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Archive for October, 2007

2nd debt paid off!! + 1st step to Nov. goal

October 25th, 2007 at 07:25 am

Finally got NT's overdraft account down to zero. Hooray! Another one for the Old Debt Graveyard page.

I also tried to send an extra payment to one of his credit cards, but I'm going to wait to make sure it went through; the process was a little vague and I'm not sure if the payment will post or get sent back to the account.

So for now, I'll just count the overdraft payoff: about US$852. So in my November goal, that's $852 down, $1673 to go.

So many things to save up for!

October 24th, 2007 at 01:08 pm

Lots of big future expensive purchases are coming to my mind this week, making it seem like I need to save huge mountains of money all at once. But one thing at a time...

1. Halloween party. This should be covered, with $300 in the bank, a little bit of spending money still floating around in our wallets, and a $25 American Express gift card. We just need booze, a few more food items and possibly a couple last-minute costume enhancements. Really hoping we come in under budget so we can use some of the money for something else!

2. CSA. Our community-supported farm is offering subscriptions for next year at this year's price if we sign up early. $500 instead of $600 is an amazing deal, except I wasn't really prepared to pay for it until next year! Well, I've got an upcoming budget surplus of $450 that I was going to put into general short-term savings, so that plus any leftovers from Halloween, plus a couple more eBay sales, and we should be able to do that in a couple weeks. My first online-survey paycheck ($10) should be coming, so I'll put that toward the CSA if I need to. If not, it'll go toward my next big thing...

3. Xmas! We three buy each other presents from a communal supply of money, plus we'll probably buy gifts at least for our long-distance friends in England, maybe for a couple friends here. Luckily my and AS's families don't expect presents, so we're off the hook there. We've only got $37 in the gift fund right now, so any extra we get should go in there. As soon as it's spent for Xmas, we'll have to start building it up again for...

4. Birthdays! All three of us have birthdays in early to mid March, so that gives us two scant months to save up for those festivities. Meanwhile I want to somehow save enough money for some home improvements, including...

5. A new dishwasher! This is one thing I'm hoping lasts awhile longer, but at the same time am dying to replace. It's never done a very good job; we have to rinse pretty thoroughly beforehand or else silt from the cleaning collects on the glasses and hardens there, requiring a rinse after. Plus there's something wrong with the door, so if we don't latch it, it falls down (giving me a pretty nasty bruise the first time when I wasn't expecting it). We cook almost every meal at home, so we'd love a dishwasher that required less rinsing; seems like we spend half our free time doing dishes.

So if we get all that sorted out, we still have to think about...

6. England! We're planning on going in May, for NT's sister's wedding as well as to see as much of the friends he left behind as we possibly can. When I started my debt tracking, I automatically added an imaginary $5000 to our debt balance, because I figured that would cover whatever we had to charge to get to England. Well, turns out that total will only work if we're really, really tightfisted there. Airfare alone is going to run us about $2700, hotels about $1300, and a rental car plus insurance plus gas, about $600. Leaving about $400 to cover food and drinks for 3 adults for 9 days. Wishful thinking! So it's either crowd into someone's house for some nights or save up more money. We'll have to see.

There are some bits of money we're not going to count on because they're not definite amounts. NT should get some kind of Xmas bonus. We should all get IRS refunds but there are too many variables this year to predict how much. NT and I should be able to shift around our benefits at open enrollment to maybe add a hundred or two a month in income. Beyond that, it may just be a matter of stashing some of our spending money/exercise reward money each month, being stingy on the day-to-day stuff so we can make all these big purchases as painless as possible. One thing we won't do: go on the credit cards any more than the $5K I've already planned.

Net worth update

October 17th, 2007 at 01:22 pm

NT's pensions: 7,250 pounds ($14,500)
10,725 pounds ($21,450)
NT's 401(k): $60
AS's 403(b): $1,788
CJ's 401(k): $25,633
NT's flat: 130,000 pounds ($260,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $185,000
Total Assets: $508,431

Total Debt: $450,103

Current Estimated Net Worth: $58,328

9/18 estimate: $54,903
Change in net worth: +$3,425

Note: House value estimates are conservative, and retirement totals don't include amounts currently unvested.

October goal reached! November goal set

October 17th, 2007 at 10:00 am

Yay, I made my October goal! My personal loan payment hit today and $399 went toward principal, so I paid off $2544 this month, exceeding my goal of $2525.

My November goal begins immediately: Pay off $2525 in principal by Nov. 30.

Need a support group...

October 11th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

...for us bloggers with money-foolish relatives.

What do you say when they ask you for money? How do you tell if they really "need it" or if they only need it in the sense that they have no intention of pinching pennies and depriving themselves like you do? How do you pose that question to someone who has never really tried to economize and has always been in financial trouble?

Aagh...

Student loan payment; Halloween plans

October 9th, 2007 at 09:20 am

AS student loan payment finally processed (I sent it in on the 2nd, but the company takes a long time to post updated numbers online). $53 went to principal, so that's $2145 down, $380 to go on our October goal.

A payment came in from an eBay sale and I was able to put all $100 toward short-term (I call it "fun-money") savings, since we won't need it to hit our debt-repayment goal for the month. I put $25 into various savings goals and $75 into our Halloween party fund. We want to kind of go all-out for our party, but only up to the point we can pay for it; nothing will go on credit cards.

Speaking of Halloween, we've just started Week 3 of our 4-week workout plan, and we're so pleased with the results so far, we're already pledging to continue our five-day-a-week regimen to Thanksgiving. Just like with debt reduction, it helps to think in short, manageable goals rather than the overwhelming big picture! But here's hoping we form a habit that lasts awhile.

Healthy lifestyle changes

October 5th, 2007 at 10:59 am

My family has gone on a health kick together. The galvanizing moment is so silly I can hardly admit it: My friend suggested for Halloween that I go as Britney Spears on the VMAs. I thought it was hilarious, but then realized that as much as people sniped about her being out of shape, she was still in WAY better shape than me. At the same time, I found a 28-day tone-up plan in a recent issue of SELF magazine. So I began the next week, and NT and AS have joined in whole-heartedly. We do cardio Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, and weights on Wednesday and Sunday. We've cut down a little on food, but decided not to do the calorie-counting thing because it took forever (and it was really hard to get our intake down to 1600 per day).

I can already see the difference in all our physiques after only a week and a half! It's so encouraging! I've also been logging my workouts on the self.com Web site, which helps me see how many minutes of exercise I've accumulated, and stay inspired.

Though the costume idea was the spark that got us started, we've also been watching makeover shows like How Clean Is Your House, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style and You Are What You Eat. We've got a handle on the housecleaning, and we recently pared our wardrobes down to only what fits and looks pretty good on us, and I'm fairly sure the shows affected that. So it's no wonder that we've focused on food and exercise as well, because of that third show.

And, since I've implemented the $5-per-workout reward program into our budget, sticking to the program means $75 more spending money between us per week--about 50% more than what we each normally get!

Another credit card payment

October 3rd, 2007 at 03:19 pm

$293 to principal, so we're now at $2092 down with $433 to go for the month. I know we'll pay off at least $450 more this month just with minimum automatic payments, so we should just hit our goal!

Smart money things

October 2nd, 2007 at 01:16 pm

It's been a good couple of weeks for little money-saving and money-making maneuvers:

- Recently we got a notice our laptop's warranty was expiring soon, so we brought it in to the store for our last free tuneup to fix a couple minor problems. Probably saved a couple hundred dollars.

- The scanner seemed to be giving the Target cashier a little trouble yesterday, so I checked the receipt as we were leaving, to discover we'd been charged a third time for a $10 item we'd only bought two of! Walked back and got it corrected. Saved $12.

- Put two electronics items we don't use very much on eBay. One was a gift and one we bought a long time ago. Made about $250 total; money should be coming shortly. We also have a third item we may just list on our condo's bulletin board. It's a TiVo box we bought used for $40 before we decided to go with Comcast DVR; we hope to sell it for a tiny profit.

- Brought our change jar in and had it deposited straight into checking. $28.

- Saw a handful of change, all silver, in the street and stopped to pick it up. People were staring like it was soo gauche. The more fools they! About $.60.

- Realized last night we only use about a tenth of the minutes we pay for each month, because we've gotten so good about not using the phone during peak times. Just switched to the next plan down. Savings: $10/month.

- Called two credit cards that I'd overpaid off with a balance transfer a few months ago. They kept dragging their feet on sending me the balance, probably because they thought it was an insignificant amount. Called again and harassed them both until they sent me checks. Total: about $23.

Had two scratched DVDs in a row from Netflix, so got NT to call and request a discount with his nice British accent. They're giving us half off our next month's bill! Savings of about $5.

And some freebies: Signed up for a free seminar by a traveling faculty member from my alma mater, and for a free first-aid kit from an offer in the mail. Most "freebies" you have to pay shipping for, so I never take advantage of them, but not this one.

I think the slight scare of AS's paycheck going down by about $220 a month motivated us more to look around for ways to save. Now we feel comfortable that we can weather the rest of the year, put a little away for savings, and pay for our upcoming Halloween party no problem!

Credit card payment posted

October 2nd, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I love the first of the month! I used to dread bills coming due, but now I can't wait to pay them.

Another UK credit card payment posted; GBP140, or about $280, went to principal. So that's now $1799 down, $726 to go in October!

Mortgage payment posted

October 2nd, 2007 at 11:57 am

Paid $286 in principal.

October goal progress: $1519 down, $1006 to go!

It adds up

October 1st, 2007 at 10:04 am

I've been so busy I haven't been able to check NT's UK accounts and see what's going on there, so a number of debts have gone down a little due to automatic payments and the big wire transfer I did in September. Here's what I paid off:
Overdraft: $951
NT CC 3: $13
NT mortgage 1: $122
NT mortgage 2: $26
NT mortgage 3: $27
NT CC 1: $94
----
TOTAL: $1,233

$1,233 down, $1,292 to go. Half my October goal down in what feels like one fell swoop!