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Decisions, decisions...

August 21st, 2011 at 06:04 pm

We haven't put money into our 401Ks in abt a year... and for some reason I decided to go with a nominal percentage last month - if felt good to get ball rolling again. And then I started wondering if that was the smartest thing to do...

Was it worth it - putting that money in, especially when the stock market is like it is?!

I am seriously considering stopping the contributions - and instead having the money transferred into our IRAs.

Any thoughts?!

Amazing

August 7th, 2011 at 08:11 pm

I understand how interest works; I do.
But I think it still sucks to see my balance on my almost one year old mortgage.

We closed on our house in September of last year. Our first payment was November 2010.

In the past 10 months, our balance has only gone down by about $2,500.00. That is CRAZY since we've paid over $14,000.

I'd love to start throwing money at it - even dollars a month. But I have only $13K left on our van, so I may start throwing money at IT and then once that's paid off the entire car payment amount can go to the house payment.

All in good time, I know.
I'm just anxious to feel like I did when we paid off all of our debt the first time. I am ready to get these monkeys of our back!

I have a plan.

April 19th, 2011 at 09:23 pm

So as not to try and write five months worth of posts in one single post, I am going to keep things short and sweet.

1) I love being a homeowner.

2) Although, I am getting kind of tired of trips to Lowes and Home Depot.

3) We've been okay on the budget front.

4) We are planning a 60 Day No Unnecessary Spending Blitz (so that we can gear up for a 60 Day Savings Blitz)

5) My love for all things Old Navy and Target has turned into a love for Hobby Lobby and Ross (home decor stuff - MUST STOP THIS!)

6) My son turned 15 in October, gets his permit at the end of this month and COLLEGE IS SO CLOSE!! This is really waking me up - more than anything! We need to be able to afford all the fun and educational things coming up!!

7) We have a beautiful budget - with money going into savings and money leftover at the end of the month. We need to stick to it!! =)

Now What?!

November 1st, 2010 at 08:37 pm

It's been a whirlwind month and a half.
We are pretty much settled in to the new house.
Spending has been crazy, savings non-existent.

I am feeling quite anxious to get back on track.

We went from paying off debt to enjoying life while saving for the house, to spending NOTHING while the house deal was going on, to having to spend everything on the house and moving and necessary furniture, to not having any more cash - yet things still need to get done that require money.

We are starting to realize what our monthly bills will look like now that we are homeowners...I am not too afraid... but all of my budgets are on my personal computer which has yet to be hooked up. I feel a little lost without that information and my spreadsheets. I feel like I am not in control, or being held accountable.

The husband and I are going to spend the next 2 months making things work, then we are going to start FRESH come January 1.

We just made our FIRST mortgage payment... only 359 left to go.

My son started High School this year... so College is coming up quickly...[[scary!]].

So much to do and plan for - I am ready to tackle it all and to start enjoying this new chapter of our lives. =)

It's been a while...

September 5th, 2010 at 07:16 am

I think my last post said we started the pre-qual process for getting a mortgage. Our first ever.

Well, that didn't work out.

At the time anyway.

We got our renewal notice on the apartment in July, and that rate was going up $300 a month.

So we started looking at houses to rent again - anywhere from $1400-$2500 a month. Crazy.

So, I decided to apply for a home loan.
The ride was similar to that of a roller coaster - lots of letters of explanation, some rapid rescores from where stuff needed to be updated on the credit reports (had to get my scores up a bit, so close but not quite there - the rescore worked!)... a lot of stressing... even more stressing. We had a our downpayment, which was a blessing. So nothing to worry about there.

We closed on our house Friday morning.
It's surreal.

We bought a spec home - brand spankin' new! It was pretty much done, but we got to pic out the appliances and do the landscaping (HOA will reimburse).

It's been sweat and tears... but we did it!

We get the keys on Thursday... and we still have a month to go before our lease is up - so we have the paint and supplies ready! We cannot wait to go in and make that 3700sq house, our home!!

Looking back on this blog,it seems like we've been working toward this for forever... It's all we have ever wanted.

Called Bank of America Today

May 15th, 2010 at 08:24 pm

We are starting the application process to get pre-qualified for a home loan. Gulp.

Everything is paid off, there are 0 balances on all credit cards. There is money in the saving's accounts...

Scary!

Settling in...

April 4th, 2010 at 03:36 pm

I've not posted since Feb... life and work have been busy.

We've spent a bit of money last month.
Our oldest is getting braces next week, so I paid the down payment ($500) for that. I paid off a few medical bills that came in...and bought tickets to a Diamondbacks baseball game for this Friday for my daughter's birthday party....after all was said and done - I was able to add $200 to our down payment fund!!

I got a letter regarding a FANTASTIC snowball ($7k)...
and a few smaller ones should be coming in soon.
Still waiting to hear about taxes... I am sure we will get some money back, but prolly very little.

At this point - we are trying to scale back on spending, and just throwing money into our savings (along with the snowballs).

We won't be taking a vacation this year; instead, we are throwing the older two kids a "graduation" party (Pool Party/BBQ) at the end of May. One's graduating from elementary school, and the other middle school.

We are going to start house hunting in June! We are looking to build, so that's another 5 months. I am hoping we will be in a house by November or December!

Our credit scores are now in the mid 600s (they were 480 when we started in November 08). I think they will go up again as soon as the last of the medical collection show paid. waiting on that. And then we let things age for a bit...

So, all is good - It feels great to finally be in control!!!

And then there were two...

February 14th, 2010 at 05:39 pm

Yes, TWO!
I know my left side-bar is now blank, but it once housed all of our debt.

We had 14 CCs.
We had 21 Collection Accounts (all but 3 were medical).
We had a personal loan.

All totaling about 20K.

We are down to two accounts left.

I wrote checks this morning for
$200
$218
$232
$439
$449

I have two medical collection accounts left for next month:
$753
$1039

And then that's it. I am proud to say that any medical bill (or any unexpected bill, for that matter) that came up during the past 14 months has been paid on time. We have not had any lates, any new collections, nothing. In fact, I am putting braces on my kids and am paying CASH for them! Smile

After next month, I (okay, we) only have two large debts left until we are COMPLETELY debt free; my van (21K) and my student loans (a lot, but deferred for at least another year).

In the past year, we bought a new (to us) truck for 3500 cash. We went on vacation to San Diego last summer (cash) and have a trip planned to Mexico (on the cheap) this summer (cash), we've given great presents, and even donated to charity.

What's next?!?! My snowball (currently $1800 a month) will go STRAIGHT into our ING Savings Account that is designated as our HOUSE DOWN PAYMENT FUND... After 15 years of marriage, 3 kids and two dogs, we may finally realize our dream of owning our own home and staying put for a while! This is THE year!

I am, without a doubt, excited this morning! Life is good!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Don't you hate...

January 31st, 2010 at 03:21 pm

when you lose a very important tax document?!

My state decided to do a quick audit for 2004...the year I exercised my rights on some stock options. They claimed I didn’t pay state taxes, and that I now owe them $590.00.

We move a lot, I am not the best filer, who the heck knows where the documents are from 2004?!

I went through some boxes (not the best shredderer either) and found the Year End Summary from Smith Barney that clearly SHOWS I paid the state taxes, more than what they claim I need to pay. So, I called Smith Barney and asked them to send me a 1099. They sent me a letter, not an actual 1099. I cannot find that letter anywhere.

So, I made a copy of the Year End statement (which is clear as day) and penned my response. I am going to call Smith Barney again tomorrow, but in the meantime, I will send off what I do have (copies of course).

They sent me the audit letter back in December, my response is due Feb 8, - nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?

Gosh, I got to get better at this.......

Day 3... 30 Day Challenge and stuff

January 3rd, 2010 at 09:25 pm

I am spending today cleaning out the office. I work from home... and I also share the office with the husband, and the kids when they need it.

It was getting bad in here. I've had a lot of down time in December, including almost three weeks of vacation. Tomorrow, I have to get back into working - so that means I need to clean off the desks, shred, shred, shred, and get organized.

I've had to empty my shredder 3 times already... there was a lot of stuff. Mostly financial - thankfully, I've gone to almost all online statements.

I've found 16 items to get rid of -- most of them being books. I usually try to sell them at a used book store, but some of these were already declined. So, I am thinking of dropping them off at my grandma's retirement community. I have many more where they come from... What can I say? I love to read!

The kids and the husband are out cleaning up the garage - moving stuff around and decluttering also.

Nice way to spend a Sunday! Smile

Quick List of 2010 Goals

December 31st, 2009 at 08:28 pm

I may tweak these over the next few days; I figured that's allowed. Smile

1) Add $1200 to the EmerFund by December 2010

2) Pay off last of medical collections by April

3) Offer settlement of 50% to SST

4) Add $1500 to HouseFund each month starting in April

5) Restart 401Ks in November (for both of us)

6) Log ALL spending

7) No using Credit Cards - at all!

8) Purchase first home by November 30

9) Do NOT apply for new credit / No new debt

10) Stick to zero based budget


I feel I need to make some of these goals more SMART... as I mentioned, I may make some deadlines... but just getting them down in writing (er, typing?) makes them real enough for me to get to work on them.

Of course, there's the always "eat more healthfully," "exercise more," and "spend a ton of quality time with my family"... those go without saying! Smile

Happy New Year!

Getting Ready for...

December 21st, 2009 at 10:36 pm

2010.

Working on a new budget/spending log.

Have to rebuild my sidebar.

Have to stay motivated.

Lots to do in the next 11 monhts!!

Happy Holidays!!

A Paying Machine!

November 17th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Man, look @ my sidebar go... I have knocked out a BUNCH of medical collection accounts. All the ones remaining are with one company... I am trying to decide how best to attack those. I am starting by having the Credit Reporting agencies validating them... and will go from there.

Credit Reports...

November 17th, 2009 at 05:59 pm

I've been playing with our Credit Reports for the last 3-4 days. For one, we are trying to remove that house/mortgage in WI that I mentioned in an earlier post, from my DH's file.

They removed the loan.
They then added the guys name to my DH's file.
They then removed the address, but put it back on.

I have faxed them at least 4 times...all the info they requested... today I finally sent paper copies and sent them via Certified Mail. Hopefully that will work.

I wonder how his score will change once the mortgage no longer reports...

I've also done clean-up on the reports, such as removing variations of our names and SSNs that are not ours... My goal is to get our score up by June so MAYBE we can start looking at new home builders...

keeping my fingers crossed...

Hide and Seek

November 13th, 2009 at 06:27 pm

I swear - it's so difficult to pay collection accounts. Having to track down some of these older companies is killer. It's like a game of Hide and Seek.

I managed to get two more accounts paid this week (updated sidebar). I have a good sized snowball at the end of the month that will help to eliminate a few more! Smile

Yeah!

Added another $100 to my Emergency Fund... Added another $150 to our Short Term account, and also moved some money to my oldest son's ING Savings account - he added 10% of his birthday money!

We have my niece's birthday tomorrow - I have $50 set aside for that... and finally, to bring us to a zero-based-budget, I have $110 for groceries for the week.

I do have about $200 extra in my checking account - no idea where that came from. I will wait a few more days, maybe on Tuesday, and check to see if I forgot to send something out, or if we just did real good at not spending so much this past week!

Oh... I also started a new stash cash fund... It's in a Christmas Tin... and it started with a few $1's before Halloween... but every time I got to the grocery store, I get $5 cash back - and now there is a little over $100 in there!! Smile Its purpose is not yet defined, but I am hoping I can keep adding to it so that when we buy our house next November, we will have some extra cash for stuff if we need it. I like it because I feel as if I cannot take money from it... just like my ING accounts...

The plan is working... Smile I am saving!

Eeeks - Credit Report Question

November 13th, 2009 at 01:23 am

So... I paid a medical collection bill that's been around for a while, but has NEVER been on my credit report. I paid the sucker... and now it was added to my report with a Zero Balance. WHAT?!?!

Is that right?


-------------

Edited to add:

Pulled out the collection letter, and it was a newer letter, one I got in October that said Pay Not and we won't Report. So I paid... I called the Credit Bureau and they said that if the account is in collections, they can report at any time, even after it's paid. Frown

So I called the collection agency and he said "weird. we will get that taken of." I got his name and date & time of the call... I will check back later! Smile

Hopefully it's gonna be taken off in no time!

Wow... it came and went

November 11th, 2009 at 05:25 pm

November 7th came and went, anyone looking at a calendar could tell you that.

It's been a year since I restarted this blog... Since we decided to get serious AGAIN!

This time, it has worked. We are so close to our finish line, I think we need to get a little hardcore for the next few months. We will start stockpiling our monthly snowball into our House Down Payment savings account in April (about $1500 a month)... but before then, we have to make sure everything has been paid, that there are no unpaid collection accounts, and that we are on track for a very serious mission.

It's getting to seem almost real...

Bought a new Truck!

November 9th, 2009 at 03:00 am

Well, a new-to-us truck! It's a 2003 Ford Ranger...5 speed. Only one owner, CarFax was clean and guarenteed...My husband spied on it for days before we decided to test drive it.

Let me tell you, paying for a decent used vechicle in CASH is fantastic!! $3900. And I no longer have to take my husband to and from work! Huge stress relief.

Our ins. only went up $21 a month - not bad.

I am looking forward to the next 12 months of SAVING for our house!! It's gonna be here before we know it.

Eyes Wide Open...

October 25th, 2009 at 09:14 am

Mouth Closed Shut (from now on, anyways)...

Look, we make good money... We paid our credit cards off... We are paying our collections off... We have money left over @ the end of the money.... We don't spend all crazy like... Except for when it comes to eating out.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Seriously.

I know better. I do. I know what needs to be done... (meal planning, shopping, stop being lazy & make lunches for the kids and hubby)...

I knew it was getting a little out of hand; we've been eating Subway at least once a week...usually when it's a school night for me.

I can't sleep... so I decided to pull the info from our joint bank account.

This does not include meals/eating out paid for by DH's debit card or cash.

Just our joint.
And just since August 1.

Not even three full months.



Here goes:

Applebees -21.74
Baskin Robbins -10.75
Baskin Robbins -9.56
Baskin Robbins -11.86
Carl's Jr -15
Carl's Jr -12.88
Chipotle -35.46
Chipotle -18.43
Chipotle -33.46
Chipotle -19.08
Cinnabon -6.98
Coldstone -11.39
Cracker Barrel -53.32
Dairy Queen -1.83
Dairy Queen -15.33
Einstein -23.51
Einstein -7.74
Einstein -16.26
Einstein -11.94
Einstein -4.84
Einstein -4.84
Einstein -2.15
Einstein -4.84
Eurest Dining -4.04
Fuddruckers -27.79
Jack in the Box -11.82
Joe's BBQ -43.56
Joe's Crab -84.06
KFC -31.89
Las Taquitos -34.48
Las Taquitos -10.94
Las Taquitos -19.36
Little Caesars -15.02
Lucilles -55
Marie Callenders-15.45
McDonalds -15.89
McDonalds -3.35
McDonalds -2.84
McDonalds -6.5
McDonalds -3.56
McDonalds -7.11
Native NewYorker-34.05
Native NewYorker-50.46
Panda Express -6.86
Panda Express -8.16
Peter Piper -25.61
Peter Piper -17.84
Peter Piper -55.12
Red Devil -50.48
Red Devil -17.66
Sbarros -31.8
Scholars Café -6.34
Scholars Café -3.73
Scholars Café -2
Someburros -32.75
Sonic -7.78
Subway -17.94
Subway -20.11
Subway -4.84
Subway -3.02
Subway -20.38
Subway -31.78
Subway -21.4
Subway -24.1
Subway -20.96
TacoBell -4.72
TacoBell -12.58
Wendy's -14.65
Wendy's -25.07
Wendy's -19.06

TOTAL???
One Thousand
Three Hundred
Thirty Seven
Dollars
and
10 cents.

I suck.

=(

Credit Scores Update

October 10th, 2009 at 04:11 am

Well, I finally had a chance to update our scores... There has been some improvement... not a whole lot. But, our paid and closed cards are not all reflected yet - I guess it might take some time yet. No worries, we have about 11 months before we will try to get pre-approved for a home loan. Plus, I finally printed and mailed off the credit agency dispute letters (remember that house in Wisconsin?)... So, in 90 days when we re-run them again - we should see some more improvement!!

Yay!

P.S. The scores have been updated on my sidebar.

Have Question...Need Help

October 9th, 2009 at 09:14 pm

So, I was checking the house phone's messaging system and there was a call for the hubby from a collection company.

I called them back... You know, with us trying to buy a house in 2010, we cannot ignore any calls or letters requesting money. To be on the safe side.

So, she explained that it was for an old cell phone bill, when she said the name... the first thing out of my mouth was "There is a statue of limitations." She said, "Yes there is - but only for suing. We don't want to sue you, we just want the money."

It's from 2000. It was $250. It is now $825.36. I've never seen it on my credit report, they can't sue... Not sure how to handle this one. I think first send back a letter requesting proof I owe it and proof that they own the debt. We've paid a lot of collection accounts over the past 9 years, this one could have been paid. I was shocked to even hear them say the name.

Your thoughts?!

TIA!

It's tough...

October 4th, 2009 at 04:37 pm

We've been saving, plus we will have a snowball come this month to purchase DH a new to him car. We've been without a second car for a year now, and it's been tough on all of us. I am so ready to not have to drop everything and run when he's ready to be picked up (he doesn't work regular hours). I will have less stress, more time with the kids, more time for myself... and less stress (oops, already said that).

So the tough part! What to get? Our max is $4500. I am sure we can get something - but I also don't want to spend an arm & a leg over the next year fixing things.

Also, anyone have any tips for buying used cars? We refuse to go with a dealer - don't want to pay docking fees and such. We've always bought new... Not sure what to do!

TIA!
JJ

Dell is all that's left...

September 18th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Paid the remainder of the cards today... Dell is all we have left, and that will be paid in full, dead - next month.

Of course, there are school loans and my van... but I am not in a rush to pay those off. Our debt to income ratio and money to savings now is looking mighty fine.

We renewed our lease for 13 months, so by next Sept... we will be house shopping!!

401K Loan

August 13th, 2009 at 02:26 am

Last year... I decided I needed to finally finish my degree. What was stopping me? $1015 I owed to the University. In the 3 years since I stopped going to school, I could not manage to pay that amount. When I realized I needed to get back in school quickly (to avoid credits expiring), I decided to take the money from my 401K as a loan.

I just checked my balance... I owe $27.66 which will be taken care of on my next paycheck! How exciting is that?

Since then I did graduate with my Bachelors... and I am now in my 3rd class of my MBA. Life is lookin' fine. Smile

And we're done...

August 8th, 2009 at 04:26 pm

3 visits each, $500 dollars later, and we are done!

My daughter had to have 2 baby teeth pulled and a spacer put in. She also had one filling and several teeth sealed.

My son had 3 fillings and 3 teeth sealed.

Next... braces for him. That will cost us a pretty penny, but our ortho will take $100 a month until paid in full (no finance charges!).

I guess now it's MY turn (gulp - pain & money).

Savings Speak

July 30th, 2009 at 06:53 pm

So...as we are paying down the last of debt, I really would like to start focusing on savings. My goal is to save $700 a month in various accounts (for various reasons, i.e. short, mid, and long term). I have updated my side bar to reflect this goal.

I would REALLY like to start adding a little bit at a time to our IRAs... Do you automate your deposits? Or do you just transfer the funds when you have them available?

I am only allowed so many direct deposits from my paycheck (and my husband even less)... with all of accounts and subaccounts... I have been making one transfer to the main account, and then transferring funds within. For example, I have 7 ING accounts, all for different goals. I usually put the money in the HOUSE (down payment for) account, and then disburse accordingly. Seems like a lot of work.

Is your savings on auto pilot? Any tips?

I should have married a dentist....

July 29th, 2009 at 01:41 pm

"No, honey... I love that you work for a satellite company and we get free television entertainment. That is great, but..."

I took the kids (and myself) to the dentist last week. Not good. Those kids need to get better at flossing!! My daughter had to have two baby teeth pulled and 3 adult teeth sealed (to prevent future cavities). My son needs a filling, some sealing done, and (dun-dun-dun-duhhnnnn!!) BRACES! I knew it was just about time, he is 13 after all.

We won't even talk about the fact that I need all 4 of my wisdom teeth pulled (yeoh!).

Being the kind and considerate mom I am, I allowed the kids to get their dental work done first (while we have the money). See, selfless. Smile

And We're Back!

July 11th, 2009 at 03:59 pm

I had such a difficult time... we spent a lot of money! We didn't OVER spend, it was just expensive stuff. It cost us $220 for Sea World; but the kids LOVED it! We hadn't been since my middle child was 1... We probably won't be going again - so we considered it our last chance.

We visited the USS Midway, and did a tour.
We visited a old haunted house (The Whaley House).
We went to Coronado Island & spent a day at the beach.
We ate good (tried to be frugal).

I am just not used to spending money - we've been on a strict budget since November! It was weird.

It was all in cash, and we were about $200 under budget - not bad.

Now off to pay July bills and ensure our pay offs are on track!!!

Oh - some pics from our vacay:







And no, we did not drink the water:

Vacation and Stuff

July 1st, 2009 at 03:26 am

So... we are leaving for vacation (San Diego) on Monday - very excited about that. We already paid the hotel room a while back, so now we just need to pay cash for food, gas, and whatever we decide to do while we are there. I have $850 saved (here's hoping we don't come close).

I paid more towards debt this month, but July will be the pay off on the last three cards (instead of June, like I previously thought).

I have been trying to get more organized in the spending department, so I got Quicken - it's not working like I thought it would. For some reason I have a hard time getting my banking information to automatically download. I think we will start fresh in August, and really try to keep track of everything (July will be too spendy). Besides, August is the beginning of the last of the bills to pay off. We are getting so close, it's nice. It certainly feels great to be paying cash for everything, including our vacation.

We've tried doing some fun things with the kids this summer; besides the pool and library, we've gone to the movies a few times (always a matinee and BYOCandy). We went and saw Transformers last week - LOVED IT!

I am abt to finish up my 2nd class (Masters program)... it's going well. I look forward to the $1470 in tuition reiumbursement! lol...

Work has been crazy; a ton of new projects coming my way. But, it all deals with recognition programs for our associates, so it's fun work!

I will post pics of Nic and Shamu when we get back!! Smile

Until then... Hasta luego!

We have a house in Wisconsin!

June 8th, 2009 at 01:04 am

Well, that's what is reported on DH's Equifax credit report, anyway! Can you believe it? Thank gosh there's no fraud - seems like a simple mistake. I think the mortgage is what's bringing DH's Equifax score way down. I am sure the Debt to Income ratio is bad.

So, I need to get a letter typed up and in the mail to get that cleared up. I'd like to see it gone and removed from the report asap so I can see what his true credit score is.

Oh... Guess what we got DH for Father's Day (a bit early, I know)...?!

A new laptop! He's been eyeing one for a long while (he's never had one, just desktops). It will come in handy for work, he's a manager who's out in the field a lot. Some people questioned this purchase - wondering why we didn't throw that $600 at debt. It was something I saved for, planned for, and added to the budget. We have worked so hard, and don't spend much money any more, if any. He deserves it! Smile

Know how he thanked me? He leaned in close and whispered the following in my ear, "There is no way you could have bought this for me, if you hadn't taken control and gotten us out of debt the way you have. Thank you!"

**GRIN**


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