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Hiccup!

March 13th, 2012 at 07:02 pm

When I first started working this new job, I set up our Idaho credit union account to receive direct deposit. However, since then, we have gotten a BECU account.

Well, the first direct deposit (second paycheck) went to the Idaho credit union. Not a problem. Until I transferred it to the BECU account... One, I forgot to leave money in the Idaho account for our auto loan payment (through the Idaho credit union, so the payment is instant when paying from that account's checking). Second, we switched to Geico for our auto insurance and - without thinking - I gave them our BECU account info. Once that transaction went through, it sent our BECU account into the negative. ACK!

Thankfully, however, we have a little bit in savings to cover it, and BECU does not charge overdraft fees immediately. I'm not even sure what their overdraft charge is, because I paid no mind to it, as I have not overdrafted since I was 18. Whoops!

Well, glad that is taken care of. However... I need to figure out why this transfer is working on four business days to get here... It is currently in limbo - has been for two days - so hopefully it comes tomorrow.

Allstate - We've Got Our Hands in Your Pocket

March 9th, 2012 at 01:26 pm

Recently, we moved from Idaho to Washington. We expected rates to go up a little bit. However, instead, they went up from $105/mo to $166/mo. Interesting...

So I have been in contact with our new agent, and she has been unwavering in the rate.

Yesterday, we got a bill from Allstate for $326.01. What?! I emailed to ask what the hike was for, and mentioned that we would cancel if we thought it was necessary. Her reply?

[quote]I understand you are dissatisfied with the current auto rate in Washington. If you wish to cancel the policy, please notify the effective date of this cancellation.[/quote]

Seriously? No explanation for the $326.01 bill. Nada. Our paper bill does not state why. Nor does our online one. I emailed her back, requesting that the policy be canceled immediately, and that we would like a quote for keeping us insured as drivers sans a vehicle.

Oh, the insurance business... So glad I did not get involved in it when I had the chance!

So it appears as though we may be going without a vehicle before even selling it. Ha! I also have some quotes going through with State Farm and PEMCO. We shall see how those come out.

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.

Auto Insurance Hike

March 1st, 2012 at 07:42 am

Due to our recent move, our auto insurance with Allstate has gone by more than $60 per month! Our Renters policy, however, has gone down by $2/mo.

I have been emailing our new Allstate agent about trying to get the cost down, but to no avail. The agent's 'risk management professional' suggests that since I have two speeding violations and an accident, there is no lower rate. However, I have zero at-fault accidents. So what ever happened to Allstate's Accident Forgiveness deal?

I am starting to think it is not worth it anymore. Now that we have moved, our car should be even more insurance-friendly. It has 44,000 miles on it, and is six years old. It does have a restructured title, but they said it is not any more to insure - they just won't pay as much if it is totaled by me. Also, we are driving even less. Been here almost a month and have yet to even fill up on gas. We are averaging 20 miles per week. That is less than 1,000 miles per year. And, again, we now live in a controlled access area.

But, since we now live in a "more urban" place, it goes way up. Well, maybe I just won't insure the car anymore. It is breaking us. Our leftover after monthly expenses is now $54. Not sure how long we can last on that...

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

Washingtonians - Suggested Credit Unions?

January 27th, 2012 at 06:05 pm

I love my current credit union, Idaho Central Credit Union. Moving to Washington is going to break that bond, however. Often times, I get out cash, and may need to put some back in. So, I need a local branch.

Any suggestions for the Renton area?

I know about the web sites that provide reviews and what-not. But, I want some input from you guys. 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

Moving - Job Offer!

January 25th, 2012 at 04:52 pm

Hi all!

I am happy to report that I was offered a job in WA. This is great news! We will bring in more than we are now, and will be able to rent our own place. I will be performing apartment maintenance.

In order to complete this move, however, we will have to deplete our savings account (which is currently at $1,650) to zero. Ack! I have made a budget, and it looks as though we may even be forced to use the credit card.

While this is not at ALL what I want to do, I feel that it would be stupid of us NOT to. I will be making money right off the bat, will have full benefits within three months, and will be making even more as the years go on, as I will have plenty of room and opportunity for growth and promotion.

I will be working with my wife's uncle and his friend. Her uncle has been in the industry for over 10 years, while his friend - former assistant - started where I am, and became a supervisor within three years, and is now making $22/hr and gets free rent.

The planning is going well. We need to get our dog fixed before moving, and she decided that today was a good day to go into heat. Ack! Her appointment is on the 6th, so she will still be in heat then. We may have to pay the extra $25 to have it done while she is still in heat.

Anyways, wish us luck! You should be hearing more from me, as we will have much more going on. Smile

Career Opportunity - Your Input?

January 14th, 2012 at 07:44 pm

I thought that some of you may want to hear about an opportunity I have coming up. 

The other day, we went to Starbucks for our weekly treat. While we were there, a woman not much older than ourselves took notice of us - mainly our beautiful little girl. (No matter where we go, she is always catching peoples' eyes!) We got to talking with this woman, and it turns out we have a bit in common, and she seems like a soul that could teach us a lot as well. She carries a small journal and writes in it throughout the day, rather than hunching over an iPhone, like so many of us (*cough*me*cough*). 

Near the end of our discussion, she grabbed my number and said she would pass it along to her husband, as his "company is always expanding and looking for sharp individuals." 

He called the next day and we arranged to meet at the same Starbucks this evening. A couple hours ago, we had that meeting.

This man came across professional and strong, comfortable in himself and his life. I had some doubts about him, however. I wondered if he was for real. He said things like "ambitious" and "self-motivated" to describe the type of people he looks for. He said he likes to work with people that are busy, that have more than one thing going on in their lives. He said those were the type of people that get things done. 

He asked some things about me. He asked a little about my work history, but mainly about me, as a person. My ambitions. Goals. Aspirations. Where did I see myself in one to five years, if I did find that career I was looking for. I told him, "I'll tell you - I can't describe my future, without describing my family. We take joy in the outdoors, the world, the people in it. My wife and I have a dream about owning a VW bus for camping and road trips. We want to homeschool our little girl." And then I mentioned that Idaho ranked 47th in quality of education... "We want to be able to bicycle more." More on that in a moment. Smile "We want to eventually make our home in Portland." Then he asked why we felt Portland was a good match for us. I told him, "What's not to love about Portland? Really. It's beautiful. It's bicycle friendly. There is loads a family can do there, and affordably! There's history. Portland is the most eco-friendly city in America. It's.... For us, it's that place. You round the turnpike to get onto the interstate that runs through the city and... You see the city itself for the first time... And you get goosebumps. Nowhere else is it like that for us." All he said was, "Oh wow." He actually didn't know exactly what to say to that. He seemed impressed. 

So what exactly does this guy do? He explained, a little bit. "We work with entrepreneurs... And we set them up with retailers... Most of our income is residual." 

Near the end of our meeting, he asked if making $50,000 a year, 10-15 hours a week was something my family could live with. I tried not to act impressed, as I am still skeptical. I told him, "That would definitely be a good figure if it worked that way." I had to come up with this response on the fly, and I think it was a pretty neutral one. 

We set up to meet again on Tuesday at 7:40p. We will meet at Starbucks, then go to his house. Hmm. He told me to bring my family so we could talk more in detail and decide whether or not it is a good decision for us to make. 


It sure sounds like a wonderful opportunity, does it not? What do you all think? 

I thought this sounded like something someone would rather hire a college graduate for...?

--

We got a bicycle trailer for the little one! Finally! It's a Burley D'Lite two-kid stroller. Or, if you're us, one kid and a Miniature Schnauzer! Smile It also converts to a jogging stroller, which is what we have been looking for. If you look this one up, it retails anywhere from $500-700. How much did we get it for? $100. Smile 

We sold my massage table for $180, put $80 into our birthday trip fund, and $100 for the stroller. We think we got a great deal. Smile 

Amazon Free Shipping - Short by a little & don't know what to get?

January 12th, 2012 at 12:46 pm



I am a fool for Amazon.com's FREE Super Saver Shipping. And here's why: If you spend just a little more, you can usually end up getting something basically for free, when you figure that that money would have been used for shipping.

Earlier this week, we went out to the car to find that some idiot had broken one of our wiper blades. The same person also got into another person's car. Well, I am pretty sure that the wiper arm is okay, so I just need a new blade. Straight from the manufacturer, these blades are $30. No thanks! So I looked at AutoZone and similar places, to find blades for the same price, but of much better quality, such as the RainX blades.

Then I read about silicone blades. These things last for YEARS, rather than the recommended six months. And they keep on working! And, guess what... Retail price is $25!

So I did some hunting, and found the same ones on Amazon for much cheaper! To be exact, the driver side (a 22" blade) is $14.27, and the passenger side (a 19" blade) is $10.40. Altogether, that is just under $25.

Well, as most of you know, FREE Super Saver Shipping kicks in only at $25, on eligible items. So I browsed my Save For Later list, and realized that I had some Kool Stop bicycle brakes on there for my '72 Schwinn. SWEET!

Added those to the cart and the total came to just under $35, $5 cheaper than if I had ordered just the blades and paid for shipping. HA! Take THAT, Consumerism! And I got all those for less than one blade from the manufacturer. Smile

So, if you think you're just going to have to buck up and pay for shipping, remember to check your lists. If you can't find anything in there cheap enough, there is this super awesome tool, called the Amazon Item Filler. You simply enter the amount that you are short on receiving the FREE Super Saver Shipping, and it finds items in and around that amount. Alternatively, you could always enter the difference between the total for shipping, and the current amount of the items you have. In my case, this would have been about $10.

Here are links to the items mentioned in this article:
edit: For some reason, links are not showing up when using vB code or HTML... >.<
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00029X5WO/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details - Silblade (choose your size - don't know it? Amazon does!)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001SYM690/ref=oh_o00_s02_i00_details - Kool Stop Continental bicycle brake pads
http://www.filleritem.com/ - Amazon Filler Item Finder

Target REDcard

December 16th, 2011 at 10:16 am

We opened up a Target REDcard last night. Credit limit is only $500, but we don't even spend $100 there each month, so we are plenty happy with it. Smile

It's nice being able to keep your credit open, and this card is just going to help do that even more. We won't have to charge the Chase card as much, as we get our Toiletries and Household Items from Target. Smile

Some New Possibilities (Employment)

December 14th, 2011 at 08:43 am

So, a lot of you know that I have been having trouble making time for studying to pass the Math COMPASS for college. Doesn't make sense, does it? A personal finance blogger not being great at math... Ha!

We have some recent semi-developments that may help to answer a few of our questions. My wife's uncle lives in Seattle and works as an Apartment Maintenance Supervisor. He makes a little over $20/hr and his rent is free. And he says that all supervisors' rent is free, no matter the company, as far as he has seen. He says to start from the bottom, you make around $12-13/hr, 40+ hrs/wk, and get about a 30% discount on rent. That may work for our situation. We may even be able to get off of food stamps (or may get forced off them). Anyways, he said he should know by as late as January if he has any openings that he could put me in.

It would take a few hundred dollars to move out there, but it would be worth it if it meant getting out of our current situation and still being able to keep up with our bills. As a recap, our expenses (including toiletries and what-not) now are 100% of our income, since taking the huge cut in income.

Also, my wife remembered that one of her father's cousins works in Corporate for Albertson's. That same cousin offered my wife's mother a job just a few months back. If she could get in there, it would be more than she is making now. She did learn, however, that her current employer is keeping her on after the holidays (that was a given) and that her work week would be at least 28 hrs/wk in the same area of the store (those were not a given). So, it would be a hard decision for her to make.

It is nice knowing that we may have some options, though. Working as a "maintenance man" is not exactly what I had in mind for my future, but there comes a point when you have to realize your possibilities vs your dreams. While I am still studying vigorously for the Math COMPASS, I am not ruling out other possibilities. If I were to become a supervisor in three years (like he and someone he'd trained did), we would have free rent and be making $38,000/yr. Factor in the $2,200/mo rent that his apartment goes for, and that's easily $64,000. That's pretty good, if you ask me. It would take a lot of hard work and dedication, however, especially for me. I have only worked three physical labour jobs (drywall taper assistant, plumbing apprentice, carpet cleaner), and only at one of those jobs did I actually learn something... Scratch that. Only at one of those jobs was I actually taught something.

I just want to be able to contribute to retirement, a college fund for the wee one, be able to afford one nice new-used car at a time, and help my wife attain her dream of owning a coffee shop. All doable if I were to stick with the apartment maintenance profession, considering I were to get it in the first place.

So, keep your fingers crossed for us. Prayers. Good vibes. Whatever ya got! Smile

Fooducate Yourself

December 10th, 2011 at 10:09 am

Yesterday, we finally got a chance to use a new iOS app that my wife found the other day.

Using the built-in barcode scanner (or by typing in the name of the food product), you can instantly view the health information about that item. It will give you a letter grade ranging from F to A+. It will then break down the information into things such as calories per serving, how it ranks on a dieter's theoretical list, etc. And, the best part, this app also informs you as to the content of that item. Potatoes are high in Vitamin C, and it will tell you that. It will also tell when an item's packaging contains BPA. Or, hey, how about that Smart Balance vegetable spread that your doctor recommends? How about the fact that it contains TBHQ and EDTA? Bet your doctor didn't tell you that! I also bet you wouldn't have guessed that Bush's reduced sodium kidney beans are considered one of the healthiest!

For those that are looking to really get away from the CRAP found in your everyday foods, this is a really awesome app for you!

Fooducate - web site - App Store



Fooducate - web site - App Store

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.

Credit Limit Increased

November 25th, 2011 at 07:18 pm

Due to our exceptional payment history and near-excellent credit, our credit limit with Chase Freedom (our only credit card) was increased. I did not receive notification of this, but learnt just tonight by way of checking to make sure our most recent payment went through.

This is very good news for us! Not only will this look great on our credit report, but it will also make using the card much easier! The starting limit was a measly $500. It doubled. Considering that we only spend about $700/mo, we will now be able to use the credit card without having to make multiple payments a month.

We did have to flop our budgets around. We realized we were not spending as much on baby items as we thought, so we increased our pets budget, which was much needed!

Doing pretty well for being on such low income (all things considering, besides the fact that we do not live in our own place).

Other than that, there is not much else going on in the way of finances.

We did find this awesome new body wash soap that we are using instead of bottled body wash. It is Black African Shea Butter bar soap, costs $6 at Target, is all natural, and lasts much longer than liquid bottled body wash. It also smells much better and leaves our skin much softer.

It's Not Always About Money

November 14th, 2011 at 04:31 pm

While our little one sleeps, I get to listen to my niece and nephew fight. That's somewhat normal in today's world... Then, their dad (my brother) comes home. What's he do? Comes home, yells at them, and says, "Pack your s***, you're going to your mom's and I'm moving to the homeless shelter!" Then proceeds to yell at our mother about how he has to live in the basement when Molly and I could easily fit with the baby down there (ugh, mildew and mold with a baby, anyone?). Then yells about how he doesn't want to live anymore and how he needs to shoot himself. I'm tempted to offer him my rifle, but he would probably go on a frenzy on everyone else. This is the world (house) we live in. It's not just about money. It's about emotional stability. Unfortunately, money would help to secure that.

We live in my parents' house. Where the plumbing is corroding (a simple $1,200 fix that should be no problem for a couple that makes $60,000/yr), there's a sinkhole in the back yard (free fix - they have yet to get ahold of their contact, and it's been over six months), and the relatives are absolutely certifiable!

I don't know what to do or how to do it. The only thing I can think of is going to college (been my goal for a while now), but that will only make things harder...

My wife's mother is most likely moving into a place (out of her mother in-law's) that is 50 miles away. That would equal a 100 mile commute each workday for my wife. In one day. My wife's parents work and go to school here in town, as well as her sister. But her youngest sister goes to school in the town that is 50 miles away. So, three people are accommodating for one. Makes sense, eh? My wife and I have offered to pitch in for rent if they were to move here. The way they see it, however, is that since rent is so cheap out there, it makes up for having to drive so far. But it does not. They just don't keep track of their finances, so they've no idea.

Nerve-racking to say the least! Stuck between insanity and too far away.

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

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!

Unemployment Insurance Decision

October 15th, 2011 at 04:08 pm

The Department of Labor decided in favour of me, and I will begin receiving Unemployment Insurance shortly.

I was hoping I would be able to receive it while going to school as well, but further research into that shows that once enrolled, I may be deemed ineligible for benefits. Well, crap...

I tried getting a position to work with my school schedule... And that's probably part of the reason I was terminated from my employer. And now... My wife is starting work, and her schedule will not work with my school schedule. So, it looks as though I will not be able to attend college full-time as planned. So the five year Bachelor will take God knows how long...

We also will not be able to move into a place. Ugh! Not sure where to go from here... I guess just count our lucky stars and pray for the best?

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

Let the Plasma Flow...

October 12th, 2011 at 09:48 pm

Today was a very long day. While my mother in-law stayed with the little one, the wife and I spent the day donating plasma.

Plasma is a great way to bring in extra cash. You can donate plasma twice in a seven day period, at $25 per donation. That ends up being $200/mo if you do it on a regular basis. Not a bad income for a few hours of your time each week, right?

Today was our first time going in, so we expected to spend three hours there, like they say you should. Typical visits after that take an hour to two hours. You sit, you wait for your name to be called, then you sit in a reclined chair hooked up to a machine for about 45 minutes while your blood is drawn, plasma extracted, and blood returned. For me, they take 1 liter of plasma. It is based on your weight. This is for a typical day. Today, however...

We were there from 12:30p to 5:40p. During the plasma extraction process, my wife had to have a bottle of water and crackers. Typically, no food or drink is allowed in the plasma center. However, since the last thing we'd eaten was breakfast, we were probably a bit underprepared for the process. No thanks to the extensive waiting time, no doubt.

After the whole thing was over and we were home and getting ready to eat, I was feeling short of breath after just walking up the stairs or picking up our eight month-old. I checked my heart rate when I was feeling short of breath, and when I was "at rest." Active heart rate was 136 bpm, while resting was 92. Not good!

Not sure if we will go back. It may be better the second time, as the waiting period will be shorter, so we won't have to sit there without any food for so long.

On a lighter note, yesterday I saw a pair of Dr. Martens shoes at a local secondhand clothing boutique. They were only $16 and not very worn. And, since I do not have any winter shoes, I am pondering the purchase. However, this is absolutely no time to be buying things like clothing and shoes. Urgh!

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!

$25 of FREE Gas!

October 7th, 2011 at 08:05 pm

Looks like some good vibes were sent out way (Thank you all!).

Today, we pulled up to the Chevron and the pump read, 'Begin Fueling'. I expected it to say 'Insert Card or Pay Inside'. I started pumping. It began slowing down at one point, so I got back out of the car and found that it had stopped at $25 even. Confuzzled, I then looked at the other display, which said nothing. So I put the pump back. It then said 'Insert Card or Pay Inside'. Inserted card. Filled up to a bill of $17. Woot!

Talk about good vibrations!

Only got 39 mpg this tank. Only. Haha. I remember when I was excited to hit 35. The past few tanks have been 40, though, so I was hoping to maintain that. Will hit it this time around. Wink

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


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