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.

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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!

Decisions, Decisions

On Wednesday, I got an email from CC2 issuer stating I had a document available to be read online. I go ahead, login to my account and notice immediately that my available credit is way higher than it’s supposed to be. It dawns on me while I retrieve the document- they increased my credit limit.

I have a love/hate relationship with automatic credit limit increases. I hate them because they are what got me into trouble with money when I was younger. But, at the same time, especially now that I’m becoming a more financially responsible adult, it’s nice to have some extra space on my credit card should catastrophe strike.

All that extra space got me to thinking “hmmm, I could pay off my cosmetic loan with it and save on interest….”

BUT….

I’ve never really discussed this before, but I’m obsessed with my credit score. I check creditkarma.com everyday to see what I my score is; it rarely changes, but one of these days it will be really awesome. If you’ve never heard of or tried creditkarma.com, I fully endorse it. Free service, let’s you know changes to your credit score and what it is that’s affecting the score, so by extension you’ll learn changes to your credit report as well. One determinant of your credit score is credit utilization, or the percentage that you’re using your available credit (total credit debt divided by total credit limits equals credit utilization percent). Thanks to this limit increase, my credit score should go up a few points.

If I were to pay off my cosmetic using my credit card, it would send my credit utilization percentage back up, thus bringing my score back down. Granted, it isn’t a big change, but the thought kills me! And it also makes me a little uncomfortable to take up so much room on the credit card.

What would you do? Pay off the cosmetic loan and save money in the long run? Or keep proceeding as normal?

October Debt Analysis

Going into September, I was looking at a total of $7715.48 in debt with the medical bill, CC1, CC2 and the cosmetic loan.

This it what that spreadsheet looks like now!

Medical bill=Gone!

Credit Cards= One lower, one higher, but the higher portion is the part my employer owes me from business travel.

Cosmetic Loan=Lower! (well, it’s a loan, it can’t go up)

I am down a total of $901.69 from September, even though I paid 1150.17, the difference between the two being the amount I’m up on CC2 from the business trip, which I haven’t been reimbursed for yet, and the little extra I had in the bank. If I hadn’t had the extra money in the bank to pay off the medical bill, I would have only paid around $850 total to the debt, so despite the slight downside, I still did well and will see an extra upside next month once I’m reimbursed.

In October I will start seeing the revenue from teaching dance roll in, so it should continue to help speed up the process. I will project that CC1 will definitely be paid off in November. I’m not so enthusiastic that the other two will be paid off by Christmas unless that ace in the hole or a small miracle happens.

Holidays

As I’m carving out this path, one thing I have to consider is the holidays that are just around the corner. I’ve made a basic budget that shouldn’t exceed $250. My fiance’s gifts gets the bulk of that share, while my nieces and nephews will get a small portion each. At least two, if not three or four of my nieces and nephews will get cash wrapped up in fun ways (thanks for the ideas Pinterest!) and the youngest will definitely be getting a toy or books. I’m choosing money because they all have a bunch of toys and clothes, and they are at or getting to that age where they understand, appreciate and should be learning to properly use money. It’s the teacher in me, most of my gifts have an educational value. I feel a little guilty not spending more on them, but they will each get big gifts for being ring bearers and flower girls at my wedding, so that will be worked into the wedding budget.

Now, of course, the question is where is that money coming from? I hate to say it, but I may need to look to babysitting a few nights to make some of the money. I might try to do a couple of days where I watch a bunch of kids at once so people can go holiday shopping. Problem? Space. I don’t have it in my house, so I’ll have to talk to some friends to see if they are willing to sacrifice their space and time to execute the idea and doing that will cut into the profit margin. I had also thought about taking a holiday job, but I don’t think I have it in me to commit to a job a few nights a week for 6-8 weeks. I’ll talk about the why in the next section a bit more. I’ll also look to see if there are sacrifices in my budget that can be made or if I can do some extreme couponing over the next few months. We’ll label this problem “a work in progress.”

Sorry, Joe, I like giving gifts too much to just not do it.

Exhaustion

I am absolutely stinkin’ exhausted. Not with this whole debt battle, but mentally with the new job. It is definitely sending me home ready to just crash into my bed some days. The quality of this fatigue is definitely a lot different than the fatigue I felt with my old job which was more of a physical exhaustion. I just need to get used to it, I think. I also need to tweak my diet to adjust to sitting at a desk most of the day. I used to be on my feet and coaching/exercising with patients at my old job so burning calories and eating junk food wasn’t as big of a deal and still have energy to burn. Now I’m definitely showing the physical signs (bigger belly) of a desk job after only a month, not to mention junk food probably just makes me more exhausted, so if I changed that, it may improve my energy.

Because of the exhaustion, it’s really hard for me to consider getting a seasonal job, which I had been considering for the past few weeks prior to the exhaustion starting to set in. Even considering the babysitting idea again makes my head swim. However, if I’m going to at least be mostly successful with my goal, I need to look at those alternative methods of making money, pursue them and get over my exhaustion. Right now, it’s a mental block I have to break through and hopefully I can break it sooner than later. Let’s see what happens mid-October once I start getting into the groove of my current schedule. At that point, I’ll have a better picture of how I’m reacting to the fatigue and if taking on more tasks is doable.

One Down!

Yesterday, I paid off the medical bill! Wahoo!!!!!!!!! It was definitely an exciting moment. I didn’t necessarily like paying so much money of course, but at least it’s one less bill I have to think about, one less debt that needs to be repaid. I have also made September’s payments on the other three, so we’re down to about $6825 approximately. That will be about $175 lower next week once I am reimbursed for my business travel expenses.

Overall, I have shaved around $900 off of my debt already, and if I hadn’t used my CC2 to pay for my business trip expenses, it would be over a $1000. Not too shabby, but still, exactly like targeted so I still need to find ways to shave money off my budget and make more money.

Ideas

Until the other day, I had forgotten about a website I had joined over a year ago. It brought in around $500 for me the past year, and it’s so simple to do. Market research participant! Basically, I get sent a screening email every couple of months asking me questions regarding certain topics. The people who need the participants screen that initial email and then call to set up a time for you to come in and participate in the actual research study. They ask questions, I answer, and off I go with a check for $100+ in hand. A couple of times I was invited to participate, showed up and then they didn’t need me, but they still paid me the money because I went and was available. I got a screening email the other day, but I haven’t heard if I was chosen for participation yet. I think today I’ll look into joining more market research companies lists.

I still haven’t pursued private dance instruction, but I think I need to start teaching my regular classes before I pursue the idea any further. I have enough on my plate as it is without adding burn out to the mix. As great as debt payoff and the reduced stress from doing that is, I know I’ll be more stressed if I over-extend myself so I will be treading lightly. I guess I am relying on that ace in the hole to deliver, but I need to actually do my part to get it to come through.

Other Good Things

As it turns out, I am already being given benefits at my new job! I don’t know if my health insurance will kick in sooner rather than later though (which of course I’m hoping for sooner so that I can ditch my expensive premium). I am at least accruing vacation and sick leave and was paid for the holiday last week, which I definitely was not expecting to happen so it was a nice bonus to see in my paycheck yesterday. This actually puts my mind at great ease because it’ll mean that by the time my wedding rolls around, I hopefully will have enough time accrued to cover all the days off I’ll need.
Hope everyone else is having a great week! I’m looking forward to many more exciting ones to come as I pay off my debt! 🙂