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First Mortgage Payment & BiWeekly Payments

October 3rd, 2012 at 07:06 am

We made our first mortgage payment and signed up to start the biweekly payments instead. I wanted to get that started ASAP since we have the money now. This will ensure one extra payment a year without us feeling it and it'll be easier to budget for. I like win-win situations! I am hoping to put more towards it after our credit cards and medical bills are paid off, but doubt we'll be able to. I think we'll have to seriously look at replacing our car (we only have one) at that point. It already has over 140k miles on it and those others debts won't be paid off for two years.

Next thing to do is research oil heat. I have never had it before and have to figure out how that servicing works. I also need to get a quote for a solar roof. I am going to get quotes from Solar City and Sunergy.

Add another $50.71 found! (But about $100 over on the utilities budget.)

September 19th, 2012 at 09:36 am

I just posted about finding some gift cards that had been forgotten, well, I forgot that my son just got a $25 gift card for his birthday for The Children's Place. Nice!

I also received a check from CafePress yesterday, which added another $25.71 to the total of found money! I average one check a year of about $30 from Cafepress for products I made eight years ago. I keep saying I should do more on them since they are making some money and I do absolutely nothing with them, but I just haven't found the time. It's pretty cool that it makes enough to pay for it's monthly store fee and pay out something to me each year. I can definitely see the perks to having a passive income, maybe someday...

So, lots of fun "found" money recently, but I also just got an email notice that my utility bill is coming and it's BIG. I don't think they have credited my last month's payment, so that will bring it down some, but it'll still be bigger than normal. We moved during this last cycle, so we have two weeks that we are responsible for the utilities are our new place as well as at our rental. I think once everything is hashed out, it will be about $100 more than normal; I will be glad when all of these moving expenses are behind us!

Debts Paid Off & A Working Budget

August 16th, 2011 at 03:34 pm

Since last writing my husband's new job continues to go well. We are finally on his new insurance - good bye COBRA! And we know what his real take home will be now that we have benefits coming out. We made the controversial decision to withdraw my husband's 401k from his previous employer and pay off our car loan. It was a hard decision, but we feel good about it. We are sticking to just one car which lowered our car insurance by $30/month and saves on gas. My last student loan payment will be made in September which is $70/month. With all these changes, we estimate having an extra $175/month after expenses (and after contributing to my husband's new 401k) starting in October. This is so exciting, especially since I am no longer babysitting which brought in $800/month.

Our emergency fund is down to about $420 due to my son's surgery and preparing for baby (Baby #3 was due on the 14th, so he should come any day now) among other surprises. We expect the EF to be back to just under $1000 by the beginning of September though if I have calculated correctly and do not have any major surprises.

I am just so happy that my husband and I are now focused on the same goals and truly working towards them together. It feels so good to be united, even if we still have some differences of opinion when it comes to finances!

I will try to post more accurate numbers soon as well as the budget.

Snowball Order to take advantage of new CC laws

January 29th, 2010 at 08:52 am

Our DEBT SNOWBALL order is...

Debt Balance APR%
[ ]Chase #1 62 19.24%
[ ]CitiCard 165 19.99%
[ ]BofA #1 238 19.24%
[ ]Chase #2 466 19.24%
[ ]Target 622 25.99%
[ ]Chase #1 945 16.24%
[ ]BofA #2 1,203 19.99%
[ ]Target 1,765 22.99%
[ ]Chase #2 1,876 12.24%
[ ]Chase #1 1,915 3.99%
[ ]Chase #2 2,002 4.99%
[ ]CitiCard 2,172 13.99%
[ ]Overdraft 2,929 18%
[ ]BofA #1 4,642 16.24%
[ ]BofA #2 6,707 7.24%
[ ]BofA #3 7,876 9.90%
[ ]Car Payment 11,883 9.90%
[ ]Student Loan #1 701 2.57%
[ ]Student Loan #2 1,317 1.23%

Ok, I know it's a little different than what's "recommended", but that's because I wanted to see progress right away and it takes advantage of the new credit card laws taking effect Feb. 22nd. Since anything above and beyond our minimum payment must go to the balance with the highest APR, I have broken our various credit card balances by APR since several cards have 2 or 3 APRs attached to the balances. This way we will see debts being paid off quickly, it will lower the minimum balance on each card as we do (free up more money to contribute to the snowball) and it just makes sense to me. I think we need the emotional high of seeing a debt paid off.

The only other thing I did different was put my student loans at the end. Since they are on a payment plan and are not revolving debt, the interest is so low, etc. I just could not see paying those off when I have so many other revolving debts at much higher interest rates to pay. Also, these student loans (and the car) will all be paid off before June 2013 (our estimated pay off date) just on the regular payment plan, so even if we can't put extra to them, they'll be gone.

Our goal is to have our $1,000 starter emergency fund in place by March 15th so we can start paying these down. I will try and post our new budget soon.

New payperiod, new plan

January 29th, 2010 at 08:31 am

I am feeling more optimistic today. My husband and I sat down to do the budget together for this payperiod and I recently read Total Money Makeover and shared some things with him. I didn't read much new for me, but I'm hoping it'll speak to my husband more. We have set the $1000 starter EF fund goal and I KNOW that will help me. I have also listed out our debt in the order we will pay them off (I'll share that later). This payperiod has the set back of having to pay for another speeding ticket (I won't dwell on that, or I'll get frustrated again.) Smile I think I am finally ready to just cut up all the credit cards, but I want my husband to be with me when I do it. I think it would be good to do it together.

I did a very rough estimate for paying everything off and if we can stick to our guns and get things done, we should have all of our credit card/overdraft debts, student loan, 401k loan and car payments paid off by June 2013. We would continue to tithe 10% during that time. After that, I'd expect to have our full 6 month emergency fund in place by March 2014 and we can then start saving for a down payment on a house. My husband has promised that we will stay in an apartment (as long as it's cheaper than buying, which I expect it to be) until we are out of debt. He's also ok with only keeping one car for this time until we can pay for another in cash.

Fingers crossed! I will update my sidebar with all this info sometime soon.

IRS Withholding Calculator

October 24th, 2009 at 08:57 am

I just double checked our tax status with the online IRS Withholding Calculator and if we don't change anything, we should get $173 in a refund. I'm happy with that. It's not a huge refund nor will we owe, which is what I want. It's not enough of a refund for me to adjust things now. I think the only reason it's coming up as a some surplus instead of a small deficit is because of the money we're losing due to my husband's one week furlough at work and we didn't get a bonus or raise this year. Anyway, one small load off my shoulders. I don't think I need to worry about taxes when they come around this year. (Last year we had to pay about $1000.)

We should make it with .79 in the bank!

September 29th, 2009 at 02:12 pm

I think that we will actually make it to pay day (midnight tonight) without overdrafting! This is HUGE. With all the craziness and unexpected expenses, we won't overdraft. This is the first time in what feels like forever, so I'm going to celebrate a little bit. We currently have $55.68 in the account. I know that I have a student loan payment pending (could come out today or tomorrow after we get paid) in the amount of $54.89. Even if it comes out today, we'll have .79 in the bank! Yeah!

Now, I guess I really shouldn't be too excited, because we did have unexpected money come our way and I still had to transfer $37 from our Freedom Account to cover things, so I guess, when I really think about it, we were over budget and would have overdrafted if we didn't have a little savings. Well, I'll still celebrate a little in that we got closer to achieving our goal of living our budget and at least we did have something in the Freedom Account to rely on. Next goal - truly getting through a payperiod on budget without pulling from anywhere else.

Reducing More fo the Budget Part 3 - Gym and Car Insurance

September 15th, 2009 at 09:15 am

I have really enjoyed going to the gym, but since going down to one car and our finances being in the hole. I am quitting the gym. It's sad for me, but I know it's the best choice. It'll save us $32/month and I can figure out how to do things at home. At least I have gotten back to my pre-baby weight which I'm comfortable with. I was holding on to too many pounds after the baby, but the gym helped that. Smile

I have upped our car insurance deductible, which will save us about $17/month.

In total, I have shaved $113 off of our monthly budget. Yeah!

I am going to work on monthly totals and post them in the sidebar. It'll be rather grim, but I will be optimistic. As I said in my last post, some of the surprises are slowing down. Fingers crossed it'll keep going that way!

Furlough check more than expected

September 15th, 2009 at 09:09 am

Today was got our first reduced furlough check. All FT employees have to take five unpaid days off between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. Instead of having all of the money come out of one check, I decided to choose the option where equal amounts are taken out of each check. I had calculated what I expected to get and tried to lowball it so I wouldn't be surprised with less than expected. Happily, it was $57 more than I expected! Yeah! That, in addition to the cuts I have made to our budget recently, is a good thing.

My husband's personal debts seem to be slowing down a little, so I'm trying to be optimistic. His panic attacks (associated with the stress and guilt of those debts) are subsiding somewhat as well. I'll keep trying to look at the positive side. Go us! Smile

Reducing More of the Budget - Cell Phones

August 26th, 2009 at 02:25 pm

Since we don't have a home phone, cell phones are not an option. We had a 1400 nationwide family plan for my husband and myself through Verizon. All of our family is long distance and about 1/2 are also on Verizon. We do fairly well on our minutes, but occasionally go over and have to pay a good chunk for each minute we go over. I'm so excited that I have finally finished setting up our 10 numbers! If you don't know about it, it's 10 numbers (any network or even landlines) that you can add to your account that you can call with unlimited minutes, anytime. It's awesome. You can change the numbers anytime you want. I looked at the numbers we called the most, weeded out the Verizon wireless numbers (already get unlimited to those numbers) and added the top ten. I'm very excited, because this should prevent any more overages.

Also, while there I found out that we were eligible to save money on our monthly plan because of my husband's employer! Awesome! All I had to do was take in my husband's employee badge and now we'll be saving 19% each month! That's so awesome!

So, I am saving almost $30/month without anything changing with our service! I'm so excited. I just wish I knew about it sooner. Instead of wallowing in that though, I'll just be glad I know about it now. Yeah! That's $60 (if you count the cable changes from my last post) shaved off our budget without too much sacrifice.

Reducing the Budget

August 17th, 2009 at 09:47 am

I am working on cutting back our budget in order to accomodate the upcoming furlough as well as get us on a better footing in general. I just got off the phone with the cable company canceling the HD/DVR upgrade (we get standard cable as part of our rent) and renegotiating what we pay for our internet. In total that bill went from $58/month to $25. I figure we'd pay about $20-25 a month to get dial-up since we don't have a landline phone yet, so I'll just keep our faster cable internet at this renegotiated price (which has the taxes included) since I do make a little money through my online activities. It also helps tremendously with my couponing and saving money that way.

By the way, I spent $84 on food/household this weekend, but it would have been $316 without coupons. I was able to get what I needed, stock up on some items, get some free items to give to a friend in need and donate other freebies. Thank you coupons!!

No Raise or Bonus This Year

August 3rd, 2009 at 07:32 am

I just found out that my husband's company will not be giving any raises or bonuses this year. We were wondering if we'd get a bonus. We definitely didn't expect to get the $5k that we've gotten in the past, but had hoped for a little something. We certainly didn't expect to hear that no one will get a raise. Oh well. I guess that just means we need to create our own raise by refiguring our budget.

I know that the last posts I have put up are all rather depressing, but I'm feeling optimistic again with the changes that are starting to take place...namely removing my husband from the checking account and feeling like this might actually work. Perhaps we are actually at the end of all the surprises, just in time for our one year financial anniversary (August 8th). I'll keep y'all updated on the new budget!

Still Dealing

July 10th, 2009 at 05:40 am

This is a quick check-in. We are still dealing with surprises and issues. The total since May '08 is over $17,000. (I haven't wanted to add it up recently to figure out exactly...a little too depressing.) I know we have more debt than what's listed in the sidebar now. The positives that I am trying to focus on at this point is that we have started some counseling at our church which seems to be helping our relationship and my husband has started to see someone (covered by our medical insurance) for his panic attacks that he started having in May. It will be SO nice once all of this is over and done...or at least once the surprises stop and we can get back to the normal grind of paying off this debt while living a budget consistently! Ok, I guess that'll suffice as a small update.

Why Can't We Live Our Budget? (RANT)

May 6th, 2009 at 05:28 am

I am so frustrated! I HATE, absolutely HATE, the situation we are in. The surprises keep coming. We have already paid $240 this pay period (since April 30) from our paycheck to surprises and another $70 or so in money we made off of Craigslist. I am so frustrated. Our budget is doable without these surprises.

Now, we only have $39 in our account to last until the 15th so I had to transfer money from our Freedom Account which I just recently started contributing to again. AARGH!! We can never win! When will this all be over?!!

I totaled all the surprises up as best I could since last May and it's about $15,310! Can you believe that?! (And that's not even counting it all! There's quite a bit I know I can't track for certain so haven't counted it.) $15,310 is just $608 short of being exactly HALF of our credit card debt. $15,310 in addition to the money we HAVE paid towards cards this past year would have definitely put us over half done. I just can't believe the situation we're in. It feels like it'll never end. Over $15,000; that's a good down payment on a house...oh, it just hurts. I know it hurts my husband too and it's causing him health issues. It's got to stop at some point! We started paying these surprises over a year ago! How can they keep popping up?! We're NEVER going to be able to reach our goals of paying off overdraft, "consistently living our budget", much less paying off this debt this way.

I just want to cry and throw up my hands, but what good will that do? It makes me sick that I spent $426 on plane tickets to visit home (haven't been home in over a year) to have surprises continue to come up. I feel almost physically sick to my stomach. Anyway...there's really nothing I can do except try to be optimistic and do the best I can with the money that's left. I really really just hate this all.

Sorry for the rant. It's better to write and rant than cry in front of my family.

Putting Off the Dentist, Waiting for FSA

April 27th, 2009 at 06:40 pm

My husband and I are each scheduled to see the dentist in May for a total estimated out of pocket expense of about $600. I just realized last night that it should all be eligible to be covered by our FSA. Unfortunately we have used all of it for this year, but since we're on a fiscal year, it will start again July 1. I plan on calling the dentist tomorrow to reshedule our appointments for July. Whew. That's an awesome discovery, because essentially, that gives us $600 more in our budget than planned since we have don't see the FSA money anyway. Also, I don't have to worry about running out of FSA money next year since we won't be having a baby next year, but are keeping our amount the same. Yeah! This all makes me happy and it's so nice to FINALLY have good news!

$1.81 in bank account

February 26th, 2009 at 01:03 pm

Boy are we cutting it close this pay period, we get paid in exactly 9 hours and 6 minutes (midnight). We have drained our Freedom Account (AGAIN!) due to some more "surprises" and will hopefully make it through without adding to overdraft. If we make it it will be by the skin of our teeth! Neither of us needs gas and we have food in the house so barring any real emergency, we should make it, but MAN how close!

My husband has been dealing with some health issues lately and finally last night was the one of the first nights in almost 6+ months that he got a decent night's sleep. I know the money is only adding to his stress and it's manifesting itself in his health, but we are feeling optimistic. Really, we can only get better from here right? We're pretty close to a rock bottom, maxed out status.

I'm looking forward to brighter days and seeing the happy side of this; we may have drained our Freedom Account, but we haven't overdrafted this payperiod! It's a start and I'll take it. It's been such a rough road, I need to acknowledge the small victories, however small.

FINALLY Some Happy News

November 13th, 2008 at 08:20 pm

Well, I got some good news today and figured I should share since I my last two entries have not been that upbeat.

When we moved halfway across the country a year ago we decided to sell our townhouse and rent an apartment for at least two years. We signed a 14 month lease last November in hopes that when we renewed our lease or bought a house, January would bring better prices due to being during the slow time. Well, we just got our renewal offer letter today and our rent is GOING DOWN by $50/month! How exciting; I NEVER expected that!!

They had accidentally put us in the computer as a 12 month lease so I got a renewal offer letter two months ago too (until I showed them my lease and they fixed it) and they were offering a 12 month lease for $875 then, so I guess our plan worked! We will now be paying $800/month starting in January, so we just saved ourselves $900 in rent next year! Yippee! And that includes our basic cable, can't beat that.

Honestly, I don't know if it was our "good planning" or the tanking economy I have to thank for this little surprise, but I'll take it either way. The new budget I just wrote out last night will now have to be redone (I'd figured $875 for rent.), but I will do it happily.

I hope y'all get some fun, unexpected news soon too!

What a relief (re: a medical bill)

October 30th, 2008 at 05:59 am

Well, I finally called on getting a payment plan for the $563.87 doctor's bill that I found out we couldn't cover and can honestly say it was a very pleasant experience. I was very upset to have to do a "budget plan" at all and worried about interest and everything, but it's 0% and they will never charge me to pay over the phone, even if I use a credit card. The woman I spoke with was more than helpful and very kind.

I have never had to do this before and was very surprised; is this a normal interaction for most people dealing with medical bills? I was very relieved once off the phone to have it done and on such a manageable schedule. I had planned to pay if off asap, but since it's 0% for the life of the plan, I may just take my time and put the extra money towards a CC that's charging interest instead of this. Who knew?

Update to "I was way off" Post

October 1st, 2008 at 03:58 pm

Well, my husband brought home his paystub so I can now figure out why my estimate of what his new take home pay would be is so off (I am off by $200/paycheck!).

It looks like it's a combination of my error and his company's error, but mainly mine. I took federal tax withholding into account (we don't have state income tax), I even estimated high for that, but apparently forgot about social security and medicare, or somehow combined the three and really underestimated them. I'm not quite sure how it all happened, but that's that bulk of the mistake. His company also needs to pay us about $25 more per pay period for them to be paying him the new raise. I'm not sure why their accounting is off, but my husband will go and talk to HR tomorrow and find out what's going on. $25 may not sound like much, but with 24 pay periods a year that comes to almost $600 and I want that $600! Smile

So, it's back to the drawing board as to the budget. Well, not really, I really just have to change how much money will be going to debt repayment (that's about $400 LESS a month than expected) and readjust our estimated payoff date...bummer. That's really discouraging. I could stop the Freedom Account we just started in order to have more money per month to put towards debt, but in the end that defeats the purpose of doing any planning since those unexpected expenses would come out of the debt repayment money anyway. No, I'll keep the Freedom Account and at least we will then have more of an accurate payoff date.

So, anyway, that's the long and short of it. I messed up, but at least it's more money that we had coming in before this promotion! That's the bright side. I'll post the new budget and estimated payoff date soon.

I was way off

September 30th, 2008 at 06:16 am

My husband's new payraise finally went into effect with this paycheck and it looks like my projection of our takehome was off by about $200/paycheck! I can't believe this! I just checked our bank account (it's direct deposited) and am bummed. I have no idea how I was so far off, usually I'm pretty good at estimating those types of things. I took taxes, 401k contribution, benefits, etc. into account. I think I may have messed up on the tax withholdings though. We'll see. I'm anxious for my husband to bring the paystub home so I can look it over and find my mistake. Ugh, I guess I have to realize that I may need to go back to the drawing board with our budget. Oh well, it's more money nonetheless, just wish I hadn't gotten my hopes up!

Freedom Account is now open

September 24th, 2008 at 04:51 pm

I just set up our Freedom Account with ING today (an ING savings account). I think I will keep our Emergency Fund as another subcategory, for the time being at least. I have set up two automatic payments a month to coincide with our paychecks. It will deposit $153 each time to cover the $262/month for auto, clothing, date night/family activities, vacation and gifts as I mentioned in my last entry as well as $44/month to the EF. I know it's not much to the EF right now, but it'll add up and it's a start.

I will also add a $20 Challenge subcategory and add any leftover money from each payperiod (basically, any unused "cushion" that's built into the budget) as well as any "extra" money we get. Adding the $20 Challenge category completes another goal for 2008! Our $20 challenge is officially started! It feels good to have taken some steps in improving our future.

I made an initial deposit of $446. Our health insurance reimbursed us this amount from our FSA, but we haven't paid it out of pocket to the hospital (for baby #2's birth) yet so moving it to this account will ensure we don't touch it until we need it.

"Debt-Proof Living" Talk with Husband

September 23rd, 2008 at 01:33 pm

Well, my husband and I had another heart-to-heart last night and it went really well. I think we'd both gotten frustrated with each other over finances. I have just finished reading Debt-Proof Living by Mary Hunt that I'd seen mentioned on the blogs several times and told him about some of the things she discusses. I liked her system for dealing with the unexpected expenses throughout the year and we've decided to start our own Freedom Account this next pay period (Sept. 30th). We'll have the following sub-categories to start with:

Auto Maintenance & Repair - $1,000/year
Date Night/Family Activities - $360/year
Gift - $360/year
Clothing - $360/year
Vacation (airline tickets home) - $900/year

This will require a deposit of $262/month which I will automate into an account that is NOT affiliated with my current bank. I do not want to see the balance everytime we log in. I think it will be easier for us if it's out of sight. I have already set up the Excel spreadsheet as the book suggests and am ready to start; it's exciting and feels very empowering to be taking such proactive steps in our financial management.

Oh, my husband also agreed to staying in the apartment for an additional year (to January 2011) in order to achieve our goals of paying off ALL credit card debts and building up a downpayment fund before buying a house. This is a HUGE step for us. I have worried for months about how I'd feel and what we'd do when fall 2009 came and we were still in debt facing the decision to buy a house or not. With our current plan, I project we'll make our last credit card payment in May 2010. Then we can sock away all the money currently going to debt repayment to a downpayment fund June-December 2010.

Any suggestions on creating this second bank account for our Freedom Account? Is it wise to go to a different bank? I'd love to hear any advice from those already doing this; thanks!

A Little Disappointed & Money to CCs

August 29th, 2008 at 07:05 am

Well, my husband's paycheck was direct deposited into our bank account today and it didn't contain his new raise. I'm disappointed; we thought it would start this pay period, but I guess we'll have to wait two more weeks. It would have been nice to have it start today since my mom is coming to visit tomorrow and I'm having baby #2 next week. Actually, perhaps those things will help us save a little bit of money since we won't be going out too much once the baby comes. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I know I can't really complain, a raise is a raise and I'm grateful. I'm just excited to send more money to pay down our debt. As it is the following is set to go out on the 2nd of Sept.:

Bank of America: $200 (min. $184)
Bank of America: $200 (min. $183, this will get it below $10k balance!)
Chase: $12 (this will pay it off)
Car Payment: $334 (min. only)

Just upped our 401k contribution

August 21st, 2008 at 07:24 am

I just changed our 401k contribution to 6% of my husband's salary (that's the max. his company will match) so that it will go into effect on this next paycheck. We expect this paycheck to be the first to show his raise and want this to already be in place, that way we'll still see an increase in our take home, but we won't see it all, which is probably good.

I just got my CafePress.com check in the mail, $40.15. That will be deposited tomorrow and will help cover the things I have gotten for my toddler son. I just visited the back-to-school sales last night to get crayons, shapes/colors bingo, alphabet bingo, markers, paint, etc. The rest will add a little more cushion to this pay period.

Raise! New Budget!

August 18th, 2008 at 04:38 pm

Well, we finally got word of the raise and it'll add a good $10k to my husband's salary. This is going to make a BIG difference in our debt repayment plan. I'm so excited! We talked today about funding his 401k up to the match (6%), putting $100/month in savings and then putting the rest of the raise completely to debt. We also talked about not changing our lifestyle expectations with the raise so we're on the same page. This is so exciting and such a relief. They'll officially announce his promotion to the department on Wednesday. His yearly bonus is due to come on Sept. 15th and we find out tomorrow if it'll be based on his old or new salary. (Keeping our fingers crossed that it'll be based on the new salary!)

So...here's a breakdown of the new anticipated budget. I expect to see $2550 each pay period (bi-monthly) after taxes and other deductions. I think it'll start on August 31st.


$5100 take home

$850 rent
$40 water
$80 charitable offering
$300 food
$334 car payment
$300 gas
$100 fun money (the money we don't have to be held accountable for, $50 each)
$40 haircuts (we'll rotate in getting this, I need to learn to cut my husband's hair and save a bundle!)
$150 car insurance
$70 student loan #1 payment
$54 student loan #2 payment
$55 cable/internet
$120 cell phones (no home phone)
$200 electric
$515 tithing (charitable offering)
$100 cushion/misc.
$100 savings
$1692 DEBT REPAYMENT ($538 in minimums)

I don't have any special accounts or withholdings to pay for special things when they come up (such as car registration, etc.) but expect to use the cushion or take it from the extra debt money when they come due.