... since I last posted! My gosh, time flies!
I got moved into my apartment a month ago, and I LOVE IT! Moving was the best thing I have done for myself and my kids in a long long time. We purged big-time, and got rid of years worth of JUNK. (I gave a LOT of stuff away at the end just to get rid of it!) The apartment is so much nicer than the house we were renting (which seemed to be falling down around us) -- it's light, bright, and CLEAN, and it's amazing how much lighter I actually feel!! I am really happy to have the move over and done -- it was a HUGE hurdle for me.
Even though I haven't posted in awhile, I did update my sidebar and my debt payoff pie chart at the end of March. My savings have taken a hit (don't people always have to buy some new things when they move?) ... but I've got transfers set up so that money moves from my checking account into three different savings accounts (ING, Venture, and Smarty Pig) every month, so I think I'll build those back up again fairly quickly (barring any visits from Murphy). Now that the move is out of the way, I have returned my focus to finances!
On the credit card debt front, my higher-limit Capital One card sent me a 0% balance transfer deal up to my credit limit, which enabled me to transfer the entire balance (close to $700) of a card with an APR of 27.24% ... so, while my total amount of CC debt won't change much at first with that consolidation, I will be able to pay down the principal on the transferred amount much quicker! (Capital One is the card that's lowered my APR from 24.4% to 12.9% over the past few months.)
I saw Suze Orman on Oprah recently, and she said she's now advising people who think there is a possibility they could lose their jobs to make minimum payments on credit cards and save all they possibly can. I really think my job is stable ... of course, I could be wrong ... but I wonder if I should follow that advice. Actually, I can't nail down my "new" budget yet, since I haven't gotten an electric bill or a water bill in my apartment so I have no idea what those expenses will run. I am really going to miss having my electricity on an averaging plan like I had in my house! (I do plan to get that established once I build up the history required.) I am a bit nervous about how much my monthly bills will run here, especially the electricity (since my apartment is upstairs and the temps climb into the 100s here during the summer months)!
It feels good to post again!
Viewing the 'Budgeting' Category
... since I last posted! My gosh, time flies!
I fully intended to vote early, but never seemed to get around to it (think I procrastinate much?) ... so I left work an hour early and went to do it. It went really smoothly -- there was only one person in front of me, and she opted for a paper ballot so I got to use the one-n-only electronic voting machine without waiting, woo-hoo! Quite a few people came in behind me, and most of them chose paper ballots. So, a quick and easy voting experience for me, what a pleasant surprise! I also got my flu shot at work this morning. My company gives them to employees for FREE, so you know I was all over that!
I updated my CC totals on my sidebar, and I've paid off 13% of my CC debt so far this year. I'm encouraged by that, even though it's not much, because I knew that it would be slow going in the beginning. I did begin my debt snowball, and guess which CC I am directing my next payoff at? Why, good ol' WaMu/Chase, of course! I owe $1,684 on it so it will take a little while, but with the extra from the paid-off card I'll be paying a minimum of $73/month towards it, and hope to pay $100 most months. I also plan to rework my budget in about 5 or 6 months (after I get my bonus and merit increase at work, and hopefully a tax refund), and I should be able to start paying more towards my CC debt then.
I got my $100 bonus in my "Save Yourself" account, since I have been having $50/month deposited in that account for over a year now. Woo-hoo!! Good thing, too, since I've been whittling away at my ING account since my child support decreased 5 months ago. The new position I got at work a couple months ago brought with it an increase in salary, so that pretty much brought me back to where I was before the child support went down. Now I am anticipating that merit increase at the beginning of 2009 so I can make some more forward strides again! It's been almost a year since I started this blog and, though I don't post frequently, I think it's really helped me to stay on track with everything ... not to mention that I read all of your blogs almost daily, and get such great inspiration from them!
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!!
That's not very good, I must definitely do better in March! Of course, this month isn't quite over yet, so I still might manage one more. I rather doubt it, but we'll see.
I spent this evening trying to figure out how much I will need to pay each month, minimum, on each of my credit cards in order to pay off all my CC debt by the end of 2010. Very sobering exercise. It's going to require about $550/month, which I am not at all sure I can do consistently and still stash money away each month for periodic expenses such as car repair, clothing, gifts, etc. Well, at least I have a solid guideline now; if it doesn't work, I will just have to tweak it! And I plan on calling some of the CC companies several months from now and asking them to lower my interest rate; I'm waiting until then because I want to establish a better payment pattern. Hopefully I will be successful, which will definitely help me get this debt paid off sooner! I seriously don't even want to think about how much money I have paid credit card companies in interest and fees over the years. Sickening.