Dusting Off the Cobwebs

I won’t be surprised if my viewership has all but disappeared at this point. Hopefully my multi-month disappearance is understandable considering the major life event I went through in 2014.

I have a beautiful 5 month old baby who rocks and rolls and babbles and giggles and I just love that baby to pieces. Center of my universe! Babies aren’t for everyone, so I’ll stop my gushing now.

Naturally, the financial landscape has changed with a baby in the picture. Childcare costs, medical, food, etc. all have to go into the budget now. Prior to the arrival and shortly after, plenty of money had to be shelled out. I had to pay an unreal amount of money out of pocket for medical expenses for my labor and delivery to the tune of a few thousand dollars back in the hole on my credit card. I had saved some money for my maternity leave, but I was not expecting to have to pay so much money out on medical bills, actually, I hadn’t planned on paying anything out at all, I thought I had more coverage than I did. Good ol’ insurance companies, I should have known better. I bought a car in anticipation of my new arrival. It’s a great car and I truly hope to drive it until it’s final mile, 10, 15, 20 years down the road. Luckily, not everything has hit us in the pocket. We have gotten a lot of hand me downs and generous grandparents who constantly give us stuff. The Facebook yard sale sites are a great thing when you don’t want to shell out the ridiculous amounts of money some things cost. I’ve easily saved a couple hundred dollars by going to those sites to find things we need instead of going to the store. In a nutshell, having a baby is an expensive undertaking (but totally worth it!).

Because of all this, and my new Excel skills, I’m actually becoming very good about tracking my income and expenses. I’ve managed to keep up with it for over a month now. I can’t say my spending habits have changed significantly, but the picture is becoming clear and I’m becoming more aware of where my money is going. My focus has shifted off the SL for now, I’m putting it on the back burner while I focus on *where* my money is going and creating a game plan on how to control and or stop the extra money from going to those places. Or teach myself to cut back in other areas to get back some extra money. I created a budget and find that I’m doing okay in some areas, probably under estimated in some, and over estimated in others. I hope that as I keep up with my new tool and my new determination to keep my family comfortable, I can shift my attention back to the debts I have and create a game plan. We hope to expand our family in the future, and at that point it will likely make more financial sense for me to quit my job, stay home and take on a kid or two to watch, so it will be important to pay off as much debt as possible before that time. And now that I know how expensive it is to give birth and raise a baby, have to make sure we have plenty of money saved up.

The journey has begun again.

From January until Now…

I’m really good at disappearing. I had a major event come up in January, and I was afraid I would spill the beans before I was truly ready to share. Let me give you the current financial situation and I will reveal my secret at the end.

Credit Cards

Done. Finito. Not hundred percent zero, but for credit score reasons, I’m maintaining a small balance each month so it will never be zero (or at least until my credit score is strong enough for me to be able to do so). I know, I’m giving away free money to interest, but a better credit score will allow me to get better loan terms in the future, so that’s where I will see savings.

Student Loan

 

I had hoped to be able to up my payment amount by now thanks to the CC debt being pretty much bye-bye, but that will be on the back burner until the second half of the year. Keep reading to learn why…

January Cash Challenge

 

 

Crap, that failed quickly. With the exceptionally cold winter, I had ZERO motivation to go to the ATM and withdraw cash. If you haven’t figured out yet, motivation is my number one hindrance in life. Now that the weather is better, I will try again. One reader recommended I try $50 a week. I *totally* wish I could do it, but gas alone is $40 a week. I have to eat well right now, so $10 a week isn’t going to cut it on food and let’s face it, eating healthy costs more money. I’m going to try $100 a week this month, and reduce to a lower amount next month if I’m successful.

Speaking of Food…

I am going to plant a small vegetable garden. I am just planting some herbs, lettuce and scallions, but we eat a lot of those, so I’m hoping to reap some financial benefit for paying a few dollars in seeds but getting fresh produce from my backyard that I would be paying a couple bucks a pop at the local grocery store.

Annoyed with all the pictures yet?

Here’s one more….

Yup, I’m pregnant! That isn’t my actual pregnancy test, (it, just like all the pictures I used for my post, was copied from a Google Image search. Thanks Google!) but it is what it looked like. How’s that for a little kink in the plans?? Very much planned, though I don’t think either of us expected it to happen so quickly. I knew two days after conception we had been successful, it was a waiting game until I could take the test to confirm. Then we wanted the first prenatal appointment to gain confidence in the viability, and then needed to spread the news. The first trimester is over and I entered my second the other day, so I am finally ready to come back out of hiding and reveal myself to you guys.

This has a lot of financial implications obviously. A lot. There are so many I could, and will, do a series on how I plan on confronting those costs that are associated with bringing a child into the world. The first will be about transportation, because my little car just won’t cut it anymore, hence why jacking up payments on my student loan won’t happen until later this year. Also why I need a good credit score for a loan.

I welcome comments on what I need to think about with a little one coming! I’m over the moon and can’t wait to be a mom. And, in general, I want to know how was everyone else’s first quarter?

**Note: I PROMISE this is not an April Fool’s Day joke. Joking about being pregnant is pretty poor taste as a friend pointed out in a social media post today. Everything I have written today is factual.**

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

…Nine days later :)

2013, in general terms, was a good year. I was reading through my posts from last year and what’s funny is I apparently had some crazy, stressful months in 2013, but now those seem so insignificant (and I can’t totally remember why they felt so stressful). Also, back in mid-June, I predicted I would pay off my credit card debt in 7 to 8 months.We are pretty close to that 7 month mark, and I was apparently correct.

CC1 is paid off. CC2 will hopefully be paid off in the next two to three weeks. At this point, I’m probably boring you all with the continued setbacks since I’m apparently all talk and no show. Buying furniture, painting, etc. for the new house adds up so no complete credit card payoff. But, more so than any other time I’ve said it, I actually believe it. It’s time to take myself seriously, and finally get it done.

Resolutions Monthly Challenges

We all have heard the stats regarding New Year’s Resolutions and how most ultimately fail. Instead of making resolutions regarding paying off debt and failing (like I usually do), I’m going to give myself monthly challenges.

So, for January, I’m starting simple. I’m going to go cash only on my spending for January. I’ll withdraw $100 a week, and when it’s gone at the end of that week, that’s it! No more spending until my next withdrawal. And if I underspend, extra goes to savings and reevaluate my monthly spending.

Did anyone make any money resolutions?

401k Decisions

Since I recently changed jobs, I have to make the decision as to what to do with my 401k earnings. Right now, it stands at approximately $1200. It’s not much, but it still could be what gives me a small boost up in the debt war.

If I were to request a check, they would automatically withhold 20% which would give me approximately $960 after that withholding (and possibly subject to more withholding later when I do my tax return). But, if I transfer it directly to my IRA (which I haven’t contributed to since I opened the account 7 years ago…), I would have no penalty of course.

It comes down to security now versus security for the future. That money will be worth a lot more when I retire in 40-45 years (I plan to work beyond the standard retirement age of 65 should health allow me) and contribute to some sound mind currently knowing that I am saving for my [distant] future. The interest earned on the IRA would be far greater than the interest paid on the credit card. But, flip side, there’s a lot to be said for taking it and paying off a credit card for the sake of sanity.

What would you do? It’s such a small amount that I’m struggling to decide what to do!

Quick Update!

It’s been a hectic past couple of weeks- we were packing, moving, and unpacking our new home!! Super excited, larger than our last home, the pets are enjoying it (for the most part), and we will have more space for our future family (no, not pregnant yet).

John ask for a quick update on CC2. The simple answer, John, is no, CC2 is not at zero yet. Because I get cash back, I used the credit card to pay for the movers. But, I get paycheck from both my old job and new job this week (get paid weekly with the new job, woot woot!), and I’ve barely spent any of the last paycheck, so I hope to have an affirmative answer to this by Friday! Also have a check from Ebates (just going to drop that referral link right here again) and have to deposit that. Only $20, but in this game every little bit counts.

After I get settled in, I’ll let you all know more about the move and how this changes the financial landscape and ability to pay my debts down going forward.

Hope you all have a happy week!

Ace in the Hole

My ace in the hole came through! I didn’t get as much cash as I expected, but I did get enough to pay off all but $300 of CC2!

That brings me to:

CC1: $1104

CC2: $300

And CC2 will probably be zero by the end of the week, after I’ve had a chance to balance the budget.

If I don’t have the entirety of my credit card debt paid off by December, then I’m doing something majorly wrong. I’ve barely spent money, I just pay, pay, pay as money rolls in to the credit cards, and soon I will be commanding a higher salary. I’ve also taken on some private lessons and I will be shortly leaving for a babysitting gig. These credit cards do not stand a chance! I just need to keep my focus, especially with the prospect of furnishing a house coming just around the corner. We are trying to come up with a plan on furnishing our home that won’t break the bank but still get nice, sturdy pieces that will last us a long time.

Another Website

Salt put me on to another website in the debt pay down realm- SaveUp. It easily linked to ALL of my accounts, no problem, within minutes. It also gives you credits for saving and paying down debt which you can use towards entering in for prizes (certificates of deposit, cash, jackpots, loan payments, vacations, etc.). I love the concept, it is already high on my list since it was so easy to link my accounts and if I actually do win some prizes, even better!

Why do I keep on endorsing these sites? Because as much as I like the idea of making a personal budget and forcing myself to spend in a certain way, it just doesn’t happen. These sites allow me to see EVERYTHING in one picture, so if you’re like me, you always need new tools to discover and help you in fighting your debt. Someday I’ll develop a true sense of self-discipline and create a beautiful spreadsheet of expenditures, but it hasn’t happened yet and until I do, I like these websites that help out!

 

And, by the way, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I suck!

I just have a bad habit of disappearing these recent months! I have a lot of good reasons though, I promise.

Quick Debt Profile for you:

CC1: $1076 and some change (it was at $600 until this morning when I had to buy a new laptop)

CC2: $4059 and some change

So, what’s been going on and why aren’t those numbers lower?

Well, like I said, I had to buy a new laptop. My old one is still working, but barely, and that just isn’t allowing me to do the things I need to do. So, before it really kicks the bucket, I wanted to get a new laptop so that I can have some time transferring files.

Another reason is because we have been feverishly trying to fix up our house. We had an amazingly awesome turn of luck and sold it without having to put it on the market! We still have some stuff to do, though, to bring it up to snuff for the buyer, so there has been a lot of buying paint and other supplies, paying contractors, etc., to meet the contingencies. Sooooo, this means the obvious.

We bought a house!

Bigger, better, will meet our needs, current and future, better than our current home. We are purchasing the house on husband’s name and using some of the equity of this house to make a down payment. We are using another portion of it to create an emergency fund, and the rest husband is using to buy a bigger car (no, I’m not pregnant).

With the selling and buying of a home, it threw our finances into sharp relief, so we really talked (and fought a bit) over my financial situation. Husband put his foot down and said I absolutely needed to find a better paying job so that I can help more with the household expenses. With reluctance because I have only been with my current job a little over a year, I searched.

And applied.

And got an interview.

And got a job.

A job that pays me around 11k more annually than my current job.

So, after a night’s sleep and a discussion with my office manager, I put in my notice and accepted the job. I start the same week we close on the new house.

Needless to say, the past month and a half have been me doing those little things to fix our current house and packing. The silver lining is that because we are moving, the only spending I’m doing (besides the laptop) is groceries and house fixes. Husband has been covering a vast majority of the latter, but I help where I can. Since we have had a few honest discussions about my debt, he is on board with me at least paying the credit cards off ASAP. The new job will help too since it’ll be an extra $300 a paycheck approximately. I expect CC1 debt paid off by the end of the year, CC2 hopefully by March. Oh, by the way, I finally called my credit card company and asked for reduced interest rates on both credit cards and was rewarded lower rates by 4% each. Not a ton, but still it will help!

ALSO, I have heard from my ace-in-the-hole. I don’t have much time left to act on it, but with transferring my responsibilities at my current job, I will have time to call this week and check on the current status and hopefully it will be resolved within the next two weeks, which would mean extra money to pay off the credit cards. Maybe even pay them off completely before my above projections. I just won’t hold my breath in case it doesn’t turn out the way I expect.

I hope you all understand. With two major life events happening so soon, I have been a bit distracted. Both have been a blessing though in so many ways that I’ve really had to focus on the finish line for both of them and neglect my blog. It’s been a big year, and I’ll keep you all updated as much as I can over the coming weeks. 2014 will hopefully be the year I can REALLY focus on that student loan, but for now it continues to go on the back burner.