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Archive for January, 2008

Citi Cash Returns Card

January 31st, 2008 at 05:01 pm

So I will be getting this card. It's 1% back on everything which means its going to become my bill card. It also has more cash back based on merchants. Once the rewards reach $50, they mail you a check automatically.

Its better in every way than my other cash reward card so I can get rid of that once all my credit cards are paid off.

I am pleased because I have been currently using one of my unrewarding credit cards as a test run for bill paying and it has worked but I don't get anything back.

I do think I won't fully switch to a credit card bill paying method until all the old credit card debt is gone but for now it works well to balance out the grocery and household need items.It also ensures less hassle if someone gets ahold of my credit card number.

An Expensive January...

January 29th, 2008 at 05:26 pm

January was our catch up month (since we didn't let ourselves have an allowance until recently). We bought things that we had wanted or needed for the past year.

What amazes me most about this, is that we aren't behind. No credit cards got racked up, no bills had to be moved to a later date and no budget categories had to be skimped on. We simply had the money.

It sort of boggles my mind how much we spent this month and it really shouldn't because we obviously spent money to rack up credit card debt in the first place.

I think the issue is that we were able to accomplish so much with the money. There weren't any extremely expensive items purchased so the money went very far.

We spent a fair amount on clothing, bought roller blades and protective gear, bought kitchen equipment, bought crafting materials and ate out more than we normally allow ourselves.

The reason we could afford all this is that my DH paid off his credit cards early thanks to overtime and careful budgeting and we didn't go nuts at Christmas.

On top of all this, we both used our bonuses to pay down debt.

Oh and our date for final credit card payoff has moved up to September.

Budget Percentages

January 25th, 2008 at 05:18 pm

So decided to see what portion of our budget went to what and here are our numbers.

Necessary Expenses - 32%
(or better to call this hard to cut expenses since some of them wouldn't qualify as true necessity.)

Fun Money - 13%

Savings after tax - 5.4%
[doesn't include DH's 401(k, he currently contributes 5% of base pay to get 100% match)]

Debt Repayment - 51%

If one of us lost our job we would still need 45.5% of our income to meet all our obligations at the moment(includes min payment on credit cards).

Once the credit cards are finished and we have bought a house I am shooting for the following:

Necessary - 40.5%
(includes mortgage and taxes since its the equivalent of rent)

Fun - 17%

Savings - 38%
[still not including the 401(k)]

Debt - 4.6%
(one lonely student loan which will have a lower interest rate then the mortgage and is on the 10 year plan)

Course, this is overly simplistic and requires our salaries to be frozen in time and my DH to fail to earn any bonuses BUT it does give me something to look at.

Ick...My friend got laid off.

January 24th, 2008 at 03:09 pm

She was just starting to get her feet under her and then she got laid off yesterday. She is calling the temp agency today to get on their hiring list again and will be job hunting but needless to say, its going to be a bit rough for her.

Fortunately, they were nice enough to give 2 weeks severance even though they didn't have to so that should help. She will file for unemployment as of Monday since they will be paying her through this Friday.

It could be an interesting month for all of us. Uggg. I am not sure how much we should help her given that she made some bad financial choices that we promised ourselves we would not support...

Hopefully she gets a new job before that becomes an issue.

So glad that card is almost paid off...

January 23rd, 2008 at 05:49 pm

My Bank of America credit card is raising its interest rate. My current rate is 10.99, they want to raise it to 20.99 as of the 1st day after the March closing statement. Just like my Capital One when it raised its interest rate, I have the option of rejecting it and being able to pay it off over time.

Obviously, I won't do that since it would have a huge impact on my credit score thanks to losing all that unused credit limit so I am a little peeved.

Thankfully, I will have this card paid off in May at the latest which means they won't get much from me but its still annoying.

I find it to be a strange coincidence that my two oldest credit cards have now both raised their interest rates on me since you aren't supposed to get rid of your oldest credit lines. That's okay, once we have bought our house, they are going bye bye. I have two other cards right now that have much better benefits and are worth keeping.

Change of Grocery Stores

January 21st, 2008 at 04:49 pm

So we have been wanting to avoid pesticides and other lovely chemicals in our foods. To do this, we decided to start shopping at Sunflower Market. Its a grocery store that is set up like a farmer's market (75% of floor space is devoted to produce, cheese, bakery bread and meat). We used to shop there when we lived at our other apartment but it wasn't as convenient for us at our current place.

Now, I was a little nervous about the expense since a lot of organic stores are way more expensive. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that it was cheaper than the grocery store I have been going to!!

The milk did cost more and flour would be pricy too but the produce is sooo cheap in comparison as is the fish that it couldn't even compare. We spent $86 on a trip that normally costs us over $100.

So I am going to drop my grocery budget back down to normal since it looks like the costs will be comparable in the long run.

Ticker update and finding a dog

January 18th, 2008 at 06:40 pm

Woohoo! This is going to be fun! As some of you may know, my dh is finally debt free so its my turn. So, my ticker is going to be dropping every couple of weeks rather drastically.

Oh, and I don't know where I would put this but my dh and I devouted pet owners. Two days ago, a slightly overweight beagle came bounding up to me and waited for me to open the door of my building. Since I figured the owner was probably nearby, I let the beagle in and went looking for the owner. No luck. So I dropped mystuff off at my apartment and started knocking on doors.

I figured she must have jumped from someone's balcony (a common enough problem for some owners there) so I went to the doors of people I knew owned pets. I figured they would recognize the animal.

Hmmm...so now I am worried. No owner outside, no owner home inside and no tags on the dog.

So someone suggests Dumb Friends League, they can check for microchips. We race over there in my friend's car before it can close and let them know what happened. I figure someone in our community lost him but we have locked buildings so I can't go knocking. The dog has a microchip and just on the off chance that she had visited there before, the lady checked the system.

Low and behold, she is in the system, they call the owner and let her know that I am willing to bring her dog to her if she would like me to (which saves the owner $45).

I get on the phone with her, get her phone number and head back. It seems she adopted the dog from the shelter and the dog had been placed in the shelter because she kept running away from her previous owners.

They had been out walking and the owner had been adjusting the leash when dear doggy ran off and refused to come back. She had gone looking but dear doggy refused to come within arms reach. The owner was shocked that I had been able to get the dog but I am one of those people that dogs follow everywhere so I had never had an issue getting the dog to go with me even without a leash.

The owner was thrilled to have her runaway back (especially since the next day had been projected for -1) so she gave me a $25 visa gift card.

I was just thrilled that I didn't have to make a "donation" of $20 to drop the animal off AND I had gotten the animal back home.

Any pet owner knows that night would have been rough on the owner.

That said, I should make sure to budget a donation for The Dumb Friends League just because I love the organization.

Duh, I should have known that.

January 18th, 2008 at 03:29 pm

This post is due to a forum post about making tortillas from scratch. I feel like an idiot because I should have realized they would be easy to make from scratch.

Its amazing how many premade things we just accept in our diet because we don't realize that its just as easy to make them. Its also really important to me because we need to be cooking everything from scratch if we are to go organic this next month. It will help keep costs down which I still suspect will go up some.

Ah well, that is what I love about this place. It helps me catch those things I still take for granted.

Thanks everyone!

Change of Plan

January 14th, 2008 at 04:40 pm

So as some of you may have guessed, I change my mind alot. Big Grin

My dh and I decided we are going to pay off the credit cards before buying a house. We hate to gamble on renewing our rental contract and it probably won't save us money in the long run if the rental company jacks up the price like we suspect they will BUT, we will both be happier to have the debt gone.

This means the last credit card will be gone in October if not sooner. The only reason we are doing it this way is because my dh got a promotion which gives us the ability to consider this option. It came with a big pay increase and the ability to accumulate bonuses as well.

Depending on how things go, there is still the potential of getting into a house before our current lease expires, we just won't count on that.

Deeply Disturbed...

January 10th, 2008 at 06:07 pm

I will qualify this post by reminding everyone that I came from a very poor family that somehow managed to do well with what they had. I will also remind everyone that budgeting wise, DH and I didn't do poorly until we moved away after college so our current mess was a momentary blip of insanity.

Has anyone looked at various sites about what percentage to save of their income? I nearly popped a gasket when I saw some of them recommending saving the same amount I currently save (which I consider low because I am paying off credit cards)!!

Now I have always known I was oblivious and out of touch but when a savings blogger who thinks he is extremely frugal suggests that 50/20/30 goal(musthaves/ savings/wants and this was the most extreme I could find) is difficult to obtain even for him, I begin to wonder how long I have been in the deepfreeze.

Did I miss something? I understand there are times in people's lives where they can't always save alot but that is why you save when you can. I currently live on 45% of my income and that includes an allowance. Everything else is debt payments and savings. My dh does the same.

I can see why it was a struggle for someone like my father to live on a poverty level income and save (which he still did) but why is 10% the most common advice I see? Don't people want to retire eventually?

I realize that a great majority of you figured this out sooner but for me its a new concept. I see myself as a spender (because in my family I was the spender by comparison) and the concept that I could be considered an extreme saver in the near future is beyond my imagination.

Rant over, I feel better now Big Grin

Going to Join a CSA

January 8th, 2008 at 05:18 pm

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I am thinking of joining one that will provide eggs and any meat I could want (they are a heritage poultry farm but they have alliances with beef and buffalo farms as well).

Obviously this won't save me money over buying the processed stuff but it may be cheaper than the stuff from organic stores. Even if its a little more, its definitely better for all involved.

I will be doing Farmer's Markets this year as well but have to wait till May for those.

Its only been recently that all our groceries have been conventional and I only did that to get our budget under control. Now that the budget is where it should be, its time to see if I can integrate local, chemical free foods without blowing our budget.

Now if I could just find someone to deliver milk...

Oh bother...

January 7th, 2008 at 09:09 pm

I have only done it a couple of times but its annoying when you are trying to pay down debt.

I paid one of my credit cards 2 days too early so now I am also coughing up a min payment for the card in addition to what I already paid on it. Not a huge deal, but annoying. Especially annoying is the fact that if I hadn't checked something else on the website I would have never known.

Of course, the other money issue annoying me at the moment is an uncashed check. I was refunding my firm the unused portion of petty cash for my business trip and its now 2 months later and they still haven't cashed it. Guess I am going to have to ask if they lost it.

January update on the ticker

January 3rd, 2008 at 04:06 pm

Woohoo! My bonus being added to my debt money was a very nice addition. I am debating how much to make dh pitch in on stuff. I may just let him splurge for a little bit since he paid off his 20k. He's earned it. Sides, he is picking up the tax bill this year so that is a big one off my list. I think I will just make him pay for any travelling we want to do.

Oh, here is the latest version of my budget if anyone is interested.

Savings $25
Roth IRA $150
Water and Sewer $45 (actual range is $35-45)
Cellular phone for 2 $84
CC1 $100 (balance 3403)
Electricity $100 (actual range $80-100)
Cable internet $62
CC2 $150 (balance 6326)
CC3 $800 (balance 7053)
Groceries $250
Allowance $150
Netflix $10
Student Loan $194
Bus Pass $60 (my work pays for one of them)

CC4 has been paid off. Normally I would snowball but in this case, my big monster has the worst apr by far at 10.99%.

Now I just have to pretend that I am a patient person.

A promotion for DH

January 2nd, 2008 at 07:40 pm

So my dh got his promotion he was hoping for along with a pay raise and chances for bonuses. So a couple of changes to his budget.

A bonuses will go to the downpayment fund

$1000 per month to the downpayment fund

$250 to his allowance and any expenses that crop up (so the majority of this to the downpayment fund as well).

All in all, this will definitely make our goal of getting a house next February more achievable.