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Haven't been posting

July 25th, 2009 at 09:54 pm

I have been slacking on my posts lately, but I have been trying to update my sidebar regularly, so my EF has been growing which is good. I've been doing horribly with my tracking.

Summer is always the hardest for us since my DH does not work in the summer so only one paycheck. My boss tends to take quite a bit of vacation time in the summer so my check is usually a little anemic as well. So, I love summer but my pocketbook does not! Wink

We have a family reunion vacation planned (and saved!) for August so we are really looking forward to that, especially since it is in the budget and we should not have any problems going over the amount we have put aside.

EF Addition

April 26th, 2009 at 07:46 pm

$501.65 from PT job
+ $5.56 from FT
$4,386 Total EF Balance

I need to buy our DD a bunch of stuff for summer camp. This will be her first year going away to camp for 3 weeks, so she needs quite a few things. Hopefully next summer will be cheaper because she will have some things from this year. I already bought her 2 new swimsuits, a sun hat and some new summer clothes. I have also been stocking up on sunscreen as we must send that with her and she is very pale so she will need lots. I have a feeling this is going to end up costing way more than I expected.

$28.78 for 3 pairs of shoes

April 11th, 2009 at 07:37 pm

We took a trip to the Payless Shoes in the mall today. I had acquired 3 coupons for 20% off one purchase and they all expired tomorrow so I did not want them to go to waste. All 3 came from those "catalina" machines that print coupons after you make a purchase at a store. In this case I got 2 from the grocery store and 1 from Walgreens over the last few weeks.

My DD always seems to need new shoes so we put the coupons to good use. She ended up getting a pair of rain boots (she went right out and made sure they were up to snuff as you can see in the picture), a pair of dress shoes and a pair of sandals. These are all things she needs and will get lots of use out of, plus both the rain boots and the dress shoes were already on sale before the 20% off. I think we did really well (even for Payless) since we got 3 pairs of shoes for under $10 each.

New car = depleted EF

April 4th, 2009 at 09:36 pm

Well, those problems my DH was telling me about proved to be costly. We put over $3,000 into the car back in August and this time around it was going to be over $1,000 with no telling how long these repairs would make her last. The poor car has been a trooper and given many years of faithful service. This was my very first car and it has a special place in my heart. A 1999 Saturn SL2 I bought new when our first child was just 6 months old. It has over 170,000 miles on it now and is a real eyesore since someone decided to use it as a canvas for their "keying" while I was in school a couple years ago. I am sort of sad to let her go, but that is what we must do. We're going to place an ad on Craigslist as well as put it out on the street with our contact info and we'll see if we can get a couple hundred dollars for the poor old dear. She does run, and maybe someone who has a mechanical sense will pick her up and make her new.

We went today and got hubby a new 2009 Civic LX at a great price. We pulled $3,000 from the EF as a down payment. of course, our car insurance will be going up as well, but since I used a good amount of this year's tax refund to pad the Freedom Accounts, we have plenty to meet the new obligations.

Time to start up that EF mountain again!

Do you have a Favorite CC?

February 28th, 2009 at 05:40 pm

Okay, I am in the market for a great CC. I am really not interested in a new account, but my 0% offer on the FIA card ended last month and is now at 12.99% which is way too high. I asked at my credit union and their lowest rate on personal loans is 7% which I think is exorbitant considering the lending rate right now is around 0% for banks and credit unions and my current personal loan with them is at 6%. I was really disappointed. Anyway, I was just over at comparing transfer offers, but thought you all might have some great suggestions to help me narrow things down.

My credit is excellent. Although I have not pulled my scores for about a year they should continue to be in the 780-800 range. I was just thinking that if I could find a card with a nice transfer offer plus a great all-around card I would keep it as my one card after everything is paid off.

I'd love to take into consideration all of your suggestions if you have a card you think is pretty great, but I am leaning toward a "rewards" card of some type since I do not currently have one and if I'm going to keep it later on I'd rather use it to get rewards in return...preferably cash since I can't think of anything we would want all the time otherwise. But, again, I'd love to hear all opinions. Smile

Received tax refunds from fed & state

February 27th, 2009 at 09:28 pm

Okay, I decided to use the Federal refund to pad my "freedom account" (a Mary Hunt, Debt-proof Living idea where all money for intermittant but expected expenses is kept). We've got loads of different categories to save for in there such as my DD's summer camp, car repairs/oil changes, gifts, etc. So that big chunk makes me feel much more in control of those expenses and ready for when they come due.

The state refund was about 1/3 of the federal and I split it like so:
10% fun money - 5% for me and 5% for hubby
10% charity - split between 6 different places we give to
40% EF
40% debt - this brings this debt down to just under $284 and should be paid off with my next paycheck!!! WooHoo! Big Grin

It is exciting to see such nice progress and feel a little bit more secure in our future finances.

3 paycheck month

February 1st, 2009 at 02:34 pm

January was a 3 paycheck month for me. We use YNAB to budget, but are used to being allotted our "mad money" every 2 weeks. For this "extra" paycheck I'd love to be able to put the whole check toward EF or split between EF and our smallest debt (the personal loan that is down to $1,486). I can not wait to pay that loan off! I have been paying $230/month on that which is the minimum plus $103 from a loan I paid off prior to this one. Once that one is gone I will add the $230 to our next debt in line and really get rolling. Smile

Anyway, I ended up taking 1/2 of our usual amount of "mad money" from this extra check instead of the whole amount or nothing. My DH is still not happy to have his mad money cut in half, and I tried to explain the concept of the "extra check". He is not happy but he is living with 1/2 the mad money for the next 2 weeks until I get paid again.

Reducing AGI - any ideas?

January 29th, 2009 at 03:43 am

My hubby is in school so we need to get the taxes done and fill out the FAFSA as quickly as possible. I am awaiting one W-2 as well as the forms from DH's school telling us how much we paid last year in tuition & fees.

I have been playing with the numbers and it looks like we made a lot more than we ever have before - which is great! Smile 2008 was my first full year as a hygienist so that is the reason we did so well, but I am worried now that we may not be awarded as much as we need for DH's school for the '09-10 school year. That is why I am looking for ways to lower our AGI.

I thought if I put in a bunch to my Roth IRA that it would reduce our AGI but when I try that in our tax software it does not change anything. I was sure that would work so now I am not sure how to proceed.

We do not own a home so no mortgage stuff for us. We do have a child but she is school-aged so no child care expenses. Do you happen to know another way to reduce our AGI?

Joined the Y

January 3rd, 2009 at 08:50 pm

My daughter has been taking swim lessons for a couple years but we never joined with a full membership until today. We chose a Full Family membership so all adults & children included. I hope we get our money's worth since it seems pretty expensive to me - $70/month. I guess it's not expensive if you are a "gym" kind of person but we are not. As a matter of fact I hate exercising...but I guess I better start changing that thought process around. *sigh* YNAB here I come again to find the money for this monthly payment.

I decided to add my current weight to this entry as it will be interesting to look back and see if any progress has been made. I normally NEVER weigh myself as I have always been a thin person and never had to worry. My how times have changed. I am 5'1" and 140 lbs. My goal is approximately 115 lbs but the real goal is looking better and feeling happy with my body which I am not right now.

Oh no! Ortho!

December 30th, 2008 at 04:52 pm

Ah yes, it is that time when my darling daughter is in need of help with her horrible oral situation. As a hygienist I know a little about occlusion and saw this coming years ago. Of course, knowing and actually preparing are 2 totally different things.

We met with the orthodontist for a consultation this morning and she will need to have 4 baby teeth pulled (they are not the least bit loose and the adult teeth under the gums are almost fully formed), a retainer for her upper teeth to help her severe overbite and a retainer for her lower teeth so that they do not crowd any further while we wait for the rest of her baby teeth to fall out. That is just the pre-braces stuff. Oy.

Anyway, the orthodontist was very nice and took time with us to explain everything which is sometimes lacking in medical professionals, so I appreciated that very much. Since the office I work at refers patients to him I also received a small "professional courtesy" discount which was a very welcome & generous surprise. Thanks Doc! Smile

They offer an in-office payment plan so that I can pay over 12 months for this initial stuff. I like that idea also since I'm working on re-building that EF right now. I've gotta go re-work my YNAB budget to show the new monthly payments now.


August 28th, 2008 at 02:15 am

I saw this job and thought of you. I know it is not what you usually do (editing) but it might be close enough since the benefits sound incredible???

Full time employees are eligible for the following benefits:

* Health/Dental/Vision/Life insurance
* Disability (short and long term) options
* 401(k) Plan with Company match
* Flexible Spending Plan
* Transit/Parking Plan
* Gym membership reimbursement
* Paid vacation time
* Holidays, personal days, sick days
* Stock options

It made me wish I was qualified! Big Grin

They are looking for a copywriter (as well as some other positions). Check it out:

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Bye-Bye EF...We'll miss you!

August 18th, 2008 at 03:51 pm

We brought my hubby's car into the dealer today for a complete check. The car is a 1999 Saturn with 159,000 miles on it. My hubby uses it to commute back and forth to the train station and we also use it to haul the canoe when we take that out.

We were expecting a little bit of an expense since the car is older and it is due for updated parts, but it has turned into a much larger expense than we foresaw. New radiator, hoses, water pump, thermostat, rear brakes, head gasket! To the tune of nearly $4,000.

Yes indeed, when it rains it pours, ladies and gentlemen.

We actually contemplated trading it in and buying a new car, but we can't afford a monthly payment and we'd rather not buy used and get stuck with someone elses's headache.

This is really putting a crimp in our debt repayment strategy, and going to make it ten times harder to save for the HSA as well (although we will still put the $200/month we had planned into the HSA). I figure I will pay the $4,000 out of our $5,000 EF, and slowly rebuild that fund. If I cut back to the minimums on all our debts that will save $20/month. I am paid ahead on the Personal Loan (at the left) until May 2009, so I can stop paying that $130/month and apply it elsewhere. That is $150/month I can put into the EF, then any "extra" I make at the PT job will go to the EF also. Hopefully at least $200/month.

No more fun categories in the ol' budget for the next 3-6 months at the least. *sigh* Frown

Advice needed, please

July 14th, 2008 at 01:45 am

I would really appreciate feedback from all of you. I know there are many more financially savvy individuals here than practically anywhere else, so I know I'll get great thoughts and suggestions from you all. Smile

I have been putting all extra money toward the CC you see to the left which is at 0% until February 2009. I was hoping to have the entire balance paid off by the time it returns to a higher rate. At this point I am not sure if that will happen or not. Right now I have about $600 to put toward my goal, but I am holding on to it until I get some advice from you guys.

Now that I am half way to the 0% offer's conclusion and have only paid about 25% of the balance off, I am wondering if I should change my plan. I am thinking maybe I should put all the extra money I was putting toward the 0% card instead toward the debt with the smallest balance (a personal bank loan) - $3300 at 6%, or to the one with the highest interest rate (another CC) - $4600 at 10.51%.

We are trying to pay down our debt now by throwing all extra money toward it, then save for a down payment on a home. I would love to be able to buy a home within the next year while prices are still down, but right now our debt/credit limit ratio on the CCs is still very high at 38.6% (down from 41.2% in January) and our minimum monthly payments are high at about 27.5% of our monthly gross income.

If we pay off the bank loan we would lower our monthly payments to 24.3% of our gross, and if we pay off the 10.51% CC it would be about 25%.

We've never bought a home before or shopped for a mortgage but I think those are things they look at during the mortgage process. Do any of you who know about mortgages and home-buying have any insights for us?

Any and all thoughts are welcome! Smile

Best Fuel Economy yet

May 28th, 2008 at 07:15 pm

Today I filled up at BJ's for $3.76/gallon. It's been 9 days and 280.5 miles since the last time I filled my tank. I have been very conscientious of my driving habits and it has been paying off. I hit a new record for fuel economy with today's fill-up...*drum roll please*...

36.5 miles per gallon !!!

This is driving in mostly rural/suburban areas with a car whose EPA estimates are 27 city, 33 highway and 29 combined (08 Honda Fit Sport Automatic). I am very happy with these numbers and will, of course, strive to improve.

Beautiful Jewelry for an Amazing Cause!

May 20th, 2008 at 12:27 am

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Please check out this website. It is a non-profit started by a woman from my hometown and it is simply awe inspiring.

She is helping women in Uganda to sell their handmade jewelry with the profits going to
- send their children to school
- send themselves to vocational training
- start new businesses to sustain themselves

Wow. Many of us have great intentions and good thoughts but never actually DO something to help. I am one of these people, and I am truly inspired by this project.

The beaded necklaces & bracelets are beautiful and will make wonderful gifts. We have a Bat Mitzvah to attend in a few weeks and I think this would make a great gift. I think I will buy a few and attach a notecard explaining where they came from.

Received Stimulus Payment Today

May 10th, 2008 at 02:01 am

We received $900 just as expected. We've decided to use ours to actually stimulate the economy in our own little way.

We are using about half to buy a canoe so that we can go fishing and camping this summer as a family. The other half will be used to purchase clothing for myself and my husband as neither of us have bought any new clothing in at least 3 years, and unfortunately we have both "expanded" in that time. Wink I am hoping to have $50-$100 left over, but anything left over will go toward the goal CC.

Bits and Pieces

May 7th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Received $20 from MySurvey and $5 from Pinecone Research this week so I am putting an extra $25 toward the 0% CC.

New Balance on Goal CC: $7,770.72

Also, bad news: I paid $3.39/gal for gasoline at BJ's (cheapest place around)- up from $2.99 a month ago! Frown

Good news: I got 36.1 miles to the gallon on my last tank of gas. Smile

Great resource for teens to learn about PF

April 10th, 2008 at 01:20 am

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It is a 15 page PDF with lots of very basic info geared toward young adults - how to figure interest, things to think about before buying or leasing a car, how the rule of 72 works, and lots more including short quizzes and extra learning experiences. I would think it would make a great starting point for young people in high school or homeschoolers - especially after discussing the scariness of "Maxed Out"!

I found this site from a link in an AOL story about high school seniors and the little they actually know about personal finance. The articles says, "High school seniors, on average, answered correctly only 48.3 percent of questions about personal finance and economics, according to a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve." Yuck. Frown

35.6 miles per gallon

March 12th, 2008 at 01:50 pm

Happy day here - a new record for fuel economy in my 2008 Honda Fit automatic.

I have not increased the air pressure in my tires yet, so they are still at the manufacturer's spec (should be 32psi, but I have not checked). There was no highway driving involved, but I do drive rurally on my commute so I can go 5-10 miles without stopping in one section which helps my fuel consumption. Again, I have really taken my slower driving seriously on this tank of gas, so I would say 90% was me driving 5-10mph under the posted speed limit trying to keep my RPMs as close to 1500 as possible, but allowing up to 2k RPM. My husband did drive a few short trips on this tank that were anything but hypermiling (says it drives him crazy to go even 5mph under the limit) so I may be able to do even better in the future which is extremely exciting. Smile

If I can keep this up and gasoline prices do not continue to rise so fast, I am hoping to be able to sweep about $10 from my gas category to the 0% CC at the end of the month.

In other news, I tried to pre-pay my one CC, and they ended up sending me a check for the credit amount. I wish my CCs would send me money every month instead of the other way around! *LOL* I've got a grace period so I guess I'll let it sit and earn interest until the end of the month and then send it back to them.