A Factory Working, College Grad Getting Out of Debt

Posts tagged “cash

January 2013 Bills Breakdown

Happy New Year!  Hopefully this one holds a lot of promise, as it’s now time to see what bills I need to pay this month.  It will obviously not be as horrendous as last month’s near $1000 output with very little input… but we’re getting there.  These totals are as of December 31st. The budget this month is simple: spend as little money as possible.  This is because I’m unemployed (like I haven’t said it enough???), and that obviously changes things a LOT.  Also, all of your comments and encouragement have been really helpful!  I’ll be taking some of your suggestions to heart these next coming months.  So… Let’s work this shall we?

Car loan: $3,749.68. This one does not need to be broken down.  The loan is through a credit union, and has slowly been paid off by adding an extra $50 onto the principle every month.   As discussed before, I will be doing this every month until it’s gone (or until I need to fund that extra $50 to say… my student loans). This month’s payment will be $301.00.

Credit Cards: Last month I revealed that I pay more than the minimum payment.  Some of you suggested actually using Ramsey’s snowball effect however and picking a card to eliminate right off the bat, working with the smallest balances first.  Well, that’s a great idea, but I still like to have a little more than the minimum.  So this month, we’re going to try something new.  This month, because I’m unemployed, I will only be paying minimum balance (except Amazon & Solidarity) and the oddball change and then putting a major chunk on one of the card balances to take a massive bite out of it.

  • Solidarity Visa: $2579.00  Minimum payment: $30.00. This month’s payment will be $30.00.
  • Chase: $1340.75  Minimum payment: $28.00.  This month’s payment will be $28.75.
  • Pay Pal Bill Me Later: $1884.67 Minimum payment: $53.00. This month’s payment will be $53.00.
  • Best Buy Store Card: $22.85  Minimum payment: $22.85. This month’s payment will be $22.85 = $0 Balance!!  Bye, bye BB Store Card!
  • Amazon Store Card: $811.91  Minimum payment: $25.00. This month’s payment will be $41.91.
  • DressBarn Store Card: $413.03  Minimum payment: $25.00.This month’s payment will be $25.03.
  • Capital One:  $63.20  Minimum payment: $25.  This month’s payment will be $63.20 = $0 Balance!!  Bye, bye Capital One Card!
  • Best Buy Mastercard: $208.08  Minimum payment: $15.00.This is still the card that I have been working on eliminating, so this month’s payment will be $35.26.

Total Credit Debt: $7,323.49   Total Payments: $300.00.

This is compared to last month’s credit debt of $7,373.96  and total payments of:  $240.38, which means my debt went down $50.47!  Hrm..  Last month, my Capital One card was in the negative balance, however, before I cancelled this card I needed to make sure that I used that negative balance.  I certainly did not want the credit card company to end up keeping this money just because I forgot to put in my payment into account when I transferred the balance to the Solidarity card… With that in mind, I bought Christmas gifts on this card and arranged to have it fully paid off this month.

Now that the big bills are paid off for another six months, I can once again up my payment budget.  I increased it this month to insure that not one, but two credit card balances are completely zero.  Huzzah!

Student Loans:

ECSI: $650.00  Still in grace period.  

Direct Loan:  $18,862.74  Still in grace period.  

I’m still unemployed.. So these are in the works of trying to be deferred at this time.  I’ll let you know if I succeed on that plan.

Other anticipated bills this month:

Thankfully, there are no other anticipated bills this month.  The hopeful job search will continue and I have a meeting coming up with the unemployment office.  So we shall see for what exactly I’m qualified.

Complete Total Debt: $30,585.91   Total Payments: $601.00.

This is compared to last month’s $30,918.16 debt total and the just pennies short of $1,000 in payments.  I’m still attempting to keep the budget in the most positive means possible.  After all, if it takes a few more months to find a job, I want to be sure I make enough money possible that I’m really not hurting my savings account as much.  However, I am pleased to see that I am $332.25 less in total debt than I was last month!  Huzzah!

Please let it rain!

DecMeadow

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Goal Achievement Report – December 2012

Well, January is here and it’s time to see what all I accomplished in December! Holding myself accountable on these things have helped me make a lot of progress on myself and my life.  Thanks guys!  Please keep it up and I promise to do the same.  😉

Money Goals

  • Find a few ways for this Rainy Day blog to make some funds, however small it may be…
  • Sell unneeded items on ebay and amazon to make extra $.
  • To make enough money this month to pay either my car payment ($301), my auto insurance ($336), or both.
  • To make enough money to pay all my bills without hurting my savings account too much.
  • To find a job.

Alright, still looking into finding ways of this blog making me money.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  Also, I am happy to say that I did indeed sell a bunch of items on amazon and ebay and ended up being in between ($436 in between) the car + auto insurance total with just this accomplishment!  Yay, me!  As for the rest of the bills, they were paid for with the unemployment that I ended up receiving and then some.

Still no luck on finding a job, but with unemployment coming in… I have some time to find one now and I don’t have to be too desperate.  It’s time to make me better and that’s exactly my intention.

Rainy Day Goals

  • To finish the cabinet revival.
  • Finish the Christmas tree.
  • Help my mother organize/clean the home.
  • Find alternative means for gifts for those on my gift list.
  • Get rid of unneeded items that can either not be sold or donated.
  • To continue organizing my room for optimal business format/personal use.

Cabinet revival and Christmas tree are finished thankfully!  I’ll have posts for you soon as it has been a pretty hectic month.  I’ve been cleaning and organizing the home with my mom (it can always use more work), but sadly my room has been neglected because of it and now needs a deep cleansing.  I usually end up spending about $300-400 in Christmas gifts each year, but I was able to scale that down to $100 and the people I gave gifts to were still just as happy!  Who knew?  When it came to the alternative gifts, it ended up becoming an alternative means to make money, and I’ll be sure to let you know when the time is right on just what I did with that too!

Personal Goals

  • Continue the MWF posts for Rainy Day.
  • Add artwork to various art sites and sell my artwork online.
  • Continue my art blog.
  • Refine my gamer blog/podcast and restart it.

I ended up only missing a couple of days this month on the MWF post schedule for Rainy Day.  That’s not bad!  Honestly, I took about a week off (Christmas-New Years) and only posted things that I already had in the wings to make up for it.  I’ve added artwork onto BigCartel, renewed my subscription to Deviantart (which I will be updating this month), and will be updating my artwork blog this coming week as well.  I have also restarted the gamer blog and a podcast is in the wings!

Overall, I would say MOST of my goals were accomplished, and I am most proud of myself!

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.


Approaching a Milestone with a Possible Budget

Well, my man and I are approaching our two year anniversary on Sunday and it’s pretty clear the bond isn’t going to break.  We’re stuck with each other, and love it.  With kids today getting married young and even my own peers are starting to say the “I Do’s” to each other (I think I know of three weddings just this month of fellow compatriots?) people are wondering: When are we going to tie the knot?

And the answer to that is: not anytime soon.   My guy is still in college and will be graduating this May.  When we first talked about futurey things, we definitely agreed that both of us would be graduated before the question was ever asked.  And after he graduates?  Well, I want to work on some of this debt first.  I’m doing a pretty smashing job so far in my opinion honestly, and I’d like to see it continue that way for some time to come.

We did set out a budget for the nuptials whenever they occur however.  He and I are very picky, and aren’t into following all the shenanigans of wedding necessities that for some reason the industry insists one must have to have a “successful wedding.”  To be honest, if he and I went to a Justice of the Peace, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.  Don’t get me wrong, looking at wedding things is certainly a past time of mine, but there is so much of the frill and the tulle that I can live without thank you very much.  Instead, I’d rather do things my way.  And that includes a budget.

A couple of months back when I started this blog, my guy and I sat down and truly discussed this possible wedding budget and if it were doable or not.  We think it certainly is, and are willing to cut the frill and satin out to get there.  What’s the magical number you might ask?  Well… $6000 for the wedding.  $4000 or less on the honeymoon (the part where we can honestly want to splurge).

I know there are so many people out there who want all that extra to make their very special day very special, and I don’t mind it.  It’s your day.  Do what makes you happy.   And for me, having a down payment on some property and possible blueprints for a home are my main concern truth be told.  So that means we’ll be living with our parents for a little while longer as I work down the debt and he works on saving and we both work on finding decent careers.

The Breakdown:

Photographer: $2000  This is the part where I refuse to budge on quality. I want photos of my day clear and artistic with a whimsical feel in spots and serious and gorgeous in others.  Finding that special photographer means being willing to pay for it.

Food: $325  We’re definitely going cheap, and he and I are already thinking something really simple and fun for this.

Cake: $150 Why do you need layers to a cake?  Seriously… a sheet cake does the trick in feeding all those hungry mouths.  A simple two tier is all you need for the pictures and the 1 year anniversary luck.

Venue/Preacher: $300  We already know a few places that we can reserve for under $100 total.  We’re stoked and ready.

Tuxes: $500  Rentals of course, but my guy also insists on helping his groomsmen and my man of honor (yes? you read that right… what of it?) with supplementing their budgets so that they’re not breaking the bank either.  It’s expensive to be a part of your best friend’s wedding!

Dress: $550  My guy scribbled this one down and I couldn’t help but be awed and love him more.  I was seriously considering writing down $250-300 for this and he just upped the game so I could have an awesome dress.  Love you so much for being so great!

Paper: $120  Save the Dates, Invitations, Thank You Notes…. SOOOO EASY TO ACCOMPLISH THIS I TELL YOU!

Decorations: $200  It’s going to get Crafty in that house of mine whenever the wedding is set.  Of course that will probably be years from now, but still.  DIY all the way.

Bouquet/Boutonnieres: $100  DIY can work here too ladies and gents, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing 😉

Wedding Rings: $1000  This is the other big spender.  My guy and I like expensive metal.  And we’re certainly wanting to splurge a bit on the most symbolic and memorable part of the ceremony.  I never said I had a cheap sense of taste my friends.

What number did you give for your wedding budget?  Did you do it for less?  Decide that certain things were more necessary than others?  Let me know!  I might have forgot something.

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.


December 2012 Bills Breakdown

Alright, it’s bill payment time again.  These totals are as of December 1st, 2012.  The budget this month is simple: spend as little money as possible.  This is because I’m unemployed (like I haven’t said it enough???), and that obviously changes things a LOT.  Also, all of your comments and encouragement have been really helpful!  I’ll be taking some of your suggestions to heart these next coming months.  So… Let’s work this shall we?

Car loan: $4,031.46. This one does not need to be broken down.  The loan is through a credit union, and has slowly been paid off by adding an extra $50 onto the principle every month.   As discussed before, I will be doing this every month until it’s gone (or until I need to fund that extra $50 to say… my student loans). This month’s payment will be $301.00.

Credit Cards: Last month I revealed that I pay more than the minimum payment.  Some of you suggested actually using Ramsey’s snowball effect however and picking a card to eliminate right off the bat, working with the smallest balances first.  Well, that’s a great idea, but I still like to have a little more than the minimum.  So this month, we’re going to try something new.  This month, because I’m unemployed, I will only be paying minimum balance (except Amazon & Solidarity) and the oddball change and then putting a major chunk on one of the card balances to take a massive bite out of it.

  • Solidarity Visa: $2604.85  Minimum payment: $0. This month’s payment will be $25.85.
  • Chase: $1354.07  Minimum payment: $36.00.  This month’s payment will be $36.07.
  • Pay Pal Bill Me Later: $1907.11  Minimum payment: $51.00. This month’s payment will be $51.11
  • Best Buy Store Card: $22.38  Minimum payment: $0. This month’s payment will be $0.
  • Amazon Store Card: $821.01  Minimum payment: $25.00. This month’s payment will be $41.01.
  • DressBarn Store Card: $429.19  Minimum payment: $25.00.This month’s payment will be $25.19.
  • Capital One:  $-25.80  Minimum payment: $0.  This month’s payment will be $0.
  • Best Buy Mastercard: $261.15  Minimum payment: $15.00.This is the card that I have decided to bite this month, so this month’s payment will be $61.15

Total Credit Debt: $7,373.96   Total Payments: 240.38.

This is compared to last month’s credit debt of $7,373.31  and total payments of:  $362.83, which means my debt went up 62 cents!  Crap!  Now, I have admittedly used my PayPal Bill Me Later account this past month for a couple of purchases (which is the reason you’ll see it’s actually larger than last month’s) but I have accounted for it in my budget, so no worries there.  Also, as I told you last Wednesday, I transferred the balances of my Capital One, Best Buy Store Card and a huge chunk of my Chase credit card to the new Solidarity Visa.  There were some fees in doing that, ($75.86 to be exact), so I anticipated this slight plateau in my journey to become debt free.  Also, because I’m unemployed as I write this, I am certainly glad that I made that decision a month ago to do the balance transfer!  Now nearly half my debt will not be gaining interest, and I can pay just the minimum balance and still be knocking it out at the same time!

Depending on how I do employment wise, these might change a bit during the month, and if so, I’ll be sure to update you.  I’d like to add the extra $120 that I usually have going to bills out this month to the Best Buy cards, but at this point, I have to find cuts where I can in order to be sure the January and February bills are paid before a tax return comes around.

Student Loans:

ECSI: $650.00  Still in grace period.  

Direct Loan:  $18,862.74  Still in grace period.  

For the month of December I am going to be allowing this grace period to do its job again.  I have way too many big bills in the month of December to be saving for to worry about the student loans at the moment, so I won’t.  I will be kindly nodding my head in approval to grace I’ve been given and just deal with the inner voice that’s frustrated that I won’t be able to work on these until January.

Other anticipated bills this month:

Automotive Insurance: $336.11

Complete Total Debt: $30,918.16   Total Payments: $663.83 + Auto Insurance = 999.94

Holy crap!  Nearly, okay that’s too close for comfort… $1000 for payments this month with no job income to be seen!  I need to find a job and quick!

Please let it rain!

DecMeadow


The A’s that Keep You Broke & How to Beat Them

Hello again my readers!  I would like to introduce you to a new monthly post that I want to share with you.  I would like to call it “The ABC’s that Keep You Broke and How to Beat Them.”  Every month I’ll share five little things that can cause you lose to money and some possible solutions that can be implemented to avoid them.

I must tell you now that my disclaimer on this little series will have both educational benefit and comedic relief.  Some of the items I choose will honestly be all in good fun.

Hope you enjoy!

Added fees –  Be careful of these little babies.  I hear they pack a punch that isn’t expected.  Credit cards like to up-sell and add these fees through a ruse of your protection.  Payment protection, identity theft protection services, etc… Credit cards love to make you think that they are only thinking of you.   Credit card companies are not the only culprit however.  Your local bank could be trying to hide some extra fees that even you haven’t noticed.  Remember that little Bank of America fee that caused their customers to run in mass exodus?  Yeah.. watch out for those.  Shop around for a bank you can trust.  Credit unions can also be more beneficial and transparent as well.

Alcohol – Don’t drink and drive!  Better yet, don’t drink at all!  Ha… while that might actually make you a little richer in the pocket, an easier way to save is to buy your alcohol from the liquor stores or even grocery stores.  These type of stores are able to purchase a great amount of alcohol in bulk and thus get a lower price for it…which then passes as a cheaper price to you.  Stay away from the bars and restaurants.  Although you might like having a drink when you go out to socialize or eat, you really are paying for the convenience.  A bottled beer or wine cooler could cost you approximately $1 or so a bottle from a six pack whereas while you’re eating out it could be double, triple, even quadruple the amount of buying the bulk and taking it home.

Apple Products – Buy Samsung.  Well honestly, I’m a huge fan of the iPod, I don’t find that I need a new one every time they come out with a new generation.  Just for this purpose alone I refuse to buy the iPhone and any of its incarnations.  Plus, I like to look around for alternatives.  I don’t always need a new phone or electronic device.  Yes, they are certainly pretty, but do I need it?  Certainly not.

Application fees – For all you college kids out there, or perhaps you have someone nearing the college age, take note.  Those college applications do not come free.  Colleges and universities make thousands of dollars a year just through application fees.  A local college’s application fee could range from $30 to $50 a piece.  If you’re trying to get into some of those more expensive Ivy League colleges and universities… well, be ready to cough up a pretty penny.  However, colleges and universities do offer to waive these fees.  In Indiana, my home state, if you end up achieving as a 21st century scholar, your public university application fees are waived for example.

ATM fees – This is something that you definitely want to make sure that you’re keeping a close watch.  Banks have additional atm fees now.  Perhaps you didn’t use your card enough times in a month as a debit card or as credit… so that’s a fee.  If you go to another bank’s ATM, that’s a fee.  If you draw too many times in a month, that’s a fee.
Overall, be careful and read the fine print.

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.


How to Make an Expense Sheet

Normally, the middle of the month will be dedicated to showing the progress I have made on my goals for the month.  However, because I am bound and determined to make a budget for myself, there’s a couple of key steps that I have to do first.  You might all be thinking it’s pretty simple to make a budget right?  You take the expenses and the income, and you pray that the income turns out be more than the expenses right?  Wrong.

In order to figure out a budget, I needed to see where exactly I was spending money and on what.  Perhaps if I know where my money is going, I will then know where to make cuts when I’m making my November budget.  So then the question was… how do I get started?

It’s called Excel 2010 and it is becoming my newest and best friend.

After using Google and Youtube to get more familiar with how to work Excel (until now I’ve only dabbled in it for random college courses), I started organizing my columns and then my receipts.  So before I go into how I’m using Excel’s formulas, here’s a snapshot of my own doctored Expense sheet.

As you can see, I have numbered down 1-31 for the days of the month.  I highlighted the Car Loan, Student Loans, and Credit Cards yellow because they are the most pressing things of the upcoming budget.  The blue are my necessities, and the really light orange-pink (salmon for you fellow artists out there), they are my random and fun expenses.  To the right, I once again repeated the titles of the columns.  This is because when I start using the Excel =SUM(….) formula, the total expenses will add up as I insert the receipts on a daily basis.

Okay, now here is where I use the =SUM(…) function.  Click on the box next to your first category, in this case it will be my Car Loan category on the right hand side.  Insert =Sum( and it will look like this:

At this point, Excel should be prompting you to finish you =SUM(..) formula.  Highlight the column that says Car loan and scroll down until you have highlighted every box in that column down to 31 (being the last day of the month).  When you have finished, the =SUM(…) formula will disappear and the total sum of the expenses in that column will show in that box.  Repeat for the rest of the columns.

If you would like the simple expense sheet that I have created for your own uses, access it here:  Monthly Expense Sheet

Now here’s the simple part: insert your receipts and expenses in the appropriate columns on the appropriate days.  If you need to add a comment to remember what that particular expense was, well, right click on the box and click add comment.  Add what you need and go onto the next receipt.

Don’t forget your income.  I have a separate column in my own expense sheet for that tracking.  The Total Expense and Total Income boxes will total on their own so that you can compare at the end of the month.

I’m not going to show you all the gory details of my personal expense sheet, as some of the comments I made to myself are personal, but I can give you a quick snapshot.

I hoped this helped for a few of you.  If you need a more detailed, step by step process, let me know in the comments!

Do you use a program or device to help you track your expenses?  Do you go old school?  Share your experiences, and don’t forget to follow this blog.

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.


Losing Weight on a Budget

Even though I am currently working on getting a budget together by collecting my expenditures and such this month, that does not mean that my ideas and implementation of such should be suspended.  And since I have restarted my healthy weight loss regimen with the first day of this month, it has already become an issue.

A lot of people use weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers or Nurtrisystem that can cost hundreds of dollars a year.  More people spend money on healthy and organic foods but lose a lot of that money in waste every week.  It’s a budget maker’s nightmare truth be told.

I love the idea of Weight Watchers.  Go figure right?  The program that helps you stay motivated by having encouragement from others who are in the same situation would be the program I have the most interest.  Why do you think I created a budget; money saving blog???  The only bad thing is it costs a lot of money.  And any money at this point guys is a lot of money in my world.  It’s overwhelming having all of this debt that I don’t want in any way to keep piling on top.  So I found the perfect solution: My Fitness Pal.

It’s the free version of Weight Watchers and you have peers online keeping you motivated and on task.  Lots of encouragement, lots of fun, and lots of inspiration all over that website and its forums. I have used this program over the course of this year and fell off it because I had no one with me working on it.  However, when I was on it last, I lost 8 pounds, and the lifestyle of watching my overall daily intake has helped me stay at that weight for the past month without really trying. Doesn’t mean I haven’t cheated, but I have done so much better at maintaining now.

I really want to try it again.  I feel it’s just the best time to start making some very positive changes in my life, and why not do this while coinciding with a promotion, a fresh college graduation, and a lifestyle choice on saving money. Now that my boyfriend and I are both heavily committed to it, we have each other to encourage each other every day (or nag, whichever you prefer).

Here’s my next problem:  a lot of people get a gym membership when they want to lose weight.  As any money is more money than I am willing to spend, going to the gym is out of the question.  I will simply rely on working out on my terms.  True, that will probably mean a lot more sit-ups and push-ups, but I can handle that.  My mother also has a stationary bike, and my boyfriend and I like to take long walks when the weather is decent.  I might even get back to borrowing the family Wii and working out on Wii Fit when the weather starts to turn and I can’t go outside as much as I would like to be active.  Using the potential tools that I already have is the best way of keeping in budget and not accruing any unnecessary expenditures.

The last hurdle that I have to clear is how am I going to save money on the healthy foods like fresh produce and organic items that are usually more expensive than the heavily saturated products out there?  Truly, that is the ultimate reason why so many at the lower pay brackets are fighting obesity… the fatty, bad for you foods are just cheaper.  The other dilemma to this hurdle is that if I go grocery shopping only once a week, I run the risk of losing so much money in potential food waste.  I don’t want to do that.  It seems the only solution would to buy only what I want and need for two-three days worth of food.  Sure that might mean that I have to go grocery shopping a couple of times a week, but honestly, that’s not really going to hurt my gas budget because I can easily run to the grocery store when I am on my way home from work most days.  Not only will this save me money, but I will control the potential food waste and my calorie intake at the same time.

To sum it all up, my goals are simple for losing weight:

  • Use MyFitnessPal.com to count calories and track daily exercise
  • Use my mother’s exercise bike, the family Wii, and just plain hard exercise like push-ups and sit-ups to save money from a gym.
  • Save money by preventing potential food waste by only buying the amount of food that I will be eating every couple of days.

Are you trying to lose weight and save money at the same time?  Any tips?  What is your experience on this issue?

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.