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Airline fees are everywhere!

August 8th, 2008 at 05:21 am

Well I checked everyone in today for our flights to Hawaii tomorrow and took a look at the latest airline fee listings. Holy moly! They want $15 for the first checked bag under 50 lbs, if it's 50-70 lbs it's $65 and 71-100 is $115. Yikes. My wife and I are flying in first class because I was a dope and bought us first class tickets awhile back (when I was charging myself into submission.) The kids and my daughter's boyfriend are in coach and it's now $2 for all drinks on board, $7 for a meal and $5 for a snack box (US Airways.) Ugh! Well I did find a loophole since we're flying first class. We get to check up to two bags each under 50 lbs for no charge so we're both going to do that to save us on the fees. Of course we paid more for the flights so we didn't really save any money but at least we will not get hit again with more fees. Food and drinks are also free in first but who knows how much longer even that will be the case the way they are tacking everything on.


Aloha on the horizon

August 6th, 2008 at 07:42 am

Well it's finally here! We leave for Hawaii on Saturday and will be there a total of 10 days. We will be flying from Philadelphia to Phoenix to Kona and staying on the Kona coast on the big island. We have been working discounts (AAA is our friend) and coupons and booking everything in advance. Big tip for anyone going to Hawaii...book the big stuff in advance and reap the discounts!

We had budgeted $5500 for five people but thanks to some extra ebay/stubhub sales we've been able to sock away close to $7500 for this trip. The plan is to try to keep our expenses down to the $5500 we budgeted. I think it's definately doable and without sacrificing the fun factor. We have a condo with a nice sized kitchen so we'll be able to eat most breakfasts and lunches at the place (we'll be beaching it most of the time anyways.)

Gas will be on the company card (the company also paid for the car rental) and they're paying for car service to and from the airport in Philadelphia so we're in good shape there. We've also already paid for the condo and the airfare (obviously) so those expenses will not come out of this budget.

We found out as well that they have a Costco not too far from us and a Wal-Mart on the island as well (my wife is dead set against ever stepping foot in a Wal-Mart due to her opinion of their business practices so that probably would never happen but it's a thought.) We're bringing coupons for basic stuff and we're thinking buying some breakfast/lunch stuff there would be a good idea. We'll see when we get there though.

We're excited! I would so rather be out of credit card debt before going on this trip but the condo and airfare weren't refundable and this really is the last family vacation we'll be able to have before our daughter goes off to college so we're going to go and enjoy it as much as we can. The main thing is the debt will be right where it is when we get back (no credit cards will be travelling on this trip with us) and the best part is we don't have one payment due until 10 days after we get back (and we'll be getting a paycheck the day after we get back...yippie.)

Hawaii here we come.

Closed three credit cards today!

July 9th, 2008 at 02:29 pm

Well that felt great! I closed three credit cards today because two were going to charge me an annual fee within the next 7 days (I figured it based on the past annual fees) and the third one already had (and I called to see if they would waive it...they didn't so I closed it.)

It felt good! I was told I will get confirmation letters in the mail for the accounts so I'm going to wait for those but I'm all excited to shred the shackles.

I'm not going to be shy about who:

Goodbye AMEX Hilton Hhonors Plat
Goodbye AMEX Delta Skymiles Gold
Goodbye Household Bank Mastercard

I saved $134 in upcoming annual fees and $39 in additional annual fees so now I wait (all the cards were zero balanced for months on end so I'm not worried about getting charges...though I will look over the statements like a hawk!)

I also used up just about all my Sky Miles so nothing went to waste. The Hhonors points went into a Silver plan (I talked with Hilton before doing this and they verified the points will stay.) I'm just glad I got to avoid the annual fees. When you're $88k in debt like we are the last thing you need is ridiculous charges like this adding to the problem.

OK well I thought I'd post to celebrate. I'm waiting for the wife to come home so I can shred these suckers (she'll enjoy this.)


OK some payments made

July 2nd, 2008 at 09:54 am

Well I ended up paying on some bills that were due. When I get paid on the 9th I'll be able to pay on some debt in the debt tracker and push that $5000 out to a savings account before we go to Hawaii.

Here's what got paid:
Maids $140
CC X $39 (Another Annual Fee!)
CC Y $60 (Another Annual Fee!)
Landscaper $130 (weed and fertilizer treatment for the grass)
Grass Cutting $79
Trash $84

So $100 wasted on annual fees (both cards will be closed right after the payments post) and $210 spent on the grass (it's growing and it does look good..but a ways to go.)

It's amazing how much money you can waste on fees. I'm loathing credit card companies more and more with each passing day.

Retained Earnings Check

July 1st, 2008 at 11:19 am

Well I got my check that I thought was going to be $5401 and it ended up being $5590 so now I've got the Hawaii money in cash to use while we're out there. The Mrs. will be buying some luggage, some clothes and I may pay a bill or two in the next few days but I would like to earmark at least $5000 of it for the trip.

We get paid next Weds so 8 days away but this definately lets me rest easy knowing the funds are there to go. Hopefully we come away with some money but I'm not going to budget out any of it for anything other than this trip.

New week!

June 30th, 2008 at 05:13 am

Well the weekend went well as we didn't spend much money! We did go see Get Smart and enjoyed it a lot (I was a big fan of the TV show back in the day.) That money came out of the budgeted cash we had so that was our entertainment for the weekend. This week we will be getting a check for $5401 which will go directly into the Hawaii fund. My wife is worried I'm going to pay off debt with it so I had to assure her I wasn't! She just wants to make sure everything we do in Hawaii is cash flowed and I am all for that.

We still need to buy some clothes, a gift for her nephew for graduating high school and a gift for our next store neighbor for having their 2nd child last week so the $5401 will get a chunk taken out of it (I'm hoping she spends $401 or less so we have $5000 to bring to the island) but hopefully not too big a chunk.

We don't get paid this week but all the bills are paid and she still has plenty of cash left over from the food budget so we're good there. I'm going to have to wait about a week to pay down more debt but I have a few items listed on Ebay as we speak and since I'm actually off starting Weds through the rest of the week (my anniversary at the company is Weds so my vacation reups and I'm taking the couple of days before the 4th off) I'm going to be listing some more stuff with the off time.

It'll be a fun week hopefully!

CC Roller Coaster

June 26th, 2008 at 05:09 am

I ran an account balance history on one of the cards from my debt reduction tracker (Card 3) and it was pretty ridiculous to say the least. Take a look at this:

Opening balance on 7/1/07: $6866.01

Now each one of these is a net monthly total.

Jul 07: Spent $4092.28 ($10958.29)
Aug 07: Spent $2852.46 ($13810.75)
Sep 07: Spent $3489.31 ($17300.06)
Oct 07: Spent $3155.43 ($20455.49)
Nov 07: Spent $3401.77 ($23857.26)
Dec 07: Spent $3278.19 ($27135.45)
Jan 08: PAID $16188.60 ($10946.85)
Feb 08: Spent $2414.57 ($13361.42)
Mar 08: Spent $10725.13 ($24086.55)
Apr 08: Spent $2326.34 ($26412.89)
May 08: PAID $5707.52 ($20705.37)
Jun 08: PAID $3436.24 ($17269.13)

So out of the last 12 months I had 3 where I actually paid off more than I spent. The biggest key for me is that 2 of those 3 are the last 2 months. It's painful to see that Jan 08 balance (I had it!) but that's what I call a serious case of live and learn. I averaged spending just under $4k/month in the 9 months I spent. Sheesh!

One year ago vs today

June 23rd, 2008 at 07:14 am

I thought it would be interesting to run the Income and Spending Comparison report from June 2007 vs June 2008. Now I realize June 2008 hasn't closed out yet and I have more income and expenses coming BUT even as is you can be blown away by numbers "to date!" First the basics:

Income June 2007: $10540.17
Income June 2008: $9915.52

Now again I'll be making another paycheck and I have some other income coming so I will end up making more in 2008 than 2007 (which I should be unless I really screwed up along the way IMO) but take a look at expenses:

Total Expenses June 2007: $18580.29
Total Expenses June 2008: $5749.50

WHAT?!! Holy Toledo Batman! We spent over EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in June 2007. We've been able to reduce expenses (to-date) by almost THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! The one thing is the expenses for 2008 includes the mortgage paid June 1st so that will add a chunk onto expenses but we really did slice it down. So the official totals:

2007: Spent $8387.99 more than we made.
2008: Saved $4166.02 more than we spent!

There were some monster culprits like vacation. We spent $8236.86 on vacation in June 07 and (ha!) $31.50 on travel/vacation in June 08 to date. Slight difference. Smile

Entertainment we spent $1604.79 in June 07. Month-to-date we've spent ZERO!

Utilities were actually $260 MORE in 2007 than 2008 (and we don't have any left to pay out of June's paychecks.)

Talk about a difference in spending habits in one year vs the other!

Budget Forecasting

June 23rd, 2008 at 05:02 am

Well I figured I'd sit down and actually figure out what I know is coming in and going out over the next few weeks so I can have some accountability for my money. Here's what I know:

I started today with a balance of about $380.

I deposited a check for $304 so that puts me at $684.

I have a check coming in the next day or two for $490 so that'll put me at $1174.

Wednesday is payday so I will get a direct deposit of $3658. That'll put me at $4832.

July 1st I should be getting a bonus check for $1506. That'll add up to $6338.

July 9th is the next payday so I will get another direct deposit of $3658. That'll add up to $9996.

Sometime in July (hopefully EARLY but it could be anytime) I will be getting a retained earnings check for around $4600. That should add to $14596.

I'm not going to include July 23rd's paycheck since that will apply to August expenses. This $14596 (give or take a few bucks) will hopefully go a long way to paying bills and having a fully funded Hawaii va-CASH-ion. Of course there are plenty of expenses before then...so here goes:

Life Insurance due 6/28 ($143): This will be directly debited out. We both have plenty of term life because the thought process is get out of debt and put a ton of money away where the life insurance will not be needed. A long way to go on that though!

Maids due 7/1 and 7/15 ($140 ea): This is a big one for the wife so I don't argue it. They do an excellent job.

Mortgage due 7/1 ($2908): Yeah I think I need to pay this one darn it. Smile

Sewer due 7/6 ($120): An estimate and this is a quarterly bill but it's up.

Long Distance due 7/8 ($44): This one I want to pay sooner rather than later. This is usually $15 but we spent a lot more than we thought this last month.

Card X due 7/8 ($45): This is that annual fee on that card I had paid off years ago. I'm waiting to hear back on whether they are going to waive this or not. They better but just in case I'll budget out.

Card 3 due 7/10 ($361): That's the minimum and I'm going to do what I can to pay more than that (figuring out how much I'll have helps!)

Electric due 7/13 ($204): It went up as we're playing A/C games but only until the programmable thermostat I ordered shows up! We also put in CFL's all over the house so hopefully we see a return.

Trash due 7/15 ($84): Another quarterly bill with a July due date.

Water due 7/20 ($92): Ditto from the trash comment. This is an estimate and I hope it's on target (Trash is fixed.)

Card 1 due 7/22 ($700): Another min payment for Card 1 until we get Cards 2 and 3 gone!

Cable due 7/29 ($161): I always pay this way early.

Daughter's contacts due ? ($150): She's going to need them at some point in the next week or two. She has an eye infection which is calming down but it has to be gone before she can get them.

Kid's paychecks due 6/25 & 7/9 ($100 ea): They each get paid $50/paycheck as long as they don't get docked for not keeping their rooms and the common areas clean or not doing chores.

ETA: The company I work for pays all auto expenses including gas, insurance and maintenace (all scheduled routine maintenance) for me, my wife and daughter so we have no auto expenses to budget for. They also pay all internet and local/regional phone bills. I pay the long distance out of pocket. They also pay all cell phone bills for me, my wife and the kids.

So I figure about $5342 (I apologize if the math is off. My flight got in around 1:30 AM EST this morning and I was up at 5:30 AM EST to go to work) for mostly fixed expenses. We try to run with a budget of $600/mo for food, clothes and entertainment (clothes and entertainment are just for us out of that...kid's paychecks pay for their stuff) so by adding that in you get a total of $5942.

So if you take the $14596 and subtract out the $5942 you're left with $8654. Now I hope to take $5000 of that to put towards Hawaii and leave me with $3654 to pay as an additional "hammer" on Card 3. It's just a question of when certain parts of that income stream show up in July but otherwise I think I have a pretty good plan of action!

I'll also continue to try to keep some kind of an ebay income coming in (I currently have about $120 in the Paypal account) to help with the cause. Hopefully that will all be gravy money to throw at Card 3 but we'll see.

A little more income

June 23rd, 2008 at 04:02 am

I had a secured credit card that I opened back in 2000 that I recently closed (it was costing me $10/month to keep the TL) and to my surprise the credit card company actually sent me the check for the original secured amount plus interest. Not that it made anything but I did get $303.49 for closing the account (not to mention no more $10/mo for an account I never used with an $1100 limit) and deposited it into my checking account this am! Yay.

Interest is a pain!

June 17th, 2008 at 05:33 am

I posted awhile back about how much interest I've paid in the last 12 months (you can see it in the Income and Spending in MS Money thread) so I thought it would be interesting to seperate the mortgage interest from the cc interest. Here's what I have for the last 12 months:

Mortgage interest paid:

CC interest paid:

Now add the fees:

CC annual fees paid:

CC misc fees paid:

Bank Charges: late fees

Bank Charges: monthly fees

So I spent $11014.30 in credit card interest and fees in one year. Put that up against saving or investing $11k and did I get my money's worth? I might have if the balances wouldn't keep accruing interest but by the time it's all said and done I will have a lot more in interest (most of the fees will go: The monthly fee cards are cancelled already and the late fees were all one month when my wife forgot to mail in some bills I had written checks for...we now pay them all online.)

Now if that doesn't open anyone's eyes to why you shouldn't carry a balance on a credit card I don't know what would! Of course it took me this long to wake up and get it. Smile

Retained Earnings Check

June 17th, 2008 at 04:32 am

Well we had an awesome day yesterday for the company as we sold four jobs which brought our gross revenues to $15 million dollars (only $5 million away from the goal we set for 2008!) Our margins on these jobs are pretty good from what I hear so this means we will be getting a retained earnings check of about $4600 in addition to that bonus I'm getting on the first week of July. This will really help because now I can throw all of what I currently have saved up for Hawaii towards debt and cut down the interest accruing sooner rather than later. I was going to wait for Card 3's statement to close to figure out how much to throw at it since the interest then will be charged but I really don't have to since I'm throwing the majority of my $ at Card 3 anyways. I guess that's more a topic for the debt tracker so I'll just leave it at that.

Yippie! I should continue to get the $4600 checks every month through Sept at a minimum. Yay for sales!


June 16th, 2008 at 05:24 am

I had found out on Friday night that I will be getting a bonus of $1506 (post-tax) on July 1st for performance. My anniversary with the company is July 2nd so I'm going to be due for a review and raise sometime in July as well. Last week I discussed an occupational review of my salary and asked for an increase in my pay to reflect my current worth based on skill set, experience and regional area and my boss seemed to be all for it so we'll see if the powers that be decide to grant me my asking price.

The wife and daughter went shopping for Hawaii clothes yesterday and spent about $287. It seems everything for summer is on clearance so they bought clothes for all four of us and did really well. I told her I wasn't worried about it because we do have a lot of extra income coming in right now and I feel a lot better about this trip than I did a couple of months ago. The main thing is she is paying cash for everything and we are not accumulating any additional debt on the credit cards (other than interest charges...dagnabit!)

Father's Day Weekend and Hawaii trip

June 13th, 2008 at 06:24 am

First off Happy Father's Day to the other Dad's out there. It's going to be a good time to hang out with the family and get outside (weather permitting but we are really HOT in PA right now) this weekend.

I have a couple of goals for this weekend. The first one is to get more stuff listed on Ebay to sell to continue to generate some extra income and throw it into our savings for this Hawaii trip on August. I still have a lot of stuff to sell and I've been doing a little at a time but I think I'd like to get a few more items up there.

The second one is to sit down with the family and try to plan out the entire vacation. I want to try to plan the activities and meals as much as possible and hopefully get some kind of an idea of what it's actually going to cost. If anyone has been there and has any advice for me I would much appreciate it. We're staying on the big island on the Kona coast and I did get a copy of the Hawaii Entertainment book which is full of nothing but coupons and discounts so I'm excited to actually go through that and pick out things to do. I've also been internet crazy trying to find deals so any advice there would be great too. I appreciate the help!

Estimated Taxes Bonus

June 12th, 2008 at 04:15 am

Well here's a great bit of news. My wife got a call from our accountant since we have to pay estimated taxes on Friday. Due to the nature of the business we have to pay taxes in a few different states (PA, NJ, DE, MD) as well as Federal estimates but the company always deposits the amount of taxes we're paying to cover the tax bill since we have part ownership in the company. We've been told by our accountant that thanks to the tax structure we will be getting an additional $2159 back that we get to keep! We will also get the $2159 back every time we pay estimates this year so to us it's like getting another 1/2 paycheck every 3 months. It will be deposited into our checking account on Friday (yay!)

My plan is to stock it away for Hawaii with the $3301 I already have put away and that will give me $5460 to have stockpiled for the vacation in August. I think after we get back I can lump sum anything I've got left into a payment on the debt tracker but this gives us a lot of elbow room for the trip (and the ability to pay cash for everything and not have to worry about adding to our debt.)

I should add that I am excited about the money but it's partly due to the fact that we're not making as much money as we did last year as a company. I'd much rather have retained earnings checks but I'll take what I can get at this point.

I have a meeting with my boss today to state my case for an occupational raise (I'm hoping for an increase so my salary is more in line with my experience and skill set.) Hopefully everything goes well!

The official payday breakdown

June 11th, 2008 at 07:34 am

OK well here it is...another payday! Right around $3950 showed up in the checking account today (that's what the base salaries bring every other Weds) so here's how I've allocated it so far.

$700 - Card 1 min payment (It was a conso loan that got rolled into a cc with a fixed rate for the life of the balance.)

$300 - Cash. For anyone not familiar with how we try to do this we take $300 out and the wife goes and buys groceries first. Whatever is left is our entertainment/clothes budget for the two of us for the week (we have been trying to stretch this to our one w/d every other week and it is definately possible. She is a great frugal grocery shopper and we definately don't starve!)

$158 - Electric (could be lower...we have to cool a 3200 sq ft house with a 17 year old and a 14 year old crying about how hot or cold it is...much like the wife and I.)

$161 - Cable (Yeah...it's really overkill but whenever I try to cut cable down I get disgruntled household members so I live with it. Thankfully the company pays our internet and local/regional phone bills.)

$70 - Kids (My 17 year old daughter has a checking account and my 14 year old son has a savings account. We're teaching them how money works and they go to the ATM and balance their accounts and reconcile the numbers with Dad. They make a base pay of $25/wk paid bi-weekly but if they fail to do a chore or leave a mess and don't clean up after themselves they get fined (usually $10 after a fee free warning.) They also get rewards for not getting fined for a whole week, a whole month, and they will get a big reward if they can go all summer without getting fined. Just a fun way for us to motivate our kids to be more responsible!)
They would've gotten $100 but failed to return a couple of movies and ended up paying $15/ea for them.

$140 - Maids (They come twice a month though they only really need to come once a month IMO. Try telling my wife that and then dodge the flying object coming at you...another one I live with for peace and harmony.)

$120 - Wife's hair (another luxury but she goes every other month and usually pays less but needs conditioner and some other stuff I don't know anything about. I let her have this as well.)

So that's all that's really "due" this pay period. This means I have $2301 to throw at my debt. Here's a tough thing though. Part of that ridiculous amount of debt you saw in the MS Money post is an already paid for Hawaiian vacation we're taking in August. House, Auto and Flights are all paid for up front and are non-refundable (well the Auto is but that's not really a big deal compared to the flights and the condo we rented.) I'm thinking of putting a good chunk of that money in one of my savings accounts (the trip is in Mid-August) so we can pay for the expenses of this trip with cash. Though I also thought of allocating $1000 towards the vacation fund and the rest on debt. I'm really torn as to what to do so if you have any suggestions I'm all ears. I already have $1000 saved to this point. Smile

Payday Anticipation

June 10th, 2008 at 09:53 am

Getting paid every other Wednesday makes every other Tuesday the longest day of the month for me. I am so excited to hammer out some bills and get the budget funded but I have to wait one more day. I hate the wait!

I've been pretty lazy with the budget for June. I did knock it out earlier in the month (like right after May's last check) but I am always tweaking it here and there and I really need to sit down and finalize it before the money gets here. It's been HOT here and tonight we're going to be at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball game (FREE tickets...so it's not a budget buster...it's AAA baseball anyways) and it should be fun with the kids. We're going as guests in one of the boxes so we have food and drinks all paid for which is great.

I'm excited for tomorrow though. Payday!

Income and Spending in MS Money

June 9th, 2008 at 11:20 am

One thing I love to do is play with the reports in Microsoft Money. I've been using it for years so I have every single solitary transaction downloaded right into Money so I can keep track of balances and spending and everything else. If you've read my most recent post in the debt tracker area you'd probably run from using Money! Well don't fear because it does have a use even for someone like me. There is a report called the Income and Spending report that will tell you by category every cent that you've made and spent from the dates that you decide. Well I decided this would be a great way to get a handle on how I got into this predicament of being (as of today) $95,714.92 in debt. Well here is the results of that report:

From 6/9/07 to 6/9/08:

Income: $263,049.02
That's every type of income (for us it would be salaries, bonuses, ebay income, rebates, etc.)

Expenses: $255963.03
Well...what the HECK did we spend Two hundred and fifty five thousand dollars on in one year? Oh it gets better!

There is what I like to call a top 3. Three expense categories which are all in the over $30,000 spent column. Yes that's over THIRTY THOUSAND spent column!

1) Taxes: $39,822.16
Obviously I can live with this one. Otherwise Uncle Sam probably wouldn't be too happy. Take that away from the above gross income and you have our net: $223,226.86. So where did it go?!!

2) Bank Charges: $36,994.30
You read that right. We sent almost $37,000 to the banks in interest charges, annual fees, monthly fees, etc. Are you kidding? Holy ouch Batman! When you've woken up from passing out you can continue...trust me I needed a few minutes after I first saw this number.

3) Vacation: $32,971.71
Now before you say that's insane no one would spend $33,000 on vacations...well go ahead and say it but it doesn't stop the bleeding. WOW. This includes Philadelphia to Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago a few times, St. John USVI, Phoenix and Hawaii. Yep we lived a little over the last twelve months...way, way, way, way, way beyond our means. It's crazy when it's a big number right in front of you.

***It drops considerably from here but I figured I would throw a couple more in here so you can get more of an idea where it's gone.

4) Home Improvement: $12,709.51
Well finally something we will actually see a return on. I mentioned the house which we bought for $400k in January of 2006 (brand new...we built it from the ground up.) We refi'd it in March of this year after it appraised at $470,000 to a 30 year fixed at 5.75 and included all our closing costs, insurance, etc (and had to pay off two ARM's..yeah...ouch) so we ended up having to borrow $405,000 to do that. The good news is the money above went to landscaping and some upgrades inside that we got our money back on and then some. It still hurts that we have such a large mortgage but at least this money didn't go to waste.)

5) Utilities: $9126.15
Electric, Propane gas (the highest), water/sewer, trash, cable, phone, etc. It equates to around $760/mo. I know it seems like a TON but it's really in the ballpark of what we budget for. Crazy isn't it.

OK so that's just the top 5! There are more...if I get some more time I might just post them. This is a wakeup call to anyone who doesn't budget. We did, then we didn't, now we are where we are. Yikes is about the only word I've got for you right now. !

He's Baaaaaack!

June 9th, 2008 at 05:16 am

Hi all,

Well after a year of being missing in action I've decided to come back and hopefully get ourselves in order. We definately are in pretty deep again and we're sick and tired of it so we've committed ourselves to be a cash only family until we are out of debt. Hopefully we can restart and recharge and get ourselves going in the right direction. I'm going to update our status as we go and hopefully we can stay committed and finish strong.

Glad to be back posting again. This time I hope to keep updates a lot more fresh. I'm excited to be back. Yay!


May 24th, 2007 at 11:58 am

Well we refilled the $300 weekly cash budget yesterday and the wife went out and spent $200 on groceries (ouch!) so we're going to be hanging on to that last $100 for the rest of the week. We do plan on seeing a movie this weekend (Pirates!) with just the two of us and the kids will get their allowance so that should probably be it for the weekly spending. The weather is going to be iffy this weekend from what I hear so we'll be home hanging out for most of it. We're trying to get all of the flowers in before the rain so hopefully we'll have that done by tomorrow at the latest. We're really happy with the way the house is coming along!

Weekend update

May 21st, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Well we did some spending this weekend! We went out on Saturday and spent about $200 on flowers for the yard. We did get a lot of plantings and we have a few mulch beds to fill (we started yesterday and the wife's finishing up tonight). We also bought pizza for our kids and four of their friends ($35) so we've got about $65 left til Weds. That should be fine since we really don't have anything we need to spend money on.

Two days til weds and the $300 refill!


May 17th, 2007 at 08:00 am

Just an FYI that yesterday was a no-spend day as we were busy! It rained pretty hard here for awhile and our landscapers came out and talked about some things we needed to have done (mulching, leveling, planting, etc.) and today they are at our house working! We are surprised at how fast they came out to start work (but we're really happy about it.) The estimate on the work we're having done is around $1100 for everything which seems to be in line with what we thought we were going to pay. My wife and I are also going to buy plants and flowers this weekend for the front and back yards and we have budgeted around $500 (we may need to buy some trees too...but we'll see how it goes). So if anything we have a big budget buster coming and I know it's going to go to the cards but we should be ok since it's 3 paycheck month I'm in a position to use that money to pay everything off right away (since we don't have to use the paycheck towards a mortgage payment).

We just came off prom as well and the total damage was around $800 for everything. We think we did ok since that number included a bbq party for her and 5 other couples and their parents at our house before they left (we did have to spend a bunch on food...ugh!) At least we have a lot of food left over and we are pretty sure we're not going to have to go to the grocery store this week.

So the expenses are coming fast and furious but hopefully we are well prepared to deal with them. Smile

Aye Carumba!

May 16th, 2007 at 08:27 am

Again sorry for the 2 week intervals but it's been crazy the last few weeks at work. Well today is payday and we are getting the funds in order as we speak. I am still on the $300/wk cash budget and it has worked out really well for us as we've made a lot of progress.

Balance: $300

I have my first payment on the conso loan due 05/23 and it couldn't come at a better time for us since this is one of the two "3 paycheck" months we have in a year (we get paid every other week so May happens to be a 3 paycheck month!) I'm making sure to pay the "have to's" and then I'm going to attack the high rate balances and knock them down like I did with the debt tracker (which I will update when I get time!)

Hooray for payday and hooray for weekly cash budgets!

Sorry for the delay!

April 30th, 2007 at 08:24 am

Sorry folks I was out of town for awhile on business and didn't get to post while I was gone. We'll get right back to it today when I can update the cash situation and where the numbers are at. We are still on the $300 weekly budget and doing well with it!

My daughter had a basketball tournament this weekend (AAU) and they did really well winning two of three games including a game where she scored 20 points (which is great for her!) She got scolded a bit about the game they lost because she was a little lazy on the court but she bounced back really strong to finish really well.

I had the HVAC people out today to raise our A/C unit outside (it was too low where it was installed and since we're on a hill the thing was sucking up all kinds of dirt and debris). They raised it for no charge and did the spring maintenance (we have a yearly maint contract with them that runs $100 for heating and air conditioning maintenance and inspections. It's due yearly in October.)

I just got my updated FICO scores as I finally got my one negative updated to show a zero balance and paid (I had been fighting them because I had paid it and they couldn't find any record of the payment. It was a Ford Motor Credit issue and they finally acknowledged it and updated it.) 749/705/709 are the current scores as of 4/27/07. I can't wait for Card 1 to update to zero (it still shows a $13k balance) and see how my scores do then!

We still haven't gotten the first payment date for the conso loan (which is only in my wife's name) but I believe June 1st will be the first due date. I'm planning for it now as payday is Wednesday.


***ETA: I just got a Score Watch update from Equifax noting my score going up to 709 from 696 so I updated it above. Yay!

Budget update

April 17th, 2007 at 11:05 am

Well we're doing really well and sitting at $253 in cash going into tonight. Tomorrow is budget refill day so tonight the wife is going grocery shopping and taking our daughter for a haircut. The good thing about the cut is usually she goes to the same stylist as my wife does and it runs us $100. She is going to her friend's mom's hair salon this time and my wife says it'll probably run about $30-40 which is a huge relief for $10 haircut dad! Smile

This time I think we'll refill the dollars right to $300 but after a full run at the grocery store and the haircut we'll probably be pulling out a couple hundred. We'll see though!


April 13th, 2007 at 11:01 am

Oh that was fun. Well the company did give us a check for $14,683.00 to pay taxes and we sure did pay! The feds got $5069 PLUS quarterly estimated for next year ($1812). Pennsylvania got $655 and quarterly estimtated for next year ($164). New Jersey got $164 and Delaware got $2 (I love you Delaware!) It leaves us with $6817 to pay down debt (yee haw!)

Card 1...it'll be nice knowing you! I don't have time right now to figure out exactly how we'll be attacking everything but I know Card 1's life on the matrix is coming to an end. Yay!

Finance Charge and Ebay sale

April 13th, 2007 at 08:12 am

A few things to update. First off I updated my ING account info yesterday and have mailed a check for $1 (made out to myself) to establish a link between the new checking account and the ING savings accounts. When I do finally scratch out of the debt mess I will be filling this account up as part of the proactive money approach vs the current reactive money approach (paying off cc debt). Until I have an apr on a balance that is lower than the interest rate on the savings account I can't justify putting money in there. It would be nice to have an emergency fund but not at the cost of allowing the banks to earn more on my money than I can on theirs.

Now for debt tracker stuff. Today IS tax check day so I'm waiting to hear from the wife that we've gotten the money before I start blasting debt away. Card 2 must know I'm getting money as well since they hit me with a $153 finance charge (statement closed). The min payment on this one is $303 and it's due May 12th (I'll pay it this weekend). Here's the update to the debt tracker...for now:

Card 1/$5891/$20000/14.23
Card 2/$15153/$31000/12.24
Card 7/$5821/$11000/4.99*
Card 13/$4001/$4500/5.82*

*Balance Transfer rate (for life of bal)

I also had $188.65 in my Paypal account which I sent to the checking account today (takes 3-4 business days). I sold another item on Ebay for $39.99 so I wanted to add that to the total (I now currently have no items listed...and just about everything sold so it was a big success!)

+ $39.99

I'll update everything later today. Smile

One week til payday

April 11th, 2007 at 08:58 am

We're at $358 for the weekly budget since we had a no-spend day yesterday. The wife made a chicken caesar salad for dinner and everyone was shocked to see me engulf it. I'm a meat and potatoes guy but for some reason that salad was really good. I think my kids were going to pass out from shock! Smile

We received a 90 dollar credit to our checking account because me the dopey guy transposed the two middle numbers on last week's atm deposit so they corrected it for us and the money showed up today. So now we have $223 in the account and I'm planning on waiting until Friday when the tax check gets deposited to make some debt tracker payments.

The wife may go grocery shopping tonight but we're not sure if she'll have time or not. If she does I'll update the budget.

Quick update

April 10th, 2007 at 08:22 am

I wanted to update where we were in the budget and another small ebay sale to add to the total. First we have $58 left of our $300 budget for this week and we also have next week's $300 in our pockets so we have to go 8 days on the $358.

Another ebay item sold bringing in $52.01 so I'll add that to the total. I only have one more item listed for sale right now but I hope to add more in the next few days (possibly this weekend as well).

+ $52.01

Oh and I almost forgot that another one of the cards from the matrix (Card 3) that was paid off had its statement close and they hit us with a $78 interest charge...which I promptly paid. We have $133 left in our checking account for now...in case any other interest charges want to rear their ugly heads!

Savings accounts

April 9th, 2007 at 08:52 am

Well I had mentioned in the past about how we had some savings accounts scattered here and there with anywhere from $75 to $450 in them. I was able to close two over the weekend and both banks are mailing us checks for the balances which we will be putting into the checking account to pay off more debt. We ended up wiht an additional $250 from those two accounts and today we are going to a third bank that we have another savings account (with $450 in it) so we'll be able to use that to pay down more debt as well. It just doesn't make sense to me to carry balances on credit cards and give these lenders interest when we have the means and ability to continue to chop away at that debt.

We are waiting on Fedex to deliver some money for the company today and we should be seeing that tax return $ in the next day or two. $6820 will go a long way to paying down even more debt. The sooner the better!

Oh and another closed card decided to hit us with a final interest charge of $120 which I promptly paid. I will probably have one or two more of these before it's all said and done since we paid them off before the statements closed. Ah it's good to know those interest charges are history (especially on that card...one of the 18 percent cards).

FYI we did close the other savings and they gave us the cash at the bank ($420) and I gave the wife our $300 refill for this week and will be depositing the $120 into our checking account. This way she's got the cash to last until payday (9 days from today) and I can just use the tax money to attack more debt. That saves us a $300 withdrawal on Weds. Hopefully planning ahead works out!

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