Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tips for being successful

Today in my Television Field Production class, we went over attributes that an inspiring broadcaster/independent film producer must have in order to be successful.

I got to thinking about them, and most of these are things that anyone must have in order to be successful at, well, anything.

1. Continous motivation - You have to want to do it!

2. Personality - a sense of professionalism.

3. Creativity - generating good ideas on demand. Otherwise known as brainstorming

4. Knowledge and Skills - You have to have knowledge about what it is that you are doing and the skills to make it happen

5. Willingness to sacrifice for your goals

6. Realibility and Ability to make deadlines

7. Ability to adapt to new technology

The more I think of it, the more I believe that in order to be successful at anything, you must have these traits. The same is true for debt payoff.

As with everything, visualizing the end result IS the beginning. It is part of reverse planning. It is asking the question, "How do I get there (where you want to be) from here?"

Work schedule change

Well, some things are changing at my place of employment.

My normal schedule was three nights (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - all big nights) and a Tuesday day shift (nothing spectacular, but I usually pulled in about $100 each Tuesday)

For some reason, my boss is cutting everyone's shifts down from four shifts a week to three shifts a week. I personally think she (the boss) is trying to keep people from wearing down so fast. (The bar business isn't as easy as one may think. It is oh-so-very-easy to get burnt out)

For me, that means that I am losing one shift a week, basically 4 to 5 shifts (depending on the month) a month.

I am still keeping all my night shifts, just losing the day shift. But that does mean that I am losing out on $400 to $500 a month.

On the bright side, I will have more time available to me for school and the girls. Which is actually pretty nice. It means that the girls may actually be able to participate in some school sports and I might actually get to see a school play once in a while.

But the thought of losing $400-$500 a month is kinda scaring me. I have to relook at the budget and see where else I am going to cut back. This also means that I have to look at my debt repayment goals and readjust them to be more realistic yet still challenging. It may push my projected credit card debt freedom back, which is very disappointing.

Of course, I could just look at this as another challenge. I like challenges. I like to compete. Most of all, I like to win. One of the tips of being successful is the willingness to sacrifice some things NOW for the completion of your goals.

I need to look at what I am going to sacrifice. There are still things in the budget that could be cut. I need to get to cutting them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


By the end of May, my total credit card debt will be down to $19,336.

That's OK.

I would prefer it to be down to $18,999. That's in the EIGHTEEN THOUSANDS BABY!

I am challenging myself to come up with an extra $337 in the month of May. Of course, my budget is already set at a zero balance for the month, but there are still things that may come in that I do not include in the budget until I actually receive them.

Like child support, for instance. I would love to say that I receive each and every month in a certain amount on a certain date, but the fact is that I do not. Therefore, I do not include any child support in the budget until I actually receive it.

I am also hopeful that what I have budgeted for utilities is more than the actual amount like last month. It may not be a whole heck of a lot of difference, but each and every dollar will make a difference.

Plus, with some time off of school between Spring and Summer semesters, I can go through some of this crap (I mean, wonderful things taking up all the space in my garage!) and start listing them for sale via Ebay, cosignment shops, and possibly a garage sale, although they may have to wait until June.

So, today I start the challenge of finding an extra $337 this month to get that total debt down to $18,999!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grocery Trip

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went grocery shopping. Since he is Active Duty, he decided to take me to the commissary instead of the usual grocery store.

Let me just say that somehow I had forgotten how much cheaper the commissary really is compared to other stores. When I started looking at prices, I was seriously raising my hands to the sky.

The bill was $195. We got more food than we would have gotten at the usual grocery store for less than what the normal grocery bill would have been at the usual grocery store.

I am pretty excited that not only did I spend less money than I normally would have, but I also got almost twice as much food.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


As of tonight, my total credit card debt sits below $20,000!

That's right, my credit card debt is ONLY (Cough cough) $19,933!!!

I never thought I would be so excited about this, but man, I am doing happy dances all around the house!!!

Only $934 until that number goes below $19,000.

Can you feel the excitement?!?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ebay, cosignment shop, or Yard Sale?

As I am looking through all of my belongings, I am realizing like most people that I have way more than I need. I have way more than I really want. I certainly have more than I can effectively store in the space I have available.

So, I have been thinking of the Big three - Ebay, Cosignment Shops, and Yard Sales.

I reach the biggest potential auidence at Ebay - but also get stuck with paying fees if items do not sell. That is not very inticing to me.

Cosignment shops - There is one "upscale" cosignment shop in the town I live in. It is actually a very nice place. The owners basically made it into a boutique of cosigned brand name Women's clothing. It is an adorable place that gets high traffic patterns. The only fee you pay is when an item sells, but it is half the selling price. Oh, and you don't get to price your items, the manager does all the pricing. Still, since I have tons of brand name clothing in perfect condition (a good portion with the tags still attached - urgh) I could potentially still make a decent amount of money even with the 50/50 split. Certainly have a better chance selling the clothing there then I do at choice number three which is:

Yard Sale/Garage Sale - What can I say about these? There is a lot of work involved in having a yard sale. More importantly, in order to have a yard sale on a weekend, I would have to take a night off of work. Which means that I would end up losing money. Unless I can get the wonderful boyfriend to wake up early with the yard sale on a Saturday morning, letting me sleep in until about 11, and then I get up and let him go take a nap. That would be so awesome of him. If that is possible, then it may be worth the effort of having a yard sale to get rid of things OTHER than clothing. (In my opinion, the only clothing worth having out at a yard sale is children's clothing)

Most likely I will use all three of these options for different items to maximize my results.

Only $67 until...

My total credit card debt gets below $20,000!

I still have three working shifts left in this month, so hopefully I can get the total debt down closer to $18,000 than $20,000.

I will have to say that I am pleased with my progress, although I would like to be doing better. But, I still do have a budget, and as of right now, my May budget is zero balanced. (I went ahead and submitted a payment to Capital One after I zero balanced the funds I currently have, after all the other bills, minimum debt payments, and sinking funds were funded. I have the money deposited into my checking account already, so there is no reason to keep the money there when I am paying interest to Capital One)

Since everything else is funded, everything I make the next three working shifts is going straight towards the Capital One Debt.

Since I am so close, I am considering what debt to attack next. I know the basic principle would be the next smallest debt, to keep the momentum going. But I keep looking at this Providian debt, which is costing me over $200 a month in interest alone and I really feel ill. I don't want to pay over $200 in interest to one freaking credit card!

If I go with the smallest to largest balance, my next debt would be Chase Disney, currently sitting at $2,485. If everything goes according to my projected plans, I could have that debt paid off by the end of July. That is a pretty big goal and to be honest, not one that I am quite sure I can make. But it would be a challenge and part of this process is to keep challenging myself to reach higher.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When the weather turns warm....

I end up at Home Depot.

I know not why I do this. But it seems to be a pattern. For years, when the weather ends up being warm for about 2 weeks, signaling to my inner self that Spring really is here, I end up in the Garden section of the Home Depot.

Today was that day.

I looked and touched everything. I looked at trees, shrubs, flowers, mulch, soil, retaining walls, pavers, fountains, yard decor, picnic tables, cushions, flower bed edging, bamboo bundles (You can use them to cover up chainlinked fences! They are 6 feet tall! They not only cover the yucky chainlink fence, but hide the view of the neighbors gross yards! And they come 16 feet long... all for about $16 a bundle!)

I got a bit of a sunburn, I was outside for so long!

I purchased NOTHING.

I am shocked.

And Proud of myself!

There is so much I want to do with this house. But frankly, as much as the warm weather makes me want to do things outside, I have some things I need to take care of in the INSIDE first.

Like replacing all the broken doors.

Doing something with the bathroom.

Carpets that are 20 years old really do need to go.

And before I can get to any of that, I need to get rid of this debt.

I'm not going to lie, I am throwing a temper tantrum to myself. My inner child is not liking this "You can't buy pretty shrubs, flowers, and bamboo bundles because you racked up credit card debt and now you need to pay it off!"

Plus, I try to tell my inner child, you may be moving within the next 6 months. Why invest all that work and money into something that you aren't even going to enjoy for that long?


Ultimately, I have placed my inner child in time out. Since time out gurus suggest one minute for each year of age, she is in time out for 30 minutes right now. In the meantime, the grown up me is enjoying the sun shining on my face and the smell of the cedar mulch that I *do* have.

Maybe I will get myself a mint julip as well. Nothing beats a mint Julip when you are basically arguing with yourself.

Out Loud.

In front of people.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I am probably not as "gazelle" as I could be.

There are most likely a few things in my budget that I could eliminate for a period of time and I am sure that I could cut costs back in a few areas.

I am looking at these things and deciding exactly what I am comfortable with in "losing" for the overall goal of debt freedom.

I guess I am kinda like Obama; using a magnifying glass and a scapel with a finetooth comb to get rid of expenses that are not really "working".

I feel that slowly vamping up my "gazelle-ness" will be more effective over the long term, rather than cutting everything not necessary all at once. There is only so much any one person can take and getting frustrated with the system is a surefire way of setting yourself up for failure.

This month I am cutting out my landline. I don't use it. Ever. All of my family has the same cell phone company as I do, so mobile to mobile calls are free. Cutting the phone out of my cable bill will save me $23.99 a month. Is that a huge amount of money? Not by any means. But it does add up. $23.99 x 12 = $287.88 per year.

I am also going to be joining the reformed smokers club. Starting in May, I will quit smoking $180 a month via cigarettes. $180 x 12 = $2,160. That is a lot of money. Money that I have been simply wasting, not to mention the horrible health effects. Hell, $2,160 pays off one of my debts!

So, just with those two eliminations next month, I will be having a net savings of $2,447.88 in a 12 month period. Not too shabby.

I plan on also eliminating soda from my grocery budget starting in June. I estimate that I spend about $50 a month in soda products. $50 x 12 = $600. The amount of soda I drink is not only bad for my budget, it is also bad for my teeth and the potential of getting diabetes. My step father is an insulin-dependent diabetic. Has been my entire life. Although he still lives an active life, I know first hand that if I can do anything to prevent getting that disease, I should.

And, that brings the total amount of savings (in a 13 month period, since I am starting a month later with the soda elimination) to $3,251.87.

Looking at the numbers this way certainly does change my perception of how I am spending my money. By simply eliminating these three things from my budget, I will have an extra $3,251.87 to apply towards debt in the next 13 months. Not only will I be financially healthier, I will be physically heathier as well. Which is quite important since I don't have insurance.

In the upcoming months, I am sure I will find a few more things I could live without. Perhaps permenantly, perhaps just for the duration of my debt payoff.

Getting the "I WANT" bug...

I have become ill. I have self diagnosed myself with "IWANTITIS".

It is a horrible disease to have. Some causes of this condition include, but are not limited to:

*Seeing your neighbors newly redone garden and realizing that it is better than your garden.

*Sitting in your backyard and realizing that you really do not like your next door neighbor's backyard decor. (Either of them)

*Watching HGTV home improvement/decorating shows.

*Seeing a cover of Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, or any other home/garden magazine.

*Opening your closet and realizing that it would be so much better to have a closet organization system.

*After steam-cleaning the 20 year old carpets, you realize that some stains are simply there for eternity.

*Looking at your functional, yet asethically displeasing bathroom, and realizing that no matter how hard you previously tried to make it asethically pleasing, the only way it is actually going to happen is to rip everything out and start from scratch.

*Looking into your children's rooms and seeing that there is truly no style, rhyme or reason to the decor. Deciding immediately that this is very sad that your children must sleep in such conditions.

*Since your living room does not have an overhead light, you must use lamps (many of them) to illuminate said living room. After turning on 2 floor lamps, which are, of course, placed behind furniture, you really miss having a light that works via a switch.

*Listening to your 10 year old daughter sing Taylor Swift songs for hours because she does not have a door to close. Instead, she has a curtain rod with hot pink curtains for visual privacy because her door was taken off the hinges due to the fact that the renters tore up the carpet in her room, making use of a door impossible without tearing up the carpet even further.

*Going to get the wet mail out of the mailbox because the mailbox door is broken. So is the stake, for that matter, which causes the mailbox to lean either left, right, forward or backwards, depending on the direction of the wind.

Symptoms of "IWANTITIS" include, but again, are not limited to:

*Mild depression
*Restless body syndrome
*Compulsive window shopping via the internet with the helps of Lowes and Home
*Telling your child for the 1384749857834 time that you have a headache and to please keep it down
*Tearing out pages of home/garden magazines to start your own portfolio of wants
*Contemplating calling the producers of "Clean Sweep" to come take care of your neighbors unsightly yards
*Looking at your budget and seeing if there is anyway you can create a "Home Improvement"fund without extending your debt payoff goals
*Laying wet mail out to dry on a flat surface

A cure for this disease has yet to be found. Some things that can help include:

*Revisiting the budget
*Acknowledging the reasons why you can't immediately purchase the things you want is due to previous carlessness with finances
*Actually create a "Home Improvement" line item in the budget and deciding how much will be allocated to this newly created sinking fund each month
*Actually pricing the things that you want from various sources via the internet
*Prioritizing your list of wants from most important want to least important want
*Giving yourself a pat on the back for not immediately grabbing a credit card and buying what you want
*Congratulating yourself for actually taking time to think things through and creating some type of plan on how you plan on getting the things you want

As you can see, "IWANTITIS" could hit anyone, at anytime. It can be a very dangerous condition in which you spend money that you don't have. If you think you are coming down with "IWANTITIS", it is best that you stay home, or at the very least, out of any place where you could be tempted to buy anything for a while. Hopefully, researches will one day find a cure for this disease which seems to be running rampant among humans.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To vacation or not vacation..that IS the question....

My parents are such wonderful and lovely people. I love them dearly.

They want to take a vacation. They want me and the girls to go with them. Everything would be paid for, since my wonderful parents have decided that I am not to pay for anything regarding a vacation with them. Unless I really, truly, absolutely feel that I must pay for something, in which case I will be allowed to take everyone out to dinner one night. But even then, if the bill is more than $75, they will pay anything over that amount.

Gasoline getting there? No Problem. Mom will write a check.

What if I need to stop overnight (since it is an 11 hour drive with two children, 10 and 7)? No problem, mom will include that in the check.

Sounds divine, doesn't it?

A week at the beach, paid for, sand between my toes, enjoying watching my children building sandcastles and burying grandpa in the sand.... drinking daiquiri's with my mom after the girls go to bed, enjoying the sea breezes.....

But, I don't get paid vacation.

If I take time off, I LOSE income.

At the current pace of business at my bar, a week off could mean a loss of up to $1400. For ONE WEEK. (Well, 10 days - and that includes two Fridays and two Saturdays)

I really do want to go enjoy time with my parents. I want my children to spend time with their grandparents. They aren't always going to be around. I want my children to have memories with their grandparents.

Of course, I also do not want to lose income. I don't want my debt payment schedule to be pushed back because of a vacation.

I am not really sure what to do in the scenerio. Last year we went, and my mother also included some money in a check to off set my not working. I am pretty sure she would do the same thing this year.

It is something I have to think about. I also have to check with my boss to see if I can even take the time off, due to personnel issues.

I shouldn't be thinking too hard about this. I should just go and enjoy the time with my family.

But darnit, I am looking at this debt and I want it GONE!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Living situation (arrangements)

My boyfriend and I currently live in two seperate houses.

Scratch that. Currently my boyfriend and I pay mortgages on two seperate houses, but we seem to spend all of our time in MY house.

Which is fine with me. It's my house! I love my house! It's mine! (Well, the bank's, but still.....)

Lately we have been discussing moving in together. His house is larger than mine and by larger than mine I mean larger by about 1,500 square feet. Whereas I have 950 square feet of living space (living room, kitchen/dining area, 3 smaller bedrooms, one bathroom, and a one car garage) his house is about 3,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 and half bathrooms, two 2 car garages, laundry room, office, 2 living areas and two dining areas.

I have two daughters and he has one son. If (when) we move in together, it will most likely be moving into his house. His son doesn't live with him full time, but he does come every summer and all holidays. It is really important to both of us for his son to have his own space at Dad's house.

Of course, with having two houses, we also have two (or three or FOUR) of, well, everything.

While talking about possibly moving in together, we discussed a bit about what furniture would go and what would stay. I am pretty adament about keeping all of my furniture. Every. Single. Piece. I don't care if it has to stay in a storage unit.

For the most part, he likes my furnishings and has no issues with anything I own. Except for my bed. He wouldn't want me to get rid of the bed, but I have a queen and he has a king and he wants to be a king or something. So fine, my queen bed would just become one of my daughters beds. (He has a queen bed that would be for the other daughter so everything would be 'Fair')

Of course, the biggest part of this would be financially. Although we would be merging households, a bigger house does mean a bigger mortgage and higher utility bills.

I also would not sell my house. I would rent it out. For some reason, I am very attached to this house. It is my 'safe' place. Even when I was not living in it for 2 years due to being assigned to Germany, I still felt safe having this house. I think it is feelings left over from my divorce. Knowing that no matter what, I have a place to go - to live - is a very wonderful feeling. I can't really define it, but I think after the end of that relationship I decided that I would always be able to take care of me and mine.

But anyhoo, as of right now we are just talking about it. Which is good. It is good that we are taking our time and talking about how, if we do this, it is going to work. In the meantime, everytime I do go to his house, I take my shoes off and throw them in his closet. Just to see how something of mine looks there. :)

Holy Smokes!

I went to the dentist this afternoon. I don't have dental insurance, so I have to pay out of pocket totally for dental care. Because of not having insurance, I haven't gone to the dentist in 2 years, since I last had dental coverage.

I expected it cost a pretty penny. But for a cleaning, x-rays, and the dentist basically looking at the x-rays and peeping into my mouth, it was $300!

Not to mention, since I drink soda (tons of it) I have some, shall we say, problem spots. No fear, the dentist says. My bone density is great. I have no decaying between my teeth. It seems I am pretty good at the oral hygeine thing. (I mean, heck, I don't have dental insurance! I brush like 5 times a day!) But, I do have some problem areas.

These problem areas will cost $975 to fix.


Well, good news is that I still have $700 in the dental account. So although I am short, I still have enough to start "phasing" this dental work. The first phase will cost $595. The second phase will cost $380.

Which means, as of right now, I am $275 short of getting all the work done that needs to be done. The second phase won't start until July, so I do have some time to save up the money needed.

Of course, this probably will effect my debt repayment schedule. Unless I can find some creative ways to slash more from my budget, receive some cash money as a gift (or win the lottery!), or find some things to sell in a hurry.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Membership Fee

I checked my Capital One online statement last night and to my suprise, I see a $19 charge for a Capital One "Membership" fee.

Now, I have never had a membership fee with this account, nor do I recall receiving anything in the mail stating that I would start having one.

I am a bit upset about this. I am already paying interest, now they want to get more money from me? Really?

I sent them a message via the website inquiring about this. Since it was about 4 in the morning when I saw the charge, (after I got home from work) I really didn't feel like calling and being put on hold for who knows how long.

I will be calling tomorrow to talk to a live person so they can explain this charge to me.

Thankfully, this debt should be gone no later than July, so if the charge is a monthly one, I will not pay more than 3 months of this fee.

The whole thought of this is making me look at my budget even closer, seeing if there is anyway I can get rid of this debt even faster. There are some things I could look into selling, although I don't know if I can come up with an extra $800 by selling things. But I really want Capital One gone now, more than I did before.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another payment towards Mohawk

I made my May payment towards Mohawk yesterday. This brings the balance down to $261.28.

This also means I am still on track to have this debt paid off before the interest sets in.

Because it was 0% interest until July 17, 2009, I decided to concentrate on Capital One as my target debt. I know it isn't a "math" problem, but I feel better in throwing money towards a debt that is costing me money in interest as long as I get the 0% debt paid off before the interest sets in.

My current balance on Capital One is $1,362. If things go according to plan, I should be able to have this debt killed during the month of June.

This would mean that I would have both Mohawk and Capital One dead by the end of June 2007.

I am getting quite excited about this prospect. I am looking deeper into my budget, seeing if there is any other items I could cut or reduce to try to make this happen faster.

Friday, April 17, 2009

University Debit Card

My university is starting its own debit card. Called the "OneCard" it is supposedly a great way for students to manage their finances.

It is not a credit card. It is a debit card, with a MasterCard logo so it is universally accepted. Instead of waiting for University refunds to be mailed to a student, refunds will automatically just be placed into the student's OneCard account.

Family members can load more money into the account online. All they need is the students ID number and email address.

I am pretty sure this makes things a bit easier for the University. Financial Aid money, book refunds, class refunds and the like will simply be placed into the OneCard account.

This is a no fee checking account - except there are no checks. Debit only. The account has no minimum balance requirements.

At the website, there is actually a page titled "It's my budget and that's that!". On this page, there is a sample budget and an excel spreadsheet you can download to start your budgeting journey. There are other tips and information regarding finances. Although it doesn't go into great detail, it is better than nothing.

I don't know how I truly feel about this. The University is sending one out to all students automatically. If I get any refunds or financial aid, the money will be placed directly into my OneCard account. If I want to get cash out, I must use an ATM and pay the fees associated with that machine. The webpage does not say whether or not the OneCard has its own fees associated with ATM withdrawls.

One thing that I am kinda interested in seeing is how to transfer funds onto the card. In this regard, instead of bringing in thousands of dollars in cash to pay my tuition, I could just transfer the funds onto the card and use the card to pay tuition. (I don't write checks for this purpose because they take a long time to clear - and while waiting to clear, you still can get tuition holds onto your account which makes registering or withdrawing from classes a nightmare)

I guess I will see how this card works for me, personally. I am not really sure how I would use it, unless they have plans to institute a bank on campus for these accounts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I think I am an overplanner. After years of just paying bills but never really having a spending plan, getting in a lot of debt for not planning ahead for things I knew were coming, I have become a planning queen.

Some of the things I have sinking funds for could probably be cash flowed when the time arises. That is money that I could be applying towards debt, now. However, I am fearful that when the time arises, I will not have the same income I currently have.

I have run numbers through March of next year. If my current income levels stay intact, I could be totally credit card debt free by March of 2010. This would be ideal since my projected graduation date is May 2010. That will be a huge life change.

I don't know how the job market will look a year from now. Hopefully the economy will be growing again. But there is a good possibility that it will not be.

Which brings me to a question. Should I concentrate on becoming debt free before graduation, or at some point should I start beefing up savings in order to survive while looking for employment in my degree field?

This is not a question that I can easily answer. I would like both to happen; be rid of the debt AND have a healthy savings account for when that time comes.

Of course, without the load of credit card debt, it would be easier to survive, even if I had to continue bartending while breaking into the job market in my desired field. Having a healthy savings account would make my new found security gland more peaceful.

For now, I am going to concentrate on paying off debt. I will monitor the economy and as the time draws nearer for graduation, I will determine whether I need to change my focus.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gift Cards

Out of the blue some family members of mine sent us $150 worth of gift cards to Old Navy and Aeropostale. I am very happy to have received these gifts.

Because of this unexpected suprise, I am dropping my clothing sinking fund from the May budget. That's $70 I do not have to concern myself with for the month.

Also, since I budget $70 a month for clothing and I received $150, I am dropping the clothing from the June budget as well.

This month I did spend the $70 I had allocated towards clothing for 3 pairs of shorts and 4 tops for each child. For Easter, my mother sent the girls 2 pairs of shorts and 5 tops plus new bathing suits for the summer as well as a check to buy them some summer shoes. (Shoes are cerainly something that MUST be tried on) So, these gift cards may end up sitting around for a while because the girls don't really need anything right now. As long as I can hold onto them, the more money I can divert to other uses.

Every little bit helps!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I ran some numbers and I need to average $195 a shift to make my May budget goals. This, of course, includes my debt "snowball" I would like to send.

I should be able to average this amount for the rest of my working shifts. If I am off a bit, it will mean that I will not be able to send as much as a snowball. I will pay my four walls first, then fund my sinking funds, then apply the rest towards debt.

As long as I have the budget sinking funds funded, it should stem any reason to potentially need to use the credit cards. Perhaps my snowball will not be as large as I like, but at least I will not be adding to the debt.

Of course, I certainly hope that I make enough to meet my goals.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Going in to pay Tuition

Today I am going in to pay my tuition... with cash.

I saved up the $1,959 I need in order to pay this semesters tuition within the last 2.5 months. This will be the first time I paid tuition in full with cash.

I am a bit excited that I actually managed to save so much money in such a short period of time. Makes me wonder why I needed credit in the first place....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Electric Bill

Well, this month I had budgeted $60 for my electric bill. This was a good estimate based on past billing cycles for this month in this house.

Imagine my suprise when I got the bill and it was only $47 dollars!

Granted, I have been walking around, turning lights off. I also had to get a new fridge last month (mine went BOOM) so a newer model probably is more energy efficient than my 15 year model. I also have been changing out my lightbulbs as they burn out to the energy saving versions. (Saving energy is cool - but not having to change a lightbulb for years is even cooler! I have some I changed out 2 years ago that are still going strong!)

So, that is even more extra money I now have.

Today I went ahead and sent $150 more towards Capital One. I really wanted to send more, but I am being cautious. It does me no good to send all the eggs just to have to borrow them back!

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I am having to make some adjustments to the April budget. Not because of overspending, but because I have received some extra funds this month I wasn't expecting, to the tune of $215.

Part of it was a child support payment I was not expecting (I receive child support sporadically so I do not include it in my budget until I actually receive it), part of it was from the GI Bill (last month my payment was $55 less than it should have been), and another $10 or so is from having my actual amounts on household bills being less than the budgeted amounts.

So now I get to decide what I am going to do with some extra money. I am torn between wanting to save it and wanting to throw it straight to debt.

I am thinking about sending half towards debt and keeping the other half to replenish what I had to spend at the doctor last week.

It is rather nice to have some unexpected funds. Especially when I have everything already set up for the month so I don't have to rely on getting unexpected money to meet my obligations and needs.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

May Debt payback goals

So, I am about a month ahead with posting these goals, but since everything I make this month is being saved for next month, I decided to go ahead and write down some goals I have for my money in the month of May. As this month progresses, I will know I am doing towards my goals.

Besides my normal expenses and funding of my envelopes, I have set some Debt payback goals.

Chase: $60
Providian: $307
Discover: $120
Mohawk: $133
Capital One: $700

The first four debts are my normal monthly payments, so no real change there. Mohawk has o% interest until July so paying $133 a month every month brings me to a zero balance in the month of July. So, the debt will be paid and I will have not paid 23% interest on the balance.

The last debt, Capital One, well, that is a pretty hefty goal. I really do not know if I am going to be able to make it. I used earnings numbers from last month to get to that number. However, I have decided that I need to be more specific than "Pay off debt". Sure, I want to pay off debt, but I need something to reach for.

I need specifics. I am more likely to reach a goal if I know *exactly* what I am reaching for, not a general overall goal.

I have decided that if I am going to actually dig myself out of the debt I am in, I am going to have to do this each and every month. I am going to have to challenge myself.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Car Salesmen

A couple of days ago, I received an interesting call from a car salesman from the dealership where I purchased my last vehicle (which was April of 2008).

Here is the gist of the conversation after introductions:

Him: "How is your Altima doing?"

Me: "Great! I love it!"

Him: "That's good. Have you thought about upgrading?"

Me: "My car isn't even a year old yet."

Him: "True, but this year's models are pretty awesome if you would like to take a look at them."

Me: "I am really not thinking about upgrading anytime in the next three years. Last year, the rising fuel and insurance costs brought me in to see about trading in my Pathfinder and the only reason I did end up trading it in is because what I owed on it was less than what trade-in value was, basically giving me a $2,000 down-payment on the Altima. Which means that right now I am wayyyy upside down on the Altima and I have no desire to roll negative equity into a new car loan."

Him: "Well, we are offering dealer incentives that you qualify for since you are such a great customer." (Oh - I love to hear I am a great customer!)

Me: "Are the incentives paying off whatever is owed, no matter what the amount, without rolling over negative equity into the new car loan?"

Him: "Well, no - "

Me: "Are any of the incentives paying tags, title and liscense upfront, NOT rolling it into the car loan? Cause last year I had to pay $1800 for T, T&L."

Him: "Well, no - "

Me: "Then, no, I am really not interested. Sorry!"

Hang up phone.

I know car dealerships are hurting for business right now, but calling someone who has a brand new car already is probably NOT the best way to drum up business. I really do love my car. When I traded in my much loved Pathfinder, I was in tears. But I picked out a car that I would love to drive for at least the next four years.

I know I should keep cars longer than I do. I have a habit of trading in vehicles every three years or so. Actually, the Pathfinder was the vehicle I held onto the longest... 4 years.

But even someone who turns vehicles over at such a rate doesn't do it every year!

Friday, April 3, 2009


Today I did some spending at the Dollar General Store. Since I have my envelopes funded seperately, I had two differect transactions at the store. Sure, the people behind me may have been irriated at the extra 1.5 minutes this took; however, my budget is more important that having people wait an extra 1.5 minutes.

Today's trip was to buy some soda pop (totally not good for me, but I am going to buy it anyway, so I may as well get it at the best price!) and some snacks for munching on. This came out of the Grocery fund and the total came to:


The second transaction was for Easter stuff. I just budgeted Easter/Birthday into the Christmas fund. Actually I am going to rename this fund simply to "gifts" since that is what it is, essentially. I got everything that I am giving for Easter, including baskets (I can never find baskets year to year. I really need to be more organized about that this year!) and the total for Easter came to:


That breaks down to a little less than $15.00 per child, including baskets. All of this was not candy, either. They got Hannah Montana Sports Water bottles, jumpropes, High School Musical and Hannah Montana sunglasses to go along with some candy.

So basically I spent $60 today. The rest of this weekend is designated as "NO SPEND DAYS". Each day that I am sucessful, I will budget myself $5 more into the savings category next month. Perhaps I shouldn't be bribing myself, but this early in the game, I know I need something to motivate myself into the right direction!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In relation to what I actually owe, these are the percents in which I owe each creditor. Using the same amount that I owe TODAY, at the beginning of each month I will post the previous month's graph and compare it to the current month's graph. Just another visual reminder that should help me along in my quest.

Children need new clothes

My children are adorable girls, ages 10 and 6 (although the 6 year old will be 7 on April 11th). I wouldn't change a thing about them, except for the fact that they are BOTH hitting growth spurts AT THE SAME TIME.

Clothing can be and has been a huge budget buster for me. For some reason, I believe people, all people, need more clothing than they actually do. Looking into my closet alone can attest to this fact. (In the past six months, I have gotten rid of 10 30 gallon trashbags of clothing and probably still have 10 more to go although I am finding it pretty hard at this point to let go of any more of my clothes. I MIGHT WEAR THAT AGAIN ONE DAY!)

One good thing that I have always done is keep clothes from season to season and keep clothes that the oldest has outgrown for the youngest. One bad thing I have always done is managed to forget which tub clothing is in and get frustrated and just say screw it.

Well, a few months back, I finally cleaned out my garage a good two years after moving into the house. Well, to be honest, my boyfriend started cleaning it up because it was bothering the heck out of him, so I got my butt up off the couch and helped. In doing so, I found all the tubs from years past.

I went through and labeled tubs with sizes and seasons put the tubs in a specific place so I would know exactly where they were.

So, now we are changing seasons. The girls need clothing that is in keeping with the tempertures. In anticipation of this, I had the girls go through the clothing that is in their room and bring out anything that doesn't fit. Clothes that no longer fit the oldest are being put in a tub for use later with the younger child.

Next on the list is taking the clothing that has been stored for this season and having the girls try things on. I have a feeling that not much is going to fit the oldest since she has gone up a size from last summer, but you never know. A lot of it has to do with the cut of clothing, so I am still going to have her try things on. I have a slew of clothing in the youngest's size stored from years past, so I should be good in that department.

After I take full stock of what I have on hand, I will begin the purchasing cycle. Except this time, instead of just looking at retail stores, I am going to look at thrift stores as well. Depending on retail store sales, it may be cheaper to buy clothing brand new than to buy used clothing. I am going to comparison shop to get the most for my money.

As far as what to do with the clothing that does not and will never again fit the youngest, I am still unsure of what I will do with it. I could simply give the clothing to a charity, or I could attempt to sell it via Craigslist or cosignment shop. If I go with Craigslist, I plan on selling it all in a bundle. Even if I get a mere $50 for it all, that is $50 more than I had previously.

I have funded my clothing envelope with $70 this month to supplement the girl's wardrobes. I realize when it comes to clothing that this is not a lot of money, but at least I budgeted something towards the known expense than nothing at all. That is progress. Also, since I am at a zero based budget, I have to work within the $70 amount. By comparison shopping, purchasing only things that are needed and utilizing what I already have, I should have enough set aside.

3 days into the month...

It has only been 3 days into the month of April, but so far, everything is going as planned.

I have yet to whip out a credit card for any type of purchase, as I have funded envelopes for everything I could possibly go purchase as a day to day transaction.

All the bills are covered via the checking account balance, so I have no need to run to the bank in a panic, depositing funds.

In all, things are pretty much just going along.

I went to the grocery store for my beginning of the month big trip and still have $120 left in my grocery envelope for midmonth shopping, which should be more than enough.

I have spent some of my entertainment money. I have $25 left, which means I need to be a bit more careful for the rest of the month. It also means that I need to relook this number and possibly up the amount next month. The last thing I want is Entertainment to be a budget buster, but I also don't want to get carried away in this category, either. I need to find a happy medium.

My youngest daughter's birthday is this month and I have budgeted $60 for gifts and a cake. I am thinking about making the cake at home with her, kinda like a mom/daughter project we can do together. It will certainly be cheaper than buying a cake and it will give us some precious time together! I haven't decided yet what I will be getting her for a present, but I am doing some cost comparisons for certain items. I am trying my best to get the best deal for my money AND not over doing the gift giving.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cost of not having Health Insurance

Yesterday afternoon I developed a headache. Not your average "Oh, my head freaking hurts" headache. It felt like my brain was entirely too big for my skull and was trying to bust free.

I have had migraines before in my life. The last two years I was on Active Duty, I experienced migraine headaches almost on a weekly basis. But, for the last two years (since I got out of the Military) I have not experienced a migraine.

I thought I was through was those pesky things.

Until today.

When I woke up this morning to bring the girls to school, my head was still throbbing. By noon, it felt like someone was stabbing my head with a knife. Unable to take the pain any longer, I asked my boyfriend to take me to the Minor Care Clinic in town.

Cost: $127.20

The cost break-down is as follows:

$93 for walking into the door

$29 for administering injection

$15 for Phenergan injection

$22 for Nubain injection

Total: $$159

I received a 20% discount, which brought the total down to $127.20. I am really not sure why I got a discount. Perhaps it was because I was paying in cash? In anycase, I am thankful for the $30 savings.

Before I went to the clinic, I called and asked how much an estimated charge would be for going in for a migraine. They told me over the phone that there was the $93 charge and up to the first $100 would be due the same day as treatment and anything over that amount would be billed.

Once the doctor realized I was paying out of pocket, he did some magic tricks on the paperwork, turning my 15mg of Nubain that I actually did receive into 5mg of Nubain so I wouldn't have to pay for the entire amount. Pretty nice doctor. At first he was really concerned about my costs being too high. I told him as long as it was something I truly needed to stop the pain, I would pay. I just didn't want to pay for things that were unnecessary and that wouldn't stop the pain.

I have looked into health insurance before. Unfortunately, insurance is much more than I could afford at the times when I was looking. Approximately $300 a month and then the insurance not stepping in to pay anything until after the first $5,000 a year was just not something I could afford. That would mean that I would have to pay $8,600 in a year before insurance stepped in.

Of course, something catastrophic could happen. In case of an auto accident, I do have a medical rider on my car insurance, since that is the most likely event to occur given my age and health condition. Really, outside of the migraine history and knee issues (incurred during service) I have excellent health.

I paid for the visit out of my "buffer" fund. I will have to replace those funds in the May budget. I already have a "dental" fund; in May I will also develope a "medical" fund. My goal is to have $1000 funded in the medical fund by the October 2009 budget.

This will take away from my debt snowball, but it is important that I have some type of "buffer" fund put in place in case of medical events.