Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bank Visa - March '10 update

Sorry for the boring and infrequent posts. Working in the tax department of a local accounting firm doesn't leave time for much extra posting, blurfing, commenting or even thinking. Right now, I'm just in survival mode to get the next 2.5 weeks behind me and back to my life. :)

I have had a good day at home today getting things ready for the next week of madness. LOL

$78.49 knocked off this debt. New balance = $3,050.64

The good news is that next month, this one should be under the 3K mark.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Odds and Ends

ONE: Thanks everyone for your opinions on my post a couple of days ago. It's so nice to receive some validation that I'm won't be making a stupid decision to transfer some of this credit card debt to the HELOC. I am sure I'll be able to keep the Chase balance separate not only in mind (because of my "bucket" problem), but the monthly statements will separate it for me too since it will be at a different interest rate than the amortized portion. I've checked and any extra payments are applied toward the variable rate balance (the credit card portion) so that was another one for the "pro" column in my decision process. And I might just transfer that balance on the Bank Credit Card too. I'm going to give it a few months and see how I feel about it before I make that move though. Like I said, the payment due date for Chase is the 23rd, so I'm setting up all the payments/transfers online this weekend!

TWO: I got the phone call from my tenants (the wife). As I suspected, they are anxious to take advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit and they are under contract to buy their first home. The good news is that her sisters (who live together) have a lease that is up in June, and they want to move in!!! Assuming their credit checks out okay, I won't have to bother with advertising, showing the property, and probably won't even miss a month's income. I have really been proud of myself for not worrying about this situation, and I'm so glad I haven't wasted precious time worrying about all the "what if's".

THREE: I got my escrow analysis for the primary mortgage. This was a refinance in April of 2009, and it seems they always overload the escrow account whenever a new loan is originated. I'll be getting a refund of over $400 in the next month or so. Not sure yet where I'll plop those unanticipated dollars. My first thought is to put it back in savings, since I had to pull money out of savings when I closed the loan last year. But....I have time to mull that over. Either way that's another $400+ I can put towards my 2010 net worth funding goal.

FOUR: It appears my tickers disappear when there has been no new updates. The Rental Mortgage (which was paid off with the refinance back in November) is now MIA. I need to get that added back. Kind of a pain, but my OCD side wants to be able to see ALL the progress since the start of this blog.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March '10 Updates - Capital One & Primary Mortgage

Posting a little more progress on these two loans:

Capital One went down $11.98 - new balance $1,048.74

Primary Mortgage balance went down $348.66 - new balance $252,571.43

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I've never been a fan of Debt Consolidation

Maybe I've listened to Dave Ramsey for too long, but I'm not a big believer in debt consolidation. In most cases, it's done to make things easier on the cash flow without really solving the problem that caused the mess ---- which is spending money I don't have.

However, I'm reconsidering my stance on this for Chase Card #2. It is carrying an 11.99% interest rate which is variable and will go up whenever the Fed decides it's time to raise rates. I've made some progress on this card balance since I started the blog, much in part to that $500 gift card I received for refinancing the HELOC. But it pains my heart to know that I'm paying almost 12% interest when I could be paying my bank 2.75% which is the rate on any new credit advances I have available through the HELOC right now. When I refinanced $73,000 of the HELOC to a fixed rate, that left $27,000 of available credit that is charged prime minus 0.50% if I choose to tap that credit.


  • HELOC is secured by the rental property, not my residence.
  • HELOC interest rate is prime minus 0.50% (variable)
  • Chase #2 interest is prime plus 8.74% (variable)
  • Chase #1 interest is 6.99% fixed.
  • Capital One interest rate is 4.99% fixed.
  • Bank Credit Card interest rate is prime plus 2.90% (variable)
See how that sticks out like a sore thumb!! It's my oldest account on my credit report---probably more than 15 years old. And yet, it has the worst rate and Chase refuses to discuss lowering it.

Mathematically, I know it's the right move. I'm just not sure I'll be as inclined to find those extra payments if the pain (high interest) is gone! Of course, that could free me up to focus on Chase #1 - the card with the highest balance and the next highest rate.

I'm SERIOUSLY considering taking an advance on the HELOC and paying off Chase #2. The due date of my next payment is the 23rd, so I'd love to hear any input you have.

And on a personal note, I own a few shares of JPMorganChase. But I own more shares and have more invested in the stock of the bank that holds the HELOC. From a shareholder perspective, I'd rather have my money go to the bottom line of the HELOC bank. Silly, I know but I can't help bringing in that analysis to my decision.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HELOC Update - March '10

I was able to add $14.50 of snowflakes from two survey companies to the payment on this loan. Total paid in principal was $288.75 and the new balance is $72,484.81.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I just ordered my FREE office supplies

I know I mentioned some of my favorite frugal bloggers in this post, so you may already know about this. If you need supplies for your "home office", you should check out this deal:

Office Max Freebies

I ordered copy paper (my kids will be thrilled I'm not hoarding the good paper), file folders, and a 3-ring binder.

I'm going to use my rebate for ink cartridges. I'll be nursing my runnin'-low ones along until the rebate gets posted.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kroger card update - No Change!

Absolutely no change on this balance in the past month. Since I'm treating my current purchases like a debit card by coming home and paying them online as they happen, I've avoided interest on this balance for several months now. I just didn't have any extra money this month to throw on this debt.

Summary of Account Activity:

Previous Balance $630.93
Payments/Credits -$837.68
Transactions $837.68
New Balance $630.93

Remember when I told you my tenants are Facebook friends? I surmised from a status update and the comments that they are working with a realtor. Our lease is not up until July 31, but they may be trying something sooner to take advantage of the homebuyer tax credit that expires soon. Going from memory here, but I think you have to be entered into a contract by April 30 and close by June 30 to get the tax credit. I'm just going to play dumb until they notify me officially, but at least it won't be a shock if they don't renew their lease. I will hate to lose them. They are a sweet couple, pay on time, and don't bug me with silly problems. I'll just have to start praying we find another quality tenant.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sharing a Funny

In the past couple of months, I've let my eight-year old know that she has an account set aside for college. We've never been able to fully fund her Education Savings Account, but we have contributed some money to it every year since her birth (as well as to an account for her little brother). This past Christmas, she caught onto the fact that her grandfather was giving her money for Christmas but she wasn't allowed to have it since it was going to be saved for college. That's when I explained the account to her, gave her a micro-introduction to mutual funds, and showed her the account statement for her fund.

Yesterday she told me that one of her classmates was moving to Boston next month. They've been classmates for both first grade and so far through their second grade year. I found out that Charlie's dad got a new job, but that Charlie hadn't been to visit Boston yet. Then she said she told Charlie that her college money was in Boston. Since that's not a fact I would recall, I thought it was funny what she remembered from our discussion and her "review" of the account statement.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How I save on Groceries

photo from Open Salon

I've said before that income is limited and living expenses are high. Therefore, my ability to attack the debt without lots and lots of snowflakes is limited.

The budget is so tight. One way I've saved on groceries the past few years (at least five years, maybe more) is my subscription to The Grocery Game. I am lucky to live in an area with several grocery stores on the Grocery Game list. I pass by two of those every day on my way home from work/church. The third is less than half a mile off the beaten path, so I'm not driving out of my way to hit these stores for the best deals every week.

Coupon Mom has a lists that are free and I use her lists for Walgreens and CVS (both of which I also pass by during my daily commute). I also have some of my favorite frugal blogs in my Google Reader and get reminded of deals by Money Saving Mom, Faithful Provisions, The Frugal Girls, and Publix Penny Pincher.

You might wonder why someone on a limited budget would spend $20 every 8 weeks ($2.50 a week) for Grocery Game's weekly lists of deals for 3 stores. As a working mom with 2 busy little kids, paying for someone to take the time to give me a list of the best deals and the coordinating coupons is well worth it. I have found the Grocery Game lists to be more inclusive than the free lists, plus I prefer the way the deals are laid out (in order you'll find them in the store). The list lets you know exactly which weekly coupons to pull. I'm not one of those people who feeds my family of 4 for $40 a week, but I budget $105 a week for "groceries". My definition of groceries is pretty broad. It includes all food, paper products, cleaning supplies, personal care and over-the-counter medicines. There are limited hours in the day, and if I can pay someone to help me save 40-50% on my grocery bill I will.

For example, my last two shopping trips:

Publix - Paid $11.24 ($1.37 of that was sales tax!) and Saved $22.63.

Kroger - Paid $63.18 ($6.24 of that was sales tax). Took advantage of $32.02 of store specials, $19.16 of coupon savings, and $10 voucher for free groceries. So full price would have been over $125 when you consider sales tax at full price.

As you can see, I saved so much more than the $2.50 I paid the Grocery Game in just two shopping trips in one week! If you'd like to take advantage of the Free Trial, I would really appreciate if you would credit me with the referral. The email address for my GG account is: my back porch at gmail dot com (take out all the spaces).

I've gotten to where I HATE paying retail for anything at the grocery or drug stores. My kids automatically know we don't buy it unless it's on sale. The pantry is always stocked, and we never run out of anything except milk or bread or eggs. Like I said, I've been using this list for a long time. It took me a while to develop the system that works best for me and my crazy, busy life. If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Treading Water in February

I'm showing the piddliest (is that a word??) progress on the net worth funding goal. I had to pull funds out of the rental emergency fund to pay the real estate taxes, so I guess I should feel lucky that it ended up with even $2.66 to the positive.

Actually, if I want to make myself feel a little better, I'll remind myself that the employer contribution was deposited into my otherwise inactive 401K account. I quit making contributions into the 401K over a year ago, but my employer contributes 3% of my salary (a safe harbor contribution made whether the employee contributes or not). So that was a little boost to my net worth, although it doesn't meet the definition of counting towards my personal goal since it is not money I can access at the present time.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chase Card Updates - Feb. '10

With all that was going on here last month and the fact that February is shorter than all the other months anyway, I guess it's no surprise that I've fallen behind in my updates.

Chase Card #1 - The party is over for this card too. Fifteen months at ZERO interest was nice while it lasted, but because I opted out of their change in terms I'm stuck paying 6.99% on this balance from now on.

$102.93 paid - new balance $5,833.07

Chase Card #2 - 190.67 paid - new balance $2,799.54

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bank VISA - Feb. '10 Update

Quick update:

$95.32 paid on the balance. New total = $3,129.13

And yes, the zero promo rate for this one has run out. The permanent interest rate is not bad plus 2.9%. So right now I'm paying 6.15%. Could be a whole lot worse.