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Long Time No Blog!

January 22nd, 2010 at 09:32 pm

I haven't posted in months, but I am still checking in and reading blogs regularly. I have been busy with life and nothing has really changed for me financially, other than whittling away at my credit card debt! After two full years of paying down on my CC debt and not incurring any new debt, I've paid off a little over 40% of my original CC debt. I have been able to maintain my $1,000 baby EF, and this coming year I hope to double that. It doesn't seem like much saved, and the progress with paying down my CC debt has been slow ... but I think it's pretty good considering the high interest rates on my cards and the fact that I have not had a salary increase at work in over a year. I've also continued to contribute 6% of my salary to my 401(k) to get the match. I think that once I hit 50% of my debt paid and get to the downhill slope, it will go much quicker ... I'm looking forward to that, and it should happen soon!!

What would you do? -- ADVICE NEEDED!!

April 25th, 2009 at 06:04 pm

I currently contribute $200 per month to my 401k, which gets me a company match of $100. I've been reading advice from various financial gurus (Dave Ramsey, etc.) saying if you have credit card debt (which I do) and a small or non-existent emergency fund (which I do ... a small EF that I am currently working on building up) that you should suspend 401k contributions temporarily and use that money to pay off debt/save. Hearing this advice spurred me to do some research, and I came up with the following options.

(Note: I used the debt reduction calculator found on this website to calculate all the schedules used in the following options; it was really cool, and you can find several other calculators there as well.)

Option 1: Staying the course. I currently pay $300/month towards my CC debt, and I have not incurred any new debt in 1.5 years. Not including any windfalls I might receive, and not taking into consideration any changes in my current APRs, at the rate I am going I won't pay off my CC debt until July 2012.

Option 2: Cut my 401k contributions in half, giving me an extra $100/month to put towards my CC debt. I would shave one year off my current timetable and be done by June 2011.

Option 3: Cut my 401k contributions entirely and put that $200/month towards my CC debt, paying it off in December 2010.

Option 4: Cut my 401k contributions entirely and put $100/month towards my CC debt and $100/month in savings. (I currently have $130/month set up to go into savings.)

Please give me your input and help me decide!

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

Paid off that stinkin' WaMu card!!

February 1st, 2009 at 03:53 pm

I got my bonus on Friday, and set up the payment for the WaMu card today ... it's just over $1,600 and I will be thrilled to stamp it "PAID"!! I had intended to put $400 towards the smaller of my two Juniper cards as well, but my bonus wasn't as much as I was expecting because of all the taxes taken out -- 36.55%!!! I have no idea why there was so much taken out for taxes, but I sure didn't expect it to be that much. Well, at least I was able to pay off that stinkin' WaMu card!! Smile

I updated the total and pie chart in my sidebar (the WaMu card will come out of the Feb. total), and I've paid off almost 17% of my CC debt, woo-hoo!! I can hardly wait to see the number after this month ... it will fall below $10,000, YEAH!!!

I hope to see my income tax refund later this coming week, so I can update my savings totals!!

I'm SO excited!!!!

January 21st, 2009 at 07:21 pm

I had my performance review at work today, and it went really well. Then, this afternoon we all found out what our bonuses are going to be, and at the end of next week I will be getting a little under $3,000!! Of course there will be taxes taken out, but I am taking $2,000 of whatever the final amount is and putting it towards my CC debt. First order of business is to pay off that stinkin' WaMu card ... buh-bye to that card with its $1,600 balance AND its 29.99% APR!!! GOOD RIDDANCE. Next on the list is one of my 27.99% cards ... I have two, both through Juniper, and I will pay $400 on the one with the $700 balance (the lower of the two). I am determined to pay off the remaining $300 in two months, so that card will be GONE by April. Woo-hoo!!! The debt snowball will be growing well by then, and I am STOKED!!! I also plan to call my other CC companies at that time and see if they will lower my APRs. I would've done it before now, but all I've been able to pay on them are minimums, and with a bankruptcy on my record and all my current cards maxed out, I had no leverage ... I mean, it's not like I could threaten to transfer a balance to a 0% APR card because they'd know darn good and well I couldn't get one of those anywhere!! So, that is my plan.

On the savings front, I hope to get around $1,000 back from the IRS, so that will go to refunding my baby emergency fund. I've also set up three automatic transfers each month to my various savings accounts, so I'll be saving $150/month that way, which will build my savings balances back up nicely.

I feel better now. Smile


Happy Blogoversary to Me!!

November 23rd, 2008 at 10:20 am

I started my blog here one year ago today! I have really made some good progress, and look forward to making even more during the coming year. A few changes that I have noticed about myself in the past year:

1. I have not used credit cards AT ALL in 2008. This is the first year I have EVER been able to say that, since I got my first credit card in 1982!

2. I have managed to pay off 13% of my debt (a little more, actually, since I update my pie chart at the end of the month).

3. I started a 401K at work, and I have 6% of my salary withheld each pay period and my employer matches it 50%. I plan to bump up this percentage when I pay off all my CC debt.

4. My whole attitude about spending has changed. Gone are the days when I spent money like water (i.e., charged stuff!) and got fast food for my kids every time I heard "Mom, can we ..." I NEVER thought I would change as drastically as I have in this area!

I seriously need to get busy rebuilding my baby EF, it's gotten far too low! I withdrew most of my money from TD Ameritrade to do Christmas shopping, which has been my plan all year (I started this account as a "Save Yourself" account, which Suze Orman was touting, and I finally got my $100 bonus recently). What WASN'T in my plan was depleting my ING acct. (my baby EF) due to the reduction in child support which took effect at the first of June. Now that I've gotten a promotion at work and my salary has increased, things have stabilized and I can concentrate on building my savings back up.

I opened an account through Venture Direct (online) -- anyone have an account with them? They've been advertising an APY of 3.8% so I opened an account with them this past week with an initial deposit of $25. The APY on my ING acct. is 2.75% and the APY on my TD Ameritrade acct. is 1.0%, so my plan is to close the TD Ameritrade acct. and move that money into one of the other accounts. The $50/month automatic transfer I have set up to go into that account will be changed to go into my ING account, and I set up another $50/month automatic transfer into the Venture acct. beginning next month, for a total of $100/month automatically being saved, yay me!! (Before I started this blog, I saved $0/month!) Depending on what kind of merit increase (if any) I get after the first of the year, I may bump those amounts up. I also plan to look seriously (again) at moving out of the rent house I am in ... hopefully in March. I need to get my butt in gear and start decluttering and have a couple of garage sales (which will also net me some cash)!!

Big day -- I voted AND got a flu shot!

November 4th, 2008 at 07:11 pm

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!

This 'n That

August 3rd, 2008 at 09:30 pm

Well, I've made a few more sales on half.com, and my profit stands at right around $40 now. I haven't received any of that money yet, but half of it should hit my account tomorrow or Tuesday. I decided to close my SmartyPig account (already!) so it's gone from my sidebar. I had $75.11 in that, and I needed money to buy my son some things to get him ready to go off to college in a couple of weeks ... so I decided it would be better to close that account than to defrost a credit card! Smile I am really feeling the pinch of that reduction in child support a couple of months ago. I just really hate to go get another job on top of my full-time job, because that will leave my 13-year-old daughter home alone an awful lot. But I may have no choice. I keep thinking I'll see how long I can hold out, and if I can just make it to next year things will look up. I'll get a salary increase in February, and hopefully something from the IRS. (Not sure about the IRS refund; I have gotten large amounts in past years due to earning such a low amount throughout the year; however, with this job I'm working now I have no basis for comparison.) But even if I can "hang on" ... that's still another 6+ months away, which is a long time.

In the meantime, I am paying the minimums on my credit cards again, but at least I am able to do that ... I refuse to make any more late payments or, worse yet, no payments at all! The progress has been slow, but at least I have made progress. Since the beginning of the year, I have whittled just over $1,300 off my debt, and I'm almost under $12,000 total now. At the same time, I have incurred NO NEW DEBT, woo-hoo!! I know as long as I keep doing what I'm doing, things will get easier with time. And I am still saving a little money and contributing 6% to my 401K. I have to keep positively reinforcing myself here! Smile

I got some good deals yesterday at JCPenney. I had to get some sheets and shorts for my son, like I said earlier. There was an ad in the newspaper on Thursday about a sale JCPenney was having, and they had their extra long twin size sheets on sale for $14.99/set. I thought that was a pretty good price, so I hauled my son out there on Saturday morning w/me to see if they also had any shorts he might like. I wanted to get what we needed before 1:00 to get the early bird discount (an extra 10% off), which we did. As it turned out, all their young men's shorts were on sale for $9.99/pair! The athletic shorts (basketball-type) weren't included, but those were 30% off. So we walked out of there with 2 sets of sheets and 6 pairs of shorts (4 regular, 2 athletic) for $112 total, which I didn't think was too bad. The last time I bought shorts for him, I can tell you I paid more than $10/pair!!

Oh, and I have to get in here that I had 10 no-spenders in July, woo-hoo!

Selling Stuff

July 19th, 2008 at 01:48 pm

I listed about a dozen books on half.com earlier this week, and sold two right away! Nothing since then, though. I should make about $13 profit from those two sales.

This afternoon I listed two things on Craigslist. The first was a very large guinea pig cage. We haven't had guinea pigs for quite awhile, and I had listed the cage on Craigslist before, but had no luck. This time, I got a hit 5 minutes after the listing posted. Just before our last guinea pig died, I had stocked up on supplies, so I threw the rest of those in the deal along with the cage. The people that are buying it all are getting a great deal for $30, but I'm getting rid of "clutter"!! They're supposed to be here any minute to pick the stuff up.

I also listed a couple of Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls on Craigslist ... these dolls are 4 feet tall and are called "dancing" dolls because they have wide elastic straps sewn to their hands/feet, and kids can strap 'em on and dance with 'em! (At least, that's what I was told when I originally bought them 18+ years ago as nursery decorating items when I was pregnant with my son.) I listed them for $75 neg. and I doubt I'll get any bites, but who knows? Now I'm looking around the house trying to find something else I think might go quickly on Craigslist!

I updated my sidebar to show the $150 deducted from my Challenge money for the refrigerator I bought last weekend off Craigslist. I think I'll leave my EF untouched in ING.

I saw a great concert last night - FREE!!

July 14th, 2008 at 08:00 pm



I have enjoyed George Michael's music for many years, and I got to go see him perform in concert last night in Dallas! My employer has a suite at the American Airlines Center, and if no one has customers they want to take to an event, employees are able to request tickets for their own use. (Doesn't mean they will get them, but they can request them!) Smile So I was able to go and take a friend of mine, and sit in the suite and enjoy a great concert, for free!! It was an awesome concert, and I had SO MUCH FUN!! Big Grin

As an update to my "refrigerator replacement challenge," my fridge finally kicked the bucket late on Thursday night. Luckily I knew it was coming, so I didn't lose very much ... just condiments, etc., most of which had been in there for way too long anyway! I will replace those items as we need them. I was able to find a used fridge on Craigslist for $150 that is actually bigger than our old fridge, which is nice. No ice maker, which we did have in the old fridge, but that's something I can live with. The important thing is that it works well and I was able to scrape up enough cash to pay for it! I ended up taking the $150 out of my challenge money because I needed it sooner than I was able to get the money transferred from my EF (which is in an ING account). I still need to update my sidebar to reflect that.

And, last but certainly not least, I've already had 6 no-spend days so far this month!! Smile

Murphy came to visit me - how rude!

July 9th, 2008 at 07:59 pm

He KNOWS he was uninvited and is NOT welcome here!!

I posted last week about my refrigerator making a noise and not cooling well, following a power outage we experienced. Well, the noise has gotten worse ... it's just awful! And now we've noticed that the drinks in the fridge are not as cold as they should be, so it's not just the freezer. The strange thing is that the ice maker is still making ice, but it isn't making very much so I guess that just indicates it's taking the cubes a long time to freeze. So I have to buy a refrigerator. I've been looking on Craigslist for a few days, so hopefully I will find something soon. The money will have to come from my emergency fund, unfortunately. I'm trying to find something for $150 or less, so hopefully the fund won't take too hard a hit.

I was told an hour or so ago (by my daughter, via text message) that my ex lost his job today. I don't have any details yet, but she is supposed to call me later. She was riding in the car with him and my son at the time, on their way to drop her off for a visit at her grandparents ... from there, my son and ex are going to a new student conference at Texas A&M, where my son will be attending college. It's disappointing news about my ex's job; he hasn't had it very long, so I can't imagine what happened unless his company is suffering from the effects of the economy like so many others are. Obviously this worries me as far as getting my child support payments on time, since they were coming direct deposit from his company when he got paid every two weeks. He's never not paid me, though, so I need to not worry about it. I just hope he can find something else really soon.

Speaking of jobs, I've been giving a lot of serious thought lately to getting a second job. I think it would be fun to work at Starbuck's ... what do they pay, does anyone know? I'm assuming it's minimum wage. Of course, with them having to close stores now, I probably can't get hired on there. Well, it's a thought. I have nothing to lose by filling out an application!

A no-spender to start the month

July 1st, 2008 at 06:09 pm

Not only did I have a NSD today, I had a total of 8 of them in June, yay me!! Smile

I updated my savings account totals to reflect interest earned in June, and updated my CC debt amount. The savings accounts are slowly inching their way up, and the CC balances are slowly inching their way down.

It's mid-year review time at work, and I have completed my self-assessment. I'm eager to see if my supervisor concurs with how I rated myself. I asked her today if there's any chance I will get an increase with this review, and she is going to look into it. As a review, I started w/the company last Oct. 8, and Oct. 1 was the cut-off date to be eligible for merit increases at the beginning of this year ... so I did not get one. I will, however, get one at the beginning of 2009, which is when everyone gets increases across the board (unless they had a bad review). I'm not optimistic that I will get an increase now, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask!

I'm nervous that my refrigerator is about to croak! We had a big storm about a week ago, and we lost our power for 3.5 hours. That in itself is highly unusual; in fact, I think it's the first time we've lost power for more than a couple of minutes in the five years we've lived here. Anyway, since that time the freezer has not been as cold. The ice maker is still making ice, but the ice cream and popsicles I have in there are still very soft. The coldness setting was already up to 6, so I put it on 7 (which is the highest setting) and it seemed somewhat better the first day after I did that but now the ice cream is soft again. It's also making a really loud noise when the freezer is running. Thankfully I don't have much in there, so I'm not worried about losing a lot of meat, etc. ... but I really don't want the expense of having to replace the refrigerator. Time will tell .......

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!!

Car repairs, and a bad habit crept back in!

April 27th, 2008 at 04:58 pm

I haven't posted since the end of March, and now it's almost the end of April and time to tally up how much (or, more to the point, how little) I've paid down my credit cards! I still read the blogs here almost every day, but I just don't seem to have much to post on a daily basis.

The bad habit I refer to in the title of this entry is not writing down what I spend each day. I did great for the first 3.5 months of the year, but I looked at my expense notebook earlier and noticed it's been two weeks since I wrote anything down! Shame on me! I've had to do quite a bit of spending in that two weeks, too; mainly for clothes. I officially reached my goal weight today at my Weight Watchers weigh-in, and I have had to buy some new clothes for myself (still have more I need to buy also, but that will have to happen slowly). I also had to buy some new clothes for my 18-year-old son; not only did he need some shorts and T-shirts for summer, but he needed some khaki slacks and dress shirts for the national DECA competition he's participating in right now in Atlanta.

I've also had to shell out some cash (from my emergency fund) for repairs to my son's car, and am going to need to shell out a LOT more in the very near future to get the air conditioner in my car fixed. I'm putting that off as long as I can, but it's amazing I've gone almost 3 weeks without A/C at this time of year here in North Texas! We even got a cool front last night, so it's been quite pleasant driving my car today. It helps that I park in a large parking garage at work, so I don't have to get into a HOT car at the end of the day, and my drive home is only about 8 miles. In the morning it hasn't been an issue. I don't normally go out at lunch since I bring my lunch pretty much every day. But there's no way I'm going without A/C through the 100+ degree temps we get here quite regularly every summer! When the A/C first stopped working (it blows hot air) I hoped I just needed some freon, so I took it to the place I take it for oil changes. The mechanic there checked it out and told me he thought it was a computer issue and I'd need to take it to a GM dealership. (Sounds very expensive!) A week later I decided to drop it off at a garage across the street from my office; they get a lot of business from people that work where I do, so they told me they wouldn't charge me a diagnostic fee ... what did I have to lose? Well, the mechanic there told me I'd need a new evaporator core (I think?) and gave me an estimate of almost $1300 ... OUCH!! After they told me that, they took $100 off the estimate, so it's now ONLY $1200. Still more than I want to spend and pretty much wipes out my emergency fund!! Having gotten two different diagnoses of the problem doesn't bring me great comfort, either ... so now I'm looking to get a third opinion! I absolutely despise dealing with car issues.

The deal with my son's car is even more frustrating. My ex-husband and I are going to be taking the mechanics that worked on my son's car to small claims court in the very near future. I have to get all the paperwork done and filed, since the car is in my name (my old car), and then we'll get a court date. Hopefully we (me, my son, and my ex) will get some of the thousands of dollars we've poured into that car back!

The good news is that I've gotten a $10 gift card from MyPoints, so I put $10 into my challenge for that. I also got a $10 award check from Opinion Outpost, which went into the challenge. There have also been some grocery savings I added, so my total to date is $172.07. I need to update the amounts in my sidebar now! Smile

Slow Going

March 30th, 2008 at 09:53 pm

I haven't posted much lately, but I am here reading pretty much every day! I am still taking my lunches to work, and still writing down everything I spend money on daily.

Like a lot of others here, I'm looking back at the past month's spending and seeing how I did. I'm happy to report 7 no-spend days in March! I'm encouraged when I look at my savings totals slowly going up, and when I look at the balance in my newly-established Vanguard account after only two pay periods of contributing. But the debt is going down SO slowly! I got popped with some overlimit fees last month that showed up on this month's statements, and that really discouraged me. I've made several very large payments on my cards this year, and it doesn't seem like it when you look at what I still owe ... because the interest just keeps building and it seems like I am taking 10 steps forward and 9 steps backward. It's going to be a long trek at this pace!! But I know slow and steady progress will get me where I want to be.

I know that as I get a couple of the smaller cards paid off and start putting those monthly amounts towards other cards, I will be able to see more of a difference. It's just discouraging right now. At least the weight loss is going well ... only a little over 4 lbs. to go until I reach my goal, woo-hoo!!

My Credit is Frozen!!!

March 5th, 2008 at 07:37 pm

Because I put my credit cards in a ziplock bag of water and froze them!! Smile It's something I've been meaning to do for awhile, actually ... finally just DID IT.

Thank you, Ima Saver, for sending me the $25 bonus certificate for opening an account at ING!! I got it last week and opened the account with $500 of my EF; there's another week to go before those funds are available for withdrawal, so I will wait until that time to transfer the remaining $1,000 and close the account at my brick & mortar bank. (I felt nervous opening the account w/the entire amount, just in case I needed to get to the cash.)

Last but not least, I already have two no-spend days this month, woo-hoo!!

Not happy ... ING, here I come!

February 23rd, 2008 at 10:59 am

I just checked out my bank balances, and the $4.00 came out of both of my savings accounts yesterday ... so now I have $1,496.00 in my EF and $124.18 in my Challenge account. ARGH!! Knowing that I can keep my money at ING for free makes me that much more irritated to pay $8.00 to keep it in my brick & mortar bank. I don't mind keeping my checking account there, since it is no-fee because I have my salary direct deposited.

So, does anyone know of any special deals for opening an account at ING? I am ready!!

ING: What are the Pros/Cons?

February 21st, 2008 at 04:48 pm

I have been pondering putting my savings in an ING account. I have read on this forum that you can have subaccounts w/ING? How does that work? Do they charge monthly fees? My bank charges me $4/month, and I just hate that! What is Electric Orange? Is that their checking account?

I'd love to hear from all who have accounts with ING. Pros and cons, any and all feedback welcome!!

Got my tax refund!!

February 9th, 2008 at 08:57 am

I used Turbo Tax and e-filed, and got my refund directly into my account yesterday, exactly when they said it would show up! So, take notice of my emergency fund total to the left ... it is now $1,500 instead of $0!! I also was able to update my challenge fund, since I got a $10 check this week from Opinion Outpost. The "Save Yourself" account is at TD Ameritrade, and it's the Suze Orman deal where if you put at least $50/month into the account for 12 consecutive months, they will add $100. I set that up when I started my job back in October. So, I am feeling pretty excited! Smile Now I can really focus more on paying down the debt. I will update that total at the end of each month.

As it turns out, I was not eligible for a merit increase at work after all, based on my start date of October 8 and missing the Oct. 1 cutoff, etc. (basically the same reason I did not get a bonus). The person who told me I would be eligible for a merit increase is actually in H.R., and she felt really bad about her mistake the next day, when I told her that I'd learned that morning I would not be receiving an increase and why! I was a little resentful initially, but it was just a mistake on her part (and heaven knows I have made plenty of those!), and I decided I just need to concentrate on the positive, which is that if I had not gotten this job, I'd still be working in my old job at less than half the salary I now receive!! I really am fortunate now to have the job I do, and I want to make the most of this opportunity. I am excited about what this year holds for me, and it's up to me to make it the best it can be! Smile (Thanks to baselle for telling me how to get the smileys!)

Seriously Derailed

January 26th, 2008 at 07:30 pm

I am still around, but have just been lurking. I can't stay away from this site, I read everything! I dream of being able to post about MY success, but I haven't made any strides yet, so I have not posted. I need to get myself on track.

Christmas buying really put me in a bigger hole than I either planned or realized. I couldn't pay all the minimums on my credit cards in December, so I incurred some late charges ... which, of course, has just gotten me further into the hole. Trying to get caught up this month has left me flat broke! Add to that the fact that my ex got a new job, so he's going from paying me child support in full at the beginning of each month to paying half of it twice a month, when he gets paid. So I have some adjustments to make to get used to that new set-up. It will all work out, it will just take a little time ... and I am impatient, especially when I'm waiting for $$$ because I currently have none!

I have to amend the rules I made for my own challenge. The PayPal funds I transferred into my challenge account at the beginning of the month had to go towards bills. I figure that ANY substantial amount needs to go towards building my EF, then to paying down my debt. Given that, the larger amounts I get from eBay sales as well as the garage sale I plan to have in the spring will go towards savings and debt reduction. My challenge fund will consist of smaller amounts that come from coupon use when buying groceries, as well as awards from doing surveys and completing rebates, things like that. Following those guidelines, my challenge fund currently stands at $87.22!! This comes from a couple of rebates, coupon use, and my first check from Cash Crate. Oh, also a check I got from my insurance company last week in the amount of 8 CENTS!! Please.

I still don't have my bonus, but I think that is paid this coming week (end of month). I don't anticipate much, and I am struggling so to get caught up with my bills, I will probably use it towards those. I am also waiting to receive the W-2 from my last job (which should arrive this week as well), so that I can do my taxes. I already estimated I will get several thousand back (due to the EIC), which will be great. I plan to use it to fund my baby EF first, and the rest will go towards the CCs. I also need to buy a few clothes, since I have lost enough weight now to make a big difference in how my current clothing fits! But I am going to stick to resale shops for that, especially since I still want to lose enough weight to make a difference of another size.

I have been doing really well as far as recording and tracking my spending, and I've taken my lunch to work every day, so I am proud of myself in those areas. Between budgeting and dieting, taking lunch to work is a necessity!

$20 Challenge, etc.

December 30th, 2007 at 08:02 pm

Lots of activity here on the board, in preparation for a new year! I've noticed several of you talking about your net worth. This is probably a dumb question, but how exactly do I figure that out? (I'm not sure I really want to know my net worth, LOL!)

I have decided to start my own $20 Challenge for this year. I opened up a second savings account awhile back with a purpose in mind for it, but I never really did anything with it so it was just sitting there pretty much empty. So I upped the balance in it to $20, and that's my starting point. Into it I will deposit any rebates I receive, money from online surveys (which I have started doing since joining this board), and any funds from eBay and garage sales or Craigslist sales. I have a rebate coming soon from AT&T (for my daughter's cell phone) in the form of a Visa debit card, so I will put the cash equivalent into the account and use the card for groceries. Same plan will apply for any survey proceeds which come in the form of cards of any type. As far as garage sales, well, I need to have one. I have lived in my current rental home for 4.5 years (following divorce and major downsizing in living quarters), and I have boxes out in the garage that I have never unpacked. I hate having garage sales, but I know the time will come that I have to get rid of all that stuff, and I might as well profit from it. So I'm going to plan to have a sale, probably in the spring (unless I get a wild hair sooner than that!). In the meantime, I can list small items here and there on eBay. I currently have a bit over $80 sitting in my PayPal account for items I've sold over the past week. I have another auction ending tomorrow, so when the funds from that come in I'll transfer that $100 or so into my challenge account. I'm sure I'll make up other rules and guidelines for challenge money as I go, but that's my starting point. And I'm not sure yet what I'll do with the money, but I'll probably put it towards paying down my debt ... which increased almost $300 over Christmas (yikes, I'm going the wrong way)!!

Not sure if I mentioned that I started a new job at the beginning of October, so I'm fairly new with a very large company (with great benefits!). I'm supposed to be receiving a bonus at the end of January, which everyone receives; know that it won't be much because I started w/the company so late in the year, but whatever I get will be great! Depending on how much it is, I will probably use it for my Emergency Fund (which I still do not have in place yet). At least, it will be the starting point for my EF, something to build on! Then I hope to be able to file my tax return fairly early as well. My taxes are pretty simple since I don't own a home or property, don't have investments, etc. Not to mention the fact that I made hardly any money last year! The past couple of years I've gotten pretty good refunds (several thousand dollars), thanks to the EIC, and I anticipate the same this year. Whenever I receive my refund, that's going to be thrown directly at my debt!

Next thing I need to look at is starting my 401(k); my company will match 3% so I'd be crazy not to do it. I just find all the information so confusing. Can't I just say "I want X amount deducted from my check each pay period, y'all take it and make it grow"?!!

Pathetic

December 3rd, 2007 at 09:00 pm

My son is filling out applications for financial aid for next year, so he was asking me some questions tonight. One of the questions was how much I have saved. It's pretty pathetic when the 46-year-old mom has to tell the 17-year-old son she has $100 in her savings account! Geez, my son has more money in his savings than I have in mine (not much, but STILL)!! I don't think he believed me at first. I can hardly believe it myself, actually ... it's such a depressing feeling.