Life

Sorry I haven’t been around much! Life is busy. I leave at 7:30 every weekday morning, return home 7 pm or later Mondays-Thursdays and after 5 pm on Fridays, and I am so wiped by the weekend that I don’t feel like doing much beyond Krav Maga, watching TV and playing with the pets. That doesn’t mean I’m not taking care of my finances, I do still take care of them [mostly]. But, because I haven’t been writing on my blog much, I don’t have myself and you, my audience, keeping me accountable as much as I need. I let little purchases slip through the cracks more often than I did even a few weeks ago. I suspect it has a lot to do with my not getting much sleep this month, adds to my everyday apathy (of all the adjectives that were used to describe me growing up, my family used “apathetic” the most.).

I did take one major step for my financial freedom. I contacted my ace-in-the-hole and as of yesterday have sent them what they need to make some financial determinations. I suspect I will hear from them within a few days. My biggest fear is I won’t get as much money as I’m expecting/hoping, that they’ll find a reason to negate everything. So, please say a little prayer that your pal, me, gets what I am hoping to get. And, for those of you who are salivating to know what this ace-in-the-hole is, I have decided to remain silent as to the full crux of the situation even after it’s resolved. You can blame my job, it has me pretty jaded and not wanting to give anyone any ideas.

I also did my taxes earlier this month. Got my refund last week, and every single penny is going to the wedding. Sorry, thought I would put it toward the debt??? Can’t, I’m trying to prevent future debt and have to pay many of my vendors by check, so I have to make sure I have the money to pay them!

I do believe paying off the cosmetic loan WILL happen in March. I did my naughty spending the last few weekends (an impromptu date night with a girlfriend, a night out with some other friends, some new tops and a facial I got on special) and have resolved that that’s it, full speed ahead! CC2 may be another story because I have put some wedding purchases on it such as the invites and favors as well as some medical expenses. But, again, pray that the ace-in-the-hole comes through and that I can pay off CC2 sooner rather than later!

I hope you all are doing well dear readers! Don’t forget to do your taxes- the sooner you file, the sooner you get your refund (if you get one)!

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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…

Websites for Your Visiting Pleasure

I apparently have a lot of things to say today! I have been thinking about doing this post for a while, so time is ripe!

Great Websites to Visit and/or Sign up for (all free)!

Finaid.org: I can’t start this list without the big kid on campus when it comes to learning about student loans. Educate yourself before you educate yourself.

Debt Payoff Calculator: Visit this site to calculate what you need to do to pay off your debts

Credit Karma: Great website to track your credit score. This is a great motivator to get yourself to payoff debts.

Credit.org: This will direct you to their Educational Guides. Now, this company’s main product is a Debt Management Program, but I just want you to read the educational guides. They provide great advice.

Annual Credit Report: Get your annual credit report to make sure that everything is accurate and that you haven’t been the victim of identity theft over the past year. Don’t sign up for the sites that require you to “try” their credit monitoring and that crap- those are scams to take your money.

Envelope Budgeting Technique: Interesting way to do the envelope system. Her blog in general has a lot of frugal tips.

Pinterest: If you haven’t used Pinterest yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Why include it on this list? There are a lot of great ideas on there that will help you learn how to make your own stuff that will help you save money. For example: I normally pay $6 for eye makeup remover that lasts a month, trying a recipe that cost $6 to make that should last me WELL over a year. That’s just one thing in hundreds that I’ve pinned that has saved me money. It’s also how I found the previous link.

One from a reader: Bill Shrink: Helps you find ways to save money on common expenditures and utilities.

I hope you find these websites helpful. If you have anymore that you like to frequent that has helped you with personal finance, please say so in the comments!

**Disclaimer: I was not nor have I ever been paid by any of those websites. Those websites are my own finds and are only as good as I think they are. Use at your own risk as using any site that collects data is a risk!**

I’m a Sucker

It finally happened- I have another cat! After years and years of my pining over the cute kittens at the local Petsmart, fiance saw one he liked enough to say “Okay, you can have another cat.” So, as of today, she lives with us!

What has this to do with my budget?

Well, there’s the adoption fee, the cost of feeding another mouth and the vet fees. As long as she’s healthy like my other cat, she shouldn’t be too expensive. I don’t have to worry about most of her shots and spaying, they’ve all been done, and that takes a huge burden of money off my shoulders.

But, of course, this money has to come out of something for now.

I had decided to just pay what I had budgeted on CC1 and didn’t add anything extra to the payment despite having a little bit of extra cash in the bank. I had actually decided to do this a few days before the possibility of adopting the kitten even came about. But, having the extra money in the bank allowed me to adopt her. So, there you have it. I continue on my steady path, with no hopes of early payoffs.

Comfortable

At this point, I have to say I’m comfortable. Yes, I wanted to get out of debt and quickly, but right now I’m comfortable with the pace I’m doing it at, hence why I didn’t invest more money into paying off the debt this month. Perhaps after the new year I’ll feel reinvigorated- I had wanted to bump up my student loan payments starting in January- but for now, the way I’m doing things is working for me. I know CC1 will definitely be paid off in December, CC2 and cosmetic loan…?

Other Hopes

Supposedly, the people at my new job received a decent bonus last year. However, with hiring two new doctors as well as yours truly, they aren’t expecting much this year. But, goodness only knows I’ve been working my butt off doing A/R’s and managed to bring in a few thousand dollars within a couple of days. I’m still hoping for a decent enough of a bonus to pay for Christmas gifts. Fiance and I agreed to a fairly modest Christmas budget for each other, so it helps to not feel so guilty and spending more because of that guilt.

I really need to clean up the rest of my house and get rid of things, so this time, for real, I’m going to post stuff on eBay. I have four uninterrupted days next weekend to get things done, I may as well take advantage of the fact and post stuff up. Also, a friend posted a pin on Pinterest regarding how to make extra money for the holidays. When I went to the link, the blog had 31 different ideas, so I think I’ll be implementing the first one I read, trading in stuff to Amazon for credit. I could use the credit to buy things for my nieces and nephews if I decide to not go the cash route with them. I don’t have high hopes for either method, but it has a double benefit of putting a little bit of cash in my pocket and getting rid of things.

In fact, I think I’ll sign off this post now and try that Amazon thing!

Reading Up on the World of Personal Finance

I think one of the best weapons I can put in my arsenal to fight my debt is to educate myself on the different methods of tackling debt and creating a smart personal finance plan. Of course I started off with No More Havard Debt, but last night I read up on some of Dave Ramsey’s methods and today I was reading Frugal Dad because I felt skeptical about some of Ramsey’s baby steps.

Of course, I have mentioned how I have somewhat adopted Dave Ramsey’s cash envelope system. I was reading his baby steps methods last night and went to bed thinking about them and how they would actually work in my life. I definitely agree with baby step 1, which is to build an emergency fund of $1000, something I need to do. But, if you lived where I live, you would know two things: one, 1k would barely cover half of your (comparative to others modest) mortgage, and two, the drivers in this area require you to always have your insurance deductible readily at hand. So, if I and my fiance were to suddenly lose our jobs and I and/or him were to hit someone (or someone hit me, which has already happened twice in 8 months….), we’d be up a certain creek in a matter of days. I personally agree with what most people say, which is to build 3-6 months of back-up money. But, considering my current financial situation, I’ll build up the 1k and go from there. Hopefully by the time my wedding rolls around, I’ll have a better egg laid, but as Dave Ramsey puts it, “Baby steps.” Ramsey goes onto six consecutive baby steps to eliminating debt and building wealth. Right now, the journey for me is eliminating debt, I will worry about building wealth some other time.

Frugal Dad is an interesting read on Dave Ramsey’s steps. His main point in the post I read is that you can’t just blindly follow some “guru’s” advice because everyone says it works for them. You have to develop your own method of tackling debt and building wealth. I’m more inclined toward the Frugal Dad’s baby steps order (which of course were inspired from Ramsey’s). Frugal Dad is just a great website period, I recommend it for people who need ideas and information regarding personal finance.

Also, I like to look up financial planning and money tracking ideas on Pinterest. I found a pin from The Nest Effect that included ideas on how to create a personal finance folder. She created templates for different items, and I’m admittedly scamming off her ideas! I started creating templates last night to create a personal home management journal, because while her templates are cute and super appealing to me, they cost money to buy from her and I’m perfectly capable of opening my word processing program and making some myself for the cost of my personal time. Heck, if I can make them look nice and pretty, and think of original titles so that I’m not sued, I’ll put them up for free! Help ourselves to better help others. Or, I’ll try to find some printables somewhere else online that are free, at which point I’ll link them.

I plan on continuing to read up on personal finance and debt management while I continue on this quest to hopefully expedite the process some. I have no great words wisdom or earth shattering ideas that will eliminate my debt in a matter of months, but like all things in life, it will come with time and patience.