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Spending Spree.

June 20th, 2008 at 04:16 am

This is why I can't have a credit card. I do great with having an empty one for emergencies if need be but then once that emergency comes up it is easy to spend more.

I got the work done on my car, paid off about half of it with what was in my savings and had every intention of paying the rest of it off and rebuild my savings by December.

It was a good plan.

Then I got my new position. And realized that to be ahead of the game I need to learn a few things before I actually start. Which required a better computer than what I had acquired years ago from a former workplace in order to run the software that I need to master by July 1.

So I looked around and got what I felt was a decent deal on a laptop, also on my credit card.

Then I got a little frivolous. I found more computer equipment to make my wireless network even better and decided to splurge. Again, on the card.

Which all told brings my current total on this once was empty credit card back to $2,000.

If I'm lucky, I'll have it all paid off by end of this year.

I also found out that I should be receiving an offer letter for my new position so there's a chance of a raise. Plus I will no longer be having a transportation allowance taken out so a little more coming in there.

6 months.

June 8th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

I am planning on everything being 'back to normal' in 6 months. By back to normal I mean, CC paid off again AND EF back to $1500. Not bad really all around but still longer than I'd like to take off of my regular debt reduction.

What to do...

June 4th, 2008 at 05:00 am

I did think long and hard before I made the decision to authorize roughly $2k worth of work to be done on my car. I waited to take it into the shop, knowing some of the work needed to be done, until my one credit card was paid off. Since my money is scattered in different banks I figured it would be easiest to charge it and then by the time the money came in from my banks I could pay it off.

However if you look to the left you'll see that I do not have enough in my EF to pay the entire thing off, even with draining it.

So I am left with the 'what to do' dilemma.

I have three savings accounts with roughly $500 each in them. I do not want to leave less than $100 as a balance. With what I have in savings (leaving $100 in each account) and what I have in checking I could pay off $1341 immediately. And about $200 more of the balance on the 1st.

That would still leave about $700 on the card and drain my EF to $300.

The one savings account has an auto transfer of $75 a month so that would start building back up immediately. Once I paid off the CC I would put all extra money into my EF accounts until they got back to $500 each and then start putting that extra cash to my bills.

Originally I was just going to pull out all but $100 out of my brick and mortar savings account and leave the online ones alone. But that was back when I was anticipating only a $800 charge.

I'm afraid if I pull so much out of my EF that I won't be able to recover. But the thought of paying interest doesn't appeal to me either.

Gearing up for change.

September 20th, 2007 at 08:08 pm

Today was payday. It's my second to the last paycheck from my current employer.

I paid all the bills I had to. Set aside money for a trip to Seattle next weekend (I'm carpooling so pitching in a little for gas). Set aside money for next month's bus pass that I'll need for new job (friend works someplace she can get one for half price and she won't need it for October so I'll be buying it from her at a discount). Paid off the small current balance on CC2 that's normally kept empty. And had $102 left over that's earmarked for savings but won't actually transfer until next week.

My roommate and I are throwing a party this weekend. We're going shopping tonight for food and other stuff for it. I have $32 from babysitting and what was left over from food and gas last paycheck. That should be plenty, especially since we're splitting the bill and we won't be buying any alcohol.

I am so paranoid about having enough money to pay for insurance and the other half of the month's worth of pay I'll need to come up with end of January that I've decided to charge some things. Specifically my clothes for work. I will be looking for good deals and such but for the most part I just want to go shopping once and not have to worry about work clothes for a while. I'm ok with paying interest since I know that worst case, I'll pay it all off with my tax return. Which means only a couple of months. If I find that I have more than enough money saved up to cover things then I'll pay it off sooner.

My current 'work clothes' are the same as my everyday clothes. Casual, jeans, tshirts. New job is in an office building with a business casual dress code. Granted, one of the programmers was in my interview wearing cords and a tshirt but I'm not going to be working for him. I have my interview clothes (one pair of slacks, one nicer button down shirt) and possibly one other top that would be acceptable. Past that, nothing. I hate shopping for clothes, with a passion. But I need to do it. This weekend I'll start out at Value Village and Goodwill. Next I'll hit up Ross and Marshall's. After that it just depends on how much time/energy I have to take on the rest of the Maul (Old Navy, Gap, Macy's, Nordstrom's, Sears, etc). Might check in at Avenue as well since that's where I got my slacks and they fit really well, just a little pricey even if I did get them on sale.

I think I can pull this off.

September 18th, 2007 at 03:54 pm

I debated about asking my dad for help with insurance. I still might but its hard to ask him for anything even though he tells me to if I need it.

This morning I got another bt offer for 0% until 4/2008 and a 3% fee with a max of $75. That got me thinking along the lines of, should I request a check just to have as backup funds and not cash it if I don't need it?

Here's how it breaks down...

By the end of this month I will have at least $1,000 in savings. Probably more but I won't know til I get paid. Add to that $200/mo repayments from my brothers guaranteed ($100 is via allotment straight to my bank account and the other I have access to his accounts so he is sure to pay me regularly). Over the course of the next 4 months that makes an additional $800. Plus there's the kicker check I'll be getting in December. They say the median amount is $260 or so, I plugged in numbers at a website and it showed more like $500 for me but I'm not 100% sure since I can't find my state tax forms.

I know I'll have other extra cash I'm just plotting worst case scenario. I'm also making the assumption that I can pay all my regular bills with whatever pay I get.

Ok so I will have to pay for COBRA in November and December. October should be covered by what I've already paid since we pay for the next month. January I'm going to go without and just get meds at Costco. That will satisfy the continuous coverage with less than 63 days of non coverage thing so I don't have to worry about pre-existing condition stuff. That's assuming I get hired on in January as benefits would start in February. Total costs for COBRA will be about $840 for the two months.

All told, even with not getting paid for holidays since I'll be contract, and with my first month once I get hired on, having to live on a smaller paycheck as I transition from every other week to once a month, I think I'll be ok.

My student loan that I've been working like crazy to pay off tells me I don't have to make a payment til January. So I think I'm going to take them up on it. I will make monthly payments of $20 + whatever interest has accrued but not my usual $60 plus whatever extra I can scrounge up. That will help. Hopefully I won't have to resort to using my cc to pay bills. But at least I have that option.

All told, I think I'm going to hold off on the bt offer. If I can make it through this and still have $500 in my EF, I will be a happy camper. If I can make it through this without having to charge anything, even if it means draining my EF completely, I will be fine with that too.

Job offer received!

September 17th, 2007 at 08:13 pm

I got a call this morning shortly after I got into work offering me the position if I was still interested. The gross amount is less than I'm making now, but the net will be comparable.

What it boils down to is, in the long run this will be the better position for me. I will actually be able to start using the degree I earned a few years ago and the potential for advancement is far greater.

Its going to cost me in the beginning. The contract place pays every two weeks and then once it rolls over to the new place then it will be once a month. But once I get on an even keel with them, all should be good.

I'm going to avoid using the credit card as much as possible, though I may charge my bus pass initially since there's no room for it in the budget just yet since I don't know what/when I'll actually be getting paid and I'll need the pass pretty much right away.

My first day of work will be October 1! I am so excited!

25 100s

August 8th, 2007 at 04:16 pm

My first attempt got lost in the ether...

My brother made his first installment to me of 2500 in cash. Its going in the bank today and as soon as it's registered as being deposited (it's cash so that should be almost immediately) here's how it's going to be dispersed:

220 - Wells Fargo Savings to pay back what I'd drawn specifically for him over the course of the year.
709 - Pay off credit card that's supposed to be cleared off completely.
1500 - Put on student loan that's at 13% (current total about $2131)

And the rest (about $70) will be used to buy gifts for my ex-roommate's bridal shower and wedding that's coming up fast.

It'll put my EF really close to my goal of $1000. It'll put a huge dent in my highest interest debt. It'll make it so I have a limit on what to spend on gifts. I will probably still charge the hotel room but I'm sharing it so it'll get paid off right quick.

I am SUPER excited right now!!

My brother and I made arrangements for the rest of his debt. He will repay me $100/mo starting in September and continue in that fashion until he gets his tax return. Then he'll pay the rest of the balance, or at least another large portion of it.

bits and pieces.

June 28th, 2007 at 09:45 pm

I'm a little annoyed with myself. But before I get to that, I've decided to not do the 0% BT. It's not worth it right now as it's too short of time for something to go wrong.

~ The $400 that I had planned on paying off of CC2 before interest started accruing, may not be going anywhere right away and that makes me sad.

~ If I choose to stay in my apartment I will owe my roommate $200-$300 since she paid the deposit but is leaving. I think it was $200 but since I didn't pay it I don't remember exactly. I told her to take it off of July's rent so thats part of why I can't pay off CC2 right away.

~ If I choose to move (I finally heard back from a house I had inquired after beginning of the month) my housing costs will go up slightly. Rent and utilities combined are only $12 more per month and if the house is where I think it is gas usage won't go up that much but I may not be able to walk to work/gym as often. Depending on the new living situation I may still have to have a storage unit but I've spoken with another friend about 'renting' space in her garage for the same price I was paying before.

~ I have to pay $196 for two nights at a motel after the walking relay I'm doing. It's annoying because all hotel/motels in the area require a 2 night stay for that particular weekend and that is literally the cheapest out there. The next cheapest is three times the rate. The money is due before August 1st and is the second reason I won't be paying off the CC before interest accrues. Though I could take money out of savings but I'm trying to not do that I want to build savings not take away from it.

~ If I don't move and I can de-clutter enough to store it all at the apt I currently live in that will save me $60/month.

~ I'm slightly splurging and getting a massage this weekend but it's for medical reasons so I'll take the money out of my medical funds. I think I have/had a pinched nerve. I had tingling sensations in my legs but when I'd shift how I was sitting it would go away. After the first visit to the chiro it went from both legs to just my left leg. After the second visit to the chiro it's lessened even more but now the muscle that feels like it goes from about mid butt to past the knee is irritated by about mid-day which makes sitting in any position un-bearable. My friend is a massage therapist and sometimes gives me discounts because I do computer work for her. I'm planning on paying full price though until she tells me otherwise.

~ I got the explanation of benefits from my last Echo, they remembered to bill my insurance this time. It's $159 that I'll owe and I'm hoping that it'll be on the next billing cycle. If it is, then there's a good chance I can pay it all when I get it. My medical savings is currently at $57.

~ My brother is getting a signing bonus, I just don't know when yet. When he does he'll be paying off the money he owes me (I'm assuming based on how much money he'll be getting). Right now his outstanding balance with me is at about $3,600. But it'll be 10 - 30 days before he gets his bonus and he says knowing his luck it'll be 30 days.

~ I had three no drive days but was hoping for five. Today the weather wasn't right to walk to work though I did get in a 5.8 mile walk before work. But I did drive into work and I now have plans for after that may entail driving straight from work (ie no time to walk home and get the car). But I did bring lunch and dinner to work with me so I won't be tempted to go out for either.

0% Balance Transfer and No Fee take 2

June 25th, 2007 at 07:19 pm

I keep thinking about this balance transfer offer and I think I might actually take it. My Sallie Mae loan (non-federal loan so it doesn't matter for taxes) is my highest interest rate right now at 13.25%. The balance is a little under $2,200. Right now I pay $60/mo on it.

Extra money I could put towards paying it off by Jan 1, 2008:

$118 extra in budget to be used for whatever I'm focusing on paying off.
$100 from step brother, it's an allotment so it's auto deposited every month.
$180 from childcare I provide.
$60 from the payment I was making before.

Over the course of 6 months, all of that equals more than I would be borrowing so I could potentially pay it off on time. My variable rate on the credit card is 14.24% right now so if there was any leftover that's the rate it would be charged at.

Not to mention any extra on call money I might get plus the change in my withholdings will make a difference I just don't know by how much yet. Plus when it gets down to the end, I could probably just pull from savings what needed to be paid off before interest accrued.

I'm seriously thinking about this. I think I might sleep on it first. I have until July 28th to accept the offer.

0% Balance Transfer No Fee!

June 25th, 2007 at 05:48 pm

The catch though is that it must be paid off by January 1st 2008. Not even six months away. I am tempted to take the offer but I don't know how much I can pay back off in such a short amount of time. If it was January 2009 I would do it in a heart beat.

Finding my way back.

June 14th, 2007 at 10:58 pm

In my head it made perfect sense. I was paying more than the minimum on my 10.9% loan because that was the amount already in the budget from when it was a credit card with a higher minimum. Recent changes in required minimums have forced me to rethink things. And considering I'm training for a walking relay, and walking about 6 miles three times a week, I have LOTS of time to rethink things.

This is what I have come up with:
Priority 1: Pay off CC2
Priority 2: EF up to goal
Priority 3: 13.25% personal (not federal) student loan
Priority 4: 10.9% loan and back on track with my Three Phase plan

Priority 1... well you see it went something like this. I had CC2 all paid off. A couple months ago I remembered that CC1 was still the billing card for my website (annual automatic charge) so I changed it to be CC2 since CC2 was paid off and it would be more motivation to pay it off before interest accrued. Only I thought the website renewal was in July and it's really in June so it's been charged already and I have yet to pay it off.

Then as I was looking at something at Ticketmaster I saw that Stomp was coming to town. I have this friend, we've known each other a long time (since '94). Her birthday is coming up end of June and I haven't really ever gotten her something that's really special, something that she'd really appreciate. Usually it's just the token 'oh crap her birthday's coming up I need to do something' type gift. Granted, she doesn't expect anything from me and has told me that on numerous occasions. But, she also has come up with some pretty amazingly thoughtful wonderful gifts for me over the years. (like my justification bit here?) She also happens to Really like Stomp. So I decided to see what tickets were available and found some pretty decent seats. I went ahead and bought two tickets, thinking it was in July and she could just take whoever she wanted to. But after I bought them I realized the show is in June, just before her birthday. So I'm going to surprise her and take her to the show. She knows we're getting together that night for her birthday just the two of us but that's all she knows. I'm really excited about surprising her on the one hand and mildly kicking myself for charging it before knowing that I'll have the funds to pay it off before interest is charged.

And of course then there was my dentist visit on Wednesday. It wound up costing $448, a little more than expected but they did two fillings rather than just one so I knew it would be more. I have transferred money out of my Medical Savings to pay that part off.

Priority two... I just recently realized that I'm never going to get my EF to where it needs to be at the rate I'm going. Which right now is I have a small amount in the budget that goes to Savings but then I take all of the extra money and throw it at my 10.9% loan. It wouldn't take me all that long to make my goal if I'd just put the extra into Savings instead.

Priority three... This loan is the bane of my existence. The interest rate increased after I actually started paying on it and instead of being the $50/mo it claimed it would be, it actually wound up being more. I got sick of the fluctuations in how much to pay every month so I just started paying $60/mo. That at least made my budget simple and meant that I was paying a little extra on it. But I just want it to go away! So I've decided to focus on that soon.

Priority four... I really still want to have all of my consumer debt paid off by April 2010. I feel like I'm going to be behind in my goal if I put other things in front of it but my gut feeling is that this is the way it needs to happen. Besides, then I'll have an extra $60/mo to pay on things once I pay off the 13.25% loan.

Writing this all down is more for me than anything else. I seem to think of all this great stuff but never follow through. Perhaps with it written down perhaps I can actually stick to it.

Focus.

June 8th, 2007 at 08:07 pm

As I've been trying to decide where I'm moving to (I have decided to move at the end of July) I've also been thinking about my payoff strategy. Right now I'm focused on my 'consumer debt' which is all things credit card related. I've got about $15,900 at 10.9% and $10,500 at 3.99%. However, I have a small student loan that's actually a higher interest rate. It's got a balance of $2,200 at 13.25%. The reason the interest is so high is it's actually a personal loan not a federal one so I couldn't consolidate it when I did my others.

Not now, but once I get moved/settled and get my EF up to $1k, I want to start throwing all extra money at something. In my efforts to pay off all my 'consumer' debt by April 2010 I've been concentrating on the balance of the 10.9% loan.

What do you guys think? Should I keep whittling away at the 10.9% balance or shift focus to the 13.25% balance?

Where to apply payments.

May 21st, 2007 at 02:38 am

I got my first real statement with my Balance Transfer. I took the amount I did because I didn't want to have too much of a monthly required payment. I was expecting it to be $275 and it is $160.

Balance Transfer balance: $10,573.30 at 3.99% min $160 budget $275
Loan balance: $16,432.10 at 10.9% min $391 budget $523

Should I shift $115 from the balance transfer payment to the Loan? I know it makes mathematical sense to do it..but I really want to have the BT paid off by April 2010. Actually I want it all paid off by then but at the least the BT.

How dissapointing.

May 8th, 2007 at 12:41 am

So the weekend away with the girls, the one I've been planning for a while and put on my credit card so it could be covered...has officially been canceled. For one reason or another people suddenly couldn't make it and we were down to only 4 people. Now I love the girls that are still able to go but it's just not worth it to drive all the way out there. Especially since one of them just went through some financial hardship and we told her not to not come just cuz of money and we'd take care of her.

The downside is we loose the deposit but losing $25/each vs spending $73/each (plus food plus gas) really is the better end of the deal. We'll still hang out on Saturday but it means we have more time to ourselves during the weekend which is actually better for me too.

But it's very disappointing. I mean, we bandied around dates for a while and only settled on this one because all but one of the group said they could make it. And the one that couldn't make it is about 2 weeks from giving birth so she had a good reason for not coming. Now in the 11th hour...anyway.

It could have been worse, I could have had to just plain foot the bill which I was tempted to do because that's what I do and that's what gets me into trouble. Fortunately I have some friends who aren't the type to take advantage of the situation and immediately stepped up to shoulder the burden equally if need be.

We will still have fun. We've got a project to complete for the one who's pregnant so we'll still spend the day together on Saturday working on that and perhaps we'll have a little fondue party like we were planning to have this weekend. And it means I'll definitely be home in time to take my sister in law out for lunch/brunch.

Used the CC this week.

April 27th, 2007 at 03:39 pm

I have made two purchases on my empty credit card this week.

First, tickets for my favorite band went on pre-sale on Wednesday for a venue in Seattle. Granted the show isn't until August but there isn't one scheduled for Portland yet. And I wanted to go. So I bought two tickets (total $121 after fees, darn ticketmaster). I will pay it back from my savings before interest fees occur. I am also going to try and get better seats when they actually go on sale tomorrow. I will have no trouble turning around and selling whatever I don't need as they tend to sell out quickly. Plus whoever I take with me will pay me for their ticket it's just too early for most people to plan so I don't know who that will be yet.

Second, a beach house rental for my women's group. I'm organizing a retreat and it was easier to just charge the two night stay ($310) and have people pay me back then to have everyone come up with the money right away. They have already started giving me money for it and I am certain it will be paid off before interest gets charged. We've done this in the past and it's worked well.

Funny thing, even with this semi-extravagant spending I don't feel the urge to just start charging everything. That's good. I have been very careful with this card and I want to keep it that way.

Tricky Credit Card...

April 20th, 2007 at 02:03 pm

I called today to cancel Credit Protector and the dude was all telling me how he could lower my interest rate to 6.99%.....It wasn't until our conversation was over that he mentioned 'ok I'll send a balance transfer check out to you'. Umm since I recently did a balance transfer don't you think I would know to do that myself if I really wanted it. Such a let down, I seriously thought he was going to lower my APR. He's sending the check but I'm shredding it as soon as it arrives. Bah.

I'm feeling sick and since this is like the 5th cold I've had this season, and I just got over one a couple weeks ago, I think I'm going in to see the dr about it. Another friend that I saw on Sunday came down with the nasty cold that's flying around and I'm starting to have the same symptoms. I probably will not go into work today but instead just rest. Which sucks because I had plans for this weekend, plans to declutter and take control of my bedroom. *sigh* My first down weekend....

Anyway. Happy Friday everyone!

It's been a while.

March 19th, 2007 at 07:53 pm

Not much been going on in the money realm of my life lately.

-----

I went on a date, first time in about 6 years, on Saturday. I'm still a novice when it comes to dating so I went fully prepared to pay for my portion. He wouldn't let me though and insisted I take home the leftovers (we split a small pizza). We have tenative plans to get together again soon. However we both are pretty busy with work and life which makes actually nailing down a date/time a little difficult.

-----

I remembered when I went to get my check for last night that they owed me for two weeks. That was a nice bonus since I'd forgotten about it. My Tuesday deposit is currently $50. It might wind up being $55 if I don't spend any money tonight.

-----

I got my balance transfer check (at the rate of 3.99%) while I was gone for $11,000. I'm waiting to cash it until I know for certain my balance is $0, but new statements should be coming out tomorrow. I'm debating what to do with that money. Here's the current plan:

$8,250 to pay off loan (14.4% interest)
$1,000 to go into savings account just in case my brother needs to borrow it for school (4.5% interest). If he doesn't need it then it'll go to pay off my loan at 10.9%
$1,000 to take over my portion of a debt on someone else's credit card. (7.99% interest)

With what's left, approx $750, I think I've decided to bump up my EF to $1k and then take what's left over and put on my loan (10.9% interest). My EF just never seems to hit the full mark. Once I hit that then I'll start putting my extra pay towards the higher interest loan. Every little bit helps.

Trip and stuff

March 15th, 2007 at 08:02 pm

I left with a little over $60 in my pocket for food. I came home with about $8 because my friend paid for a couple of meals plus the places we stayed offered decent breakfasts included with the rooms. I also spent $10 on a tshirt for me since I saw it the last day I was there and knew I had the money to spare. Smile I did reserve a room with my card and its obvious the authorization is still out there because it shows in my available credit. However when we checked out my friend put all charges on her card so the authorization should go away soon. My balance still says $0.00.

I had a lot of fun. It was crazy, I played navigator and secretary. We found her an apartment that was a little over her budget but it was something she could find out imediately about as opposed to having to wait 1 or 2 days. They were unloading the trailer when I left for the airport.

-----

I checked on the status of my balance transfer request, it has been approved so yay! I also happened to look and see what is currently available and the only option now is a 6.99% rate until paid off. I am soooo glad I put in the request when the 3.99% rate was available! Now I just have to wait for the check to arrive and hold onto it until the 20th to make sure the balance is $0.00 before I deposit it.

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Apparently there are a couple of hoops to be jumped through in order to make payments online to my Citi loan. I can't transfer directly from another financial institution to my loan. Instead, I have to do a transfer to my dummy Citi checking account and once it arrives there then I can transfer the payment to my loan. It's still faster than mailing it in, especially if I can submit it before noon my time. They reflect the interest accrual daily in the balance so I've been itching to submit a partial payment. But I had to wait the 14 days to set up my external account. Soon it will be down to a science and I'll be saving on interest.

-----

I was asked to be in a wedding. I don't really want to do it but it means a lot to the bride if I do. Before I left for Utah it had been called off by the groom over something totally stupid. One of those things where you think 'good thing it got called off now'. I was just informed by my brother that the wedding is back on. *sigh* I'm just too nice sometimes. The only positive thing about this wedding is it's in an area where I have lots of friends and family that I've been meaning to visit so perhaps I'll make a vacation out of the trip.

Balance Transfer initiated

March 6th, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Post #2 today.

Part of the point of getting the loan for the balance of my credit card was to lower the interest rate and to free up balance transfer space. The card that I cleared has had a pretty steady offer of 3.99% until paid in full. The plan was to request a check for $11,000 on the 15th figuring that by the time the check arrived then the statement showing a $0 balance would have already arrived so I could safely cash it.

Today on a whim I went and checked to see what balance transfers were an option. There were two, one for 3.99% and one for 6.99%. The rest of the terms were the same. That got me to wondering if there was a chance that the 3.99% one might be going away before I wanted to request it. So I took the plunge today and requested the check. It'll break down something like this:

$8,500 to pay off loan at Wells Fargo that's currently at 14.45%
$1,000 to transfer partial responsibility for Croatia credit card to myself. Currently it's on a card at 6.99%
$1,000 to stick in ING account just in case brother needs it for school. His GI Bill has been sorted out and it's still not quite right. But he has money coming in so he shouldn't need it. I just like cushions. If it turns out he doesn't need it I will pay it on my higher interest loan.
$500 to pay on my higher interest loan.

I picked $11,000 because near as I could figure, that was the most I could request and have the minimum payment be about the same as my current Wells Fargo loan payment.

When the check arrives I will hold onto it until after the statement shows up online. Once that happens I'll deposit the check and request a 10 day payoff balance. Chances are it'll be less than $8,500 and any extra left over will just go towards the higher interest loan.

Decisions decisions.

February 21st, 2007 at 03:42 pm

I have paid off CC1 by way of the loan first and then the leftover interest as soon as the statement got posted online. Which generally means that my next statement will show a zero balance. Part of me wants to wait for proof that there will be a zero balance statement March 20th before proceeding. The other part of me is certain that there is nothing left of the regular balance and wants to do a balance transfer immediately.

The next step for me is to transfer my consolidation loan from my bank to my credit card that I just paid off. Interest rate at the bank, 14.45% Interest rate of balance transfer, 3.99% until paid off plus 3% one time charge. I intend to continue making the same amount of payment that I had been making on the loan onto the credit card.

Of course I also plan on requesting more than the balance of my loan because the actual payoff will be more than is listed as current balance and I need a buffer in case my brother's GI bill doesn't kick in. If it does, rock on and I'll take that buffer and pay it towards my new loan. If it doesn't then I can still support him for a couple of months and he'll pay me back with interest as soon as possible.

Do I wait until I am certain that there is no residual charges that will be acruing interest at the regular rate? Or just jump into it now and get the ball rolling?

I did it! I got approved!

January 20th, 2007 at 05:23 pm

When I called last week to see about lowering my interest rate the CSR said it was as low as it could be right now. He asked if I wanted to do a balance transfer and I rather jokingly replied that I only have the one card with a balance so if he knew a way to shift a portion of the 14.24% interest rate to the 3.99% balance transfer rate I would be all for it. His response was to see if I qualified for a debt consolidation loan with Citi. He really wanted me to get the full amount, $25k but I stood firm at the amount on my credit card, $18k. Roughly $16k is at 14.24% and the other $2k is at 3.99%.

I got the approval in the mail yesterday for the full $18k! The rate is 10.9%, it's stretched over 60 months with a payment due of approx $391. Normally I pay $523 on my CC1, so I wouldn't change that amount. There is no prepayment penalty.

The plan then is as follows. Wait until the check almost expires, it expires 30 days after 1/12, to deposit it. That way I pay off as much of the 3.99% balance as possible. Deposit and pay off CC1. Wait until I get a statement that says I owe $0 on CC1. Then check and see if I still have a balance transfer offer for 3.99%. If I do, request the full amount of my other consolidation loan that's currently at 14.4% and transfer it to the 3.99% BT rate. I'll still pay the $270 I normally pay on it but it should get paid off a lot faster.

That's at least how it would work in my head. If at the least I just shift off CC1, that will be an improvement.

It's something to ponder. I haven't cashed the check yet.

Guessed right!! And some Credit Housecleaning.

January 11th, 2007 at 07:39 pm

I walked into work this morning to find a nice surprise, last year's W2 waiting for me. It usually comes with the second check of the month on the 20th. Since I do TurboTaxOnline I imediately went there and started my tax return. I can't do much yet since I'm still waiting on two W2's and some interest information but I can at least see if I was close when I increased my withholdings.

That's one of the nice things about doing TTO, after you enter in your W2 it tells you right away how much you overpaid or how much you owe. Usually I overpay by $600 and then it gets adjusted later by jobs I do at a lower taxed rate and student loan interest. This year....I overpaid by only $60! So I don't owe, well not yet anyway. I think my part time jobs will probably bring it down to zero or make it so I owe but then my student loan interest will rescue me. Since I'll be working my part time job the whole year instead of only a couple of months in '07 I'm going to wait until June to adjust my withholdings. Last year I did it in April.

I haven't gotten a copy of my credit report in a while, I just keep forgetting about it. So yesterday I went to annual credit report .com and requested just one of the three available reports. I'd read in someone else's blog that you can actually get three free reports each year if you just request one from one of the reporting agencies each quarter. I got Experian last night, I'll get Trans Union in May, and EquiFax in September. And I set up reminders in Google Calendar to remind me to do that when it comes around.

There were a couple of things to dispute on my Experian report but nothing major. There's nothing negative on it but it showed that my brother was my spouse. I think that's cuz we had a few joint cards/loans in the past. That's been taken off. There was one address too that was incorrect, actually two that I disputed but after I filed the second I realized that it was a PO box that I had ages ago but it was at a non Post Office location which is what threw me off when I looked it up. Ah well, it'll just return that it is correct after all. I really like that I could do everything online and get responses back via email instead of having to wait for things to process via snail mail.

The other thing I liked about viewing my Experian report is it told me when things would go off of my record. I'm annoyed that some things that really have been paid off for a long time and should be gone, show some sort of status at a later date so it won't be off for even longer. But Meier and Frank is off of there so that's cool.

I also got a statement from Bank of America with a credit balance of a nickle. I paid off my MBNA line of credit way back in July of '05. I requested whatever I overpaid about three months later and received that check. Why do I now have a credit balance of a nickle? Don't know but I'll take it. I also spoke to a representative to close the account. I don't need it open anymore, the interest rate is like 27.99% and it's not a credit card or anything.

Citi misses me. I haven't used my only CC card with a balance since...October. So they sent me something stating 'what can we do so you'll use your card again?' I called hoping to get a lower APR but instead just got a lower interest on new purchases for 6 months. I'm not planning on using it but it's nice to know that it'd only be 1.99% from now til June 11th. Later today I plan on calling on both my Citi cards to request that they lower the APR. It's been six months since I did that last.

I love tax time. I just want to get them done so I can get whatever I'm getting back, as little as it may be, and laugh at everyone who waits til April 15th. Ok maybe not laugh but...I'd rather have my money now than wait.

Decision made...

January 4th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

I met up last night with the only guy who went on the mission trip with us. We talked about the remaining balance left for the group to pay and how long it will take to pay off and so on.

My impression is that the group as a whole doesn't care that much about paying it off. If they did they would be working harder to come up with fundraising strategies and so on. Then again, I've lost steam in coming up with ideas too.

Although to be perfectly fair, at least 4 out of the 7 are under/un employed. I can understand how that would make it harder for them to contribute.

I had kicked around in my head a few ways to boost what I'm already pitching in just so we can get it paid off sooner and I think I've finally settled on one that won't hinder my debt reduction much.

I will continue to budget/pay $50/month from my check on the 20th.

I will continue with my Three Phase Plan, applying money in accordance with how that is mapped out.

Once Phase Two is complete I will monitor my savings account balances and each month the total balance is $1100 or more I will withdraw anything over $1000 to keep the balance maintained at $1000. I already have budget amounts in place to contribute to savings and would like to continue those as habit that way should the need arise that I have to pull from it, the balance will be restored in due time.

Whatever I pull from savings will also be given to the credit card balance as an extra payment that month. The hope being that it will wind up taking less than 3 years to pay off.

It'll be a couple of months before that will be implemented since I'm only about halfway to my mark. And I have a couple things this year that I know will be coming out of savings. But it makes me feel better knowing I have a plan in place.

It'll be interesting to see how the group reacts to the numbers we show them when we finally get together and discuss it again. The guy I talked to will be calling each person individually to get answers to specific questions that way he can present information to the group as far as concensus goes so our meeting will be more structured.

I'm also excited to help him with mapping stuff out, ie if we want to pay it off in a year each person HAS to contribute $X each month or it's not going to happen.

I must say I'm really torn on this whole thing. I feel an obligation to pay it off on the one hand, yet on the other I feel that what's left is no longer my responsibility since I've pretty much paid my share. I feel an obligation to put as much money towards it as possible, yet am in the middle of my own debt reduction goals and don't know where to draw the line exactly. I'm finally no longer robbing Peter to pay Paul and I'd like to keep it that way.

(For those of you new to my blog, I went on a mission trip to Croatia in May/June of '06. Because of the World Cup, ticket prices doubled before we could lock in a price and wound up raising only half of the money we needed to pay for our airfare. The tickets had already been purchased by a third party on our behalf, whether or not we went we were still responsible for paying for them so we decided to go anyway. One of my teammates put the balance [$8600] on a then empty credit card. Since we've returned we've managed to get it down to $5500 due to money that came in for the trip after we returned. We've pretty much just been making the minimum payments since then. Through my coaching, the gal with the card has taken steps to decrease the interest. First she called and asked them to lower it, got it down from 19% to 16%. Then she found a balance transfer offer to get it down to 7.99% so that's where it's sitting now.)

It starts today.

December 29th, 2006 at 09:30 pm

I deposited the balance transfer check on Tuesday because I knew K'd need the money by Friday and I wanted to give it plenty of time to clear, yet at the same time I didn't want to deposit it too early because that would mean more interest.

His monthly expenses are $689.
$275 rent
$100 phone
$40 electric
$74 bus pass
$200 food

Now his food budget he claims is more than he needs. I think that's because he's doing the bachelor thing of just eating a couple conveinence store hot dogs a day and counting that as good. But I want to make sure he has enough just in case.

He had about $142 left over from his last full paycheck and today his final paycheck for about a week was deposited which added another $232. All told he was going to be starting out January at $373, only $320 short of his monthly expenses.

I created a sub ING account for him and had deposited $1320 into it (holding out the $680 for January in case he really needed it all) earlier in the week. This morning I transferred $360 bringing that account total to $1680 plus I withdrew the $320 and deposited it into his bank account.

He hasn't received the paperwork yet for his GI Bill. Once he gets it, fills it out, and sends it back it'll be 3 months before it kicks in. So right now it looks like I'll need to be supporting him til April.

School costs are $880 for the semester plus books. Someone he works at at the bar might have the exact books he needs so books might not be an issue this time around. Only half of the money is due Jan 22nd (two weeks after classes start). The rest is due in February sometime.

If there isn't any more influx of cash then I have enough to cover him until the end of February, then I'll have to start dipping into my reserves. There is hope though. He works at a bar sometimes on the weekends and he can use that money instead of what's in the bank to pay for food. And he had an interview last week someplace that is pretty low key and he'd have plenty of time to study while at work. So there is the possibility of him not having to completely rely on what I've got. He hasn't heard back from the interview though so we're not really counting on it yet.

He also was palmed money from our aunt when we were there on Wednesday so he won't be dipping into his account quite yet. The plan right now is to spend cash first, and that as little as possible. When the first half of school is due I'll look at his bank account, calculate how much he needs for food til the next deposit by me at the beginning of February (using a rate of $7/day), and hope that there's something left over to put towards school so I don't have to pull the full amount out. It's entirely possible if the bar is busy on the weekends and he gets to be a server.

I'm really excited about him starting school. I think it'll be a lesson for him in more ways than one.

The payment will be going up on my CC that I did the balance transfer on, but right now I'm already paying about $160 more than the required minimum I should be able to absorb any extra that the minimum increases. Plus once he starts getting his GI bill he can start paying me back which will just go straight to the CC.

I am charging him interest and the fee that was incurred to do the balance transfer. Of course the downside to all of this is it'll increase my debt by $2k. *sigh* That's more than I've paid off since I started really concentrating on it in September. But it's ok. It will be taken care of in short order, at least as far as the actual debt going down on the CC. I have every confidence in that.

Tuesday Deposit.

December 19th, 2006 at 08:35 pm

I took my change into the bank today. Came to $18.72. That's not a year's worth, I know I took what I had collected in a couple times over the past year. But I do want to see how much change I do save over a year so I'm starting with a clean slate. Mostly.

Deposited $50 that went straight to my Emigrant account. I'm pleased to say that my EF balance has grown a fair amount, even with paying cash for something that I'm waiting for a reimbursement check on. My new credit card statements should be available tomorrow so I'll have a better idea of where everything stands then. I'm really excited to see the results.

Deposited $11 to cover the excess I spent for last minute baking. I have $6 left in my wallet, about $2 of which will be spent tonight picking up one last skein of yarn to finish a blanket I'm knitting. The rest will go to my Dollar Jar which is money I'm trying to save for a trip up to Seattle in March.

Dr's apt went ok. I paid my co-pay while I was there, the way they do billing annoys me so if I have it I'd rather pay it then. They had me take a trip down to the lab for some blood tests. I'll find out tomorrow if I'll be starting on a new med or not. I've been having random dizy spells and the new med may just enhance that so they want to check the levels of a few things. No new appointment has been made yet, it all depends on the results of the bloodwork. If I go on new meds that means I'll be going in more often for appointments while they work me up to the right dose.

I got my balance transfer check in the mail yesterday. It's how I'm going to be supporting my brother til his GI Bill kicks in. I won't be depositing it until it's actually needed, which will be before it expires in about 80 days. I don't want to incure any more interest than necessary. His last day of work was Friday, the contract ran out officially. School starts January 8th. He works at a bar when needed on weekends, last weekend he made $80 between the two nights he worked. He is going to be filing for unemployment today and he had an interview on Sunday. I feel confident he'll have me paid back in short order, once his GI Bill kicks in that is. Now if we can just make it til then on whatever I've got and whatever he brings home in the mean time.

I couldn't even though I was willing to.

December 10th, 2006 at 07:43 am

They wouldn't allow me to co-sign the loan since I have too much unsecured debt. The good news though is that we did obtain a starter unsecured credit card for my brother with a limit of $250 and an interest rate of 20%. Considering he has no credit history that's not bad. The bad news (well depending on your perspective) I went ahead and pulled out another balance transfer from CC1 for $2k for him. Well, the check's been requested I haven't deposited it yet.

I'll hold onto all of the money until it either runs out or his GI bill kicks in. It'll be used for the basics, school (only as much as needed they want half in Jan not sure about the other half), rent, bus pass, electric, and food. He'll hopefully still be working at the bar when he can so that should get him some extra cash. Once the GI Bill kicks in he'll start paying me back. Probably just a little at a time (ie $100/mo) but he knows that interest will be acruing. Fortunately it's only 3.99% for the life of the transfer.

I got paid tonight for both babysitting tonight and dogsitting a few weeks ago. One check for $86. Wow that was more than I expected. I'll take that. With all the extra that I'm anticipating needing for the holiday (ie dinner and stuff) I think when I make my Tuesday Deposit that I'm only going to put $100 into savings and leave whatever is left in my checking account just in case. It can always go to savings later if I need it. And $100 is way more than the expected $25. Right now I'm looking at a deposit of $141.

Wow that was fast!

November 29th, 2006 at 02:33 pm

I got my dividend check yesterday! Why couldn't it have come a day earlier so I could have deposited it with the rest? Anyway...the amount of the check plus $13 pays off my CC2. So, since I know I'll be making the deposit for the bulk of it on Tuesday, I went ahead and paid the balance off!! I have money in my account that I'm holding onto for stuff to be paid on the 5th I just try not to use that money for anything else. But since I know that I'll be replacing a bulk of it, I am justifying it. Besides, I'd rather have it paid off now than next week, think of how much lower my daily average for factoring interest will be this statement! Not that it wasn't low already....Plus when I calculate NetWorth on Friday that'll be gone too! This means I can unofficially move into Phase Two and any extra monies go straight to Savings.

*happy dance*

Tuesday Deposit and 'oh yeah!' moment

November 28th, 2006 at 06:03 pm

Tuesday deposit has been made and applied. $33 this week. As I was driving home from babysitting last night I debated whether or not to make the Tuesday Deposit this week since I was paid in cash. I thought perhaps I'd just hang onto the cash for this weekend and if I didn't need it then just include it in next week's deposit. It was quite the debate in my head but I resolved it by saying that if my check from Certified had come then I would deposit it all. If it hadn't I would keep the cash. The check from Certified was not only there but was for $5 more than I was planning on, I'd forgotten it was a last minute blind check so they pay a little extra. So off to the bank I went this morning after going to CC2's website and scheduling the payment. Once it applies, the balance will be under $100 which means it will definately be paid off next week!

I realized something in the shower today. My roomate gives me a check on the 1st for rent and her part of utilities. I pay rent on the 1st but the utilities don't get paid until the 20th. I generally have enough money to cover paying all of them on the 20th so whatever she gives me is considered 'extra'. Well with the whole 'don't know what my paycheck will look like in the new year when I change my withholdings back to 1' thing I realized that I should just hang onto the extra $60 from her check and have that as a buffer for my first real check without any extra money on Jan 20. If I don't need it, bonus it'll go to savings or wherever. But if I do need it then I can rework my budget accordingly. That makes me feel a lot better knowing that.

And on to not so smart decisions. My youngest brother, the one who still owes me like $500 from picking up his rent a few months, is trying really really hard to go to school in January. He's starting out at the Community College so one semester's tuition is only going to be like $800ish plus books. He has a GI bill but that won't kick in for about 3 months. His job ends at the end of December which really is perfect timing for school but means he'll need money in the interim. Because he's applying so late, student loans will take even longer to process. So he's going to apply for a personal loan at a local credit union. Only because his job is ending in December, he needs a co-signer. And I offered to be that.

The payments are low enough that should it be necessary, I can cover it. We worked out exactly how much he'd need to fully pay for school and cover his expenses for three months (rent, electric, phone, bus pass, food) and came up with $3k. Plus he does have a part time job working at a bar but it's totally on an as needed basis on weekends and sometimes he only works two weekends in a month and if they're slow then he might not even make $50 over the course of the weekend. But it means that he'll have other potential money coming in too. He's going to call today and see what all I need to do to be a co-signer. If he goes through with this I think I'm going to have a long hard talk with him about the money and how to budget it. Since it's my neck on the line too that'll be a condition of my help. He's planning on paying on it for at least six months since he has no credit record to speak of and then he'll get it paid off as soon as possible. Once his GI bill kicks in it definately shouldn't be a problem since it'll be over $1k/mo and he'll only really need about $700 to cover all his monthly expenses.

Tuesday Deposit and helping out a friend.

November 27th, 2006 at 08:05 pm

Wow my Tuesday Deposit is going to be low this week. I didn't get paid last night, the guy forgot to bring checks so I'll get double next week. I don't know if I'll be getting a check in the mail today from Certified yet. I haven't seen the family I house-sat for since I house-sat for them so no payment for that yet. I won't be receiving the dividend check from CC2 til later in the week. But I am babysitting tonight so whatever that is I will be depositing that tomorrow. I only have $105 left before CC2 is paid off and I'm certain that next week I will be able to pay whatever is left so it'll be paid off until the statement comes out. That makes me happy.

My friend called me earlier this week asking for help getting her finances in order. I went over last night to take a look. Oh man she has a long road ahead of her. The reason its so overwhelming for her is she doesn't have any sort of set income. She never works the same amount of office hours, never has the same amount of commission (from clients), and she is far behind on many of her payments. Some CC's are only a payment behind but a few things have been sent to collection.

We looked at a few things last night. I told her it wasn't going to be an overnight thing, it will probably be March before everything is being paid on time again. We're going to babystep as much as possible. The first step, I made a list of places she needed to call and what she needed to talk to them about. The list was daunting but I reminded her that she didn't have to make all the phone calls in one day just to set a goal of by the end of the week.

It gets even more confusing because she also has her own business so some things can be paid from her business account so trying to seperate that out will be her job not mine. I'm just going to help her get back on track and create a budget system that will work for her.

She isn't keeping any sort of solid bank records. We'll work on that too at some point. She does have Quicken but she never used it. Unfortunately her computer is down right now. I have the hard drive so I can make a backup of it and we'll be buying a fresh copy of XP at some point to reinstall. (her computer didn't come with the load disks, and it's a real mess)

I'm just excited that she's asked me for help. It's one of those things that I really enjoy doing but I don't offer my services because I don't want to offend anyone. We'll be meeting again on Sunday (or at least that's the plan right now) and take a look at things again. She'll have made a couple deposits, some phone calls, and gotten another paycheck in the interim.

Updated Quicken

November 22nd, 2006 at 05:05 pm

I finally went through last night and cleared out all the accounts I had set up in Quicken that I didn't need anymore. Car loans that had been paid off, checking accounts that I don't have anymore but still showed a balance, etc. Then I set up a new Debt Reduction Plan. I'm ignoring their suggestion of how to pay it off because they want me to pay off the loan that is .2 higher percentage than my credit cards. Fact is, the loan is fixed the credit cards aren't so personally I want to pay off the credit cards.

I reworked their payoff plan to match my Three Phase Plan as far as order of payoff goes. I did not set it up with the extra money that I'm expecting simply because I wanted a worst case senario, if push comes to shove and I have to scale things down, what does that look like. Even scaled down it shows me as being consumer debt free by 10/2010. Since my current goal is 4/2010 it makes me realize it's not totally unrealistic.

I can't wait for the totals to update each month and have Quicken update its plan based on how much I actually pay.

It's also interesting to compare where they say I will be with CC1 by 4/2010 and where I say I'll be. See, when I figure it manually, I assume that interest payment will stay the same. I know that's not true but it's just easiest to figure. That's also why my projected balance goes down every month because I recalculate based on the recent statement. They actually adjust for interest going down. Their projected balance for CC1 is about $3k less than mine.

And even when I shift into Phase Two and put money into my EF instead of CC's, my actual payment amount is more than I told Quicken. Simply because I didn't include my step brother's monthly payment because it's a temporary thing.

I'm a geek. I like charts and graphs and seeing how much of a difference a little extra here and there makes. I can't wait for next month to see the new projected figures.


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