Success :: 8.31.10

Well, I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to do it this month, but I’m excited to announce that

We paid off another credit card this month!!!!!!

Buh-bye, Capital One!

I’m very excited, because that means that we are just down to two cards, and therefore, two payments a month.

Going forward, our minimum monthly payment is $689, but we’re still targeting $1,600/month toward reduction, so that extra $900/month will add up and take our debt DOWN!!!

Which way to go?

I owe a ton of our success to the MS Money program that was part of my laptop package in 2006. With that program, we were able to set up a budget, make debt reduction goals, project cash flow and download our accounts regularly to make sure that we were on top of our bills.

Well, of course, once we find something that works, it is going to become obsolete…

Microsoft not only stopped producing updates, but it is no longer supporting the editions that are out there, which means even my password no longer works to log me in. Yikes.

So, I’m on the hunt for the program that comes the closest.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Produces a bill schedule
  • Allows to link to online accounts to download transactions
  • Has a debt reduction program that can calculate interest and “paid-off” dates
  • Ability to project cash flow
  • A budget program that has easy to designate categories
  • Not too expensive 😉
  • Not based online so I can work on the budget without having to find internet service

Any thoughts? Am I asking for too much?

I’m a bookseller!

Okay, so I sold one little book on Amazon.com – not a huge deal, but it did cause me a little excitement, because I would have just taken it to my local store that buys books and made $.25 – instead, I got a little over $2.00!

So now I’m king of looking around my house at some things (music, movies, games, etc…) that are unopened or barely used and thinking “hmmm, how much could I get for you?”

I have to admit, I’m surprised that we’ve gotten to the part where we are selling off the “stuff” – I know people have done it and I certainly participated in garage sales when I was a kid (apartment living makes that a challenge these days), but I’m actually glad to start weeding stuff out and getting more simple…

Up next – yarn sale!!!

Putting your mouth where your money is

It seems like every month our report says the same thing — “we spent too much money on food” — and you are probably as tired of reading that as I am of writing it. I’ve been looking for the best way that we can stick to our Weight Watchers plan (that’s right – the hubby has finally signed up – high five!!!) AND our budget.

So imagine my glee when, during my normal coffee-break feed read, I saw that good ol’ Beks at Blogging Away Debt posted about a lovely online service that helps with meal planning. She shared all about her experiences with E-Mealz and how to get 10% off the subscription! I went to the site straightaway and lo, and behold, there it was…a meal plan with Weight Watchers points already calculated!!! [cue the angels]

Let me tell you why I’m so excited about this! Each week, my husband and/or I spend about 2 hours planning our meals for the week. That includes pouring through cookbooks, calculating points, making up the shopping list and checking the pantry for already existing items. For $1.25/week, we just have to print the posted menus for the week, check the pantry and go to the store – they even have the shopping list sorted by aisle, just like I do!

Don’t know about you, but as a part-time grad student, who also works a career job full-time, I could use those two hours/week.

So we’ve signed up and I’ll let you know how it goes!!!

SAVE TIME AND MONEY WITH E-MEALZ MEAL PLANS

Note: I have received no money or services from E-mealz – they don’t even know I exist.

I said “No, thank you”

Recent reports say that more people are telling their banks and credit card companies, “no thank you for your ridiculous ‘courtesy’ of allowing me to go over my limit so you can charge me more.”

Read more at this MSNMoney article: Consumers tell banks – Decline my Card!

That’s right! And I’m one of those who have asked my bank to DECLINE me if I attempt to use my debit card beyond my available balance.

I’d rather deal with the shame and scorn of the cashier than heft over the $35+ charge for each item over the limit.

Sure, I know you might be saying, “but you should know what your balance is at all times and shouldn’t charge outside of your budget.” I *hear* what you are saying, but I have to point out two things: (1) I can only be responsible for me and while my husband is awesome in many ways, he is an “over-buyer.” It is not completely unexpected to hear in our home, “but honey, I’m not sure that I needed to try each flavor of those snacks, even if they were $1 each,” and, (2) we went from years of lots of debt and no budget, to less debt (over $30K less) and a sometimes-too-flexible budget in 17 months – the process of staying to a “strict” budget is just that – a process.

So, I’ll thank the banks to help hold me to a stricter standard and learn my lessons without costing us more money…they can take my pride (but they can’t take my FREEEEEDDDDOOOOOOM!) 🙂

I don’t want to brag…

…but I have a TON of books.

That’s right. A ton. A lot. A plethora.

And while I have whittled down several times in my life, the number has crept up again lately, and as we are trying to thin out our belongings, it occurs to me that I hear people talking about selling their used books a lot, but I can’t seem to recall where these miraculous exchanges are taking place.

It would be nice to gain some new space….and some cash 🙂

So, dear readers, I turn to you for guidance on this topic…

Where, oh where, should I be posting my books for sale?

July 2010 :: Report

Debt Reduction

Our goals for July were:

Credit Card Debt    ::  $ 25,084.35
Taxes Owed              ::  $          00.00
Personal Loans        ::  $          00.00

Total Debt*              ::  $ 25,084.35

And here is where we were after 7.31.2010:

Credit Card Debt    ::  $25,760.72
Taxes Owed           ::   $       00.00
Personal Loans      ::   $       00.00

Total Debt*             :: $25,760.72

*does not include school loans

Yes. We were very far away (~$700) from where we needed to be this month. We’ve been really frustrated about what feels like a lack of progress. But while it may not be going as fast as we want, we ARE paying down debt. We ARE meeting our payments deadlines.

And, our Net worth is up another $2,000. It’s still a negative number ($2,173), but it IS up. Someday, we’re going to be in the positive…I think it will be someday soon 🙂

Budget

So, to no one’s surprise, our food was still an issue this month. But we are making some inroads in the planning and executing areas. And, we are both in agreement that we need to be more accountable to each other when it comes to dining out. This really is a hot button area for us…it has been for over a decade. But we are getting to the point where being so loose with the budget will no longer work. There will be some lifestyle changes coming up soon, and this will require us to count every little cent.

Other budget categories that were over include gifts, household expenses, gasoline and movies.  Not a ton, but enough to make a difference.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to share the burden of staying on budget with the husband. Weekly meetings? Money in envelopes? Refrigerator tallies?

Savings

Savings Goals for July:

Regular Savings  :: $     190
Family Leave       :: $ 1,200
Emergency           :: $    688

Total Savings      :: $ 2,078

Where we landed at the end of July:

Regular Savings  :: $   166
Family Leave       :: $ 1,188
Emergency           :: $  688

Total Savings      :: $ 2,062

Better than before, and we’re getting closer to our goals!