I decided I should start up my $20 challenge. Here are my "rules."
No spend days = $1 to the challenge
Loose change at the end of the week
Any extra money from sources other than couponing (extra money from couponing - rebates, etc. - will still go toward debt reduction)
I'll round up all debit card transactions to the next $1. I only use my debit card for gas and groceries so I anticipate a few dollars a month
I didn't spend anything yesterday so I'm adding my first $1 to the challenge. I have $5.96 to add to the challenge from my $1 rounding. (5-14)
Viewing the 'Saving Money' Category
I decided I should start up my $20 challenge. Here are my "rules."
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!
The bills are all paid. I paid off BoA and two small credit card balances from Christmas. I also put $1000 to my Roth. I have about $20 waiting to clear on my checking for a prescription.
I have $140 in my purse to deposit into my checking, $90 coming back into checking from Paypal (two returns from Christmas), $62 coming from my mom for car insurance and $140 from Rite Aid rebates. Nick is going to "buy" a couple gift cards from me for $100. That's about $550 I'll send to Roth at the end of the month.
Gas and groceries for the rest of the month will come from gift cards.
Plan to max Roth for 2011:
I already have $1000 in the account
I have $550 set aside
I set up monthly contributions of $100 so that'll be $300 by April 17th.
37% of the way there.
I'll need to average $1050 between now and April 17th. I'll probably file my taxes somewhere in there so it should be no problem at all. I just talked to my boyfriend about borrowing money for my bills if I see that I don't have enough by April 17th. I'm thrilled to have a plan to pull this off!
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.
After reading a post about retirement contributions, I decided that I wanted to change my debt repayment schedule. In order to maximize my newly opened Roth IRA account, I will still pay my credit card minimums but max my 2011 contributions of 5k.
I will make this another 2012 savings goal as well. I've always known that I wanted to contribute more to my retirement but wasn't sure how or when to do so. I'm confident I will still meet my goal of paying off my debt by next June and contributing to my retirement and other savings goals.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.