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Archive for February, 2008

Gravy Train

March 1st, 2008 at 01:46 am



I hate my job. I entered the teaching field believing I was doing something for urban children; have come to find out that it only works in a utopian community on some far away planet. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE to teach. I LOVE working with students (I work with high schoolers--I'm nuts, I know). I LOATH working with adults, especially incompetent ones--scratch that. I LOATH working with incompetent adults who sluff off blame on others to make the others feel incompetent. Sigh. I invested a lot of money (which can be seen in my debt mind you) in getting a masters degree in special education so I can have the freedom to get a "happier" job. Am working on that currently so that maybe next year will be more utopian for me? (question mark because who knows if that's possible)

Hubby starts his new job in a week. I don't know when we'll get his first full paycheck, but I am so eager to get it and get moving. I want more wiggle room so our budget can be a wee more flexible AND hammer debt. Keeping an excel spreadsheet has totally helped in the department of being accountable for what's being spent, however, I still engage in crap like "let's go eat Indian food on Devon so I can buy a sari for my friend's wedding." I mean yes, a friend only gets married once in a lifetime and when you're a white girl, wearing a sari is an exciting thing (I can't just go around dressed like that all the time, ya know?) But $125 for that? Hello! What am I thinking? Too scared to call my friend who I'm sure has better things to do in getting ready for her wedding than to worry about what I'M going to wear. Sorry, I'm rambling now.

I've been reading about Dave Ramsey and I rather like his way of looking at debt. Surely, anyone who dares read this blog has noticed how the ticker never moves. It will. Oh yes it will. Just not today Smile I have been a good girl though. I paid all the bills I had scheduled to be paid today. Anything extra will go towards the emergency fund. That's another thing I'm in love with. I have our online savings account set to deduct $100 from our checking account every two weeks. It's great. Sigh. Life is good, yes?

Microsoft Money

February 24th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

I usually keep track of our budget via excel, however, I downloaded Microsoft Money. So far, I feel like it's a lot of bells and whistles for nothing, but I'll give it a bit of time (I've got 60 days for my trial, ya know?) Any reviews out there? Mint.com isn't going to work with my bank information (it was free and I liked it's format--makes me sad). Let me know what you think, gurus of money management Smile

rejuvenated

February 24th, 2008 at 08:52 pm

Just got back from Florida. I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxation of being with family and away from stress (however, I did check work e-mail from time to time, but I did not allow it to overwhelm me). I spent more than I would have liked, I feel all right about it. I took my grandparents and mother out for dinner, bought souvenirs for my husband, stepdaughters, people at work and some groceries for the few days we were there.

We got our tax return and I will be getting paid for the winter sport I coached. This is where the real work begins. First, I want to put $1000 into an emergency fund. When that's finished, I will put whatever is leftover towards paying off my two credit cards. I'm not sure after that whether I want to pay off a personal loan with a higher interest rate or if I want to work on paying off the car (which I would rather own free and clear as soon as possible. Cars are the WORST investment EVER! All they do is depreciate!)

My husband begins his new position March 10th, so I'm looking forward to a large chunk of money to just HURL at the debt.

OH! And I need to need to need to call the teacher loan forgiveness program this week. I'm hoping that my six years of teaching in either title I schools/special education are good enough to wipe off $17,500 of my student loan debt. Here's to hoping!

Confessions of my own debt hell

February 19th, 2008 at 05:39 pm

So I realized yesterday that the largess of the number posted on my ticker should be explained, now that I know most of you well enough to understand you will not judge me for my indiscretions. Also, I am hoping someone more knowledgeable about financial goings on can shed some light on my current situation.

You ask "a, how did you accumulate so much debt?" Well, let me answer this for you. As a young college student, I answered a letter from MBNA for a credit card. They said YES!!! and handed me $1000 worth of credit. I proceeded to rack up debt and acquired a Discover card with a $6000 credit limit. Racked up debt on that. I continued to pay bills on time, which I guess is what built up my credit rating enough to acquire so much credit.

I graduated from college, was given about $10,000 in cash from my family. Instead of using this money to buy things for my new apartment, I proceeded to take out a Target card AND buy $2000 worth of stereo/TV equiment for the apartment from Best Buy (on a new Best Buy card). Piddled the cash away on God-knows-what, struggled to pay bills, racked up large credit bills. Budget? What's budgeting? Sheesh. Had a total of about $9000 in credit card debt when I called it quits and decided to go into credit counseling. Now, as much of a relief as that was, it of course, caused my credit score to plummet.

Where did the other $70,000 come from, you ask? Well, saga continues. I decided to get a masters degree. I now have $20,000 in federal student loan debt. In addition to the federal student loan debt, I was unpaid for a summer because I was on a temporary contract (I am a teacher and am usually paid over the summer) and denied unemployment because I was HONEST and told the agency that I was in school. Sigh. Proceeded to take out a private student loan to cover expenses. Had the brain child to take out MULTIPLE private student loans to pay off old debt (because in my head, I thought that student loans look better than credit card debt). Piddled away lots of money from those in addition to lots of interest building up on them. We bought a new car (out of need, for sure!) and have $12,000 still owed on that. Have since opened two very small credit cards to build my credit history back up again, which it has worked. I also have two personal loans worth about $5,000.

I am very bad at managing my money, but by using an excel spreadsheet to anticipate income and expenses, I have been able to keep track of money coming in and out. I am working on building an emergency fund by having $200 per month directly transfered to an internet savings account with an interest rate of 3.8% (used to be 5%, but with the fed reduction of interest rates...). I also have opened a 401K at work. We don't own property (I should have used that $10,000 after graduating to buy property. Ridiculous me!) Also, by the summer, I am hoping to have paid off the two credit cards and personal loans by hammering that debt.

I am nervous about the student loans as they will be in repayment come summer time. I am not sure if I should work more on saving money so we can buy property or if it's more important to use most of our money to hammer away at the debt. My husband will soon just about DOUBLE his income with a new job, which will also benefit us tremendously as I've already realized, we make plenty of money to hammer debt and live a pretty good life. We're not hard up for cash, I've just been a bad money manager.

In any event, there's my story. Pretty pitiful, eh? Any advice is welcomed.

One small victory for saving kind!!!

February 18th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

I have a Krups coffee maker which I purchased for the hubby for his birthday a few years ago. It's the kind where the coffee drips right into a carafe and does not have a hot plate (he was tired of the burnt flavored coffee left after the pot's been on awhile). After years of use it accumulated a black film inside the carafe, not easily cleaned/removed which has caused the coffee to taste like tar. Thought about buying a new one, but instead pull out CLR and filled/soaked/scrubbed about four times today. It is spotless (not back to brand new, but looks gently used in a lovely, clean sort of way). I am so proud. I love how I've begun to start thinking, "do I REALLY need this?" Feels so good.

Back to cleaning now. Geez, I get a day off and make up for lost time blogging.

Joy of Cleaning

February 18th, 2008 at 04:45 pm



Today is a lovely day to have off, thanks to dead presidents (however, recently read that presidents'--or is it president's--day was actually Washington's birthday, but has been co-opted to be for all presidents). I am using it to clean my house. In other periods of my life, mainly due to depression, on a day off, I would stare at the mess and think about how I needed to clean but would proceed to do nothing. Now, I rather enjoy cleaning the house and relish the moment when everything is finished. The master bedroom is picked up, organized and clean. On to other areas of the house, but first, feed my obsession of reading the blogs here.

I get excited about saving money

February 17th, 2008 at 09:36 pm

So the little man and I are leaving for Florida on Wednesday and I was thinking about getting him a new leapster game for the airplane ride (I am dreading two and a half hours of boredom) when going through my closet, I found a "leapster" game from the tv version my aunt bought him last year (I refused to let him play it at age 3 out of my dislike for video games). It's compatible with the portable leapster! This saves me the $20 I would have spent buying a new game! AND I realize I may have another game stashed away somewhere in my closet (Dora the Explorer). Yay!

I had a $20 reward certificate to DSW which I was able to use in buying myself new flip flops which came to a total of $2.13 (Nike...woohoo!) Went to the fruit and veggie store and bought a pound of strawberries, thirty apples, two bell peppers, three onions, five potatoes and about 8 bananas for $13. Life is just so good when you're looking for savings.

On the sadder end, I misbudgeted for a larger paycheck from my husband which put us out a bit. We'll get by, especially if I get our tax refund Friday, which according to their refund calendar, should be true. Sigh. One day I'm going to get everything right.

Bills are paid (including a bill to us)

February 16th, 2008 at 01:48 pm

First, I just want to say thank you to everyone who posts in this forum. Daily, I read your posts. They keep me focused on my goals, motivate me to do better and keep moving forward, and remind me that we're all human.

All of our bills are paid--the ones I set up to be paid in our budget--for this week, including money towards savings. I am happy, excited, relieved. Hopefully we'll receive our federal return next Friday and I will flip around our bill paying so we are not living paycheck to paycheck. Cheers and prosperity to all in their quest to living a debt free life!

Here's to saving and better times ahead...

February 15th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

DH received a new position at work, putting us with A LOT more money per month. Yay! More towards saving and more towards debt. As of today, all bills for this pay period are paid, I saved us $100 per month with a new insurance company and we have $163 in an emergency fund. Ahhhh...life is good!

www.mint.com

February 14th, 2008 at 05:25 pm

I subsribe to this RSS feed called Budget Stretcher, which is not the most dynamic blog in the world, but does give some insightful info from time to time. I found out about www.mint.com today, which is a free on the web financial tool to help keep track of ALL banking, credit card info, budgeting, etc. It's pretty neat-o (I'm having a difficult time adding my Chase bank account and two of my debts, but in time, I think it'll prove to be beneficial). Check it out!

Musings on my plans falling apart...

February 12th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

So I've really been trying to stick to a plan our meals for the week, grocery shop for the specifics, cook on Sunday so it's all ready type deal. It's perfect for a number of reasons: meals are already prepped, helps us stay within our budget (obviously), keeps us from saying "Oh, we're too tired to cook. Let's eat out." Two weeks in a row, it's been botched, which is rather disheartening.

Last week, I made a load of stuffed shells on Friday and a chicken dish Sunday night, so all meals for the week were prepared. Monday morning, I came down with the stomach flu. Couldn't eat either the stuffed shells or the chicken thing all week due to personal issues with any food smelled or tasted during that yuckie period. Great. A TON of food wasted (although DH ate the chicken dish a couple of times). This week I made a roast which, in waiting for it to cool off, left it out on the counter overnight.

Will I ever get it right? Sigh. I feel like my planning wasted so much money when something "unplanned" came up. Now I've ruined a roast. Ahhh well, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Freelancing, taxes and audits

February 10th, 2008 at 08:11 pm



My husband and I have a very easy tax return. We own no property and have pretty straightforward expenses--childcare, student loan and that's it. A friend of mine, who freelance edits/writes, got me into doing event research for a small website. It provided a small bit of extra cash monthly, which I relished.

Now that it is tax season, I am worried about filing my taxes incorrectly all based on my little freelance gig. Will an audit be worth the extra $1725 the job provided during 2007? Is an audit that bad? Sigh. I am reluctant to hit "send" on my electronic return for fear of how badly I've completed my return and yet I do not want to spend any money having my taxes prepared. What to do?

Credit Cards for Everything

February 7th, 2008 at 12:41 pm



Why is it that people believe "well, if you can't afford it, just put it on credit!" My mother recently asked me to join her for a trip to Florida (she recently went through cancer treatments and needs all the uplift she can get). I told her that would be great, however, I currently don't have the funding to pay for a ticket. I know as she looked at me quizzically she was thinking, "just put it on credit."

First of all, I am trying not to pay for things on credit cards. I am trying to learn how to budget and use the cash I have to pay for things. Second, I only have two credit cards that have very small credit limits. I am trying to build back my credit score (although due to Christmas and DS's 4th birthday, they are rather overspent, but will be paid off with tax return and money earned from coaching).

I understand that some people have a bigger base and they use their credit cards and pay them off in full every month. I am pretty sure, though, that this is not the case for people such as my siblings who must do things of this nature on a consistent basis. It's simply a philosophical difference, but it still floors me everytime. My family's way of thinking is what has gotten me into the trouble I'm in in the first place.

thank god for fruit stores

February 2nd, 2008 at 10:35 pm



I don't know why I ever shopped at large grocery stores for produce. Absolutely no flavor and WAY too expensive. I paid the amount I would've spent for my apples alone for my entire purchase at a local fruit store. I am loving this frugality thing. It makes me feel more productive.

Another thing, how fulfilling to clip coupons and savor the fruits of thy saving when handing them over at check-out time. Sigh. I may become money savvy yet.