Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Debt Free

Tonight Dave and I are throwing a little party. After the girls go to bed, he and I will celebrate finally being debt free! Of course, we're still carrying mortgages for both of the houses, but rent covers the mortgages and then some, so it hardly counts. And yes, we're still carrying my student loans. No use thinking about a 30 year debt, is there?

We took out a large loan to cover moving expenses back in September. Uncle H-- promised to reimburse us for expenses, rather than either covering the cost of fronting us the money. So w paid for airline tickets, moving trucks, shipping, and meals for 2 months of instable housing. Alll of this, Uncle H-- reimbursed us for. The trick was that we paid for them in dollars. Uncle H-- reimbursed in Remnimbi, or Chinese Yuan. And the Chinese are not keen to see their money leave the country, so transferring the reimbursement and future paychecks turned into quite a process.

Dave is the only one on our account at The Bank of China. It has been explained to us that it is not possible to have two people on the account. I doubt this is true, but we've got solid wills so I'm not worried about it. The challenge is that Dave is the only person who can transfer money out of that account. And this transfer of money takes multiple visits to arrange just the right paperwork. Each visit usually takes about 2 hours. Dave has trouble finding 2 hours in the middle of his work days to sit inside the Bank of China's lobby.

Besides which, we realized that there were some key costs for which we were not reimbursed. First was setting up home. Although not wildly expensive, it did cost us a sum of money to buy sheets, towels, plates and glasses for our new home. I am confident it was the right choice, but it certainly added to our credit card debt. But the hardest hit of all was our car. We purchased a 2005 Mazda 5 only 1 year before moving. Not only had depreciation hit us hard, but the market for this particular car had fallen to nearly zero. No one wanted to pay off our car loan and take this car off of our hands. So, knowing that we would not be regular attenders at church for the upcoming year, we decided to make our car our annual offering to the church. This was certainly the right choice, because it served many people dramatically and well. Besides which, we didn't have to trouble family or friends with trying to sell the car for us once we were gone. But, as any good offering, this gift was a sacrifice we paid for for months.

Until this month. The check was written today to pay off our last bit of debt. And finally we will gain the last benefit of expatriate life - being able to save money like crazy people. Because housing is covered, most expatriates find themselves able to save a lot of money while they're away. Our hope is to have a sizable downpayment for a new home upon our arrival back in the states, but goals of traveling every month during our stay in Asia and talk about adopting another child over the next few years may derail those plans. If so, so be it. At least we're no longer in debt!

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