Monday, January 30, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up : 1/30/12

(Photo courtesy of My Pretty Pennies)

Here is my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on another credit card payment. We sent in $700.

2. Today I am thankful for my flexible spending account. We've been using it lately and I'm thankful that these expenses are already budgeted for... tax free!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spent a lazy weekend at home for the most part. Although I feel a little guilty not being productive, I think it's important to just veg-out every once in a while.

4. I will consider this week a success if I get some more items crossed off of my "to-do list" at work!

5. When I was a kid I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat 1/29/12

Following Carla's lead at My 1/2 Dozen Daily, here is my Sunday Night Chit Chat :)

What are you...


I've been reading blogs again today. Finding motivation to push through and pay the rest of our debt off quickly so we can start saving for a condo and then banking money for retirement.


The hubby has basketball on the tube, so I look up at the score every once in a while.

Listening to?

The crowd cheering the teams on.


Nothing yet. Just got home from the grocery store, so I'm relaxing before starting dinner. I'll probably make chicken and vegetables.

Happy you accomplished this week?

Crossed a couple of things off of my "to-do list" at work. That's always a good feeling!

Looking forward to next week?

There will be some staffing changes at work this coming week. I'll be happy to get those over with!

Thankful for today?

The beautiful day we had. Hubby and I took a walk at the beach today and took the picture above.

Stay Positive About Money!

As I reflect on the progress we've made with our debt repayment, it's hard not to get a little down on how we got here and the stupid decisions we've made about money along the way. Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed to even share some of our poor decisions (or the decisions that made us poor, ha) but I think it is helpful to do. So, here goes:

-We carelessly spent over $100K in cash. The money was from my portion of my old house that I got in my divorce. Sure, it enabled us to take time off and not work for a bit, which was nice, but we could have done so many more productive things with it. I tell myself that I needed a break and that the money paid for the time off I took, which was important to help me heal and start fresh.

-We withdrew my 401K account, worth about $30K. Once you start spending at a certain level, your mind thinks it's okay to continue to spend at that level - EVEN IF THE MONEY IS GONE. This is what happened to us and we ended up withdrawing the money I had been saving for retirement.

-We withdrew my OTHER 401K plan, worth about $10K! You would think that I should have learned my lesson, but nope, I was an idiot and went ahead and withdrew my last 401K.

-We went ahead and racked up over $40K in credit card debt. This was mainly in an attempt to let us continue to spend at the level we had quickly grown accustomed to. Meals out, new clothes, fun trips - you name it.

This totals over $180K in poor money decisions. Not to mention all of the interest we've had to pay on the credit card balances. Geez, we're probably talking closer to $200K. The thought honestly makes me nauseous. Especially since we're looking at cheap condos now that are going for around $100K, we could have bought 2 with the money we carelessly spent!

As much as I wish we still had this money, I try to tell myself that I learned very valuable lessons from my poor money decisions in the past and ones that I never plan to make again in the future. I have already started a new 401K plan at my new company. There is a small company match, so it's silly not to contribute. I will NOT touch this money until retirement. No if's, and's or but's! My thoughts on money have changed significantly since I've started this journey.

So, if you are feeling down about money. Stop! Stop right now and know that you can change. It takes some effort, but it's worth it in the end. I honestly feel as though a weight is slowly being lifted off of my back. For a while there, I was so stressed and could barely breathe. Forget about thinking of the future in a positive light. I didn't think we could get out from under this but we are. We are doing it and it feels great. I'm proud of our progress. I'm actively trying to think of the future and not the mistakes of our past. We are living well below our budget now and plan to continue to do so after we've paid off our debt. This will enable us to have an early retirement. Something we never would have dreamed was possible just a few years ago. Now, it's a very realistic possibility. More on that topic to come soon!

For those of you who are in a financial funk.... close your eyes and take a deep breathe and tell yourself YOU CAN DO IT! Then sit down, open up those bills and start a realistic budget that cuts out all unnecessary expenses (or wants, instead of needs). This is how you will begin your transformation. It won't be easy but it will be worth it. Good luck!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

We're 1/2 way out of debt!

We are a little more than half way out of debt!

This is a day to celebrate. We started with over $60K in debt and are now down to around $27K. I am so excited. I updated our status on the right side of the blog. The best part for me though is that our 2nd credit card that had over $20K on it at one time, is now down under $10K. It's at $8,411.88. We are knocking this one off on my March 15th payroll. I can NOT wait!

Hope your making progress on your debt repayment. Have a great (and frugal) weekend :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's that time of year again!

Time to check your credit report. I'm actually a bit late. I was on a 4 month rotation, so I should have checked it in December, but that's okay. Better late, than never!

Here is the website to go to for your free credit report:

If you've been following along, it's time to get a report from Transunion. I got one from Experian in April and one from Equifax in August. If you haven't been checking your report, it's really a good idea. Even if you only check it once a year. If there's something inaccurate on there, you'd rather catch it sooner than later!

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up! 1/23/12

Happy Monday! I hope that your week is off to a great start. Here is My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a night out :( Hubby and I fell off the wagon a little bit and had a night out at our local casino. $160 down the tubes. Although it was a fun treat since we haven't gone out like that for a while, it was still disappointing to leave down a big chunk of money.

2. Today I am thankful for my health. I had strep throat last week, so I'm finally back on my feet and I'm thankful for that.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was caught up on some of my favorite blogs and found some new ones. I love being able to read what you've all be up to and while I was home sick, I was able to do this :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I can find something inexpensive, but nice, for my hubby's birthday. It's coming up next week and I want to see what deals I can find.

5. The craft I am currently interested in right now is writing. I'm really exciting to continue blogging in the new year and I hope I can improve my skills over time.

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

I don't always have an opportunity to blog on the weekend, but since I'm here tonight, I've decided to join my fellow bloggers (over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily & Musings of a Midlife Mom) by participating in the Sunday Night Chit Chat. Here's mine :

What are you....


Blogs! I love catching up on my google reader and seeing what everyone has been up to.


Football (out of the corner of my eye) - Go Pats!

Listening to?

Football & our fish tank gurgling away.


Just made chicken quesadillas for the hubby and I... yum!

Happy you accomplished this week?

Got bloodwork done for my hubby's appointment this coming week. This had been on the to-do list for a bit and I'm glad we got it done.

Looking forward to next week?

My hubby gets paid on the 25th, so I'm looking forward to that. Our credit card statement should be cut this coming week, so that's always a treat to see how much it went down. Lastly, we have tickets to see Disney on Ice. That should be fun!

Thankful for today?

Quiet time at home :)

My Favorite Things - My Favorite Poem

As I start to get my debt under control, I find myself wanting to share more things on my blog. I've decided to start a new series called "My Favorite Things", where I share something I like with the readers. You can also share your favorite if you are interested :)


By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
with a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy
and summer gloves and satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickle for a week
and hoard pens and pencils
and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner
and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked
and surprised when suddenly I am old,
and start to wear purple.

Question : What is your favorite poem?

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Credit Card

I have a confession to make.... I recently got a new credit card.

Hear me out though - we learned last month that my Sister-in-Law is getting married this coming summer. She asked us to attend the wedding. By that time, we will be out of debt so we plan on heading to New England for the ceremony. Right after learning about the wedding, I received an email from SouthWest offering me a special bonus of 50,000 miles if I apply for their credit card.

I was nervous at first and thought, no way! The last thing I want to do is put myself at risk for more debt. Plus, there's even a $69 annual fee that I would NOT be interested in paying. I'm fundamentally against annual fees and have never paid one. But, over a couple of days, I started to warm up to the idea. 50,000 equals about 2 round trip flights or $800 in travel. I started to do the math and realized that it may be a great way for us to save some money on our trip back East. Even with the annual fee, we are still making out on what the flight would have cost us. Plus, we do plan to travel more once we are out of debt so this could be a great way to get some free flights.

I applied for the card and was approved. It came in the mail recently and we had to make one charge on it to get the 50,000 points. I went ahead and paid a bill that we normally would have paid cash for. When the credit card bill comes in, I'll pay it in full. I do not plan on using the card much at all and DEFINITELY don't plan on having a balance on it. The days of me paying interest on a credit card are quickly coming to an end! I may even cancel the card after our trip (before the next annual fee comes up in 2013), depending on if we find that it's useful or not.

Question : Do you pay an annual fee for a credit card with rewards? Have you found it useful? Would you recommend for or against it?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Twelve Goals for 2012

As I mentioned in this post I think it's important to write out your goals. Following the lead of my fellow bloggers, I decided to go with twelve goals for 2012. Here goes nothing!

1. Pay off all credit card debt by June 30th! - This is the plan today. We may actually finish earlier but have a little buffer built in, just in case we end up having to pay taxes in April.

2. Save $20K for a down payment on a condo. - This should be doable. If we follow our current budget, for the remainder of the year, we'll have saved the $20K we want for a down payment.

3. Buy our first home together. - We are anxious to stop paying rent and get into a place of our own. As anxious as we are, we've decided to play it smart and wait until we have 20% saved up for a down payment so we can avoid paying PMI. We should be able to celebrate the holidays this year in our own place. WE CAN'T WAIT!

4. Succeed in 10-pound weight loss challenge. - As I mentioned here, I've entered into a weight loss challenge with some fellow bloggers. I'm hoping this will give me the kick start I'm looking for. We have a wedding this summer and hopefully a vacation to look forward to, so I'd like to drop a few pounds before these events.

5. Indulge in my love for movies more. - I love movies. I don't watch as many as I'd like to. I've actually considered some sort of career behind the scenes in film. I need to get to the bottom of this passion of mine and figure out if it's just a passive hobby or something I can make a living with.

6. Blog more often. - As I shared recenlty, it's been tough to get my normal blogging time in like I had previously. I'm now set up at home on a laptop and hopefully that'll help me be able to blog more often.

7. Take a vacation. - We are planning on taking a vacation sometime this summer, when we are out of debt! We'll pay cash - of course!

8. Finish "What Color is Your Parachute" book. - I started this book a while back and plan to finish it this year. I want to do something I enjoy, rather than something I feel I "have to do". Hopefully this book will help me narrow my interests down a bit.

9. Give yoga a try. - I keep saying I want to try yoga but never actually do it. This year, I plan to give yoga a try.

10. Play piano more often. - This is another desire of mine and now that we have a keyboard, there are no excuses!

11. Get on the water! - I friggin' LOVE being near the water. I want to get out on it more often. My preference is kayaking, but I've also wanted to try rowing. This is the year to do it!

12. Read 12 books. - 12 really isn't that many but I figure it's an increase from what I did this year. If I average about 1 per month, I should be able to meet this goal with ease.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 1/18/12

Here is my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on another payment to our credit card! We are doing great. I can't wait to get our new statement so I can update our status.

2. Today I am thankful for my good health overall. I'm actually in some pain today (which doesn't happen often) and when I am, it makes me appreciate those days when I'm not.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was took a bubble bath! The hubby was kind enough to run a warm bath for me and even threw in some bubbles. It made me feel like a kid again.

4. I will consider this week a success if I make it to Friday! It's been a stressful week at work and I'm about DONE with everything. I'm really looking forward to making it to the weekend.

5. My purse contains my wallet, comb, lip-gloss, gum, keys, pens and my phone. I don't like a heavy purse or see the sense in carrying too much around with you, so I keep mine light and actually just carry the wallet most days.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

10-Pound Challenge!

I finally found time today to check out some of my favorite blogs and I discovered that over at Newlyweds on a Budget they are having a 10-pound weightloss challenge. This fits in perfect with some of my personal goals for this year, so YES - I ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!

Please go check it out quicky if you are interested in joining. It could be the kick start you need to drop some weight in the new year. There is even a drawing for those who are successful dropping the pounds.

To meet the official rules of the challenge, here is my statement: I joined the 10-pound Challenge, hosted by Newlyweds on a Budget. Lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks, win $$$. Are you in?

2011 Goal Update

I believe that it's important to set goals in life. Something to give you focus and something positive for you work towards. They don't have to be on a monthly or yearly basis, just when it feels right for you. I also believe in writing your goals down. By doing this, you hold yourself accountable for trying to achieve them. When goals are written in black and white, they become "real". I honestly believe that if I hadn't started this blog and put the things I wanted to change out there into the universe for all to see, I wouldn't have come this far.

In that regard, I'm going to provide an update on my 2011 goals. Here goes...


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. UPDATE : WE ARE ROCKING THIS GOAL!

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. UPDATE : WE ARE LIVING ON THE EDGE OF OUR SEATS AND HAVE PUT ALL OF OUR SAVINGS TOWARDS OUR DEBT. (WE ARE PAID 4 TIMES PER MONTH AND IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY WE DECIDED WE COULD PULL FROM ONE OF OUR PAYCHECKS TO COVER THE EVENT.)

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. UPDATE : WE DID IT!

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. UPDATE : WE DOWNSIZED, CUT BILLS & BOTH GOT NEW JOBS WHICH INCREASED OUR INCOME.


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... UPDATE : DIDN'T READ AS MUCH AS I'D LIKE TO.

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. UPDATE : FAIL :(

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. UPDATE: DOING WELL!

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. UPDATE : PARTIAL SUCCESS.

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. UPDATE : PLANS HAVE CHANGED...


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. UPDATE: WORK IN PROGRESS.

So, as you can see, I didn't meet each goal but I made some great progress overall. It looks like I did good in the financial area and not so great in my personal goals. My hubby has noticed this as well and is pushing me to focus more on doing what makes me happy. Being someone who focuses on others a lot, this is a bit of a challenge for me, but one that I'm very happy to accept! 2012 goals will be shared soon.

Question : Do you give yourself goals to focus your efforts on or do you naturally just do what you "should" without having to write it down and make much of a conscious effort?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Extra Cash!

TGIF! I got some sweet news today. I'm now paid semi-monthly so today I received my first check of the new year and it was higher than I anticipated. How much higher, you ask?!? $58.92 per pay period! I had used the pay calculator online through ADP and they must have estimated the amount of social security they planned to withhold incorrectly because today my check was $58.92 over what I had planned on.

That's $1,414.08 extra in take-home pay for 2011! Today is a good day. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year & My Weekly Money Check-Up

Happy New Year! Boy oh boy, am I off to a bad start with blogging already this year?!? I'll be honest with you, it's due to my new position. Since August, I haven't been able to blog as regularly as I like to. Forget about actually even having time to get on here and check out what you have all been up to. I'm missing it big time! I'm hoping I can get into a lunch time routine but often times, I tend to get pulled back into work and am unable to get online. I've got to figure something out.

Anyway, I hope this finds you all doing well and that you stayed on course over the holidays. We did quite well! Hubby and I had a $300 allowance for each other and came in pretty darn close to that. Also, as an update, I met my friend in Vegas, as planned in early December. That trip went well and I'm happy to say I did not go horribly off plan. (READ: I spent a little more than anticipated, but it all worked out in the end.)

Okay, here's my first Weekly Money Check-Up of 2012 - courtesy of My Pretty Pennies:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a payment to our credit card... $1,915! We are so kickin' butt.

2. Today I am thankful for my wonderful husband. He is so supportive and on board with the goals I want to accomplish in life. It really makes me smile :)

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was daydreamed a bit with the hubby about our future. We have some exciting EARLY RETIREMENT plans I look forward to sharing here in the near future! (Whaaaat?!?)

4. I will consider this week a success if I get some exercise in. Another new development that I'll share more about soon!

5. If I could change one thing about my home
it would be to actually OWN our own home. We are renting while we pay off our debt and save up for a down payment and I can't wait to get into our own place that we can really personalize and call our own.

Have a great week!