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Archive for June, 2007

Tuesday's money activities

June 27th, 2007 at 08:19 pm

Sigh...having a slow point at work and wish I had something to report about my 1099 + 555 Plan, but I won't be paying any bills or having any extra money to pay anything down until Friday. I don't know what NT's paycheck will look like, but I'm hoping it's over $400. Then I'll put $200 toward debt, $200 toward upcoming summer expenses (weddings, visits, anniversaries), and any little bit left over will be fun money to distribute evenly between the three of us.

I thought I had my summer expenses pretty much figured out, but I just realized I have a 10-year anniversary coming up in late July and a niece coming to visit in August (I never see her, so I want to make it fun). So I have to see what I can do to come up with extra money, because I don't want to derail my payoff plan before it even starts! I have some time to figure it out, luckily.

Now that I've joined this site, I enjoy thinking of all the things I do that are free, or save money.
- I've been really good about my spending money; I gave myself $60 about three weeks ago, and I still have $16 left! That means I only spent about $2 a day on average.
- Last night, NT & I went to the mall and got a new power supply ($70 value) for our computer free, because we were still under warranty.
- I'm getting a coffeemaker, a pound of coffee and a box of filters for only $16, and AS is going to put our old one to use at her office. I just have to call the coffee company after I get it to cancel our "membership." I've done it before so I know it'll be no big deal.
- We're going to sell back one of AS's old textbooks for $19.
- I harvested some more peas, and some tiny carrots and onions, from my community garden.
- I'm gathering up store receipts that have anything slightly medical on them; I have a ton of flex spending left that I need to use, and I can get reimbursed for things like Tums and aspirin. So far I've got about $23 worth of receipts.

Maybe I'll try to sell some used books to the bookstore this weekend or something. Also, I already have money allocated for a rental car in July, but I bet I could find a better deal before then. I'd love to have money set aside for all summer festivities before they happen, so I can enjoy them guilt-free.


Starting point for my '1099 + 555 Plan' challenge

June 25th, 2007 at 09:20 pm

Debt starting 6/26:
Personal loan: 30,000
Reserve line: 1,721
Credit card: 18,503
Trip to England: 5,000
Mortgage: 184,278
Loan from Dad: 7,000
Student loan 1: 16,129
Student loan 2: 3,438
Student loan 3: 12,848
6/26 total debt: $278,917

Goal for 7/26: $277,263

The 1099 + 555 Plan

June 25th, 2007 at 09:11 pm

OK, so I figured out how I'm going to "save" for my trip to England while putting the money toward debt instead of actually saving: I'm just going to make sure I pay off an equal amount to what I think I might pay (worst-case scenario) for the trip.

I'm saying the trip will cost $5,000, even though hopefully it will cost less. It's in nine months, so I have to pay off extra debt to the tune of $555 per month between now and then.

Right now, I pay off an average of $1099 of debt per month. Thus, for the next nine months, I have to average $1099 + $555 in monthly debt reduction, or $14,886. (I've already added the $5,000 to my total debt, even though it's hypothetical, and will treat it as real debt until the trip, so I'm under no illusions as to what I have to do.)

Next entry: My starting point of debt.

Expensive trip next year

June 25th, 2007 at 06:18 pm

We were talking today about how we really want to go to England next year for NT's sister's wedding (we'll also work a lot of family and friend visits into as short a time as possible). We have no idea how much plane tickets (for 3 people) will be in April, nor what our lodging expenses will be (whether we can swing staying with others the whole time, or if we'll need to get a hotel part of the time), nor whether we'll need a rental car for part or all of it (probably, and gas is ungodly expensive in UK compared to US).

So I decided to presume worst-case scenario and begin to prepare for that. I went on and started planning a 7-day vacation for 3 people with airfare, hotel, rental car and gas, and $500 (250 pounds) spending money for the entire week. It came to about $5000. (Yikes!) So, I'm thinking that's the outside number and we'll be able to get in WAY under that.

At first, I was going to try and save the actual money for the trip, but then I realized it would be a waste to sock that money away while we're still paying interest on debt. So I'm going to add $5000 to our overall debt calculation, pretend it's already there as a 0% interest debt. Then I'm going to pay off debt as aggressively as possible in other places instead of saving that money. When it comes time to pay for the trip, I'll use a low-interest credit card for it. I think this will save us paying some interest in the long run, and seeing that $5000 debt on my list will drive me nuts, causing me to really pinch pennies and pay debt off faster. Plus, the actual trip will probably be much cheaper, and our tax refund should pay for a good chunk of it, so I'll get to wipe off some "debt" after the trip instead of adding some on!

Debt shift; 4th of July

June 25th, 2007 at 06:01 pm

I did go ahead and deposit the loan check that I got approved for. (Thank you for the advice!) As soon as it clears (probably tomorrow) I'll pay off some higher-interest debts, reconfigure my monthly bills & budget, and see if there's now room to put some extra money toward principal on some of my debts.

I realized today that NT will probably get Wed. July 4 off without pay, since he's just a temp. I don't think his temp agency gives paid holidays and I know his temporary assignment won't. But I hadn't factored any of his income into our budget yet, so it's not too big of a disappointment.

The little things

June 23rd, 2007 at 10:50 pm

One thing I really like about other people's blogs is how they document all the small money triumphs. So I thought I should list some good things that have happened to us this week:
-$6 refund check for recalled product came in the mail, along with coupon for free bottle of mouthwash.
-Coupon for free 2-liter of soda came in the mail.
-AS got a small raise; should mean about $40 per month if we're lucky!
-I asked both NT and AS if they needed any more spending money (I'd given them $80 apiece 10 days ago) and they both had almost half left and agreed to try and stretch that for another week! They're really getting behind this saving-money thing.
-Picked a small bag of lettuce and some peas; our first harvest from our community plot! Made a salad with today's lunch and some lettuce left over for sandwiches tomorrow. Free veggies taste good!
-Detected some unauthorized charges on one of our check cards; got them taken off and card canceled with no trouble!

Maybe once I understand more about the $20 challenge idea, I can put stuff like this toward that. Still reading and trying to figure it out: Do you keep a separate bank account? Stuff it in your mattress? :-)


Debt consolidation

June 23rd, 2007 at 07:25 pm

I got approved for a personal loan that will roll three other debts with high interest into one loan with an OK (8.99%) interest rate. No fee for taking the loan, the payments will be $60-$80 less than the three together are now, and it has fixed payments and fixed interest and pays off in 60 months, with no penalty for early prepayment. Moving debt around didn't work when I wasn't serious about paying it off, but now that I am, this should help me pay more off, faster.

If it still seems like a good idea on Monday, I'll probably do it.


Number Crunch

June 22nd, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Thought I'd share my main money-management tactic: I keep an unsent e-mail in my draft folder of my Yahoo account, and check my checking account online daily. I list my current balance, list all the income and debits I expect for the month (in half-month groups), and see whether I'm ahead or behind.

NT's income is irregular as he's a temp, so his money is surprise bonus money, and we use some for spending, some for paying down debt. AS and I have regular paychecks twice a month.

It's a nice system because I go in daily and change the balance, then delete items that have come through, or add items for upcoming income or debits that I've just found out about. I have a general budget document that I keep as well, but this one gives me a more specific idea of where we are, because it factors in the unpredictable stuff.

Here's a sample of what my "number crunch" looks like right now:

Balance 6/22: $1589.86
Pending check card auth: 108.21
Available balance = $1481.65

June 16-30 upcoming debits:
$60 spending money
$20 for farmers market
$19 for Nat'l Geographic
$450 for Wii plus accessories
28th: Comcast $45.95
American Express $372
16th-30th: Groceries $161.03
keep $350 for next month
= $1477.98


July 1-15 upcoming income:
$6 Agent blue refund
6/29 CJ paycheck $1362.32
7/1 parking rental $75
7/5 AS paycheck $938.32
Add back in $350 from last month
= $2731.64 + 3.67 = $2735.31

July 1-15 upcoming debits:
1st: Citimortgage $1356.97
2nd: Firstmark $71
4th: NT Bus Pass $76
5th: Association dues $520.97
6th: Reserve Line $89
9th: Netflix $10.70
14th: Barber (for all 3 of us) $60
1st-15th: Groceries $440
Gift for friends' wedding: $100
= $2724.64

$10.67 LEFT OVER

July 16-31 upcoming income:
7/16 CJ paycheck $1362.32
7/19 AS paycheck $938.32
= 2300.78 + 10.67 = 2311.45

July 16-31 upcoming debits:
15th: T-Mobile $95
Bremer $95
16th: Capital One $564
21st: Rental car for friends wedding: $190
24th: Barber $60
28th: Comcast $46
American Express $366
misc household $100
16th-31st: Groceries $440
keep $350 for next month
= $2306


Looks like we're cutting it kind of close, I know, but NT gets some kind of money every Friday that's not factored in until we get it. Today's was just enough to break us even for the next month, but next Friday's will be a lot bigger because he worked full-time this week. But we don't know how much, so I haven't put it on.


Debt starting point

June 21st, 2007 at 10:27 pm

I got my family on the straight and narrow sometime in mid-March. Didn't have time to estimate my debt then, just needed us to cut some spending and come up with a workable paycheck-to-paycheck budget, fast. But in mid-May I finally sat down and counted up our* debt. Not pretty, but best to know.

Debt as of 5/24/07:
Credit card:
RL: 2,766 (pays off $25/mo)
CO: 19,218 (pays off $420/mo)
AE: 18,819 (pays off $340/mo)
Total credit card debt: 40,803

SM: 16,129 (deferred; AS in school)
FM: 3,489 (pays off $55/mo)
DL: 12,500 (deferred; AS in school)
Total student loan debt: 32,118

Home loans:
CM: 184,559 (pays off $280/mo)
BM: 10,288 (no $ to principal)
Dad: 7,000 (not paying regularly)
Total home debt: 201,847

Total debt: $274,768

*Disclaimer: This is just me and AS. Third person in our household, NT, just joined eight months ago from another country. I haven't yet asked him for his exact debt, but I do know it's part mortgage (don't know how much - $60K?) and part credit card (fairly substantial - $10K-$20K I'd guess, and he's got it on a 0% card). He's renting his foreign property and using the proceeds + tax refund to pay the mortgage and his minimum credit card bills. Sooo, eventually I'll need to wrap my head around his stuff, but at least he's building home equity, keeping on top of bills, paying off some debt and not paying any interest. It doesn't affect our lives directly, so I'm tuning it out for the time being. More on this at some point!


June 21st, 2007 at 08:57 pm

Greetings! I need to check out some other blogs on this site to figure out the best way to do this, but I thought I should post something just to get started. It's funny, I'm now the third of all three people in my household to have started a blog for the first time this month! Leave it to me to have the most boring and dorky (although not to me, and apparently I've found some like-minded people on this site). I look forward to sharing the minutiae of my financial life with anyone who will listen (or read).