Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy 2014!

Hey all!

I have soooo many things to update you on. I plan to provide an update in the next few days. I hope everyone who is still checking this site out is doing fine! I'm excited about 2014 and I look forward to sharing my news with you in the very near future.

Until then,
Take care!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Loaning Money through Lending Club!

My, how times have changed! I remember a few years back when I was contemplating different quick fixes to get out of debt. There were a few options I looked into at the time. One was a Discover Personal Loan. Another was a loan through Lending Club. After doing tons of reading, something hit me... getting more loans to get myself out of debt wasn't really fixing the problem.

I needed to change my ways and learn how to not spend more than I earn. Duh!

It took some time, some ups and downs, but I did it! We're now in a much better position financially. (Believe me, we're not rolling in dough or anything, but we're not drowning either - which is a very nice feeling.)

My hubby and I each get an allowance. I tend to use mine for a massage or a new outfit. He just started using his to invest in Lending Club. He loves the idea of helping people and also having the opportunity to earn a large interest rate. There is a bit of a gamble there, but he enjoys taking the risk and investing his extra spending money that way. Whatever rocks his boat!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Extra Money for Retirement!

As you may know, I started a new job recently. I knew that the company matched 4% towards a 401K plan, if you put in 8%. So, I decided to contribute 8% so I could get the full company match.

Well... imagine my surprise when I noticed they were actually contributing a full 8% into my retirement account!

I thought it may be a mistake and waited until it happened again on my second paycheck, then I looked through all of my new hire paperwork and benefits information I was given and this wonderful extra payment isn't mentioned anywhere. Then I phoned our benefits department and got some more information.

It turns out that the company used to have a pension for employees and since they no longer offer that for new hires, they offer an additional 4% match which goes into the 401K plan. This was great news and a benefit that should have been mentioned somewhere as an extra recruiting perk that would have helped seal the deal.

So now instead of just 12% going in, I have a full 16% which brings me close to maxing out. I'll be fully vested in these employer contributions in 3 years. Just another incentive to stick around there at least 3 years  :-)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Our New Plan!

I think it's important to have a plan.

We look at our plan from time to time and tweak it as needed. We've done this quite a bit since we started on our debt repayment journey, about 2.5 years ago now.

We've had some recent changes in our lives that made us decide to re-evaluate our plan... we finished paying off our credit card debt, bought a new car, and I started a new job which gave me a sign-on bonus. Our previous thoughts were to use the sign-on bonus to pay for the new car, then budget about 1k per month to have it paid off in full within a few months. We also planned on taking a few vacations this year, while saving up for a house.

Well, the new job has some uncertainties that make us feel a bit uneasy. There is talk of furloughs, layoffs and restructuring. Without having a safety net (aka - a good sized savings account) to fall back on if these things happen, my husband suggested we hold off on paying off the car and save the sign-on bonus instead.

I had a hard time seeing how this would be a good idea at first because whatever savings account we put the money into we would not get interest higher than we were paying for the car. After being focused on reducing or eliminating our interest payments for so long, I couldn't imagine willingly paying interest on something. Plus, when we got the car, we planned on it being paid off fast, so we didn't haggle for a super low rate. The dealership gave us 5.49%. They said this was the best they could offer since we were taking advantage of some other discounts they were having. We figured over the course of a few months, our interest payments really wouldn't add up to too much. But, if our plan was to now save the bonus and pay the car off slowly, then those interest payments would surely add up fast!

I knew that the only way I could get on board with slowly paying off the car, would be if we could get the interest rate lowered. Well my new company has a credit union which offers a much lower rate, 1.69% if you have an account with them. I decided to apply for the loan and was approved. This helped me get on board with the change in plan and to reduce our payments a bit.

So, we now have two car payments (gulp), but they are doable. We also now have a savings account. We have decided to reconsider the trips we we thinking of taking later this year. We want to be smart and be prepared in the event that something bad happens at work. This is progress for us. This is especially progress for my hubby. He's a guy that lives in the moment and figures "it will all work out somehow." For him to be the one pushing for us to have a safety net and be thinking of the "what if's" says a lot.

My, how far we've come!

Friday, March 29, 2013

No More Credit Card Debt!

This is how pumped up I feel right now!

I made the final payment to our no interest credit card today, since that expires in April. It felt A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I can not believe we have no more credit card debt. Any charges we make are now paid in full each month. It's a great feeling.

I actually enjoy paying in cash more than charging stuff but since we get miles, we kind of enjoy going on free flights, so we find ourselves charging our gas and miscellaneous expenses and then just paying it off in full each month. It's sometimes scary to charge, thinking we may slip back in to a bad place, but we haven't. We have willpower, focus and commitment now. We didn't have those things a few years ago. My, what progress we've made!

Yes, we still have a car loan. Two to be accurate. I'll update more on those at a later time. We also have a savings account now. I still need to post the balance on here so I can visually see it growing and use that as motivation. I know I'm lacking with my updates, but I did want to get on here and let you guys know this big one! Today is a good day : )

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Bought a New Car!

So... the hubby and I bought another car this weekend! We were so torn on leasing vs. buying used vs. buying new and by the time we did all our research and everything, we decided to go with a new car.

There was a used car that the hubby liked, but the sticker price at Carmax was $16,998. For those of you who don't know, Carmax doesn't negotiate the price of their cars, so that was what we'd have to pay. It was a 2012 with over 30,000 miles on it. I did a little looking around online and found that we could get a 2013, for less than that price. The models may have been slightly different, but we didn't notice.

We went with a Ford for the first time because we've read great reviews lately and the mileage is terrific. Because it was President's Day Weekend and there were tons of sales and rebates, we ended up getting the car for $15,300ish! Not bad given the sticker price was almost $21,000! We felt pretty good about the purchase.

We would have loved to pay cash but weren't in the place to do so, so we have a self-imposed aggressive payment schedule and plan to pay it off in August. I need to update some of the side bars to reflect our new bills and savings goals.

As an added perk, the car has Sirius radio, which I really wanted for some long work trips I'll have in the near future, so I'm excited. It's free for a while, so we'll take full advantage of that. For those of you who don't know, I love Howard Stern and have been going through withdrawals for the last few years, so it was nice to hear his voice on the drive in this morning.

Hope you're all having a good week and if you went car shopping (as it seems many people did!) that you got a great deal too. Enjoy the week!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I got a new job!

2013  is proving to be a good year so far!

I got a new job! I'm super excited about it too. With the exception of a longer commute (part of the week), I think I'm going to love almost everything about this new job. It's closer to home (when I'm working in town), it pays a little more, has a couple more days of vacation, every other Friday off, more 401k match and definitely more challenges and opportunities for growth!

I start my new job in 2 weeks and I can't wait!

Although I'm very excited, I'm also nervous (I suffer from a small, self-diagnosed case of "social anxiety") and there is also a bit of stress associated with us needing another car. Right now we are in the midst of figuring out exactly how we're going to do that.

We've been a "one-car couple" for years now and we've been able to make it work. This new job requires me to drive up to LA a couple of times per week which I'll need another car to do. I debated just getting a rental car for those days but unfortunately I'll also need one when I'm at the office close to home as there are many buildings that I'll need to drive between. Also, since I will have every other Friday off, I need to work longer hours which don't quite match up with my hubby's work schedule.

I'm okay with the car idea and actually negotiated a sign on bonus which will help us a bit with the costs (yay me!), and the hubby is excited because he'll finally have a bit of independence. What freaks us out a bit are all the options. New car, used car, and leasing!?!

We know that buying a new car is kind of a silly thing to do. The costs are so high and we're still paying down the one we bought in 2010. A used car is a good idea but since we don't want to get a lemon, it seems as though we should buy a "certified used" one so that it at least has a warranty. We are both not mechanically inclined, plus we don't have a trusted auto repair person. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though the costs between a certified used car and a new car are that far apart. I've heard that the used car market prices are up right now for some reason. Lastly, all of my life, I've been told how bad leasing a car is. You own nothing at the end of it, so why bother?

On the other hand, I've done my research and a leased car may be our best option. The hubby isn't the type to want to keep a car for 5-10 years. He loves new, bright, shiney things. I've done the math and if I were to bank the whole sign on bonus, I may be able to lease a car for the hubby for 2-3 years and have it completely covered. Minus the cost of gas, but that's okay.

We go back and forth on the topic. We found some pretty good lease deals and think they may even get lower next weekend when they have their President's Day sales. I keep telling myself that this may be the way to go but I'm really not sure. I want to make the decision that is right for us, but since I don't have a ton of experience in this area, I'm definitely open to suggestions!

Question? : Have you leased a car before? What are your thoughts on it? Any advice? Would you do it again?