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Getting back on track

May 14th, 2012 at 07:40 am

The past couple months have been challenging for me financially. I let go of some of my frugal tendencies and reverted back to my old ways (not entirely but some). I didn't take out my spending money so I used my debit card instead of cash. I don't know exactly how much I slipped up but I do know a few things:

I still met my debt payment goals.
I maxed out my 2011 Roth.
Paid off my Discover bill with my tax return (about $3500).

Even though I fell off the wagon a little bit, I got back on for the month of May. I took out my piddly money at the beginning of the month and have been eating out way less. I've been bringing my lunches to work and making sure our groceries are being eaten, not throwing things away.

I took out $150 at the beginning of the month and I still have $107 left. The month is almost half over. My variable expenses for the month are a few gifts for friends with birthdays this month. I'll also probably go get a pedicure with a gift card that I got for Christmas. I'll just need to pay the tip.

I'm couponing for gas rewards. The other day, mom and I filled our tanks for $2.75 per gallon. I'm using coupons to get our gas cheaper. I paid $28.29 to fill my tank!

I have a bunch of money to deposit into my accounts:
$500 from my brother for bills
$40 in rebates
$89 in birthday money
$150 from a friend (debt repayment)
$10 in change
$468.85 work reimbursement

I need to pay a few bills (student loan and cell phones) but I will still have about $500 to put toward my Chase card.

I'm going to redo my budget and be more vigilant about my spending for next month. I should be able to make bigger payments to my credit cards considering how much lower my minimum payments are. I'm really trying to pay off these credit cards by July 28th!

Under 12k in CC debt!

January 16th, 2012 at 07:52 pm

I made my final payment to BoA today. It should post tomorrow. That's another credit card: GONE! I'm so excited. As I mentioned before, I have a feeling my goals to pay these cards off will go much faster than anticipated.
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I've been doing well using the gift cards mentioned here: http://gettingoutofdebt2011.savingadvice.com/2011/12/20/gift-cards_88461/

So far, I used $125 to pay for gas and groceries. I transferred all of that to savings from my checking account to put to CC debt. It feels good to be using these cards for good things instead of just using them for fun. I have about $1000 left in my savings that I can use to make a big payment to my next card: Discover. That'll put me at about $2800. It would be awesome if I can get under $2500 this month. We'll see; it might happen. Smile

And on that note, I'm under $12k in credit card debt. Big Grin

When I started in August I owed $25301.28. I've paid $13698.64 in 6 months!!!!!!! What an incredible feeling.

Holiday bonus check finally came!

January 10th, 2012 at 10:05 am

My boss gave me my 2011 holiday bonus check last night. It was for $2900 pre-tax, $2200 after taxes!!!! I'm super excited! I was hoping for something in this range and I'm glad our company is doing so much better than we've done in the previous two years. I've already earmarked at least $1200 for debt repayment (goodbye BoA). I'm debating on whether or not I want to put the rest towards EF, car fund, or more debt repayment. I'm going to crunch some numbers tonight and figure out where I stand for the rest of January. That'll help me decide how I should use the rest of the money.

I am planning on one small splurge: a GPS. I've needed one for a long time!

Now, I'm excited to see what my tax refund is!

Gift Cards

December 20th, 2011 at 07:37 am

I have a bunch of gift card rewards at home that I want to turn into cash. Most of them are Visa/Mastercard/American Express cash cards but I also have a Walmart gift card.

(5) $10 Kimberly Clark Cars2 (Huggies)
(4) $10 P&G Pink Mail in Rebates
$100 Walmart gift card (Gift)
$50 Visa Gift card (Gift)
(2) $10 Amex Gift Cards (CVS promotion)
(3) $25 Amex Gift cards (store promotion)
(2) $25 Mastercard Gift Cards (Prilosec Rebates)
=$375 which is almost my entire grocery/gas monthly budget

My plan is to use the gift cards to buy groceries and gas and then make a $375 payment to my credit card du jour. The only annoying thing is that they are split into smaller amounts so that could be frustrating. I'll try to use the smaller amounts at the gas station so I'm the only one inconvenienced (could be more hassle at the grocery store).

More unexpected cash and mom issues

November 22nd, 2011 at 07:16 pm

My mom gave me $110 for my student loans this month. She recently got laid off and hasn't been able to contribute anything for a while. Apparently, I gave her this $110 a while ago and she can't remember for what (and neither can I) so she just gave it back.

She knows how I'm trying to pay down my CC debt so this is her way of trying to help. I'll take it!

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I made the final payment on my US Bank card so that's completely gone! Yay! I paid all of the Citicard off except for the rest of my work reimbursements. My plan is to go into the office tomorrow morning to pick up my work check, deposit it at the bank and stop by the post office (maybe go couponing as well).
Once the check clears, I'll pay the rest of Citi before the next statement to avoid interest(Dec 7).

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So, I worry a lot about my mom. She has absolutely no savings and no retirement account to speak of (aside from Social Security which she thinks is enough). She got laid off at 53 but has little prospects for a job. She has very little skill - she was a cook/cleaner for a church. She does odd little things like errands for people, babysitting, and is a care taker for my neighbor next door. I think she probably nets $800 a month which is better than nothing but it's so stressful on her. Luckily, she owns the house and her car free and clear (she'll need a new car soon) so her expenses aren't huge on a month-to-month basis but she has no EF which terrifies me.

She is not handling being laid off well. Her attitude stinks and when I call her, she doesn't want to talk or just complains. Then she complains that I don't call her or see her enough. It's really frustrating. I'm trying to be sympathetic and the best listener I can be. I think it's hard on her because she's alone, too. My brother lives at home but he's not good for chatting like I am.

On top of that, her spending habits drive me nuts. Her idea of quality time is going out to eat. That's all she ever wants to do and it's never to cheap places like a sandwich shop or burrito place, it's always a casual dining restaurant at least. She spends $40, $50 bucks a pop probably 2-3 times a week. I just don't see how she can afford that lifestyle since she's out of work. She gets mad at me that I won't pay since I "have the money and a job." But I hate saying no because that's her idea of "quality time." So often, I don't say no but don't offer to pay for her meal and then she just pays for the whole thing. It's frustrating because I do have more money than she does but I don't choose to spend my money that way anymore.

So all of that to say: I invited her over on Sunday for a homemade turkey dinner (since I'll be at my boyfriend's family for Thanksgiving). I hope we can start a trend of eating in. I hope that will be the quality time she craves. I told her all about my freezer cooking escapades so I hope she starts cooking more stuff, too (she never cooks!).

Hit the lottery...

November 15th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

Ok, so I didn't hit the lottery per say. I have never been a gambler since I'd rather just keep my money. I've been gifted a few scratch tickets in my Christmas stocking and I sometimes win a couple of bucks. One time I won $100 so that was nice.

I went to a casino twice: I played the penny slots both times and once I won fifty bucks. You should have seen how fast I took that money and booked it! I was so excited to get lunch and gas for free! Haha.

Well, my dad is a big gambler. He's really struggled with addiction for a lot of his life (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.) Since maybe the mid 1990's, he's been doing really well with those addictions: doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs, etc. But he does gamble quite a bit.

So he hit a scratch ticket for $2500. He wins pretty regularly: usually under $500. He hit the number for $380 the night before he hit the scratch ticket. And a few weeks ago he hit for $100 then $200, etc. He certainly loses out most of the time (he never knows what he spends) but I'd rather him gamble than drink so it is what it is. He's able to live on what he makes and he's not in debt of any kind.

He's such a good dad! His first thought was my tution so he went ahead and gave me $500 and he'll give me another $500 at the end of the month for December. I'm so excited to pay that directly to BoA. I wonder if I'll be able to pay off the BoA by the end of the year (6 months early!). It feels far fetched but one never knows!

And, I've started thinking a lot about my holiday bonus and tax return. I know I'll be getting something from both which makes me smile!

Debt Repayment

November 13th, 2011 at 08:39 pm

I have almost $1000 to pay toward debt repayment this month.

$72 random cash (I sometimes will give random couponing stuff away to friends and they feel weird taking it for free so I let them throw me some cash, including rebates)
$150 health care rebate for belonging to a gym
$50 rewards check from Chase
$250 debt repayment from friends
$472 from car accident

I also need to submit for 2 reimbursements from my company. One for my travel to Philadelphia and one for mileage reimbursement for driving around to schools in the past month. That's about $1200. I don't mind fronting the money on my credit card to get the rewards. About $200 of it is just profit from the mileage reimbursement (yes, that accounts for the wear and tear on my car but it's nice to have some extra cash).

I also need to collect $225 from my brother and $62 from my mom. By my calculations, that's about $2500. Of course about $1000 is from the travel but $1500 can go directly to pay off the Citi and US Bank cards and the rest will go to the BoA card.

Travel for work and other musings

November 4th, 2011 at 09:32 am

I have upcoming travel for work to Philadelphia. I'll be away from next Monday to Thursday. I'm excited because I get to indulge on the little things that I occasionally miss like Starbucks and FroYo. Plus all of my meals and other expenses are covered, too. And, I don't have to pay to park for 4 days out of this month which is a savings of $32! I will also charge all of the expenses and get reimbursed so I can rack up some CC rewards points! Yay!

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I'm thrilled about my balance transfers. They are finally completed. I have a slight grace period since the billing cycle won't start for another month so I think I'll take the money I would use to pay those bills and try to eliminate the Citi and US Bank card this month. Once those are gone, my highest interest rate will be 1.99% and considering a month ago I was paying between 16.99% and 18.99%, I think that's pretty darn good! My goal is to pay them off well before the promotional periods are over!

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I need to do some adjustments to my budget and figure out my new snowball with the new monthly credit card payments. Once I figure it out, I will know for sure what I should plan on paying extra. It was $410 before so I'm hoping it's a little higher now.

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I've already paid all of my November monthly bills except for the large credit card payments so I know I won't mess up again and almost fall short. It's a relief to know that things are settled on that end. Since I'll be away next week for work (and the bf will, too). We won't need groceries or gas for the week. I think I'll be able to pay even more considering we'll be away for Thanksgiving, too.

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Not much else to report on. I'm swamped with paperwork from my 2 accidents and I need to take my car to get it looked at again. Hopefully, this will resolve itself soon enough.

Starting PT

October 25th, 2011 at 08:47 am

I don't really have many financial updates to post. Well sort of...I got into a car accident last Sunday (rear-ended and the other guy drove off- can you believe that?). Since it was a hit and run and the police were called, his insurance accepted 100% liability right off the bat. They came last Friday for an estimate and wrote me a check on the spot for $472 for the damage to my bumper. The appraiser handed me my check and said it was my choice if I wanted to get it fixed. My car is a 1999 and I don't really care about cosmetic damage (you can barely tell anyway) so I decided not to get the bumper fixed. I needed to get two tie rods fixed, an alignment and an oil change so I took that check and it paid for everything and I still have $120 left over!

I went to the doctor on Monday because my back felt really tight and I had some lower back pain. They gave me some muscle relaxants and told me if I don't feel better in about a week, I should start PT. I called today since I felt pretty much fine over the weekend but when I'm sitting down at work, the pain comes back. I hope they do some massage therapy or something because it's really, really tight!

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Not many other updates. I started freezer cooking two weekends ago. I made a meatloaf, lasagna casserole and beef burritos. They came out awesome! This weekend I made chicken and bow tie pasta, chicken alfredo w pesto, and chicken tikka masala. Again, everything is delicious. My problem is that I didn't really read the servings so now I have a TON of these meals. I froze about 1/2 and we'll eat the other half this week. I love that I can reheat leftovers, make a small salad and be done with dinner! I spent $60 each week for all of the weekly groceries plus the ingredients for all the freezer meals. I'm happy with that but I would love for our budget to go down to $40 a week (or less)! We buy a ton of fresh veggies and my BF loves deli meat (a very specific kind and no other will do). $7 for 3/4 pound is a lot of money in my opinion.

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I think November will be easier financially. My balance transfers are DONE! I have a good plan set up for my payments and I have a bunch of found money to add to debt repayment this month. I'm hoping I can pay off Citicard and US Bank this month. That will bring me under $16k in CC debt.

October Bills= A BIG Mess!!!

October 20th, 2011 at 07:26 am

Oh boy did I screw up this month. I think it will work out in the end but it was difficult to make it through.

I had set up monthly payments a while back for the amount at the bottom of my bill that would get me out of debt faster - the 3 year plan. It was less than $100 more a month for each card but it would go directly to principal. I decided against that about 2 months into paying off my debt and I figured out pretty quickly that monthly automatic payments don't work for me. I like going into my accounts and knowing exactly what is going on with all of my accounts.

So because I forgot about the automatic payments, I ended accidentally paying my Citicard twice this month. I paid the minimum of $250 and another $355 (3 year plan). I decided to use my credit card to pay for my glasses (they cost $271 which is just less than the overpayment). Well when I went to pay, the credit card was declined. The problem was that I hadn't used the card in over 2 years then I went into Walmart and I made two small purchases then tried the big purchase. My account was flagged for fraud so it was declined. I was embarrassed so I just put it on my debit card. Then I realized I was short $626. Ugh.

I had also made the choice to pay off my Discover card this month. I deposited a bunch of money from extra sources and I knew that I could pay it off. I regretted it for a little bit but I knew I could get by if I tried. My goal is to never touch my savings.

So, I decided to be extra thrifty. I was able to get Walmart to switch the charge back over to my credit card instead of my debit card. I deposited my piddly money ($117) back into my checking account and made myself do without it for the month. I convinced my brother to pay me a bit early for the cable and internet bill.

I'm pretty sure made it through the month unscathed!

I paid $1830 to debt and charged $328.24 to my Citicard. That's $1501.76 in credit card payments this month!

To combat my over ambition, I decided that I'm going to pay all of my non credit card bills first. Student loans, utilities, etc. Then I'll figure out how much I can put to credit card bills. I was reluctant to do that since I have tried that method since college and always found something to spend the money on. I feel like I have my goals in place and I'm on my way to meeting them. It feels good to trust myself with the extra money.

November looks like a much easier month.

Balance Transfer Update

October 18th, 2011 at 08:26 am

I started this post last week with the title "I'm pretty frustrated about finances this month!" and I'm happy that it didn't stick. Ultimately, I feel good about the way things turned out!

When I called about a month ago, Citicard told me that my interest rate would be lowered from 18.99% to 14.24% on my next statement. My statement came in yesterday and it was only lowered to 16.99%. I called and the rep told me it was a mistake (something about they didn't factor in the prime rate). I filed a complaint with them but the best she could do was to offer 9.99% interest on purchases for 6 months. I accepted it only because I overpaid on my card by $355 and might need to use it this month. I am disappointed that it wasn't lowered even more.

I decided that I needed to bite the bullet and did the balance transfer that I had been thinking about with Discover (0.00% for 12 months, 3% transfer fee) for $3800. I was hesitating because it would mean closing my Chase Rewards card (the Rewards are better than my other cards) and transferring the available credit to the Disney account (which was offering a promotional rate for BTs). Combining the credit lines provided me with $6400 in available credit to transfer the rest of my Citicard balance(1.99% until March 2013, 1% balance transfer fee). The regular rate is 16.24% which is lower than the Citicard anyway. Both transfers are pending!

You can see that once I pay the Citi and US Bank balances, my highest interest rate will be 6.50% which is on a small balance; all other debt is at or lower than 1.99%!! I feel victorious in getting so much of my debt on cards with low interest promotions. I will be certain to pay them off before the rates change.

As for my budget this month: it was so complicated that I'm going to write a different post!

Whoops!

October 7th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

After spending much time last night trying to figure out which credit card I want to pay off first and my budget for this month, I logged into my bank account and saw that I forgot about my autopay for my Citicard. I figured, I'd do autopay for my credit cards but realized last month that it's not for me. I need to physically log onto my accounts, look at the balances, check out interest rates, etc. then make my payments to know what's what. Turns out I forgot to undo the Citi autopay so I made an extra payment in the amount of $355. Yikes. My budget might be shot.

I started to panic until I realized that it's overpayment on a credit card so if I have to, I can pay my phone bill and/or cable bill with the credit card. As opposed to if I overpaid my student loan, I would be screwed. I think it might be a fun exercise to see if I can make it through the month without using the credit card. If I need to, I'll have the credit card to use.

Update and some good news!

October 6th, 2011 at 07:47 pm

I've been on vacation for the last week. My family and I went to Bermuda to celebrate my brother's 25th birthday. We've been planning this trip for a while and I was worried about what I would spend on the trip. Since we went on a cruise, all of the food and lodging were paid in advance. The only thing we had to worry about was gratuities, excursions, and any souvenirs.

I ended up spending a little bit more than I wanted to. I bought some art work which has been a habit of mine when traveling that cost $100. In all, I spent just about $200 including some other souvenirs. My brother charged the incidentals on the cruise to his credit card to get rewards. We used the card to buy some family photos, go on a onshore excursion and other things so I want to give him some money for that, maybe out of my October piddly money.

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I just made the final payment to my Discover card!!!!!! My goal was to pay it by Dec 31st but I came in almost 3 months early! My dad gave me $200 and my friend who I've mentioned before sent me a check for a total of $300 this month. I'm thrilled that I had an extra $500. I never count on this money since I'm not positive when or how much it will be but it's been pretty consistent (knock on wood). I also had some money laying around: $100 from my Rite Aid rebate checks and $45 in change that I rolled. Combine that with my monthly payment and I made a payment in the full amount of $685.35! I'm so happy!

In addition, my Discover card is offering a balance transfer: 12 month 0% APR and a 3% fee. I'm much happier about this transfer option than some of the other ones I've thought about. Since I just paid the card off, I have $4000 in available credit to play with. I think I'll transfer $3750 from the Citicard to the Discover card in hopes that I can move some available credit to my Simplicity card.

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I might reorder which cards I pay off first. I think I'll pay of US Bank next since it's so small. Then work on the BTs in the next couple of weeks, making sure that I factor in the transfer fees, etc. Once I have as much as possible on low interest account, I'll pay down the Citicard next.

Balance transfers

September 20th, 2011 at 11:34 am

These BTs are becoming a huge pain in the butt.

I want to move money around in a way that makes the most sense. I moved $4k from the US Bank to the new Citi Simplicity Card, taking the interest from 11.99% to 0.00% for 21 months.

I want to move ~$10k from the old Citi card around so that it gets me the lowest APR. I could move it to either Discover or US Bank at purchase APR which are 9.99% and 11.99% respectively.

I also have three Chase accounts that I could move it to. Two cards have BT offers: either 1.99% until 01/2013 or 0.00% until 07/2012. Unfortunately both of those cards have low available credit: $1,900 and $1,100. The third card has $4531.00 of available credit but no BT offers. So I called and asked about getting something. The person said there was nothing they could do aside from consolidate two cards which would mean closing one and moving the available credit to the other. This would be okay except for that I like the Flex Rewards on the card that would have to be closed. So I'm trying to decide what to do.

I suppose it won't matter much since I'm no longer using CCs. Once I get the debt paid off, I was considering using the Flex card to pay for bills to get the rewards but paying the debt is more important.

So long story short, I'm frustrated trying to figure this all out. I'm happy that I got some of the debt to a lower interest card but I'm hoping I can get most of it moved!

Post publishing edit: I gave the Chase rep the opportunity to "sell me Chase." I told him the options I had weren't reasonable and I wanted to know why I should bring my money over to Chase. He basically said it was my decision! So I'm leaning toward not doing anything with Chase. It doesn't seem like they want my business. Also, I just called US Bank and have 5800 available credit to play with. Even though it only cuts my APR down by a few points, it's better than nothing!

Couponing, etc.

September 20th, 2011 at 09:25 am

The title of my blog is "Using Coupons to get out of Debt" and I've never talked about my plan for accomplishing getting out of debt by using coupons.

I've been couponing for just over a year and shop mainly at drugstores. Rite Aid and CVS are my two main stores. I take advantage of reward programs including rebates to turn drugstore money into cash. Since I never spend any cash (I put all my purchases on a gift card that I got for Christmas last year), it works out that I can take the cash from my rebate checks and deposit it into a separate savings account.

Since April, I've deposited $541.57. I have another $119.75 to deposit and another months worth of Rite Aid checks on the way ($120.95). My original plan for this money was to donate it to charity but I've since changed my mind to get myself closer to my financial goals. I'm content with my charitable contributions since I donate a good amount of what I buy at drugstores. In four months, I made $782.27 from couponing. That's more than half of my Discover card balance!

Another way I plan to use my couponing to get out of debt is to stock up on items that could be given as gifts. Baby products for showers, toiletries for gift baskets, etc. My plan is to take my budgeted gift allowance and put it toward debt. I recently went to a baby shower and gave a gift entirely out of my stockpile, I put $20 from my gift fund into my debt repayment.

I really want to cut our grocery bill down. Right now we spend $60-$80 a week for two people. I just can't figure how to coupon in grocery stores in our area! I'd be happy if we spent more like $40-$60 a week. Everything we buy is fresh produce, dairy and deli meat. My boyfriend is really picky so he won't eat different breads or English muffins or anything. Almost everything that we buy doesn't have coupons or alternate options. But, I'm going to put my nose to the grindstone to figure out how to cut down on groceries in my area.

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So far this month, I have spend $63 from my piddly money. I used ~$20 of it to buy kitty litter and treats since I forgot to add those into my budget.

I have $87 left. I take the change from everything I spend and add that to my coin jar. I'm also going to take the money from my bottle and can redemptions and put it in the change jar. I roll my change every once in a while and I'll put that money toward debt.

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My mom was able to come through with some student loan money for September. She just lost her job so she thinks this is the last time she'll be able to help. I told her that I'd rather her save it for herself but she insisted, saying that she'd mail the money herself if I didn't take it.

I have about $200 in my bank account that I'm hoping I can put toward the Discover card.


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I have a few upcoming things in October that I need to plan for including a car repair and my annual car inspection that I need to get done. Total, I'll probably spend $200 which will come out of my miscellaneous budget.

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I'm hoping the cruise doesn't push me over budget. I have enough money for our transportation to the pier. Everything is included in the purchase price of the cruise except the excursions. I'm not sure what we'll end up doing but I'm hoping it won't cost too much. I'm of the opinion to pick one fun activity like snorkeling or a tour and spend the other two days on the beach! We'll see what my family wants to do.

New Citi Simplicity Card

September 8th, 2011 at 05:15 pm

I've been struggling with how I want to proceed with balance transfers. I've received a few offers in the mail from credit card companies and searched online. Finally, I decided that I would take my chances and apply for a Citi Simplicity card. I got approved for $3000. There's a 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 21 months (3% fee on balance transfers). No late fees or annual fees. No rewards that I can see but I'm more than happy to transfer from my higher balance accounts, knowing that they'll be paid off in 21 months.

When I called, the representative offered to move some of my available credit from my current Citicard at no charge so I could transfer more to the Simplicity card. I now have $4000 available. I think my plan is going to be to transfer half of my current Citi card to Discover once it's paid off (with a 9.99% APR). I know that Chase will not allow a balance transfer from one Chase card to another. Similar rules might apply with Citi. If so, I'll transfer the US Bank to the Simplicity. Otherwise, I'll transfer current Citi to Simplicity (this is what I'm hoping for). All APRs will be under 12% that way.

In other news, I royally screwed up my budget this month. I just moved out of my mom's house and brought with me the cable and cell phone bills that I had been paying. Since my name is on the contract, and we got a really good deal, I agreed to still hold the accounts, pay the bills, and have my mom reimburse me. I'm totally fine with this arrangement since I'm on her car insurance for now and I reimburse her. Anyway, I forgot that even though, I'm only paying $50 a month for my cell phone, I forgot to calculate how much I actually put out before being reimbursed (the total is $225 for 3 family phones and cable/internet). Right now, I have $163 in my checking account to last until Sept 30! I don't know what I was thinking. I called up my mom and she's going to write me a check this weekend but ugh! I thought I was doing so good, too!

I still have only spent $10 from my piddly money. I'm feeling so frugal that I don't want to spend one single cent from it!

Breathe. Relax. Slow down.

September 6th, 2011 at 01:51 pm

I need to keep repeating these things to myself since I'm so anxious to continue paying down this debt! I paid all my bills at the beginning of the month and want it to be October already so I can keep making whopping payments and seeing that number come down!!

Breathe. Relax. Slow down.

I've made really good progress since I got serious about this. But, I know I need to keep myself practical so I don't start burning myself out.

I recently started on my budget and am hoping to stick to it. I read on here that someone uses $5 a day as piddly money. I think that's a great idea so I took out $150 at the beginning of the month in cash. It's already the 6th and I still have $140 which is technically $20 more than I should have.

It's fun for me to try to see how long I can go without spending it or how little I can spend. I already decided I want to save some of it to treat myself to something fun for the cruise I'm going on at the end of the month: maybe a pedicure before I go. I will also treat myself to lunch out one day a week and a coffee or two from Starbucks. I don't really spend much on the weekends, honestly.

Got a lower interest rate!

August 31st, 2011 at 10:14 am

Decided to call my Citicard and see if I could get a lower interest rate. I got it reduced from 18.99% to 14.24%! Over the time it will take me to pay it off, I will save $958! Just by calling and asking! YAY!

Calculations

August 30th, 2011 at 02:18 pm

I just did some simple math trying to figure out how long it will take me to get out of debt. I think I'm going to be sick. Based on the math, it will take me about 5 months to pay off my Discover card (~$1580.00). I'm paying an extra $100 a month toward the principal (that I was using on minimum payments for the cards I just paid off). I also figured out I can reasonably, without trouble pay another $150 by cutting things out of my budget.

Then I wanted to know how long it would take to pay my Citi card. If I roll that $340 a month and combine it with the $350 a month I'm paying Citi now, I can pay it off in about 16 months. That's it? Seriously? I've been paying $250 a month for the past 4 years and my debt is about the same as it was 4 years ago. I feel like the biggest fool and sucker on the planet. I know this is what credit card companies want people to do and I fell right in the trap. Who knew financial freedom was so close?

I was already committed to paying off my debts but now, I'm obsessed. It's been looming over my head since I was in college about how I would ever be debt free. 21 months seems far away but it feels so doable! In 21 months, I will have paid off $11,000. That doesn't even account for things like my tax return check or work bonuses or other extra money I know I'll come into between now and then. My parents try as best they can to help me out financially with student loans so I know I'll come into money there.

I'm so, so, so excited. I can hardly wait to get paid tomorrow to make a credit card payment!!

Oh, and if anyone has Excel spreadsheet advice, I'd love to hear it. I totally have that personality but have never found a useful budgeting/finance one!

Update and my next move

August 29th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Obviously, I've made some bad financial decisions to get me to the place I am right now. I've lived way above my means, took out way too many college loans and loaned people money. Which by the way was the worst. decision. ever.

I have completely learned my lesson when it comes to loaning anyone money. I will never do it again. Period. The worst part about loaning someone money is not that they don't pay it back, it's about losing friends, feeling awful and regretting it.

Four years ago, I loaned a friend about $5000 (I paid for her expenses using one of my credit cards). She agreed to pay me back every month to pay down the debt and give me her income tax check(s). Obviously, she hasn't kept her end of the bargain as I still owe about the same thing on the credit card as I did four years ago. She has maybe given me $1k so far - all has gone to interest.

It's been months since she has given me anything, we don't see each other anymore, we don't speak and I hadn't asked for anything in probably a year. It made me feel so horrible knowing that I needed to talk to her and not wanting to. But I can't allow myself to pay her debt any longer. I refuse to.

It doesn't help that I HATE confrontation and I avoid it like the plague. The last thing I want to do was bring up the money. I have no idea why it bothers me so much: it's rightfully mine. We had an agreement in writing. I could take legal action and I feel I would win. She always talks about how badly in the hole she is and how she can't afford anything. Even though she's screwed me over, I still feel badly for her!

UGH. Never again!!!

Anyway, I've beyond committed to paying down my debts (which includes hers) so I finally got up the courage and emailed her. She texted me back immediately, we met up for coffee, caught up for a few hours and she paid me $300 and promised to pay me $100 a month for now. Apparently, I'm not the only one after her: she cleaned out her 401K after being taken to court by 2 credit card companies. Do I have hope of seeing the $100 a month? Eh, a little bit. She's promised this before. I emailed her back saying it was good to meet up and I was happy with our agreement on $100 a month for now: just in case I need the paper trail. I'm hopeful but mostly proud of myself for standing up and confronting her about it.

Now, onto the good news!!! Iím pretty excited that Iíve wisely use my money to pay down my Discover card more! Wow, it seems like money has come out of the woodwork recently! I think itís really that Iím just recommitting myself to paying down these debts!

I paid off another $800 to Discover and have $200 left in my account for July bills. I might keep that for savings or pay another $200. Itís hard to decide since I want to keep my savings cushioned. What I am SUPER happy about is upping my minimum payments. I figured out that with the bills I just paid off, I was making about $100 in minimum payments so Iím going to roll that into the Discover card and pay $190 every month instead of the minimum of $90; thatís more than doubling the payment!!

I need to set myself up with a budget to curb some spending. There are some things in my life Iím unwilling to cut back on. I allow myself Starbucks ($5) and lunch out ($8) once a week. I pack my lunches and make my own coffee every other day. Iíd love to get a pedicure once a month but I donít think itís in my budget just yet. But, I realized when trying to figure out how much I want to pay on bills, Iím not really sure how much I actually spend on things. So Iím going to calculate my monthly expenses and figure out a reasonable amount that I can put towards bills. Anything I get from my friend or parents (they help with my student loans when they can) will go immediately and directly to the card du jour.

What about personal loans and balance transfers? I canít decide how I want to proceed here. I got a personal loan application from Discover up to $25,000 at 7.99%. I also have a bunch of balance transfer offers but nothing that would take a huge chunk of money off my Citicard. Like $1600 here, $2000 there. Iím not sure the balance transfer fee is worth the hassle. Any advice on that?

Off to a good start

August 1st, 2011 at 09:59 am

I just made 3 payments entirely cutting out 3 credit cards!!! This is really exciting!

Capital One: $855.02
Chase 1: $1364.95
Chase 2: $3237.98

Total paid: $5457.95

I still have 4 more cards to pay off:
Discover: $2467.67
US Bank: $4455.60
Bank of America: $3021.02
Citicard: $9671.84

Total owed: $19616.13

It's nice to finally see the total owed under the $20,000 mark!

First Post

July 28th, 2011 at 02:33 pm

Hello, World! I'm not new to couponing, being frugal or blogging but I do want to crack down on getting out of debt which is why I started this blog. I have a substantial amount of debt: mostly student loans but also credit card debt. I feel like I'm doing okay on getting out of debt but I do tend to overspend sometimes. I know exactly how much debt I owe but I think that having a place to talk about it will keep me accountable to myself.

I always make my minimum payments (and more if I can) on time. I have decent credit but I really want to pay off my credit cards to get my student loans under control.

Capital One: 855.02
Chase 1: 1364.95
Discover: 2467.67
Chase 2: 3237.98
US Bank: 4455.60
Bank of America: 3021.02
Citicard: 9671.84

Total: 25074.08

Minimum combined monthly payments: 785.00

My goal is going to be to pay $1000 a month.

I'm kicking off this whole thing by making $5000 worth of payments to my accounts. I squirreled away some money when I got my last tax return and bonus. I have enough of a savings now to be able to put some money into my debt repayment. I also should mention, I used one of these credit cards solely for a work trip, I'm paying it off now but was reimbursed from my company so it doesn't really count as debt reduction.