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Debt Payoffs! [Update]

February 18th, 2013 at 01:03 pm

We ended up with $674 after all was said and done (original estimation was $405, if you take a look at my last blog entry). The crib mattress ended up being $50 cheaper, and we had more in Checking than planned.

That went straight to Savings. And we can start contributing more-than-before to Savings starting next paycheck! Smile

---

Questions.

Some of you use the method of having one-month's worth of expenses in your Checking account at all times. I am starting this, and have already made one-half of the month's expense payments.

When do you refill your Checking to the original balance?

Here is what I plan on doing: Once I am paid, transfer it to Savings, less what I need to keep my running balance (not bank's balance shown) at the appropriate level ($1,761). Is this what everyone does? Every paycheck? Or just once per month?

Debt Payoffs!

February 11th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

We received our tax returns today. $4,848. We are doing the following:
• $2,318 to payoff auto loan. Woohoo!
• $900 to payoff credit card balance from moving last year for new job. (No more credit card balances!)
• $445 to payoff BillMeLater for camera and gear I purchased for side-work.
• $600 to Checking Account to keep one month of expenses in Checking, while income gets direct-deposited to Savings. (Thanks to the community for recommending this method!)
• $180 to IKEA for two dressers, one for wife and I, one for kiddo (currently stacking things on shelves; quite hectic!), and new crib mattress (either from IKEA or Target).
• $405 remaining for our anniversary trip to Portland, OR in May.

Paying off these items will free up quite a bit monthly for extra savings. Smile Which is great, because we have a few savings goals that we have yet to start on. They are:
• Savings for future business.
• Medical care savings.
• Future car savings. (We probably won't need one for quite a few years; only have 49,000 miles on our 2007.)
• College savings for the kiddo.
• Cushion savings!

A depressing realization.

February 7th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Today, I turned 25. I also realized today that I only earned $25,000 last year. (Actually, I realized this on February 2nd, when we filed our returns.) That means that I only earned $1,000 annually for each annum I have been alive.

Then, however, I realized some other things...
- I only worked 11 months of the year.
- The year before, we only made $11,000 total between the both of us.
- We went from over $12,000 in debt to less than $4,200 in less than a year. This will go down to $1,900 after paying off our auto loan this month when we receive our tax returns.
- My credit score has gone up 104 points in a year!

My coworkers are in-awe of our living situation and our finances. They don't understand how I can make so little, support a wife and child, and have money to save. Not only that, but we can afford little amenities here and there. If you looked around at our house, or even how we dress and hold ourselves, you probably would not guess that we "make so little money." Maybe this is because we never pay full price for things, or just because we save money. Or, even, because we don't make large purchases often (only large ones have all been paid with parts of tax returns). Maybe because we don't complain or say, "Oh, sorry, we can't. We don't have money." Rather, when asked, we talk about how happy we are, what we enjoy, and not complaining all the time about weather or politics or why we deserve this or don't deserve that. When asked to go out to a movie or something that we have not budgeted for, we simply reply, "No, sorry, maybe next time? Just give me more of a heads-up first."

At the same time, people also seem to think we put up some sort of facade. As if we make more than we do. For the same exact reasons that others are in-awe. "Look at your clothes!" or "Look at your computer!" or "Didn't you just get a new coffee maker? So what's a $12 movie?!" It does sometimes get annoying, but we just have to smile and understand that they operate on a different spectrum than we do.

We are definitely looking forward to the rest of this year! Things are looking great! The future is bright! We have lots of plans. Smile Can't wait to share them, as I am sure there will be plenty of questions to go along with them.

Refinancing Car & Skipping Payments

June 27th, 2012 at 09:32 am

Last week, my credit union that I have my auto loan through, which is located in Idaho, sent me a letter saying that they would allow me to skip my July auto payment if I wanted to, with the exception of a $29 "processing fee". Normally, I would not do this. Obviously, this is just one way for them to make money. But hey, we could use the extra money to put toward our tires fund, which has plateaued at $241. And, we intend to pay the auto loan off with taxes this coming tax season (balance is currently $2,900).

Then, just yesterday, I got a letter from my current credit union (whom I have my checking, savings, and a credit card through). This letter stated that I was pre-qualified for a $20,000 auto loan, 60-months, no payments for 90 days, and at only 3.49%. Offer expires August 18th.

Just the offer itself is awesome, because it is a bit of a pat on the back to me for doing so well, when we have so little to work with.

So here is what I am going to do. I will skip the July payment (sans the $29 fee) with that credit union, then refinance the car through my current at the beginning of August, and skip three months of payments.

Like I said - normally, we would not do this. But the car desperately needs tires. I think it's a pretty good deal. And most of all, I am proud of my credit score. Smile

Updates on CC's, EF, Groceries, etc.

May 25th, 2012 at 02:20 pm

I mentioned a few posts back that we would be focusing on our credit card debts. Well... That idea just took a blow when I remembered our car desperately needs tires. As in, we won't be able to drive this winter without them. As in, we were on an incline in Seattle last weekend and it was not even raining, and the tires slipped when I accelerated from a stop light going uphill. So, this is most definitely a priority!

The good news is that I have been putting in plenty of over time, and we already have $79 saved for it (State Farm reimbursed us for lockout assistance). It should only take one-half to two months to save for the tires. Smile

Speaking of lockout... None of you know this, but in the past year, we have - on average - been locked out of our car once per month. Last summer, the average was about three times per month, but the windows were down, so we did not have to get lockout assistance. And now that we are with State Farm, we have to first pay for the lockout, and then get reimbursement. Not cool! Allstate covered it, so long as you used an approved locksmith or towing company. Ah well...

But no more to fear! I ordered two keyless entry remotes from eBay for our car, totaling $16, and was able to program them myself, avoiding the $60 it would have cost. What a difference these make! See, before we got our current vehicle, I was used to vehicles with keyless entry. This one did not come with such a remote. It's about time we got them. Should save us the hassle! Smile

The Emergency Fund is stagnant at $900.

Credit Cards are slowly getting paid off, but since that is currently not our main focus, it will be much slower for the current time being. After getting the tires, I will continue putting in more time at work in order to get rid of these debts!

Really sucks that we were entirely credit card debt free (only debt was the car, with only a balance [then] of $3,500), and now we are not. Oh well. At least our situation is still better! Smile

Our grocery budget took a huge hit. If you remember our situation before moving to our new location, I was unemployed and the wife was working part time. Because of our low income, we were receiving around $520/mo in food assistance. Since we now gross about $2,200/mo, that has dropped to $171/mo. We contribute $80/mo from my income, so the grocery budget is now $251, or about $62/week.

We have done great with this, I think! The wife is baking much more (breads, rolls, etc.), we are buying in bulk (lentils, pasta, flour, etc.) from WinCo, and she is really enjoying it! And you can bet that I am too! Wink

So, don't mind me while I toot our own horns, but I am super proud of us. Smile

Our housing expenses are dramatically and unrealistically outrageous! Rent is $945. Power typically runs under $50. But we just got our bill for W/S/G (yes, they bill 1.5 months behind!), and it was $80! Oh my! That takes our housing expenses to $1,075/mo, or around 58% of my net income! Unacceptable! We are looking at other housing opportunities. However, with the area that we live in now, living outside of a controlled-access community does not sit well with me. It is not entirely a safe neighbourhood outside of here, and we have even had our fair share of auto theft, and the like. So, choose your evil, right?

I had the opportunity to get that promotion some of you have been hearing about. The $2 raise and all. My supervisor had it all lined up... One guy is leaving for California. So my supervisor was going to move two of us up the line. But, instead, his boss decides she wants to bring in someone from the outside and screw it all up for us. There is much more back story to this, but I would rather avoid the tell-all. Either way, she ticked off quite a few people with this executive decision, especially considering that is not how these companies are supposed to be run.

Anyways... We are holding on, and our quality of life is still pretty great. Got my wife and kiddo, a roof over our heads that, stable employment, and food on the table. Asking for anything more is just greedy. Smile

EF up, CC's next!

April 11th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Made some larger-than-normal deposits today, by way of refunds from the former insurance company.

We now have $1,119.91 in savings! Woohoo!

So we have $1,000 in EF, and $119 in the Auto fund (for repairs, maintenance, registration, etc.). We will keep that fund on hold and pay-down the credit cards with any further extra we may get. Smile

Also, in not-so-happy news, I did not get to do that job last Saturday. Unfortunately, people were concerned about it being a Conflict of Interest, due to the fact that our customer was a person at corporate. Ah well...

Determining a Strategy

April 4th, 2012 at 10:15 am

As you know, we have been trying to decide whether or not to sell our car. We listed it for sale, then took it down. We are just not ready to see it go. A 2007 Focus with only 44,000 miles? Who would be? Our payment is only $136/mo. We owe $3,200. Insurance is now at $132/mo ($7 of which is for Renters Insurance). So we are doing a little better. It is nice to know that we can jump in our car on the weekends and know it won't die on us.

However, keeping this car means getting tires before the next winter. So that is $450-500.

But before we can do that, we need to tackle our credit card debt that we accumulated from moving over here for this better life (and believe me - I don't ever regret it!). That total comes out to $1,300.

Technically, we should be able to pay these down pretty quickly. However, our savings is pretty far behind. It is lingering at $770, which is not even half of a month's bills.

So, question: Should we build our savings first, or pay off the cards?

After getting the savings up, and credit cards back to zero, I plan on doubling-up on car payments.

All this and no health insurance for the wife and I. Hopefully, that will come soon...

I should have a $400+ side job coming up, as well as a promotion. I don't want to psych myself up for that one though, in case it does not happen.

Car, Work, Credit

March 28th, 2012 at 06:25 pm

• Car

The most popular blog post currently is the one I made about asking for opinions on giving up the vehicle.

While we absolutely want to do this, it is looking as though we will not be able to. I only made it up half the monster hill. If we sold the car, and did not shop at the grocery store at the top of said hill, we would be doing all of our grocery shopping at Target. Umm... No, thank you.

Edit: However, keeping the car also means not getting health insurance for the wife and I. (Never mind vision or dental, which were both need.) It really saddens me that we have to choose between two fundamentally necessary things...


• Auto Insurance

Turns out that we got a better rate with State Farm. So, we are switching... Again. In order to avoid the sales pitches from Geico's money-hungry agents, I simply told them we sold the car because we no longer felt the desire to support the murdering of the earth. It worked pretty well...


• Promotion

There is a chance that I may be getting a promotion in a few weeks. This would mean a $2/hr raise, as well as learning more valuable skills. Smile

It is not, however, set in stone. Keep your fingers crossed for us!


• Credit score

My credit score has dropped DRAMATICALLY since charging all those expenses for moving. 26 points, or something like that. How unfortunate. Frown Still, our payments outweigh our spending, but I hate having a balance on these cards. >.

Updates on Auto Ins, Living, etc.

March 16th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi all. Thank you for following. Smile

We got both Auto and Renters insurance switched to Geico. Only saving about $11/mo, but the Renters insurance is much more inclusive (though they do outsource it with another agency). Comes with Fraud/Identity Theft protection. Smile

Today, we are going to Lowe's to pic up some picture hangers (bought a canvas painting at IKEA with a gift card!), screws for our accent lighting in our bedroom, tarps for our bicycles that are stored on our patio, for sale signs for the car, and a tool or two for various things. Gotta start collecting tools if I want to move up from my current position at work. Wink Also need them for working on the bicycles.

Also, today, we may be going to look at an '80's Schwinn Le Tour bicycle for $45. It is of higher build quality than my '72 Schwinn Varsity, so it will serve as a parts bike for mine. If we are going to be riding our bicycles instead of driving a vehicle, then we might as well upgrade them a little bit where it is needed.

And also, we might be getting a new stereo installed in our car today or tomorrow. Our old one went bad, so we bought a factory stereo for $50. Installation will be $25. I would do it myself, but I have not successfully done it before, and do not want to screw up any electrical in the car, because we are prepping it for sale.

Yesterday, at work, I found a great looking couch sitting out at the "junk pile" where tenants put what they consider to be junk. More accurately, it is where I put stuff that tenants leave in hallways and trash rooms instead of doing what they are supposed to because they are too lazy and feel entitled... Haha.

This couch looks like a mid-century sofa. It has a nice floral print and has a hide-a-bed, and is on rollers. It's pretty awesome. We love mid-century styles, and our current sofa is scratched up and bulky and way too contemporary for us. You can actually find the same set at RC Wiley. Not our flavour at all!

I stored this sofa in one of our maintenance rooms that only three of us have access to, so that no one would jack it. Ha! The sofa has no scratches or anything on it. Only thing is that the arm rests are somewhat hard, so our little one may bang her face on it a time or two. Haha. Well, that is going to happen no matter what. Smile

We're excited about the sofa. Just need to figure out how to get our current one down five stories to put in the junk pile. It does not fit in the elevator, and there is a divider in most of the stairwells blocking entry from Parking Level 1 to Parking Level 2 (where the junk pile is). I'll have to figure out which one does not have that divider, and hopefully enlist my wife's uncle to help.

Oh! Almost forgot. A few weeks ago, someone threw away a somewhat older DSLR camera. It was set nicely in its nearly indestructible case, with two battery packs, two memory cards, and cleaning tools. There is no lens in there, but we have done some research, and they still make lenses for it. This particular camera (just the body is in there) is the Canon EOS D60. It was made in 2002, so it is missing some more modern features. However, it is still a very functional camera. With 169 different Canon EF-series lenses ranging from $150 to $2,000, there are plenty of choices. Smile We found one for $170 that would do us quite well. This camera retailed for $2,200 back in 2002. The body by itself still sells on eBay and Amazon for $200. Smile So, we are going to keep it. It turns on and takes pictures fine - just need a lens and battery charger.

Woohoo for working in Apartment Maintenance! Smile

On a more downward note, we still have running balances on our credit cards. Currently paying only a little above the minimum payments, but that will all change soon enough.

We have been thinking about what we would do with the money left from paying off the car after selling it. We should have around $3,000 - enough to pay off Sallie Mae and our credit cards. However, that would leave us with no money to purchase a vehicle if we find that we can indeed not go without a vehicle. So, maybe we will wait a month or two to pay them off. Or we may pay off the cards or Sallie Mae, and keep paying the other. What do you think?

By the way, the current estimation of how much we will be saving per month after selling the car and having dropped the smartphone plans, is over $400! Smile We will be allocating $50 of that to groceries (EBT benefits are decreasing) and $30 to clothing at first (need rain gear and bicycle clothing such as rain jackets), bringing the net savings to $326 per month! Also, we will be getting Washington State Basic Health plans for my wife and I, at $60 each, bringing the new net savings to $206 per month.

It should be a little more than that, because all of our budgets are rounded up and income is rounded down (by about $100/mo), and we have not factored-in our current difference between income:expenses. Just factoring in what we will be saving from dropping the car and phones.

Sounds pretty great, right?! Smile

AT&T may want $450

March 4th, 2012 at 05:27 pm

We are going to check tonight, but here is the deal...

We want out of our iPhone contracts. Wife's is up this July. Mine is up November of 2013. Do not want to wait that long. Their Early Termination Fee for smartphone users is $325, less $10 for each month into the contract you are...

What if they do try to get us to do this? We do have that much in savings. But sheesh! Ugh! I would rather just tell them to shove it, but the prepaid phone plans we want are AT&T. >.

Sell the Car?

March 1st, 2012 at 10:29 pm



We have a 2007 Ford Focus. 44,000 miles (great for the year!). Great mileage. For us, at least - I hypermile, so I always exceed the EPA ratings. EPA ratings are 24/33, but I get 40 in the city. Rebuilt title. Needs tires.

Auto Loan: $3,400 - $136/mo
Auto Ins: $166/mo
Gas: $30/mo

We are contemplating selling. We do not want to, especially with its amazing miles, mileage, and reliability. However, take a look at this (not a pretty sight): Our budget.

As you can see, this leaves NO wiggle room at all. So, we need to trim the fat! We really cannot part with our phones. They are handy for when we do not have our bulky digital camera with us, and we have a daughter, so we need to capture those moments. It really is a fruitful part of our lives to be able to capture and share those moments, especially with being away from our families.

We could trim out our $32 in treats (Starbucks), which we have had to do before...

Student loans are already deferred, which I hate doing.

Rent cannot be trimmed. Nor can internet.

So that leaves the vehicle...

We have always wanted a VW camper. Why not get one if we do sell the car? If we sell the car for $7,500, we could have $4,100 left over to purchase a bus. Also, we could wait to get a bus while saving up more to get a better one. Good VW camper busses usually start around $4,000, but you should really look at spending $6,000 for one you won't need to do any serious work on for a couple of years. However, if we do end up spending $4,000 (and I have seen a couple of great ones for that price, but not very common), then I am thinking this: We will be saving at least $250/mo with not having to pay for the Focus anymore. So this could help us build a good savings again, since it was almost dwindled when we moved. Would help pay off credit cards we had to use for moving.

Here I am asking... What would you do? We like our car (don't LOVE it, but it is responsible). It is reliable, but if anything happened, we could not afford to fix it now. If we had an older vehicle (like the bus), we could afford repairs when it needed it. We could afford clothes (I am down to two pairs of undergarments and two pairs of socks, and the wife... Oh, man!). We could afford to get more clothes for our daughter (she has like five outfits and no rain-proof clothing; kinda need that here!). It would most likely be much better.

What do you all think?

Oh! One more thing! I have a contact that works on and sells (and know others that do as well) classic VW busses. So we would only be getting into a bus that we knew everything about, and knew what we were getting into.

SaveUp!

February 14th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Found an awesome web site. Have used it twice. It is a play-to-win web site. You use tickets - which you earn for adding your accounts or by winning them, or even by paying down debt! - to play different games.

Rewards range from gift cards to loan payoffs to cars.

Have fun!

https://SaveUp.com/

Post-Move Finances

February 10th, 2012 at 01:49 pm

Hi everyone! I know some of you have been looking forward to hearing from me since we moved.

The move went well! I won't go into super details, but we are doing great! Almost everything unpacked, and we are on our fifth night here. I've worked three days at my new job. Basically, it's a dirty job. Dealing with dumpsters of trash and recycling, picking up garbage, etc. But, it's easy, it's good pay, and I may not be doing it for long...

The guy that I replaced is such a screw-up that I may be replacing him again! He was moved to the next position up, because they needed more people to work on getting apartments ready for move-in. When he was working my job, he left the dumpsters overflowing, didn't get certain things done, etc. What he's doing now basically includes painting and blending. Say you've got a hole in the wall from a picture nail. You fill it, let it dry, then fill it some more if it needs it. Then paint over it once it is flush with the rest of the wall.

Apparently he has not been doing well. Cracks in the paint, holes, not using tape to cut-in on different paints, etc. So, I heard thru the grapevine that our supervisor will be asking me next week to help do turns (what I just explained about making apartments move-in ready) with him. That basically means he is going to train me for the position that is above my current one. Hopefully that means that I will be able to receive a pay raise here soon.

Everyone I work with is very pleased with my work. They say they don't worry about something getting done with me at the helm. They say I picked it up faster than anyone else they've trained. Etc., etc. Makes me feel good!

As for the finances... Oh, boy! I'm not happy with the situation we got ourselves into, but we should be okay. Basically, we are in the same boat now that we were a year ago (a year ago, exactly, actually).

Here's the somewhat break-down:
Total Moving Expenses: $5,603
Chase Card Balance: $828
Target REDcard Balance: $260
Remaining Savings: $25
Remaining Fed Tax Returns: $292

Here is how we are going to handle this. Whenever I make a chard to one of the credit cards, I record the same charge in the checking account, so as to be sure that I have the money to pay the credit card. I know a lot of you do this. I wish there was a term for it... Anyways...

There is currently an actual balance of $1,769 in our Checking account, if you do not subtract the credit card balances from it. Here is why I mention this; If we were to pay our credit cards off, we would not be able to pay rent in full this next month. Why? I am going three weeks without getting paid here at my new job. You know, the whole pay period thing.

What we will do is pay the rent, and just pay down the credit card debt. This is what we had to do last year, unfortunately. This debt is less than before, but still important. However, this one should get paid off much quicker, due to our larger margin of debt:income.

So, not too bad, eh?

Keep an eye on the sidebar - Will be updating it more often, now that there will be more changes month-to-month. Smile

Moving - Update

January 26th, 2012 at 06:42 pm

Went and tried out one of the U-Hauls today. We will have to get a 14', because of the third seat. Would be nice if we could just get the 10', as we do not have any big items at all. Our heaviest item is our dining small dining table. Next to that is the iMac haha.

Found out today that we will not have to pay the deposits like normal tenants do. This will save us over $300.

However, our dog just went into heat. Ack! And she is scheduled to get her goods taken out on the 6th. We will have to pay an extra $25, bringing her spay to $125.

I have budgeted $250 for gas. However, gasbuddy.com's trip calculator seems to think otherwise. It is estimating only $100 to get there and fill up. Always better to over-budget! Smile

We found out today just which unit we will be getting. Somewhat, at least. Rent will be $952/mo for a 1 bedroom unit. Better than the $900 for the studio that we originally thought we were getting. Also, since these are "green" apartments, the average cost for utilities (just power) is $35/mo.

Here are the floor plans of the 1 bedroom units:






All come with a bar or island w/ bar, washer/dryer in unit, patio, patio storage closet, walk-in closet, coat closet, granite counter tops, cherry wood cabinets, black appliances, ceiling fans, and our choice of an accent wall.

The studio we would have gotten would have had the options of choosing our colour of counter tops and cabinets, would have had stainless steel appliances, and wood floors instead of linoleum. But whatever. Smile

I, personally, like the second floor plan shown above. I like that the kitchen and dining area are separated from the rest of the unit, somewhat. We would most likely use the dining area to put our little one's crib and stuff in. Would be a good little nook for her, until we upgrade in a couple years (or so) to a larger apartment.

Total estimated moving costs: $1,720
Total estimated bills/mo: $1,560
Minimum estimated income/mo: $1,600

Now, this is definitely cutting it close! However, we will soon be getting rid of our texting plan ($30/mo), will not be driving as much (budgeted $40/mo for fuel), and will be getting at least 40 hours per week.

How I came to the estimated income was taking my hourly wage x 160 and subtracting 15% for taxes. Now, I highly doubt 15% will be taken out for taxes, because the most I've had taken was 5% when I made almost $23,000/yr. Not sure how exactly that equates, but okay!

Anyways... We should be fine. If not, we will make sure we will be. We found a plasma donation center up there, so that would help us get at least $40/wk. Also, my wife wants to - sometime down the road when we can justify the $100 startup cost - become a consultant for Scentsy. If you've never had a Scentsy... They are awesome. Smile

Alright, I think this post has rambled on enough. Wish us luck! Smile

The Reason - Responses?

December 1st, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Recently, my wife has been looking into going to school. If you remember, she is now the one working, while I am a stay-at-home-father and practicing my poor Algebra skills to retake the Math COMPASS for entry into college. She has been looking at the Paul Mitchell school - something she has always considered doing. She would receive 2,000 hours in Cosmetology training. We have thought about this. The school's job placement rate for new grads is 86%. Pretty good. Average salary is about $24,000/yr. "That would help us get out of our living-with-family situation," we think. Then we realize that we would also lose Food Stamps, which is over $400/mo. So, to make up for that, pay our current bills, plus pay her tuition, and put $700 towards rent and utilities, we would have to net $2,000/mo. On one income...

We are still donating plasma, but it is not the $440/mo that we have hoped it would be. While that is the max potential (two people, two 'donations' per week), we have found that it is not always possible for us to do so. So, it has turned out to be around $100/mo. 

Also, I have taken it upon myself to try to find odd jobs to do. This has come to me in the way of oDesk.com. It is a freelancing/contracting web site that appears to have some threads of truth to it. I have been working on my résumé in order to make myself more desirable, so I have yet to apply to any contracts yet (limited number of applications per week). So I do not know how that will pan out. 

Anyways... While the job placement percentage is decent, it is an $18,000 tuition in a field where the demand comes strictly from desire rather than from need. The clients are there because they want to be. Because they are able to afford it (or at least have some credit left on their cards). I am still paying off my $18,000 tuition from when I went to school for Massage Therapy. I am a great Massage Therapist. Great technique. Great form. Wonderful pressure. Superb personal skills. And that sixth sense that a lot of MT's don't have, but wish they did... And yet, I have never been employed in the field. 

What are we to do? We live off of $600/mo. We live in an oppressive and downright dangerous environment where the downstairs wreaks of cat feces and occasionally marijuana, where the other residents do not take into account the welfare of the infant in their house, etc., etc. We have been married over a year and a half, and have been together for longer, and have not once lived in a place of our own! 

This. This is the point of all that we strive to do, financially. Money is the only thing that can change our lives at this point.

What are we to do? Suggestions for my wife? For me? 

Thank you for reading.

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

Math is Kicking My Butt!

October 30th, 2011 at 05:38 pm

So I took the COMPASS a couple months back, and only scored high enough in Math to get into Math 25. Math 25 is not a college course, so this course has to be paid for out-of-pocket. I have yet to find out how much it is, or if personal student loans would cover it, as I have been approved for a good amount of personal student loans via the FAFSA. The course is not worth any credits, obviously, so I need to call someone at Admissions tomorrow and figure this out. Why?

I have been working on practicing Algebra, and I am just not having a good time with it. Apparently, my state's Algebra is not as inclusive as the rest of the country's. That, or I just do not remember doing any of this. Ha!

You see, I never made it past week two of Geometry. I dropped out of high school, got a full time job, and was living the high life. Right... I went to a trade school a few months later, and ended up with a degree I could not use, ten months later.

It is time to fulfill my family's and my dreams. Both financially and otherwise!

P.S. I thought it was noteworthy to add that I got a perfect score on the English COMPASS. Smile

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 Visit to Dept of H&W

October 7th, 2011 at 10:12 am

Welp, it's off to Health & Welfare today, for my wife and I. We have to report that I am unemployed so that we may get more food stamps until one of us finds a job.

Also, today, I need to call someone at the Dept. of Labor to inquire about my Unemployment Insurance that I submitted for on Tuesday. I know it has not been a week yet, but I have yet to even be contacted by someone there... The estimated UI that they gave me (tells you at the beginning of the application) was $157/wk. UGH! Not enough, but we can make it work since we will not be driving as much. Also, if I pay off the $546 left on the personal loan ($100/mo payment), that will help a lot. I'd be taking out of savings, but it may be required at this point... However, $546 is four car payments... So, it's definitely a tough decision. Don't want to take a hit to my credit, but don't want to wish I had those four payments for the car if that comes up...

I feel like CRAP having to live off the system like this... I don't like it. It's not the kind of people that we are! It also means that we have to stay in this PLACE that is toxic to our lifestyle, our faith, and our physical well-being.

Wish us luck, keep us in your thoughts and prayers, send good vibes. Smile

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!