Thursday, July 28, 2011

The numbers are in...

Today I decided it was time to do a status update, since it's been a while. We finally received our statement from CC #2, so I had all the numbers I needed.

Well, ta-daaaa! We have paid off $10K of our debt since we started this journey! Actually, most of it probably happened in the last 2-3 months. Before then we were focused on our wedding/ honeymoon/ paying the IRS, etc.

Now that we have all that behind us and we've made a pretty big dent, it's full steam ahead!

Also, thanks to the suggestion from Erika at Newlyweds on a Budget, I applied for a Citicard to see if I could somehow get a zero interest balance transfer for part of our debt. (I had already called my cards but they refused to lower their rates.) I found out today that we were approved! It's only for a small portion, but it will save us almost $400 in interest over the next year or so. That's not bad! Not bad at all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What if I was unemployed?

As we all know, the economy is in tough shape. People are losing their jobs left and right. Sharon, over at Musings from a Midlife Mom, was talking about putting her emergency fund into overdrive. I get it. It's a scary time right now and I want to be prepared. I sat down this week and figured out how our budget would work if I lost my job. Since I'm the breadwinner I wanted to know what it would look like if we had to live off of the hubby's salary and my unemployment.

It was a bit eye-opening to see how little we'd actually need to get by. Which tells me we've been over spending for wayyyyyyy too long! It's good that we are on track now. Anyway, here is the breakdown:

Together we'd take home $3000/Month (based on 4 pay periods)

-$795 Rent
-$35 Electricity
-$125 Cell Phones
-$365 Car Payment
-$83 Car Insurance
-$200 Food ($50/week)
-$240 Gas ($60/week)
-$400 CC #1
-$400 CC #2

For a remaining balance of $357 per month. That would have to be for savings and misc. items that we haven't really accounted for, such as our annual car registration, oil changes, etc. Unfortunately I don't have health insurance figured in here. I believe Cobra would cost about $1K per month for both medical ($890) and dental ($100). Ouch! Luckily we are both in good health for the most part, so we could take a chance for a little while until I found a new job with benefits.

Hopefully this won't happen, but I can breathe a little sigh of relief knowing that in the worst case scenario, we'd be okay to get by for a little bit. Not to mention any income that I'd be able to generate from being at home working on crafts or something. In addition, with each pay period that goes by where we are both still employed, we're able to send hefty sized payments in to the credit cards. This is helping to lower the minimum payments due, so we may even have a little more extra wiggle room if/when that time comes.

Question: Have you taken a hard look at your bills and what your backup plan will be if the unfortunate happens and you or your partner are laid off?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Discover Personal Loans

So, I received an offer in the mail last week for a Discover Personal Loan. I know people have different issues with the different credit card companies, but Discover is one that I've found to be fair (for the most part) throughout the years.

The offer was to borrow from $5K-$25K as a personal loan for debt consolidation (or whatever other reason you need it). The interest rate was going to vary based on your credit rating and the repayment terms started at 36 months and went up from there. They stated that there was no prepayment penalty.

Our current plan is to pay off one credit card by the end of this year and the other around May 2012 (HOPEFULLY!). I thought that this loan may be a good way to get the interest rate down on the 2nd card. We currently have about a $17K balance on that card. About $2K is at 19.24% and $15K at 15.24%.

I went through the application process and was approved for the $17K loan. Unfortunately the interest rate they offered was 16.99%. The person on the phone tried to explain that even though this rate is slightly higher than the rate on the majority of my balance, it would probably be less that I'd pay because the credit cards compound interest daily, versus the loan company which will just add the interest monthly.

I wasn't able to find a comparison calculator online to do the math out but it just doesn't feel right. If they came back with a lower interest rate that would have been different, but it just didn't work out that way. That's okay. I'll stick to our original plan and stay focused on getting there.

Question: Has anyone else looked into consolidation loans? Did it work for you? Would you recommend it?

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Weekly Money Check-Up 7/25/11

Here's My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a payment to our credit card... $1431.30. Yeah, I know it's kind of an odd amount, but it was everything, but one penny, that we had left in our checking account after payday, so I sent it all in. (I'm a little weird and feel safe leaving at least a penny in the account, for fear that something bad will happen if I get it all the way down to zero. I know, strange!)

2. Today I am thankful that my Dad finally found a job after being unemployed for over a year! Yippee :) This will certainly make things a little easier for my parents. It's sad to see them struggle to get by in their older age. If I was in a different financial situation, I would've been able to help them out more.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was organized my office at work. It was starting to get a bit messy so I spent one afternoon going through things and hanging some old calendar pictures. It looks and feels much better now.

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't spend another penny on anything! Hubby and I went a little off budget this weekend and found ourselves with only $30 left for groceries. We'll be combining what's left in the cabinets with the small amount of fresh items we bought this week.

5. A good friend is someone who is there for you when you need them. It's not often that I ask for help and when I do, I really need it. A good friend is one that has your back and is there if you fall.

Friday, July 22, 2011

School's Out!

Today on my walk into work, I noticed the usually busy elementary school was oddly quiet. As I got closer, I saw the sign that said school was closed for summer break. It will reopen on September 6th. This made me smile.

I thought about how I would receive 4 paychecks between now and September 6th. I calculated this to be about $6K more that we would pay towards our debt before I see those little munchkins again. Wow, by then our debt will be a good amount lower! I can't wait!

This was a happy thought to start my Friday off. I hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Bank of America...

Dear Bank of America,

Thanks for not taking my money! Literally. I tried to deposit a hundred dollar bill in your new fancy ATM's where although it's convenient that you don't have to use an envelope (great idea!), you tend to spit cash deposits back out to people. Of course your lobby was already closed and unfortunately I work during your "normal banking hours" so I'm stuck using your ATM after hours.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but you offer no alternative way to deposit the cash (which having worked at a bank for several years, I'm quite certain is a valid, non-counterfeit bill). I'm left having to go to a store to exchange the bill into something that is considered more ATM friendly. That's assuming the store will just exchange the cash for me and not make me buy something that I don't need first.

I was trying to make this deposit on Tuesday. It's now Thursday and I won't likely get to a store to exchange the bill and make it back to the fancy ATM until Friday. I've now gained three more days of interest on the credit card that I wanted to apply the $100 payment to. You've also lost 3 days of interest that you could have gained by accepting my money.

In conclusion, while I appreciate the advances in technology and how we can now just put our bills directly into the ATM, I think it's also beneficial to offer the envelopes to customers who have their money spit back out to them, so they are not inconvenienced to have to exchange the bill elsewhere and return back to the ATM.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Payment Lowered!

Not sure if you recently heard about how NetFlix is raising their prices. I was paying $14.99 per month for unlimited streaming and 2 DVD's at a time. This came to $16.30 with tax each month. I was recently notified that they are separating their plans and the prices are going up. My new plan would be $19.98 before taxes.

I decided that I didn't want to pay that much. I considered downgrading to the streaming with 1 DVD, but then figured it's just as easy to stop at RedBox on the way home and get a movie for $1. The streaming alone through Netflix is just $7.99. Although there is not a ton of options on there yet, there's usually something I can find to watch.

I know it's not a big savings each month, but that's about $8 more I can put towards our credit card payment! Every snowflake helps :)

Question: Do you use NetFlix? Did you change your plan or are you going to just accept the increase and maintain your current plan?

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Weekly Money Check-Up 7/18/11

Happy Monday! Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on groceries.

2. Today I am thankful for my employment. I know I may have mentioned this before, but I'm truly grateful. My Dad has been unemployed for over a year and I know there are many others in similar situations. I'm so thankful to have my job and I just hope it sticks around long enough to get ourselves out of debt!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was sat with my hubby on the beach for a while. We went whale watching (which unfortunately didn't turn out as great as I'd hoped for) and we ended up spending a little time sitting on the beach relaxing together after lunch. It was only for a few moments but I enjoyed it and it made me smile :o)

4. I will consider this week a success if I blog each day! I haven't been as faithful with my blogging as I'd like to be since the summer started. I hope this week slows down a bit and allows me some more free time to post.

5. My favorite cuisine to prepare is probably Italian. I love to eat it and I love to prepare it. I always pictured myself growing into an old Italian woman making homemade sauce in the kitchen. I'm about as far as you can get from Italian, but I still enjoy making it every once in a while and I love eatting it!

Enjoy the week and stay focused!

Friday, July 15, 2011

One day closer to being debt free!


There's not a lot going on in my world today but I'm happy to be alive and I'm thinking positive about the future.

Today was another day of me walking to work instead of getting another car.

Today was another day of me making breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of going out.

Today will be another night of watching a movie on Netflix instead of catching the latest release in the theater.

Today will be another night of having a glass of chardonnay from that bottle I bought at Fresh & Easy for $1.99, instead of going to a bar and paying 3 or 4 times as much!

Today I'm one day closer to being debt free!

Stay positive friends and have a wonderful weekend. The weather in San Diego should be great.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Walk to Work

I walk 3.8 miles to work each morning. I was riding my bike for a while, but this month I decided to change it up. I'm really enjoying the walk. I've actually dropped 11 pounds since I've started being more active.

Today on my walk in to work this morning, my legs were a little tired. As I passed two other apartment complexes we looked into previously, I longingly thought how much closer they are to my work and what a short walk I'd have. It takes me about 50 minutes now. One complex would take about 25 minutes and one would take 10.

Then I recalled how much more the rent was at these places. One was $400 more per month and the other was almost $700 more! Although these places are nice and my walk would be shorter (read: I could sleep in at least 30 minutes longer!), the extra price isn't worth it to me.

I've chosen to put that extra money towards debt each month, instead of making my life a little easier. That's another reason we don't have a second vehicle. That would be extra money each month on a car payment and insurance. It's not worth it to me. Later down the road, it may be, but right now it's not.

Question : What have you given up that could make your life much easier, in your quest to be debt free?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to turn $58 into $1,000!

Previously I wrote about what we'd do one weekend if we had extra money. It was a fun little fantasy that I enjoyed daydreaming about.

I'm finding myself in the same boat again! I purchased vouchers from Travelzoo (a great website by the way!) a few months back for whale watching. My hubby has never been and I thought it would be a fun activity for us. The trip I booked is a day long event that also brings you over to Catalina Island for lunch and strolling around. The trip usually goes for $69 per person and I got a deal at $29 each! That's only $58 total.

We've also never been to Catalina and I figured this would be an inexpensive way for us to check it out and maybe plan a longer trip there in the future when we are out of debt. Old habits die hard though. As I finished booking the whale watching trip for this weekend, in honor of our 5 years of being together, I started thinking about how nice it would be to make a weekend away of the trip. That's where the fantasy started...

First off, we'd head up to Disneyland right after work on Friday. They are having a special on 3 day tickets for a discounted price, so I'd be sure to get those! We'd check into one of our favorite hotels, within walking distance of the park. We'd quickly head over to the park so we can have a bite to eat for dinner before hitting some rides. Historically this has been the best time for us to be at the park. All the little ones are tuckered out and the lines for the rides are short!

We'd spend the next few hours riding until our hearts content. At the end of the night, we'd watch the fireworks show and head back to the hotel. Saturday would be a leisurely day at the hotel pool with some more fun at Disney mixed in.

Sunday morning we'd wake up, enjoy the continental breakfast then head over to the coast for our whale watching departure. We'd have a delicious lunch on the water and shop til we had to get back on the boat. We'd head back to our hotel and enjoy a few more hours at Disney before having to drive home. All in all, this dream weekend would run us about $1,000!

Instead, reality hits and we won't be going to Disney or staying at the hotel we love. Nope, we'll be waking up at the crack of dawn, to make the almost 2 hour drive North so we can be on the boat by 7:30. We'll be lucky if we get a bite in before we hit the road since there will be no time to stop on the way!

Old habits die hard, but they do die. I didn't book all the things above, as I once would have. Instead, I've been online researching inexpensive restaurants on Catalina, so we can grab lunch but still stay within our $40 date budget. This little fantasy will go on my list of fun things we may do later down the road when we are debt free!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Weekly Money Check-Up 7/11/11

Happy Monday! Here's My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our credit card payment.

2. Today I am thankful for cable antennas that work! Our antenna works (for the most part) pretty good. This allows us to save money each month by not having cable. I'm thankful for that.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was watched Big Brother! This show is my guilty pleasure in the summer. I look forward to the show each year. I know it's a silly reality show, but I just enjoy watching it so much!

4. I will consider this week a success if I end the week with a little cash in my pocket. I have a $20 bill right now and other than a possible lunch with a co-worker, I don't have anything I really need. I'll be happy if I make it til Friday with something left over :)

5. The strangest thing I have ever eaten is kidneys or venison. As a kid, my Dad would make kidneys on rare occasions and he tried to get me to try it once. His motto was "try everything once, if you don't like it, you don't have to have it again." So, I tried it and didn't like it. On a couple of trips, one to West Virginia and one to New Zealand, I tried venison. It wasn't bad, I just didn't love it.

I hope you all have a good week and make progress on your debt repayment!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rituals, Weakness & Strength

So, my co-worker who is going through some major issues at home has asked me to go out with her for a drink tonight. She also mentioned that she'd like to start making this a "ritual". Ugh, it's stressing me out.

I know she doesn't have anyone else in her life besides me, her husband and her therapist. Because of this, I feel kinda obligated to say "yes." However, there are a handful of reasons why I want to say "no."

-I only get a certain amount each week for my "Mad Money" and I don't necessarily want to spend it going out with her.

-I am trying really hard to not drink/eat the wrong things. I'm on Atkins and extra carbs don't really fit the lifestyle.

-I have gotten too close to her for my own good, mainly because I felt bad for the situation she's in. My position at work doesn't really allow me to be close friends with employees. It's expected that I'll keep that them at a distance.

-Last, but not least, I don't like to be locked into frequent events. In my previous life (when I was married before and lived on the East Coast), I found that I over-committed myself and was stressed with promising so much to so many people. Since moving to CA, it's just been my hubby and I. We both really like it that way. We just kinda keep to ourselves and do our own thing. The idea of having a weekly commitment is stressing me out.

As I re-read this, I know I should just tell her "no" but I just told her "yes." This is one area I need to grow in. However, it's so hard for me because I know she doesn't have anyone else to turn to. I just can't be "her person." Do you know what I mean? I have a person. I can't commit myself to making her happy.

I'll go tonight because I said I would, but somehow I need to get the point across that I'm up for an occasional night out but it can't be a planned weekly event. Any advice is welcomed :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ups and Downs

I was reading a great post over at My Pretty Pennies about how Life is like a game of Chutes and Ladders and I couldn't agree more!

Honestly, think about it... just when you are doing great and get to climb a ladder (make a good size debt payment), a few steps later you find yourself going down a slide (Murphy strikes). I'm sure we've all been there in our debt repayment journeys.

MPP had a positive way of looking at things that I wanted to share: "Life is just unfair sometimes, just like the game of Chutes and Ladders, where the steps are chosen by a dice. Cars break down when you need them. People who do less work seem to get the promotions. Emergencies happen. But the best thing to do in these situations is acknowledge that it sucks, see how far you’ve come since you started the game, and quickly move on. Because after you slide down a chute, there’s usually a ladder coming up. And the only way to win the game is to keep playing."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Weekly Money Check-Up! 7/6/11

Hi there! Hope you all had a nice 4th of July :) Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on groceries. Sometimes we come in under budget, but this week we went a little overboard buying yummy stuff for the long holiday weekend.

2. Today I am thankful for fresh starts. I love changing the calendar and feeling as though it's a new month and time for a fresh start.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was read another book! We spent all day outside on Monday and I got to relax and finish a whole book. It was a good day!

4. I will consider this week a success if I get some backlogged stuff done at work. I've accumulated a small pile here that I'll be happy about if I can make it disappear this week.

5. My favorite 4th of July tradition is watching the fireworks! Hands down, I love fireworks and really look forward to being able to watch them on the 4th.

I hope everyone is enjoying this week - it's already half over!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Some days I think I'm Murphy. I'm actually doing well and staying on course, then I am the one who goes and fucks things up. I don't even have to wait for something bad to happen, I just do it myself. I may have extra money burning a hole in my pocket or something and before I know it, I made a bad choice and blew more money than I should.

Gosh, I've been working at this for so many months now, you'd think I'd be smarter and make the best decisions for our current situation, but for whatever stupid reason I don't. It really gets me down.

I don't have any real excuses and I know I'm smarter than my behavior would let on. I guess it's a journey and it's just going to take time.

When I take a moment to step back and think of the big picture, I know that I am improving. It's just not as fast as I'd hope it would be. Who knew that the road would be so bumpy and it would be so hard to hang on to the damn wagon? Oh well.

Have a great weekend all and Happy 4th of July!

PS - As an update, the hubby didn't get that job from last week. We'll keep searching though! Thanks for all the well wishes.