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Archive for April, 2008

$16 step

April 27th, 2008 at 08:25 am

$16 went to principal, on a UK card that usually pays off $7 or $8 per month...guess I missed a statement in the mail. Oh well, there's only $190 left on this card and I'll be paying it off in May.

That's $1,820 down, $2,280 to go for May.

$58,050 to go in my Big-Picture Goal.

Debt snapshot?

April 23rd, 2008 at 01:44 pm

OK, trying for the gazillionth time to post a photo, this time with a JPG.

Hope this works!
Edit: Not bad, but let's try cropping so you can actually see the numbers...

OK, that kinda works. Anyway, let me know if you have any questions about the totals on it. When you make up a system just for yourself, it's hard to tell if it would be logical to outside perspectives.

Oh yeah, this is a result of "Partial Exponent"'s suggestion. Thanks PE, and tell me if this satisfies your curiosity!

April net worth update

April 18th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

NT's pensions: 7,250 pounds ($14,500)
10,725 pounds ($21,450)
NT's 401(k): $1,332
AS's 403(b): $1,754
CJ's 401(k): $25,653
NT's flat: 130,000 pounds ($260,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $182,000
---
Total Assets: $506,689

Total Debt: $431,533

Current Estimated Net Worth: $75,156

3/21 estimate: $68,443
Change in net worth: +$6,713 (!)

Summary: All our retirement plans managed to hold onto some gains this month! The market must have done slightly better, but also, I hit the 2-year mark at work and so a bit more of the company's matching contributions are now vested. Plus, we paid off a whole crapload of debt!!

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

One small step for the May goal; one giant step for the Old Debt Graveyard

April 18th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Checked my credit card account where my remaining debt from our May trip resided, and the payoff went through!

$447, all principal, so that's:

$1804 down, $2296 to go in my May goal

$58,066 to go in my Big-Picture Goal

And...another one bites the dust! The England trip has been a debt item ($5000 estimated future debt) in my calculations since I started my big debt payoff last summer. Now it is 100% paid for, and we don't even leave til May! I had to charge portions of it to credit cards when I was reserving airfare and hotels, but I did not pay one penny of interest, so it almost feels like I paid for this giant trip in cash!

Let's have a moment of silence...Oh hell. Let's have a moment of wild cheering instead!! Time to go add another headstone in my Old Debt Graveyard!

Next step toward May goal + annoyance

April 17th, 2008 at 07:28 am

Personal loan payment posted. $414 to principal (not as much as I hoped, but more on that in a bit).

$1357 down, $2743 to go on my May goal

$58,513 to go on my Big-Picture Goal

It looks like I'm right on track with my Big-Picture Goal, but I don't see as much extra in my June budget to put toward debt (more like $950 extra versus the $1600 or so I usually like to pay in). I refigured my debt snowball yesterday, and I still don't see my personal-type debt going away before Feb. 2010.

If I stay exactly on track with planned payments and get a few windfalls over the next year and a half, I'll make my goal of having it all gone by 12/31/09. But there are so many variables coming up (AS changing jobs, NT going back to school, AS student loans coming due, ARM adjusting itself, wanting to save for babies) that all I can do at the moment is cross my fingers.

The reason I feel annoyed today is because my personal loan payment, which I thought would be more than $441 toward principal, was only $414. I guess I thought since it's a fixed-term loan (60 months), it would start out lower in principal and gradually increase, like my mortgage does. Instead it seems to randomly fluctuate. I did pay a little extra at some point, so I don't know if that affected it.

It's got a fixed interest rate, so it couldn't be that they're charging me more interest. And I got assurance when I signed up for this loan that there was no prepayment penalty and I would only be responsible for accrued interest if I paid early.

Huh. Well, I don't get it. I could do more research, but I think I'll just take this as more motivation to get out of this debt. So I'm increasing my fixed payment, from the minimum $623 to $650. Hopefully that will ensure I never fall below $441 in principal again. And after my UK credit cards are all paid, I'm attacking this loan with a vengeance. This time it's personal. :-)

Looking ahead & toxic work environment

April 15th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Despite some non-usual expenses coming up, we're doing really well. One of AS's "extra" paychecks will be coming up in June. (She gets paid biweekly so 26 times a year, but I budget as if she will only get paid twice a month. So two paychecks a year are just sort of extra.)

Even though we've had to budget for some miscellaneous college expenses, medical bills and window washing (18th-floor necessity), our bottom line at July 15 looks like it will be about $1200. That's a much comfier surplus than we usually have, but I'm not pre-spending it in my head. I'd really like to have closer to $1950, the equivalent of two of AS's paychecks. She's wanting to switch jobs as soon as possible (probably not possible till June or July), and I want to be able to drop two of her paychecks off the budget painlessly, in case she gets a new job and there's a gap in payment.

Sample transcript of meeting at AS's job:

COWORKER #1: AS, everyone loves reading XYZ [news blog AS created and writes as part of her job].
COWORKER #2: (makes audible noise indicating surprise at this)
AS (gamely): Well, maybe it's the "Green Tips." I've been getting a lot of positive feedback from readers about those.
COWORKER #2 (unable to limit bitchiness to inarticulate sounds any longer): Really? Wow. Because I think the Green Tips are just really obvious.
ME (hearing about it later; gnashing teeth): Grrrr...

???
Who just goes around saying stuff like that? And AS takes this kind of crap from multiple coworkers, nearly every day. There are other problems with the job too, so rather than fight it she's just going to look for a better position somewhere else. But jeez! Had to vent about that.

Future debt avoided; counts as a payment

April 14th, 2008 at 08:58 am

I just ran the numbers in more detail for the next month, and realized the final $943 of travel money I was planning to take from my reserve line, and then pay off when I got back from my trip, will actually be in the bank when I need it. AS's biweekly checks throw off my schedule, but when it's because they're coming earlier than my general budget suggests, it's a good thing!

So I can count that as a debt paid, since it's part of my overall debt count.

$943 down, $3157 to go on my May goal
$58,927 to go on the Big-Picture Goal

May goal

April 10th, 2008 at 07:56 pm

OK, this is my biggest goal yet. It's because we're getting the first of our stimulus checks in May.

The goal: Pay off $4,100 by May 31.

Wow. I'm excited!! I think we can actually make this goal.

April goal reached, milestone passed

April 10th, 2008 at 05:43 pm

NT called to get the balance of one of his UK credit cards, and two payments had posted since I've checked. $328 went to principal, which sails us nicely past two milestones:

April goal reached! The goal was $3,000, and we paid off $3,099.

Credit card debt has dipped below $60,000! Now it's less than $20K per person.

$59,870 to go on our Big-Picture Goal!

Time to go figure out what I think we can do on May...

Two student loan payments!

April 8th, 2008 at 07:09 am

Well, in my excitement last month of reaching my first long-term payoff goal, I guess I forgot to check AS's student loan account, because I checked today and the principal is $115 lighter--twice as much as usual. I looked back at past blog entries and sure enough, I never checked it in March.

So that's $2771 paid, $229 to go on my April goal.

No progress on my Big-Picture Goal as that doesn't include student loan debt.

Unless I get status on one of NT's remaining UK credit cards (I can't access these two online), my next payment will be around the 16th, and it should take me past my April goal total and bring my credit debt under $60K. Guess my May goal will be more aggressive!

Odd, skewed numbers

April 7th, 2008 at 03:12 pm

Based on Merch's post (http://merch.savingadvice.com/2008/04/07/ratios-for-retirement_37526/) about financial ratios, I've tried to figure out those of my household. The numbers come out pretty skewed.

I figured in the value of our rental place as "savings" but not the value of our residence. I did include the mortgages on both in "debt." I figured for where we should be at age 35, since that's our oldest age. I worked with our net (take-home) income, because I assume that's what matters for these equations.

Savings: $323,186
Income: $90,070
Debt: $433,780

Savings-to-income ratio
Should be: 1.2 to 1 ($108,084 to $90,070)
Actual: 3.6 to 1 ($323,186 to $90,070)

Debt-to-income ratio
Should be: 1.5 to 1 ($135,105 to $90,070)
Actual: 4.8 to 1 ($433,780 to $90,070)

Savings rate
Should be: 19%
Actual: about 4%
(This is chilling, unless you figure that I'm putting 17.3% of our net income toward extra debt repayment and 16.6% toward payment of regular credit-card and student-loan bills. A portion of this will be redirected in less than 2 years.)

So are we doing well? Really hard to tell from these skewed numbers. All I know is, in the spirit of today's SA blog entry (http://www.savingadvice.com/blog/2008/04/07/102086_getting-past-impossible.html), at least dealing with it will put me in a better position than not dealing with it at all.

PS: Ugh, I tried doing hyperlinks and failed, so I had to post the yucky URLs instead!

Updated Web pages

April 4th, 2008 at 09:49 am

Inspired by everyone detailing how they control their expenses, I updated my Number Crunch, Bills and Budget, and Fun-Money Savings pages, accessible from my sidebar. (I keep these numbers up-to-date daily in Google docs, but only copy it over to the blog occasionally.)

If anyone is interested, those three pages, plus one for Total Debt, are how I track money for my whole household. The money in question goes in and out of three accounts: our joint checking account (where all paychecks are direct-deposited and from which all bills, spending allowances and grocery bills are paid), the linked savings account for our fun money, and the UK checking account (where I send my extra money and the UK rental income gets automatically deposited, and from which all UK bills are automatically paid).

I might add a page for my Total Debt file that I keep in Google Docs, but it's a little more complicated so I'd have to figure out how to imbed Excel files on pages (hint, hint, anyone who knows!)

Big ole step!

April 2nd, 2008 at 07:52 am

Two credit card payments hit today, as expected. One is a regular payment (I won't say "minimum" because about six months ago I started to make a fixed payment even though the minimum one goes down a few bucks a month) with $289 going to principal. The other is $1900, all principal, to the 0% card I bought our England plane tickets with! I aim to pay almost all the trip costs off before we go, and make the final payment soon after we get back.

Since I listed the trip as a projected future debt in one lump sum when I started blogging here, I'm going to put it in my Old Debt Graveyard as such when I've paid it off.

Anyway, that's a big $2189 step in my April goal.

$2,656 down, $344 to go in April

$60,198 to go on my Big-Picture Goal! We've now paid off more than $10,000 in credit card debt so far this year. I'm looking forward to seeing it dip below $60K, because then it'll be less than $20K per person, average.

Mortgage payments; first steps toward April goal

April 1st, 2008 at 05:55 pm

US mortgage: $293 to principal
UK mortgage #1: $122
UK mortgage #2: $26
UK mortgage #3: $26

So, $467 toward the April goal, means:

$467 down, $2533 to go in April.

No progress on my Big-Picture Goal, but tomorrow some credit card payments should hit and make quite a dent!