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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!

Now that I have a Roth IRA, I don't know what to do with it!

January 20th, 2012 at 09:02 am

So I easily opened my Roth with Fidelity the other day. I transferred $1,000 into it with the leftover bonus money instead of paying Discover extra. I realized I'm better off maxing my Roth for 2011 and worrying about the CC debt later. I think I'll be fine paying them off before the interest increases so it makes more sense to me.

But now I have this Roth and no idea what to do with it. My Traditional IRA is also with Fidelity and they do all the work with it. I've seen it steadily increase over time but there are people trading, etc. I put the money into a Freedom 2050 account and am being aggressive with the money since I'm young.

I need to do a lot more research on my IRA. Looking at basic investment account information, I know I want a Roth but I don't know how or what to invest in or if I need to do any work at all.

That'll be my project for this weekend. I'm also talking to my BF, trying to get him to also get a Roth and fund it by April. He has the cash sitting in his account so it wouldn't be too hard for him. Open account, transfer money. In fact, he could fully fund 2011 and 2012 right now and pay off his truck and student loan if he had the motivation to make the transfers. It might take more prodding then I think.

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.

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.

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!

Credit Score went up!

August 31st, 2011 at 01:45 pm

I was inspired to see if I could get a look at my credit score for free. I remember a long time ago, I was able to see it through one of my credit cards so I checked each of my accounts and found that my US Bank account allows me to get a free look at my credit score.

It's a 733! That's up from a 680 from two months ago when I tried to get a car loan (decided I would keep my clunker longer so my interest rate wouldn't be insane from my low credit score).

How exciting is that? I know each bureau reports a slightly different score so I might be comparing apples to oranges but I'm very pleased with a 733 right now!