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?

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August Check-In

Let’s get the big business out of the way:

CC1: $584.88

CC2: $4902.95

Student Loan (Just for the sake of reference): $75118.59

These are all as of August 1st.

Obviously, I had one slight decrease and one major increase. Upon discussion with my husband, there was something a little pricey he wanted me to buy for myself and that increase on CC2 is the result. I had to take the opportunity to buy it while the market on such things had cooled down and I made sure I was getting the best price possible. I had paid down CC1 a bit, but an event and one other small purchase negated some of that pay down.

But, like I had mentioned previously, August is a three paycheck month. I WILL be paying off CC1 and CC2 will be brought back down easily barring any disasters (knock on wood). I did get my raise, but it’s only an additional $1 per hour, so while I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get a better raise, I can’t complain too much because at least it’s something. And my health insurance is officially canceled, so if I don’t defer more money on my 401(k), I will be making approximately $990 per paycheck. I do plan on increasing my 401(k) contribution from 3% to 5% though in September after I get back to my part-time job, so I’ll expect around $975 per paycheck.

There is one other possibility afoot. If I don’t hear anything by the end of the week, I’ll expect she didn’t get it again, but I sent my ace-in-the-hole further information she is requiring and if I don’t hear anything by Friday, I’ll call to check if she got it. If I get as much as I’m hoping/expecting, if anything, credit card debt will be GONE. Even if I don’t get as much, it will go directly to the debt regardless. I’m hoping it will be finally resolved by the end of August, not just for the money but other personal reasons as well (if you can’t tell, I try to run this blog with some degree of anonymity, so I won’t get into specifics here).

 

The Goals

The financial goals for August are as follows:

  1. Payoff CC1
  2. Get CC2 down to $4k
  3. Just pay the ICR amount ($300) to the student loan.

What are your financial goals this month?

 

Requested Wedding Budget

A reader requested a breakdown of what we ended up spending on the wedding. I’m going to get that into the works soon, and I going to approach it in such a way to give you an idea of the distorted reality people have about the costs of such an event. I also have two post-wedding associated “things” I need to do first before I can put it together. I feel they are pertinent, often overlooked expenses that are in fact associated with weddings and should be on the final budget, so it may be a few more weeks before I can get it to you, but I will, I promise!

Well, it’s Saturday morning. I already managed not to do one thing this morning, so I need to get crackin’!

Taxes, Habits and Savings

I wish I could say January was a great month. It was, in fact, a very strange and off month, and I know many of my friends had a very weird and off month as well. Maybe it’s this absolutely wacky weather we are having in our neck of the woods that is throwing everything off, but I really can’t wait for things to even out!!

Taxes

If you’ve been paying attention to politics lately, you should be aware that they let some of our tax breaks expire and hiked up the withholding on Social Security. If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, hopefully you’ve at least been paying attention to your paycheck and have probably noticed more than just a couple of cents less per paycheck since this has happened. I really thought it wouldn’t be that bad, but for my part-time job where I earn around $180 a paycheck, I have noticed more than $20 less a paycheck! Un-flipping real! I can’t really say how significant the hit has been to my full-time job yet due to sick days and what not, but I’ll have a better idea tomorrow. Obviously, someone on Capital Hill didn’t get the memo about how the economy is doing lately and that taking such a big chunk of many of our paychecks won’t help matters any. I have a lot more feelings about this, but I’ll leave at WOW, HAVING LESS MONEY PER PAYCHECK HURTS (and makes it harder for me to reach my financial goals)!!!

Habits and Savings

I have, I believe, managed to change some of my spending habits. I have taken the primary spending categories- food, gas, cell phone and car insurance- and capped myself out at $500 a month and have managed to successfully do that in January without feeling deprived. I had started to move towards this in November and December, but this month was when I realized that I needed to make it work and make it work I have! Basically, I take the $500 and subtract my cell phone bill amount and my car insurance amount. Whatever is left over, that is my food and gas money and gets transferred from the bank I have my checks direct deposited to into my other bank (I have two banks, first I was just going to switch, then the whole financial melt down thing happened and I like having my eggs in a couple of baskets now). I now plan my food spending well so as to minimize wasting money and wasting food- when I go to the market, I think about what I can make for dinner and eat as left overs the next day for lunch, and that is what I buy for the week. I find this plan has served me well so far.

Also, to start building up my savings more, I have $25 from the food and gas allowance automatically transferred into savings at the beginning of the month so that I don’t even think about it. If I am good and careful, I hopefully have a few dollars left at the end of the month that can also be switched over to savings as well. Of course, today is the end of the month, and I do have some money left, just sigh of $20, but my February allowance doesn’t transfer over until Monday and I do need gas in my car. I will re-evaluate the bank account on Monday!

 

The main takeaway is this: sometimes, things happen that lower our income or change our circumstances. But with careful planning and a stick-to-it attitude, you can better your financial situation.

Wedding Planning Update

I was specifically asked to talk about my wedding, and though I did talk about it once, I’ll give you guys an update and information about the small details.

The General Details

We will be having an outdoor ceremony at what is a nice time of year in our area. It starts to get a little humid around the beginning of June, but it isn’t too bad. No bridesmaids or groomsmen- it’ll just be me, him and the officiant up at the alter. My nieces and nephews will act as the flower girls and ring bearers. Hot pink and black are the wedding colors, the reception will be in the main manor home on the same property as the garden and it has a lot of vintage character, just how I like it. (Part of the reason I decided it was the right place was because they have an old-Hollywood glamour vanity in the bridal dressing room, soooo me.)

Dollars and Cents

I’m not being stupid about how I spend my money on this wedding. I found my photog and DJ via Craigslist. Actually, the photog is a funny story….

A couple of years ago, I posted a request on Craigslist for a photographer to come out and do some holiday shots of my fiance (then just a boyfriend), myself, and our pets. This guy replied and said he would do it Trade for CD (TFCD) which basically means he’ll take the pictures, edit how he likes and we get the CD, but they can do whatever they wish with the pictures, including using them for promotional purposes. The pictures he took were great, and we were very pleased with the product- he’s a phenomenal photographer. Well, when we got engaged, I really wanted to hire him to do our photos. One catch- his base package is $2500!!

So, over time, I had posted ads on Craigslist, hoping to find gold again. We had one guy, but I sat on my hands too long and lost him. So, I kept on posting. Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I post one last ditch ad before I went for a photographer that was more than what I wanted to pay, but still was within my allowable budget. I start getting replies to my CL ad when low and behold, my photog from a couple of years ago replies. Not just replies, but is willing to do our wedding for approximately 75-80% off his normal price! I punched my fiance I soon as I saw the email, and when he turned and gave me a puzzled look, I told him about the ad and who replied. His face immediately turned to relief and said “SOLD!” We talked to him the next night, and now I just have to send off the deposit. I was so relieved, that my immune system tanked the next day and I was sick for a week.

The DJ was also found via CL. No fun story there, but we met him today, him and my fiance got on beautifully and we were sold. He will cost less than half of what most wedding DJ’s normally charge.

A friendly acquaintance has offered to do the boutonnieres, corsages and my bouquet for free, I just have to provide the flowers (I can get 100 roses from Costco for $80). I’ll make sure the photographer gets her some nice photographs to “pay” for her help, she’ll also probably be my best friend’s “date” since my best friend’s husband won’t be able to make it. The centerpieces are just going to be vases filled with [fake] rose petals, filled with water and a floating candle. I bought 5 bags of the petals for $10, I can get the vases from Michael’s for $5, but I’ll use their coupons to save more money. And to give it a little more depth, I’ll get plain mirrors from the dollar store. My plan after is to sell the stuff to recoup some of the cost (and in general, I don’t need 10 vases and mirrors!).

A friend, who’s a chef, convinced his boss to shave over $4K off their price tag for catering. Always helps to have friends in high places. We will also buy our own alcohol to save moolah. The cake and cupcakes will probably total $400-$500, standard price, I actually don’t know how we could possibly save on that outside of myself or a friend making them (which I honestly don’t want to do, we live near a famous cupcakery so we want to treat ourselves on this).

I bought the save-the-dates and invitations on Vistaprint, which again is waaaaaaaaaaay less than your standard stationary shop. The save-the-dates and invitations are beautiful. I will jazz up the invites though with some cardstock and ribbon to make them look like those expensive stationary store invites.

The Bottom Line

Apparently, weddings cost on average over $27,000. When all is said and done, ours will probably come out to about $12-13,000 (not including honeymoon costs). We wanted a traditional wedding, and let’s face it, that costs money. But, utilizing what resources are available to you and doing your research you can save a lot of cash.

Paycheck Peeves

I debated writing this post, it really is just a rant, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want!

How would you react if not one, not two, but THREE jobs messed up your paycheck(s)???

Well, it’s happened to me!

I have been checking my bank account since last Friday to see if my part-time job had paid me yet. Friday, no paycheck. Monday, no paycheck. Figuring the holidays were screwing everything up, I checked again today and still NO paycheck had been direct deposited. I’m just thinking to myself, WTF? I went in today, and sure enough, my boss hadn’t submitted my time sheet before the holidays. Those hours won’t be paid until the 15th of this month.

😡

Then, this coming Friday I’m supposed to get paid at my full-time job. I was checking my time sheet (it’s all virtual) and sure damn enough, the office manager did not use any of my vacation hours to pay for the extra day off I took last week.

😡 x2!

AND, finally, I subbed for my friend’s pole studio at the beginning of December, and I have yet to receive a confirmation email that she had processed payment for me, like she normally does.

😡 x3!!!

I understand the holidays are stressful, and things get overlooked, BUT DUDE, ALL THREE JOBS?!? It’s mainly aggravating not because I *need* the money, but I *want* the money so that I can plan appropriately for my debt payoff. I like planning… I like it a lot. If I don’t know how much my paycheck will be or when I’m getting it, it completely throws off my ability to plan.

I also got a new medical bill today. Only $131.55, but still just the cherry to top off my annoying day!

I hope your 2013’s are off to a better, smoother financial start!

I Peeked….

I finally looked at CC2 the other day…

Not only did my spending the past month negate what I paid off on CC1 last month, it exceeded it by a few hundred dollars. After some quick scrambling, it’s down to $3200 even. I could have paid more, but I held back a bit because new kitten needs her shots and I need to get a couple more Christmas gifts. I want to do as much of that as I can with one of my debit cards, so I needed to leave some money in the account.

See, I’m trying to be a little responsible here!

Obviously, it changes the landscape of the debt payoff a bit. I was originally hoping to have everything paid off by April if I were conservative in my estimates. Now we are looking at June, if I’m not aggressive, though I am not sure how much more aggressive I can be- going into January, I’ll easily be paying $1200-$1400 a month on my debts, which is approximately 63-73% of my income.

The landscape currently is CC2- $3200 and Cosmetic Loan- $3450ish, but I just paid $550 (I don’t have online access to this, so I can’t say how much that has actually shaved off once interest has been accounted for), so we’re looking at roughly $6100-$6650 owed on those two debts. My $1200-$1400 in payments include my student loan payment, which I had hoped to up come January, but will keep at $250 for now, so when it comes to the other two debts, I’m really only paying $950-$1150 a month. AND I still have a wedding to pay for and a house to fix….

It’s a little bit discouraging. Yes, my ace in the hole could prove a huge benefit if I just made a simple phone call, but that’s only if I get what I want, which there’s always the chance that I won’t. But I also don’t want to rely on it either, no matter how much or little I may get. I need to learn how to budget smartly and effectively, learn to use more constructive means of dealing with stress (instead of shopping…) and do things without the help of others.

Once I get more details of my wedding planned and I’m able to balance life and work a bit better, I’ll reopen the question of extra income again. I babysat for that friend and made some money, which is great, but I really just don’t have the time and energy right now. I missed some chances to earn cash doing market research earlier this month, so hopefully more opportunities will come along again, sooner rather than later. I’ll continue to plan and pursue, but yet again, I’ve hit a wall.

Time for a Blog? Me?!?

I know, I know. I’m a week overdue for my December Debt Picture.

Past two weeks have been insanely busy, stressful and I was battling the un-flu last week as well. It’s been hard to want to do what I need to do.

And, honestly, this month’s picture isn’t super pretty.

I really have not wanted to look at my debt. I HAVE paid off CC1 minus $13 on interest from last month’s balance, but there was a glitch with the cosmetic loan and my monthly payment was not paid. CC2 is probably way up too thanks to new kitty bills, Christmas gifts, and I have to admit, I might have been stress shopping some. So, what I paid off on CC1 is probably null when I factor in CC2 [over]use.

Awesome Things Have Started to Take Shape

Last month, I did a small experiment. I put $300 in one of my checking accounts, and used that debit card to pay for my gas and food and small extras. I used it all, and then had to use my other debit card for one more gas tank fill (approximately $44). This month I put in $350. Hopefully that will get me to the end of the month, and if that does it means I have successfully shaved $50 off my monthly livings expenses.

One of the those small extras was a weekly automatic $5 transfer from checkings to savings. I really want to build up my savings account more, like I’ve discussed before, and I figure an easy, small weekly transfer won’t be missed and will help me build up my savings some. I will continue this, and as things get paid off I’ll be able to increase that amount.

I also sold some stuff on eBay! A Coach purse, some Harry Potter stuff (yes, I’m that kind of nerd) and I’m working on selling some music boxes now. I tried selling one of my music boxes, but no one bought it so I will try again. But, I’ve sold three things and after shipping expenses, I’ll have netted around $50, so I can’t complain- every little bit helps. Less clutter too (thank God- I watch “Hoarders” and start freaking out about all this crap I own, so less muss, less fuss).

I tried getting any babysitting gigs I could via Craigslist, but it didn’t work (got one nibble, but that person needed a weekday babysitter). A friend, however, needs me to babysit her kids one night and I’ll do that for a little extra cash.

Finally, remember that ace in the hole? Well, there is a certain medical aspect to it, and I discussed it with my doctor. I think I’m ready to call the ace in the hole and get it dealt with, so I’m not counting a December debt kill down and out yet.

I may or may not post the picture for this month, I’m still trying to gain the courage to look at how much damage has been done to the one credit card. Stay tuned…