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.