Reflecting the Numbers

Day 18 / $2,850 Paid  /  $92,302.22 until freedom

Day 18 / June – $3,173.64 / Total – $3,173.64 / $91,978.58 until financial freedom

Crunching the Numbers

Ben and I had a discussion this morning on how to reflect our numbers on this blog.  I have listed above:

  • The number of days into our journey
  • The amount paid so far on all 3 bills
  • The amount until our goal is met

However, these numbers are sort of incorrect.  The amount paid so far is the amount that I have paid extra.  I have failed to add in the regular monthly payments.  So, we have actually paid more than is reflected above.  So, I am going to manage the numbers a little differently from here on out.

We have 3 bills we are looking to pay off.

5/23/12

  1. Credit Card (Revolving Credit): $8,451
  2. Vehicle: $13,793
  3. Home Equity Loan:  $72,906

Total:  $95,150

I will display the numbers as follows starting July 1st.

  • The number of days into our journey
  • The amount paid for the month
  • The total amount
  • The amount until financial freedom

As of 6/9/12

Day 18 / June – $3,173.64 / Total – $3,173.64 / $91,978.58

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My DVR is gone!

Day 18 / $2850 Paid  /  $92,302.22 until freedom

Another payment made

We received our rebate check for $250 from the old credit card.  I also received my Amazon gift cards and my ipod shuffle.  Yay!  I need to call and cancel the credit card now.  We don’t need to have 2 credit cards.  I will call on Monday to cancel.  I also checked Ben’s medical spending account and there is plenty of money in there.  I wrote a check to ourselves for $351.01 to cover the prescription sunglasses I purchased a few months ago.  So, I was able to put another $600 toward the credit card.  It feels really good.  I just got rent money ($500) from my brother this morning.  I will deposit that today and make another payment on Monday.

My goal this month is to pay $4000 toward the credit card.  After I deposit the rent money today and make another payment toward the credit card, I will have $650 left to reach my goal for the month.  I get paid 2 times this month.  So, I think I will exceed my goal.  Yay!

I am hoping to pay off the credit card by the end of July.  Then we can tackle the car payment.  I am hoping to have that paid off by the end of October.

Cable and DVR gone!

Well, I was supposed to return the cable box last Tuesday.  I can’t find the remote anywhere.  Plus, I think I was procrastinating getting rid of my FAVORITE – DVR!  I finally broke down and returned the cable box without the remote yesterday on my way to work.  I forgot the internet modem.  Duh!  I was on my way to work so I will have to return the modem on Monday.  That is how I am writing this blog right now.  We still have internet.  We plan on cleaning the basement/laundry room today so hopefully we will find the remote.  If not, it is a $25 charge.

So, without the cable box, we actually have decent signal and have 12 channels.  We are still trying to figure out the best way to get internet service.  Ben did some research and it looks like Mediacom is the only company that provides internet to our area.  They want to charge $70 a month for ONLY internet.  They are crazy!  Ben is going to call and try and do some haggling!  🙂

Breaking the spending habit

We have been really good about spending money so far.  In the past, we would never hesitate to stop at a restaurant for some good food while we were out and about.  There have been many opportunities these last couple of weeks but we stayed strong and waited until we got home to eat.  I have been packing snacks to take with us in the car to hold us over.  That has helped a lot.

I only used the credit card once this whole week.  I spent $6 to send out some mail.  I had to use the credit card because the post office doesn’t accept any other type of payment.  I didn’t have to get gas or groceries.  I am not sure what Ben spent.

I did stop by McDonalds once to get a happy meal for Whitney.  It was only $3.50 and I used my allowance money.  She actually ate the whole thing even the chicken nuggets!

I also used the Amazon gift cards ($30) to buy Whitney a dvd movie, The Lion King.  I love that movie.

Working Mind Set

In the past, I never remembered when I got a paycheck from work.  It didn’t matter to me because I didn’t have to worry much about money.  We always pay our bills on time and we always have extra money.  It has been really nice not having to pray for payday like some do.  As for working, there are times when it is slow and staff has to be sent home early due to budget.  I always volunteered first to go home early.  I also made the decision for those days when I was sent home early, not to use any vacation to help cover the missing hours.  It just didn’t matter to me.  I wanted to save my vacation hours for actual vacation!

Now, I am starting to think a little differently.  I added my paydays on my calendar so I know when I get paid.  I am not volunteering to go home early anymore.  There were a few days where it was mandatory to go home early.  I am paying myself vacation to cover those missing hours.  There is a lot of money per hour that I am missing if I don’t work.  I really want to pay these bills off so I have to think that way.

My end goal after our financial fasting is successful, is to go casual at work.  Going casual at works means that I only pick up hours when needed.  I don’t have to work weekends, holidays, or work any call shifts.  I want to spend more time with my daughter because she is growing up so fast!  On the other hand, it bothers me to want to go casual.  I make good money and to not work regular hours seems like robbery.  So, I am conflicted.  But, my daughter means the world to me and if I have to sacrifice making good money for a few years then it is what it is.  I would still be working some but not to my full potential.

I just started a new position at work about a month ago.  I am getting paid a little more per hour so that helps.  I only work 10 days month.  I plan on picking up extra hours but it is difficult to pick up because I don’t want to work.  I know that I need to though so I did pick up an extra shift on Monday.  If I worked full time right now, our financial fasting would be done in a year for sure!  But, working as RN full time is crazy.  It is mentally and physically exhausting.  I used to work a .8 (4 days a week) plus weekend call, holidays, and weeknight call shifts but when I had Whitney I cut down to a .6 (3 days a week).

I am now working as the Evening Charge Nurse in PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) from 2pm – 10:30 pm.  I work .5 (2 days one week; 3 days the next week).  I don’t work holidays or weekends.  However, I am on call every other Friday night until 7am Saturday morning.  Working these new hours gives me more time with my daughter in the mornings.  It is so wonderful.  Working evenings is a bit challenging but worth it.

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First Payment Made

Day 11 / $2250 Paid  /  $92,902.22 until freedom

Not what I expected
Well, I paid bills today.  I was only able to pay $2000 toward the credit card today.  My goal is to get $4000  paid on it this month.  All of our bills are paid for the month except for water/sewer.  I am waiting for that bill to arrive in the mail.  I get paid 2 more times this month plus waiting on rent from my brother.  With that, I should be able to make another $2000 payment toward the credit card.  If I can do this, the credit card will be paid off by the end of July.  That is my goal for this month and July.
My brother has a direct deposit of $125 per paycheck going to our Credit Union (He bought our Jetta from us last month for $4500).  That is also where we have our 4Runner loan.  I have received $250 in payment so far.  I applied this money toward the 4Runner loan as an extra payment.  I forgot about getting this payment and it would have just been adding up in our account sitting there.  Yay!  I will do this monthly.  Once the truck is paid off I will put the payments toward the home equity loan.
Cell Phone Bill
Our cell phone bill this month is $195.  We have 3 cell phones on this plan.  We added Ben’s mom on there to help her save some money about 1 1/2 ago.  She is paying us a yearly fee for this.  However, the bill does fluctuate a bit and I am wondering if this is still a good idea for us.  I think we may have to look at our plans and see how we can decrease this bill.  Maybe we just need to get rid of our iPhones for awhile and use our old cell phones.  This monthly bill is pretty hefty.  I will talk with Ben and see what we can do.
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We are off to a great start!

Day 8 / $0 Paid  /  $95,152.22 until freedom

 Getting things done!
It’s been about a week and we have been able to get a few things done so far.  I get paid tomorrow (every 2 weeks) and Ben gets paid on Friday (monthly).  I am so excited to add a little money to the $ Paid above!!
Items Done:
1.  Stopped direct deposits to personal savings accounts.
2.  Transferred all funds from personal savings into main savings accounts.
3.  Decreased allowance to monthly allowance of $50.
4.  Cancelled cable and internet – needed one week notice to cancel; cancel date is next Tuesday; cancellation is at the end of the billing cycle so we actually get money back!
5.  Cancelled membership to the YMCA – needed 2 weeks notice and missed the deadline; will have membership through the month of June.
6.  Cashed in points from old credit card – $250 cash, ipod shuffle, $30 in Amazon gift cards.
To Do:
1.  Go to Wells Fargo tomorrow to figure out accounts and close personal savings account as able.
2.  Return cable box to Mediacom next Tuesday.
3.  Once gifts come from the points from the old credit card – close account.
4.  Ben is adding me to his LA Fitness account to start July 1st. – will check to see if he did this yet.
5.  Need to print insurance form for club membership reimbursement.
6.  We will leave our cell phone plans the way they are for right now.
7.  Will shop around for internet service plans.
8.  Planning a garage sale to sell stuff from around the house – found lots of stuff while spring cleaning.
Savings
Here is what we are saving so far from what we have done:
1.  Cable and internet – $1836/year
2.  YMCA – $756/year
3.  Allowance – $200/month or $2400/year
New Income
Great news!  My brother decided to move in with us and rent our basement!  We will be charging him $500 a month.  That will give us an extra $6000 a year.  He will live with us for at least a year.  Thanks Rob!
Spending
We are off to a good start!  We barely spent any money this past week.  It was really tough being out and about and waiting until we got home to eat something.  We would have just stopped at a restaurant to eat.  It was really tough but we did it.  I usually pack snacks for Whitney but will start to pack for all 3 of us.  🙂
Great Feedback!
We have received awesome feedback from family and friends.  They are proud of us and our adventure and look forward to learning from us.  Some are even joining us!  Thanks for all your support!!!  It means the world to us.  🙂
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Feeling the Pressure

Day 3 / $0 Paid  /  $95,152.22 until freedom

Negative Comments

Ben and I sent out an email to family and friends letting them personally know of our plans for the next year.  I mentioned that we will be refraining from going out to eat and buying gifts.  I also stated that we will still be doing stuff but it will be the FREE kind of stuff.  And we will hand-make presents for birthdays/holidays.  Well, we received a negative remark and it made me feel really awful.  There was a question on why we decided to start this right after Whitney’s 2nd birthday.  The answer to that question is…we didn’t base this decision on waiting until after Whitney’s birthday.  That never even crossed my mind.  A few days ago, I was searching the news on the internet and came across a blog that totally inspired me.  Ben has been talking about doing this for awhile and while I agreed we never did anything about it.  This blog gave me an outlet of how to start our journey.  Here is a link to this inspiring blog:  The Challenge | No More Harvard Debt

So, this is what kick started this journey for us.  It has nothing to do with Whitney’s birthday.  I confided my feelings to a good friend of  mine and this is how she responded.  She is allowing me to post some of her email on this blog.

It is tough. Especially with the gift thing…My husband and I have had this conversation many times. I (we) feel that our society/kids are being brought up in a way that gifts are being deemed as a necessity with makes them not really gifts at all rather a requirement or an expectation. We told our families this past Christmas that we would not be getting gifts for any of the nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters. Only the grandparents got a small gift that the kids “made” for them. We felt really guilty and still do a little every time a holiday or birthday comes up but we know were we are financially and what we can/can’t spend. My husband and I have tried really hard in the past to bring back the “old fashioned get togethers” where we bring a dish to share and hang out, no gifts. It has not been working the greatest…..we have just decided to be ok with if the families want to do gifts we will just not be involved. I do feel a little bad for our kids at times but I really would like them to learn to really appreciate the gifts they get and not expect them. Plus I really really like home-made gifts more than anything. They mean so much more.

 Please try to not feel guilty or bad about your decision. I think what you did with the blog is brave. It does hold you more accountable but you can go at your own pace. It could be a three year plan. Every bit of savings helps. I am proud of you two for starting this journey and I think you guys will be too once you start to see the progress. (I am always better at actually seeing the difference).

Her words meant so much to me and I feel better about our decision to go forward with our plans.  And she is right…it may take more than a year but by then it will be a way of life.  After a year, we will see where we are at and make adjustments to our goal.  

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Our Assets and Plan

Day 1 / $0 Paid  /  $95,152.22 until freedom

Where do we sit right now?

Cash – $3775

Retirement Funds – We are leaving those alone and will continue to contribute.  We may be crazy doing this adventure but we are not stupid.  LOL

Income – We are not planning on disclosing our incomes but you may be able to figure it out when I start crunching numbers.

This is how we currently keep our money straight.  We have 2 banks:  Wells Fargo and US Federal Credit Union.

USFCU:  I have $900 a paycheck being directly deposited into this account.  Plus, another $125 every 2 weeks from another income source.  This money currently pays:

  • Home Equity Loan – $830
  • Toyota 4Runner – $325
  • NW Mutual – $575

Wells Fargo:  The rest of my paycheck goes into this account.  Ben’s full paycheck goes into this account.

  • Main Checking – pays the rest of the bills not covered by USFCU
  • Main Savings – $75 deposited monthly from main account
  • Ben’s Personal Checking – $75 every 2 weeks deposited from main account (Last year it was weekly)
  • Ben’s Personal Savings – $75 deposited monthly from main account
  • Brenda’s Personal Checking – $75 every 2 weeks deposited from main account (Last year it was weekly)
  • Brenda’s Personal Checking – $25 every 2 weeks deposited from main account (Last year it was weekly)

The Immediate Plan

So, we don’t have a lot to work with right now.  Here is what we can start with:

  1. Stop our direct deposits to our personal savings accounts.
  2. Cancel Ben and Brenda’s Personal savings accounts.
  3. Decrease B&B’s allowance to $50 a month
  4. Cancel internet and cable
  5. Adjust cell phone plans to include unlimited data
  6. Find stuff around the house and sell it all!
  7. Cancel Brenda’s membership to YMCA
  8. Add Brenda to Ben’s LA Fitness gym membership ($30 a month)
  9. Submit Brenda’s insurance for the gym to receive the $20 off discount monthly
  10. Credit card usage limited to groceries, gas and other necessitates like diapers (We will come up with a limited dollar amount too)

Whatever money is left in our personal checking accounts we can continue to use as our allowance.

Our Goals

  1. Pay off the credit card first
  2. Pay off the vehicle
  3. Tackle the home equity loan

I know you are wondering why would we start paying on a bill with zero interest right now?  Well, our answer is the Snowball Effect!

We will be using our credit card on a regular basis.  We plan to limit our spending and get it paid off as quickly as possible.  Then we will pay it off monthly as a normal expense.  Who knows what the interest rate will be once the zero interest promotion is done with.  That money will then go toward the vehicle.  Once that is paid off, then we can use that money to go towards the big loan.  Then I can focus on the big loan.  If you have any ideas for us, please let us know.  But, that is our plan for now.

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Monthly Expenses

Day 1 / $0 Paid  /  $95,152.22 until freedom

Very Depressing!

So, here is a list of our monthly expenses.  As I am looking through this all we spend a lot of money on eating out and buying other junk!

    • Primary Mortgage – $1915
    • Excel Energy (Electric) – $90
    • Center Point Energy (Gas) – $66.00
    • Trash – $66 every 3 months (averages $21.77 per month)
    • Water/Sewer – $69 every other month (averages $34.35 per month)
    • Cable/Internet – $153
    • Cell Phones (3 phones to include Ben’s mom) – $185
    • Car Insurance – $135
    • Credit Card – $100 – $1000 (depending on how much is left in the account after paying bills)
    • Home Equity Loan – $830
    • Toyota 4Runner – $325
    • Northwestern Mutual (Our retirement stuff) – $575
    • LA Fitness gym – $18 ($37.52 minus $20 insurance reimbursement)
    • YMCA gym – $63
    • Daycare – $500

Total:  Approximately $5010 per month

This does not include food, gas, entertainment, clothing, car/house maintenance!  I added in paying only $100 towards credit card.  I usually am able to pay about $500 to $100o per month on it.

Now, let’s see if I can figure out how much we spend on gas and the other stuff.  This is for the billing cycle 3/24 – 4/23

  • Gas – $545
  • Groceries – $520
  • Eating Out – $405
  • Other (Target, etc…) – $1305
  • Medical – $400 (bought new RX sunglasses)
  • Gymnastics for Whitney – $136

Total: $3311 charged to credit card!

That is a pretty hefty bill!!!  Wow!  We really need to cut down.  I will go through our assets tomorrow and come up with a plan.

Cut Costs! Increase Revenue!

Reduce spending!  Plan and define!  Pay with cash!  Don’t tempt yourself!

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