Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Address

I am excited to announce that I have moved to! My husband set up the site for me, including the hosting on one of his servers, and I have been working on putting together all the particulars and transferring my posts for a few weeks now. This will be the last post at blogspot, please update any links and feeds. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Husband is out of Credit Card Debt

When I was running the numbers for my update post, I realized something. The two credit cards we have remaining are both in my name only. So technically, on paper, my husband no longer has any credit card debt.

We didn’t really plan for this to happen, and it’s all my doing anyway. He doesn’t deal with the day-to-day finances or payment plan, and I devised it based solely on interest rates. When I opened our 0% Citibank card last fall, I used my name only because it was easier, and the money transferred was from the one card that is in his name only. So now that the Discover card is paid off, he has no more credit card debt.

His interest rates were only a few points higher than mine, and that’s most likely due to his student loans, which are 3 times larger than mine are. That and my obsession with calling my cards and negotiating lower interest rates, which he does not share.

Now my husband has a head start on me in improving his credit score, which is going to come in handy pretty soon…

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where Did Summer Go?

I can’t believe it’s the end of August already. Labor Day is right around the corner. This summer has been crazy, but strangely, for no particular reason. Work has taken over my weekdays completely, and every weekend it seems like there’s somewhere to go (and sleep to catch up on!).

Our credit card debt currently stands at $7880.64, split between 2 cards:

  • Mastercard (9.99%) - $4424.64
  • Citibank (0.00%) - $3456.00

We are so close to being done with this beast that I can taste it! We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but we’ve never been below $10,000 since we began our journey out of the hole. We are in the home stretch now, and we’re going to sprint to the finish. The plan is to be completely credit card debt free by the end of September. It’s going to take a lot of concentration and effort, but we are determined.

We have imposed a spending freeze until we are out of debt, save for our normally budgeted items. All our extra money will be thrown at the cards. The only problem is, I don’t know which card to pay off first. The 0% promotion ends on September 25. I am ashamed to say I don’t know what happens to the remaining balance at that time. Does it just then accrue interest? Or does it back-charge interest for the total amount on the card (which was $5100) for the entire year? That’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I have been splitting our payments equally between the two cards, and when it gets closer to the end date, I’ll pay the Citibank off first. This will also help keep me motivated and aware of our September 30th deadline.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My Car Insurance Pays Off

A few weeks ago, I was walking out the door to go to work when I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks.

A thunderstorm had passed in the night and this branch broke off the tree, falling directly onto our car. That's just suuuper. I said a few choice words, then turned around and walked back inside to get my husband.

We assessed the damage and determined that the only thing wrong with the car (besides the huge branch still on it) was that the window was cracked. Not smashed, fortunately, but messed up pretty bad.

Since the crack was on the passenger side, the car could still be driven. We wanted to fix it quickly, though, before it got any worse.

I did a little research online and determined the cost to replace the windshield to be about $200. Then I called our insurance company to report the damage and see if they would cover any of it. I was skeptical, as we have a $500 deductible. Come to find out, in MA insurance companies cover 100% of windshield replacement. I was shocked! The insurance company even arranged for a windshield repairman to come to my office and replace the windshield.

I was impressed. I have never dealt with my auto insurer, as we have never had a claim with them. This experience was almost pleasant. I never had to worry or stress about the damage; as soon as I talked to them, the wheels were turning to fix the problem. Now that is what insurance is all about - peace of mind.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Independence Day Challenge Complete! (Mostly)

One more credit card down!

A few weeks ago, I challenged myself to run a 5K and pay off $5K of debt by the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, I have fallen off the running wagon. Again. My dad hurt his ankle in the week following my original post and, without my running partner, I let the training slide.

But on to better news: yesterday I paid off our Discover card! I have been chipping away at the balance all month, and still had $1907.22 left to go. I planned on using part of my husband's next paycheck, due to arrive on July 3, to sneak in the final payment and wipe it out. However, I was surprised to find that my commissions last week included a bonus that I thought I hadn't qualified for. After some calculations in Quicken, I sent off the last payment. We are now free from this credit card!!

Our newfound financial freedom is particularly gratifying when you consider the original cause of this debt. We opened the account in October 2005 based on a 0% balance transfer offer. All of our other credit cards were maxed out and at that time we didn't have a lot of resources. We decided to take the 0% offer and transfer part of another balance to the new Discover card. Only it didn't end there. Before we knew it, we had charged up to the limit of the Discover card and the original card. So we were worse off than before.

If you think of debt as a hole you're stuck in, the Discover card was a false step in the right direction. We were trying to climb out of the hole, only to find that the floor was falling out beneath us. I am so excited to finally be one step closer to complete debt independence.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cheap Date #7- Canoeing

I try to find fun, interesting dates to go on with my husband that cost less than $20 for both of us. Not all our dates qualify, but we try to make at least half of our dates cheap dates that don't break the bank.

Around Christmas 2006, my in-laws moved to another house. When they were cleaning out their basement and garage, they came a across a bunch of things they no longer used or needed, including a couch, armchair, a variety of my husband's childhood items and a canoe. My husband rented a U-Haul and brought the whole lot up to our house one weekend.

It was great to get their only slightly used furniture, which I am lounging on right now. The canoe, however, was put into storage. Our garage doesn't have a lot of room in it, so the canoe went into the basement. Until a couple of weeks ago, when we had a stretch of 90 degree days. We decided the time was right to take out the canoe.

It was a little tricky putting it on the car, but we figured it out. My in-laws gave us the foam blocks, but we bought the tie down straps at Job Lot. They cost $7 apiece, which will amortize over each use. One for the front, one for the back.

Our first excursion, it turned cloudy and cold as soon as we hit the water. We paddled around for a bit, saw some turtles, a heron and a pair of beaver dams, then headed back in.

Turns out there's not all that much to do when canoeing. You paddle around and look at the scenery. We got a little bored after a while so the next time we went canoeing, we came prepared with books and snacks.

Then we really enjoyed ourselves! We paddled around for a a little bit, then beached the canoe and read our books for a little while. I think next time we'll even pack a picnic lunch and some drinks and relax for an afternoon. There is a lake about 5 minutes from our house that we can pop over for an hour or so to unwind. This is definitely a cheap date we'll be doing all summer!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Paying Uncle Sam

Last week I got the revised bill from the IRS. Incidentally, I was driving home from work and cursing myself for not calling them yet to inquire about our economic stimulus check. I stopped at the mailbox and there sat the shiny, updated bill. The IRS and I must have some sort of psychic connection. Either that or I procrastinated the perfect amount of time. It's an art.

But I digress. The Grand Total came to $1834.39, which is the previous total of $3030.91, minus the economic stimulus of $1200. There was also some additional interest added in to the tune of $3.48, which makes me wonder if there will be any more residual interest between the time I received that invoice and the time my check is cashed.

I sent the payment in (finally!) last Tuesday and I am waiting not so patiently for it to be processed. I'm so eager to be rid of this once and for all.