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Archive for October, 2009

CC payment hit

October 30th, 2009 at 02:29 pm

My credit card payment put $191 toward principal. I never know if they're going to send me the bill in time to get it out before the end of the month, but they did. Since it's a CC with a superlow fixed rate, I always pay it the second I get it, because I don't want to get anywhere close to the due date (which is something like Nov. 27).

So, that makes my October debt-payment total $2865. Woo hoo! That will be my last debt payment of the month, but I'm holding out hope that I'll do some serious novel-idea brainstorming tomorrow and actually accomplish all my goals, so I'm not going to post my monthly wrap-up just yet.

More debt paid off, etc.

October 29th, 2009 at 02:16 pm

One of AS's student loan payments hit, and $61 went toward principal. That makes our October debt payment total $2674.

This student loan is such low-hanging fruit; now at $1855, I could have it paid off soo soon if I focused on it. However, at 2.5%, it's the next-lowest interest rate we have on our debt (after NT's 1.49% mortgages). So there's no way I'm diverting funds from my higher-interest debts to tackle that one!

Watched "Bank of Mom & Dad" again last night. It's a pretty good show, if anyone has SoapNet; about spoiled 20somethings in debt whose parents move in with them for a week to turn their finances around. Every week it's a new focus. Last night's was sad, though; the girl had a very unapproachable mom and had clearly replaced the love she missed with material things. I may not be able to communicate properly with my parents about a lot of things, but I could always get a hug if I needed one! It ended on a more positive note but only after lots of tears.

Reached October debt goal

October 27th, 2009 at 02:23 pm

A student loan hit (AS's) and $115 went to principal. That means we've paid $2613 of debt in October, slightly exceeding our goal of $2600.

I might have a few more debt payments hit this week; we'll see.

Now that I'm aggressively paying down debt again, after focusing on the EF for much of the year, I keep looking ahead to what I might try for next. Recently I'm thinking that once I knock out all my personal and CC debt, I'd like to go after one of AS's student loans. Even though one of NT's has a slightly higher interest rate, his are in deferment while he's in school, so we're paying interest only on his. It would be nice to knock out one of AS's payments before his full payments hit; would help lessen the impact on our budget when they do hit.

Sticky note for later: retirement balances

October 23rd, 2009 at 01:16 am

Note to self:
One of NT's pensions is at GBP 14,721
AS's CD is at $516.25

That is all. We just got statements in the mail for these two accounts. I hardly ever get info on some of our accounts and don't know how to check them online, so I wanted to note these so I could update these totals on my next net worth calculation. NT's other pension is still a complete mystery, I think.

Savings goal reached

October 22nd, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Yay, the blogs are back! I've been checking all day. Smile

The automatic biweekly savings hit, with $25 going to the baby/EF. So we saved $776, $1 over our October goal of $775 LOL.

I've been home with a nasty cold for two days. I'm going in tomorrow as I think I can feel it letting up a little, but meanwhile I'm getting as much rest as possible. I'm one of those people who can lie around for days and not feel restless, except for feeling a little guilty about not helping out around the house and not being at work. So other than the guilty feelings, I'm having no trouble just lying in bed or on the couch all day long, which is exactly what my body is begging me to do. I make decaf tea or cereal or PB&Js, and that's about it. Hey, once I'm a mom I won't get to listen to my body this way, but being pregnant I'm being very easy on myself.

Sadly I had to cancel our regular night of reality TV with our friends. AS could have used the company, but I'm just not feeling up to it (sitting upright, talking, etc.) Right now I'm steeling my resolve to go take a shower.

October 2009 net worth

October 19th, 2009 at 02:24 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions: 7,250 pounds ($14,500)
10,725 pounds ($21,450)
NT's 401(k): $6,444
AS's 403(b): $2,888
AS's CD: $500
AS retirement savings: $725
CJ's 401(k): $30,022
NT's flat: 130,000 pounds ($260,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $160,000
Baby/emergency fund (shared asset): $6,656
---
Total Assets: $503,185

Total Debt: $386,701

Current Estimated Net Worth: $116,484

September 2009 estimate: $112,045

Change in net worth: +$4,439

Summary: Once again, retirement funds were up, and debt went down by quite a bit. Our baby/EF also went up despite me using some of the funds to buy maternity clothes.

I will update my "Individual Net Worth" page shortly so you can see how it breaks out.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are conservative. I don't have a way to check NT's UK pensions or flat value, so their values stay static for the purpose of this update. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $2 for every British pound, which was the exchange rate when I started keeping track. I maintain that ratio for the purpose of tracking progress, even though the exchange rate is now closer to $1.60 per British pound.

Personal loan payment hit!

October 16th, 2009 at 01:50 pm

Of course the first thing I did when I got into work was to check my personal loan balance online. $1765 of my payment went to principal! For the October goal, that means I've got $2498 down, $102 to go on my debt repayment goal.

The personal loan is down to $3114 now. I know I can get it down to $600 by mid-December, but we'll see what I can do to whittle it down even more.

I can safely say I won't hit my "Big-Picture Goal," which I set in the beginning of '08 before the economy got really bad and our finances rocky. That was to pay off ALL my "bad debt" by the end of this year. However, I will have done some real damage to that debt, and who knows? Maybe 2010 will be the magic year that we get rid of it once and for all.

Debt progress today; big leap tomorrow

October 15th, 2009 at 02:14 pm

A student loan (AS) hit today, with $82 going to principal. $733 down, $1867 to go on the October debt goal.

Most of my progress will happen tomorrow. The $1800 payment to my personal loan was taken out of my checking account this morning. Not sure how much is going to interest. Pins and needles! I believe this is the biggest payment to my personal loan, besides the times we had extra student loan money and put it toward this debt.

I figured out the other day that, should a $400 windfall come our way and no bumps in the road, we could actually pay this loan off this year! I'll probably be sorely tempted to pay it off with some EF money if the principal balance gets down that low this year.

And then my mind keeps wandering...if that happens, and we get a bit more windfall (tax refund?), we could have my dad paid off before the baby comes!

But I know there are lots of "ifs" in there, so I'll try to stay calm and just celebrate the progress that happens tomorrow.

Condo value: inconclusive

October 14th, 2009 at 07:48 pm

A recent SA post about home values got me looking for what my condo would sell for. It's in one of two high-rise buildings with many similar units, so it's probably easier for me to determine my home's value than for homeowners with a unique house. (On the other hand, depending on the condition, the age of the appliances, and so on, values within our association can vary pretty widely.)

I found a handy site (trulia.com) that lists recently sold homes in a particular ZIP code. They listed six 2BR condos in my complex that had sold between January and late August of this year.

The three that had sold between January and April had been bought for $134K, $143K and $140K, for an average of $139K. Those are scary numbers because I have the condo valued at $160K!

But the three that sold from June to August went for $169K, $165K and $154K. That averages out to $162,500. Even though the most recent sale is significantly lower than the other two, that doesn't worry me too much because there are other factors. But to play it safe, I'm not going to move my own estimate of my home's worth up to $162.5. I'll keep it at $160K, especially since the market has not stopped roiling yet. (Plus, if we were to sell, I'm sure we'd have to do at least $2500 worth of repairs and upgrades to get it sellworthy.)

Kinda glad I missed that bottoming out of the values January-April. I didn't realize it had gotten that bad! (For comparison's sake, we bought for $207K; the home was originally for sale at $200K but we rolled closing costs in and it actually did get appraised at $207K.)

Savings progress + first movements felt?

October 8th, 2009 at 05:57 pm

The regular biweekly savings hit, with $25 going into the baby/EF. $751 saved, $24 to go on the October goal.

I think I'm feeling the baby move occasionally, but I can't really tell. Sometimes it just feels like a little muscle spasm, like an eye twitch in my lower belly. Other times it feels kind of...magical or unearthly, like a little minnow or butterfly is brushing against my insides. It always comes and goes so quickly that it's hard to pin down, but I started noticing it yesterday and still feel it today, so I think that's what it is. Either way, the ultrasound is tomorrow, so I hope to see lots of activity then!

Prepaid costs plan update

October 6th, 2009 at 09:47 pm

AS made her 1000 minutes last 3 months and 1 week, so that's a 1-week improvement over the last 1000! Smile But seriously, I think there's no getting around the fact that while she's at home, and doesn't have a work phone with which to conduct calls during the day, her minutes are going to go faster. This situation should change next year, whatever job she ends up with.

RECAP: I switched to prepaid in late March, meaning it's been 6-1/4 months. We have 2 phones on T-Mobile prepaid and 1 on Net10 prepaid.

Initial layout: $241.63 to get us set up with phones and 2300 minutes.
NT's late-May Net10 fillup: $32.65 (He hadn't used up his previous 300, but they roll over as long as you re-up in time.)
AS's late-June T-Mobile fillup, 1000 minutes: $107.40.
NT's late-July Net10 fillup: $32.82
NT's late-September Net10 fillup: $32.82
AS's early-October T-Mobile fillup: $107.78

So our total cost so far is $555.10.

So far, if I divide our total cost by 6.25, our new plan has cost us $88.82 per month (our monthly average is up from $74.55 per month as calculated in September). Still, that's close to our $85 average on the T-Mobile family plan.

I've still only used about half of my 1000 minutes and I don't need to re-up until March 2010 unless I run out of minutes before then.

(Our cellphone bill, for three phones on a family plan, used to range from $80-$95, depending on texts, calls to 411, etc. Usually it was close to $85. My goal is to get my average cost below that, preferably to $50 per month, but any average number below $85 will be a savings.)

Dipped into the baby/EF

October 5th, 2009 at 03:41 pm

We went to the mall this weekend to use some Old Navy gift cards from MyPoints. We went to see if they had a maternity section, and they did--a small one, but I still found a pair of pants and two sweaters, all on sale. It was $30.99 more than the gift cards, so I was going to take it out of my next week's spending money.

Then I thought we should probably look around and see if there were more deals since we hardly ever get out to the mall, so we went to a maternity clothing store. There were several good items on clearance or sale, and I also got a pair of pants at full price since there were no clearance pants in my size. I was trying to pare down the shirts to fit within this week's and next week's spending money, but NT and AS put a stop to that. They pointed out that the EF is called the "BABY-slash-emergency fund," and that I wouldn't be buying clothes right now if I didn't need them. (It's true; my wardrobe is shrinking weekly.)

I tried to fight it for awhile, but I didn't want to put any of the clothes back since they all fit so well (and all had room to grow too), and I didn't really want to be without spending money for the rest of the month either. So I caved and am going to take this out of the baby/emergency fund. I spent $146.92 at the second store, so $177.91 total. I got 10 pieces in total--3 sweaters, a business jacket, two pairs of slacks and several shirts--so they were all good deals. And that should carry me through a good deal of the pregnancy; as long as I don't repeat a top during the week at work, I feel normal. And I should say they're all really cute, so I'm going to be happy wearing them. Smile

It's amazing how hard it was to make that decision. I've got thousands of dollars in the bank, but unless it's specifically earmarked for something I just feel really weird spending it. Definitely not the me of three years ago.

Meet Noodles!

October 3rd, 2009 at 02:35 pm

On Thursday a friend posted photos of a cat that had been abandoned near her home for about a month. As always NT wistfully wished we could adopt him. We've always said that we can't get a cat in America because he might be too old when it's time to move back. (The quarantine can be several months.) Usually cats that friends try to find homes for are already mature, so it's not an option. But I could see that this cat was very young, nowhere near full-grown.

So at lunch NT and I went over the concerns we usually have. The first is the immigration problem, which this cat would be plenty healthy for. Another is that NT feels cats should be indoor/outdoor, not strictly indoor like American city and suburb cats are. But I pointed out that this cat would be 99% likely to be an indoor cat whoever took it in. Another issue was the cost, but I feel we're in a better place to afford unexpected expenses than we've ever been. And then there's our condo rules, which prohibit cats, but pffft. Our real estate agent, who lives in the other building, told us that many people have "secret cats." It's one of those stupid rules that they re-evaluate every couple years and just haven't gotten enough votes to overturn yet. The only person who comes in ever is the handyman, who is super mellow and has seen that we clearly break the flooring rules and doesn't care.

So NT called our friend (4 times in quick succession, as I learned later) and that night, she dropped off this little beauty, whom we named Noodles.



He's gotten over his jumpiness and hiding, and now his main problem, besides a case of worms that we're getting him treated for on Monday, is being a kitten. Smile He needs to learn some boundaries, like AS's dreadlocks are not toys, but he's really really affectionate and cuddly and playful, so we're glad we got him.

Oh, and the people who found him kicked in $150 for vet bills. We got a quote of $260 from the local animal hospital for everything including neutering, so we'll only have to pay about $100! I've decided to take his food and litter costs out of groceries and his vet costs out of our medical-expenses fund, so hopefully it won't cost more, but if we start to struggle I'll put another $50 per month in each line item.

We're not usually this impulsive these days, but I think this was a good impulse. NT especially is sooo happy; we hardly see any cats and he really really loves cats.

October savings & debt repayment progress

October 1st, 2009 at 02:57 pm

Savings: I transferred $120 into savings for AS's retirement, and about US$606 into UK savings for the baby/emergency fund. In total, $726 saved, $49 to go on October savings.

Debt: The following payments hit--
US mortgage: $283 to principal
UK #1: $256
UK #2: $54
UK #3: $58
All told, $651 down, $1949 to go on the October debt goal.

So as I've been mentioning--repeatedly, cause I'm so excited about it--our mortgage rate is going to adjust for the better for our Nov. 1 payment (and the next 11 payments after that). Well, as I was checking the mortgage balance, I remembered that the site can give you details of the next payment, like how much is going to principal, how much to escrow, etc. I checked out our new payment. It's going to be about $190 smaller, and it's going to pay about $90 more in principal per month! That means not only is our principal balance going to go down $90 faster every month, but we're actually paying $280 less in interest each month. How sweet is that? We were paying about 45% of our total household debt payments toward interest, escrow and other fees, but now it's down to 40% in one fell swoop!