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It's been awhile ...

April 16th, 2009 at 04:47 pm

... 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! Smile

Something Weird, and Motivation to Declutter (Finally!)

February 24th, 2009 at 06:32 pm

What finally gave me the motivation to declutter? I'm moving!! I am SO excited ... I hate moving, but I am sick to death of the place I've been living in because the landlord does LESS than the bare minimum as far as maintenance and repairs go and the place has become such a dump over the past 6 years. I've had my sights set on an apartment complex less than a mile from where I currently live for over 6 months now, and I've been not-so-patiently waiting for a 3-bedroom apartment WITH a garage to become available ... and one finally did! I haven't lived in an apartment since college, and I'm sure there will be things I don't like about it ... but it's a fairly new complex, the apartments themselves are very nice and modern, and I won't have to deal with maintenance issues, yard work, OR a landlord I cannot reach! I'm THRILLED!!

SO. I've been working at cleaning out the garage, closets, etc., all of which are packed to the rafters. I moved into this house from a much larger place following a divorce 6 years ago, and told myself at that time that I'd have a garage sale "someday" but that day hasn't come until NOW! Garage sale day is March 7, and moving day is March 14. I am really CLEANING OUT and getting rid of a LOT of stuff. I am being relentless, because I am SO tired of being surrounded by so much clutter! I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to living more simply. AND, I can't tell you how much I look forward to making money by selling my stuff! Here's hoping March 7 is a beautiful day and I have a successful garage sale!

From a money-saving standpoint, the move isn't going to make much difference in my monthly bills. My rent will actually be about 10% more in the apartment, but I am hoping there will be a substantial decrease in my utilities (primarily electricity) to offset that. I really think there will be, because this house is in such poor shape that there is NO energy efficiency whatsoever. I'm sure the apartment won't be the best, but it's got to be better than this house. We shall see!

As for the something weird, it's about my Capital One cards again (I have two of them). Last month I blogged about how the APR had been lowered ... well, it's been lowered again, on BOTH cards! I accessed the accounts online last night, and pulled up the statements for each of the past four months. For the period ending Oct. 28, the APR on both cards was 24.9%. For the period ending Nov. 28, the APR on both cards was lowered to 24.4%. For the period ending Dec. 29, the APR on the higher-limit card was lowered to 14.65% and the APR on the lower-limit card was lowered to 14.4%. And, most recently, for the period ending Jan. 28, the APR on the higher-limit card has been lowered to 12.9% and the APR on the lower-limit card has been lowered to 12.65%!!! LOVE IT, and would love to see this trend continue!! Smile

I got the job!!

September 14th, 2008 at 07:57 am

In my last post I mentioned applying for another position within my company. I interviewed for it last week, and learned on Friday that I got the job! I'm excited for the promotion, and for the extra money I will be earning as a result! My salary increase is 12%, and I will get a merit increase in February or March as well (as a percentage of my new salary, not my old one). This will make up for the child support decrease which took effect in June, and get me back on track. Woo-hoo!! Smile My first order of business, as soon as my raise shows up on my paycheck, is to get my savings built back up ... baby EF has taken a hit with the decrease in child support, and I need to get that built back up to at least $1,000 ASAP.

I think I have mentioned on here that my ex has been unemployed for a little while, and I've been worried about his financial situation. Well, he got his own good news yesterday, and he starts a new job on Monday. The bad news is that it requires a LOT of travel, and he will only be home once a month, so my daughter will see him even less than she does now. The thought also occurred to me last night that this alters my moving plans somewhat ... I was thinking I would move into a 2-bedroom apartment with my daughter, and when my son comes home from college for breaks and in the summer, he can stay at my ex's most of the time, and we'll "make do" for the time he wants to spend with me. (My ex lives about 30 minutes from me.) But if my ex isn't home, my son will not want to be there with just his stepmom ... so now I may be in the market to move into another 3-bedroom place instead. I will look at the prices of the 3-bedroom model at the apartments I'm interested in, but I know that option won't be feasible for me because the prices of the 2-bedroom models are on par with what I am currently paying to rent my 3-bedroom house ... so the 3-bedroom apartment will no doubt be out of my price range. This is going to require some more thought, as well as some conversation with my son.

I have family (my dad and stepmom) and friends down in the Houston area who have been somewhat affected by Hurricane Ike. I have talked to my dad a couple of times, and he said they don't have any damage to their home but that their yard is a huge mess. They also still do not have power, and haven't since Friday night (when all they had were the very beginnings of the high winds which were to come). My friends do not have their power back yet, either, and they had minimal damage (their backyard fence is down). Here in Fort Worth we had a day of rain yesterday, but today we have sunshine and wind (which is normal for here, LOL). I grew up in Houston but I do not see myself ever moving back down there; I just cannot imagine going through all the storm preparation and the clean-up and inconvenience in the aftermath ... and Houston isn't even ON the coast, it's further inland. Galveston is really a mess. Frown And this morning I saw on TV that the midwest is getting incredible amounts of rain from Ike, bringing them all sorts of problems. Hugs to those of you who have been affected by Ike, and Gustav before that!

Really wanting to move, and a ? about auto insurance

August 24th, 2008 at 08:37 pm

Yesterday we were struck with plumbing issues again, one day shy of 3 weeks since the last occurrence. I called the landlord and got his voice mail, then finally reached him after a second voice mail left one hour later. (I planned to leave one every hour, even through the night, until I reached him!) He came out and spent 3 hours here (after spending 4 hours here the last time) w/a rented "snake" (I guess that's what it's called) and we are back in business again, but for how long this time? He replaced the toilet in the kids' bathroom a couple of months ago, and it had a slight leak so he was going to put some sort of wax sealant on it, which he brought with him last night. So after he snaked the toilet in the master bathroom, he went to the kids' bathroom to put this seal thing on that toilet. Half an hour later he tells me he broke the toilet and he'll have to come back today and repair it or replace it again. He showed me what he'd done, and he'd literally BROKEN the toilet ... there is a big hole in the bottom of the tank!! I have no idea how he did that. Anyway, he was supposed to be here today at 5:00 to take care of that job, and he didn't show up ... didn't even call!! I am pretty sure the reason I will get when I do talk to him is that he forgot. That is the reason I got countless times last year when we had a huge portion of a tree lying across our back yard, dead, which he was supposed to come cut up and remove. (It was struck by lightning in June 2007 and he finally came and cut it up and hauled it off in May 2008.) I was SO fed up last night that I was ready to go sign a lease on an apartment today!! This morning, of course, I realized I really cannot pay for an apartment and moving costs right now ... unless I don't pay my rent for next month. Plus I still have a lot of stuff to get rid of before I can move. But I am SO ready to be out of here, done with all the plumbing issues, and done with that landlord!!! My daughter and I went last weekend to look at the apartments I referred to in my last post, and we really like them a lot. Last night I'm sitting on the couch (while the landlord snaked out the toilet for the umpteenth time) planning ways I could perhaps move out of here next weekend!! Realistically I know there is no way I can do that. But it will be very interesting to see how long it is before we have more plumbing issues ... I am saying two weeks, tops. And if he doesn't get back out here to replace the toilet he broke, we will not even have a back-up toilet!! I really will NOT be happy then!!

My auto insurance questions are: When do you give up collision coverage? What exactly is comprehensive, and when do you give that up? My car is 8 years old (less than 70,000 miles) but I still carry full coverage. I only do that because I'm so nervous that as soon as I drop it, I'll have an accident!! I need some of you to talk some sense into me!! HELP!!

As an update to my child support situation with my ex, he did receive his severance the day after I posted and I was able to deposit the child support check. Now it's due again this week (Wed.) and I'm on pins and needles wondering if I'm going to receive it. I went ahead and kept the $400 from my EF to have on hand and readily available as long as the child support is in limbo, so my EF in ING is down. Frown

The kids both start school tomorrow ... my daughter in 8th grade and my son as a college freshman! My daughter and I went to see my son on Friday because I wanted to see his dorm and just know where he's going to be living for the next school year (my ex moved him there a few days prior). He seems to have really settled in well and has made a bunch of new friends, so I am thankful for that. Now if we can just get our living situation here at home ironed out as well, life will be more pleasant all around!

Discouraged

August 12th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

I'm not sure if I mentioned this previously or not, but several weeks ago my ex lost his job. He'd been with that company less than a year, so I'm sure his severance package was quite small. Tomorrow I am supposed to receive the second child support payment due since the direct deposit from his job switched off. I asked him to send a post-dated check home with my daughter this past weekend, which he did ... and today I got an email from him saying as of today's mail he's not received his severance package so the check I was planning to deposit on my way to work in the morning is rubber. My checking account was pretty much at zero, my savings account (in brick & mortar bank) is my remaining challenge money of about $100, and everything else is in ING. We need some groceries, I put half a tank in my car yesterday, and had made payment arrangements with the cable company to pay my bill (which was due last Friday) this Friday (with a $4.95 late fee tacked on, which REALLY ticks me off) ... so I really need that check to be good! Ugh. Rather than face the prospect of going into the weekend with NO money, I decided to transfer $400 from my EF in ING, so it should be available in my checking account by the weekend. Hopefully the ex will get his severance tomorrow and I can just transfer the money back to ING ... but then I get to start stressing over whether the child support two weeks from now is going to be paid. He's never not paid (well, except for once when we were in the thick of the divorce negotiations and he was ticked off ... but that was 10 years ago!) and I know he will pay it if he has it, but I'm afraid if he doesn't get a job soon he won't be able to pay. I'm struggling as it is with the reduction since my son's graduation 2 months ago ... having NO child support at all would definitely mean getting a second job, and probably working 7 days a week! Well, I can't worry about that, worrying does no good ... I just have to have faith that it will all work out. I do feel for my ex, I really do. He had almost 20 years with one company, and they'd sent him back to school to get his Bachelor's degree, then paid for him to get his Master's degree, then eliminated his position shortly after that. Since that time he has had a failed business franchise and had to declare bankruptcy, then got this other job less than a year ago, which he just lost. Sadly, his financial situation sounds a lot like mine. It's a shame our kids have such deadbeat parents!! Frown

In a different vein, I have really been thinking seriously about moving. For the past few years, I've been commenting to my daughter that we'd look into moving to a 2-bedroom apartment when my son went off to college. Now the time is here, and there is a fairly new (2-3 years old) apartment complex less than a mile from where I currently live which, if we moved there, would allow my daughter to finish in her current middle school (one more year) and then go on to the same high school my son just graduated from. For the past year or two we've had repeated plumbing problems in this house which, of course, are not our responsibility to repair but it's SUCH a hassle to have to deal with over and over again. Overall, this house needs a lot of repairs ... nothing major, so the landlord doesn't want to spend the money. I won't even go into how badly it needs a few upgrades ... the house is 25 years old and I swear it's still got the original carpet! Anyway, it would just be a perk to have something newer and nicer for a change. (I know, that's a WANT, not a NEED!) My main reason for wanting to move is so that I don't have to deal with the lawn maintenance (since my son is moving, and he's always done the yard work)! Also, we'll have a pool if we move to an apartment, which would be nice during the long scorching Texas summers! Since I looked at apartments before I moved into this rent house 5 years ago, I knew that I couldn't expect to reduce my expenses by moving to an apartment; they were about the same as houses for rent at that time.

Last week I looked at the website for the apartment complex I'm interested in, and their 2-bedroom apartments are advertised at $1200/month, which is $200/month MORE than I pay for my rent house ... so I pretty much put that idea out of my head right then and there. Then I was talking to a girl I work with about it, and she hooked me up with an apartment locator, something I never even knew existed! I guess these apartment locators can get better pricing than just a person coming in on their own. She sent me some prices for these apartments that were over $200 less than what was advertised on the website, or about the same as my current rent! Cool!! So I got all excited about that. Plus, the deposit on the apartment ($250) is MUCH less than I paid for this house ($1,000). So today I asked her some questions about the pet deposit, and availability of the floor plan I'd like (the only 2-bedroom floor plan w/a garage). Turns out the prices she sent me were for floor plans without a garage, because they have none of those available (nor do they foresee having any in the near future). So I have no way of knowing how much those are running until one becomes available, and the prices may have gone up quite a bit by then. (Apparently the prices change frequently.) As far as the pet deposit goes, it was listed as $150 ... but it's actually $300, half of which is refundable. (Totally misleading, I think!) Also, that $300 is PER PET ... so, since I have two cats, my pet deposit would be $600. BUT, the security deposit would be $125 instead of $250, because I work for a "preferred employer." Okay, there's another perk from working for my company ... cool, I will take it! So that brings the move-in to $725, which is still not as bad as the $1,000 I was thinking I'd have to come up with. True, the rent would probably be about the same as what I pay now, but surely the utilities would be less. (I know the water would be, what with all the plumbing issues we've had here!!) Oh, then I also found out today that my monthly rent would be $10 more per pet as well, which really ticks me off. Have y'all heard of that before? I haven't. Granted, I haven't moved much in the past 10 years, and I haven't lived in an apartment since I was in college, but still ... that's just crazy!!

So, I guess I will just plan to TRY to save up the money to move (for deposits, movers, whatever), depending on whether or not I continue to get child support, what kind of raise I get at the end of the year, whether Murphy stays away, etc. and I'll just keep checking with the apartment locator periodically to see if an apartment with a garage comes available in that complex. It's probably just as well, since I have a TON of stuff to get rid of in order to be able to move into a 2-bedroom apartment, so I know I will have to have some garage sales. That's something I've needed to do for a long long time anyway, and it will make me some extra money, which I definitely need! (I will just have to wait for cooler weather!) Oh, one other good thing about moving to the apartment is that it's got ALL the appliances in it already, including a full-size washer/dryer, and ALL the kitchen appliances ... so I could sell all of my appliances!