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First Mortgage Payment & BiWeekly Payments

October 3rd, 2012 at 02:06 pm

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 02:00 pm

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 04:36 pm

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 17th, 2012 at 01:04 am

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 06:08 pm

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 06:51 pm

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 08:48 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 10:34 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.

Debts Paid Off

August 16th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Since I last wrote, my husband's job continues to go well. We have just gotten onto his new insurance - good bye COBRA! We finally know what his true take home will be now that his benefits are being taken out and if we stay on our budget, I figure we will have about $175 extra at the end of each month starting in October! I am so excited!

We made the controversial decision to withdraw my husband's 401k from his previous employer and paid off our car loan last month. This helped our budget fall into line since I am not babysitting anymore which was bringing in $800/month. We will be eligible to start contributing to his new 401k in September and plan to do that. It was a hard decision, but I feel good about it. Also, we have decided not to replace the older car we sold and are sticking to just one car. We have done this before and it's not too inconvenient. This decision saves us about $30/month on car insurance and of course, gas money.

My last student loan payment is next month! Good riddance! That is $70/month that we do not need to worry about anymore either. This is all so nice and exciting to see it all working.

I still want to post real numbers and our budget, but for now our emergency fund is down to about $420 due to my son's surgery and getting ready for baby (Baby #3 was due on the 14th, so he should be here any day now) among other things. We should have the EF back up to just under $1000 at the beginning of September though if I have calculated correctly and we do not have too many new surprises.

So, that's the quick update. I am going to do better with updating this blog, because it helps keep me focused and I feel like my husband and I are finally on the same page when it comes to finances. It feels so good to be united! Smile

First Post in a Year - Update

April 27th, 2011 at 06:59 pm

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 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 02:03 pm

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 07:17 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 07:01 pm

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 07:01 pm

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 04:52 pm

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 04:31 pm

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.

I have a problem with this... (vent)

January 25th, 2010 at 09:06 pm

Here are our debt totals from July 2008, when I started the blog...

Credit cards: $27,583
Student Loans: $4,190
401K Loans: $5,348
Car Loan: $15,944

TOTAL DEBT: $53,065

Here are our debt totals from December 2009...

Credit cards & Overdraft: $35,635
Student Loans: $2,572
401K Loans: $2,363
Car Loan: $11,883

TOTAL DEBT: $52,453

See our credit card totals? Yeah, I have a BIG problem with that. I swear the little $20 here, $40 personal debt payments there have really added up and I am really getting tired of it. I just want to scream when I see that we are over $8k MORE in debt to credit cards/overdraft than we were when I started this blog! I am just so sick of living paycheck to paycheck, on the edge of financial disaster. Disclaimer: I know my husband is sick of all of it too and the stress of the situation (and his guilt) is making him physically sick, so it's hard for me to vent out loud.

Ok, I am going to calm down and try to see the "bright" side. I have started to make a very rough estimate of how much we have paid in his personal debts and we have paid at least $22,685 since May 2008. I guess, no, I KNOW that that's an accomplishment. If we can give the same gusto to our credit card debt, it could be gone in 2 1/2 years. Maybe I'll put our personal debt paid off in the sidebar, so I can see that we have paid off personal debt, even if it is at a disadvantage to our credit card balances. I cannot wait for the day that we see all the monthly balances going down. I really cannot wait. Sorry for the rant and negativity.

Separate Accounts Starting 1/15

January 9th, 2010 at 06:21 pm

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!

Last Chance

November 19th, 2009 at 03:26 pm

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 03:57 pm

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 09:12 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.

$19,430 Vent

September 26th, 2009 at 06:40 pm

Yup, my husband is still paying back his debt. He's paid about $350 just this pay period. I just did a rough total and it's at about $19,430 that we have paid back since May 2008. I did not add up what we paid before May '08. This does not count the ATM fees that we acquired (which totaled about $200 in just two months last summer; he's since gotten better at that). This does not count overdraft fees that we have acquired due to him taking money out of the ATM that we did not have (also totaled about $200 during those same two months in the summer of '08). He is gradually getting better at this. This does not count all the "cash back" we have gotten while doing a transaction at a store in order to save a trip to the ATM so he could pay debt back. There was a period he did this instead of going to the ATM in order to save on fees. I'd rather him get a .50 pack of gum and get cash back than pay $3-4 in ATM fees. Yes, that's what was happening! The $19,430 total also does not include cash advances that he has taken to pay his debt, nor does it include the resulting fees and interest we are paying to pay those cash advances back. Again, he's getting better at this as well.

I am just to my limit. I am trying so hard to be understanding and kind. I don't want to make the panic attacks worse and I know he feels bad. However, I am getting really sick and tired of him not following how much money we have in the account, not talking to me about paying something before he pays it (admittedly, he's getting better, but he should talk to me EVERY time, as we have agreed in the past), try to put things off to the next pay period more often, etc.

My name is the only name on the account and I cannot seem to find the backbone to just put my foot down and say "no" if there is any way at all to pay it. I don't want to deal with the panic attacks and arguments that will result from not paying it. Of course, even when he does pay it, he feels so guilty that the rest of the night is usually riddled with panic attacks as well. There is no way to win.

If you couldn't tell, he's off paying a $20 debt now and I am venting. Thank you for letting me vent. I will be back to being optimistic about it all in a few hours. Smile

September 2009 Overview

September 15th, 2009 at 06:40 pm

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 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!

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

September 15th, 2009 at 04:15 pm

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 04:09 pm

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

Our Health Insurance gave us $150 for

September 10th, 2009 at 04:27 pm

My husband's coworker just told us the other day that if we logged in to our online health insurance account (which is how we manage our account anyway), there is a tab for "Health and Wellness". There are ways for us to earn "Health Dollars" by doing things like filling our a health assessment, online coaching and wellness coaching. We each did a health assessment that took about 10 minutes each and were awarded 75 health dollars each. We then exchanged that for two $75 gift cards to We chose from a list of hundreds of merchants including Kohl's, Babies R Us, Target and others.

We had no idea that this incentive program was offered! It says we can do another health assessment in six months. I don't know if we'll earn more health dollars, but I think it'll be worth checking.

We are using our $150 towards a food processor I have been wanting for months. I am so excited because it will be FREE after I use this $150 and other Amazon gift cards I have earned through Swagbucks.

After I get my food processor, I will be selling my breadmaker and probably blender. This cash will be used to buy my son's booster seat. Yeah!

We have already started the online health coaching which is worth $25 each. I need to figure out how to start the online wellness coaching worth another $75 each. Anything else we "earn" will be used for Christmas for our kids and we'll probably get cards for Target which will help with household expenses.

I am so excited! Yeah!

Reducing More of the Budget - Cell Phones

August 26th, 2009 at 09:25 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 04:47 pm

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!!

$42.44 in Rebates and Mandatory Unpaid Furlough

August 7th, 2009 at 04:49 pm

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 02:32 pm

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!

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