Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Capital One Update - July '10

More snail-like progress. I made a slightly higher-than-minimum payment to make sure we'd cross down from the 4 digits. I only plan on paying the minimum for a while now, but the interest rate is a fixed 4.99%.

$15.89 paid. New balance = $997.78

And the great thing? We're out of the thousands!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Financial Lessons for the 8 yr. old

As you may know, I have fairly young children. I also am quite determined that my parenting duties include raising kids with financial awareness. It distresses me every day that my in-laws, (who were financially successful) obviously never imparted their financial savvy onto their children. I pray that I can do a better job of raising kids who can go out into the world and not come running back to mom & dad even into their 50's to bail them out of the latest financial mess. My mother-in-law must have known this; otherwise why would she have named me (a daughter-in-law) as executor of her will and trustee of the remaining assets.

Even though my children are only 8 and 4, I am trying. We do chore charts every week, and they are paid weekly based on what they have accomplished during the week. (Don't work = don't get paid!). We have complaints, we have whining, we have moaning....but they are always motivated when they get that cash every Sunday.

At the risk of running into flaming here, I do have what could be considered an extravagant ongoing expense for my 8 yr. old daughter. She loves to dance, and this week is tryouts for what will be her third year on a competitive dance company with the studio. No is expensive. There are more intense (and therefore more expensive studios) in the area, so comparatively it is a good option. But it is, nonetheless, a sacrifice I make.
(not my daughter)

After realizing that I could hire a twice-a-month housekeeper for what I pay to the studio (and the dancewear store), we had negotiations. She has agreed to be my right-hand cleaning helper each week in return for "being on team". It is a good indication how much passion she has for dancing since she kind of has a lazy streak....which is another thing I need to work on as her parent. It also helps me....and will ensure that I also don't raise a kid who doesn't have any idea how to clean a toilet or start the washing machine. We're 2 weeks out from the negotiations, and so far, so good.

On Saturday, we had another "lesson." I had purchased an accessory at the dancewear store that she decided she did not want. When I was leaving to run errands and return it, she asked if I would buy a pair of jazz shoes instead. The jazz shoes cost approximately $20 more than the item I was returning, and I just happened to know that she had $20 left from the vacation money she had raided her piggy bank for. At first, she balked about kicking in the $20 from her own money. I told her to think about it....the store is only a mile from home and we could always stop in and buy them if she wanted. About 30 minutes before the store closed, she asked to go buy them. She even said, "I can make back that $20 in about 3 weeks."

I am so glad she took her time making the financial decision, weighed the costs, and came to the realization of just how much work (3 weeks worth) it will take to replace this money. Could some of my lectures have sunk in? Based on what happened Saturday, I believe the lessons are working!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kroger Credit Card & Chase Card #2 Update - July '10

Virtually treading water with these two.

The Kroger credit card is the one I use for groceries and gas to earn free groceries and the 15¢ off per gallon of gasoline. I pay these charges every few days out of my current month's budget so I'm always paying at least the balance on the prior month's statement and therefore avoiding any interest charges on this card. The rewards are nice and Kroger is letting me float this balance without costing me anything. I added a $3 payment I got from Buzzback (surveys) to one of the payments this month.

$3.00 paid. New balance = $624.93

Chase Card #2 has been transferred to the HELOC, but I'm keeping up with the balance separate from the HELOC balance. This portion of the equity line was not converted to the fixed amortization and the interest rate is prime minus 0.5% (currently 2.75%). It also only requires an interest payment each month, but I've been sending an extra $20 or so in addition to the interest.

$20.13 paid. New balance = $2551.19

STRETCH FOR THE POSITIVE:'s a stretch, but I'm determined to quit being so negative and look for the positive in every post. If I divide the monthly interest charged ($5.93) over the average balance of these two debts ($3,187.69), it works out to less than a 2.25% annual rate. Not bad!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

HELOC Update - July '10

Time for some positive news around here!

No extra payments, but it is progress! For any new readers, this one was converted to a fixed 4.99% interest rate over 15 years. It is secured by the rental property and the monthly rent income is covering 100% of the payment.

$ 278.95 paid. New balance = $71,375.76

Since I'm always looking for reasons to celebrate, this brings the total debt below the $340K mark! WooHoo! Bring out the party hats!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

And I was holding out hope for August

(not my puppy)

until we all had dental check-ups. Now there is at least $1,000 worth of dental work on the calendar between the 4 of us! Maybe we'll just eat toothpaste for the next month or can always find toothpaste for next to nothing if you watch for the drugstore deals!

It will be an absolute miracle if we can come out of this spring/summer without adding to the debt. Between the flood damage, invisible fence and shots for the puppy, the extended road trip, and now the dental work, it is taking its toll.

Overtime during this season of the year has to be approved, but if I find any....I'm definitely signing up for it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Maybe I should just quit reading...

Today has been one of those days where everything I read keeps me in this doom & gloom scenario.

From the 4th paragraph of today's post at The Dividend Daily:

There was a report out earlier today from the Employee Benefit Research
Institute that estimates 47% of baby boomers between the ages of 56 and 62 are
likely to run shy of the cash they’ll need to pay for basic expenses and
uninsured health costs in retirement. Investors need to stay focused on quality
income-seeking plays, and when it makes sense, take a flyer on a growth dividend
play as well.

From the 2nd paragraph of yesterday's post at The Dividend Daily:

According to figures provided by FICO Inc. yesterday, nearly 25.5 percent of
consumers, or nearly 43.4 million Americans, now have a credit score below 600.
Two years ago, this particular group was allowed to buy first homes without a
blink of an eye from bankers and mortgage brokers. Access to easy capital has
completely changed for this group as we sit here today. Is this fact priced in,
and how much worse will the stat get if the job market does not begin to gain
some positive momentum? We are trying to decipher this in our daily dividend
stock analysis.

And then read No Surprises Here from A Reformed Manager of Money. The links she posts are astounding. Especially the Slide #9 in that link:

For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential
housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put

Is there hope? Do our children have any chance of having it as good as we did? I know it will be to their benefit to teach them frugalness, debt avoidance, and a hard work ethic. What am I forgetting? I want to make sure they are equipped to survive and hopefully thrive in this new economic order.

Positive News of the Day: I'm overdue for a haircut. I've been putting it off not wanting to spend the money. Today's local Groupon deal was for a local salon. $120 worth of services for $50. So I've already booked an appointment for a haircut, manicure, and pedicure. All for the cost of a regular haircut!!! With all that pampering, I might even feel like a kept woman. LOL

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Final June '10 updates

Posting this partly because we're already halfway through July! And partly to remind myself that everything is not doom and gloom around here. Progress is certainly not as fast as I would like, and I'm not sure July is going to show much progress at all....but I need to remind myself where I've been and that financial progress is not a microwave, but a slow cooker.

Chase Card #1:
$75.46 paid. New balance = $5,422.21

Money Market Loan:
$5.29 paid. New balance = $4,597.79

Net Worth Funding Goal: (click to enlarge detail)

Items to note:
  • Halfway through the year, but not quite halfway to meet the $15K goal. Really going to have to step it up to reach $15K.
  • Dividends paid during June were down (as compared to March) mainly because of BP. GRRR!
  • Nothing has been added to the rental emergency fund for a couple of months. We've been making some small, but necessary repairs to that property. Hopefully, that will change in July and more will be added to that separate emergency fund. My goal is to have the tenant deposit plus 6 months of expenses in that account (mortgage payments, association dues, and property taxes). I'm very close....but need another $550 in that account . I should at least be adding in at least 1/12 of the annual tax amount.

so I'm already having a pity party today

and then I open the quarterly 401K statement. UGH!

And I'm reminded why I decided to halt future contributions. I decided during/after the last crash in March 2009 to diversify retirement sources. That's one reason we're holding onto the rental property so that all income after retirement isn't dependent on how Wall Street behaves.

For the 3 months, 401K balance is down 8.26% or about $12K. I guess the good thing is I have a long time before I plan on tapping this money.


yes...I'm avoiding this blog.

it's easier than facing the truth.

although logging onto the online banking this morning confirmed my suspicion that whatever cushion we had in checking is gone.

today is my day at home

so I'm promising that when I get back from taking both kids to the dentist, I will sit down and pull my finances back together before it gets any further out of control.

or maybe I'll do laundry. :(

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Did you see?

the pictures of the new home Money Saving Mom and her family bought WITH CASH????

She has links to the story of how they saved the cash for their first home at the bottom of the post.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Glad to be back in the land of the deals

I am so glad to be home and getting back on schedule with my deal-shopping. I realize how lucky it is to have all 6 of my shopping places within a couple of miles of my home. I really wanted to snag some drugstore deals while we were on the road, but I had a hard time finding Walgreens and CVS close to where we were staying. Definitely not like home, where there seems to be a Walgreens on every corner!!

I do my main grocery shopping at Kroger. This is where I earn points for free groceries and a 15 cents per gallon off gasoline. But I shop for deals almost every week at Harris Teeter, Publix, CVS, Walgreens and Target. Target is the farthest 2.4 miles according to Google Maps. I don't always hit all 6 places every week, but if it's a good week I will.

I had some CVS Extra Care Bucks that were expiring today, so I went ahead and made my weekly trip this afternoon. Now I know that paying full price at CVS is paying way too much for my frugal heart. I luckily had coupons for everything on my what's-on-sale list this week, so for what would normally have been $38.51, I handed over $7 in ECB's plus $12.94 cash and they handed me back $5 more ECB's!

Getting almost $40 of things we use on a regular basis for less than $15 makes me one happy camper!!! And honestly, is the only way we're able to stretch our limited income as far as we do!

Bank Visa - June '10 update

I'm slowly getting through the mail that accumulated while we were gone. So sad that I have not been able to send any more than the minimum payment on these credit cards. The good news is that I'm not charging on them, so the balance WILL go down....slowly....eventually.

$57.39 paid. New balance = $2,840.59

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Did you miss me???

We just got home from a 10-day road trip! I don't even want to start adding up how much money was spent!! But there's not much I can do about it now.

The first part of the trip was for my daughter to compete at the Nationals with her dance team. They had a great competition! So exciting for her and all the teams at the studio.

The second half was a different type of obligation: Even though I'd rather forego spending the money, the dance team Nationals were held almost halfway to where my parents live. They are certainly not getting any younger (86 & 81), and I'm not sure how many more visits we'll actually be making to see them when both of them are able to actually enjoy us being there. I know it's good for us to spend time with them....those chances are limited. Some things outweigh the financial decisions.