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A Sense of Urgency

February 7th, 2008 at 01:10 pm

The past few weeks I have felt a sense of urgency to get out of debt that I have not felt before.

I have been working on it steadily for about a year and a half now, but the crisis in the housing market and other economic indicators have really gotten me focused on getting out of debt as soon as possible.

The more I observe what is going on around me and hear the horror stories of couples hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the more thankful I am that our debt is only $65,000.

I really want to get the debt out of the way and get a fully funded emergency fund built up, just in case.

Helpful Personal Finance Calculator

February 6th, 2008 at 04:40 am

I found this personal finance calculator interesting this morning. According to it my budget is WAY off.

According to their percentage allotments, our housing & debt costs are fine. They recommend 30% and ours are at 24.34%.

Our insurance costs are slightly over what they should be. They recommend 4% and ours weigh in at 5.48%.

We are not saving near enough, which I expected since I'm throwing as much as I can toward the debt instead.

Our living expenses are really over the limit that they recommend. They say they should be at 26% of your income and ours come to 57.3%. I really don't see any way to cut those expenses. They are what they are and there's not much I can do about it. We need to heat our home, put gasoline in our cars so we can work and have money for prescriptions that we need.

All in all, it's a good tool to use to see how you measure up against the ideal budget and get a grasp on how you spend your money.

Little Expenses Add Up

February 4th, 2008 at 04:17 am

It seems to me that it's really not the big expenses that break my budget so much as it is the little ones that eat away at it bit by bit. This morning I had to write a check for DS#3's field trip for environmental science that he wants to go on. Only $25, but that's $25 that wasn't expected, so I have to take it out of the budget somewhere.

We've stopped paying the 2 youngest to do chores around the house because DH got tired of them not doing them correctly. So that money went back into the budget and I'm paying for the things, like this, that come up instead of them using their allowance. It's not often that they need money for things, so it's not a big deal. I'll account for it somewhere...

Getting Lost in Lost

February 2nd, 2008 at 01:15 pm

I've spent way too much time the past 2 days watching repeats of Lost. I had watched it when it first began but didn't see any of last year's episodes. I decided I wanted to get back into it again, especially when I saw that you can watch all of the previous episodes on-line for free.

So yesterday I began with the pilot episode and am making my way through season 1.

I figured this is a much cheaper way to do it than buying the DVDs for all 3 seasons!

What to Do?

February 1st, 2008 at 04:04 am

We got a notice in the mail yesterday that DS#2 has overdrawn his checking account for the 2nd time in 2 weeks. DH wants the account closed out immediately since my name is also on it. Needless to say, I am not too happy about it, either, but I don't know if closing it out is the correct thing to do.

DS#2 will be 18 next month. I don't know if he can have a checking account by himself before then or if he needs an adult to be on it. He needs to learn to handle his money, but I don't want it to be at my expense either. He has always been the type of kid that flies by the seat of his pants and just goes with the flow. A good thing for all the troubles he's had, but bad financially.

And it's not that he doesn't have the money...he just forgets to deposit his paychecks!

The only thing that he really uses the account for is the automatic withdrawals that the car insurance company makes every month. He pays cash for everything else, except the one check he wrote a few weeks ago and forgot to write down!

My first thought is to make him take the paycheck he just got yesterday and make the account current and then have him give me his paycheck every week and let me take care of it, but that's not teaching him anything. He'll be moving out in June and needs to know how to do things.

Ack!!! Kids!!!

Reapplied for Term Life Insurance

January 31st, 2008 at 04:53 pm

I decided to reapply for term life insurance again. You may remember that I was rejected last year because of my blood pressure and the cyst they found in my brain. Since my health has totally turned around since then I figured I'd give it another try.

The neurologist says the cyst is no problem at all, that lots of people have them and don't even know it. The blood pressure is now running 110/70 with the new medicine and I've lost 32 pounds so far with Weight Watchers.

I am back to a size 10, which is still overweight for my height and frame, but I'm still working on it. I have another 24 pounds left to get to my goal weight. The Flex plan is really working well for me. I've been walking with Leslie Sansone and doing yoga 2-3 times a week. I decided this time that the only exercise I was going to do was what I could continue doing the rest of my life. No more half killing myself to burn calories. I'm too old for that now. LOL!

So hopefully in a couple of months I'll know if they approved me and if so, I can cancel the whole life insurance and cash it in. We plan to use it to buy another coal stove for the main part of the house or to replace the roof.

Not What I Wanted

January 31st, 2008 at 04:15 am

I sat down this morning to figure out how much I could pay on the mortgage payment that is due tomorrow. I want to pay $604.16, but looks like I'll only be able to pay $307.48, maybe a bit more depending on how much overtime is in DH's paycheck. But that's more than the minimum I have to pay of $235.34 so I guess that's better than nothing. The oven repair set me back this month and then the unexpected ER visit and DD#2's new medicine that she's taking for migraines.

I should be getting my first paycheck for the new bookkeeping job in a couple of weeks, so I'm planning on putting that on the mortgage.

And I've been told that I may be getting another bookkeeping job. I guess the librarian at the library just across the border in NY state is pushing for me to do their books for them. I went over a couple of weeks ago and helped her treasurer get their QuickBooks set up. When she heard that I do a monthly report for the libraries so that they know what they're spending, she was interested. Right now they pay an accountant to do their books. All he does is figure payroll and then inputs the yearly information into the annual report. He doesn't give them a monthly report so she never knows exactly how much she's spent on collection items or anything else for that matter. So keep your fingers crossed that she can convince her board to hire me!

Gasoline Prices

January 30th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

I was so glad to pull up to the pump today and see that gas was back under $3.00 a gallon again. Who would have thought a few years ago that I'd be glad to see gas at $2.93 a gallon?

I know I'll be glad to get my snow tires off in a couple of months. They've cut my miles per gallon down quite a bit.

Expensive 2 Days

January 29th, 2008 at 03:55 pm

We've had 2 expensive days in a row. Yesterday we spent $46 on a new prescription for DD#2. She's been having migraines lately and the doctor wanted her to try a couple of new medicines. So a trip to the drug store resulted in being $46 poorer.

Then, of course, the ER trip last night wasn't cheap either. We haven't paid anything yet, but we have a $55 co-pay so that bill will be coming in the mail, plus any fees from the doctor that we'll have to pay $20 toward.

Today we had to have a repairman come and fix our oven. It needed a new ignitor. I was thinking it would be about $65 or so. Ha! Just to have him come out was $85 and the part brought the total to over $150!!!

Guess my first paycheck from my new library bookkeeping job will go to pay for the oven. Bummer!

My 17-Year-Old Son was Mugged Tonight

January 28th, 2008 at 07:45 pm

We were at DS#3's basketball game tonight and DH was the EMT at the game and I was selling 50/50 raffle tickets for the Sports Boosters. Shortly after the 2nd quarter of the varsity game began my mother came in crying. Our 17-year-old had called her since he couldn't get us and told her that he was walking down the street going from his job at Subway to his job at McDonald's when 2 guys came out from the shadows of a building and started hitting him. They had something in their hands (he's not sure what) that they hit him in the head with. They went to hit him again and he lifted his hand to protect himself so they got him in the wrist instead.

They took his money, all of $2, and ran off across the street. He said he was kind of dazed so he leaned against a pile of gravel for a bit and then continued on to McDonald's. He called the State Police from there and they sent the town cop over. He told him what had happened and the town cop said that based on where it happened he's pretty sure he knows who the 2 guys were (this is a small town) and they are awaiting sentencing on drug, weapon, and rape charges!!!! So he said DS#2 may have to come down and identify them when he rounds them up.

Yikes!!! It could have been SO much worse! We took him to the ER even though he looked and acted fine. He has a red spot above his right eye that is probably going to bruise and his wrist is just sore. DH is supposed to wake him up at 3 when he gets up for work to make sure he's okay and can answer questions. Then as long as he's up and acting okay at 7:30 he can go to school tomorrow.

I don't think it's all sunk into me yet. I noticed on the way over the hill to McDonald's that I was trembling pretty badly, but my emotions haven't caught up yet.

This is the very same child that has had multiple concussions, hemiplegic migraines, and seizures. He is also the one whose car was wrecked by the school bus backing over it. He is the one that anything and everything will happen to!!! I just don't understand it.

Money Map Simulcast: My Thoughts

January 26th, 2008 at 03:01 pm

We attended the live Money Map simulcast at our church today. It began at 9:30 and ended at 4:30 with an hour break for lunch and 2 breaks of 25 minutes each.

I have to say that by lunch I was extremely frustrated. The speakers they had were good, but when we were going to get to the 'meat' of the material and get practical instructions that would benefit us? I really didn't feel that I needed it for me, but for a friend that attended with me that is in desparate need of a budget. I couldn't help but think that if this were Financial Peace University Dave would already have everyone on a budget and a fully funded baby emergency fund.

Finally, after lunch they got down to specifics. It still wasn't as detailed as I would have liked, but a category plan (budget) was discussed and the link to Crown Money Map that will walk people through setting one up.

I guess that the day was worth the $25 that DH and I paid to attend, but I have to say that I was disappointed. I didn't learn anything new, but DH did. At least now he knows why I have things set up as I do. My friend was satisfied. She said she now knows that she needs to have a spending plan and the basics of how to accomplish that.

For beginners to financial planning, I think this would be good. If you're a veteran at personal finance though, you probably won't be impressed.

I guess I just like Dave Ramsey's approach to finances better. I like the aggressiveness and step-by-step detail he provides. I'll be searching for a Financial Peace University near us.

Discover Open Road Card

January 25th, 2008 at 06:07 pm

Last month I applied and was accepted for the Discover Open Road Card. I had been using my Chase Rewards Card and getting 3% cash back on my purchases. The Discover card gives me 5% cash back so I decided to do that. If I have to pay over $3.00 a gallon on gasoline I might as well get back every penny I can.

I pay the balance of our credit cards off each month, so I'm not spending any money on CC fees. Any money I get back on these cards will be going to pay off the mortgage.

Debt Reduction Revision

January 25th, 2008 at 04:15 am

Okay, so this morning I hear for sure that the max that a household is going to get from the stimulus pacakge is $1200. So I had to revise my Quicken Debt Reduction Planner.

With only $1200 put down on the mortgage it extends the payoff date to January 2009. At the end of the year there will only be a balance of $550 left on it though. I'm betting that I can find an extra $550 somewhere this year so that it can be paid off. That will be my challenge to myself.

DH also wants to buy a coal stove for the main part of the house to replace the wood pellet stove. We have found that the coal stove in the kitchen puts off much more heat and is more reliable than the pellet stove. So the money I save each week out of his paycheck will probably end up going for that.

We will probably also need to put a new roof on the main section of the house this year. The garage roof also needs replaced. Ack! So many expensive projects. It's going to make it a real challenge to pay off that mortgage, but I keep telling myself that it will be well worth it.

Stimulus Package

January 24th, 2008 at 04:04 pm

According to Voice of America DH and I could be getting $2700 we weren't counting on this year. That's banking on reports that it would be $300 per child, with no limit to the number of children.

I reran my Quicken debt reduction planner, and if that is correct, mortgage #1 can be paid off this November and the car payment could be retired November of 2009.

Guard that Money!

January 24th, 2008 at 03:29 pm

We received an unexpected check in the mail today for $129.60. It is a rebate from our escrow account.

Guess where that check is going? Right into the checking account to be applied to that very same mortgage balance! I'll be making that payment on the 29th. Can't let much time lapse or something else will come along that will claim that money!

Money Map Live

January 24th, 2008 at 04:10 am

This Saturday DH and I have the opportunity to attend a simulcast of Money Map Live by Crown Financial Ministries at our church. This is an all-day event that will feature Howard Dayton, Les & Leslie Parrott, Ron Blue, Sharon Epps, Chuck Bentley & James Dobson.

I have been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. I talked DH into going even though he's sure he's going to be bored to death. What could be worse than sitting and listening to people talk about money all day long? LOL!

Now if I could just talk the church into hosting a Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey!

Need Help with Business Name & Slogan

January 23rd, 2008 at 05:27 pm

My side job is getting to the point where I need to start thinking of a name and slogan. I was thinking of naming it "By the Numbers". What do you think? Any idea for a short slogan to put under the letterhead? This is just off the top of my head. I really haven't put much thought into it.

Extra Income

January 19th, 2008 at 06:37 pm

I made an extra $75 today! I met with a NY state treasurer and installed QuickBooks for her and helped her begin to enter in transactions so they would be more organized for their Annual Report. It took us 3 hours, so I don't think that $25 an hour was bad pay at all. I will use it to pay down the mortgage.

I wish I could get more of these side jobs!

Class Has Begun

January 17th, 2008 at 04:17 pm

My new class started yesterday. I am taking Speech Communications this semester. The instructor seems to be really good and I think I'm going to enjoy it much more than I thought I would.

I'm hoping that this class won't be quite so intense as the accounting classes. I'm ready for a bit of a break from all the studying I've done the past several semesters.

Sold My Fluidity Barre!

January 14th, 2008 at 11:49 am

I just sold my Fluidity Barre that I had posted on CraigsList! I am $100 richer now. I'm hoping to put that money on the mortgage this month.

I was surprised at how many inquiries I had on the sale. The girl that bought it drove 3 hours one way to come pick it up.

I'm glad to have it out of the way and hope she enjoys it.

Expensive Week Ahead

January 12th, 2008 at 07:01 pm

This week is going to be an expensive one for us. Tomorrow we take our oldest DD to college. It's 2.5 hours away and we'll be leaving right after church so we'll need to eat lunch and dinner. Lunch will probably be McDonald's, but we decided that dinner is going to be a special treat at Red Lobster. We don't have any Red Lobsters around us so we're going to take advantage of the trip and treat ourselves. DD#2 will also be going along with us.

Then on Tuesday, DH's father is having 5 heart bypasses done so we'll need to travel 2 hours to the hospital where that is taking place. Another day of eating out. Hard on the pocket book, but necessary.

Also hard on the WW plan. LOL! I am .4 pounds away from hitting the 30 pound mark so I am trying to be very diligent with my eating and exercising.

Another Year Older, but NOT Deeper in Debt!

January 10th, 2008 at 04:04 am

Today is my 41st birthday and it's nice knowing that I'm in better financial shape this year than I was last year at this time.

I really have this site to thank for that. I may not post as often as I used to, but I still check it out from time to time and get encouraged to keep on plugging along paying off those debts.

Thanks to all of you for the encouragment that you offer to others!

First Try on Craigslist

January 10th, 2008 at 03:58 am

I tried out Craigslist for the first time last week. I have a Fluidity Barre that I haven't been using. I enjoy yoga more and so the Fluidity Barre has just been sitting propped in a corner for months now. So I decided to try to sell it. I really didn't want to go through Ebay and pay the fees and then have to figure out how in the world to ship it, so Craigslist seemed like a good option to finding someone that would be closer and able to pick it up.

I got an email from someone about 3 hours away who is thinking of driving to my place of work to buy it from me.

I'm asking $100 for it, which for the little bit it was used is a good deal. I told her I would also throw in other workout DVDs that I have for free. That would clear some cabinet space for me also.

23rd Anniversary

January 5th, 2008 at 05:42 am

We celebrated our 23rd anniversary yesterday. After work we went out for dinner to one of our favorite restaurants. DH had received a gift card for this restaurant from his supervisor at work, so that was really nice. I indulged and went off my diet for that one meal and had crabmeat stuffed shrimp and peanut butter ice cream pie with hot fudge topping for dessert. I only ate 2 of the 5 shrimp and one third of the pie. The servings were just too big!

We bought a Magic Bullet and each got nice headphones for our anniversary. We were going to go see a movie but never did make it there. I'm not a movie person and tend to fall asleep so I hate the thought of spending $10 for me to sleep through the movie.

2008 Goals

January 3rd, 2008 at 05:28 am

I updated my goals and debt totals for the new year. I decided to focus on only 2 goals this year: get total debt below $60,000 and get the smaller mortgage paid down to only $3,000. Wouldn't it be great if it was totally paid off this year! That gives me something to really strive for.

I've picked up an extra bookkeeping job this week for one of the libraries in the area and have the possibility of another that I'm going to find out more about this week. That will give me extra money to apply to the mortgage each month.

My bookkeeping business has tripled in the past couple of weeks! Either word of mouth is going around or treasurers are getting desparate and realizing that with the end of the year passing they need to get their books in order for Annual Reports to the state! LOL! So I'm putting in a lot of hours at home on these part-time jobs.

The first library that asked me to do their books had not even balanced their checking account in at least 2 years! It took me 6 hours to get them straightened out and so far, another 5 to get a financial report designed to meet their needs. The treasurer told me that she didn't pay the 3rd quarter payroll taxes because she "doesn't understand them". What????!!!!! You don't just NOT pay the government!!! Yikes!!!

Wintery Day

December 3rd, 2007 at 06:33 am

I got a call early this morning from my boss telling me that she was not going into work today and neither was I. Hey, who am I to argue with that??? LOL! The weather today is terrible and since I had an accident last year getting to work on a day like this, I think she worries about me traveling over the hill. So I have an unexpected day off. I plan on spending it working on my homework for the week and reading.

We have started Turbo Tax in my class now. I'm not quite as familiar with it as QuickBooks, but I have used it before so I don't expect any problem with it. Only about 3 more weeks and this class will be done.

I probably won't be going to Weight Watchers tonight. With the roads so bad, it's not worth the drive and I can't stay for the meeting anyway. Tonight is DS#3's first basketball game of the season so I would need to drive 12 miles one way just to weigh in and then leave.

It feels so good to have the furniture debt paid off! Every time I think of it being paid, I smile.

Weight Loss Update

November 29th, 2007 at 05:05 pm

As of last Monday I have now lost 25 pounds. That was really exciting for me, especially since it was the Monday after Thanksgiving and I'd lost 2.2 pounds that week! Yeah me! LOL

Sure Looks Good

November 29th, 2007 at 05:02 pm

I was just noticing tonight that I like the looks of that list of debts in the sidebar. There are only 3 there now! I started off with 2 credit cards, furniture, 2 mortgages and 2 car loans. That's pretty good for a year!

AND...Another One Bites the Dust!

November 21st, 2007 at 06:06 pm

The furniture is paid off as of today!!! One more debt eliminated!

How I Saved Money By Christmas Shopping on Amazon.com

November 10th, 2007 at 04:56 am

Last night I made a dent in my Christmas shopping, all from the comfort of my own living room. Just a few clicks of the mouse and the gifts are on their way. DS#1 is getting some art supplies and Star Wars books, DS#2 is getting a paramedic bag (fully loaded with supplies), DS#3 is getting a computer tool repair kit and flash drive, and DD#2 is getting a digital camera. I will actually have to go out and get what DH wants and DD#1 has given me no ideas as of yet.

I love shopping this way. I have never been much of a shopper so to be able to do it without leaving the house and fighting the crowds is wonderful for me. I have them delivered to my office and then I don't have to worry about anyone 'accidentally' finding them either. I wrap them at work and then bring them home just before Christmas and place them under the tree. Simple!!!

I actually ended up saving money on DD#2's digital camera. I had done my 'shopping' little by little as the ideas came in and placed them in a cart on Amazon.com. The items stay in the cart for 90 days and the prices get updated if anything changes. I logged in yesterday and the price on the camera had dropped $10, so by not placing my order right away I was able to save money. Of course, the opposite also applies, so you're taking a gamble and also the risk of the item selling out if you don't order it right away. I did not know this about Amazon.com until this year.

I am going to have to actually go Christmas shopping this week with my mother to help give her ideas for the kids, but at least the pressure is off of me, since mine is practically done.

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