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Archive for June, 2008

CUTTING back ..... yep, it hurts!!!

June 24th, 2008 at 07:06 pm

Man oh man, this is the first month I've gotten the new (reduced) child support, and I can sure feel it! I got myself in a funk this past weekend, just poring over the budget numbers again and again, trying to figure out more places to cut ... while still trying to pay down my debt and save too. It is hard, and that word "cutting" describes how it feels, LOL!! But then I reminded myself that I am in a much better place today than I was a year ago:

1. My current salary is significantly higher than it was at my previous job, and I am able to contribute 6% of that to a 401K (with a 3% match). Before, I didn't have a 401K. Oh, and I also contribute to a health spending plan, and my health insurance is great.

2. A year ago I had NO savings at all. Today I have almost $2,000 in various accounts (see sidebar), to which I have been able to contribute regularly.

3. A year ago I had to use my credit cards every month to make ends meet. Today they are in a block of ice in my freezer, and I have not touched them in months. (Granted, most of them are maxed out because of all the charging I did until I froze them, LOL!) Not only am I not adding to my CC debt, I am able to pay the minimums on all the cards ON TIME, which is slowly but surely whittling down the debt. As soon as the dust settles on this latest financial change, I hope to start snowflaking, too!

So I can see that I am making tiny steps now, and as long as I can continue to keep moving forward, no matter how tiny the steps, eventually this process will get a little easier. I should get a salary increase (as well as some sort of bonus) early next year, too. So I just have to be patient, and this will gradually get easier. As long as Murphy stays away and I can avoid touching my EF, I'll be okay. Looking at things that way, it seems like where I am right now is probably the most challenging (painful) point ... at least, I hope so!

There was a comment made to my last entry about starting a savings account for the purpose of Christmas shopping this year, and I think I've about decided that's what I'm going to use my Smarty Pig account for. The $25/month automatic deposits won't add up to the amount I'll need by year-end, but it will give me a start. I also just remembered that I will get the $100 bonus in my "Save Yourself" account in October/November, so maybe I will earmark that $100 to add to my Christmas fund in Smarty Pig.

So now I feel somewhat better ... actually, I feel immensely better than I did this past weekend! Now I just have to figure out where the money is going to come from to buy my son the things he needs to go off to college and live in the dorm come the fall semester (which will be here in the blink of an eye)! Well, his dad will definitely have to help out ... especially since his monthly income has gone up by the same amount mine has gone down!! Big Grin

I hate credit cards!!

June 14th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Okay, we probably all hate credit cards. But I had finally reached a point of acceptance and I have been taking action by paying down my old debt while not incurring any new debt. I have even made some progress ... so I'd started to feel encouraged, and maybe even begun to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Then I got a couple of my CC bills this month and noticed the balances had gone UP instead of DOWN ... and I knew I had not charged anything (my cards are still in a block of ice in my freezer)!

Upon closer examination of the bill from the first card, I saw that it has an annual fee of $39 which was charged to me this month ... which I am sure I knew before I got the card (obviously about a year ago) but have forgotten. In fact, I am sure I not only knew about the annual fee but I didn't care about it at the time; however, I sure care a LOT now!! Ugh. To make matters worse, when I originally got this card it had a 0% APR, which went up to 14.9% in February. That same month I was also late paying my bill ... so in March the APR went up to 29.49%!!! Dang!!

As if all that weren't bad enough, the closer look at the second card (to see why my monthly minimum payment went up) revealed that this company also raised my APR this month, from 15.99% to 24.99%. I emailed to inquire about that and got the standard reply about how they can raise the APR if I pay late and/or go over my limit ... but I've not gone over my limit at all this year (quite the opposite, in fact) and I have only had one late payment, also back in February (Christmas killed me). So why is my APR just being raised NOW for a late payment back in February?!! ARGH!!

It's just SO frustrating to finally be making noticeable progress, then have a couple whammies like that come from out of the blue. And of course these things have to happen the same month my child support is reduced!! It's discouraging.

But I do have a couple of positive things to report! So far this month I have four no-spend days, which is awesome for me! I also opened up an account with Smarty Pig, and I'm doing once-a-month auto transfers of $25 into that!! So I need to concentrate on my positive actions and not the negative circumstances that have developed this month. I know if I can persevere through this rough patch and continue to pay my minimums plus whatever small amounts I can manage to scrape up, soon I will have another card paid and I'll be able to apply that amount to another card, and my snowball will gain some momentum!!

I got my first Pinecone check!

June 1st, 2008 at 06:03 pm

I received my very first Pinecone check on Friday! That will bump up my challenge fund balance to $225.09. It's so funny how excited I am over a $3 check. Big Grin

The kids have two days of school left; well, my son is actually finished because he is exempt from all of his finals. So he will be working more, and it remains to be seen if he eats at home more often or less often (I'm thinking about food expenses here!). Hopefully the food bill will stay about the same; I will have to buy more, but I won't have to give the kids lunch money. We'll see.

My son's graduation is coming up on Saturday, and family is coming in. It was decided that my ex and his wife will host a cookout at their house afterwards for both sides of the family, which is a relief to me financially. It will be the first time my dad/stepmom have seen my ex's parents in 10+ years (the dads used to be the best of fishing buddies), so I think it will be a good gathering. I'm grateful we are all on such good terms and able to do this type of thing, for my kids' sake.

I updated my credit card debt total for the end of May, and I have shaved off just over $1,000 from my total debt since the beginning of this year, woo-hoo! Now THAT excites me! Now the real challenge begins ... trying to keep everything paid up on my lower income, since my child support has now gone down. I am seriously thinking about getting a second job. It would be great to get a big raise at work ... but I don't think I can expect one quite THAT big!