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’!

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Calculations, More Websites and Other Stuff

On my July 13th post, I discussed the capitalized interest on my student loans and asked you all to comment on how you would approach the dilemma. In a very thoughtful reply, Matt pointed out considering the interest to be paid out. I’ve decided to not worry about the capitalized interest- I’d rather focus on the two immediate problems, CC1 and CC2, and decide how to best approach paying those off. I have approximately $500 left to pay on CC1, and $4500 to pay to CC2 (I already paid for the upcoming August due date). Taking into consideration Matt’s suggestions, I went to the calculator my bank website has and did a little number crunching. On my next paycheck, I will be able to most definitively afford to pay $500 to a credit card. Using the calculator, I figured out that I would barely save anything in interest. So, that $500 (plus approximately $6 in interest) will go to CC1 so that I can check that one off the list. Then maybe I need to seriously consider freezing CC1…

More Websites

I enjoy checking out different financial websites and seeing what they have to offer. Here are two that I recently checked out:

Saltmoney.org– This website is really targeted for the still in school/just graduated from school crowd with student debt. It gives nice lessons on budgeting, understanding debt, loans and other financial products and you can import your student loan information to get their advice on how to make the best payments for quickest payoff within reason of your income. If this had existed 8-9 years ago, maybe I would have made smarter choices about how to approach the student loan world. Where I’m at these days, it is not particularly suited to what I have to deal with financially, but for my younger readers out there, check it out.

Readyforzero.com– This is a bit more suited for the older peeps in my audience. You can link your bank accounts, credit cards and loans and see all your cash flow and debts in one place. It gives you advice on which debt to tackle first (they go by the highest interest rate first, I kind of wish they gave you a choice between that and snowball) and how long it will take to pay off the loan based on how much money you are willing to put towards your debts and takes into account minimum payments on debts. It’s a bit glitchy- it’s a crap shoot if it’s going to connect to your account or not, I’m especially having trouble with it connecting to my student loan website, but all in all I think I like it the best of all the ones I have tried (cleanest and simplest interface).

**Again, I don’t get squat for saying anything about these websites

Other Stuff

I was banking on my health insurance being canceled by next paycheck. But I’m worried that a stupid loophole may mean I’m paying for insurance I’m not using for another few months until the next enrollment period. Apparently I have 30 days from the qualifying event to cancel my insurance. Well, we are at 53 days since my wedding, the HR lady is out so she hasn’t submitted all my completed paperwork and hopefully I have the correct paperwork to boot (proof of new insurance, etc.). I’m hoping I can say that my going on husband’s insurance starting next month can count as the qualifying event as opposed to the marriage. Fingers crossed, because I’m banking on that extra $200 a month to help with the debts!

Speaking of health insurance, I have some words of advice. ALWAYS CHECK TO SEE HOW MUCH OF THE RETAIL PRICE YOU’VE BEEN PAYING ON PRESCRIPTIONS. I recently learned that I’ve been paying full retail price on a monthly medication I take. I pay so little that I didn’t think much about it, but then the guy who was ringing me up pointed it out this past round. Over the long haul, we are talking around $140 on this. Once I’ve gathered documentation, I’ll be submitting the claims to my insurance, but I’m hoping to make at least some of what I shelled out back. I am about to submit another claim since my eye doctor has decided to charge me every year for contact fittings and won’t submit to insurance on my behalf, so I’m sure the insurance company is going to love me over the next several weeks! Being that I’ve fought with a few insurance companies in my day job to get payment on bills, I sure both will be a fight, but if you fight enough and have supporting documentation (ICD-9 codes, etc.), you will get reimbursed for some or all of your claims.

Finances, a fight to stay afloat!

“I wonder if I ask for a raise, will I receive one…?”

I wrote that line in a blog post just 9 days ago.

I also speak often how I need my income to increase to help with paying off debt.

Today, I walked into my boss’ office to discuss one thing, and ended discussing some administrative issues we are encountering with the staff. I was kind of put off yesterday by the fact there were ten of us in the office, and barely anyone had work to do. The front office ladies were working on some mundane busy work, but that’s only 3 of them. The 7 of us who were left had nothing to do, and in any other job I had worked at, that either meant find work to do or go home (which I did yesterday), something that is not practiced in this office but should be to try to instill some work ethic. After I suggested that we start sending people home on quiet days such as yesterday and maybe it will make the scheduling ladies a bit more cognizant of how they are scheduling, my boss agrees and tosses in that she had meant to do it this pay period, but I’m way overdue for a raise and that she was going to retroactively date it to July 1st (so I’ll get an additional check in a week or two).

WHAT THE FLIPPER?!?

I was stunned. I had been hearing since last Christmas how no one has had a raise in ages. I suspect a person or two probably had gotten one, and the ones who hadn’t weren’t working hard to prove their worth. But, since so many hadn’t been given raises (one woman has been there four years and has never received a raise…), I just assumed that I would be in that majority. I started to fume recently that all I do is work my ass off, take on more and more responsibility without blinking an eye and get nothing in return. I created a new, married name email address Sunday, busted open Word Monday night to create a new resume and started scoping out jobs I wanted to apply to (one really caught my eye, I may apply *just to see* if they might have a nibble of interest in me) after an especially angering day last Friday. So, when she made this declaration today, all I could do was mumble my appreciation and thank yous since I truly wasn’t expecting it and was starting to pave the road to get out of there. The latter is still possible, but the sense of urgency has decreased (mainly because I feel guilty leaving someone after they give me a raise and feel a sense of obligation to do right by them).

I don’t know how large the raise is- I am an hourly employee and my boss works in dollars, so I’m confident it’s at least a $1/hour raise, but naturally I’m hoping it’s better than that. It’s better than nothing though, so I’ll take it! And it’s at least another $100 per month to paying off my debt!

$1639.23

That is the amount to be capitalized to my student loan.

Image

Ugh, right? Now I’ll have even more interest accrue once it’s capitalized at the end of the month.

And, despite a post I made earlier this year, that monthly payment reversion on my ICR to over $500 a month was temporary. I had thought they had accessed my tax return and upped the price automatically, but it turns out I needed to submit my return, some paperwork and basically re-up my ICR for another year. Starting next month, my monthly payment is approximately $292 a month. But, this does not cover the amount of interest calculated monthly.

I have a couple of decisions to make here though. If I just pay around $300 a month, that will free up another $225 a month to put towards the credit cards. And once those are paid off, I can re-evaluate how much month I want to pay toward my student loan monthly. OR, once the interest is capitalized, I can re-figure how much interest my student loan accrues monthly, pay above that amount so that I can start making a dent into that principle and make sure I have no more letters like that telling me I have even more money to pay. If I were to go with option one, I would be done paying off the credit cards by November if I take into account teaching dance again in September. If I go option two, I’m looking at probably paying off the credit cards in January. Option one would also allow some leeway at Christmas time and once the new year starts, I could start more aggressively paying my student loan. Option two, the more aggressive payments would be held off for another month or two.

I don’t have much audience participation on my blog, but I would love to know your thoughts on what you would do. Are you like me and go for the immediate gratification of paying off the credit cards as quickly as possible, or start trying to kill the principle on the student loan now and go for the longer credit card pay off?

July Check-In

As life returns to normal, I can finally start to catch up on the important things, like asking my audience to help keep me accountable with my finances. After interest was added, here is what my accounts are looking like:

Credit Card One: $1518.96

Credit Card Two: $4850.52

Student Loan, Outstanding Balance (as of 7/1/13, it increases daily!): $74,714.46

Let’s say I give myself 6 months to pay off my credit cards. Thanks to the calculator on my banks website, I was able to figure exactly how much I would need to pay on each to pay them off.

CC1: $260.90/month

CC2: $862.52/month

TOTAL: $1123.42

With the $775 I know I can definitely put toward the credit cards, that leaves a little bit of a gap to close, a $348.42 gap to be exact. Once I’m back to teaching dance again in the fall, that will help close the gap. But, I still have July and August to account for and I have no extra income those months (my summer classes had zero enrollment, so naturally they were canceled). I just posted items from my wedding for sale, so hopefully bargain brides will want what I’m trying to sell! I have some more things from my wedding to post, I just need to check the integrity of the items first.

I also have yet to receive my deposit back, and if I get that back it will completely close the gap for July, August and then some. I’m debating if I want to take it, apply it all to CC1, pay off the rest and just do above the minimum payment on CC2 for July [assuming that I do get the deposit back]. The good ol’ psychological trick of paying off one debt to keep motivated on the others. I’m leaning toward that route just because I like it so much- it really does help to motivate me.

Just so you all know, I’m always open to ideas (beyond what I’ve already put out there). If you have some phenomenal, legal and legit method of making extra cash, I’m all ears! I do like the easy way out admittedly, so the simpler the better!

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.