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Viewing the 'Budgeting' Category

Moving Away from the CC

November 11th, 2011 at 11:07 am

If you remember my last post, Our Credit Card Usage - Your Input?, you'll recall that we are not exactly happy with our method of usage. We have been using the credit card to pay for everything. And then we pay it off. However, it has shown to be an issue sometimes when it comes to pay the card. Such as last night.

Last night, there were no more pending transactions, so I paid the balance. However, today I check, and there is a balance of $85.67. Which is the total of the most recent transaction, sans the payment from last night. So, thinking Chase may have made a mistake, I download all my transactions and past into Pages, then get the sum for all transactions. Nope, turns out to be -85.67. So Chase is not to blame entirely. However, as it is shown on my account statement, the payment comes in after the transaction. And, remember, the transaction was posted when I made the payment. Not pending. So it looks like it takes some time for their system to show an updated balance after the transaction goes through. Strange.

Granted, I should know exactly how much the payment should be. I was doing this initially. However, I have since stopped. Why? Not too sure. Possibly because of all of the changes in our life recently, and taking on new responsibilities myself.

I am thinking that we will no longer use the credit card for absolutely everything. We will use it on items that are included in the 5% revolving categories, as well as monthly fixed payments. Unfortunately, most of my bills are paid from my checking account (because they do not accept credit cards), so we will definitely not be getting as many rewards points. However, I must remember - rewards points are just a gimmick. A tool used to get you to spend money. So, if I focus on the rewards points, rather than keeping our finances simple, then I will lose track.

Wish us luck! Smile

Our Credit Card Usage - Your Input?

November 8th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I have been using the Chase Freedom credit card for a couple of months now, paying off the balance every two weeks or so.

So far, it has gone okay. However, I somehow feel that I am overspending whenever I use it, even though it is for budgeted items. Also, the way Chase updates their account statements online has lead to some issues. It's also a hassle to manage two accounts as if they were one.

So we are thinking about not using it for everyday purchases anymore. The 1% on all purchases is great, and the 5% categories is pretty awesome too. But, for some reason, it feels like it is taking too much effort to manage. I don't know... It's hard to explain, really.

However, using it has - I believe - helped to raise my credit score. I am now only 11 points from entering the 'Excellent' credit score range.

What do you guys do with your credit cards?

Mint.com - anyone use it?

November 5th, 2011 at 08:03 am

I love the idea behind Mint.com. However, I have yet to be able to use it successfully. The most irritating thing about it, is that it will categorize purchases all by itself after I've already categorized them (or, in Mint.com terms, set a budget for them). So it screws everything up. I am probably missing something, as Mint has a HUGE user base.

Anyone use it?

Also, credit score went up two points this month, probably from paying off the personal loan. Was hoping to see it go up a lot more, but oh well.

Want to Get Back @ Big Banks?

October 30th, 2011 at 09:17 pm

Obviously, the absolute best way to get back at banks is to never owe them money, or even to never bank with them. However, we live in a digital age, so the latter may not be possible for a lot of us. I know that it is not for me. There is still yet more to do!

If you are still receiving credit card offers via snail-mail, there is a beautiful - and I do mean b-e-autiful - way to be a nuisance to them.

Have a gander and let me know what you think! I will be doing this from now on.

(Apparently, you cannot embed YouTube videos. So, here ya go...)

http://youtu.be/ZgkSiyIUz_w

A Nice Surprise

October 29th, 2011 at 02:52 pm

Last night, I had a dream that my wife said, "You know what? We still haven't found those two $10,000 checks that we lost!" Ugh! Ya, right! Haha!

Today, however, I moved $45 to our Savings. The $45 was a result of our rounding*. I applied the $45 to our Auto fund. That is the fund used to purchase - you guessed it! - auto parts, repairs, maintenance, etc. We now have $201 in that fund. We also have $312 on its way from PayPal to our checking account that will be applied to Auto as well. This will result in enough money for us to get new tires for the car! Smile

Why am I so excited for tires for the car? Well, a) because we just took a drastic cut in income. We are now living on about $600 less per month than before! And b) because I am going to be LRR*1 tires that will help improve not only our already awesome fuel economy of 40 mpg (which is over 128% better than EPA est. MPG*2), but also will last us 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Smile

So, we are doing pretty well! We have restructured our budget, paid-off a personal loan, and I am working on getting enrolled in college.

Also, since we got the Chase Freedom card, we have been doing pretty with it. It's nice having a credit card, using it for everything, and never having a running balance. Smile

*1 - LRR - Low Rolling Resistance. LRR tires are proven to increase fuel economy and are built to last longer. They use a harder composite than traditional tires. They are found on all hybrids, and only recently are being manufactured in more common tire sizes for the use by non-hybrid vehicles.
*2 - EPA est. MPG for our vehicle is 23 city / 30 hwy / 27 combined. Currently getting 40 mpg with 90% city driving. Learn how you can do this, too, by visiting http://www.CleanMPG.com/ and help reduce this nation's dependency on foreign oil. Be a
patriot.

Let's Get Up-To-Date Here

October 27th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

It's been a while since I made an update. So here it is. Smile

Paid-off our personal loan for $520. So, that's a $100/mo payment that is gone. Thank goodness!

If you remember, our computer took a dump, so we had to use BillMeLater in order to get an iMac. Sold all the parts from the home-built PC for a total of $312.70. Didn't make that much of a profit, however, as shipping came out to be $212. So, only a $100 profit. Well, crap! That's the last time I have the UPS Store package it. Next time, we'll just go out and get some cardboard boxes and pack em with whatever.

Anyways...

Tires are a planned purchase coming up. Should be under $450 for purchase, shipping, and installation. However, I will be calling around to see if the local shops have the tires I want in stock, to see if I can save anything doing it that way.

Have been steadily donating plasma. Have missed a couple days though, so I've only made $80 from it so far. But, hey!, that's $80 I wouldn't have had otherwise! The misses is doing it as well.

Wifey is doing pretty well with her job. She hates being away from home, and I hate that she's been put in that position, but if we look at the positive - at least now we get to swap rolls somewhat. Right? Sure.

As some of you know, I've been planning to begin my delayed college career this Spring of 2012. However, I was just recently able to get ahold of someone who had some answers for me. I scored so low on my Math COMPASS test that I did not qualify for college courses. So - as they told me when I finished the test - I either have to take Math 25 or retake the COMPASS. What I was not told at the time was that Math 25 does not qualify as a college course and, thus, is not eligible for financial aid. I am not sure how much that course costs, but it is not in my interest to pay for it! However, I may get it on loans. Not sure... I will retake next week and if I do not pass, I will get it on loans (if it can be done that way). Either way, deadline for enrollment is November 15th. Right around the corner. Wish I'd known sooner!

Workforce Assistance

October 13th, 2011 at 06:27 am

This morning, I am headed off to the Goodwill Workforce Assistance programme. Since I lost my job and my wife has yet to start her job, I have to attend this program until either, a) my wife starts work, or b) I start school. Most likely, it will be that my wife will start work soon, as she should be going in to sign papers by the end of this week.

The Goodwill Workforce Assistance programme sounds like a great one. They will assist with:
Clothing for interviews
Gas vouchers
Resume building
Job searching
etc.

My wife's father went thru the programme and - while it was dull and boring - he said it was quite helpful.

I will let you all know how it goes.

Also happening today:
Picking up baby wipes for the little one. Going a little over our budget for the month. Since we got the Chase Freedom credit card (which we pay off twice per month, and use exactly like a debit card), it seems as though we have gotten off-track somehow, as - when I was employed - I have been paying some of the remaining balance on the card with the next paycheck, rather than the current one like planned. So, somehow, somewhere, we are spending too much. This has to be taken a hold of.

On a happier note, with our Chase rewards points, we ordered:
Bodum Chambord 8-Cup French Press Coffeemaker
Bodum Assam Tea Press - Black
Bodum Anywhere 8-Oz. Travel Mug - Green
Bodum Anywhere 8-Oz. Travel Mug - Black

Sweet! We have been wanting to drink more tea, and now we can! Also, a French press makes coffee far superior to that of any automated methods (sans the super expensive machine, possibly). We can't wait! Smile

Also, take a look over to the left column. See that Personal Loan @ 15% that has a remaining balance of $546? We will be paying that off with savings once the wife secures her position. While we would rather not take from savings for this, it is a must-do if we are to survive on a lower income.

And last, but indubitably not least, today I will be selling a part of our previous computer that took a poop on us. So far, we have sold over $250 worth of items. However, I did end up losing $8 on two of the shipments, because shipping was far more than I was quoted. I will make a post after I've sold and shipped everything to analyze the actual net earnings from all the items.

Wish us well!
Peace!

Stay Frügal

Good News on the Homefront

October 8th, 2011 at 04:28 pm

Today, my wife had her interview with her former employer that she was with before we got pregnant. She was told that the position is part-time, seasonal, and is retail sales in a high-end clothing department. She was also told that they want the position to become permanent, especially since they found someone that they know will do well in that position. Unlike most retail sales, the position is not commission. It is hourly. However, their sales are kept track of and they are rewarded for meeting and exceeding sales goals. 

By the time my wife took her leave before, she was making around $8.60/hr. This position should pay around $9/hr. She has yet to receive all of the details, as her supervisor (former and would-be upon hire) is speaking with the store manager to get approval for the hire. We should know everything in a few days to a couple of weeks. So, right now, everything is guessing. So we are estimating $9/hr, 25 hours per week. She will also get full benefits. 

While this position will not pay as much as we were making before - a first - it will pay the bills. By way of donating plasma and possibly collecting unemployment, we will be able to continue our debt payoff and be on our way into a place of our own. (By the way, I will be updating the sidebar with details of our debts, credit scores, budget, and what-not. Stay tuned!)

So, good news so far! Can only get better from here!

A Fresh Start (New Blog)

October 6th, 2011 at 09:18 pm

After some drama with my previous employer, and per the advice of some regular readers of mine, I have decided to create a new blog, in the hopes that I am not stalked by said employer's staff.

A little about who I am and what I am about. I am married, Christian, have an 8-month old daughter, and am recently unemployed, due to my previous employer making false accusations and following them up with a termination. Currently in proceedings with the Department of Labor and finding other employment. I start school at the local university in Spring of 2012. I will be majoring in Nursing. It is my dream to someday work as an OR Nurse or in a pediatric oncology unit. We shall see just where it all leads me.

We currently live in my parents' house, where my 32 year old delinquent brother does as well. If you know who I am and have read my previous posts, you will understand that he is not exactly the greatest person to live around. We were planning our exodus from this place when I was terminated from my position and almost all hopes of any future employment that I was seeking were lost.

I am a hypermiler. By that, I mean that I pump my car for more fuel economy than the average person. Our car, a 2007 Ford Focus S with 5 speed manual transmission, is EPA rated at 24 city/33 hwy/27 combined. I have consistently been averaging 40 mpg or more on the past few tanks, as I am improving my skills. You can find my stats at my CleanMPG.com profile. Once our tires are done for, I will be purchasing LRR (Low Roll Resistance) tires, which help to improve fuel economy. Also, I am running AMSOIL Signature Series 100% Synthetic oil, which is good for 25,000 miles/12 months between changes. It also provides superior cold-weather start-up, lower friction, and is more affordable (when calculated by qt per mile) that all other oils available. This oil costs about $.27 per mile, as compared to Mobil 1's $.67 (thereabouts).

There is plenty more to know about me, and I am sure I will touch on them in the future, as I have already done in my former blog here on savingadvice.com.

Some more recent developments are that my wife has an interview with her former employer (Macy's) for a non-seasonal sales position. Talk about role reversal! I am pretty concerned as to how well I will do with the little one with mommy gone off to work.

Also found out today that my credit rating went up from 715 to 726. Up 11 points from last month. Started at 640 in February. Now that's rewarding!


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