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July Update

July 21st, 2011 at 02:18 am

Is it really almost the end of July? I have no idea how that happened. The summer has been crazy with two extra kids being here during the day and I am very happy when the end of the day comes around each day.

Money wise, things have been very weird. I had planned on having a bunch of additional income this summer since I would be having the daycare kids more hours with school being out. However, their hours have been much fewer than I anticipated and it has but my income back significantly. Then we got hit with a large medical bill when the payment plan we had worked out was suddenly revoked (long story) and we were told to pay it within the next 3 months. But we were able to add it to the snowball and get it rolling again. The best news is that June was a 3 paycheck month of my husband (paid every 2 weeks) and we sent that extra paycheck directly to the credit card as planned, even though we knew we were going to be tight on cash for July & August. Instead of frittering away the money we did what we had planned and took a HUGE bite out of the credit card we are paying down. That big payment brought the balance down to half of what we started with in January! Victory! Happy dance!

So as of the end of July (six months of progress) we have paid off $8900 in debt while not accruing any more. Yippee! We are over the moon excited. We still have a long way to go but we are starting to breathe again after a very long time.

Done shopping for the month? YES!

February 15th, 2011 at 06:55 pm

Those of you who bothered to be bothered by my posts last week know that I was struggling with grocery shopping on a budget. Well, I accomplished that goal and was thrilled by it, but in looking at what I have in the fridge/freezer/pantry I have decided to try to make it through the rest of the month with out ANY more shopping. (There is one very small exception of having to get more milk. There are 5 kids around here who guzzle the stuff!) This is a personal goal as I am the one who does ALL the shopping, cooking and cleaning up, so I am really going to have to fight against the urge to "grab something" when I am tired of all of the above. This weekend saw $400 go out of our account to replenish our supplies and plan for the next 2 weeks between Woodman's, Sam's Club, Costco and Target. Whew!

If I can make it 2 more weeks without shopping (or eating out) we will be roughly $250 ahead of our budget between Food:dining out and Food:groceries categories, allowing us to be $250 closer to our buffer. Or maybe use it to pay $250 more to our credit cards. I can't decide which! My heart says leaving it in the account will get us that much closer to a lot less stress no longer living paycheck to paycheck (YNAB) but my head says "think of the interest payment we would save, BE GAZELLE!" (DR). Don't know which to listen to right now, but I am going to have to make it to the end of the month without do any more shopping before I can answer that question.

We only have one more credit card payment to make this month and it will be leaving our account on Friday. For the first time ever, I find myself looking FORWARD to getting the credit card statements because I can't wait to update my snowball spreadsheets, clear them in YNAB and re-total my debt progress. First statement should hit tomorrow followed by another on Friday, but I am actually stalking the accounts online looking for info instead of hiding from the mailman. Man, is that a change in behavior!

Credit cards are out of our wallets!

January 26th, 2011 at 02:08 pm

That's right....we took the credit cards out of each of our wallets....even had a little ceremony as we tucked them into the safe. Until doing our budget and "giving every dollar a job" we used these cards as our safety net. Just a couple weeks ago I had to put a bunch of household necessities from Target onto the credit card because our balance on the debit card was too low and was denied. I felt awful! Not anymore!

From now on we are only getting rid of debt, not making more. Period.

Starting Over and Digging out of a deep hole

January 25th, 2011 at 02:38 am

Wow! I did not realize it had been 3 years since my last post. I am sure no one will remember me, but I am going to update you anyway. Smile So much has happened in the last 3 years that I don't quite know where to begin. Three years ago we were well on our way to being out of debt. We had a road map to freedom and then the worst happened. In April of 2008 I lost my job. Needless to say, I was completely blindsided by it. I was told on a Friday afternoon that I was being transferred to a new team and the following Friday I was told my job didn't exist anymore. That same week I found out we were pregnant with our second child, which was wonderful news but the timing was hard. The emotional fallout has been intense and I am still not back to being "fully employed". Working in a male dominated field that is closely linked to the housing market made it impossible for me to find a job while pregnant. There were very few jobs to go around and no one wanted to hire some one who would be taking leave shortly after being hired. We survived on unemployment for a while and once that ran out I decided to start watching my friends children to bring in extra money. I am still doing this, but find it extremely soul-sucking. While I enjoy being a mom, I do not enjoy being a stay-at-home-mom.

We did/do have an emergency fund, but we never touched it. Seems counter-intuitive, but we didn't think this was bad enough of an emergency. What would happen if we were already strapped and had a medical emergency? Or my DH lost his job too? THESE seemed like the worst case scenario once we were in what we once thought was our worst case. We were doing OK, but looking back on things we were using credit cards to plug the gaps in our budget which just made the gaps in our budget bigger. We are back up to $23,000 in credit card debt and unfortunately had to take on a $22,000 vehicle loan this summer. Grand total of $45,000 in debt makes me want to cry and scream because we were so close to getting off the debt roller coaster just a couple years ago.

As of this week we are back on track. We are plugging away at the debt and embracing the Dave Ramsey "baby steps". We are using YNAB to keep us on track and both my husband and I are on the same page for the first time in a very long time. We are ready to take this debt done NOW! Each little step we take feels like we have reached an enormous milestone, just by getting our debt moving in the right direction.

Been a while

January 7th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

OK, so I haven't posted since the end of August. What have I been doing all this time? I am not really sure, but I definitely wasn't posting on here. Smile I did go through a miscarriage in October and haven't felt like doing much of anything since then, but I am coming around slowly.

Debt wise we seem to be doing really well. We decided to take money out of our long term savings to pay off our truck, with the understanding that we will increase our investment amount by equal to what the car payment was each month. This way we own the truck, save the interest payments each month and have a smaller debt load. Win-win all the way around.

We have continued to make the snowball payments that we had committed to. We are down to the last 2 debts and it is all paid off (besides the mortgage). Took a big chunk out of it at the end of December with my insurance opt-out check and my DH's bonus.

The dirty little secret is that we have managed to put way too much onto the "everyday" credit card. Things that we don't have the money to pay right that second, like swim lessons, have gone on there and it just keeps snowballing in a bad way. Once the original snowball plan is done we have to attack that in a big way, but one step at a time.

I have managed to sell quite a few things on so that has helped supplement things very slightly, but every little bit helps.

So, moral of the story is that we are continuing to make progress, but have a ways to go.

Blah blah blah

May 8th, 2007 at 03:18 pm

Even though the days are getting longer, my time seems to be getting shorter. Scott was gone last night to Grand Rapids so of course I didn't get anything done around the house. We didn't get home until almost 7 due to chiropractor appointments and having to stop to pick up dog food, and of course it was tough dragging Caleb into the house, but I can't leave a 2 YO outside alone while I cook dinner. So there was much screaming and yelling and scratching....and that was just me! (ba da bum) But seriously, the evening went really fast.

Now for my big confession. I arrived at work yesterday to find 2 emails saying that OD protection had been advanced for my account to the tune of $1000 total. Ugh. Guess I wasn't paying as close attention as I originally thought. There is nothing I can do about it until pay day at the end of the week, so we are just going to have to pray for a miracle between now and then. I momentarily went back to my old ways and now we are paying the price. I will be able to pay back the OD this week, but we are not going to have ANY discretionary spending for the rest of the month. Scott is leaving for New Zealand in a few days and won't be back until June, so it will be up to me to keep things under control.

Yup, 2.5 weeks as a single mom. I am not really looking forward to it, but I am not as terrified as I thought I would be either. Originally, I was planning on going along with DH to New Zealand, but I just feel uncomfortable leaving DS for that long. I just hope that I have the chance to go there in the future. Has always been a dream of mine, I just hope I didn't squander my only opportunity.

I updated the total debt numbers on the side yesterday. Our credit card payment date is much earlier in the month now, so we are all of a sudden below 5 digits on your main credit card. Yippee! And we are quickly approaching the $2000 mark for payoff. That feels great for sure.

Savings for our "buffer" (equal to one months expenses) are completely non-existent. However, I have moved all of the money in our EF from our credit union to ING, so now I have a savings account that I can use to store the money until it is full. At this pace, it could take forever to get the account full. *sigh* One day at a time, right?

A little more progress

April 12th, 2007 at 10:12 pm

DH's payday was today and every penny of it has been given a job. And every penny of my paycheck tomorrow has also been given a job. Unfortunately, most of it is going out the door right away. However, for the first time in a while, we are not spending MORE than we are earning. That is the important part. Even though that is a common sense thing, we haven't been doing that in a while which can be evidenced by the debt balance on the left.

I updated the total debt balance to reflect the money that left our account today to pay down the Slumberland and MTU CC. Pretty good payoff for only 6 weeks! Also going out tomorrow is the payment for the Jeep loan, but I won't know the principal paid on that for about 10 days. They only take paper checks and I can't check my balances online; definitely in the dark ages.

Not shown there is the money that I sent to payoff the Wells Fargo card Scott used for traveling a couple weeks ago. Now that card is locked up and won't ever be used again. It will sit dormant or we will cancel it. Haven't quite decided which yet.

My parents arrived in town last night and Caleb has been having a blast playing with them. Everyone went to bed early so I was able to get a ton of stuff done. I re-updated our budget to reflect the latest income and outgo, cleaned up the kitchen, sorted a bunch of papers and avoided shoveling snow. I also listed more than 30 books on Nothing has sold and I really don't expect much of it to go quickly, but I will have to wait and see.

I am actually considering having a rummage sale this spring to get rid of some of the crap we have been collecting. Usually I just send everything to Goodwill because I don't want the hassle, but I might be able to make a little bit of money that can help fill up our YNAB buffer account. Can't get rid of all the dang baby stuff yet, but when we can that will be the mother lode.

Income and outgo

April 11th, 2007 at 06:39 pm

Tomorrow DH gets paid and I get paid on Friday. I have already scheduled several payments that will go out from my credit union's bill pay system. One of the payments will pay off the small amount we have the credit card we did the balance transfer from and the other will pay off the dreaded Wells Fargo card for hopefully the final time.

Also being paid out on Friday are the monthly payments for the Slumberland account and the Jeep loan. SLOOOOOOOWLY seeing progress at the rate of 2.4% per month. At least it isn't going the other way!

But here is the BEST news....I have not had to use overdraft coverage from our savings account for more than a month. I was using OD protection every few weeks and ended up in a BIG hole where I owe $1500 to our savings account. But I haven't added to that amount so I think that in and of itself is progress.

Maybe I will talk my way out of this bad mood yet....

To close or not to close

April 4th, 2007 at 03:28 pm

I have two credit cards that I would love to close the accounts. One I paid off yesterday, the other will be paid off as soon as DH's reimbursement check comes in. Right now between ALL of my cards I have a total limit of $51,300 (OMG!) and am carrying a balance of $11,754 which gives us an overall ratio of 22.9%. If I close these two accounts, it will reduce our credit limit to $39,500 leaving us with a ratio of 29.8%. The other thing that puts a wrinkle in this equation is that one of the cards (Wells Fargo, $7800 limit) is our second oldest card overall. The other card (American TV, $4000 limit) is only a couple months old so I will probably close that one for sure.

I am waffling because I don't know how this will affect our credit score (I assume it will be negative). On one hand we aren't planning on applying for anymore credit anytime soon, but on the other hand I don't believe in completely disregarding our credit score as irrelevant. I have been hearing more and more about how your credit score can affect everything from insurance rates to interest rates, so I want to keep it as healthy as possible.

Yes, I am probably over thinking this. I REALLY want to close the Wells Fargo account so I can be rid of this albatross once and for all. Worst customer service I have ever had and just plain miserable tactics for getting every penny out of us that they can.

Any thoughts?

More random stuff

April 3rd, 2007 at 05:09 pm

Well, the payment went out this morning to pay off our first debt in our "debt snowball". Very exciting! Of course,I will probably be compulsive about checking my account to see when the payment is actually credited some time in the next couple days. Then we will be closing the account for good. And with all the trouble we have had with this company, we will never be financing anything with them again, no matter how good the terms are. Just isn't worth the effort. Besides, we are supposed to pay cash for everything from now on anyway, right?

I spent some more time with YNAB this morning and I think it is starting to make a little more sense. Still not entirely clicking, but I am going to have to bend the program to my will until I can get to the point where we are working under "Rule 1". I don't know how we are supposed to determine what our "extra" money for the month is when I seem to need every penny left at the end of the month for the beginning of the next month.

I sat down and did an extensive cash flow analysis (meaning I wrote all my bills on a calendar) and it looks like we are eventually going to get ahead, but it won't be until about the end of June that we start seeing a balance building in our account. I don't know why, since our costs are generally fixed, but it shows I am going to be down to nothing at the end of this month and probably next as well. I guess there is just a lag in the results.

One of my first priorities is to pay back money to our savings account that we have "borrowed" in the form of over draft transfers over the last several months. Right now we owe ourselves $2,060. So before we start building our buffer, those accounts need to be flush. I am going to do that by only budgeting the money that we receive as paycheck each month and then any additional income we get (i.e. daycare reimbursements, gifts, etc.) toward these accounts. We should be back to the actual numbers in about 4 months or so.

Yet another monster post. I can't seem to be brief, even when talking to myself. Smile


March 30th, 2007 at 06:09 pm

Looks like our balance transfer from a credit card at 9.9% to a card at 0% for 12 months is going through as I type. It is going to be a big savings over the next 12 months, to the tune of $800. And if you can do the reverse math to figure out the balance we transferred, you are right we have too much in CC debt. But we are working on it. Slowly. Too slowly, or so it seems some days.

How is it that we can be making this much money and still be broke? Man, this cycle of earning and spending is scary. I would LOVE to live on one income and save the other, but that just isn't possible. Even if we cut out all the "extras" like cell phones and internet and cable that won't make a dent and then we would be miserable on top of it.

I guess I am just getting frustrated and depressed as I look at where we are, where we want to go and how it is going to take forever to get there. Ever feel like you are walking on a treadmill with this debt crap? You are walking and walking and walking but never getting anywhere? That is definitely how I have been feeling the last few days. I just hope next month is better. It has to be or I am going to scream.

Update on American Card, etc.

March 30th, 2007 at 02:49 pm

So I finally got some more of the story on the American TV card that I posted about earlier. It turns out that there were TWO charges on the card one for the $700.69 and the other for $77.85. We have been paying interest on the $77.85 all along and that is where the finance charges are coming from. Problem is, I don't know WHY there were two charges that day. Of course, the bank can't help me out with that because they "just take care of the financing, not the selling". Now I have to dig through my giant "to be filed" pile to find the original receipt. Had hoped to do that last night but it didn't happen. At least it will maybe give me the incentive I need to tackle and deal with my laziness.

Looks like today is basically going to be a no spend day. I packed my lunch and my hubby's lunch, we will be having leftovers for dinner, and both trucks are full of gas as of yesterday. We did have to give Caleb $4 for a special lunch they are having at school today, but we took that out of the pig at home.

Also, it turns out my battle with Wells Fargo is going to continue for another month. DH just spent the last week in Detroit and he only had the WF card in his wallet. Which meant that food, hotel and rental car for 4 days ended up on that card. Great. Even if he puts his expense report in today, he won't get reimbursed until the next pay period (4/12) and the payment is due on the 16th. Since it takes them 5 days to clear an ACH we are going to be cutting it really close. AGAIN. Grrrr....I just want this card GONE! Tonight I am going to take the card out of DH's wallet and put it into the lock box. Or better yet, shred it. *insert sinister laugh here*

Strange Interest Charges

March 28th, 2007 at 04:19 pm

This past January we decided it was time to move my son into a "big boy" bed. We went shopping at our local big box electronic/furniture store, American TV, and found a bed, mattress and dresser. Total cost $700.69. We asked if they had any financing deals so that we could pay it off slowly without putting it on the credit card. (yeah, us.) They said they could give us 6 months interest free with equal payments. Perfect! [For those of you following along, this is the first of the debts in our debt snowball]

I didn't pay much attention to the statement when the first bill came and simply paid the minimum amount that it indicated, $132.00. NBD. I have now made 3 payments of $132 but DH is getting an unexpected reimbursement from his company and we want to pay off the balance this Friday. SO I check the bill for a payoff balance. That is when I notice that they have only been applying $117 of each payment toward the principal amount and the other $15 has been going towards a revolving balance for interest charges. But this interest charge seems to be a "threat" since the bill states right on the front "pay $XXX by 7/1/07 to avoid finance charges". Huh? So we have paid $45 towards interest charges that we don't have to pay? They sure as heck better credit that money back to us on this final payoff or send us a check for that amount. Ridiculous!

Has anyone ever heard of this before? Generally if you have 0% interest the entire amount you pay is applied to principal, not some fictitious finance charges.

Of course, since the card was opened in my DH's name only the CSRs won't talk to me. So DH is calling them today, while on a business trip, to get the whole story. Go figure.

CC juggling

March 22nd, 2007 at 04:14 pm

Oy! I know I have no one to blame but myself, but I think I am in a bit of a pickle.

First, I reported a couple posts ago that on Tuesday I applied for a new CC with a 0% interest rate on balance transfers. When I filled out the application, I put in the account number for the card that I wanted a balance transferred from, my UWCU Visa card. OK, at this point no big deal.

Then, yesterday DH suggested that we try to simply upgrade our UWCU card to one with rewards as was advertised on our credit union website. Notice is said UPGRADE, not REPLACE. OK, so I call and they upgrade my account, but they have to issue me a new card and a new number. Hmmmm...

Basically if my balance transfer doesn't go through before the new number is issued, we may have a big problem. So, this morning I called the new CC company to ask when the balance transfer would occur. After some confusion, I found out that the balance transfer is set as pending until I activate the card. Should get the new card sometime in the next few days. In the meantime, they are sending me some paperwork to sign for the upgraded Visa card so if I delay that a few days until I get the new card I should be OK.

How do I do these things to myself?


March 21st, 2007 at 10:06 pm

OK, so I know many of you don't like the credit scoring concept and I completely understand why. But I just have to let you know that even though I was worried about our finances being in the toilet, it turns out that our credit score is pretty damn good.

Since Scott is going to be doing a lot of traveling soon (2 weeks in New Zealand, 1 week in Italy, misc. trips across US) he is going to need a credit card to make the purchases during these trips. Company policy is to make him pay for hotel, food, etc and then reimburse. They are usually pretty timely and we don't end up owing interest so it works out. So since he is going to be racking up all those charges, we thought it would be a good idea to upgrade our existing Visa Platinum to one with the "rewards". So I called and asked what to do and they said that we have to "reapply" which is silly because they are going to replace a card that we already have with the same limit.

Anyway, the nice lady doing the application happened to mention that we both have excellent credit with a score of 748. Whew! Nice to know that the score isn't hurting us. Not that I really CARE exactly what it is, just nice to know that it isn't awful.

Wow, 3 posts in 1 day. Hmmmm...don't think I will be quite this prolific in the future. But you never know....

Wells Fargo problems

March 21st, 2007 at 06:31 pm

We have taken a step forward in our quest to be free of Wells Fargo. I have always hated working with them as they can never seem to post anything in a timely manner (and end up charging us late fees we don't deserve) and the customer service has always left a lot to be desired. We have had a Wells Fargo credit card since we were forced into taking it as part of our first mortgage when we built our house almost 6 years ago. Never really used it for much, but ended up with a fraud claim when some one charged more than $2000 worth of stuff to the card both in Canada and Japan. That was a nightmare process that involved the closing of our number and the issuance of a new card. When the new card arrived, I didn't activate it for almost 2 years. Then, Scott decided to use that card to go to Germany for business recently, so he activated it. It has been nothing but a nightmare for the past month because of it. BUT, I didn't want to close the card because I was afraid that it would negatively affect our balance-to-limit ratio for the credit report. (i.e. having $10,000 in CC debt looks better if you have $20,000 in limit than if you have $12,0000) So, we decided to try applying for a different card so that we could cancel the WF card altogether. I applied online yesterday for an MTU alumni Mastercard and was approved with a much higher limit than I expected, $15000! That means I can close the WF account and still be ahead! Plus, this card offers a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 12 months so we are transferring all of the balance from the UWCU card (9.9% interest) to the new card and will end up saving $500 in interest over the next year. Since we are planning on having the balance paid off in the next 12 months, that is a great deal! Then, that frees up the UWCU card, which I have never had any problems working with, for Scott to use as his travel card.

However, here are the other accounts that we have with Wells Fargo:

* Slumberland furniture
* American furniture
* first mortgage on house

We are working quickly to get rid of the first 2, but we will probably never be able to get rid of the mortgage. Up until recently we were with Washington Mutual, and never had any problems with them. Then we got a letter last month saying that our mortgage had been sold to WF. I cried. If we could get the same rate, I would even consider refinancing just to get rid of them, but that isn't possible and is rather silly. I will just have to make sure that I play their games. And it is even more incentive to make sure we can pay cash rather than financing all future purchases.