I think we're finally getting smarter with our money and following through on saving better, although there is still the car loan and a balance on the credit card to pay down. But, we used our tax refund to pay off the window loan. The rest is going to saving toward a new refrigerator and car maintenance. While we know to pay ourselves first, which we do, we really need to get better on not making dumb purchases that we then need to pay off later.
Goal #4 on my original list - we're getting there. Here's what we've been doing to work on paying off debt and becoming more financially secure:
1) As mentioned above, we've paid off one loan.
2) We've set up separate savings accounts for different goals - rainy day/long term, home improvement - plus each of the boys has an account to save for college.
3) We've been opening cd's when possible for long term savings. This way, we get a higher rate of return and the money is less liquid, but still accessible if we absolutely need it. Our goal is to have 12 1 year cd's, one maturing each month, so we can always add funds to one. So far we have two. The rate doesn't change much from 12 months up - the big jump is from savings to cd.
4) I should have money coming in soon that we will put aside to pay for Wil's preschool next year. While IU didn't re-fund the project I was working on, the bookseller I was working for before needs someone to package and ship books again, so I will be doing that. This time, I will keep supplies here, go over to pull orders each morning, and work from home.
Overall, I think we are getting smarter. We're lucky that we live in an area lightly touched by current economic conditions. Higher education is somewhat recession resistant since a lot of people go back to school when they lose their jobs. And Bloomington didn't have a huge housing bubble, so the small price corrections here haven't hit as hard.