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Another Mini-Milestone!

June 27th, 2011 at 05:52 pm

Just updating my sidebar for this month (I use the last day of each month to keep track of my balance). I'm so excited because I can now say I owe UNDER $5,000 in credit card debt, woo-hoo! And I've paid off almost 63% of the amount I started with ... it's taken almost 3.5 years to do it, but I'm so happy that I've stuck with it and made the slow but sure progress that is shown here. I can't wait for my next mini-milestone of 75% credit card debt paid!

I recently received a letter from my apartment complex telling me that I'm due to sign another one-year lease by September 8, and that my rent will be going up 7% ($79/month more). Frown I was not at all happy about that, since I've lived here 2.5 years, have been a good tenant, and have not once been late on the rent. So I asked if they might possibly work with me on that amount, in light of my record as a tenant ... and they agreed to raise the amount by only 4% ($45/month more). I'd still prefer it not to go up at all, but I didn't realistically expect that to be the case, so I'm happy they lowered it as much as they did. I looked at moving instead, but that would be an even more expensive endeavor, especially since I'd have to buy at least a washer/dryer anywhere else I would go. (My complex provides the washer/dryer AND refrigerator in each apartment.) All the apartments around here are at least what I pay for mine, if not more. I also thought about downsizing to a 2-bedroom, but that wouldn't save me very much because of the "special deal" I have on my current apartment ... besides, my son still has another year and a half to go before he graduates from college, and I like him to have his own room when he comes home for winter and summer breaks. Maybe when both kids are gone I can look at getting a 2-bedroom place ... but that's a couple of years down the road!

My son just got hired on for a summer internship at a great company, so we are thrilled about that! He worked hard to find something like that before summer started, but he didn't succeed. He did get lucky enough to get a job in a shop nearby, though, so he's been able to work for the last month ... and last week he got a call from one of the companies he'd applied for an internship with, and they asked him to come interview for a spot which will be opening up because one of the four interns they hired neglected to tell them about the two or three vacations he has planned this summer (LOL). So he interviewed this morning, and they called him this afternoon to offer him the job! He will be making almost twice as much as he's making now, plus getting great exposure in the field of his major (Mechanical Engineering). I'm so happy for him!! He has worked so hard and really deserves this. I wish the opportunity had come a month earlier, but I'm so happy it has come now.

I'm going to take a moment here to brag a little about my son, who has just completed his third year at Texas A&M. He has gotten no financial help from his dad or me ... he's done it all with scholarships, grants, and loans ... and after getting his financial aid package for his fourth year squared away recently, he only has $25,000 in loan debt TOTAL!! He won't graduate until December 2012, so he will still need to add a bit more to that total before all is said and done ... but from all I've read here and heard from people who have student loan debt, $25,000 in loans for 4 years of college is pretty darn good! He worked two jobs this past year, besides taking a full course load, and he still managed to make the Dean's Honor Roll both semesters. So you can understand why I'm so proud of him and say that he really does deserve that internship!!

My 16-year-old daughter has been job hunting for MONTHS and has found NOTHING. Some of her friends have gotten jobs, so there are some out there, but it seems like the ones who have gotten jobs have been in the right place at the right time. I keep telling her to hang in there, something will come along, but it's hard for her not to get discouraged ... especially now that she's had a few weeks out of school and the boredom has set in!

Thanks to those of you who made such encouraging comments after my last post. It really does help to get that positive reinforcement!

Still Plugging Away ...

February 26th, 2011 at 11:22 am

I so seldom post here that I'm sure very few of you even "know" me, but I still come here almost every day to read about all of you! I just thought I should write a quick update post since I just updated my credit card payoff balance on the sidebar ... which, I am thrilled to say, I've whittled down by almost 60% over the past three years! I have read many stories of folks who have paid down debt much quicker, but I think I've done pretty good for a single mom of two ... and reading the blogs here on Saving Advice has made a big difference! I look at money so much differently now than I used to, think about my purchases more before I make them, and definitely do not buy all the STUFF that I used to buy. It is true ... people really CAN change!!

One thing I am doing now is trying to improve my credit score. I am down to two credit cards that I am still working to pay off completely (I started with eight). I recently paid off a card with a credit line of $500, and I am using it to pay for my gasoline each time I fill up and then paying it off in full every month. I am hoping that by doing this I will be able to improve my credit score somewhat. I checked my score this month on all three agencies:

Experian: 660
Equifax: 638
TransUnion: 650

I know my score now is only considered to be "fair," and I would really like to get it to at least "good" someday! So I am working towards that now. I know I have my score from back when I started on this journey a few years ago, but I can't find it at this moment ... it would really be interesting to see how it's increased since that time!

I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in October 2005, and I know that things will look up after that drops off my record, but I can't remember when that will happen ... 7 years or 10 years? Anyway, between having that huge blemish disappear and paying off my debt, I know my score will eventually go up; but I also have to use a card for something and PAY IT OFF (what a concept)! Smile

Anyway, that's where I am at today! To use a favorite phrase of Thrifty Ray's ... LIFE IS GOOD!!

My Bi-Annual Check-In

August 23rd, 2010 at 05:27 pm

I'm still here, still reading blogs here and there, just not posting. There really hasn't been much to blog about; as you can see by looking at my sidebar, I'm still paring down my debt. I finally got over the 50% hump last month, which is encouraging, although I have to say I am getting SO tired of not having extra money for anything. I know I should be thankful to have enough to provide what my kids and I need, and to be able to pay down debt at the same time ... but I still live with a fear that something major will come along that I won't be able to handle. I haven't increased my baby emergency fund like I wanted to this year, and I also owe Uncle Sam $800 on October 15. So that is discouraging. But all in all, life is good and the light at the end of my tunnel of debt is getting brighter and closer. So I need to concentrate on that and stay focused and positive. Anyway, since I have been updating my debt repayment progress each month, I thought I'd give a shout to all of you!

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!!

Ticked at myself (and credit cards are EVIL)

May 16th, 2009 at 01:03 pm

A couple of weeks ago I decided to transfer most of the balance of one of my Juniper credit cards to a Capital One card with a much lower APR, and I paid off the remaining balance on that Juniper card to bring it down to zero. (Side note: they immediately lowered the APR on the card I paid off from 27.99% to 15.24%.) However, I made a math error when figuring the transfer fee and finance charges on the transferred amount, because I went $12 over the limit on my Capital One card and got popped with a $39 overlimit fee. DOH!! This story has an okay ending, however ... after paying the amount I was over the limit by, I called Capital One and they waived the fee. Yay!!

I also have a second Juniper card, and when I paid it last time I somehow paid $51 instead of the $53 minimum payment (still can't figure out how I did this, and I am sooo MAD at myself!). Even though I made the payment 3 days before the due date there was still $2 due, which they considered late. Yep, you guessed it, I got popped with a $39 late fee ... AND they raised my APR from 27.99% to 29.99%! ARGH!! I called and asked them to waive the $39 fee since I have not made a late payment or gone over my limit in almost TWO YEARS, and they took off HALF of it. OK, half is better than none ... so I went on to ask about the APR being raised. I pointed out how the APR on my other Juniper card is almost half of the APR on this one, and she told me that once I establish a better payment history they will lower it. Seriously? I screwed up by $2, for pete's sake!! I asked to speak to her supervisor, and she put me on hold for a minute, then came back on and told me her supervisor was busy taking "regular calls" and that she could call me back in the next 24-48 hrs. I was so mad by that time I told her "never mind" and hung up on her. I know, that was the wrong thing to do ... but I can't believe that a $2 mistake totally derailed all the progress I made on that card over the past year and a half!!

It's seriously cutthroat with credit card companies right now. No slack AT ALL.

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

Text is this website and Link is http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/financial-calculators.html
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

Garage sale was less than successful ...

March 7th, 2009 at 04:15 pm

Well, I guess it always could have been worse, but I didn't get rid of nearly as much stuff as I wanted to! I made $350 but my biggest objective in having this sale was to get rid of stuff so I don't have to move it next week. (In fact, I can't move it next week because I will have nowhere to put it in my apartment!) I can pack up all the books (a ton) and CDs (not so many) and take them to Half Price Books and be happy with whatever I get, but I have a LOT of other things too (mainly decorative items). So, the question is: what can I do to get rid of all my garage sale leftovers ... in the next week ... when I am supposed to work Monday through Thursday ... and I haven't started packing yet for the Saturday move???

I've Paid Off 30% of My Debt!!!

February 28th, 2009 at 07:20 pm

Since I started actively concentrating on paying down my debt (just over a year ago), I've paid off a hair over 30% of it!! Not only that, I'm below $10,000 now, woo-hoo!! I just updated my chart on the sidebar ... check it out, the chart says it all!! I'm STOKED!! 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