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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.

Over $100 in undexpected expenses & MyPoints Gift Cards Redeemed

October 3rd, 2012 at 07:00 am

Just thought I'd check in. We have had quite a few unexpected expenses which I am not happy about. 2 $40 speeding tickets from the cameras on the side of the road. (I told hubby to slow down.) $30 extra on the cell bill due to texting, ugh. We need to figure out the free apps for texting. I am sure one will work on my husband's phone. I hate that we have to pay for texting. We already pay $10 for him to have 500 texts. The other expenses are just the last of the moving expenses showing up, like a $20 utility transfer bill, etc. I don't think they should charge me for that, but whatever.

On a happier note, I always redeem my MyPoints for gift cards at this time of year to use for Christmas. I haven't really been using MyPoints as much, so most of these points were leftover from last year I think. I was able to get $20 to Chili's for my brother's Christmas gift and $25 to Olive Garden for my mother-in-law. I currently have $5 in Amazon credit and am only about 50 Swagbucks away from another $5. I expect to get about $10 more in Amazon credit before Christmas which will help.

Oh and we received our full security deposit back + $47 in interest from renting our condo. Yeah! My husband and I each got a little spending money, then the rest went to tithing, fixing the car and to bulk up our emergency fund a bit.




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!

$50.36 Found! + $120 more

September 16th, 2012 at 06:04 pm

I just cleaned out my purse and had no idea I had so much money hiding in there! I had three gift cards I had forgotten about, one I was just given and tons of change. I can't believe I had forgotten about that Gap gift card!

Target gift card - $10
Gap gift card - $25
Joann's Fabric gift card - 51 cents
Starbucks gift card - $5
loose change - $9.85

I added the loose change to a glass jar we started to save money for finishing our basement. The rest will probably be saved to offset Christmas shopping.

I decided to check the few other gift cards I knew I still had and found...

Toys R Us - $10
Office Max - $10
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse - $100

I kind of hoard gift cards until they can be used when I'll really appreciate it instead of just speading it willy-nilly. Yeah! I love finding money. Smile

Bought a House & Halfway to Credit Card Debt Free!

September 14th, 2012 at 11:08 am

It's been almost four months since I last wrote and it's been a busy, crazy time. We bought a house since we are staying here long term and to rent an apartment or townhouse would have cost us MORE per month than buying. Rent would have been $300-500 more than our mortgage & escrow combined! We were blessed to find a single family with three bedrooms and a yard (we were in a 2 bedroom condo with three kids). It is older and we have had to see the potential, but it's wonderful and I feel very blessed.

We had to take a little of our retirment for the down payment, but we plan on this being our forever house and will have it paid off right at retirement (if we don't put any extra towards it), so that helps me feel better about it. We could not have afforded to rent a three bedroom so it just made financial sense since we really needed three bedrooms.

Anyway, perhaps even better was getting our credit counseling statement in the mail today. We started in June 2010, just as my husband was laid off, with $34,643 in debts. Ugh. August 2012 statement shows we have paid $18,098 and have an estimated balance of $19,112.90! We are about halfway there! I have had to readjust our balances once a year since we pay it down faster than their estimations, so I expect that we will pay our last payment around Sept/Oct 2014, a full year early. It just makes me happy; I cannot wait to have that money back in our budget each month to bolster our retirement savings and just to have wiggle room.

"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.

+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.

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.