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Archive for January, 2008

maybe an interesting proposition, would like to hear thoughts..

January 29th, 2008 at 03:31 pm

First, I'd like to thank everybody for the helpful and motivational comments they left for me in my last blog. It really, really is great to have people offering support and ideas and motivation and such : ) You guys are awesome!

Anyway.... an interesting proposition *may* have arose, and I can't decide if it's something that we should consider or look into further. I was talking to my brother (aka Mr. I Have Done Everything Perfectly With Money Since My First Job... seriously, he's never paid a penny in interest. AND he still lives with mom and dad, pretty much rent free. He's got more cash and assets than most 60 year olds, I bet) who knows we have financial issues, but doesn't know the extent of how awful it is, as nobody but DH and I do. Anyway, I was talking about this house and although I like it and we got a good price and pretty good interest rate on it, I'd sell it in a second. He asked how much and I blurted out $90,000 (plus so that we'd get to pay no closing costs). We owe $83,000 on it still, so that seems like a pretty good price to just blurt out. He said "I'd buy it! That's a steal!" ..........I just said "really?" and we talked about it for a few minutes. It was just a casual conversation, but he got out his magical money calculator and started running the numbers of how much $$$ he'd make. I said if we did do it, the condition would be that DH and I get to live here and pay what our old rent was before we bought the house (and lived in the same apartment) which was $525 AND we'd get to keep our dog and still foster dogs from the shelter (the most rewarding thing I've ever done, BTW.) We owe a little under $83,000 on it now.

So it was just a casual conversation, BUT it might be something to consider if he's serious about it, which I think he might be after he ran the numbers. I know nothing about number crunching. I don't know if it would be a bad idea to lose the equity that we already have in the house, which admittedly isn't much. I know we'd lose the tax benefits too, which is another thing to consider. Although being that he thought $90,000 was a good price, I could probably jack it up a little bit. That would make a *HUGE* dent in the CC debt that we have (even though the thought of selling our house we've had for a year to pay off credit cards is depressing... I've never been madly in love with this house and it was more of a convenience thing at the time to purchase it) we'd still have a place to live and not have to worry about moving to a place that would let us keep the dogs (right now there's 220lbs worth of dogs laying at my feet, something I don't think landlords would take kindly to, LOL!) and we wouldn't have to pay water, garbage and homeowner's insurance, etc.

My husband is NOT keen on the idea, as selling things to family members rarely turns out good and there's all the potential for problems and such... which I see his point 100% on that. I love my brother to death and we're very close and I wouldn't want a stupid house to change 26 years of awesome brother/sister awesomeness.

I'm very interested to hear what everyone has to say about this or any research calculator thingies that you guys can point me to. And I don't know if it's anywhere here, but our CC debt combined with the back medical bills (from the days of emergencies and no insurance) we pay on is (regretfully) about $27,000. Thoughts? Pros? Cons? Am I stupid for even considering this?

O...M....G....GAH!!! I just don't know what to do anymore...

January 28th, 2008 at 02:43 pm

ARGH! I have a feeling I'll have to edit this blog post when I'm done, as I don't think swearing is allowed here. I'm seriously ready to lose it...

Remember in my last post or so I mentioned I had a dream about a horrible cc statement coming in the mail? I was telling my friend about it and she mentioned in Psychology Today that there was an article about dreams and how they might prepare you in how you will/should (I forget which) act in a situation should it arise.

So I came home and the WuMu statement was sitting there. I opened it and breathed a sigh of relief. Then I opened the Citi statement and nearly fainted. I almost couldn't comprehend what I was looking at. My minimum payment had skyrocketed from a somewhat manageable $124 to a whopping $258.44. My interest rate on the almost $7,000 cc went from around 9% to *25%* PLUS the $39.00 late fee. I somehow thought my payment was due the 21st, but it was due the 14th. I never ever made a late payment until last month, and it all started to fall apart. WTH is wrong with me??

So I just burst into tears. I'm not the type of person who cries short of someone dying, but this is just too much. We are in SO DEEP. What the hell were we thinking all those times we used credit cards so carelessly???? We probably thought we were young and had tons of time to pay them off, then we were in a bajillion dollars (might as well be) in stupid consumer debt.

So I called Citi. They wouldn't waive the late fee, but they did reinstate my 9.whatever it was interest rate it was previously, thank god. But I do have to pay the $258.44 this month, nearly impossible as I have TWO other bills to pay (medical bills: $292 and other cc is about $300) the same day. At least I have some time to plan things out and start selling anything that isn't bolted down.

So I'm just a mess. I've been working so hard to do what I can and things somehow keep getting WORSE. My husband feels if I cancel his health insurance ($450 a month) that we'll be so much better off for a while, but given his major health problems, it's not something that we can do! We already owe roughly $15,000 in medical bills from when he didn't have health insurance and had to go to the hospital, and it would just be asking for trouble. I'd sell my soul before I see him suffer without health insurance again.

I keep telling myself we got ourselves into this mess, we can get out. I'm really starting to lose hope though. Someone please tell me it will be alright...

The good and the (very) not so good...

January 25th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

ARGH! I'm ready to rip my hair out one by one.

Times are rough... as they are with a lot of people. I swore I would stop beating myself up over getting into this HUGE mess and wok my way out of it, looking to the future and all that, but I swear things keep getting worse. Argh.

I've been having dreams all week long about getting awful credit card statements in the mail. Such as the dream I had the other night that WaMu raised my interest rate to like 40% on the credit card we owe almost 10,000 on (and that instead of a raise, my boss gave me a brand-new Jeep Commander that I had to drive... for some reason I couldn't sell it. But I digress...) I'm going to be scared until that statement comes.

Although I was NOT happy today when I got the Home Depot bill to find out that 1) I did get charged the late fee for paying one day late last month out of my own stupidity and I called them and they wouldn't waive the late payment, and 2) the 0% interest ran out so I got backcharged all the crap that was 0% interest on. Argh, argh, argh, Again, my own fault, I know.

Furthermore, I got the phone bill and it was DOUBLE what it normally is. I thought my heart stopped for a second, but I decided to actually look at the bill to see what was up before I had a total meltdown. For some oddball reason, last month I wrote down in my register that I paid it when I in fact must have just spaced out and not paid it and I thought I paid it online. So I just paid what I *thought* I paid last month and will pay the rest of it when it's due in Feb.

I've been so scatterbrained. This is NOT like me. Despite our problems, I never ever paid bills late. I totally forgot about the stupid Target card (that's almost paid off) in December and now the Home Depot card (which we owe a lot more on).... so I have a system in place so that I can stay 100% organized. I'm so mad at myself though.... *insert world's smallest violin here* It kills me that BOTH times I had enough $$$ to pay the payments and just forgot

Oh yeah, I'm so busy whining I forgot the good news. I got a raise! Woohoo!! Go me! Of course I can't say exactly how much it is without launching into a detailed thing of how I get paid, but a very rough estimate is at least an extra $200 a month, and some months with the right jobs it will be much, much more. So February is looking a little less stressful, also due to me working an insane amount this month. Woohoo! So I'm happy about that.

I've just got to get my head on straight. This entry is whiny enough. Here's to a much-needed good night's sleep *crosses fingers*

weekend spending..

January 19th, 2008 at 01:46 pm

So after paying all the bills this week, I had a measly $30 left in the checking account, no food in the house and a quarter tank of gas. I knew we could scrape by with only buying bread, but the gas thing is obviously an issue. So I had to take the change jar to the Coinstar machine and cash it in so we have gas : ( It's cool, because my brother is an Amazon.com book freak (I bet he's 90% solely responsible for their success) so instead of rolling the money up myself, I take it there, get the Amazon gift certificate (since if you do that you get 100% of the money you put in and they don't take the percentage) and I give him the gift certificate and he gives me the cash. Awesome : ) It just makes me happy I don't have to roll the change, which I would if the other option was paying the fee. So we had exactly $50 in change, woohoo! So I went to Aldi's, got a little bit of food (they had SO much good stuff there, but I managed to restrain myself) and then came home where I've been working ALL day. I got a LOT of work done today. Woohoo!

I'm feeling pretty optimistic... I was getting down due to lack of money and such and carrying my change to the machine and then leaving the really nice super fancy yummy aroma supermarket to go to Aldi's, but then I was thinking how "old" me would have just whipped out a credit card and went to town and probably bought over $100 of food in a Supermarket Sweep frenzied grocery shopping spree, but "new" me didn't even consider that as an option. I don't know how many months it's been since i've put anything on a credit card, but it's been a while since the thought "I wish I had a credit card" or "I should just use the credit card" has even entered my mind. And hey, look, I'm still alive. : )

So yeah, I got a ton of work done today which means I've been sitting around all day except for the little grocery shopping I did earlier. I feel my butt actually starting to grow into one with the chair, which means I'd better get up soon! Being that we're broke as hell, and we have no cable, and the library is closed, AND it's way too freezing out to take the dogs for a long walk, that means I'll spend the next hour (or two) with my new "hobby" which is winter cleaning. Yeah, exciting! But we have a lot of cleaning supplies so I don't have to buy anything, and it's sooooooo nice to have a clean house. It's just something to do that doesn't involve shelling out cash OR sitting after I've been sitting all day. I'm such a dork.

oh yeah, my friend has a spreadsheet program that I can run on my mac, so it's going to be nice that I'll finally be able to get more organized, as long as I don't rip my hair out trying learn how to do it!

just an update...

January 17th, 2008 at 06:16 pm

I'm scared to get my check tomorrow, go to the bank and come home and pay bills! I laid awake in bed worrying about it last night... freaking out. I hope it works. I hope there's enough money to pay the bills. Food shopping is probably out this week, but we have bread and milk and PB&J, so......

I'm watching TV as I type (cable is cancelled tomorrow.) this girl just spent about $700 on two items at some store. Gah! Then she said "I feel really guilty, but what should I save the money for? It's not like I'm buying a house or car or something.) I'm sure even if my parents were that filthy rich, they wouldn't have let me grown up like that.

I'm going on a really, really good job tomorrow. My boss called me and asked me if I wanted to take it. Duh! I guess I just look desperate now. *rolls eyes* Anyway, it's going to be an all day job. which means roughly $575 (unless I do get a raise, that is, which I STILL don't know about.) They want the job expedited though, so I'll get paid +90% of whatever the total of the bill is. I get paid on commission by the page, so it's hard figure out how much $$$ it will be, but whatever the total is it will be that PLUS 90%. Woo! It means working all weekend and the beginning of next week like crazy, but I've been doing that anyway. Yay! So that will be GREAT for next month. Too bad it doesn't help me this week though. : /

Argh... what a weekend.

January 13th, 2008 at 11:34 am

Not only do I feel like I somehow totally wasted time this weekend, I feel like I wasted gas, money, etc. ARGH! I hate this feeling more than anything and amy trying to get done as much as possible today.

Friday we saw our friend broke down on the side of the road with his wife and baby (we had to go check on someone's house who was out of town and lives about 20 mins away) and like anyone else would do, we stopped. We had the dogs with us in the car so we had to go to the person's house we were watching, since it was closest, then drop the dogs off, then go BACK and get our friends and go to THEIR house, and then go pick up the dogs. They did give us a teeny bit of gas money though, thank god.

I got a car starter for x-mas and the appointment to put it in was paid for by the person who gave it to me. I don't really NEED a car starter and have gone all this time in winters without one, but with the price of gas I feel like it's a waste. The person who gave it to me was really, really excited about it. I figured I would get it installed and in the rare instances I HAVE to use it (like waking up and finding freezing rain has iced all the doors shut, things like that). So the place we had to go to is a little bit far away, half hour. Fine. Drove there in two cars, drove home, drove back, drove home. TWO cars both times (there was nothing around this place it was installed and it was going to take 3-4 hours to install, so it's not like there was anywhere for me to walk to and hang out while it was getting installed.) At least it's done though.

So yeah, I feel like that took up forever. Had to buy dog food as we were running out and a lot of places aren't open Sunday. Fine. Go to the place we usually do, they're out of the food that we have to buy as it's the ONLY kind that doesn't give our dog horrible poo, as he has allergies. Argh. Drive MORE to go another place to see if they have it, which they did, for $5 more a bag. Gah. I had no choice as we had no food left, so I grudgingly bought it, drove all the way home again.

Bah! So yeah, now I have to get gas *again* which I'm not happy about. Normally I don't drive anywhere on the weekends except to go food shopping (which is really close and I have to do today...) and I can start off the work week with almost a full tank, but not this week.... maybe I can make what I have left last me until Friday *crosses fingers*

And I STILL haven't found about about my raise!! Hopefully I can get some work done today, get some laundry done today, get some cleaning done today! Usually I like to relax Sundays and do nothing.

Everything is coming up Milhouse!

January 10th, 2008 at 04:36 pm

I was about to write a post about how pissed I was that I was going to be short on bills this week and had to take $200 that I put into the Ef last night (that I was so happy about) into the checking account to pay bills. Gah! I really thought it was going to work out.

But once I did the math, I realized I was going to be short. And being that most of the payments this week are blasted CC payments, I knew they HAD to be paid, and it's more important for them to be paid on time rather than having $$$ in the EF, unfortunately.

So I was in a bad mood all day. The teaching job isn't going to work out at the moment (but in 6 months when someone goes on maternity leave and isn't going back, I'm 1st on the list to be called for the position. Woo! If I want to work 7-9 four nights a week, it's $800 a month, only 7-9 for two nights is $400. For such little work and only four nights, I'll take the $800!! That's a TON of extra money!!) and I had to take money out of the EF to pay stupid bills, putting be back where I was with hardly any EF. BUT then my husband came home, pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. Our friend gave him a $200 payment for the iMac she's buying! Yay!

So although I'm not ahead, at least I don't have to change my little $1,000 emergency fund ticker down $200 : ) And our friend will be making $200 payments until the computer is paid, then whisking it away and we'll be $800 richer : )

I'm just happy I managed to break even! And I have decided I'm going to open an ING account to hold the EF : )

Added $300 to the EF

January 9th, 2008 at 06:53 pm

Argh! It's such a rough month. It's going to be a long one, I fear. Although tomorrow is the much anticipated "Find Out If I'm Getting a Raise" day, so maybe that's why things have felt like they're dragging.

I cashed the rent check from our tenant, put $300 in the EF. Well, not actually IN the savings account with the rest of the money. I need a better way to keep it. I need a way where it's hard and inconvient to get to, but not impossible. I know that the best thing to do is have it in the savings account, but it's just so easy to pop online, transfer it to the checking account when I get nervous that there's not enough $$$ in the checking account, being that I like to have a cushion in the CA and not under $100.

So my husband suggested that I take the cash and put it in a pitcher of water and freeze it, so if we need it, it's there, and if I think I might want to take a few bucks, I know it will be a HUGE pain to thaw it out and dry all the money. It sounds crazy, but I think that's exactly what I'm going to do. When I have the full amount, then I'll put it in the savings account or some other interest earning method.

I'm really frustrated this month. We're JUST scraping by. I really, really, really hope I don't need that money. I just know I can't move forward without the $100 emergency fund.....I've been trying to do "no spend" days, but being that every few days I have to shell out $6 for parking when I'm downtown, it's nearly impossible. And saying "it was a no spend day EXCEPT...." really isn't a no spend day. Hrmph.

So yeah. I keep trying to think positive and all that fun stuff.... it's hard! We're still getting by though...

Okay, I'm off to go freeze some cash.

stupid, stupid, stupid.

January 7th, 2008 at 05:21 am

I am SO MAD at myself today. And it's a Monday to boot.

I sat down last night around 8:00 to pay the bills (I am addicted to online bill pay... it's so nice not to have to buy stamps all the time.) and started paying away... i keep all my bills and all my bank transactions in one of those hardcover books (always seemed to lose the check register, and the book has lots of room to write) from Office Max. Anyway, I knew the car payment was due, electric bill, a few others that quickly drained my bank.

Then I saw it. The Home Depot bill. Oh no! It was due the 7th. GAHHHHH!!!! Stupid, stupid, stupid! Looking at the back of the bill, it said if you call the bill in by 5:00 p.m. that it would be credited that day. Being a Sunday and late, that wasn't going to happen. So I paid it online and it put the payment through today....*sigh* It WAS a 0% credit card on the balance we owe ($1700) and I'm sure that privilege will be taken away, as well as getting hit with a late fee.

I'm always so careful. I had never paid a bill late until yesterday. And usually Friday after I deposit my check I come home and pay, pay, pay, but we had company this weekend and I knew most of the bills weren't due (forgetting about Home Depot as usually I would have paid it last week) until later.

The thing that really kills me is that I HAD the money in the account to pay it. We're just doing the minimum on cards until we save the EF back up, so it was less than $20.00. Hrmph.

*sigh* This won't happen again...

I've decided...

January 6th, 2008 at 08:12 am

...that I'm going to call the trade school I went to to see if they're looking for teachers. it's a very small field, so I just have this feeling they might be, and I've been working in this field for over three years now so I have some wonderful on-the-job insight. I talked to someone a while ago (I had just started working in my field and was waaaay too bogged down to consider it) and they said the teachers there make $400 a month, which isn't bad for working two nights a week from 7-9, plus it's a teaching job that would have no extra things to do, like at home or when not teaching, being there's a grader for the school. So for an extra $400 a month, it would TOTALLY be worth it. There's a LOT I could do with that money! Plus it's year round and the place is only about 20 minutes away, so it's not a far drive. The guy who runs the school is one of the most intimidating people I've ever met, but maybe being a teacher and not a student would erase his weirdoness. And I'm assuming it's more money and less time I'd make at any other part-time job.

Okay.... have to go food shopping. I only have about a measly $25 to go food shopping today, and all we have at the house is bread, milk, some rice.... that's about it. Hope this works. I'm going to scan the Sunday adds to see if it will be better to go to a supermarket with good sales and coupons of if it will be better to go to Save-A-Lot or Aldis. We'll see! I've never had this little money to go food shopping for a week's worth of food, so it will be interesting. And if I DO manage to get everything I need, then you can bet I'll be spending this much every week. Crossing my fingers... wish me luck!

Wow...

January 5th, 2008 at 09:59 pm

I know my husband and I are in awful financial shape, and we're trying our hardest to get ourselves out before it's too late. Although we've made little progress, we've made progress nonetheless. Heck, even stopping using credit cards under any circumstance for the past few months in and of itself is progress.

So a certain family member and I were talking. He lives across the country in CA and is the only person other than my husband who knows the extent of our cash troubles. So I was telling him about all the steps we've taken and how in even a year there's going to be a dent in what we owe. So this person proceeds to tell me how him and his wife are going on a Mexican cruise this year. They moved to CA like two years ago, own a $250,000 condo and a beautiful $550,000 house, one truck with a truck payment. Now, that's a LOT of financed stuff, and being I know they moved out there with basically no cash, I'm willing to bet it was all no money down on the house, the truck, the condo.

So he tells me how much they have in consumer debt. Approximately $95,000 for credit cards, furniture, electronics, whatever. I ask how the hell they manage to pay ALL these bills this month and buy more (like a timeshare they bought this year.) He launches into this big spiel about how they do it. Get a 0% credit card, buy stuff, when the 0% runs out, transfer. So although they're paying little or no interest, he says it's as good as cash, even with running up the other cards again. (I'm not without fault on the 0% interest trap, but not $95,000 worth. Plus I know better now.) I wasn't trying to be snotty, but I asked "What if one of you loses your job?" I don't remember his answer. I really was shocked. I know they're putting said cruise on a credit card. Why not go to the timeshare instead??? I asked if they were even trying to be debt free and he said no, it's FINE. GAH! They want to have a baby in the next year, how is that going to happen???? I also just assume they have some wacky ARM on the condo and house, as neither of them have extraordinary jobs. They do well, but not THAT well. Oh, and said family member is 27 and the wife is about 31-ish. Being that this family member is pretty close to me, I feel awful for their future. I cannot believe they're not even remotely concerned. Not a care in the world!!

I tried to tell him about some of the stuff we were doing and the books I've been reading and this website and he wanted no part of it. What about the future? I cannot imagine having roughly $850,000 in debt (and not even being CONCERNED!). Tthey do have two roommates, btw, to help foot the cost of the house, but still....

So yeah. I have visited them in CA and was instantly jealous of the flat-screen tv, the fancy kitchen, the marble countertops, the walk-in closets, the master bedroom with fancy-schmancy tub, the attention to detail in the molding and woodwork, the nice artwork, the electronics, state-of-the-art washer and dryer, the pool, the two porches, the hot tub, two new cars in the driveway, and of course every time they say they're taking another great vacation.... who wouldn't love all that? But now I'm looking at our dinky apartment in the double that we own, our cheap tv, cheap entertainment center, naked walls, cheap couch, second-hand dining room table and teeny kitchen with not enough counter space.... and I think, hmm, maybe it's not that bad!! At least I know that when the time comes for us to have our dream house, we'll be able to afford it being that we did decide to buy this small double now.

I shudder to think of the price they will wind up paying in the end so that they can live it up now.

It might be a long month...

January 4th, 2008 at 09:55 pm

I was all excited to come home and work on my budget and tell all my $$$ where it was going to go... you know, new year, new outlook, new organized budgeting me.

Imagine how quickly my excitement over my newfound budget obsession deflated when I realized...... there's a chance I *may* be short on the bills this month. I hope my math was wrong. I'm going to have to look at it again in the morning when I have a clear head.

So up until today, I hadn't spent ANY money this year. That was 3.6 no spend days. Woo! But that did come to an end. I needed gas (hopefully I can get by on $20 this week) and we needed a Liquid Plumber-type stuff for the bathtub being that there was some sort of clog. Also we needed a new toilet brush due to the foster dog galloping around the house as if it was a toy and breaking the handle. So yeah, I needed two measly things. Where to get them? There's a Big Lots right across the street. I really never had been there. So I figured I would check it out.

Wow!!!! wow! I cannot believe ALL THIS TIME I never went there. It's walking distance! I am ashamed of myself. So I found a toilet brush ($1.99) and some cheap unclogging stuff (80 cents) I wandered around for a bit marveling at all the cheap stuff they had, and I must admit, it was very, very hard to not get the it's-so-cheapitis. Really, there was some great cheap stuff. I also noticed in the food section that they had tons of cereal and other food that was lots cheaper than most store's generic food, so I'll be stopping there IF I happen to scrape enough money together to go food shopping. There was so much good stuff, as far as laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaning supplies, etc. Awesome. I'm also SO proud of myself I only got what I went in for, but whether that was due to me knowing it's going to be a rough month or my fabulous self-control, we'll never know ; )

My husband might be getting a small part-time job, which would be soooooo great. As mentioned in other posts, he has health problems and he's been completely out of work since October. *sigh* with the price of his health insurance (approx. $450 a month) and all our nasty debt and him not working, it's just a big 'ole stressful mess. Blah. But even if he's making a few extra bucks, it will help.

Also, I found four giant trash bags while poking around in the garage and they were busting at the seams with bottles and pop cans. I asked our tenant if they were his and he said no, they must be the guy's we bought the house from. Dibs!! They're old, like the old style Pepsi cans and stuff. I'll be taking them back this weekend. Good thing they look like they were all cleaned out and rinsed. I don't know how much they're worth, being that we never buy pop, but at five cents a can, I'll take it!

Also, I've been looking for stuff to sell around the house. (This is turning out to be a long rambling post. Oh well!) My friend wants to buy our desktop iMac (which admittedly isn't that old...) and I told her for $850 it's hers. They our EF will be back up to the much-coveted $1000. Yay! She said it will take her a little bit to save the $, but she's really good about it so I don't think it will be too long. Now what else to sell... we have so much CRAP! I don't know if eBay is the best way, but with some of the more collectible stuff we have (I'm married to Mr. Don't-Take-It-Out-Of-The-Original-Package) it probably is. Must do research. I shudder to part with it, by my Nightmare Before Christmas collection alone might be worth some $$$...... must go look up stuff on eBay. I know it's for the best. I'm happy I'm not sad about parting with my stuff, means I must be on the right track.