Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chase Card #1 - October update

Knocked another $128.00 off the balance this month. New balance = $6,306.00

I think the turtle is a good icon for this one....slow but steady progress.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bank Visa - October '09 update

Another bill in the mail today! More small baby step progress. Subtract $83.80 this month for a new balance of $3,480.21.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chase Card #2 - October Update

Progress is progress so matter how small. The balance is going down ever so slightly, but I'll take that versus a rising balance any day! Take $75.09 off the balance of this one! New balance = $3,523.66

Monday, October 26, 2009

This is so inspiring!

Check out the video on Musings of a Midlife Mom's blog.

I haven't set any goals for a time frame to be out of this debt, but if someone told me I could do it (all except the primary mortage) in a little over four years, I would fall out in disbelief!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quick post - Cross your fingers for us!

I'm running crazy today. Each kid has a party and we're soon heading out for trunk or treat. I'm very behind in email and blog reading.

But, while I was at the dance team party I got a call from our realtor for MIL's home. We have an offer for our full listing price! The buyer is only asking for $4K towards closing costs and a home warranty which we already purchased when we put it on the market. He is pre-approved for his mortgage and can close in three weeks!!!

Of course, we still need to get through an inspection, appraisal and to the closing table. But this is awesome awesome news!!!!

Thought for the day

Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (NKJV)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Interest is not really my problem

Just for kicks, I thought I'd add up the interest charges on each of these debts for the past month. It's not nearly as bad as I thought, but considering the fixed rate mortgages are both at 4.5%, the HELOC is at 2.75% and I have a zero promo rate on a couple of the credit cards it shouldn't be too terrible.

Overall, I paid $1,309.68 in interest for the month. If you use an average outstanding balance of $390K, that works out to about a 4% annual rate. I know I should be thankful that it's as low as it is. But there's that part of me that wishes I had that $1,309.68 (or $43.65 per day) to spend on what I want to spend it on instead of handing it over to the bank! And how depressing to quantify just how many hours I need to work each and every day just to pay interest!!!

HELOC Update October '09

Ahhh...the dreaded HELOC! The good news is that we were able to apply another $3,000 out of a distribution from my mother-in-law's estate. I also paid an extra $6 from online survey income. Actually it was supposed to be $5, but I hit the wrong key when I was making the online transfer. I'm thankful it was just a $1 mistake and that my flying fingers didn't try to add a bunch of zero's on the end. LOL

That brings the principal balance down to $86,696.42! WooHoo! This baby is going down! I just wish we could get a buyer for my mother-in-law's home so we could pay it down even further and I could formulate my long-term plan for dealing with this loan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I've been on hyper-focus about these debts for two months now. The first month, I kept up with it on a homemade spreadsheet. The second month, I started this blog. Even though there may only be two or three readers out there, I've found that the accountability of the blog is making me search harder for snowflakes and pay in those snowflakes immediately so that I can have "tangible" progress. For example, this past month I got a small reimbursement out of my Flexible Spending Account for some medical expenses. Hyper-focusing on the debt helped me direct part of that reimbursement to my credit card balances. If I had been in a less than intense mode, I might have just spent that money on the "need of the day".

Proof in the pudding? The first month, I paid $166 towards the credit cards. Last month, I paid $399. That's quite a difference! And with our tight budget it would not have been possible without finding some extra dollars to throw toward the debt. Thanks for your comments because they help to keep me accountable, to search for those extra dollars and actually use them to pay off some debt!

Now if I could just keep my daughter's school and extra-curricular activities from asking for money every other day....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Capital One Card October Update

The snail is definitely the appropriate icon for this ticker. I'm only making the minimum payment since this card has a fixed 4.99% rate. A whopping $11.60 was applied to the balance this month, leaving the amount due of $1,106.56. I'm sure you'll be seeing this snail for a long, long time!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Primary Mortgage Update

Once again I'm resorting to viewing my statement online, but at least I can update the totals. $342.20 of the last payment was applied to the principal bringing the balance down to $254,301.76. Reiterating that this mortgage is the least of my worries. It has a fixed 4.5% rate. It's manageable. We love our home even if it is 40 years old and slightly outdated. Bottom line...paying for this house is much cheaper than paying private school tuition which is what we were facing in our old location! And the next update will bring this balance under $254,000!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rental Mortgage Update

I'm still waiting for statements to arrive in the mail, but I checked online and found a copy of the statement that the postman is holding hostage at the moment. I need the motivation of seeing those balances go down even if by only the slightest amount.

Of course, the rental mortgage balance is the one that is dropping the fastest (percentage wise). $530.21 of the last payment was applied to the principal, leaving the balance of this loan at $26,665.46. It's also nice that my tenants are essentially paying this one for me!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Because I'm tired of waiting for updates

Still waiting for a few statements to arrive in the mail so I can update some balances. And for some reason I woke up at 4:30 this morning with no desire to go back to sleep! So I made a ticker for the totals. This might end up being the slowest moving ticker in the history of debt reduction.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Got money left at the end of the month?

My budget cycle runs from the 15th of one month to the 14th of the next. I get paid semi-monthly, and starting my budget on the 15th just works better for me. So I'm at the end of the budget cycle, and I have money left in the auto category. This is for gasoline, oil changes, etc. Right now, I budget $210/month for this expense. I set this amount back in the summer of 2008 when gas was over $4 a gallon, and I have not adjusted it even though gas prices have fallen significantly. When I filled up on Monday, I only paid $2.149 per gallon thanks to that 15 cent discount I get with my Kroger credit card. This is probably the ONLY category in my budget that I always have money left at the end of the month (unless I have a repair bill).

I only spent $99.89 for gasoline the past 30 days, and I have $110.11 left over.

Should I send it to one of the debts? Maybe. But, instead I send it to the savings account for the "new" car fund. No...I am not shopping for a new vehicle. I really hope the one I'm driving will last several more years. It already has almost 125K miles on it, but it's a good ride and I hope it stays that way. However, I know it won't last forever, so I try to set aside money every month for that next vehicle. So tomorrow, I'm transferring $110 to the new car fund.

This is probably a post for another day, but don't forget about those big ticket items down the road! Otherwise, when they rear their ugly heads, you'll end up incurring more debt.

Where to send the Snowflakes?

Another survey check from Opinion Outpost came in the mail today! Only $6.30, but every little bit helps. I'll deposit it in my bank account tomorrow and immediately transfer it to the HELOC balance. Some might question why I'm sending extra payments to the HELOC since I'm only paying 2.75% interest on the balance. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes my thinking borders on crazy, but if worse came to worse....I'm more interested in protecting a property that I've owned for almost 19 years than I am worried about whether the credit card companies get their money.

Don't get me wrong...I fully intend to pay back every dollar of my past. I'm just playing the pessimist and thinking worse case scenario. And given today's economic environment and this administration that keeps spending even more freely than I have, worse case scenarios are not that hard to come up with!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Going Against Conventional Wisdom...continuing to use my credit cards

Yes...even with the mess I'm in, I'm still using a couple of the credit cards. But, I'm only using them for purchases that I can (and do) immediately make an online payment when I get home. I'm not giving myself the temptation of holding onto those dollars for 30-45 days until the payment is due. By following this strategy, I'm still earning rewards credits and in the case of my Kroger card I was actually able to avoid any monthly interest charges since my payments totaled more than the balance shown on the previous statement.

I received the statement in the mail today and it shows:

Previous Balance $958.23
Payments/Credits -$1,061.76
Transactions $817.46
New Balance $713.93

I was able to immediately pay the $817.46 of current month's charges plus $244.30 towards the balance on this card. At this point in my life, I am so focused on debt balances that I'm taking the extra time to track this, make 10 or 11 online payments during the month. If I find that life is getting too busy to keep up with this, I'll just quit using the card and go back to paying cash or writing checks. But if I can save even $10/month in interest it's worth it to me right now to be hyper-focused.

The good news is that this balance dropped $244.30 this month! Woo Hoo!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodies in my Mailbox

It's a good thing there were a few goodies in my mailbox. Otherwise, I might be starting to panic about the so far unseen rent check from our tenants. Hopefully, that rent check shows up tomorrow or Wednesday!

But in the mailbox was a birthday card sent to my 4yo from his great-aunt and great-uncle. I opened the envelope and was able to hide the enclosed $25 ToysRUs gift card before I showed him the card. He certainly doesn't need any more toys anytime soon, so I'll be saving that gift card for a little cushion for his Christmas budget! SCORE!

I also received 3 (YES...THREE!!!) checks for online surveys. I've been snowflaking all the survey income to the HELOC, but I'm thinking I might use these to start whittling away at Chase Card #2. It carries the highest interest rate of all my debt, and I'm feeling strong urges to see some progress on the balance no matter how small. The 3 checks I received total a whopping $37.65, but hey, that's over 1% of the balance on that card.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trying to celebrate on a budget

My youngest celebrated his 4th birthday today! I am trying to stick to such a tight budget, but a birthday really IS a big deal especially if you're 4. I was determined to make his day special while staying within my budget.

Luckily, last month I found a few gift cards that were given to my children last Christmas. I've been using my daughter's to buy gifts for her friends when she is invited to birthday parties. But I had $50 of ToysRUs cards for my son. So I used his to buy his presents. We also "splurged" on a $20 Buzz Lightyear costume which can double as his Halloween attire. I made his cake and decorated it with some small Toy Story figures I got with the gift cards. And we used part of our eating out budget and some coupons to visit Chuck E Cheese this afternoon.

It took a little creativity to pull this off, but the four-year old had a great day! And momma is happy that she didn't bust the budget to make sure he had a very special celebration!

Trying to develop a plan

After reading Liz Weston's article last week, I posted my blurb about inflation fears on Twitter. Liz actually tweeted me back suggesting that I might want to think about trying to get fixed rates on some of these loans. Then she blogged about getting a fixed rate.

That got me thinking....

We are expecting to get another $30-40K out of my husband's inheritance depending on when and how much his mother's home sells for. As soon as those dollars have been paid to the HELOC balance, I would like to start investigating a refinance of the mortgages on the rental property. I can't remember all the "rules" for mortgages on non-owner occupied properties, but I should have more than 40% equity. I know the rate will be higher than an owner occupied mortgage, but I don't know how much higher I should expect. Does anyone have any advice or insight on getting a mortgage for a rental property? In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away on these debts to make sure my credit score is worthy of a refinance when the time is right.

A small change of heart on the Money Market Loan

As I was typing out my explanation of the loan to myself, I realized how truly insane this is. I've kept up with this debt balance for almost two years but I had taken no action to pay myself back in over 18 months! How crazy is that? I'm just fooling myself to think that I have 3 months of expenses set aside in an emergency fund. If an emergency actually happened the amount of money I might need is not really all there! Cash flow is really tight, but I was able to squeak a measly $10.99 to put back into the Money Market Fund towards this loan to myself. The new balance is $4700.51.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Inflation Fears

I just read Liz Weston's article on coping with inflation:

Totally reaffirms that I need to dump as much of this variable interest rate debt as possible!!! Scary to think about the monthly payments if the prime rate goes back up to 21.5%.