Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Have you tried SwagBucks?

I have been a member of SwagBucks for years and only recently have I started participating enough to really earn some good gift cards and cash.  So far in the month of May, I have earned over $75 in Starbucks gift cards. I love my morning java from Starbucks, but as I am trying to pay off debt, it's a luxury I can not justify.  So, I decided that if I could get it free, I could have it.  Well, so far, so good, I'm enjoying my coffee and the extra jingle in my coin purse.  If you've never tried it, give it a shot.  There are fun games to play, great surveys and lots of amazing content to read and videos to watch.  I love it, it's a fun way to earn free gift cards and cash and be able to spoil myself a bit while I'm working to get out of debt. 


Give it a try, have some fun and enjoy free swag. 

Current debt: $215,405.06  (no change from yesterday!)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Not much to report...

except that I have been good about not using the credit cards for anything and am working on cutting my expenses and watching what I am spending on money on to put more toward my debt.  One thing I am learning about myself is that I am not a patient person!  I really would like to put every extra penny toward my debt that I can and when I do this, I find that I get a little overzealous and over pay, leaving my checking account pretty bare bones, then I have to pull ot the credit card to make it to next payday.  So, for now, I am really trying to pull out cash to use day to day and not get too crazy sending a payments to the credit card.  I need to keep a buffer in my checking account so that I don't overdraw or send too much to the credit card.  UGH!  I have to say, I really hate debt and paying bills.  Wish I could just snap my fingers and have it all magically take care of itself. 

Ok, enough complaining.  I'm going home this evening to see what else I can find around the house to sell.  Cleaning out and cleaning up!  :)

Current debt:  $215,405.06  (at least it's going in the right direction!)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Making a plan to pay it off...

I've been pretty neglectful of my finances lately and by some miracle, the bottom line - my net worth has increased through no effort on my part.  The pure fact that my home value has increased is the one saving grace in this whole big picture.  About 6 months ago I transferred a chunk of credit card debt on to a 0% card hoping to pay it off before the interest started kicking in.  At the time I had decided to really focus on paying down my credit card that was charging interest and somewhere along the way I just stopped caring about either of them.  The 0% intro rate is going to expire in about 6 months and I really need to pay this off before the interest kicks in.  I have managed to keep the balance about the same on my interest charging card, so no progress there.  The balance on the 0% card is at just over $2300 and I vow to have this paid off by 12/31/16 at the VERY LATEST, hopefully sooner before any interest is charged.  I decided to really buckle down a couple weeks ago and looked at all of my expenditures, see where I could make cuts, how I could make extra money and what I could do to attack this balance.  I know, some of you might be saying, but shouldn't you focus on the debt charging you interest first?  Yes, I probably should, but seeing as how that card has a balance of $5900 and the other is only at $2200, I think the psychological boost from paying off one debt sooner is going to be worth it for me.  If I can see real progress being made, I think it will keep me motivated.  So, over the past week I made some calls, lowered my cell phone bill by about $20/month.  I sold several things on eBay and made about $100.  I have more items to list, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself. I also took stock of what is in our pantry and made a meal plan so that we can use up what we have before buying more or having to throw anything out because it went bad.  We are coming in to warmer weather so that means that we can turn the furnace off, luckily for us it doesn't get so warm that we need to use AC, so that will be a huge savings in the utilities.  Typically I try to make extra car payments to whittle that down too, but I've decided to focus on my debts in the following order:

1. April 2016 pay $2,000 annual loan payment to my parents. This will leave the balance at $2,000 - Final payment to be made April 2017.

2. Focus all extra funds to the Chase Freedom (ironic isn't it?!) Card that currently has a balance of $2344.56.  My goal is to have this paid down to ZERO before 12/31/16.

3. Next up will be my Visa card with a current balance of $5898.28.  UGH!  I have got to stop using this card for anything. 

4. My car loan will be my last debt, with the exception of my mortgage.  Car loan stands at $20,368.17 and I will make the minimum payment on that each month until the 3 previous debts are paid off and I can focus on the car loan.  The interest rate on it is less than 3%, so it's not one for me to fuss about too much.

5. As for my mortgage, it's for my condo that I am not even living in right now.  I keep watching the value of it increase and I have it rented out, but I'm just not sure I want to keep it and be a landlord. It's finally in a position that I am no longer underwater, but I'm so undecided as to what  I want to do, I'm not going to make any decisions at the moment.  I think I'll wait and see if my current tenant signs a new 1 year lease and worry about it then.  I have a few months to think about this one anyway.

I am now living only on cash and I have put the credit cards on ice making them hard to access for anything.  I'm also working on funding retirement and building up an emergency fund, but it all takes time.  And patience!  Which is something I am not big on!  :)  But I'm work on it. 

Current debt: $220,410.43.  (this includes the mortgage which is the biggest chunk!)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.... or the debt go away....

It's been well over a year since I last posted and in that time, I don't think my net worth has really increased at all.  The good news is, I don't think it's gone down either.  After 14+ years at the same job, I finally bit the bullet and quit, found a new job paying slightly less, but much closer to home and lots of great benefits.  When it was brought to our CEO's attention that the new health insurance was going to cost us more, he gave everyone a raise to cover it.  Then last month, we started getting an $8/day stipend for lunch that we could use at one of six local restaurants.  We just had reviews in which we all got a raise and stock options.  Can I say how happy I am that I finally made the leap to something new?!  It's not always good to stick with what is comfortable and dependable.  For me, this gamble (as I like to think of it!) really paid off.  I am now making more money than I was at my last job, I am appreciated, I get lunch paid for everyday and I love what I'm doing.  I never wake up feeling depressed about having to go in to work. 

Now the bad part....for this new position, I have to dress much more professionally so I did have to go out and buy new clothes.  BUT, I was smart and only bought a few things, mostly basic staples and then went thrift store shopping for the fun, quirky, one of a kind pieces.  I've been able to find lots of great items and now love getting dressed up for work. 

I did buy a new car last December, well not new, but new to me.  I found a great deal on an SUV which is what the BF and I have been wanting.  My commute is 3 miles daily, his is 43 each way, so it made much more sense for me to have the SUV than him.  I got a much better interest rate on the new car and so far I am loving it. 

Oh, one more thing, my office just put in an espresso machine that does over 100 different drinks at the push of a button.  I feel like I've gotten another raise just due to the decrease in my Starbucks stops as well.  I'm working on funneling that savings along with my raise into paying down my debt. 

I did have some pretty hefty medical bills last fall that I had to put on my credit cards, but I am no longer using the cards and paying them down as quickly as possible.  Any extra money I find, I am trying to put directly toward the debt.  I'll keep you posted on how it's going. 

Current debt total:  $220,230.31  (Nice to see it's gone down since last year, but not that much!) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

An unexpected windfall...

sort of.  I should have paid closer attention over a year ago when I refinanced my car loan.  Grrr!  When I originally purchased the car, I bought GAP insurance and wrapped it in to the loan.  Well, I refinanced the car loan 6 months after my purchase and significantly reduced my APR.  I did this through State Farm Bank and didn't realize that at the time, my insurance coverage also had loan/lease payoff on it.  I have been double paying for this same coverage.  Anyway, after researching it earlier this week I have come to find out that I can cancel the GAP insurance that is tied in to my loan and while I won't actually see the cash, it will be applied to my loan, therefore decreasing my total balance owed on the loan by about $800.  And because my car is still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, I am cancelling the extended warranty as well. I don't plan on keeping the car for too much longer, it's not a good fit for our family now, so that will also reduce my loan balance significantly.  All told, it should take about $4000 off my loan balance putting me in a much better position to be able to trade the car off.  Woohoo! This time when I purchase a new car I will not let the salesman and finance person bully me in to buying more than I want or can afford.  I'm not usually a pushover in situations like this and I have excellent credit, so I need to stand up for myself and not let them push me around.  I will be filing my tax return this weekend as well and I should be getting a small refund, nothing excessive, but again, every bit helps.  I also received a bonus at work yesterday and have sold several things on eBay that I've been wanting to get rid of.  Yay!  Let's hear it for extra income coming in. 

Hope you are all having a GREAT January! 

Current debt total:  $221,157.88  (I'm going to be under $220K in no time!) 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Planning my budget and spending...

Yesterday I sat down and figured out which paychecks will pay which bills, which rental income will pay down debt and put money into savings and whatnot.  I'm sure this will probably change or shift as the year progresses, but it felt really good to plot it all out.  If I'm able to stick to the plan I've made, I should be in really good shape by the end of the year and I will have made great strides in reducing my overall debt along with building a comfortable savings account.  I am paid every other Friday, so I was having a hard time setting up a budget based on months.  Instead, I plotted out each of my paydays and the date my rental income will come in, then figured out which bills will be paid out of the incoming money.  I've included adding extra to my savings account along with way, this is on top of what I have already direct deposited into savings from my paycheck.  I was feeling a little overwhelmed with facing the bills with having to pay rent at the apt. with the BF and my mortgage payment on my rental condo, but now that it's all plotted out, I feel really good about where it all sits.  Plus, I'm a planner, I love to see it all down on paper.  Dorky I know, but it works for me.  :) 

Have you made a budget or spending plan for 2015???

Current debt:  $221,461.10

Monday, January 12, 2015

WOW! An entire weekend of no spending...

that was a great weekend and I didn't spend a penny!  We had the most relaxing, fun filled weekend!  We watched lots of football and several movies we received for Christmas.  I made potato soup and we snacked on all kinds of goodies we already had in the cupboards. We worked out, we slept late, we even did a few chores around the house.  I love weekends like this in which we have a fabulous time doing "nothing" together.  When you can find someone that you enjoy doing nothing with as much as you enjoy going out with them, you have found a great mate!  And I'm happy to report that I've found just that person.  We have the best time together, no matter what we are doing.  I love that! 

Really not much to report from here, I have a couple large expenses coming up, but I'm happy to report that I have the money set aside for them already and they will not be adding to the debt total.

How are things in your financial house?

Current debt:  $221,651.06 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 goals...

I guess it's time I think about what my goals are for this year.  I'm back at work after taking a week off over the holidays.  I can't keep my head buried in the sand any longer.  So, without further ado...here they are!

     *Make my $2,000 annual loan payment to my parents in April.
     *Bring debt total down to under $200,000.
     *Remain credit card debt free.

And although this last one isn't the easiest to measure, it's one I have been working hard on for awhile and I'd like to continue working on.

     *Be more mindful of what I spend my money on and not be frivolous with my spending.       Thinking before buying.  Can I make do with that I have?  Find a cheaper option?  Buy used?  Put that expenditure off for awhile? 

I'd like to also continue working toward increasing my survey income and working on my Jamberry business, but not at the expense of spending time with those I love.  I want to "live" my life and not always be ruled by what is going to help the bottom line the most.  Make sense?

Happy New Year!

Current debt:  $221,725.10  (hey, look at that, already down a bit since yesterday!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

New year....new resolve

to pay down the debt!  I'm making good progress and feeling good about seeing the numbers drop.  Let's hope I can keep this momentum up.  Not too much coming up in the immediate future that should cause too many expenses, but I've been working at building up an emergency fund to help take care of those situations when then arise, so I should be good if any do.  We had a nice NYE at a house party, then a relaxing weekend of cleaning up from the holidays, watching football and I made homemade soup yesterday. We went grocery shopping and a meal plan was loosely made for the coming week.  I think we are both excited about the extra money we have to put toward our separate debts now that we have combined households and only have one rent to pay. 

Other than that, not too much going on here, just looking forward to getting back in the swing of things now that the holidays are over.  Bring on SPRING!  :) 

Current debt:  $221,820.04  (where will this be 12/31/15???)  Hopefully below $200,000! 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

End of 2014...start of 2015, where does the time go?

I'm having a hard time getting head around the fact that tomorrow is the last day of 2014 and the time is flying by.  This has been a great year and I'm hoping that 2015 is even better.  I've found love this year and life is looking bright.  I'm not 100% certain on my goals for 2015, and although I didn't reach all of my 2014 goals, I'm happy with the progress I did make.  I made my annual loan payment to my parents, and reduced my overall debt by over $10,000.  This next year I'm really going to try to reach that goal of at least $1,000/month. 

I pulled my annual credit report and was happy to see there was nothing unfamiliar on it and my credit score as 775, so I'm happy.   I will pull that again at this time next year and hope for an even higher number. 

This year saw a lot of changes for me.  I met a really great man and was surprised to fall in love.  In fact, we just moved in together about a month ago.  I was able to rent my condo out so that my mortgage and dues are covered in the rental income.  I no longer have cable and power bills, the BF is paying those in full.  He has 2 kids living with us so he is paying those while we each pay 1/2 the rent.  He also buys more of the groceries as they eat a significant amount more than I do.  I think I'll end up seeing an overall savings in my budget in the coming year.  It'll be interesting to see how this works out. 

Stay tuned for my debt reduction progress in 2015, may it be a year of great progress! 

Current debt total:  $222,355.77 (as compared to $232,900.01 on 12/31/13).  $10,544.24 paid off.  Woohoo!!