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Archive for July, 2010

More July debt repayment

July 29th, 2010 at 11:58 am

My credit card payment and another of AS's student loan payments hit: $79 and $59 to principal, respectively, bringing July debt repayment to $1352.

Our $1800 balcony screen was installed yesterday. We did it mainly for little AA and her eventual friends, so we'd feel better about kids being on the 18th-floor balcony. (There's a railing, but's still a little nerve-wracking to take AA out there.) But it's also for our cat Noodles, because he likes being on the balcony but I've always been terrified he would forget where he was and leap for a bird or bug, and fall off the balcony. Also, when he was out there we had to keep either the screen or the door closed to keep bugs out, and he hates closed doors. Now, when it's nice enough to have the AC off, we can keep the door open, so he can come and go freely.

I was afraid it would make our small balcony seem cramped, but instead it's made it seem like another little room, rather than a small ledge. Very cozy and not cramped at all! AS and NT love it too. So, money well spent.

Reached July debt-repayment goal! (plus baby pic)

July 27th, 2010 at 09:34 pm

I've hardly gotten a chance to post all month, and suddenly, twice in one day! Work is a bit more manageable today than it has been since my boss left and I took over many of her responsibilities (in addition to keeping my own).

One of AS's student loan payments went through: $119 to principal, which means we exceeded our $1100 goal by $114! Our new balance is $363,886. We may have one or two more payments come in just under the wire to qualify as July progress, too.

Another blow to our budget surplus: NT's student loan semiannual interest payment, which I expected to be $400 or so, was $622. I keep forgetting to factor in the additional loan money we take out each semester! It's OK, but too many more hits and I may be regretting the fast and loose spending of this summer. Not yet though!

It's been a while since I posted a baby pic. This was taken last night; we have a rooftop pool on our condo and this is the second time we've taken AA into the water. We take her there after sunset so there's no danger of burning; the pool water is slightly heated so it's not too cool. She quite likes it, I think! Very quiet and observant, but she kicks her feet and seems very comfortable. She even smiled a bit this time.

Hmmm...Let me try again, but I don't know how to crop photos on my home computer! Smile

Prepaid plan 2010 cost updates

July 27th, 2010 at 06:30 pm

NT's Net10 phone broke, so we were able to get him a new one, plus 300 minutes and a phone card with 200 more minutes for $21.56! (That's cheaper than the usual $32.82 for 300 minutes with no phone or extra phone card. So why won't we take advantage by just getting him a new phone every time and saving $11+ plus getting nearly twice as many minutes? Terrible tech support. He went phoneless for a week while they got their s#%* together.) Since the second year began in late March, here's what we've paid:

CJ 1000 minutes late-March T-Mobile fillup: $107.78
NT 300 minutes late-March Net10 fillup: $32.82
NT 300 minutes late-May Net10 fillup: $32.82
NT 500 minutes + new phone late June: $21.56
Total cost for the year: $194.98

It happened in late June, but I forgot to record it in the post-vacation madness. Now it's late July already! This is the end of the fourth month of our cellphone "fiscal year," so our average monthly cost for this year is $48.75. I expect that average to go up again soon when AS needs new minutes, but still, awesome that three people have had cellphone service for less than $50 per month so far!

RECAP: I switched to prepaid in late March 2009. We have 2 phones on T-Mobile prepaid and 1 on Net10 prepaid. AS and I refill in 1000-minute increments and only need to refill when we run out or when it's been a year since our last fillup to stay active. NT needs to buy 300 more minutes every 60 days to keep his phone activated.

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 for this year is to get my average cost to $50 per month, but any average number below $85 will be a savings.

July 2010 net worth update

July 25th, 2010 at 07:57 pm

NT's UK pensions:
#1: 12,663 pounds ($25,326)
#2: 14,721 pounds ($29,442)
#3: 3,709 pounds ($7,418)
NT's 401(k): $9,308
AS's 403(b): $3,300
AS's IRA: $1,682
AS's 401(k): $634
CJ's 401(k): $32,315
NT's flat: 130,000 pounds ($260,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $160,000
Baby/emergency fund (shared asset): $8,482
Total Assets: $537,907

Total Debt: $364,005

Current Estimated Net Worth: $173,902

June 2010 estimate: $163,573

Change in net worth: +$10,329

Summary: All our retirement accounts and the EF showed modest gains (NT's 401k did especially well because his company dumped a $700 bonus in there). We also paid off over $1K of debt. But there was another huge leap this month, nearly as big as last month's, due to my finally confirming there was a third pension account in the UK that NT had forgotten he had.

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 fairly 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 (unless I happen to get some info by chance). 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.

July debt progress; catching up

July 17th, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Wow, I can't believe I've only posted once this month! It's been so crazy since we got back from our trip; AA went into daycare, NT and I went back to work full time, my boss's last week was the week I came back from the trip. AS has had a bunch of freelance and work she's brought home from the office, so I'm too busy at work to post, and the computer is usually taken at home (plus I'm exhausted, and spending all the time I can with AA since I don't get to see her during the day). I actually missed recording a credit card payment earlier this month, which is totally unheard of for me!

That CC payment put $81 to principal, and one of AS's student loans just had $86 put toward principal. That makes $167 total, so $1095 down, just $5 to go on my July debt-repayment goal. Both of those payments made dents in my 2010 and big-picture goals as well, because these are the next two debts on my hit list.

Well, it's been a crazy couple of months in terms of money; there's been a lot of extra money coming in from all sides, and at the same time lots of money going right back out! Smile Some of it definitely spent on "wants"; I've loosened up a lot to give us a break from my normal tightwaddery, since we can definitely afford it.

The money in included (let's see if I can remember it all): AS freelancing, NT work bonus, AS raise (much bigger than expected), my parents paying for some of our plane fare, me discovering another pension NT had forgotten about (3709 pounds--or US$7418 in my set ratio! Jeez! LOL), NT's job putting another bonus into his 401(k), refund for a medical overpayment, NT working a bunch of overtime so most of his parental leave was paid...I think that's all. Whew!

The money out: There was that weekend trip we had to celebrate AS's raise, on which we spent about $700 including rental car, hotel, dinners, shopping and touring a historical house. We went about $300 over budget on our family trip, because we took a bunch of younger family members to a 3-D movie, got room service for ourselves on the last night, and went on a bus tour of D.C. that was $35 per person. I signed up for one of those charities where you do regular payments; we pay $15 a month to buy food for poor children in other countries. We paid a friend to do one day of daycare because I ran out of time 1 day early because of AA's slightly early arrival: $100. We also paid that friend $40 to cat-sit while we were out of town. I had a $475 dental bill and AS bought several refills of contacts, that ran us a couple hundred. AS and I got bikes! Used, but still, with helmets and locks, about $500 total. We're getting the balcony screened in so kids and cats will be safe there: $1800.

We're also planning on spending some more before it's all over! We're planning some nights out that will require babysitting (from friends, but I still feel we should pay them), we're going to develop some nice photos to send back to family from the trip (and we might send thank-you gift certificates for hosting us). We've given in and decided to go with diaper cleaning service for the foreseeable future, which will run $19.50 per week (though we get 3 more weeks free if we commit to 24). We're going to paint AA's room and also one wall in our living room (so it matches our new couch better). We're probably going to get a new garbage disposal, and those seem to run about $100-$250. And we're going to rent another car in August to go visit our friends' vacation house for a weekend. Oh, and I had to go get an ultrasound for some lumps in my breast (harmless, it turns out, but the tests will cost me). And my doctor reminded me that I need to speak to a family law expert to try and solidify our parental rights despite our unusual family structure. (Which also reminded me that I want some financial advice from a professional, too.)

Phew! Money in, money out. I'm keeping track and it's all paid for, but it's still a bit overwhelming. But, I feel it's all deliberate, well-planned, appreciated spending. We're not just blowing it on things we don't notice or enjoy. That said, I really want to get back to paying down debt! It's hard to start pulling in the reins, especially telling NT or AS that we have to start being frugal again. It's easy to get used to a more free-flowing way of life. But I haven't forgotten that we're still in a lot of debt and somewhat behind in retirement. And have a baby, as well as an international move and another baby probably sometime in our future.

At least I don't feel alone. Thiftorama, North Georgia Gal and some others have mentioned a need to retighten belts. So, I'm going to go ahead with the spending we already have planned, but my desire after that is to start hitting the debt hard again. And just get our spending settle down to a more predictable pattern.

Back from vacay, progress on July goal

July 5th, 2010 at 08:27 pm

So glad to be back from my trip! Parts were fun, but staying with family can be exhausting. More details on it later, if I feel like it. Lots of interesting tidbits about money came up during the trip, actually.

Anyway, finally got a chance to check some accounts and the following payments were processed:
US mortgage $381
UK mortgage #1 $258
UK mortgage #2 $54
UK mortgage #3 $58
AS student loan: $118
AS student loan: $59

All told, $928 went to principal. So, just $172 to go on the July debt-repayment goal.