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Archive for January, 2008

It really does add up!

January 31st, 2008 at 04:29 pm

I have my budget projected through May 15, which is unusual for me because usually I only have it laid out for the next month and a half. But we're saving all our surplus money for our trip to England in May, and I wanted to keep an eye on that to make sure we'd be able to save up enough.

For the past few weeks, we've been about $150-$160 short on the bottom line of my budget. That didn't really bother me because I knew we could scrape that much together by May 15. We've got things to sell on eBay, and NT works overtime fairly frequently, and our change jar at home has at least $50 in it.

This week, even with two unexpected expenses (a healthcare bill for me and license renewal for AS), we are finally showing a positive on the bottom line. Granted it's a positive of $6.80, but still, woo hoo! AS's paycheck was $7 more than expected, NT had $100 worth of overtime, and I had a benefits correction that will equal $9 more per paycheck. When I added all of that to the budget, we came out on top for May 15!

Granted, there are a couple variables we don't have funds socked away for (that's an eventual goal but not an urgent one) such as health and education incidentals. But we also have positive variables like the change jar, the eBay items and NT's tendency to work overtime. So I think it will balance out and we'll be fine for England. And just think, if I hadn't checked my first 2008 paycheck carefully, I might not have noticed that $9 mistake and we'd still be behind on our budget as I write this!

Small credit card payment

January 28th, 2008 at 06:27 pm

$58--all to principal, as this card is 0% till May.

$1,259 down, $1,641 to go on my February goal.

$4,001 to go on my Overall Ad Hoc Goal.

$67,076 to go for my Big-Picture Goal.

Yee-haw!

Student loan payment posted

January 23rd, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Almost forgot about this one! It takes so long for payments to post on their crappy low-tech Web site that it's hard to remember to go back and check.

$53 paid to principal

$1201 down, $1699 to go in my February goal

$4059 to go on my Overall Ad Hoc Goal

No progress on my Big-Picture Goal

Unexpected boost!

January 23rd, 2008 at 03:15 pm

Awhile ago I mentioned NT getting a tax bill from the UK that came out to close to US$1150. NT thought it was a mistake, so he wrote a letter and sent documentation explaining it. Meanwhile I saved up the money and, because the bill would be due Jan. 31, transferred it along with my regular bill-covering transfer in early January.

NT used MLK Day, since it's not a UK holiday, to call the tax office in England. I was pleasantly surprised to hear they'd accepted his explanation, no money was due, and a letter was on its way across the pond confirming that!

Since the money was already in the account, I hastened to pay off one credit card we'd nearly gotten rid of and make a large payment to the next-highest-interest UK card. (I was tempted to pay off a really small-balance card, but its interest rate is way better so I did the sensible thing.)

All told, I knocked out US$1,148 of principal! And I get to add to my Old Debt Graveyard page.

February goal: $1,148 down, $1,752 to go.
Overall Ad Hoc Goal: $4,112 to go.
Big-Picture Goal: $67,134 to go.

February's goal: $100 per day

January 18th, 2008 at 09:36 pm

OK, I'm setting my February goal high, but we've all seen small increases in our paychecks so I think we can make it. I want to pay off $2,900 in principal by the end of February. I just realized it's a leap year and February is 29 days long, so it seems an even more fitting goal. I'm starting now, so it's not really $100 per day, but I like the way that sounds. :-)

Reached January goal!

January 18th, 2008 at 09:29 pm

Ugh, I've been sick and haven't felt like posting, but I finally feel a little better. Checked my personal loan account and my payment posted. $403 went to principal, which means I met my January goal!

Goal: $1575
Results: $1592

$5,260 to go on my overal Ad Hoc Goal

$68,282 on my Big-Picture Goal

Quick entry; big payment

January 11th, 2008 at 03:14 pm

I have a full day of work ahead of me but I wanted to post because my UK credit card payment posted! The nice exchange rate allowed me to put GBP 500, or US$1,000, toward principal! So that's $1189 down, $386 to go on my January goal.

$5,663 go to in my overall Ad Hoc Goal.

$68,685 to go in my Big-Picture Goal.

Hooray!

To refi or not to refi?

January 10th, 2008 at 05:23 pm

I hate how finances sometimes feel like gambling. We have an ARM that will increase in November. Right now it's at 5.00%. AS just let me know that rates for a 30-year fixed just dipped below 6%. Should I refi right now? It'll slow down my other debt repayment and I'll take on a bit more debt, because I don't have anything saved for fees.

Will the fees go even lower or start to climb back up? Would it be better to wait, even if it costs me, so I'm better prepared for the added expense? I wish I had a crystal ball...

Good day so far

January 9th, 2008 at 07:34 pm

I'm in a really good mood today. First off, I got a new cubicle at work. I had my eye on one that had been empty for over a year, and I finally thought to ask my boss if I could move into it. She set it up right away. Now I have a bigger space, two real walls (it's in a corner), and a desk that faces the doorway, so people don't come up behind me anymore (I hate that feeling).

Also, I did a big international wire transfer: I had to put money into the UK account to cover this tax payment we might have to make, plus I'd saved up two of my regular monthly deposits so I'd only have to pay one fee, plus I wanted to deposit some extra to put toward credit card principal. I confirmed this morning what I was surprised to see last night online: The dollar is doing much better against the pound! I deposited $3200 and actually got GBP 1580! I was expecting more like GBP 1490, so I'm really happy. That extra 90 pounds is going straight to credit card principal. I'll have almost paid off one of the cards, and next month it's a goner--along with another that has a really small balance. Next month I'll get to add to my Old Debt Graveyard--woo hoo!

My new, free budgeting tool

January 8th, 2008 at 06:36 pm

I need something I can access both at work and at home because I do my budget updates and adjustments whenever I can fit them in. I've been using saved draft emails in my Yahoo account. It was free, and I could access it anywhere there was Internet access. The drawbacks were that I had to do all my calculations myself, creating more room for error, and that Yahoo occasionally freaked out when I tried to save things. The last time it messed up one of my documents, I got fed up. AS told me about my new favorite online tool...

Google documents! It's great--you log in from the Google home page and you can upload or create Word docs or Excel spreadsheets. I opted to change all my draft-email documents into spreadsheets so the program would do my math for me from now on. It didn't take long to figure out how to do that. Everything's so much easier to read, too, since I can use different cells, boldface, colors and text alignment to enhance readability. I'm sure I'll have to iron out some kinks someday, but the first day on it has been wonderful.

I recommend it if someone's just trying to track simple things, like budgeting a month out--that's the main thing I track: income in and expenses out for about a month and a half in advance. I also have separate spreadsheets for tracking total household debt broken out by individual debt, short-term (fun money) savings, and a generic monthly budget that lists paychecks, bills and allotted money and shows what should be left over in a perfect world.

Teeny payment to CC

January 8th, 2008 at 04:06 pm

A whopping $8 in principal! :-)

$189 down, $1386 to go in my January goal.

$6,663 to go in my overall Ad Hoc Goal.

$69,685 to go in my Big-Picture Goal.

Credit card payment posted

January 5th, 2008 at 05:16 pm

$286 to principal. I've finally made up for the dent my dishwasher caused, and so it's $181 down, $1394 to go in my January goal.

And $69,693 left in credit card/personal loan debt.

Get Fit Twin Cities!

January 3rd, 2008 at 10:28 pm

If anyone in Minneapolis or St. Paul is reading this, you should join this community fitness program. It runs January through May and is basically a place to track your exercise online and try to get healthier.

The perks aren't huge, but right now registration is free, and they will send you a coupon book for healthy activities, invitations to a couple events, I think chances to win prizes, and e-mails with health ideas.

Last year I headed a six-person team, but that got tiresome trying to herd my friends into giving me their stats each week. So this year it's just a three-person team of me, AS and NT.

First payments of the new year

January 2nd, 2008 at 10:53 pm

UK credit card: $272 in principal
US mortgage: $289
UK mortgage1: $110
UK mortgage2: $24
UK mortgage2: $24
Total: $719

$1680 to go in my January goal.

I should probably add something to my control bar about my goal to pay off all personal/credit card debt in 2 years. I'll go do that now!