Friday, September 30, 2011

Capital One - 2 Years Later

Progress is at a snail's pace on the Capital One card. Fortunately, I opted out of a change in terms a few years ago when they tried to increase my rate. So this one is a fixed 4.99%. The good thing about opting out of those changes in terms is that you can't add any more debt on it. So the only place it can go is down, no matter how slow the progress seems.

Two years ago, the balance was $1,129.26. Today it stands at $828.17.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kroger Credit Card - 2 years later

This is the last priority on my list right now. Two years ago, this balance started at $958.23. The card has a high interest rate, but I love the rewards it offers and didn't want to quit using it. I earn $30-$40 of free groceries each quarter, plus I get discounts for gas purchases. I was able to pay the balance down below $700. Then each month I charge all groceries and gas and pay those purchases off before the due date. So I'm not really paying the old balance, I'm just paying for groceries and gas out of this month's budget. But since those are always more than my balance, I'm effectively getting an interest free loan on that money. Plus, I still get the rewards!!!

Right now, the balance on the "old debt" owed to this card is $622.93.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Primary Mortgage - 2 years Later

Nothing other than the normal monthly payments on our largest debt. It's still numbing to realize you owe almost a quarter of million and watch the principal balance drop ever so slowly.

The interest rate is 4.5% fixed, and as of the last statement, there are 27 years and 8 months remaining.

This one started at $254,984.88. Today it's down to $246,067.12.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rental Mortgage - GONE!

Two years ago this balance was $27,723.90. This was the mortgage on our old condo (now the rental property).

We were able to pay this one off in 2009 with some of the money my husband inherited after his mother's death. Being free of this payment has put this in property in a position where, even with the amortized loan through the HELOC, it has positive cash flow. won't this year with that huge assessment from the HOA, but in a normal year it would. This is a good thing!

So far I have had (can you hear my knuckles rapping on the desk) good luck with tenants. We still love our old condo. I get really nostalgic when I'm over there for one reason or another. I guess that is normal since I lived there for over 17 years. Moved in there when I was single, added a husband, then two kids. Don't get me wrong. We love living where we are. Our house now has lots of room, lots of storage and a huge yard. No one gets displaced when we have overnight guests, and we're never fighting for a bathroom. But the time, money, and energy it takes to clean and maintain might not be worth it as we get older. We plan to keep this rental for a long time....maybe even long enough to move back there once the rugrats get out of high school. LOL

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Hard to Read the News

without thinking

"there, but for the Grace of God."

Behind the Poverty Numbers

It could happen to anyone.....even us.

HELOC - 2 years later

I would love to be debt free, but when I start ranking loans this is one that hasn't hurt too badly over the past couple of years.

This is a home equity loan on our old home....a condo that is now a rental property. On a chance visit to the bank back in January of 2008, somehow they sold me on increasing a $25K line of credit to $100K. Back then, I had no debt other than the small mortgage on the condo. We tapped into the $25K for my husband's business off and on, but we were nowhere near maxing it out.

Four months later, hindsight showed that was the only way we ever would have gotten the house we now live in. I still don't think I've ever told you the whole story about how we found ourselves buying a foreclosure house that had the floor plan of our dreams in one of the top school districts in the nation (and absolutely the best schools in our state). Not to mention it is in a subdivision where my favorite cousin and her family live. It was one of those things where every star had to line up in the sky, one of those things I prayed and prayed and prayed about. But I had to tap the entire $100K for it to happen. Did you know that in Tennessee you have to bring CASH (i.e. Cashier's Checks) to the courthouse steps even before you know what your final bid is going to be??? Let me tell you....for everything to come together like it was one of those things you just had to stand back and know that HE definitely had His hand in this one.

In August, 2009 the balance was $92,711.42. In 2009 my husband received some money from his mother's estate, and we were able to put down about $20,000 on this loan during the year.

This loan has an enviable rate (prime minus a half percent so currently 2.75%). At the time I was very nervous about the variable rate on this loan. Everyone kept talking about coming inflation and rising interest rates. Turns out so far that hasn't happened, but I was nervous enough to take an offer to convert a portion ($73,000) of the balance to a 15 year fixed rate of 4.99%. So yeah, I'm paying more in interest than I could have been, but honestly knowing it is a fixed rate does let me sleep better every night. You must not forget.....I AM old enough to remember double digit interest rates in the early 80's. And the thought of paying 15% on this much of a balance was very nerve-wracking.

Once I finish borrowing out the amount of the assessments over the next couple of months, I'll probably be right back up there near the $72K mark. But for today, the balance is $68,689.11. And the balance on that fixed portion is down to $67,314.11. The other $1,375.00 is at the 2.75% variable rate.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chase Card #2 - Two Years Later

First one up to bat....Chase Card #2.

Which started out back in August 2009 at $3,620.62. This was my highest rate card, so it was at the top of the radar. I ended up transferring the balance to the HELOC, but I continued to keep up with the amounts separately. Then I had to borrow another $2,000 in 2010 to pay for some LARGE expenses that summer.

Finally just last month, I took money out of a savings account and paid this balance off! Don't get too excited though. I had the money saved for an upcoming expense on the rental property (big assessment from the homeowners' association). So I just used the savings, paid off this balance, and I'm re-borrowing on the HELOC as the payments for assessment are due. It will come close to being a complete wash. It just simplifies my life and my thinking to knock this one out.

So here's the pretty ticker!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Remember the switch to the Health Savings Account?

I emailed the partner in charge of payroll and told him I wanted to contribute $512.50 per month including the firm's $87 portion. Well, he must have read my email too quickly (or maybe he just wanted to make me sweat). Because out of my semi-monthly paycheck they took $512.50! That's $300 more out of my check than I was expecting!!

But after sleeping on it, I've decided I'm going to try and leave it like it is. I'll end up putting in $4,100 before the end of the year. And the firm will contribute an additional $348. That goes a long way towards the $5,000 deductible we now have. And if we go four months without approaching that deductible, this might be my "forced savings" way for the upcoming orthodontist expenses.

I didn't have any real plans to SPEND that money. It would have gone into a holding pattern to hopefully put into my Roth. But braces are in the 9 yr. old's future.....I might as well face it. We have our initial consultation with the orthodontist next month....I'll know more then what I'm up against. At least it won't be such a sticker shock knowing that gobs and gobs of money are being set aside right now for it!!!

Celebrating 2 Years!

Yep! Two years since I started this blog to document my journey out of the mounds of debt I found myself in back in 2009.

There are STILL mounds of debt, but it's fun and motivating to look back and see the progress that has been made! And on those days it feels like one step forward, two steps back.... I need to look back to re-assure myself that things are better than they were.

Over the next few days, I'll be doing a detail review of the debt that was approaching $400,000 when I made the first blog post.

Here's where it stood:
Primary Mortgage - $254,984.88
Rental Mortgage - 27,723.90
HELOC - 92,711.42
Chase Card #1 - 6,698.00
Money Market Loan - 4,711.50
Chase Card #2 - 3,620.62
Bank VISA - 3,575.78
Capital One - 1,129.26
Kroger credit card - 958.23
TOTAL $396,113.59

UGLY! And let's face it, it's still not pretty. The living expenses that come with raising two kids on our income just don't allow for gazelle intensity. But the situation has improved. And I thank each and every one of you for stopping by and offering encouragement and advice. It's going to be a long haul, and I am grateful to all of you for sticking with me and helping me wade through until we can all declare debt freedom!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another $5 for the Christmas Budget

Yep! Just cashed in more Swagbucks for another $5 gift card. This brings my total for the year to $45. I had set a goal of $60, but realistically I'll probably end up with $55. Still nothing I'm going to sneeze at.

And Friday is always Mega Swagbucks Day, so what are you waiting for???

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is Couponing Worth My Time?

I've mentioned before that I have several very convenient stores nearby to make stops at multiple stores during the week. Some weeks are better than others depending on how busy work is, how crazy the kids' schedules are, and what the sales are like. Usually I spread my stops over the course of the week to pick up the sale items especially if I have good coupons to match.

Today was an exception. I put off the grocery shopping all weekend. Finally mid-afternoon, I sat down at the computer. I have several blogs in my Google Reader that match up deals and coupons at the grocery/drug stores. I use posts from those blogs to make shopping lists for each store and note the coupons that need to be clipped (or found if I've already printed them). I spent two hours making lists for six stores, coming up with a potential meal plan for the week, and finding the coupons. Leaving my husband to feed dinner and get baths done, I went out in the steady rain. Within a 2 mile radius I can be at Target, CVS, Walgreens, Harris Teeter, Publix and Kroger. I was able to hit all of those except Target in the next 2 hours.

Not including sales tax, I spent a total of $90.09. My savings including coupons were $94.40. Not too shabby considering I got enough food to last at least a week including a really pretty roast and a couple of packages of ground chuck. Since we pack lunches, this is food for all 3 meals for 4 people. We also needed a couple of other "bigger ticket" items like a 12-pack of toilet paper and coffee. Have you priced coffee lately??? OMG! This is where my addiction shows, because I refuse to cut back.

Anyway....a total of 4 hours. If I hadn't been couponing, I would have spent an hour going to Kroger to do the weekly shopping anyway. So I spent an extra 3 hours of my day to save $94.40. Working out to an hourly rate of $31.46, it's definitely worth my time! Not to mention there's no way we could fit other things in our budget without doing this...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Health Insurance Switch

I swear 444, I know how you feel. My response on Beks post was so long, I thought it deserved it's own post.

I work for a small company. I think we have 33 people covered under our health insurance plans. And our plans always renew on September 1, so I happen to have the numbers in front of me. We have a choice of the traditional PPO with a $1000 indiv/$2500 family deductible or a High Deductible ($5,000 family) Plan with a Health Savings Account.

Every September we get hit with an increase. This year was 16%. Which I had heard the average right now is about 19% so I guess that's in line.For the traditional plan, my portion of family coverage would have been $754.38 per month. My employer pays for single coverage which would have been the other $371. Yes…..that is $1,125 per month total for family coverage. Each individual has a $1,000 deductible maxing out at $2,500 for the family. We had $25 co-pays for office visits and prescriptions were either $10, 20 or $50.

I decided to switched on September 1 to the High Deductible Plan. All office visits and all prescriptions go towards the $5,000 deductible. My portion for insurance is $518.24 per month. And I’m contributing an additional $512 per month (employer pays $87 of this since they only have to pay $284 for what single coverage would be) into a Health Savings account which I can reimburse myself for ANY and ALL medical/dental expenses. I can contribute $6,150 annually to the Health Savings Account which exceeds the $5,000 I might have to pay out-of-pocket for everything else.

I ran the numbers like a million times. But I was able to remove the medical line in my monthly budget since I’ll be able to reimburse myself for all the expenses. Because of that and the taxes savings, I’m only going to bring home about $40 less per month than I would with the traditional plan. But I have the “chance” (depending on how healthy everyone is) to let that HSA account build up and be able to reimburse myself for outrageous orthodontist bills in my near future. I have a 9yr old who is going to need braces in the next year or so.

I hate it, but it is what it is.