Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Update and My Weekly Money Check-Up

Hi all! It's good to be back. I was sick with a stomach bug for a bit and work has been crazy busy (which is a good thing!), so this is the first time I've been on here in a week and I've missed you guys!

Just an update on things... I am happy to share that we did NOT overdraw our account last week. That was one of my concerns since our checking account balance was really low and they put a silly old hold on my husband's payroll check. I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into our account and saw that it was positive! Hopefully, the days of seeing it in the red are IN THE PAST!

In regard to our recent fender bender, the other insurance company has claimed responsibility, so things are going fairly smooth and I won't have to worry about the deductible ($1000) on our insurance! We took the car in for 3 estimates, one was referred to us by Honda, one was a preferred vendor of the insurance company and the 3rd was the body shop next to my husband's job. The first two came out fairly similar, $1395 and $1418. The last one came in just under $1200. We are now waiting for the check to come in and then we have a decision to make. We're unsure of how we're going to proceed though. Part of us wants to get it fixed (at the lowest cost possible) and then put the extra towards debt repayment. Another part thinks that we should just take the car to the preferred vendor and give them the whole check, having peace of mind that it will be fixed properly and quickly. My husband threw out another option last night which is to just keep the small dent and chipped paint and send the whole amount into the credit card. Hmmmm, this one is interesting! I would feel a little bad not fixing our car up properly given that it's fairly new and we don't know if not repairing it will cause future rust or worse damage. We still have some time to decide what to do, but I'm open to your suggestions :)

As usual here's My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies blog.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our rent. We're still looking for something closer to work that costs less, so maybe someday this amount will go down.

2. Today I feel okay towards money. I know there are going to be up's and down's. Today I'm feeling at peace about the process.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was
started a new series on Netflix with my hubby. We just started watching Friday Night Lights together. I love getting a new disc in the mail and knowing we'll be all snuggled up on the couch watching it together!

4. I will consider this week a success if I
don't go overboard on my hubby's birthday. We are thinking of taking it easy and just having a nice long weekend together, but you never know what may happen!

5. My favorite way to relax is
getting a massage! Absolutely. Hands down, this is my favorite way to relax. Although it is costly, so my back up inexpensive way is to take a hot bath or go in the jacuzzi. We're fortunate enough that our complex has a jacuzzi on site and there's nothing like hopping in there after a long day at work, with a nice glass of wine. The hot water melts my stress away! (For now the hot water and wine are both on hold though while we try to conceive.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies :) Hope your week is off to a good start!

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on my credit card payment. Same old, same old.

2. Today I feel a little nervous towards money. Our checking account is dangerously low and I'm feeling nervous because of it. (See #4 below)

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was
rented a movie for free through Red Box. I LOVE movies! I was unaware but during the holidays they had a promotion that if you rented 3 movies within a certain time frame, you'd get a code sent to you for a free movie. I got the code last week and rented a movie with it. Unfortunately, my car accident happened on the day I was returning said movie. Hopefully, this "free movie rental" won't end up costing me in the end! We'll see :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I
don't overdraw our checking account! We deposited my husband's check last Friday after work, not realizing that they hold part of the funds until the "next business day"... well, due to weekend and the holiday in the US on Monday, today is finally the next business day and it doesn't appear as though the funds have actually cleared our account yet, which means we could get overdrawn if things don't work out right. I like zero based budgeting, but it's times like these that are a little scary. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see if everything will go through okay or if we'll get slapped with a $35 fee for overdrawing the account. Ugh, time will tell.

5. My signature outfit is
jeans and a black shirt! Hands down. If you see me on a Friday, there's a 99% chance that's what I'm wearing. It's our "dress down day" here at work and I take full advantage. I love my jeans and there's nothing more slimmer on me than a black top. I look forward to being able to wear this outfit each week!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Minor Car Accident

So, our new car had it's first accident. It happened on the way home on Thursday night. We stopped at our local gas station to return a free movie we got from the Red Box. (I was pretty happy that we got a free rental, by the way! But not to get off track...) While driving out of the parking lot, a lady backed into our car. We were going really slow, so no one was hurt and the damage is minor. It's just a bummer that we have to go through all the paperwork now with insurance and stuff.

I've never had to file a claim before, so I was uncertain of the process. It turns out that I have a $1,000 deductible (Note to self... this is why an emergency savings account is a NECESSITY!)
. My insurance agency recommended just going through the other company if possible, that way they can pick up the whole expense and I won't have to have my company get involved. So that's where things stand now. I spent Friday on the phone filing the claim and giving an official statement and today we're getting an estimate of repairs on the car. Hopefully I'll hear back from the other insurance company today to see if they accept responsibility (which they should) and we'll go from there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yippee! The new electricity bill arrived!

We did it! We got our electricity bill down almost $100 this month! Sweet :) If you've been reading along, you may recall that our bill went from about $57 to $181 because we used our heat on a couple of cold days we had. It only took me one quick phone call to the electric company to hear that our heat costs over $4 PER HOUR to run, for me to decide that we could easily layer up and control this unnecessary expense! So, that's what we did. We layered up (including hats and scarfs on some days) and it paid off! After my obsessive checking yesterday, our bill came in this morning... it's down to to $88! I'm so proud of us and excited that it's more in line with what we have budgeted. Phew! I can relax a bit. It's still a little higher than I'd like but that's probably from all of our Christmas lights, which I won't budge on. I just think little white lights are so pretty. We've since taken the lights down though so next month will probably be even lower. I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pay Day!

I can't wait until Pay Day! Honestly, I just got paid last Friday but I anxiously await the next deposit. Not because I want to buy anything, but because I want to make more payments on our debt. Most people who aren't like us would probably laugh at that statement, but I'm sure you know what I mean. I'm so anxious to make progress and see our numbers go down, that I can't wait to make the next payment.

I actually spent most of the morning going online to each of our bills to see if they had cut the monthly statements yet! While most people probably dread having to open the next bill that comes in, I want to see if our numbers went down and if there is any wiggle room to send more money into the credit cards. This is especially true for our electricity bill (which skyrocketed last month due to us turning the heat on). I'm hoping for that to decrease significantly this month so I can maybe throw another $20 at our debt. But alas, the statement hasn't been cut yet, so the waiting game continues. All this talk about Pay Day is making me hungry for a candy bar! Luckily (or unluckily for my waistline) my company has a "candy drawer" that I can help myself to, so I won't have to actually spend any money and can still have a treat or two :) Score! That'll take my mind off of these bills for a while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Hi all :) I hope that your week and new year are off to a good start. Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies, here is my Weekly Money Check-Up:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a credit card payment. As usual, this is our largest bill (aside from our rent). I know it sounds silly, but I look forward to the day when this bill is smaller than our car payment. It will help me see the progress we're making towards getting this monkey off of our back!

2. Today I feel challenged towards money. It's a new year and I'm hoping that we make a lot of progress. Although it's a constant challenge with money, it's one that I look at positively.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was painted my nails :) I'm not a super girly-girl, but once in a while I sit down and paint my short stubby nails and when I do, I feel so "put-together". Maybe it's a little inexpensive treat I should do for myself more often.

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't go to the grocery store again! My husband likes to really live in the moment and not plan out our meals. Because of this, we tend to hit the grocery store on the way home, more nights than not. We have enough for food at home and can make it through until the weekend just fine, so here's hoping we don't spend anymore money on groceries this week!

5. I don't like snow. Sure, the first snowfall is all pretty and stuff, but after that, it's plain old cold, wet, heavy and icky. I'm not a fan. I moved all the way across the country to one of the sunniest climates we have to get away from the stuff.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A guest post on debt consolidation...

Another PF writer, Nancy Smith, reached out to me online and asked that I let her be a guest on my blog and I agreed. Below is the article she asked that I share regarding credit card debt consolidation

What you should know before getting help of a credit card debt consolidation program

You can think of getting help of credit card debt consolidation when you face difficulty in managing your multiple credit card bills. However, before doing so, make yourself aware of certain facts regarding a consolidation program.

Debt consolidation program – How it functions

When you enroll in a credit card debt consolidation program, a consolidator, on behalf of the consolidation company, assesses your financial situation. He then starts negotiating with your creditors to reduce the interest rates on your unpaid credit card bills. The consolidator also decides upon an affordable monthly payment and gets it approved by your creditors. When you make this payment to the company, the consolidator distributes it amongst your creditors on your behalf. Thus, you pay off your credit card bills within a stipulated time period just by making single monthly payments.

Consolidation program – What you should know

Before getting help of a consolidation company, it is better if you make yourself aware about certain facts in regard to credit card debt consolidation program. Here are some facts which you should be aware of.

· Must go for credit counseling first – Before getting help from a consolidation company, you should go for a credit counseling session. It will help you decide whether or not you should enroll in a consolidation program to repay your credit card bills.

· Need to stop swiping credit cards – You’ll never be able to get out of debt if you continue using credit cards when you’re enrolled in a consolidation program. So, do not use your credit cards before you get out of debt completely.

· Company can negotiate better – The consolidation companies usually have good terms and conditions with the creditors. So, they can negotiate better with your creditors so that they agree to the terms and conditions of repayment.

· Need to monitor credit accounts – Even if you pay off your credit card bills with the help of a credit card debt consolidation program, you should monitor the statements sent by your creditors. Doing so will make your aware whether or not the consolidation company is making the necessary payments on time.

Apart from getting professional help for the purpose of credit card debt consolidation, you can also consolidate and pay off your debts on you own. You can take out a consolidation loan and replace all your existing credit card bills with the new loan. With your creditors’ approval, you can also transfer your high interest debts to a card with relatively low interest rate. Referred to as balance transfer method, this consolidation method can help you become debt free all by yourself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interest / My Marathon!

So, today I decided to add up the interest we paid last month on our credit cards. It totaled $558.63! Five hundred, fifty eight dollars and sixty three cents. I'm a little sick to my stomach thinking about it. That's more than the monthly payments for both our brand new car and insurance. Throw in some gas and maybe we would get up that high! That's almost the cost we paid for my portion of our one week all inclusive honeymoon at an ocean-front Mexican resort. Jeepers!

Over one year, this would be $6,703.56. Wowzer! I know we can't pay this debt down in just one year, so it could be multiple years at this rate. Agggghhhhhhh! Okay, enough already. I need to stop.

What I need to do is really make progress this year at paying our debt down! I'm going to try to turn what I first thought of as frustrating, into motivation. Perhaps I'll put post-its around with the daily interest number on them (roughly $18.62), as a reminder of what we're paying. Maybe the next time we think about ordering a pizza or going out to dinner or something, we'll think about this number. I just had a funny thought, have you ever seen past marathon runners who get 26.2 tattooed on their legs... well, 18.62 may be my number! This whole get out of debt journey kinda feels like a marathon to me :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm back and really happy to be here! I enjoyed a couple of days off at the end of the year and I'm glad to return. I think 2010 ended on a good note for me and I feel like a kid wanting the training wheels to be taken off of their bike! I'm ready for what 2011 has to offer :)

As an update, I went to traffic court on Monday and although I was able to get my fine for my ticket
reduced (I used that word lightly), it was only dropped down to $450. The judge gave me 120 days to pay it off, so that was nice. I'm putting this behind me as a lesson learned and I don't plan to mention it again. On to better things!

Another update, "Santa" brought us a new antenna for our car to replace the one that was stolen when we were on our honeymoon. It's great being able to hear music clearly now!

One final update, I ended up reducing the minutes on our cell phone from 1400 to 700. It looks like I'll save about $20 per month. I know it's not a ton, but it's progress!

Here are my goals for 2011 -


Stick to our budget
: We're starting to get the hang of paying in cash and zero based balancing, but there were some slip ups along the way. I really want to continue to make progress this year by better budgeting for expenses I didn't think about last year.

Replenish our emergency savings account : We were lucky enough to fund our emergency savings in 2010 but unfortunately, we depleted it. One of our big goals this year will be to replenish this back up to $1000 minimum.

Pay $20K towards debt : This is really aggressive and probably only possible if my niece doesn't need as much help with college this year, but we're going to try! If we are successful, that will reduce our debt by 1/3... I really hope we are successful.

Continue to find creative ways to lower our budget / increase our income :
We've looked at getting a new (read - cheaper!) apartment, closer to our jobs, but haven't been successful... yet! The search for one will continue in the new year. I was able to lower or eliminate a few bills in 2010 and I hope to do more in 2011. I also keep toying with the idea of a side job to increase our income, but haven't quite come up with what will work yet. I hope to make progress on that as well this year.


Read more books : Since we've cut our cable and internet, I definitely have more time on my hands to read. I hope to read at least one book per quarter. Starting with finishing that book from early last year that I started! First, I need to find where I put it, then wipe the dust off...

Scrapbook : I've started a great scrapbook but have yet to finish it. I really enjoy being creative and want to spend time this year doing this.

Speak my mind more : At times I back away from confrontation and let things fester. My goal is to work on speaking my mind more before things become a bigger issue.

Learn to forgive more and really let things go : Overall, I am a pretty easygoing and forgiving person, but I have a couple of things that I have been holding onto. I know that if I can find a way to forgive and let these feelings go that I will be a better person for it.

Start a family : My husband and I have decided to start trying for children :) It's taken me a while to get here mentally (since I do enjoy our carefree lifestyle) but we both agree, that we'd like to have a family. As much as I'd like to be in a better situation financially before having a new addition, I am not getting any younger and more complications can arise with each year that we wait.


Continue to advance in my career : As I'm the breadwinner, I need to continuously think of my career and ways to advance. I hope I can continue to grow here with my current company, but if not, I'm prepared to move along to someplace I can grow with.

Those are my goals (so far) for 2011. If I come up with more, I'll add them to the list. I hope you'll join me on this journey of paying down our debt and enjoying our life along the way. Happy New Year all!