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+1 baby, -1 wisdom tooth and other debt (Update)

April 26th, 2012 at 01:48 pm

Wow, it's been too long, as usual. My son was born about a week after my last entry, so he's 8 months old now and such a joy.

This morning I had a wisom tooth extracted and found myself with a little time on my hands so started catching up on reading these blogs. Smile I need to update my sidebar with goals for 2012 as well as new savings totals. They are a lot different, but they are better, yeah! Since my last post we have paid off the student loans, transferred my husband's $33k ESOP from his former employer into another account and have started a savings acount for my new son. Looking at the old 2011 4Q goals, we have accomplished all except the $1000 starter EF fund. I think we have about $900-950 in there now, so we're close!

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.

Finally a Real Emergency Fund!

April 6th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Well, we have not hit our $1,000 goal yet, but we are at just over $700, which feels really good. I cannot tell you the last time we have had this much money without it being earmarked for anything, but peace of mind. I love it! I will be working for the census by the end of the month, so I hope that we will by celebrating our first financial goal by the beginning of May (or whenever that first paycheck comes). It's a start.

We are doing a LITTLE better with sticking to our budget. I have gone to dealing with all cash and that really does make a difference. I have all of our cash in various envelopes for our Freedom Account as well. It's all contained in one three-ring binder and I love how organized it is. It helps me to physically separate all of the cash, instead of just on paper. It's helped opened my husband's eyes even more too, when he goes over budget and has to pull money out (and sign it out on the balance sheet) of our date night fund or clothing fund, etc. Things are slowing down in that department too, so I am feeling hopeful.

I just realized that the first quarter of the year is over; it went so fast! So, I will just rename all of the same goals as our second quarter goals and I fully expect to reach them. Yeah!

Spring is here, a time of renewal and new beginnings...boy am I ready for one.

Update & Census Test

February 27th, 2010 at 11:01 am

I am feeling optimistic today. We are at the start of a payperiod and we have everything set out to be taken car of. My husband's boss finally got all the information together to turn into HR to show that we need to be paid backpay (about $900) and be brought to our correct salary. We plan on using this money to fund the $1k emergency fund. I don't even have to remind my husband of this, he's completely on board. Yeah!

Also, I took the test today to be a census worker and scored 28/28. Yeah! I was told that if there is work in my area, there is a good chance I'll be called with that score. This seems like the perfect set up for a stay-at-home mom with young kids - temporary part time and flexible schedule with good pay. $17.50 an hour! It could be any range of work offered (depending on demand), up to 10 weeks of 20-40 hours, which adds up. At the minimum, if offered a job, I would go to about 40 hours of paid training ($700) and then not get much actual work. Also, if I don't like it or it isn't working as I'd like, I can quit at any time. Fingers crossed that this works out! One of their fliers mention making $3500 in 10 weeks; if that were to work out, that's almost 10% of what we owe on credit cards/overdraft! How awesome that would be! So, yeah, I'm feeling optimistic.

Lastly, I am trying out the once-a-month freezer cooking and will evaluate for myself how that affects my food budget and stress each night at home. So far, with sales and couponing, I don't think I'll spend much more than my budget for the payperiod to hopefully have quite a few meals for the month. I think I'll probably end up ahead. We'll see.

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.

Separate Accounts Starting 1/15

January 9th, 2010 at 10:21 am

Well, we have decided to start using separate checking accounts starting with the January 15th paycheck. I think/HOPE this will give me the consistency I need. I will transfer half of the paycheck into my husband's account each payday and we are each responsible for separate bills. I cover the credit cards in my name and he does the same. We have tried to fairly equally split the rest, but I have a little more leeway since I have more debt in my name. He hopes to have leftover to give me sometimes since he knows where most of "my" (our) debt came from, but I'll be happy with just knowing my budget is working. We'll each equally contribute to the Freedom Account. I really really hope this will work out well. I'll keep you updated. My husband's debts have been slowing down a bit and he hasn't had a panic attack in two days!! That's awesome! I hope that keeps up too!

Oh, also, I have dropped my gym membership entirely as we got a Wii with the Wii Fit Plus for Christmas and I will use that to work out.

I am feeling confident with the new year. It's a fresh start and I hope it will stay that way. I need to redo my 2010 goals as well as debt totals, but that will probably be for another day since I hear my baby waking up from her nap.

Thanks, as always, for the continued encouragement to do better! Happy 2010!

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.

September 2009 Overview

September 15th, 2009 at 11:40 am

Here are the September 2009 totals.

September 2009

Student Loan 1: $1,658

Student Loan 2: $914

Bank of America 1: $7,862

Bank of America 2: $7,039

Bank of America 3: $4,985

Chase 1: $4,313

Chase 2: $2,695

Citi: $2,236

Target: $2,441

Overdraft: $2,999

401K Loan 1: $2,822.94 (Pay off 07/16/2011)

Car Loan: $12,747


Credit cards & Overdraft: $34,570
Student Loans: $2,572
401K Loans: $2,823
Car Loan: $12,747


Total Freedom Account: $74
Total Emergency Fund: $0
Total Retirement: $55,453

All in all, it's about $200 more debt than in April, but looking closely, our credit card/overdraft debt went up to the tune of about $2700! UGH! I hate thinking about that.

Our retirement has gone up about $5k since April. That's always nice to see.

Also, I blogged earlier about getting $150 for Amazon.com from our insurance and that I was going to use that for a food processor. That's not the case anymore. That's too much of a luxury right now. Instead, we'll use the money to get a new radio for our car as well as a few other things we need. I know I'll feel better in the end. Perhaps once we're out of debt, I can reward myself with the food processor. We'll see. Smile

So, the goals for the fourth quarter of 2009 as the same as all of 2009, but I have lowered my expectations as some of them would not be possible with all the things that have come up (debt, furlough, etc.).

2009 Quarter 4 Goals

1. Get our CC/overdraft debt to under $33K.
2. Start an emergency fund.
3. Be consistent in living our budget - no more overdraft!

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.

Paid Taxes and Being Positive

April 15th, 2009 at 09:10 pm

I just had to pay $752 in taxes. Not too bad since I had estimated that we'd owe $1000. The original plan had been to not have taxes withheld throughout 2008 in order to have the money in our paycheck to pay down debt. When it became painfully obvious in August that that was not happening (too many "surprises" and not enough going to debt), I changed our withholdings so this day of reckoning wouldn't be too painful. I had also planned to then save a little via the Freedom Account each paycheck in order to have $1000 saved to pay the estimated taxes, but again that didn't happen (for the same reason). Anyway, we were "lucky" that our older car died a few weeks ago and we are not willing to revive it. We sold it for $1000 and took it off our insurance (every little bit helps!).

I am so grateful that that car died! Smile We are down to one car, which I don't mind one bit, and plan to stay that way for awhile. We used the $1000 to cover taxes which was a HUGE relief as well as cover the last payment for my crown (dental). We have more dental work next month, but we should be fine if these surprises would just stop. My husband thinks they will soon...my fingers are crossed that he is right. He wants this so badly, as do I, and it's got to stop at some point.

Anyway, again we had a heart to heart and seem to be on better ground in terms of our plans financially and how we view our action plan.

Just thought I'd join the conversation again and give an update.

$45 and Feeling Good

February 11th, 2009 at 04:33 pm

Again, it's been awhile. I sound like a broken record sometimes. Things are starting to look up a bit. I started a blog in November and was just approached the other day about advertising. I just sold my first advertising! I'm getting $45 for 3 months, yeah! I'm excited. Every little bit helps.

I'm also feeling good, because my husband and I are in a better place right now. We have our "money meeting" tonight where we'll talk about the upcoming paycheck (Friday) and the bills that will be paid out of it. We'll go over the budget and talk about our goals. We are trying to be more consistent with this and I'm happy, because HE brought it up. Smile

As far as the unexpected debts (aka "surprises") go, we have still had some, but they are definitely slowing down. Also, my husband is doing what he can to try and ask anyone and everyone he can think of that he may have borrowed from if he still owes anything. That'll help, but honestly, the only thing that will bring peace of mind to me is as more and more time passes without another surprise popping up.

Really, the only yucky thing right now is I have to have a root canal. UGH! I have never had one before and luckily it isn't too painful (I'm about halfway through the process.). I'm also grateful we have dental insurance and should only be about $600 out of pocket for the root canal, crown and everything.

I'll end on a good note. Even with all this craziness and more debt (about $2k in credit cards and $900 in medical) since November, if can stick to our budget and repayment plan that I set up for us, we should be out of credit card debt, overdraft debt, medical debt, 401k loans paid back and have some EF in just under two years from now. How awesome would THAT be?! Oh, also, my first forays into couponing at the grocery store has gone well. I'm definitely going to keep it up.

As always, thanks for all the support!

I'm Still Here Waiting for Things to Change

January 19th, 2009 at 04:04 pm

I am still alive, but I am still in debt and dealing with those "surprises" I told you about earlier. My husband is currently running an "errand" as I write this post. I am so over this! It is causing problems in our marriage and I am just sick and tired of trying to deal with it all. I got a check (YEAH!) from CafePress with some commissions and was excited that that was only $12 less than what I'd need to buy a new booster seat for my son (on sale this week, otherwise it'd be $15 more) and now I'm hesitant to do that. It's more of a want than a need so I guess that'll be put on the backburner. It's just all so frustrating! I cannot seem to get ahead and I feel like I have done everything I can. I know he's trying and it's not fair for me to get so upset when new things come up since it's all past borrowing that is now rearing it's ugly head, but I do. I just don't know how much more I can take.

I'm changing the 2008 goals in the sidebar to read 2009 since they are all the same and still apply. Any progress we made last year has been undone, other than having baby #2 and getting our life documents (will, advanced directive, etc.) in order. So, here we go, hoping for a new beginning again soon and trying to keep the faith. Oh, I'm also going to try my hand at using coupons while grocery shopping and see if we can't save some money that way to put towards debt.

I still draw strength from y'all even if I'm not actively posting. Thanks for everything!

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!

Sept. Financial Overview - Another Goal Achieved!

September 20th, 2008 at 03:36 pm

I can't believe it, but it looks like I have hit another goal that I set in August. I had hoped to get the credit card debt to under $26k and after looking at this month's numbers, that goal has been achieved! I usually use the current month's statements (before any payments) for the monthly overview, but decided to factor in last week's extra payments this time. (I was too excited to see how that $1,000 payment would affect things!) Anyway, I was very pleased to see that goal achieved.

I don't have my most recent car loan info in front of me and my student loan #2 info is "temporarily unavailable" online, so I just kept the balances from last month. What does this mean? It means my total debt is, in actuality, even less that what appears below. Oh how nice that is!

Current Debt: September 2008

Student loan #1: $2,372

Student loan #2: $1,575

Bank of America #1: $10,281 (Paid $1,000 towards it last week!)

Bank of America #2: $10,084

0% Bank of America #3: $4,579

Chase #1: $269 (Paid off last week!)

Chase #2: $11 (Paid off this month!)

0% Citi: $2,020

Target: $445 (Paid off last week!)

Overdraft: $2,509 (Paid off last week!)

401K Loan 1: $862 (Pay off 07/31/2009)
401K Loan 2: $4,128 (Pay off 07/16/2011)

Car loan: $15,944


Credit cards & Overdraft: $25,964 after last week's payments!
Student Loans: $3,947
401K Loans: $4,990
Car Loan: $15,944


CC Payments - Yeah! & Goals Update

September 17th, 2008 at 06:54 am

Well, this is how we've used our bonus so far...

1. Paid off our overdraft - $2500 (we can now check off that goal!)
2. Paid off Chase - $269
3. Paid off Target - $242
4. Extra payment to Bank of America 1 - $1000
5. Charitable contribution

Out of our paycheck we made the following payments...

1. Citicard - $40 (minimum + $10)
2. Bank of America #3 - $65 (0%, minimum + $20)

I still have a cushion in the budget of about $500 which I'll put towards credit cards and savings if it's still available at the end of the pay period. We have a few car issues to find out about before I use it for debt payments, I really don't want to overdraft again.

Today is a happy day! Smile

Goal Update: Have Baby #2 - DONE

September 14th, 2008 at 11:15 am

Well, I can check off this "goal" as of the first week of September. I have taken about a two week hiatus from the internet as guests have been here and I just haven't felt like getting on. Hopefully, I'll do better as things settle down here with our toddler and newborn.

Tomorrow we should see my husband's new raise in the paycheck as well as his bonus check. We found out Friday the gross amount of his bonus and we expect to see more than we'd budgeted for. Unfortunately, we've had more unexpected debt in the last two weeks. I'm trying to look on the bright side though and that is that the bonus should cover it, we just won't see the "extra" in our budget. Oh well....

I'll also look at the bright side in that both baby and I are happy, healthy and doing well.

Important Life Documents - DONE

August 22nd, 2008 at 10:44 am

I just got back from my husband's office where we got our wills, advanced directive and durable power of attorney for health care documents notarized. YEAH - I can now check off one of my goals on the sidebar. I'm glad we've gotten that done; it brings such peace of mind.

We also have most of the paperwork for a living revocable trust done, but we need to ask someone to be the successor trustee (we have a person in mind, just need to talk to them). We also need to take it to an attorney and have it looked over. Once all that is done, we will feel completely set (for now) with having those important life documents in order.

2008 Goals

August 11th, 2008 at 06:11 am

I figured that even though I just started blogging about our finances, I'd post the goals for the rest of 2008. I think goals that you can measure progress against are important so here we go...

1. Pay off overdraft.
2. Get our CC debt to under $26K.
3. Start the $20 Challenge.
4. Be consistent in living our budget - no more overdraft!
5. Get our important life documents in order (will, advanced directive, etc.).
6. Have baby #2. This is one goal I know I'll achieve since I only have 3 weeks left! Smile

I think I'll add these to the sidebar so I see them everytime I get on. I need to post them around the house too for my husband and I to see all the time.