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To refinance or not to refinance. That is the question.

April 14th, 2009 at 01:14 pm

I need some advice about whether or not refinancing would be a good idea. We currently have a 30 yr fixed FHA loan with an interest rate of 6%. The balance we owe is $126,915.43. Our principal and interest payment is $814.24 and our PMI is currently $52.35 monthly. Our escrow (taxes and insurance is $413.36 monthly) According to the Central Appraisal District of my county, the value of our house is $145,393. I believe that would give us a loan to value ratio of 87%. I know that mortgages with a loan to value ratio of 80% require PMI.

I called my lender (Wells Fargo) and inquired about a FHA streamline refinance. They told me that there is no appraisal required and no pulling of credit required for a streamline refinance.

They offered me two options for a 30 year fixed refinance. The first one is a 5% interest rate with 1/2 of a point. There would be closing costs of about $3,500 rolled into the loan. The second one is a 4.875% interest rate but we would pay $4,200 out of pocket for closing costs.

I don't want to pay anything out of pocket so we are looking at the 5% one. With this the principal and interest would be $722 a month and PMI would be $54 a month. The quoted me a monthly payment of $1,162.00 including escrow.

They also told me that we have an escrow shortage of $876.00 and our payment will go up in June to $1,324. We are currently paying through escrow $66 a month for insurance and $264 a month for taxes. In June, insurance will increase to $73 and taxes will increase to $311.

The total new 30 year loan would be for $134,507 and would include upfront FHA insurance, the loan payoff and closing costs.

All of this information has my head spinning and I am not sure if refinancing would be the best option for us.

We are following the Dave Ramsey plan and just finished baby step two this week. We don't know whether it is worth it to refinance for the lower interest rate or if we should just try to keep it as is and pay extra as we can. I also thought about checking into a 15 year FHA refinance to see how the payment would increase with that. With a lower interest rate I am wondering if that would be an option since the payment is not really an issue.

Also, it was asked in the comments how long we've been in the house. We've been here almost five years. We closed in June of 2004. Smile

Any advice y'all could give is sincerely appreciated.

Blogging Again

February 9th, 2009 at 08:34 am

I haven't been on here in a while but I've missed this place so I decided to start up again.

The following is from a blog entry of mine on 3/22/07:

So, about my debt... Here is what I have:

Visa card - New balance before I paid $50.00 yesterday was $2,254.08. APR is 13.18%

Discover in my husband's name - (hereafter called Discover-D) New balance after I paid $103.00 yesterday is $5,040.00. APR is 0.00% for life.

Explaination of APR - Last year we got a credit card offer for a Discover Platinum Card where you could transfer balances and have a 0.00% APR for life. The "catch" is that after the introductory (12 month) period is over, you have to make two purchases (no minimum purchace amount) per billing cycle on the card.

Discover in my name - (hereafter called Discover-E) which I forgot to bring the statement for but the balance is around $7000. APR is 0.00% for life.

Same APR deal as the above mentioned Discover.

Bank of America car note - Principal balance is $6,972.79, payment is $311.55 per month.

So there you have it...my debt snowball items. The only other debt that we have is the house. The principal balance on the house is $131,127.75. We have a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 6% and the payment is $1220.32 per month.

********

Since then I have done some smart things with money and probably some dumb things.

The good news is that our total debt now (not including the house) is down to a total of $4,800.00 on one Discover card. All cars and other cards are paid off.

I hope to throw all extra money toward this card and have it paid off in a few months.

Thoughts on getting rid of home phones

July 16th, 2008 at 07:02 am

My husband and I each have cell phones and do most of our talking on them. Until the year before last we also had a Verizon home phone but I felt that was a rip-off so we got Sunrocket and when the went out of business we got Vonage. I am happy with the Vonage plan we have and have no reason to discontinue the service other than I think it is a waste of money since the 90 % of the calls we get on the home phone line are telemarketers. It's not a lot of money ($19.38 per month total) but this is a good way to trim the budget if the line is unnecessary.

I am wondering if any of you discontinued home phone service for just cell phones and are happy with it or still wish you had a home phone.

One of the only reasons I can think of to keep the home phone would be 911 but I am wondering if cells can be tracked by some kind of GPS and that isn't a valid concern...if we weren't able to give our location verbally or something.

I have Sprint and this is what their website says about 911 calls:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated guidelines to enhance wireless 911 location services. Sprint Nextel has complied with its federally mandated obligation to make 911 location services available to its customers. All wireless phone companies send money for 911 funding to designated local government authorities. This money is collected from their customers in the form of surcharges. Some local and state governments have chosen to forego investments that would permit customers to take advantage of wireless 911 location services. As a result, local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and emergency services are sometimes unable to effectively respond to wireless 911 calls. In these areas, when wireless phone users call 911, the dispatcher does not automatically receive callback phone number or caller's location, making it difficult to route call to nearest emergency responder.

I did e-mail my local police department to ask them about this but I haven't heard back yet.



Taking your advice

April 30th, 2008 at 05:01 am

Thanks for the advice, y'all. We discussed it last night and decided to keep the Explorer and pay it off asap (including using our tax rebate money on it). His job will be full time but he will work 24 hours and be off for 48 hours, so that is where the every third day thing comes in. We live about 35 miles from where his new job will be and unfortunatly my office is about 2 miles down the street from his fire station so switching out cars on his shift days wouldn't do us any good. It's not that bad for him but I am really packing the miles on my car with having that drive five days a week for going on four years.

Anyway, we are going to get estimates going on the tires and get the mirror fixed asap. I am thinking about going to a local wrecking yard and asking them about the mirror. I don't think it would hurt to start there and see what they can help me with. Used parts have got to be cheaper than brand new.

Regarding TB's new job, he will still be working some hours at his retail job and his salary is more at the fire department so we are excited to get our debts taken care of once and for all.

I think that one of the huge mistakes people make when they make more money is to increase their lifestyle immediately and that is something we have dicussed and decided we are not going to do. Paying off our debt is our first priority with any 'extra' money we make.

Advice on a used car/truck

April 29th, 2008 at 10:47 am

Well, so much for more frequent blog entries. Sorry about that. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Excellent news since I last wrote. My husband got a job in a local city as a firefighter/paramedic. I am soooo proud of him. He worked long and hard for this and it is going to be awesome. His start date will be May 5th. WOOT!!

So, here is where today's entry title comes in and where I need some advice:

Lafawnda the Honda (my car...an Accord) is paid off and in good condition. She gets decent gas mileage and I plan on driving her as long as I can.

My husband's Explorer is a different story. We are working on paying it off and the current balance is around $2,600.00 (this is our smallest debt and next on the debt snowball). With the way gas prices are now and the longer drive he'll have to work (even though it might not be that bad since he's only going to go once every three days instead of five days a week) we are thinking about a different vehicle for him. It has been a long while since we looked at cars/trucks and I am worried about getting a good deal, decent car, etc.

This is the dealio though...I don't know whether we should pay off the Explorer asap (and throw the tax rebate check of $1,200.00 at it to get it down faster) or try to trade it in now. It does have a few issues (passenger side mirror got broken and the mirror part is missing, needs new tires which would be around $450.00).

I don't want to deal with the whole private sale thing so I was thinking maybe Carmax. But should we take it up there as is now or what?

Also, for the replacement vehicle...we are thinking a small truck or small car. I have no idea where to get started on that because I don't want a payment and I don't want to deal with dealership scumbags.

Advice? Thoughts?

Entertaining Kids on the Cheap

February 28th, 2008 at 01:21 pm

My SIL called this week and asked us to keep her four kids on Saturday. She is going to drop them off Friday evening and pick them up after bedtime on Saturday night. TB and I are excited about it because we always have a lot of fun with them. The three boys are 11, 10 and 9 and the little sister is 6. They're well behaved and we always have a good time. Unfortunately, we also usually spend a lot of money entertaining them. I'm sure this is not a newsflash but activities with four children are not cheap! Sometimes we take them bowling or to laser tag and that can really add up.

Anyway, I am trying to think of some fun alternatives to do with them this time. I'd like to take them to the movies and out to eat pizza, and then maybe to the park to play on the playground and play basketball. If we go to the movies it will definitely be during the day so I can save a little money...and I'll be sneaking in some snacks for them too.

I am not that good of a cook but I am going to make hamburgers and hotdogs on Saturday night for them. Easy and cheap...and GOOD!

More catching up...

February 25th, 2008 at 06:02 am

We had a relaxing weekend and didn't spend too much money. Yesterday after church we went out to lunch with two couples from our Adult Bible Fellowship class. They're both around our age and we have a lot of fun with them. One of the couples is expecting their first baby in two weeks. We are so excited for them. TB and I are getting close to wanting to try again but I am really scared. I went to a new OBGYN last year for my yearly check-up, thinking that I was going to change to her before we tried pregnancy again but I really don't like her that much. I mean, she is a nice person and seems attentive but I just don't feel like she is on the same page with me when it comes to certain things. Our pregnant friend is a NICU nurse and really likes her doctor so she gave me his information yesterday. I looked him up and he does take our insurance (yay!) so I am going to go to him next time for my yearly exam and check him out. My main criteria is that I find somebody who is going to put a lot of time into reading my charts and learning about my past pregnancies. I might need to even go see some kind of high risk doctor too but our friend said this doctor referred her to one who was awesome for some visits.

Anyway, the thought of pregnancy is kind of freaking me out but TB is so ready for it. I think he'd have me knocked up right now, given the chance. LOL. I absolutely know that there is never a perfect time to have kids but I am still trying to put it off longer. Both because I am scared and I would like to get this misc. debt paid off.

TB did get out of paramedic school last year. Woot!! He took the National Registry (big, hard test that you have to pass) and passed that in December. Last month he got his state certification in so he is all official. I am so proud of him for all the hard work he put into this. Also, I am amazed at all the stuff he knows. I guess that is a really good thing seeing as how he is supposed to be saving lives and all, but you know what I mean. He is just full of all this medical terminology and random drug information. Pretty cool!

Anyway, by getting his paramedic certification he really narrowed down the number of people he is going against for some of these firefighter jobs so that is good news. Basically, you just have to wait until the cities are testing and sign up for the tests so that is what we've been waiting for. There are several tests coming up (one tonight) that he's registered for so hopefully something good will come from one of those. We are so ready for him to get a firefighter/paramedic job.

***

Oh,and I wanted to tell y'all thanks for the nice comments. It feels awesome to have that credit card gone and our emergency fund built back up. I'm excited to get the ball rolling again.

Starting here again...

February 22nd, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Well, I haven't written here since April of 2007 and I am kind of depressed because I don't have that much accomplished (debt snowball wise) since then.

I have been reading a lot of the other blogs and enjoy them though so I decided to start back up.

So, we got our tax refund today. $2,712.00.

I used $1,372.94 of it to pay off our smallest credit card (WOOT!!) and $1000 more will go to get our emergency fund back up and running.

Total debt left (besides our home) after that bill:

Discover D - $4,283.88
Discover E - $6,100.15
Discover 3- $3,454.00
B of A (truck) - $3,600.00

I get another paycheck on the 29th (with a small bonus, I think) and all the bills are paid for the month so I hope to use a chunk of that on the truck. Technically, Discover 3 is our smallest debt but the truck is so close I am going to concentrate on that one next. The truck payment is $311.55 per month so getting that out of the way first makes more sense to me. If I don't start paying extra on it the loan will not mature until February of next year. Wayyyy too long. I need to call and ask Bank of America how I can make extra payments on the truck. Right now I go through the drive thru at the bank and pay it..but I don't want to wait till the monthly payment is due again to pay the extra money, I don't think.

Of cars and coupons

April 25th, 2007 at 07:08 am

Well, I called a guy that TB volunteers with at a local fire department and who owns his own shop. He agreed that I should probably get the maintenance done soon since I'm pretty far over the manufacturers recommended time to do it. He quoted me a price of $773.52 w/ tax, which includes changing out all the belts and the water pump. Also, a bunch of other little things are included like when they take out the water pump they do some things on the cooling system and antifreeze as well. I think this is pretty much a no-brainer to get this done. It is just hard to part with money now that I am trying to make it work in my favor. (Yeah, I should have told that to myself when I spent over $400 on eating out last month. You know you wanted to say it!) Smile

My check on Friday will be (by about $500) more than a normal check would be because I am getting a performance bonus and I also have 10 hours of OT on it. We have the ability to get a performance bonus about once per month and I usually always get it. Sometimes it is more than others. This just happened to be a really good month. For the OT pay, I have been working 5 hours per week for the past month or so. It's not too much but it give my check an added little boost.

On the coupon/ad shopping front, I am really starting to get involved in it. I bought a Sunday paper last week and clipped a few coupons for stuff that I know we'll be using. Grocery store ads came in the mail yesterday and I went through them last night making a list of the items I want to price match at Wal-Mart. My goal is to do most of my shopping at Wal-Mart and price match the other's ads at Wal-Mart. Unless, of course, there are BOGO items or really good coupons that I can use at the other stores (since Wal-Mart won't double or triple like they do). For the past two weeks, I have done the price matching thing and it is really easy. Why I never did this before, I don't know. It's actually kind of fun. Oh, and I found some pretty cool websites (maybe this is old news) called taylortownpreview.com and couponmom.com. (Sorry, no hyperlinks. I'm having to hurry). On the Taylortown site, every Wednesday they list the coupons that will be in the next week's paper. I think that is pretty cool! The couponmom site has where you can plug in your local stores and see what coupons get you the best deals.

Also, in the Sunday paper there was a Walgreens insert that had some good coupon buys in it. I went and got just those things last night. They had 12 packs of DP products for $2.00, Kraft mac & cheese 2 for $1 and Van De Kamp pork and beans 3 for $1. I got the limit for each of those items and spend just over $15.00.

Ok, I have rambled enough for today. I am off to try and figure out how to add my favorite blogs over on the left side of the page. Smile

Belts and Stuff

April 24th, 2007 at 04:54 pm

Bills paid today:
Geico Auto Insurance - $120.88
TXU Electric - $164.97 (budget billing amount...actual bill amount was 94.91)
Bank of America (truck) - $311.55 (balance before payment was $6,701.21)
Sprint PCS - $50.62
Visa - $50.00 (balance before payment was $2,231.48)
Discover-D - $148.40 (balance AFTER payment was $4,900...0% interest)

That's all the bills through the end of the month except Netflix ($19.29) which will be deducted on 4/26. Other than groceries, gas and tithe, I should not spend any more. Since I don't get paid until Friday and Visa (lowest on the debt snowball) is due on Thursday, I just made close to the minimum payment. I plan to make another payment as soon as Friday's check is deposited. Figuring out how much that will be is where I am having trouble.

My dilemma: I paid off my 2000 Honda Accord last month. Well, today I got a coupon type booklet in the mail from the local Honda dealership. In there, I noticed an ad for $35 off a timing belt replacement. Well, that got me thinking about maintenance on my car. I bought my car used when it had 25,000 miles on it. Now it has 125,000 miles on it. I have never had any belts replaced. I called a friend who works at another local dealership and asked him about having the belts changed out/checked and he said that it would definitely be a good thing to have it done soon. He said it should have been done at 90,000 miles. So, now I am all worried about needing my belts changed but if I do that, it will mean way less going toward the Visa because the cost of changing out the drive belts, timing belt, water pump and whatever else is right around $700.00. I should still have at least $600 to go toward the Visa and still have money for necessities through next month.

So, should I go ahead and get the work done on the car? I am kind of thinking it is a perfect time to do it since I have the "extra" money. And it would be a nightmare to have a belt break and be on the side of the road...and maybe cause more damage. TB is at school so I get to ask him about all this when he gets home tonight. I am just kind of let down because I called him this morning saying we should have $1,200 to pay toward the Visa and we were both so excited about it.

Blue Bell

April 23rd, 2007 at 06:30 am

Random Observation from the weekend: How in the world I have gone 28 years without knowing the awesomeness that is Blue Bell Buttered Pecan ice cream is a distinct mystery to me. That's all I have to say about that.

Well, the house is clean and the laundry is actually done and put away. I don't mind the washing and drying part but I really don't like the folding part. Actually, the folding is not that bad once I get in there and do it. The pep talk to get myself in there doing it is where it gets hard. On a positive note, we normally only have about 3 loads per week and do them all in one day. AND, I am very thankful to have a washer and dryer at home to do the laundry. When we used to live in an apartment we didn't have that luxury. Not fun.

Spending for the weekend:

$103.57 @ Wal-Mart. This was for groceries, litter and cat food and a few needed personal items. I don't break it down further than that.

$38.16 Sunday for lunch at Olive Garden. Surprise date! Smile

$20.00 to pay a friend our portion of money due for a campsite for an upcoming trip (he's already paid the money and everybody is just paying him back)

Weekly tithe at church

I have to pay a lot of bills this week and I should know tomorrow how much I can pay toward our lowest snowball item (Visa).

Contacted an ELP

April 20th, 2007 at 10:52 am

Thanks everybody for your comments yesterday. I got the letter to the collection agency sent off yesterday, certified and return receipt requested. I look forward to getting to the bottom of this and getting it behind us. TB is going to say something to his mother the next time we see her.

I got on Dave Ramsey's website on Wednesday and filled out a request for an investment EPL (Endorsed Local Provider) to call me back. I wasn't sure how long it would take but I had a phone message from a very nice gentleman that night. I e-mailed him the next day and explained that we're still on baby step 2 (debt snowball) but we want to do something now with some money that TB has in a Roth IRA. The money is currently in a money market account but we want it moved to a mutual fund. Anyway, the guy e-mailed me back super fast and we're going to contact him with all the specifics about switching over as soon as we can. The IRA is in TB's name so I can't just do it by myself....and he is going to be really busy next week with school and preparing for his final (next Friday! Thank you Jesus!) Anyway, I am looking forward to working with this guy and if his customer service thus far is any indication, he will be awesome.

I had to go get my filthy car inspected the other day but I found a cool new carwash type place that offers a free full service wash with inspections. So, I went there and got the inspection for $39.50 plus the full service wash for free (11.95 value). My car needed it soooo badly! Other than that the only money we have spent this week has been for that BBQ dinner for the firefighters the other night ($113.63) and TB just HAD to get McDonald's for lunch one day because he had forgotten to pack anything (this was one of the days he had to go straight to work from a 24 hour clinical) and that was $8.53. Really not too shabby!

Oh, and I had to of course get gas, but that is budgeted. BTW, I am getting sick of these gas prices being so high and it's probably just going to go up further and further as the summer comes. Last night I paid $2.75 a gallon at Wal-Mart for gas. Total was $38.74. That will get me through about a week and will take me about 400 miles. Are y'all paying more for gas in other parts of the country? I'm in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Collections Notice!!!

April 19th, 2007 at 07:27 am

TB and I have never missed a payment on anything. It has been tight and money has had to be shuffled, but we have never once been late paying. As a result, we have never had to deal with a collection agency. Until yesterday.

Imagine my surprise when I open up the mail to see a collections letter in regards to a disconnected GTE Southwest phone in my husband's name. The account has been moved to a collection agency and is no longer with GTE but the phone number listed is in area code 903, which TB and I don't even live in. They're saying there is a balance due of $228.52.

Now, I am not trying to say anything mean about anybody in my husband's family...but I really think that this is not just some sort of collection agency scam...since they do list the original creditor and the phone number. I think this is one of his mom's old phone numbers (she does live in that area code and prefix where the number was). So, that means that somebody in his family (his mother, more than likely) used TB's name to open up a phone account. Of course, this has gotten us upset because it's identity theft.

So, I am drafting a letter today (got a good sample from a website) and am going to send it to the collections agency, return receipt requested and certified. This is just a big pain in the butt and I am annoyed that somebody would get a phone in his name. At any rate, we have to take the time to make sure that this doesn't wind up on his credit report and go through a big hassle.

I am going to wait the 30 days they are allocated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for them to provide verification of the debt before we say anything to his family about it. And I hope they don't think for one minute that we won't claim it is identity theft.

So, what would you do in this situation? Am I overreacting?

BBQ Dinner

April 18th, 2007 at 09:00 am

I missed updating yesterday. Oops! One of my coworkers has been out all week and I am having to do both of our jobs. Busy, but I like it that way. Makes the time go faster!!

I haven't even had time to balance my checkbook this week! I normally try to do it every day or every other day...just because back before I got on my new financial peace kick I would go a month or more without balancing it. I mean, I would know approximately how much money was available, just from looking online, but I would not actually balance the register and write everything down. I am over that now though...I want to know where every penny is going.

So, I haven't spent too much this week...I will have to post the exact totals later. I didn't even go to the grocery store!! **gasp** I stocked up fairly well last week with all the sale items I bought. I am going to have to go this week...just for breakfast and lunch items probably.

TB only has one clinical left on Friday. WOOT!! I am ready for this to be over with. I don't know if I mentioned it before on here but all of the students usually try to do something nice as a "thank you" to the firefighters/paramedics on the shifts they ride out with. Of course, this is not mandatory...just something nice to do. Well, some of his fellow students have done steaks but we wanted to do something different so we got BBQ catered for their dinner last night. TB was there last night and didn't really want to do it on his last shift. Anyway, they really enjoyed the BBQ and it was a huge hit! I guess that took the place of my grocery budget this week though because it wasn't cheap. $115 dollars for BBQ, sides, rolls and all the trimmings for eleven men. BUT, TB has definitely enjoyed working with these guys and they have really taken him under their wing. And at least 4 of them have told him (on their own, without him mentioning it) that he is doing great and they would be happy to be a reference for employment. That is worth it's weight in gold, in my opinion.

Ok, back to work I go...

Dave Ramsey Sale

April 16th, 2007 at 07:20 am

Last month I accidentally left my garage door up and realized a few days later that some items had been stolen from my car. Nothing else was taken from inside the garage (we don't have a lot in there anyway since we both park in there) just items from inside my car. The items taken were a tote bag and my Bible, which was in a zipper style carrying case that does look similar to a purse. In the totebag was my Financial Peace University Workbook and two books that I had gotten signed by Dave Ramsey the night I won the $1000 from him. When I went to FPU that night, I told them about my drama. The class coordinator had to leave the room for a little while and when he came back he gave me an brand new FREE FPU kit. I was so surprised and happy to get it. I wasn't sure if I was going to buy another one because they're around $90! Of course, I was way more upset about my Bible being gone than my Dave Ramsey stuff. It was definitely old and worn but it was my favorite Bible and I am still really sad that it is gone. It was given to me by my church as a High School graduation present.

Anyway, today I was looking at Dave's website and there is a special going on....all of his books, CDs and DVDs are on sale for $10.00 each. I have been waiting for this sale to come around again (I think he does it every few months) so that I can get another copy of The Total Money Makeover. It won't be as cool as the signed copy I had before but it will definitely do. So, if you're interested in getting Dave books/materials at a great price, check out his website. It looks like the sale ends today.

In other Dave Ramsey news, I am seriously bummed because I won't be able to listen to his show archives at work anymore. Up until today, I listed to them all the time. Well, when I went to do it today, they're blocked. Something about streaming media. PHOOEY, I say!!!

Sick

April 13th, 2007 at 11:45 am

Thanks for your comments yesterday! **hugs**

To answer a question asked, I think that it will take us about 1.5-2 years to get the rest of our debt paid off. Mind you, I have not been as gazelle intense as I could have been in the past few months but I am not kidding when I say that I am full steam ahead now. Going to FPU and being on this blog community has really gotten me going in the right direction. I haven't quite figured out the exact amount that I should be able to pay to my smallest debt (visa- around $2200 balance) this month, but I am working on making it a big one...Lord willing.

Yesterday, I did some changes to my 401(k) money. I mentioned in a previous post that I didn't really understand where I had my money and talked to a person at FPU about it. Well, she explained to me how to read what the funds are and the rates of return...so I switched up and now have my money allocated into better things. They're higher risk than what I was in before...company stock and bonds were some of the things I had money in...but I am ok with that.

Well, TB did wind up going to the doctor. He had the beginnings of a sinus infection so he got some pills (samples!) and a shot in the butt. He was feeling a lot better and then when he got home from school last night he at some deli turkey and got sick from that. He puked several times at work and then went home so that is where he is now. He doesn't have a clinical or school tonight so he can rest, for once.

We have done great with misc. spending this week, with the exception of him needing medicine and going to the doctor. That's not exactly something you can plan for or can go without so I'm not worried about it. I'm just proud of the fact that I'm getting the fast food and other stupid spending in my past.

We're supposed to have severe weather again tonight. They're calling for hail and the possibility of tornadoes. After that close tornado a few weeks ago I am kind of freaking out. At least TB will be home with me tonight.

Need new glasses

April 11th, 2007 at 07:22 am

Hardly anything is working here today. I've been here since 6:30..it's now 9:30 and I haven't done squat. Except read your blogs and balance my checkbook, that is. Hopefully they get the (server) issues resolved soon because this is getting old.

TB and I both wear glasses (I don't deal well with contacts) and need to go to the eye doctor soon. Since I had down time this morning I have been looking at the benefits I have. We have to pay $10 copays each for the doctor and $20 copays each for the lenses. Then we get a $120 allowance for the frames. Hopefully, I can get out of there without having to pay much more than the co-pay for the frames, because that is where our expense usually comes in. It just seems like you can't find a decent looking frame within that price range. I'm gonna try really hard this time, though.

TB is getting sick. I don't know if it is the crazy weather changes we have had around here, the long hours, or what. Probably a combination. He is prone to sinus infections so if he isn't feeling better today (he bought some Mucinex yesterday) I will make him an appointment. I would prefer that he just go ahead with the appointment and nip this in the bud. We have a really good doctor that gives a lot of samples. $20 copay for him but at least TB would be getting to the bottom of the problem and have something stronger to take. I'm going to make him an appointment for tomorrow if he calls and asks me to sometime today.

I am so proud of myself for going home and cooking last night. I made talapia and some veggies. My friends always tease me because I am not a cook, but I guess if I continue cooking at the rate I am now I will be improving my skills drastically. It's really not that I don't know how to cook...well, I don't know how to cook much...but that I don't like to cook. It is so boring and there are so many more interesting things I could be doing with my time! That is why I just cook very simple things. The only recipes I have ever made have like 4 ingredients in them. Somebody is probably reading this thinking I am crazy, but that is just me. Cooking is not my forte.

Spending for 4/10/07
$20.28 - Big bottle of Mucinex and some other medicine at Wal-Mart

Busy, Busy

April 10th, 2007 at 08:56 am

Busy day yesterday. I worked and then went to a pizza and game night at a friend's house. It was a Lady's Night Out type of thing through my church and the first one I have gone to. I got to meet three new people from church so that's always good. I have been going to my church for almost a year and there are still a lot of people that I don't know. I see them all the time but never got around to meeting them. You know how it goes.

TB doesn't have a clinical or school tonight but he does volunteer for a local city's fire department and they're having a "live fire" tonight. (That is where they set something on fire..usually at a local community college where they have a burn building and practice putting it out and stuff) Needless to say he loves going to those so he will probably be there tonight. If he does go, I am going to a softball game. TB and I are friends with most everybody on the team so that should be fun. And free! LOL

Normally, this would be one of the many days that I would freak out about cooking (since it will be a busy evening) and want to just grab something quick on the way home but I'm already thinking about what I am going to cook for dinner so that thought won't even creep into my head. I think that's progress, don't you?


Spending for 4/9/07-
$3.00 for pizza contribution

$10.00 for a flashlight TB found on clearance at Wal-Mart yesterday. Normal price is $25.00 and he just HAD to have it to add to his bunker gear. It's very compact and bright and comes with cool belt attachment. Hey, at least it was on sale. Smile

GEICO Privileges Savings Program

April 9th, 2007 at 03:19 pm

GEICO Privileges

I found this today and thought it was pretty cool. It's the GEICO privileges savings program. You can get discounts at hundreds of national retailers.

It is a free service provided by GEICO. You do not have to be a policyholder to sign up, you just have to provide your e-mail address.

Easter Weekend Spending

April 9th, 2007 at 08:29 am

The weekend is over way too quickly, as usual. Friday night TB's dad and stepmom came in to town so we all went bowling. Eight adults and six children. Good times. We had two lanes for two hours. Total cost was $100 for the lanes and shoes but it was split up so we didn't have to pay the whole thing. That is not a usual expense and we haven't been together with his whole family in months so that was nice and fun. Saturday TB had to work but afterward we went on a date. Out to eat and to the movies. We went to a fairly cheap hamburger type place and to a matinee movie. BTW, we saw Blades of Glory and it is hilarious! Definitely two thumbs up! We laughed pretty much through the whole thing. Sunday TB had a clinical so I went to Easter dinner without him. Frown That was a first which I guess I will have to get used to once he gets a FF/EMT-P job. My mom lives about an hour away so I went over to my grandparents house (they live about 15 minutes away) and rode up there with them. Quality time with the family and I saved a ton on gas. Also, my mom cooked the entire meal so I didn't have to spend any money on food or anything to take over there. I did take her and my grandmother an Easter Lily though...and I took the three little kids some Easter candy/prizes. Don't look at me that way! I couldn't help myself!!

So, yeah, this weekend kind of blew the no spending but I was definitely more "aware" (if that makes sense) of where the dollars were going. I really needed to stock my pantry so I went to Wal-Mart and to Albertson's. I shopped the ad at Albertson's and got only stuff on sale. Mainly stuff that we will use over the next month or more....like canned drinks, 2-liters, canned veggies, cheese, BOGO specials, etc. This time at Wal-Mart I bought those lilies and had to buy some vitamins and other misc. stuff for TB. Oh, I tried the price matching at Wal-Mart and it was so easy! I am so doing that from now on!! I did it for canned veggies, roll sausage, ice cream, miracle whip, and something else that I can't remember right now. Anyway, I am glad I figured that out and will be taking advantage of the savings. Next goal is to try the couponing again.

Spending this weekend:
Albertson's $58.12 (saved $61.20 off regular prices per the receipt)
Wal-Mart $61.70 (saved around $15.00 with the price matching) Includes $10 for flowers and $9.00 for vitamins
Date with TB $23.70 for Scotty P's and $14.00 for movie tickets = $37.70
Bowling w/ TB's family $25.00


Sunday was a no spend day. Well, I did do my usual tithe at church but I'm not counting that as it is budgeted in advance.

I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend!!

FHA Loan - PMI

April 5th, 2007 at 01:01 pm

We have a 30 year fixed rate FHA mortgage. Well, at FPU last night Dave was talking about PMI and how it works. After the video I was talking with the people in a discussion group about how to get rid of PMI for FHA. They thought that it could never go away but I called my mortgage company today and was told that it goes away after 7 years, as long as you meet other qualifications after the seven years is up. Until then they can't even do anything for you. They also told me to go to the HUD website if I had other questions, so I did. After looking there it looks like PMI for FHA can go away after 5 years (in my circumstance since I have a 30 yr note) but there are still other requirements.

Here's what the HUD website says:

Termination of the FHA monthly mortgage insurance premium (MIP) is based on several factors including: the loan term, loan-to-value (LTV) at loan origination and regulations in place when the loan is closed. Generally, loans closed prior to January 1, 2001 will not be eligible for termination of MIP, which is collected as part of your monthly mortgage payment.

For loans closed on or after January 1, 2001, FHA's MIP will be automatically terminated under the following conditions:

1. For mortgages with terms more than 15 years, the MIP will be terminated when the Loan to Value (LTV) ratio reaches 78%, provided the
borrower has paid the MIP for at least five years. If the LTV reaches 78% and the borrower has not paid MIP for at least five years then the borrower must continue to pay MIP until the five year requirement is met.

2. For mortgages with terms 15 years and less and with LTV ratios of 90% and greater, the MIP will be terminated when the LTV ratio reaches 78%, irrespective of the length of time the borrower has paid the MIP.

3. Mortgages with terms 15 years and less and with LTV ratios of 89.99% and less will not be charged MIP.

Although the MIP will be terminated as described, the FHA insurance will remain in force for the loan's full term. This MIP termination provision only applies to loans where the borrower also paid an Up-front MIP at closing.

FHA will determine when a borrower has reached the 78% LTV ratio based on the lesser of the sales price or appraised value at loan origination. For example, if the lesser of the sales price or the appraised value at origination was $100,000, when the loan amount reaches $78,000, HUD will no longer collect MIP on the loan.

FHA's regulations do not permit a borrower to submit a new appraisal to reach the threshold for termination of MIP. Termination of MIP will normally be based on the scheduled amortization of the loan. However, borrowers may reach the 78% threshold in advance of the scheduled amortization because of prepayments of loan principal. A borrower whose loan reaches the 78% LTV threshold sooner than projected because of prepayment may have the MIP terminated (but not sooner than five years from loan closing for loans with terms greater than 15 years) if the borrower has not been more than 30 days delinquent in paying the mortgage payments during the previous 12 months. The borrower must submit a termination request to the lender and the lender must provide the borrower's request and supporting documentation with respect to the mortgage payments during the last 12 months to FHA for such termination.

If you have questions regarding the termination of MIP, go to the following HUD website: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/nsc/nschome.cfm or contact HUD's National Servicing Center at 1-888-297-8685 for more information.



So, I am a little bummed because we just bought our home in 2004 so we're not even near that mark. Lord willing we will have it paid off at least by the 15 year mark without refinancing...just by making extra payments after we're done with this other debt.

Wal-Mart Price Match

April 5th, 2007 at 07:36 am

My last entry got me thinking so I looked this information up.

Source:http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=296146



I know that all true SDers are aware of Walmart's price match policy, but this particular thread derives from a thread I posted on ice cream where some folks said they would be embarrassed to PM ice crea. Obviously those folks didn't know that you can price match nearly anything at Walmart

Here's an open floor for seasoned SDers to share how to make the most of Walmart's price match policy.



For those unfamiliar with HOW TO price match at Walmart
1. Shop as usual, filling up your cart with the merchandise you plan to buy
2. When you get to the checkout line, be prepared to show the cashier the circular before that item that you want to price match is scanned
3. Cashier manually adjusts the price - you can go to any cashier - a manager is not needed for a price match
4. Make sure the price that is put in manually is correct. That's it. Simple
5. Rinse, lather, repeat for each item that you want price matched
6. Give coupons at the end, as usual. You do not have to indicate that the coupons are for an item that was price matched



For those unfamiliar with Walmart's Price Match Policy
1. You should not be embarrassed to price match ice cream, groceries, tooth paste, maxi pads or any other item at Walmart
2. They will not beat competitor’s prices by 5%, 10%, 20% or 110% of the difference
3. They will match locally advertised prices
4. You must bring the circular for the advertised prices
5. They will not match “buy 1 get 1 free”
6. They will not match anything where you get anything free
7. The purpose of Walmart’s price match policy is to bring your business to them (instead of the competitors)
8. My purpose for taking advantage of Walmart’s price match policy is to save gas, and not have to drive to several stores to take advantage of all their sales
9. If you are refused a price match, you can call 1-800-WALMART and they are supposed to help you
10. If you have a problem using coupons, you can call 1-800-WALMART and they are supposed to help you
11. You can price match on any advertised item whether it be groceries or tires or personal products, as long as it is the same name brand and size that Walmart carries
12. You can price match produce
13. Show the circular to the cashier so that they can see the item that you want to price match BEFORE the cashier scans that item so she can do the manual adjustment on the price
14. You can price match stores like Big Lots that are considered to be "closeout stores", who do not accept coupons on top of their advertised prices. (Closeout price minus coupon usually equals a pretty good deal, like nearly free toothpaste)

Well, folks that’s all I got about Walmart’s price match policy. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask….

Please don’t be too embarrassed to get your ice cream price matched. It’s really no reason to be embarrassed… and if they don’t do it, call 1-800-WALMART right in front of your cashier LOL

BTW if you start price matching at Walmart with competitor's circulars, you will find that they REALLY don't have the lowest prices everyday.

***

Seems like a lot of good information. I'm gonna try it out. Smile

Shopping the Ads

April 5th, 2007 at 06:05 am

No spend day again yesterday. I'm really starting to get into this.

I am probably going to go to the grocery store this afternoon on the way home from work. I normally just shop at Wal-Mart 99% of the time and Albertson's every once in a while but last night I actually looked at the store ads that came in the mail. There are a few things at some of the stores that I am thinking about going and getting just because I know we will definitely eat them and it will be good to have in stock at the house. As I mentioned before, I didn't do too well with coupons the last time I tried to use them but I want to try again in the near future. I just have to stop myself from buying stuff just because it is on sale.

This is probably weird but I am not an "overstock" type person. I absolutely hate clutter in my house and that carries over to my pantry. If it is something that we will use within a reasonable time then I will buy multiples but we aren't gonna use 15 bottles of BBQ sauce anytime soon so I don't want to use coupons for stuff like that. I guess savviness will come with time and I will strike a happy medium between nothing in the pantry and excess stuff that won't be eaten. After I went on couponpalooza last year I wound up being able to give a lot of it away to a local food pantry so that was good in the long run.

Anyway, back to the ads. I have heard that you can actually go to Wal-Mart and when checking out show them their competitor's ads and they will match the prices. I need to learn more about this because it would be a lot more convenient than going to 4 stores. I am wondering if they only match certain things in the ad or how it works. Like I doubt that they would match BOGO items, right? I guess I could get my husband to find out....he works for them, but not anything to do with groceries. BTW, that is another reason that I do most shopping there...10% employee discount on taxable items. It's not much but it helps.

In other news, my baby emergency fund got transferred over to HSBC with no problems. I am relieved that is done. Hopefully I won't have to touch the money anytime soon and if I do have to for some reason getting it out of there will be just as easy as getting it in.

I only have 3 more FPU classes left! I'm really learning so much there that I hate for it to end. Last night's lesson was about mortgages and I learned a lot about realtors, preparing your house to sell, preparing to buy, types of mortgages, etc. I've heard Dave say before that if you must have a mortgage you shouldn't do more than a 15 yr fixed rate one with at least 10-20% down. Well, after really hearing him talk about it last night and seeing the difference in the amount you pay, I am upset that we did a 30 year one. My plan (after the debt snowball) is to increase the amount that we're paying to what it would take to get the house paid off in 15 years...and then of course pay it off earlier as I get further in the baby steps. Oh, before I forget, if you haven't been to this website yet you should totally check it out. It shows a lot of information about your home and the value. Also, very cool satellite images. I don't know how to hyperlink on this thing but the website is zillow.com.

I don't know about anybody else but the thought of no payments, not even a house payment, is so exciting to me lately. I feel stupid for the amount of money that I have wasted and not saved or socked away towards debt. I am not saying that I have it all figured out by any means but I feel like I have a good attack plan now and I know that we can do it if we put our minds to it. And fast food is a waste of money!!!

Shoes, Savings and a Will

April 3rd, 2007 at 06:52 am

I've been reading lots other blogs on here and I'm wondering what exactly you classify as a "no spend day". Does that mean you didn't spend any money at all, or any that you hadn't budgeted for? At any rate, TB and I didn't spend any money at all yesterday so I guess I had my first official "no spend day" now that I'm keeping track. Woot!

I signed up for one of those high yield HSBC online saving accounts last month. I've had my $1000 emergency fund for a few months now but it's just been sitting in my checking. I finally made the move to get it over to the HSBC savings account yesterday. I feel better about it now because there isn't a chance of me spending it without thinking about it and making a effort to get it out of the account.

In other news, I got my new Mary Jane Crocs yesterday and they are soooo cute. Love, love, love them and they're so comfortable. I was in dire need of some summer shoes/sandals so I budgeted for some. My friends just turned me on to Crocs a few months ago and I don't know how/why I lived without them for so long. I have one pair of the Cayman style in black and now two mary jane pair in chocolate and black. The cayman style is a little clunky looking and a lot of people don't like them because of that but the mary janes are really small and dainty in comparison. And of course you can't beat the comfort.

Oh yeah, this is a financial blog. Brain freeze.

TB and I don't have wills yet but we are working on it. I got some will software and a book the other day from Amazon. Quicken WillMaker Plus 2007 for $32.99. So far I am very happy with the purchase. I'm still in the process of reading the book but it is very easy to follow and the software looks simple to use. So, I am going to be working on that for the next couple of days. Fun!

PS: This was a random entry if I ever read one. LOL

Tornado...but no damage to our home

April 2nd, 2007 at 06:23 am

I forgot to put this in the entry I just posted... I live in the Dallas, Texas metroplex and we had some severe weather on Friday night. There was an F1 tornado that touched down about 1/2 mile from my house. 51 homes damaged but no people were hurt. Five families were displaced from their homes. I feel very lucky that we weren't hurt in it and our home didn't suffer any damage. It could have been much worse! I do have friends in the subdivision that was hit and they're working on the clean-up.

Thank God nobody was injured.

Feeling better w/ a plan

April 2nd, 2007 at 06:03 am

Thank you all for your helpful comments and ideas. You were very helpful and made me feel a lot better. I talked to my husband about the amount of money we spent on groceries/eating out in March and his first comment was, "Holy Schnikes!!". LOL

We decided to make a concerted effort to cut our eating out down drastically. For us, the eating out is more about being tired at the end of a long day and not wanting to cook or clean up the kitchen. How many can relate with that one? Smile My goal for this month is to have all of our dinners planned ahead of time. That way when I'm on the way home from work it will be much easier to go on home without picking something up for dinner. Honestly I think that my entry on Friday really helped me to see what I was doing wrong.

One thing that is kind of throwing us off lately is TB doing these clinicals and having to go to school the next night. He's doing the clinicals on A shift and school is on the B shift. (There are three 24 hour shifts that they rotate through A, B and C) So this week he has clinicals today, Thursday and Sunday...so he's gone from 7 am until 7 am the next day. He's also still having to work full time so he's having to go straight from the clinicals to work, which is 7:30am to 4:30pm, and then he has school on the B shift so he goes straight to school where he is at from 5:30pm until 10:30pm. So, like, he left this morning for the clinical and I won't see him again until after 10:30 tomorrow night. YUCK! Thank goodness he is done with school at the end of this month. That will be so awesome!

Speaking of groceries, I did go get them on Saturday and spent quite a bit...but I feel like I got a ton of stuff and have a pantry full of food now so there is no excuse for not having something to cook or snack on. I spent $104.49 at Albertson's. They had a good ad this week and everything I bought was from the ad, lots of $10 for 10 items and some buy one get one free stuff. Walked out of there with a basket full. Then I went to Wal-Mart and spent $106.23. At Wal-Mart I got the rest of the groceries I needed along with several other household items, so that is why that one was so high. I had to get cat litter, a big fluorescent light bulb and toiletry items...so that brought the bill up more than just groceries would have been.

Anyway, now the pantry is full and I plan on not spending any miscellaneous money this week. TB has to have $10 per day for the food kitty for clinicals at the fire station....oh, and before I had a chance to talk to him about the budget he went out to lunch with his school friends on Saturday BUT they went to Bennigans and since they were wearing their EMT uniforms the server gave them 50% off their bills. Score!

I'm depressed

March 30th, 2007 at 08:11 am

My husband and I rarely carry cash. That's bad because we just slide the debit card when we want something. That's good because we have an accurate account of where our money went. Too bad that I was never really paying attention too much before now. And let me just say that I am embarrassed to have been saying we are gazelle intense when clearly some of our expenses are out of control. This WILL change....TODAY. I cannot, after really taking a hard look at these numbers and realizing how stupid it is, continue to budget and waste money in the manner that I am. Keep in mind this is for two adults, no children.

Fast food for March:

Taco Bell once for $4.21

Jack in the Box - $21.24, $12.19, $20.49, $20.36, $20.36 again, $3.56.... total of $98.20

Popeyes once for $18.39

Sonic- $11.97, $6.24, $2.05, $11.98, $9.18.... total of $41.42

Wendy's- $6.37, $7.44.... total of $13.81

Spring Creek BBQ once for $24.55

Scotty P's once for $8.74

McDonalds- $6.59, $7.44.... total of $14.03

Chick-fil-A once for $4.21

Flying Fish once for $31.11

Taco Delight once for $16.10

Fortune House once for $27.49

Subway once for $8.64

Donut Express once for $9.50

Maggianos once for $42.48

Total spent on eating out- $362.88

Ok, now we get to grocery/household good spending. I don't go anywhere except Wal-Mart and Albertson's occasionally. This month I went to Wal-Mart 10 times and Albertson's once.

Total spent at Wal-Mart and Albertson's- $477.97

Did anybody's else's stomach just turn? Oh, just me?

I don't want to beat myself up too bad even though I probably deserve it. It's just depressing, that's all. The positive thing is that I am going to share this with my husband and I know that we can make drastic improvements. I am a firm believer in "When you know better, you do better".

Please feel free to give me a talking to or a pep talk. I think I need both. Smile

Monthly Bills

March 29th, 2007 at 06:51 am

I have been keeping a log of my monthly expenses since the beginning of the year and it has really helped me to be able to look back over what I've paid and what's coming up. I haven't perfected it by any means, but I like being able to see what bills I have. Basically I just bought a smallish notebook with folder dividers and every month gets a page. I am just listing the Paydays at the top and then a column below for the bill name, due date, and amount due. This is my simple "carry around and glance at daily" system of staying organized. I'm not a big spreadsheet person, even though that might make it easier in the long run, I guess.

For March 2007

Paydays:
March 2 me w/ Bonus
March 8 husband
March 16 me
March 22 husband w/ Bonus
March 30 me w/ Bonus


TB and I each get paid every other week and on opposite weeks...so there is a paycheck every week. Luckily there three Fridays in March so I get three checks. Woot! I am also eligible for a performance bonus at work. I get it pretty consistently and it adds a decent boost to my check. Sometimes as much as $300 dollars but sometimes it is much less. It also worked out that this month there are two scheduled bonuses. Normally there would only be one of those per month.

Bills:
Discover- E $160.00
Carmax $312.65 (March was the last month for this one since I paid it off)
Atmos (gas) $67.92
Netflix $19.29
Mortgage $1223.00
Bank of A (truck) $311.55
Water/Sewer $42.00
TXU (electric) $171.61
Visa $50.00
Sprint (cell) $51.68
Discover- D $110.00
Auto Ins. $120.88
Internet/TV $75.00

Total of Bills - $2,715.58


Since I have that extra check this month I should be able to make a fairly large additional payment on my smallest debt snowball item which is the Visa. All of the bills are paid for the month and once I get groceries and set aside tithing money I should have $900 or so to throw at it. That will help a lot since the balance is approx. $2,200.00.

I kind of feel out of place on these blogs because so many of you are killing it when it comes to budgeting and being frugal. I was just looking at my checking account register and it is quite obvious that fast food and a few other areas are not being budgeting correctly. I think for my next entry I will add up all of the fast food and general entertainment money spent for March. I'm not looking forward to it but will probably help me to see a truer picture.

Budgeting and Couponing

March 23rd, 2007 at 05:26 am

Thank goodness it is Friday! It has been a long week. I mentioned that my husband is in Paramedic school over in the "about me" section. He's already gone to the fire academy and EMT school and paramedic is the last step. It's been a long road (he started in August of 2004) but he gets out at the end of April! We're very excited and hope that he will be able to easily find a firefighter/paramedic job with a local fire department fairly soon. That would be ideal because he's so ready to start living his dream of being a firefighter and also it should mean a decent jump in pay from what he makes now. That's always a bonus!

Anyway, he has to do several different sets of clinical hours and he starts the last "set" on Saturday. This set is ten 24 hour shifts and a local fire station. He's doing it on a normal 24/48 schedule which means that he goes for 24 hours and is off for 48 hours. That wouldn't be so bad except he still has to fit in working full time and going to school at night too. Yeah, fun times! He also has to take $10 per day to the station to put in the kitty for meals...so there goes $100. At least I know he'll be well fed, though. And $10 per day is pretty good if you really think about it, I guess.

I have been working on trying to get the budget under control for a few months now. Dave Ramsey suggests a zero balance budget which is where you put everything on paper and every dollar has a purpose. Make every penny squeal. At the end of the month, you should end up with zero dollars because everything has been allocated to a specific purpose and anything left over would have gone to your debt snowball (or whatever baby step you're on). I've been doing ok with this but I'm not quite there yet. I'm really going to give it my best shot for the month of April and see how it goes.

Reading through some of the forums and blogs on here makes me realize that I am not budgeting as tightly as I should. I can't believe how detailed some of these people are about saving eight cents at CVS or $1.50 at Walmart. I can't imagine being that detailed but I guess it is fun and a challenge for some? I'm not knocking it, I think it is cool...but it would take a lot of work for me to do it!

I did try couponing a few months ago and I didn't do well at all! I want to give it another go, though, because I know there is a ton of money out there to be saved. My problem was that I was using coupons just because I had them and sometimes on products that we didn't end up liking or eating at all...and I had bought 3-4 of those items because I had the coupon. D'oh! Maybe I'll give that another shot in the near future but I'm gonna have to revise my game plan and figure out what we'll really use.

How we got here

March 22nd, 2007 at 06:48 am

I was thinking this morning about why we have been so stupid with money and what got us in the mess we're in now. I don't have a sad story to tell about losing a job or needing credit cards to pay medical bills and groceries. The truth of the matter is that we have been stupid, irresponsible and childish.

I grew up not having much money at all (public assistance including food stamps...might go into that one at a later date) and I really think I just wanted "stuff" when I grew up. Does that make a lick of sense? I don't think that I went wild by any means, but when I wanted something I bought it. I'm not a big clothing shopper but I like to have a nice looking house so I bought thinks like bedroom suites, living room furniture, etc. All on credit of course. I would tell myself that it was only a small payment per month and that I deserved it. Classic "I want it NOW and can't wait" attitude. Until recently I never realized how stupid that really is. Now I realize that paying with cash is the way to go.

My husband is not a big spender. He would just go along with whatever I wanted to buy. I mean, don't get me wrong. He's no angel about budgeting, but he's not one to blow $20.00 a day and have nothing to show for it.

The bulk of the credit card debt that we have now is from transferred balances from furniture accounts and an Exxon gas card that we used to use. That Exxon card was the first credit card I ever got and man did I think I was cool beans. No more going into the gas station to pay and I would pay the balance off every month. WRONG! Oh yeah, I started off great...but then the months got tighter and I would make a smaller payment. Pretty soon those snowballed and I was up to almost a $3000 balance. For gas! Stupid, I know.

Another thing that got the Visa up was my husband's tuition to school. Since I was being irresponsible about budgeting I wasn't prepared each time the tuition came due. Of course that was no problem because we could just swipe the plastic. We used the Visa for pretty much every school related expense he's had over the last couple of years...tuition, books and uniforms.

I guess it was when I first started listening to Dave Ramsey that I had my "Aha!" moment and realized that we are on a slippery slope with this. I thank the Lord that we both have excellent credit and have never missed or been late on a single payment on anything...but that could happen so easily. Listening to Dave I realized that we have got to get this debt paid off and change the way we think about money.


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