Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can't believe that it's been nearly 6 months since I've posted a new entry. Wow! How time flies. I was sticking to my budget, but somewhere along the way I lost track of my goals and wasn't putting anything extra toward my bills or into my savings. Then at Christmas I completely blew it all.

It's okay. I'm picking myself up and dusting myself off to begin again. I can say that my credit score it up almost 100 points from this time last year. On the down side I opened up 2 gas card accounts, 4 store charge cards and 1 new credit card all in the last six months. Unfortunately I maxed out 3 of them over the holidays.

Tonight I'm working on my new budget for 2009. I'll post my goals and plan tomorrow. My mom and I are going on a cruise in October and I want to lose over 100lbs. I'll probably start posting those updates on this blog as well. It's too much for me to have more than one blog.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

May Wrap-Up

I'm disappointed with May's progress. I received my Stimulus Rebate and yes I put mostly all of it in my savings account, but it was to replace money that I had previously spent. Therefore I didn't use it to boost my savings. I used it to bail myself out. I barely put any of my excess funds toward debt repayment. I can't say that Mother's Day or my eldest daughter's birthday were the reasons for my lack of progress. I spent a lot of money eating out in May. That's senseless because I had $44 left in my grocery budget. I'm seriously going to start sinking if I don't get my act together. So in June I'm going to try something different. I'm going to post my June Goals here and hopefully at the end of June I'll have accomplished them all.

June Goals
  1. Do not charge more than $100 on my credit card.
  2. Save at least $28 in my money games.
  3. Replace the $79.13 that I owe my Christmas Fund.
  4. Save at least $49.39 toward repaying my mom for my previous car.
  5. Save at least $6.87 in my ING account.
  6. Pay at least $150 extra on my car note.
  7. Don't go over budget on my youngest daughter's birthday.
  8. Lose 8 pounds!
  9. Take a lunch at least 2 days each week.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BL @ Work - Surprising Twist

When I got to work this morning there was an envelope in my box saying that I won 3rd place in the Biggest Loser at Work contest. The prize was $20. I'm not sure how I won. In the end I gained a couple of pounds overall. So I guess maybe the other 3 people didn't weigh in or they gained more than me. I know one lady lost 29 pounds and she didn't even exercise.

She drank a gallon of water a day. She ate at least one monounsaturated fat with each meal. She did a couple of other things, but I can't remember what she told me.

So, today I decided to stop planning and just to make myself do something. I met a co-worker at a local track and I walked 1 3/4 miles. I thought my knee was going to be in a lot of pain when I got home, but it hasn't. It actually feels a little better.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Credit Card Spending

My credit card spending is getting out of control. These last couple of months I've nearly maxed out my card and used my extra debt repayment money to pay it off. I've got to get it together.

I guess I can consider this another ripple.

BL @ Work Finale

Okay today was the last day and I didn't lose a single pound. As a matter of fact I gained. I'm disappointed with myself for not doing anything. I just gave away $25.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate

I got my rebate on Friday, the same day that I got paid. It was awesome to see so much money in my checking accounts.

I spent all of it except for $60 on debt or savings. I'm so proud of myself. Last year I would blown the whole thing on clothes, electronics, food, hotels, etc. and I wouldn't have anything to show for it in 6 months. Hopefully in 6 months I'll have some decent interest to show for my discipline this year.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

$5 Obsession!

I'm realizing I have a new $5 obsession. LOL! Well, not really, but lately I've been doing a couple of things in fives and it seems to be working.

Even though I have a list of things to try for my Money Games each month. I usually end up saving the new five dollar bills. They are so pretty!

This past week I decided to spend no more than $5/day. It's been going really well. I usually spend it on lunch because I haven't been to the market. This entire week I spent less than the $5 and I put the excess in my money games each night.

I'm going to the market this weekend, so next week I shouldn't spend much at all. I just remembered that I'll be proctoring for the next 2 weeks at school again. They have breakfast bars, fruit, chips and water for us. That means I don't have to buy some of those things when I go to the market. I'm going to buy a couple just in case they run out at work and don't replace it. It'll save me lunch money, grocery money and gas since I won't drive to the food place or home. I'll go up to my office instead. This will also help me in the BL @ Work contest. Yay!

BL @ Work Revived - For a Limited Time Only!

I called the teacher in charge of the contest yesterday because I still hadn't received my refund. She told me that the majority of the other members decided to keep the program going until May 21st. That doesn't make any sense at all to me. Why risk $25 for 2 weeks? So, I'm stuck.

Bad News
I injured my knee last week and could barely walk on it, but it's nearly back to normal now. So I'm going to give it a shot for the next two weeks. It's going to be tough. I'm selling chocolate for my 6th grade daughter and her birthday was last week so there is still half of a huge cake left.

Positive News
I saw a friend from my last job on Thursday. She's lost nearly 30 pounds. She's on some program called Melaleuca. She eats a breakfast bar for breakfast, a meal replacement bar for lunch and has a normal dinner. She cut out snacking on junk food. She doesn't eat anything after 7pm. She's not even exercising because of her sciatic nerve. She said she was starving in the beginning and then her body finally adjusted. I forgot to ask her how long that took. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to attempt a version of this.

My Breakfast

  • Special K Bar
  • A piece of fruit

My Lunch

  • Sandwich
  • A baggie of chips or crackers
  • A baggies of carrots

My Snack

  • A piece of fruit
  • Yogurt

My Dinner

  • Whatever
  • Watch my portions
  • Don't come back for seconds

My Snack

  • Healthy Shake
  • or something sweet and healthy

I also just remembered that I proctored all last week. The students are taking the state standardized text. We are testing in the large gym, which is an indoor regulation sized basketball court. Each proctor is assigned to a row that is 20 students long and spans the width of the gym. One of the PE teachers was proctoring last week and she said that 8 times across is a mile. I'll have to clarify if that's across and back or just across. In either event I got a lot of exercise last week on my bum knee. We have to go across and back for each task listed below.

Tasks (across and back for each task)

  • pass out pencils
  • pass out answer sheets
  • pass out test booklets
  • check that they filled in their demographic info correctly
  • check that they write and bubble the correct test version number
  • check they are bubbling in the correct section
  • pass out good behavior tickets
  • collect pencils
  • collect answer sheets
  • collect test booklets
  • we also rove the aisles several times to answer questions, pass out tissue, replace pencils and pass out magazines to the students who finish early

That's all before lunch. Most days we test after lunch as well and we repeat the same process over again. So assuming that it's 8 times across and back. I get in a minimum of 2 miles before lunch and another 2 miles after lunch. That's awesome.

I found out yesterday that I'll be proctoring Monday - Thursday for the next 2 weeks. On Fridays I'll be in my office, which is upstairs and I'm sure I'll get plenty of stair work in.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Savings Savings Everywhere

I opened 2 new savings accounts today. I'm going to do what AMBELLAMY does and have a savings account for everything I want to save money for.

I went to and chose my top 3 banks. I tried to open an account with iGObanking, but they denied me. That's cool because they wanted too much information. I hate when banks ask about my job. Why?

So I ended up at ING Direct because everyone says how easy it is to open an account with them. I didn't want to use them because their interest rate is on the lower end, but I'm not saving this money to keep. I'm saving it to pay bills annually or in a lump sum. So anything I earn will be great. Plus it will probably take me a while to build the balances up and with low balances the interet isn't going to have that big of an impact. I also opened an account at OnBank.

Yesterday My Heart Was Broken

I had an appointment at the home ownership organization yesterday. I wasn't exactly sure why I needed to come back, but I was sure the loan consultant knew. Last time I went I had to wait nearly an hour for him. This time I called ahead to make sure that he would be ready on time. He told me that my appointment had been given to someone else. I was annoyed. I felt like someone should have mentioned that to me. I showed up 15 minutes early and I still had to wait over 45 minutes.

I'm not a very patient person. I believe that you should respect my time the same way I respect yours. I try to arrive early and I normally do. I believe that the person I'm meeting should do their best to see me on time. I don't mind waiting up to 15 minutes after my appointment time. Anything other than that is rude and uncalled for. If you have clients in your office you need to explain to them that you have another appointment waiting and you'll need to see them again to finish their session or you need to schedule your appointments further apart.

Secondly it's always hot in their waiting room. They don't have a fan or air conditioning or even blinds to block out the sun. They don't offer you water or hand fans or anything to make it more comfortable.

Finally, you have to park at meters and the first time I got a ticket because I was late 2 minutes.

Anyway I was completely annoyed and to make it worse she didn't even have a client in her office. I believe she was eating lunch. She said she was reviewing my file. Okay, so why not review my file WITH me? Oh and BTW the guy that I saw last time only had yesterday's clients waiting 3 minutes past their appointment time. Can you believe my luck?

That wasn't the worse part. The worse part was that I was completely disillusioned about my ability to purchase a home in the near future. The last guy said he could qualify me in a couple of months if I wanted to get a multi-unit building and rent out the other units. She said that I'm no where near being able to get qualified.

My DTI is 48% because of my car and they can't count my child support until they get a copy of the court order. So my income was reduced significantly because of that. She said my DTI needs to be below 40% based on my VERIFIABLE income. My VERIFIABLE income before taxes needs to be $6000 while I'm paying off my car and $5000 after. Finally, I need to save at least $7,000 to cover closing costs, taxes, insurance, etc.

My heart was broken because that seems impossible. I immediately began thinking about all the time I've wasted taking a class here and there without completing a degree. I can lower my DTI. I can save $7,000, but how in the world am I supposed to gross $5000 a month without a college degree or any formalized training?

I don't know what I'm going to do about that. In the mean time I'm going to work on the things that I can accomplish. Maybe in the process I'll finally figure out what I want to do, get my degree and get a job where I gross $5,000.

Friday, April 25, 2008

BL @ Work Is Over

I got a note in my mailbox at work from the teacher that's running the contest. She said that it's fizzled out and that she'll return my money if I want her to. I said yes because even though I've weighed in each time, except for last week, I haven't been exercising or eating right.

I weighed myself this morning and I was down 3 lbs. from the last weigh-in, but still up from the original number.

I am still going to push myself to join 24 hour fitness. I read my horoscope somewhere and it said it's not enough for me to know what to do. I need to put it into action. Wow! That's me - 100% knowledge 0% action. LOL!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Trying to Stay On Top

I've been feeling like I'm on the verge of being overwhelmed for over a month now. There is so much to do. My oldest daughter is graduating from elementary school and going to middle school. The middle schools in our district aren't very good, so I'm trying to get her into one of the local charter schools. We've been writing essays, making copies, filling out applications, attending informational meetings, etc.

On top of that her birthday is May 7th and last year when my life was simpler I promised her that she could have a slumber party with 3 of her best friends at a hotel. So, I'm also party planning. Her birthday is during the week, so we are having the party next weekend. I pre-planned most of it, but now I have to do all the shopping and I hate shopping.

The science fair is coming up and this year both of my darlings are doing projects. They are picking them out as we speak and I'm sure right after the party we will get right on that.

Work has actually calmed down just enough for me to try to catch up on some of my data entry, but they keep trying to find other things for me to do. It's driving me a little nuts.

Tomorrow I have another appointment with the Homebuyer's Organization. Maybe I'll actually get some concrete information about my situation this time. That reminds me that I really need to get a handle on things and get that second job before the summer. I'm thinking about applying at a bookstore, since I love to read.

My sister repaid the loan I gave her. I'm happy about that. So in a few days once the check clears my EF will be back at it's proper balance.

I can't wait to get my Stimulus Rebate, so I can repay my Savings account for our Spring Break Vacation. Some of it will go toward my car note. I slacked on that a bit this month. I'm also going to put a little aside to repay my mom. I can't wait until I have it all saved up to pay her. She's not expecting it and I think she'll be so happy.

I've been buying bottled water by the case and keeping it in my car for lunch. I usually go through 2 cases a month. I've been saving the bottles because my mom recycles. She takes all her bottles and cans once or twice a year. I decided that I'm going to recycle my water bottles and put that money into my money games account.

I've been listing more and more of my books on I have a bunch that I need to mail out right now. So far all the books that I've ordered have been in excellent condition. So I've been trying to read at least 30 minutes each evening with my little darlings. I read for a few hours on the weekends to relax. I've been going through about 2 books a week.

BL @ Work
I was supposed to weigh-in unofficially yesterday, I think, but I forgot again. I've really got to start making my health more of a priority. My head is hurting right now and I hate that because I rarely get headaches. Of course I'm sitting here typing like an idiot instead of trying to figure out what's wrong with me. I guess I better go.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

BL @ Work Week 8

I didn't weigh in this week. My youngest daughter had a fever all Tuesday night and I stayed home with her on Wednesday. I will weigh in on my scale this Wednesday, since I didn't think about it last week.

I think I've lost a few pounds. I've been eating at home more and I've been watching what I eat a little. I still haven't done any exercise, but I found an exercise buddy at work. Maybe this week I'll get around to actually taking her up on her offer to exercise and use my free 30 day 24 hour fitness pass.

I won another book!

I just finished reading one of the books I won on another blog. Yesterday I got an email that I had won another one. So far all the books I've won have been really interesting reads. I've also started using my Paperbackswap account. I've already mailed out 8 or 9 books. I've received 3 and there are 3 more on the way to me.

Once I started using the site I discovered that you can trade any book. It doesn't have to be a paperback and it doesn't have to be fiction. It's actually a really cool site and all the books I've received have been in really good condition.

Flagstar Verify Account Funds

Over a month ago Flagstar sent verification deposits to my checking and saving accounts at another bank so that I would be able to make transfers between institutions. I've had this done by other banks before and it's no big deal. They usually make the deposits and a few days later they withdraw the funds. Well Flagstar still hasn't withdrawn the funds. I mean it's only about $3 over the four accounts, but it's throwing off my balances. I keep forgetting how much is in each account and now it's been so long that I have to search for the transactions. I guess they are going to let me keep those little amounts. So maybe next month I'll allow myself to add it permanently into my balance.

Suze Orman's Save Yourself Money Market Account

I opened a Suze Orman Save Yourself account in April 2007. I'll give you a little background on the account if you haven't heard of it. In February 2007 Suze's latest book, "Women and Money" came out. In the book she gave a code that allowed her readers to open a money market account with Td Ameritrade. The deal was that you would get $100 free if, within 30 days of opening the account you set up monthly automatic deposits in the amount of $50 or more for 12 consecutive months without making any withdrawls.

Well I did it. On the same day I sent my 13th monthly automatic deposit, Td Ameritrade gave me $100!!!!

A few months ago they started offering the same deal for people who wanted to open an IRA instead. I think it was a great offer. Unfortunately the last day to open a Save Yourself Account was at the end of March. Maybe they will bring it back, or maybe they are regretting the offer now that the economy is not doing so great.

Monday, April 7, 2008

BL @ Work Update

I didn't realize that I hadn't posted my weigh-in results. It was not intentional. Thanks, Heather for reminding me.

I have only been weighing in on the officials days which are every other Wednesday. Here's the breakdown so far.

Week 2: - 2.5lbs.
Week 4: +2.0lbs.
Week 6: +6.olbs.

Overall I'm up 5.5lbs.

It's my own fault. I haven't been exercising or watching what I eat. I've been eating out a lot more again. Week 4 my Aunt Flo was visiting and that was fluid. Week 6 was the week after Spring Break and I probably did gain a couple of pounds while on vacation. I'm sure at least half of it was water retention because I had misplaced my blood pressure medication and hadn't taken it in almost a week.

We don't weigh in again until next week and I plan to get in at least a couple of days of walking. Especially since I'm supposed to go out to dinner with the ladies from my old job this week and out to dinner with my best friend next week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Considering Book Giveaways

I went through all my books this weekend. I ended up with 39 books that I listed on Paperback Swap. There are a few more that I didn't get to. So far 7 have requests pending. That's great because for each book I send off I can get one.

I also found some PF books that I am considering giving away on this blog. It probably won't be until next month after I finish paying to ship all these Paperback Swap books.

I also have a small stack of books that I'd like to donate to the library. I owe them a ton of late fees. I wonder if they will take the books instead of cash?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Free Book!

I won another book today and the author of that blog pulled my name as her blog's entry into another blog's contest. I'm sure that was quite confusing.

I was thinking today, that although most of the books are fiction I might give them away on my blog when I'm done with them. I like to collect hardcover books, but not paperbacks. Or I guess I could use them to finally put my PaperBackSwap membership to good use.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Re-Finance A Bust

I just tried to refinance my auto loan through HSBC and they couldn't beat what I already have. The value of my car is around $10k according to the rep. and I still owe nearly $13k. My mileage is excellent. He also said that because of my income they couldn't lower the rate or the payment. The best payment he came up with was $382/month. That's $70 more. I didn't even want to know the rate he was getting. I think 11.45% is extremely high, but he said it was good compared to what he came up with.

I'll try again in a few months when I've significantly paid the car down.

March Wrap-Up

Part-time Gig

Nothing manifested. My old job never got back to me about working 2 hours in the afterschool program and I'm not one to push. My brother still hasn't brought the information on this real estate thing he wants to do. I've already reminded him, but I think he has a lot on his plate right now.

Bank Accounts

I finally got all my automatic deposits and withdrawls re-routed to my WAMU account and I closed my PICU accounts. The fees were killing me and the branch is too far from home. It was perfect when I worked around the corner, but lately it's been more of a burden to maintain those accounts.

I need to call Flagstar because everytime I log in to check on my CD the APY is different. Of course it's lower because of the economy, but it should lock in the day I open the account and remain the same until the account matures. The rate was 3.86% the day I opened the account and now they are showing it as 3.51%.

Spring Break

Today is the last day of our Spring Break. The girls and I spent four days and three nights at a hotel. I took $450 from my Birthday fund to pay for it and $100 from my checking padding and I put another $100 on my credit card. I booked the rooms on Priceline so they were about $75/night. The food is what killed me. I need to budget for it next time. I also need to set limits on how much we can spend on each meal. My plan is to pay back this money from my Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate.

Money Games

I used some of last month's $49 to pay my $30 fee for the homebuyers program I joined. This month I didn't do as good. I only saved $28. Honestly I look at any savings as a victory, considering my not too distant past.

Mom Car Loan

I finally came up with a plan to pay my mom back for my previous car. Instead of putting all my extra money into paying off my current car, I'm going to put a little aside for her. I'm only going to put either a full months car payment of $308.68 or a half months car payment of $154.34 toward my car. Anything over those increments is going to repay my mom. I know it sounds confusing. Let's say I have $360 for debt repayment. I'll put $308.68 toward my current car and the remaining $51.32 toward my mom. If I have $500 then I'll put $463.02 toward my car (1.5 months) and the remaining $36.98 toward repaying my mom.

I Won Two More Books

I forgot to post this last week. Last Monday I got 2 emails saying that I won a book on two different blogs. I'm so excited. It doesn't take much effort for me enter these contests and I generally only enter for books I'm really interested in. When I win it's a real treat. They even ship the books to me for free. It saves me a ton of money.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Time Flies

I can't believe it's been over 2 weeks since I've posted anything here. I'm sure that's because I haven't been as on top of my finances as I should have been.

I spent most of today catching up financially. I've updated my budget spreadsheet for this month and next month. The last thing I have to do is figure out how much my paycheck will be in April because I'm not getting paid for a few of the days I was off.

I'm going to try to update on Monday.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just A Thought

I was thinking yesterday about how I am repaying my auto loan. I don't know if I'm going to do this, but here's the plan. As I posted previously, my next car payment is not due until June. I have $829.68 budgetted to pay each month. Instead of sending those payments in April and May I would like to send just the interest that I'm being charged during those months. I would like to put the rest of the money into my savings account and let it earn a few cents of interest. Then in June I would send all the money I had budgetted from April, May and June which would be the equivalent of 8 months of payments. So the next time I could save the money and earn 8 months worth of interest.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


My large payment finally posted and the balance on my auto loan is now: $12,995.36. Yay! I owe less than $13k!! My next payment isn't due until 6/28/2008. That is so awesome.

The bad news is that I have to retract a previous statement. I am not right side up on my loan. I went to the Kelley Blue Book website today and priced my car. The Suggested Retail Value is $12,725. I still have a couple hundred dollars to go before I'm ahead.

Next month I will surely be on the right side of this loan. I'm being really patient with it all right now. I'm enjoying the successes as they come, small and large. I'm trying to deal with the ripples before they become waves. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Part-time Gig

Two possible part-time gigs fell into my lap today.

A friend at the school I used to work for asked me if I wanted to come back and help them with the after-school program. I thought she was joking, but she was serious. She told me to think about it. She doesn't have the final say, but her boss does and it's just the 2 of them in that office, so I think she has some insight into the situation.

Last year I worked the program for 3 months when I was at that school and I hated it. BUT, it was a new program to our school and our administrator was very disorganized. We didn't have any supplies and the kids' behavior was terrible. I was so stressed out, but the money was good. The only reason I quit was because my dad and my sister both got sick at the same time and I had to take care of them and go to doctor's appointments with them.

My friend hated it as much as I did last year. We all did. She said the kids are better this year and they have a lot more supplies and activities for the kids. She said things are a lot better and they are way more organized.

It would be 2 hours a day. I could choose how many days I want to work. I'm not sure of the schedule, but it would either be 3p-5p or 4p-6p. It would mean an extra $500 a month for the next couple of months until school gets out. It wouldn't cost me any extra gas since my kids go to that school and I pick them up everyday. My kids could get into the program right now instead of being on the waiting list.


My brother wants to start doing some real estate thing and he wants my help. He wants me to research properties for him. He's going to bring me his information tomorrow and let me look it over. I think it's something I can do on the weekend.

I'm going to pray about it tonight and I am going to make a decision tomorrow. I think I'll probably end up trying to do both.


The last couple of weeks I have been so tired when I come home that I don't really want to deal with my finances at all. I guess the "newness" of this responsibility has worn off. It's like when I was 6. I really wanted to learn how to iron clothes. My brothers were 15,17 and 18 so they did most of the chores. I was still too young to do anything right. I would see them ironing their clothes and my father's clothes. (My mom ironed her clothes and mine. My brothers probably would have burned mine because I was such a spoiled brat.) I thought it looked so fun. I begged and begged my mom to teach me. She wouldn't because I was too young and probably would have burned my hand and then dropped the iron on my foot. LOL! A few years later, when my brothers had all moved out and I was older - I had to learn. I was super excited - the first few times. By time summer rolled around and it got hot I was "over" ironing. I began to question why, since both my parents worked and I was the only child left at home, they couldn't afford to put their clothes in the cleaners. LOL!

This week I've been spending money like crazy. I've eaten out several times and used my debit card (Misc. money) because I only have like $45 cash left of my $200 monthly allowance. Sad to say I would have used my credit card if I hadn't been smart enough to remove it from my wallet and my bag. The LIE I've been telling myself in order to carry my debit card is that I need it for gas. My gas money is in that account, but I gassed up yesterday (at a truly horrendous $3.43/gallon) and now the need for carrying this card is over.

So the time for reckoning has come. Remember Susan Powter? The nearly bald- blonde haired lady who lost a ton of weight and was always screaming:


Today Susan is yelling at me about my finances. So I'm holding myself accountable TODAY and tired as I am I will:

  1. balance my checkbook
  2. pay back my misc. fund
  3. take my debit card out of my wallet
  4. only carry my debit card when driving the 3 short blocks to the gas station
Otherwise my budget seems to actually work. The numbers are do-able if I can just get over my mental block of telling myself I'm trapped. For goodness sake I give myself $200/month. I can do plenty with that.

BTW, I thought Susan Powter was crazy at the time, but a few years ago after her fad died down I purchased a couple of her used videos on eBay and I really liked them. Go figure.

So I'm labeling posts along this line - Ripples. Ripples are the tiny waves that occur in water when there has been some small disturbance to the water. They let you know it's time to stop floating and to start swimming and paying attention. You could ignore them and continue to float, but you'd end up somewhere very different than where you wanted to go. I'm sure there will be more. Nothing in life comes without obstacles.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sometimes financial responsibility is SCARY!!!


That's a large scary number for me. That's the payment I sent to my auto finance company today. I've sent $650 before because I was behind, but never as an extra payment. Like I said before this is the first month that I'm really living on the budget I created (with tons of help from WIR). I'm right on track.

I can't wait until tomorrow when it clears my account and I can breathe again. I mean once it's gone - it's gone. I can't change it. Until then I'm shaking in fear. I don't exactly know why, but I am.

I want to keep $100 of it in my account for unplanned expenses, but I know that's unnecessary. I have an EF and $100 padding in my checking account. Not to mention the $20 or $30 I have in my Misc. fund for little things that may come up. I'm covered, but I can't convince my brain of that.

I guess part of me is still shocked that I was wasting this much money on fast food and other frivilous things just 3 months ago. If you had asked me then, I would have told you that I didn't have any extra money for savings (beyond the $50 I was putting in my Save Yourself Account). I would never have believed that I had nearly $600 extra that I could use to pay off my debt.

The exciting thing is that once I pay off my car - I will be putting nearly $1000 into savings each month, not including the retirement that comes out of my paycheck automatically. I can't wait to reach the day I transfer the money into savings instead of my car note. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Flagstar Bank

I opened my first CD today. Well I did it on Sunday, but the money transferred yesterday and the account is official today. It's a 6 month CD and the rate is 3.86%, the APY is 3.91%. I put $500 of my Christmas fund in it so it could earn a little more interest and be a little further out of my reach. I haven't touched it so far, but it's better not to temp myself.

I also opened a money market account with them because they had a phenomenol rate of 4.18% with an APY of 4.25%. I used the other $100 in my Christmas Fund for this. Their MMA has free checks for life and it comes with a Visa debit card. I think that's awesome because I don't have either of those with my Save Yourself Account and the interest rate is much lower on the SYA account.

Yay for me!

BL @ Work Week 2 Weigh-In **Official**

I lost another 1.5 pounds. I'm now down 2.5 pounds for the challenge. That's good and I'm really happy about it. Especially since I didn't workout all last week. I was disappointed in the amount of weight I lost the first week because I put in so much work. Although, I didn't exercise last week I still kept my eating more controlled.

I probably won't exercise much this week either because I'm quickly coming down with something. I feel tired, weak, cold, stuffy, etc. I also feel like I'm going to get a fever. I've been coughing for the past 3 or so days, but I thought a tiny piece of popcorn had gotten trapped in my throat because I didn't feel bad at all. My throat just felt funny. Then I noticed that my cough sounded funny and I wasn't sure why. So today all of a sudden during lunch something hit me and is coming on strong. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because my dad and my sister have been sick for over a month and both had terrible coughs.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I need to get well and step up my game because I'm not going to win the $90 losing 1 pound a week. I'm going to ask the teacher running it if she will let us all know how much everyone is losing. That would motivate me a little. :)

I'm not angry, but I am ahead!

I'm over being angry about the interest the auto finance company is deducting from each payment. I am still shocked each time I see how much it is. I wish I new what formula they use to calculate it. Then I would know ahead of time what to expect.

Last week some of my bills were less than expected and I found an extra $40.41 to send them. This time only $14.55 was applied to the principal. $25.86 went to interest. That's still so crazy to me. I wonder if there is a difference dollar for dollar if I send the payments in as one large lump sum instead of the smaller payments. I mean do they charge less interest for one $300 payment than they do for six $50 payments? It sure seems like it works that way.

On an extremely positive note ** I AM ONE WHOLE MONTH AHEAD ON MY CAR NOTE!** I am so happy. My next payment is not due until April 28, 2008. I don't get paid until next week, so I haven't even sent this month's regular payment or extra payment. By the end of this month I should be 3.5 months ahead and I may even be under $13k owed on the car.

Plain and simple before April rolls in I will be right side up on my auto loan! Yay!!!! Maybe around June I can look into refinancing at a lower rate. I don't know anything about refinancing so I have to do my research and be careful.

I forgot all about FPU :(

I was supposed to start Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes this past Sunday. I forgot all about it until right now. I'm a little disappointed. I really wanted to go check it out and see what it was about. Maybe it's good I forgot. I tend to overwhelm myself sometimes and then it takes me a while to recover. The good news is that I can start them anytime because the classes are independent of one another. I would just be losing money on the kit I have to purchase because I wouldn't get the full use of it. It's just something to keep in mind, but I probably won't go.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Interest is almost 50%!!!

Okay, so I'm so angry. I hate interest. Really, I mean it. I sent a small $55 extra payment to my auto loan finance company. I was really excited because I figured since this was my second extra payment most of it would go to principal. Boy, am I dumb! Only $29.08 was applied to my principal The other $25.92 was sucked up in interest. That's kind of disheartening.

I just started my March budget and I found $40.41 extra to send to them. I sent that off and we'll see how much gets applied to my principal. I'm sure I'll be posting another "whoa is me" post about that in a few days. :)

On the bright side, I think my next statement should show $0 due in March. That means I'm one complete payment ahead. Yay!

Later I will post my total for my February Money Games.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BL at Work Week 1 Weigh-In

This is a PF blog, so I'll keep it short. I lost 1 pound this week. I'm one pound closer to my $90. I gave myself an exercise free day because this heat (it was around 80 today) has me exhausted.

E*Trade Holding Strong

E*Trade is holding strong with a rate of 4.02%. I'm so glad that I have them. I'm sure that soon enough they will be below 4%, but at least they have held on for a few weeks longer than the other institutions.

Now I'm looking into CDs. At least I'd like to put my Christmas fund in one for 6-9 months. It looks like I can get the best rate on 6 months. That works for me.

I would really like to open a few CDs and have one maturing each month. I would keep rolling them over, but if something came up then I could pull the money out without a penalty. That's not possible right now since I still don't have a part-time job. I'm thinking in the worst case scenario I should have one before summer. That's only a couple of months away. I would really like to increase my EF to $2,000 this year and eventually begin a long-term EF that will have $20,000.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Financial Peace University

I signed up for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes at a local church. The classes are supposed to begin on March 2 and run for 3-4 months. There is a kit that I have to purchase. It costs $149 on Dave's website, but I'm going to wait until March 2 to see if the church is selling it for a cheaper price. I may decide it's too expensive and drop out, but I'll keep you posted.

The classes are on Sunday afternoon, so maybe it will encourage me to attend church on a more regular bases. Especially since my church is 3 blocks from this one. Then I'll really have my act together. I'll have my finances, health and spiritual life in order. Keep your fingers crossed.

Extra Money

You may remember that last week I got an extra paycheck because there was an error on my regular check. It was a little over $300. I sent half as an extra payment on my car note. I kept the other half in my account because I was afraid to send it. Anyway that $155 is now $115 and I haven't spent that $40 on anything worthwhile. So this morning I sent $55 as another payment on my car note. After I go to the market this afternoon to stock up on lunch goodies for this week, I'm going to send what's left to Capital One.

I think I've learned my lesson. Next time something like this happens I will only keep $20 or $30 dollars in my account and pay the rest on my car note. If the money is not there I won't miss it and I also won't be able to use it on frivilous things.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Life Insurance

I read MP Dunleavey's article on getting life insurance last week. This weekend I went online in search of a policy. Well to my dismay I was quoted $173/month for a $1 million dollar, 20 year policy. I couldn't figure out why it cost so much when MP is paying only $62. She got her quote from the same websites I used. So I decided to try the second website she recommended. They quoted me $44/month for a Preferred Rating. I didn't qualify for a Preferred Plus rating because I take high blood pressure medication. Sounds great, right? Sure it does, but I won't get that rate. Why? I couldn't even find my height and weight combination on their charts. So I probably will end up paying $173/month and I can't afford that.

I'm bummed, but I look at this as another reason for me to win the Biggest Loser competition at work. In the mean time I have a $50k life insurance policy through my job. I hope that I live long enough to get my weight down significantly and qualify for the $44 policy. If I lose all this weight I'll probably be able to get off my medication and can get an even cheaper policy.

Low-Cost Slumber Party

I'm giving my oldest daughter a slumber party for her 12th birthday in May. I'm not a particularly girly girl and I've never been very social, so I'm worried about how it's going to turn out. I asked for help on the WIR board and I got about 14 responses full of wonderful ideas. I think I'm prepared now.

Now I may have too much planned. Most of it is free, so that's a good thing. I ran all the ideas by my daughter and she loved pretty much all of them. She wants to do hair and make-up at the party while they watch Grease. They'll probably watch some Zac Efron movie too and end up dancing around the room.

Her dad is paying for the hotel room and with everyone's suggestions I may be able to pull this off for right around $100 of my own money including parking, entertainment, food and grab bags.

My only concern at this point is if I can survive the night. One of the WIR said her daughter stayed up until 4am at her slumber party. I'll have to make sure to include a disclaimer on the invitation that I get mean after 2am. LOL!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I saved $177.87!!!!

I am so ecstatic! I mentioned on my birthday post that I had to buy some unexpected books for a class I'm taking. Well the best deal that was available for the 3 book package was $190 and that was a great deal over the individual prices of $279.85. I didn't want to afford that, so I went online in search of better prices.

I got one book for $69.00 (saving $30.95)
I got one book for $2.08 (saving $87.87)
I got one book for $30.90 (saving $59.05)

So I saved a total of $177.87 over the individual prices and $88.02 over the package deal. There's more all 3 books were brand new and if I get them all before Friday I will have them before I would have been able to receive them from the company offering the $190 deal.

I was really worried about the book I got for $2. I thought it was going to be an older version or in really poor condition or a piece of the book. I got it today and it's exactly what I ordered.


And the Contestants Are???????

I found out yesterday that 6 of us signed up for the Biggest Loser competition at my job. So far that means that $150 is in the pot. The breakdown is:

$150.00 - Total Pot
$90.00 - First Place (60%)
$37.50 - Second Place (25%)
$22.50 - Third Place (15%)

We also have to add $1/pound if we gain during the competition. At this point I'm hoping that the others gain at least a couple of pounds so that the 3rd place person can at least break even. I know that sounds mean, but really I think if you place you should get more out of it than you put in. I think that's only fair, but since the percentages were put in place before we knew how many people were going to join, the only way to get more money in the pot now is for someone to gain weight.

I really hope that I come in first place. That $90 would find a great home at Capital One and help me pay my car off $90 sooner. I'm also hoping this competition helps me stick to a weight loss plan for the long haul.

I've been on the grind this week. I've walked 3 days in a row and done my WATP 2 of those days in addition to the walking.

Summer Plans

Yesterday my boss informed me that I will only be working for one month during the summer. She told me that I can divide it up any way I want. I'm going to work 2 weeks in July and 2 weeks in August. That way I'll have half a paycheck each month. I have to re-do my budget and then decide which 2 weeks I want to work each month. At first I was kind of bummed because I was looking forward to the money, but honestly I'm the type of person who needs breaks or I get burned out and I'm useless.

My sister's son is graduating from high school in June and she turns 50 in July. She wants to take him on a cruise for a few days during the summer to celebrate. She invited me and my girls. So I'm going to see what wonders I can work in my budget.

My dad's family is also having a family reunion this year. I know he wants to go and he wants me to go with him. We would rent a van and drive. Our expenses would be renting the van, gas, food while traveling and possibly a hotel room if we stop. Last time we drove straight through because we had 3 drivers and it took us 30 hours. If we stay a week I usually don't spend more than $50 because we visit family and they live in small towns without malls and fast food.

So this weekend I'll be tweaking my budget and intensifying my search for a part-time evening job. I really hope I find something soon. I need the extra money.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Have My Money! Now What?

Today I received the $300 that was missing from last week's check. I promptly deposited it in the bank. I was originally going to send the entire $300 to Capital One for my car note. I got scared and only sent them half.

I realized that if I sent that whole $300 that I wouldn't have a cushion anymore. You see I sent my friend her $138. I had been holding onto that $138 as a safety net and I was starting to think about using it for other things. So, I knew I needed to get rid of it. Last night I got her new address and today I mailed her a money order. That was easy to do because I was replacing it with $300.

I'm so frightened that if I send that remaining $155 dollars off something will come up. Then I'll have to dip into my new EF or figure out something else. Well it will be a huge morale buster for me if I have to touch my EF in the next couple of months.

Then my only option becomes to figure something out and what if I can't? I know I can count on the women and men of WIR to help me find a workable solution, but it's still frightening. I think I'll keep the money in my account for a week or so until I can get used to the idea that I really do have a safety net and that my budget is liveable.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Money Game

I've been reading as many PF (personal finance) blogs as I have time to read lately. There are so many and I'm amazed. Most of them have some pretty interesting ideas for saving money or paying off debt.

One I was reading yesterday talked about saving $3/day. He would put $1/day in each of three piles. One pile was for investing, one for saving and one for giving away (charity). He did this for 139 days straight. From time to time he would take some of the charity pile with him and give it to homeless people or give it as a tip to people who didn't usually get tips.

After 139 days he started putting $25/week into an OSA (online savings account), where it could earn interest. I guess this takes the place of the savings pile. After that amount grew to $1,000 he took about half of it out and started trading stocks. Now he is also satisfying the requirement of the investing pile. What I didn't understand was where did the charity pile go?

While I don't think trading stocks is for me - I do like the idea of saving $3/day. His money seemed to grow faster when he put in the OSA each week instead of letting it sit in three piles on his desk. I know that there wasn't much of a difference, but with an OSA you can go online and instantly see how much you have. It would be easier for me to forget how much was in the three piles and sort of dismiss them as significant savings. The flip side is that it seems easier to save $3/day than to put $25/week into a savings account.

I'm going to add this to my list of money games. I've been keeping a list of money games to try. I'm going to try one each month. This month's money game is saving all the $5 bills that I get. It's going okay. The biggest problem is that I don't usually use cash. I usually swipe my debit card. I did take out my allowance in cash this month, so it's been interesting. Sometimes I go out of my way to avoid getting $5 bills. Then I start to think that I'm only sabotaging myself and I start to laugh. It's amazing to me how much I hate spending my cash.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Biggest Loser at Work

I got a flyer in my box at work yesterday for a Biggest Loser type competition. One of our teachers is going to run it. It will cost $25 to join. It will run for 14 weeks from February 20 - May 21. We will weigh in on the first and third Wednesdays of each month during the competition. If we gain weight we will have to add $1/pound to the pot. There will be 3 winners. First place will get 60% of the pot, second place will get 25% and third place will get 15% of the pot.

I think I'm going to use the last bit of my birthday money to join. I think it's a great investment if I do what I'm supposed to do. It's a great opportunity to work on 2 goals at one time. I can get healthy and win some money to put toward my car note at the same time.

Just like I've created a budget for my money I've created a workout plan for this competition. I may use half of my $300 check to buy an exercise bike that I found at Wal-Mart to help me out instead of paying it all toward my car.

I'll let you know for sure on Wednesday if I join.

Birthday/Valentine's Day, Etc.

Yesterday was my 34th birthday and Valentine's Day. Things with my BF didn't go so great. As a matter of fact I've been avoiding his calls while I consider if I want to be with him anymore. Everything else was great. My daughters, sister and mom got me some really cool presents. My sister also got me some gorgeous flowers and my dad paid for my delicious cake. My mom and sister made my favorite turkey tacos for dinner and I had a great time.

I had given myself a nice sum of money from my tax return to celebrate my birthday. I normally get a hotel room, but I decided to spend less money this year and put whatever was left into my Roth. As luck would have it I started a class on Monday and found out that $200 in books that were marked as optional were actually required. Luckily I have that extra money. I'm still trying to find a better deal because I have a 2006 version of the books and I'm hoping they will be good enough until I can get the other books for cheaper. I found one for $30 cheaper already and ordered it.

I also found out yesterday that my payroll was amended on Wednesday and resubmitted. Now I'm waiting to hear from payroll to find out when my check will be ready. I sent them an email before I got off work yesterday, but I'm off today and Monday - so I won't have a reply until Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Paycheck Blues

I mentioned last week that my paycheck was short over $300. I' kept calling the lady in payroll and all her calls were going to voicemail. She didn't return either of my messages.

Today I drove to the district office to see her in person. I was thinking that my sick time didn't get recorded properly last month. Low and behold that wasn't it. Our office manager went out on medical leave the week before payroll was due. I didn't find out until yesterday. So they had another person doing the payroll. Apparently she didn't input the holidays for Winter break and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Since the mistake was on the school end the school has to submit an amended payroll sheet for me. I wasn't the only one whose paycheck was wrong so everyone's payroll has to be checked and if necessary re-sent to payroll. Who knows how long that's going to take?

The bright side is that at least it happened on the same day that I got my tax refund, so that it didn't cause any bounced checks or late fees. Another bright side is that when I get that $300 I can use it to pay down my car loan. I'm hoping to get it before next month and then I can get my car loan under $13K.

Wish me luck!

Credit Cards are Banished from My Kingdom

The Credit Cards

Today my credit card and car payments cleared. I have officially paid off all of my credit cards and I closed 2 of the accounts. I am keeping one for emergencies. It has a $79 annual fee, but I just got it 2 months ago. I'm hoping (fingers are crossed) that my usage and payment history will be so great for the next 10 months that they will waive my annual fee and give me a huge credit line increase. Right now my limit is only $300.

The Car

My car note is now below $14k. Every month, beginning next month I will make my regular $308.68 payment. I will also make an additional $521 payment. Then I will try to find other misc. money to send as well. Whatever is left in my gas, misc. and allowance funds at the end of the month will go to pay my car off as early as possible.

I would like to pay it off at the end of this year, but that's nearly impossible unless I get a second job. I'm looking for one now and I'm going to pray about it.

The Student Loans

I am not going to pay these until my car is paid off. Hopefully (fingers crossed again) that will be in 2009.

My Mom

My mom bought me a car a few years ago. It was a lemon from the start. I had to spend tons of money on it and I kept it until I just couldn't deal with the uncertainty anymore. When I got a new job - I purchased my first new car and I did it on my own. Of course my interest rate is sky high. Okay, back to original story. When I got my new car I gave the old car to my brother. It had a really bad oil leak and he needed to fix it before he could get the smog check. Long story short the tags expired and he parked the car on the street one day and it got impounded.

So although my mom hasn't asked me to pay her back - I want to. I feel bad that it got impounded. She told me to sell it to my brother so that he would appreciate it more, but I wanted to help him out. I figured since he's good with cars that he would have the oil leak fixed in no time. He could never do it for me because he was working so much at the time and tired all the time.

I don't have a plan yet for paying her the $1270, but it's on my list of goals for 2008. When I get my second job I will put some aside from each check for her. If something happens and I can't get a second job then I won't send the extra $521 to my car the last couple of months this year and I'll pay her back before 2009 rings in.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I found it!

I finally figured out the mystery of the missing money in my checking account. I had transferred money between accounts and only recorded the transfer in originating account, not the destination account. Yay for me!!!!

My world is finally right again. Isn't it just crazy how horrible you can feel when you lose money. Even if it's just $5? Anyway, now the universe makes sense again.

Money, Money, Money, Money!

I was so busy yesterday that I didn't get to post. I could hardly sleep Thursday night for worrying about my paycheck and my tax refund. I woke up at 3am and checked my bank account online. Sure enough both my tax refund and my paycheck were resting peacefully in my account.

I noticed that my paycheck looked way too small. When I got my stub at lunch I noticed that I was missing a bunch of hours. I'm guessing those are the hours that I was out ill last month. I turned in my doctor's note, but our office manager has been out a couple of weeks and I'm not sure that she turned it in to payroll. Of course the lady in payroll wasn't answering her phone today. So I left her a message and sent her an email. I'm really bummed because Monday is a holiday and we are closed. I estimated that after taxes I'm missing over $300.

Even though I had my budget written down and ready to go, I was so nervous. It took me several hours before I wasn't afraid to spend the money. Then I started to sing as I happily paid my bills. I realized that I had been paying my cable bill late every month. I was paying it one or two days before it was scheduled to be cut-off every month and I had gotten so used to it that I forgot that wasn't the real due date. So I paid it ahead to get myself back on track.

Now I'm fretting because somehow everything isn't balancing. I'm short approximately $60 in my checking account. I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong and I'm honestly beat from thinking about this money all day.

I'm off to La La Land and hopefully tomorrow I'll get a chance to catch up on the WIR thread.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Part-time Job

MP Dunleavy actually posted a comment on my WIR thread today. I am so excited. She liked the give and take on my thread. She enjoyed seeing me consider the suggestions and change my budget accordingly. She actually stood up for my $200/month allowance. Thank you! She did suggest that I get a second job. Although I really value the other women's suggestion - hers hit home the most. I guess it's because I consider her a professional.

I spent most of the evening looking at various websites for part-time jobs. Someone on the WIR board suggested I work in an optometrist's office so that I could get free contact lenses and eye exams. I didn't find any local openings. I did find a couple of entry-level positions at an area hospital that I may qualify for. That would be great. Then I'd get to see if I really want to work in the medical field.

I don't really want to work in retail. I'm trying to find a job where casual dress is allowed so that I don't have to change after my job at the school. I'm also looking for a company with extended hours so that I can work from 4pm to around 8pm. I don't care about the wages. Minimum wage here is now $8/hour. I just want to make some extra money.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Where is my $112.28? Interest Who?

I pay most of my bills using online bill pay through my bank. I like it because it's really fast. Although I initiated my car note and credit card payment on Saturday, they didn't go out until Monday. I got an email from my credit card today that they had received the payment yesterday. That's amazing to me. One day between sending it and posting it. It takes forever in the mail.

I checked my car note online and that payment had posted as well. I was glad because it was due on Jan. 28th and I had until Feb. 8th before they charge me a late fee. It was late last month too and I did get charged a late fee. I know, I know. How amy I'm supposed to get my finances in order if I'm paying my car note late? Here's the long and the short of it. I used my car note money to buy some of my Christmas presents and that's why Dec. was late. Then it rolled into January because I made a couple of unnecessary purchases. I'm back on track now, trust me. :)

So now back to the point of this post. When I checked my balance on my car loan it was $14,198.67. That means that of the $325 I sent, a whooping $112.28 went to interest. Maybe you expected that. Even though this was my 11th payment on my car I never looked at the interest that I'm paying. That amount is just crazy! I know what ambellamy means now. She used to get mad everytime she saw that interest. Now I'm mad too. Hopefully I'll be as motivated as her and pay my car off as fast as she did.

My normal payment of $308.68 is due on Feb. 28th and I'm sending $325 plus whatever extra I have in my paycheck. I can't wait until I get paid on Friday. I want to see that number go below $14k.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Too much information!

Yesterday I finalized my budget for March and made up my mind what to do with my tax refund. The plan is to use my tax refund to create an emergency fund and pay off 2 of my 3 credit cards. I will pay off the final credit card in March and leave my student loans in deferment while I begin snowballing my car loan. My car loan will be paid off in September 2009, 43 months early. My final debt goal will then be to pay off those 2 student loans. I am all set to begin this debt-busting battle. Right? Of course! I'm gung ho!


Today I read yet another article that I thought would help me make the right decisions. Well, too much of a good thing is nonetheless too much. This article completely threw my game plan off.

The article said that yes I should pay my credit cards and car loan off before I even think about my student loan. (One point for me!) Next it went on to say that after I pay off my credit cards my next move should be to fully fund my Roth IRA. (Another point for m.... - wait, what?) Fund my Roth IRA before I pay off my car note???


Oh my goodness! I'll be 34 in 9 days - I don't have time for pit stops. What now? There is too much information out there and I'm officially mad about it. It's throwing my plan off. Do you know how long it took me to create this plan? Can you even imagine how many demons I had to fight just to start thinking about sitting down to start a budget?

Okay enough of my blustering.

Now I'm supposed to put $5,000 in my Roth before I start paying extra on my car. I can understand the argument, that I can't get this time back and time is very important in retirement savings. On the other hand how can I feel good about having $5,000 in a bank account when I still owe over $14k on my car note? Not to mention that now I have to redo my entire plan.

Oh well back to the drawing board.