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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!

"Way way way short"

April 27th, 2012 at 11:51 am

I am just watching Suze Orman's April 14th show online and someone who is 38 called in during the "Can I Afford It?" segment with $41k in retirement. She was denied, because Suze said she is "way way way short" for someone her age. My husband is 38 and we only have $33k now (after having to take the rest out during our unemployment/layoff in 2010). I knew we were short and really need to bulk it up, but it's humbling to hear it put that way. I want to write it here so I'll see it again, be reminded and perhaps be refocused in the future if need be.

First Post in a Year - Update

April 27th, 2011 at 11:59 am

Wow, so much has changed and happened in the last year. I have completely neglected this blog, but, happily, things are settling down now and we're in a better place. It's funny to read my last post and see how things have changed.

I did start the Census job and on my first day of work (after the initial training), my husband was laid off. This was a complete surprise and I am so grateful that the Lord had blessed us with the Census job! My husband received a severance which when combined with my Census pay, saw us through three months of unemployment and a cross-country move so my husband could begin a new job. In those three months, our family really grew a lot. I learned that my husband was struggling with a drug addiction and he participated in an intensive out-patient rehab program. This was such a blessing and he's still doing great!

The new job was a huge cut in pay, about 40%, but once you took in the fact that we moved from a state that did not have income tax to a state that collects state and local income tax, we saw a reduction of about 60% in our take home pay! We also had moved to a higher cost of living area. We had to rely on overtime (UGH) and I started watching a baby during the week since I'm home with my children anyway. The babysitting provides an extra $800/month.

Last month my husband found a new job, just down the street from his old employment (no need for us to move!) and has been there just over a week now. He loves it and it pays a much better salary. It will still be tight, but if we stay on point with our budget, we should be just fine. What a relief!! We are both so happy.

Overall, things are going better for us financially too. We are still having to talk through things, but we are on the same page so much more and there are NO SURPRISES anymore, which is just so huge. Smile

We talked to a credit counseling agency after we were laid off and started that in the summer of 2010. We were set up on a 5 year plan, but we are about 3 months ahead of schedule right now (if I am calculating correctly), so I think we will actually finish in 4 years. Yeah! We are paying $724 a month, so this will be HUGE once we are done.

I will have to post a financial update later with real numbers, but have thought of this blog and community several times over the past year, thinking I should update it. I have always received such good support here.

I am happy to report that things seem to be on the up and up and we have finally started to slowly edge our way up and out of this hole. I started a savings account this past summer that is connected to my checking account. Every time I use debit or pay a bill online (I never carry cash, so I do use debit a lot), it transfers $1.00 into the account. We have over $500 in that account and although it's the first line of defense as an overdraft for the checking account, we have only had to use it once (a mistake on my part, not because we were out of money!)! This is so exciting to me to have an actual EF. My husband didn't realize I had set it up for the first 6 months or so, but was very happy when I told him about it and he regards it as a fund we will NOT touch unless it's a true emergency.

Anyway, now that we have changed jobs, we are having to deal with figuring out the new insurances, COBRA in the meantime, rolling retirement funds, etc.

Other planning ahead includes a new car (one is about to die!) and we are having a new baby (also a surprise, but a pleasant one!) in August. Quite the update, but a good one for a change...so happy! I look forward to "catching up" with all of your blogs too.

Have you Consolidated in a Personal Loan? Or used Credit Counseling?

April 12th, 2010 at 07:03 am

We are thinking of consolidating our credit card and overdraft debt or a portion of it into a personal loan. I figure that there's a good chance that at least a portion of our credit card debt is at a higher interest rate than we could probably get for a personal loan. I like the idea that we would then have everything on a term loan with a set end date instead of just revolving...even if that end date was five years out. In doing some of the online calculators, it looks like we would only pay about $14 more a month than we are now to cover all of the debt (if we got about 13% APR) AND have that end point. I am a little nervous about applying for one. I know some people here have gotten one before, is it difficult?

I need to look more to understand what the differences are between trying to do this and going the debt counseling route. I just think having an end date, knowing it's a term loan, would bring peace of mind. If we go this route, all credit card will be cut up and I would talk to my husband about closing them as well. We would keep one credit card as an "emergency" card.

Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

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.

Taxes Almost Done - We Owe $7 (and Husband's Company Owes Us $775!)

February 1st, 2010 at 11:01 am

Yeah! My simple calculations using the IRS withholding calculator last October, it was estimated that we should get a $173 refund. I'm not sure what I put in wrong, but I'm ok if we only owe $7. It's not completely done and filed yet, because I have estimated my student loan interest paid on one of my loans. I have not been able to access the 1098-E for it yet. This is such a relief; much better than last year! I think I may still look over the discrepancy and see if I can see why it was so off.

Also, while doing the taxes I noticed a discrepancy between my husband's salary and his paycheck (gross pay). It's funny, because it's the same issue we had right after his pay raise! In October 2008, my husband got a raise, but his check was about $28 less than we should have been getting per paycheck. We finally got a check in December for backpay of $89 and a promise to get it fixed. Well, with the new year(2009), I think I adjusted our tax withholdings or messed with our 401k or something that I never noticed that they never did fix that payroll problem! SO, my husband is going to talk to HR tomorrow about it. (He forgot the paystubs today.) Anyway, I figure they owe us about $775 in back pay! Yeah! That'll go a long way in funding our $1,000 starter EF fund!

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.

Last Chance

November 19th, 2009 at 07:26 am

I told my husband that I am finally ready to go to one of those non-profit credit counseling places. I have had it with trying to do this on our own and getting nowhere. I like to do things by myself, so it's been hard considering this option. I know we have the money to do it, it's just these stupid unexpected debts that keep coming up. I hate them I tell you!

Anyway, I have been battling similar situations for our almost 6 year marriage and I am finally to the point where I don't care if we get out of debt on our own or with the help of a counseling agency, I just want to see progress! I'm hoping that perhaps having a third party involved would help him be more committed and somehow these personal debts will end.

He asked for one more chance to try and do it on our own. I asked how long he'd need for that "one more chance" before we reconsidered this option and he said that it was up to me. So, he has one more chance. I really would like to do it on our own and I do think that the changes coming in February will help us in our goals, but if the counseling could help bring more stability and the peace of mind I'm craving, I'm interested.

Have any of y'all used these services? Do they set it up that you can still tithe (as we do and will not stop) as well as have some money for a cushion? Basically, we pay about $750 a month in minimums right now, but if we kept to our budget we should be able to send $1200 (my goal) a month even after tithing and setting money aside in a Freedom Account.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and personal experiences of how they work out your budget with you. Also, most of our credit cards are at 9-13%, not 20 and 30%, will they still be able to help us in getting those rates down?

Thank you in advance!

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.)

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.

$42.44 in Rebates and Mandatory Unpaid Furlough

August 7th, 2009 at 09:49 am

Well, I just got two rebate checks totaling $42.44 in the mail, which should hopefully help see us through this pay period (one more week) without overdrafting. Fingers crossed.

Also, my husband's company just announced a mandatory one week furlough. We get to choose when between Sept-Dec. I'm looking at it as a positive, a challenge. If we can actually stick to our budget, we'll be fine. Also, I know that others are in a much more serious situation, we're blessed to have a job, even if it is requiring a furlough.

Anyway, that's the update for now...

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!

Husband Off Account

August 1st, 2009 at 04:48 pm

Well, it's been a little while (again). Things are still going along here. We are still paying off old debts and trying not to accrue new ones as we muddle through. It is still a very tough time, but I am happy to report one positive. We removed my husband's name from our checking account this morning. It was his idea as one way to try and give me a little more security. I hope it helps (and I can stick to my guns if more debts are remembered). I hope this is the turning point we need.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say "old debts remembered" just look at my last post or two and it's all explained.)

Company Offering "Voluntary Separation" and Suspending 401k Match

April 28th, 2009 at 06:35 am

My husband's company is now offering a Voluntary Separation package, so we figure if there are not enough people who volunteer, there will be more layoffs. We feel fortunate that we feel pretty secure in his position. They are also suspending the company's 401k match until later notice and reducing the ESOP. Sign of the times, I guess. With all of this news, we are feeling like our yearly bonus will probably suffer quite a bit (that's not until Sept.) and that will affect our debt paydown.

Oh well, we'll just have to focus on being fortunate enough to even have a job and feel somewhat secure in that.

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.

It's been awhile, because things only got worse.

December 14th, 2008 at 09:26 pm

Well, it's been almost a full month since I last wrote, because things have just continued to go downhill. If you read my last post you know I felt like we were "on the brink of disaster" and now I feel like my toes are hanging over. We have had to take two cash advances in the last two payperiods to cover "surprises" and I just can't handle it anymore. I had a little breakdown tonight, this is just not how things are supposed to be!

It's crazy that I am in this situtation, because I have enjoyed reading personal finance books for about 7 years now and have been committed to being smart with my money. I know others in this community have probably wondered how we could have so many "surprises" and why I can't budget better, but without going into it too much, it's because my husband had borrowed money (a lot of money) that I didn't know about and we are now paying it back. Unfortunately, he didn't keep a record of this borrowing so we pay whenever he remembers a new debt. It's been hard, I want to pay it back, it's important to do that; it's just draining us - financially and emotionally. We've paid $1,000+ in personal debt per payperiod more than once. If it wasn't over a $1k, it was several hundred. This has been going on for months and I'm just beat.

I haven't said anything to any friends or family about this or about our debt in general. I haven't said anything here, because I don't want anyone (even y'all who I don't personally know) to think poorly of my husband. Much of this money that he borrowed was used to help out other people, ironically enough. I know it wasn't the most responsible thing for him to do and it's caused a lot of heartache (which he is well aware), but he does have a good heart. He hasn't borrowed anymore since June and has promised not to. I believe him, now it's just getting past all of these "surprises" and getting consistent with living a budget.

Anyway, it's a bit of a tangent, but wanted to explain, but try not to blame. I love my husband and just hope (and trust) that everything will work out for us sooner rather than later. *sigh* That's my prayer.

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?

Freedom Account is Working

October 18th, 2008 at 04:16 pm

This past month has been awful for us financially and the rest of the year doesn't look that good because of it (will be playing catch up). Anyway, we had started auto deposits to our new Freedom Account on 9/15 and I can already tell that I'm going to LOVE it! I am initiating my first transfer from it back to my checking to cover a hospital bill, oil change, two small gifts and two shirts I bought (on clearance, of course). I can just tell that this really will bring peace of mind in at least some aspects of our financial life.

I did decide to use an ING savings account for our Freedom Account. I didn't want to see the balance information every time I checked our checking account. This was definitely the best decision for us. I think out of sight, out of mind is the best thing right now.

Anyway, we earned 7 cents in interest in September and that will be added to the $20 Challenge since we'll be adding all found money to that.


October 11th, 2008 at 01:46 pm

Well, I haven't written in a few days because I have been avoiding thinking about money; we've been hemorraging money. We've had more "surprises" that I love so much (sarcastic) to the tune of about $680 and that's just this pay period!

Anyway, on the positive side, I returned some things to Target today and left without buying anything else. I was walking down the aisle considering a purchase and thought of y'all's blogs and how some of you have written about avoiding temptation and it gave me strength! Smile I didn't need anything, but I do need to use what money I do have wisely.

Have y'all seen the recent Dr. Phil and Oprah episodes on the current economic crisis and what it means to you? They both went through a list of things to do NOW and they both included getting out of credit card debt and living within your means. Those thoughts also ran through my head and helped give me strength. So, yeah, I exercised constraint and feel good about that.

What do you sell on eBay?

September 30th, 2008 at 10:49 am

I see A LOT of you mentioning sales on eBay. I have sold things occasionally that have done well, but it's just been stuff we've had around the house. When I read your blogs, it seems that you do this on a regular basis.

I'm curious what you're selling, where you get it to resell, etc. Does anyone mind sharing this information with me?

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!

Personal Budget vs. the Economy

September 29th, 2008 at 06:24 pm

I was talking to a friend today and I asked if they were still thinking of selling their home and buying another (upgrading) in light of what's going on in the economy since the "experts" are saying we could see a "deep recession". They are a young couple with two small children and in a 4 bedroom home, just not the best of the best schools and the first will start school in about 1.5 years. Anyway, they said that they were still considering it since their decision "has to do with [their] personal budget, not the economy..."

This doesn't make sense to me. I think the economy, especially of late, has a lot of effect over my personal budget, just look at gas and food prices. We've had to adjust these in the last year to keep up with the prices. It seems like the economy, especially with what's going on right now, would have a lot to say about selling/buying a home right now.

Am I way off or did that comment not make the most sense?

What if my bank fails?

September 26th, 2008 at 01:27 pm

Well, Broken Arrow's entry this morning about Wachovia possibly being at risk for failing got me going this morning to research what'll happen if my bank fails. I bank with Wachovia and since we don't have any savings (not yet anyway, just opened an ING account!), I'm mainly concerned about accessing my account to pay bills. I know that FDIC will cover any money I do have in checking since I definitely don't have more than their limit.

Anyway, from what I've read, my money may be unavailable for several days if something did happen so I am preparing just in case. I have filled my car with gas and we are taking some money out today. We're taking enough to cover our rent (due on the 1st) and to have some cushion. We're fine on food. I am not too worried about anything horrible happening, I think my money will be fine overall, but I feel better knowing I'm prepared and won't be late on any bills. (I don't have any other bills due for about two weeks.)

I just saw on CNBC that Wachovia is in early talks about a deal with Citigroup so who knows, maybe it's good I'm preparing, either way, I feel better now.

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!

FSA Consumer Accounts Card - Good Idea?

August 21st, 2008 at 07:51 am

$49.29 was just reimbursed to our bank account from our flexible spending account (FSA). It took about a month for this to happen so I'm wondering it getting a Consumer Accounts Card would be a good idea. We're about to have a baby (in 1.5 weeks or so) and are funding our FSA accordingly, but don't want to have that hospital bill taken from our bank account for any amount of time. The card seems like a good idea since it is a debit card for the FSA account and can only be used for approved things or it's declined.

Does anyone else use a card to access their FSA? Has it worked well? Is there anything I should know? I'd really appreciate any feedback!