Friday, October 28, 2016

Bonus time....

Yay!  Today I got my usual paycheck and a bonus!  I wasn't sure how much the bonus was going to be, so I was happily surprised that it was $750 pretax.  After taxes and deductions, I netted $633.54.  I made extra payments to both of my credit cards with it and paid some usual bills. I didn't go crazy paying down my credit cards because I've been known to get a little overzealous paying things and then leaving myself short and pulling out the cards again.  This is a pattern I am trying to break.  I have a few errands to run this weekend and want to have the necessary cash to pay for them.  I think I'll gas up the car, maybe splurge on a wash, do my grocery shopping, buy a birthday gift I need for next weekend and then head home to snuggle up on the couch with my honey and watch movies and football.  Looking forward to not having too many plans this weekend.  It seems like most weekends lately have been so packed, I'm exhausted come Monday morning when I head back to work.  Time to relax and regroup.  Going to pull out the crock pot and make some hearty stew.  YUM!! 

Happy fall weekend everyone!

Current debt:  $214,846 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Addtional savings all for NOT doing something...

It's almost open enrollment time for our health care benefits at work and as such, the email came out today with the new premiums along with some additional news.  I'm fortunate in that my company is absorbing most of the increase to premiums this year, so it will increase my deduction by less than $3.00 pretax.  Not a bad deal if you ask me.  BUT, the additional news was...if you are a smoker, it will cost you almost $50 more per month to have coverage.  Thankfully for me, I never have been, nor will I ever be a smoker, so that's a $600/year savings right there.  Woohoo!  Gotta love it when you see big savings like that without having to change a thing. 

I will happily continue to be a non-smoker! 

Current debt:  $215,131.54.  (still dropping at a snail's pace, but hoping the bonus tomorrow helps!)

Monday, October 24, 2016

What's that? A bonus you say...

I just found out that I am eligible for a bonus this quarter!!  I have no idea yet how much it will be, but I will find out this Friday.  What am I going to do with this?  Do I put it towards my highest interest debt?  Do I put it in my emergency fund?  Do I do something fun with it? I have a few days to think about this one, but it's difficult to think about what to do without knowing how much it is.  I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I've heard of co-workers getting 4 figure bonuses.  This would really help out my situation, just need to figure out what is the best thing to do with it.  I'll write a follow up just as soon as I know how much it is. 

Current debt:  $215,130.95  (getting down there, slowly but surely!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Update on the past few days...

I have been doing pretty well on my spending and working on my payment plan.  I've been pairing down the amount of "stuff" I have and feeling generally pretty good about things.  Last Friday was payday and I paid all of my bills, filled the gas tank and went grocery shopping.  I was able to do all of this and not one time did I pull out the credit card.  I have enough food on hand to last us for the next 2 weeks until payday rolls around again.  I can usually go 3-4 weeks without needing to fill the gas tank. (I drive only 6 miles a day roundtrip to work).  I even managed to purchase a few small Christmas gifts with the money I had on hand.  Yay!  No credit card pulled out for these purchases.  I also received a check for $20.80 from Checkout 51 and $5.63 from Saving Star.  All of these little extra amounts of money help out when you're trying to do it all with cash.  I'm also working really hard not to be too aggressive in paying my credit card and leaving myself cash poor until next payday.  When I do this, I always seem to end up pulling out the credit card to bridge the gap...NO MORE!! I have had it with seeing the balance on my cards increase.  I want to be excited to see them decrease.  I've put together a comprehensive notebook of my current debts, upcoming payments and any additional income over and above the salary from my everyday job.  I'll admit, I'm working harder on decreasing costs as opposed to increasing income.  I think decreasing costs is going to be something I will be able to sustain more effectively than increasing income.  I have decreased my trips to Starbucks from 5 mornings a week, down to 3.  I know this isn't huge, but based on the cost of my drink x 2/week x 52 weeks, this will save me $451.36 annually.  I'd like to cut this down even more, but I think baby steps are the way to go for me.  I am working on creating a Wardrobe Capsule that will mean fewer clothing purchases, more well thought out purchases and the ability to create more outfits with fewer clothes.  If you aren't familiar with Capsule Wardrobing, Google it!  You will be inspired! 

That's about it for now, just thought I'd update you on what I have done over the past few days in relation to my finances. 

Current debt:  $215,272.91  (woohoo!  Progress since last week!) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Goals are dreams we convert in to plan & take action to fulfill...

Less than 12 weeks until the year is over.  I guess it's time to start thinking about my goals for 2017 and look back on the goals I had set for myself in 2016.  Hmm...at the moment I can't even remember what those goals were.  Uh-oh, that's a bad sign already!  Did I achieve any of them?  Well, let's take a look at what they were and then dissect them.  I'm literally cringing just thinking about looking at these.   Let me go find that old post and copy them here...BRB!
 
Well, I looked and looked and looked all over my blog for 2016 posts in January and realized I had not made any!  Well, I guess I could say that I met them all, EXCEPT that upon further investigating, I see that I wrote them in April.  I guess the better late than never rule applies here.  
Here's where my mind was in April 2016:


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.  I am happy to report that I am on track with this one and it will be gone by April 30, 2017!!  Woohoo! 

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.  I change my strategy a bit on this one and it won't be gone quite that soon, but it should be gone by March 31, 2017.  It currently has a balance of $1250!

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.  Epic fail!!  This card now has a balance of $8332.54!!!  And I have no idea why!  This means I need to go over my statements from the past several months and see what I have been spending money on and make a change.  This is not acceptable. 

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.   This one is going along fine.  I've been good about only making the minimum payments on this and I thought focusing on my other debts, however given my response to my previous goal, this is not the case.  Grrr!! 

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.   My tenant did sign a new lease for another year and he's a great tenant.  He auto drafts his rent payment to me by the 25th of month prior to the rent being due.  I've never had a maintenance issue with him, in fact, I've never even met him.  :)  My bigger concern is that even with this great tenant and his paying a fair rent on time, I am still upside down $224.81 each month after paying the mortgage, insurance and association dues.  I'm seriously considering selling the condo after his lease is up next summer.  Any thoughts?  


I guess I have some work to do on these before I can even begin to think about my goals for 2017.  I'm going to pour over my credit card statements to see how I have gone from a balance of $5898.28 to $8332.54!  This does not make me happy and I really feel I need to get to the bottom of this increase.  Once I have done this, I'll post here as to what I've found and what I'm going to do about it.  Stay tuned....

Monday, October 10, 2016

Plugging away...

I know, I know....once again it has been far too long since my last post.  Wow! That almost sounds like going to confession.  :) 

Not too much going on around here.  I'm happy to say that my silence doesn't mean that I've been overspending and trying to hide it from y'all.  It just means I've been busy out and about and enjoying life.  Well, this past week, I've been sick, but other than that, I've been really enjoying life.  I haven't used my credit cards AT ALL for the past 2 months and that feels great!  It's so exciting to see the balance going down, not just bouncing up and down as is my usual way.  I've been working really hard at not overpaying and putting myself in a bind with too little cash available until payday and then having to pull the card out. I've also been doing a lot of cleaning out of "stuff" in my life and minimizing my stuff to keeping things I love and that create joy in my life.  The less stuff I have, the happier I seem to be.  Whodathunkit?! 

Other than that, not much going on.  I've been cooking a lot more at home and trying new recipes, using things I already have on hand to make dinners and taking advantage of the free lunch we have at work.  Why in the world would I spend money going out to eat at lunch when we have free options right in our office.  Duh! 

I'm still thinking about what to do about my rental condo.  Do I want to continue to hold on to it, renting it out and being a landlord, or do I want to sell it when this current tenant moves out?  Grrr....I just don't know.  Anyone have any thoughts on this?  My renter pays the mortgage, but I still am underwater each month to the tune of $ 224.81.  Of course I do get the tax benefits, but is it worth it?

I found a great new blog today that I am excited to start following.  Flirting with Minimalism!  She's currently on week 6 of her Spending Fast and although she's had some ups and downs, she seems to have made great progress already.  I am very inspired by what I've read so far and look forward to her updates. 

I'm going to close out for now, but I am really going to try to get better about posting more frequently.  I promise!


Current debt:  $215,340.  (UGH! This is higher than I wanted it to be!) 

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. 

http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/littleone229

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!)