girls with Grandma Kyle

Brea and Grandpa Dan

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Let Freedom RING!!!

This year Independence Day is going to be spent celebrating a little bit different freedom in our family than most traditionally celebrate on July 4th. Even before my husband and I got married, we had started to accumulate consumer credit on a variety of credit cards obtained during our new found college financial freedom. Credit cards, and several of them are a snap to obtain in college and our theory was...why have just one! Long story short, and unfortunately one with which many people can identify, we left college not only with a degrees but with thousands of dollars worth of "bad" consumer credit. Of course we thought that as soon as we were out of school and had "real" jobs that it would be a piece of cake to pay off all those credit cards. wasn't and soon we found ourselves playing all the games that people play when they are losing control of their consumer debt. It felt as if our financial life was spiraling out of control...and basically it was!

Well after doing some research on how best to deal with the situation, we decided to seek the assistance of a consumer credit counseling agency. By the time we met with one of their representatives we had racked up almost $31,000 in credit card debt, much of that slowing growing thanks to frequent late payment fees and high interest rates. After meeting with the representative we decided if we were ever going to get things under control that help was necessary. We signed a contract with the agency and turned over all our cards. That was a little over 6 years ago!

Today, July 1, 2006 we received a check in the mail from the agency for the balance in our account that was no longer necessary for them to keep because....drum roll please...all creditors that were part of our original agreement/plan (6 separate cards) HAVE BEEN PAID IN FULL!!!

I can't even begin to explain how much relief I feel knowing that with hard work and persistence we were able to pay off such a huge chunk of STUPID debt. In addition to paying off that huge chunk of debt, we've learned how to make wiser decisions about our finances. In the past 6 years we've managed to buy our first house, have 2 kids, get my husband 2/3 of the way through his MBA program, and purchase family friendly cars. We still have debt obviously, but it's much smarter debt.

So today, and throughout the weekend, we're celebrating a freedom that with a little assistance we've been able to give ourselves...let the fireworks begin!