A Factory Working, College Grad Getting Out of Debt

Posts tagged “credit cards

April 2013 Bills Breakdown

Another month of bills, yay.  Last month I continued my path in keeping my budget low and unfortunately that did not work out this time around.  Most of it was spent on food that would be helping me in my endeavor on my weight loss as well as getting me organized.  Another $150 was spent on a bridesmaid dress which I had anticipated.  I had no luck on selling items on ebay, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to stop trying.  I’m anticipating putting on another 10 lots of items here either this past week or the coming next.

Car loan: $2,978.63. I’m going to keep the low payment in order to continue the ability of paying off part of my student loans… so this month’s payment will once again be the small amount of $261.00.

Credit Cards: So I’ve said goodbye to two credit cards since I started this, and I also recently found another grey charge and cancelled it from one of my credit cards.  I’m hoping I’ll see reflected in the statement next month, but I’m sure it was a little two late when I cancelled for it to be shaved off the bill this month.  Either way, I’m happy I saw it.

  • Solidarity Visa: $2489.00  Minimum payment: $30.00. This month’s payment will be $30.00.
  • Chase: $1323.54  Minimum payment: $26.00.  This month’s payment will be $28.54.
  • Pay Pal Bill Me Later: $1816.75 Minimum payment: $51.00. This month’s payment will be $51.00. 
  • Amazon Store Card: $822.53  Minimum payment: $35.00. This month’s payment will be $42.53.
  • DressBarn Store Card: $388.59  Minimum payment: $25.00.This month’s payment will be $25.59.
  • Best Buy Mastercard: $88.08  Minimum payment: $15.00. This is still the card that I am eliminating, so this month’s payment will be $88.08. Good bye!

Total Credit Debt: $6,928.49   Total Payments: $265.74.

This is compared to last month’s credit debt of $7,036.37  and total payments of:  $237.39, which means my debt went down $107.88!  Yay!  It could have been more, but because of the expected finances that were going to be happening last month, I played it safe with minimum payments. PLUS, this month I was able to eliminate the Best Buy Mastercard! That makes it three down and five to go!

Student Loans:

ECSI: $600.00  Still in grace period.  However, I am going to be putting a payment of $50 on it.  With the fees, that will equal $51.95.

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:

None thankfully.

Complete Total Debt: $29,369.86 Total Payments: $578.69

This is compared to last month’s $29,772.38 debt total and $550.34 in payments.  That means in total I have decreased my overall debt by $402.52!  I’m happy! I wonder how well I’ll be able to follow my $100 budget this month.  I’m still looking for a job, but I’m hoping things will pick up via my ebay and amazon sales this month to make up for some the strain on cash I sense I’m going to be feeling here soon as June gets closer and car insurance is due.

Please let it rain!

DecMeadow

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March 2013 Bills Breakdown

Another month of bills, yay.  Last month I continued my path in keeping my budget low and was quite successful.  In fact, I only spent $54.06 on me during the month of February, with is another $43 below what I spent in the month of January.  The reason for this is the use of my gift cards this past month.  With the gift cards I was able to have a nice “Valentine’s Day” date and upgrade my computer.  Another big chunk was subtracted from my monthly budget because my monthly prescription is finally free.  That was an extra $15 back in my pocket!

It’s all well an good, because March is not going to be cheap.  I have a bridesmaid’s dress to buy, and hopefully with a little help of their current free shipping code as well as the code my bride has given me, I’ll be able to buy everything I need for under $150.  Seems legit.  Any who, onward to the bills!

Car loan: $3,223.27. Unfortunately this guy’s principle is going to have be shaved to a bare minimum of $10.  Money has been decent this past month with quite of few items being sold on Amazon and Ebay for me, but because I have a big purchase (i.e. bridesmaid dress), I’ll be keeping every bill low again this month in order to budget correctly.  Sucks.. but the payment is going to stay at $261.00.

Credit Cards: So I’ve said goodbye to two credit cards since I started this, and I also recently found another grey charge and cancelled it from one of my credit cards.  I’m hoping I’ll see reflected in the statement next month, but I’m sure it was a little two late when I cancelled for it to be shaved off the bill this month.  Either way, I’m happy I saw it.

  • Solidarity Visa: $2519.00  Minimum payment: $30.00. This month’s payment will be $30.00.
  • Chase: $1330.05  Minimum payment: $28.00.  This month’s payment will be $28.05.
  • Pay Pal Bill Me Later: $1843.98 Minimum payment: $55.00. This month’s payment will be $55.00. 
  • Amazon Store Card: $792.59  Minimum payment: $25.00. This month’s payment will be $37.59.
  • DressBarn Store Card: $406.45  Minimum payment: $25.00.This month’s payment will be $26.45.
  • Best Buy Mastercard: $144.30  Minimum payment: $15.00.This is still the card that I have been working on eliminating, so this month’s payment will be $60.30.

Total Credit Debt: $7,036.37   Total Payments: $237.39.

This is compared to last month’s credit debt of $7,178.15  and total payments of:  $241.99, which means my debt went down $141.78!  Yay!  PLUS, depending on how things go, I Should be able to pay off the rest of the Best Buy Mastercard next month! If not, it will be a measly payment and will still allow me to be able to start paying more on the Dressbarn card in May.  I’m totally stoked!  Now my total payments this month is a little low, but because of the extra expense and my anticipated payment for my smallest student loan, I being conservative for a bit longer.

Student Loans:

ECSI: $650.00  Still in grace period.  However, I am going to be putting a payment of $50 on it.  With the fees, that will equal $51.95.

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:

A bridesmaid dress = $175 approximately.  I’m scared to make such a huge purchase right now.

Complete Total Debt: $29,772. 38 Total Payments: $550.34

This is compared to last month’s $30,158.60 debt total and $601 in payments.  That means in total I have decreased my overall debt by $386.22!  I’m stoked!  Being unemployed has been very frustrating, but I’m excited to see that my focus on spending practically nothing has helped so much in reducing my debt!  The extra money not spent on bills this month will go to the dress.  And regular payments again next month!

Please let it rain!

DecMeadow


How to Make a Quarterly Debt/Expense Report in Excel

Alright, I told you on Friday that I would be showing you how I made a quarterly report in excel.  This quarterly report allows me to compare the three months in the quarter side by side and then see the overall difference of debt from the beginning of the quarter to the end of the quarter.  You might be wondering why would I want such a thing and why would I want to subject myself to additional work, after all we created an expense sheet, that should be enough right?

Wrong.

With the expense sheet, I am only focusing on a single month.  When I am in that month, I totally agree that is what I should be doing, however, I do want to see what progress I have made.  These quarterly reports are exactly what I need as a means of encouragement.  It also helps me see the full progress of my elimination of debt, whereas only the expense sheet shows for what and where I spent my money.  Now don’t get me wrong, the expense sheet is still a necessity, and it becomes an easy way to create this is to use your Expense sheet that we created awhile ago.

First of all, you want to make sure that you have a complete list of the items that you will be recording.  This includes every single piece of your debt. Your automobile(s), credit card(s), student loan(s), as well as the other expenses.  Now you can make this as detailed as you want, but I broke it down into the simplest of categories: Auto, Credit, & Student Loan.  I then would see how much Total Debt and Total Payments I had for that month before I even touched the other expenses.  From there I wanted to also compare how much in other expenses (i.e. gasoline, medical, etc..) I had spent.  Then it was Total Expenses, Total Income, and the hopeful Leftovers that would be in my savings and/or checking account.

  1. In Column A, you will be listing the major categories.  So Debt would be the header, then Auto, Credit, Student Loan, Total Debt, Total Payments, Other Expenses, Total Expenses, Total Income, & Leftovers (Savings).
  2. Column B will be the specifics.  This is where I broke the categories down further.  For example, I was specific in my Auto make and model, as there may come a time where there are two cars for the family in the future.  I also listed each credit card, student loan, various expenses.. etc..
  3. If you want to tidy this up like I did, I made my titles bold and merged the titles A Column with the B Column.  Since there would be no information placed in the title cells, it just allowed me to shorten the width of the A column and not waste so much space.
  4. Next, widen your three columns the width that you wish them to be.  I ended up making them three columns wide as I like having all that space and I’m a bit OCD when it comes to aesthetics.  Because of this, I even added very thin columns in between B & C, C & D, and D & E and dyed the background of them a bright orange just to make the comparison factor that much more evident.

At this point, your excel sheet should look something like this:

Quarterly Report Sheet

  1. Put in your numbers, leaving Total Debt and Leftovers (Savings) blank.  The rest, you can easily grab from your expense sheet (even the Total Expenses and Total Income as we already had those off to the right of the previous sheet we created).
  2. For Total Debt, highlight the box and insert =sum(  and then highlight the cells above it from auto down to the last student loan.  Press enter and your total debt should now be calculated.  Follow this method for each month.
  3. For Leftovers (Savings), all you have to do is click the corresponding box, insert = Column Letter Total Income – Total Expenses.  In this case, it would be =D28 – D27.  Repeat for the other months.

Alright, now you might be wondering what exactly are those colorful boxes to the very right.  Well, much like I did in the expense sheet, I wanted to see the total debt that I had eliminated, my total income for the quarter, total expenses for the quarter, and finally, the total savings that I hopefully have somewhere in between my checking and savings accounts.  These are pretty simple to create as well.

  1. Again, I made things pretty.  I like to see my final numbers in a bigger font, so I merged two rows and five columns together for each category.  I also filled the background of these merged cells with color to make it pop better.  Red = debt, light green = income, blue = expense, and a darker green = savings.  Seemed appropriate for me, but if that doesn’t work for you… well you obviously don’t have to be as picky as me.
  2. For the change of debt section, this is easy.  You insert = 1st month’s Total Debt – 3rd month’s Total Debt.  This will show you how much you have eliminated over the course of the quarter.
  3. Total Income is just the sum of the three month’s incomes so =SUM(D,F,&H Total Income).  In this case =SUM(D27+F27+H27).
  4. Total Expenses is the same as Total Income, only you use the cells labelled for the total expenses of each month.
  5. Finally, you do the summation formula one more time and add up the total leftovers (savings) for the quarter.

Like I said, real simple.  I’m sure there is also a simpler way to put in expenses from the expense sheet in just a simple formula, but I’m not that great at importing from one completely different book to the other.  Besides, it also allows me to refresh and reflect on just what I did over that month, so I’m not complaining much.

At the end of the year’s 4th quarter for 2013, I will be adding a block to see the comparison of debt, income, expenses, and leftovers from 2012, and 2013.  This will allow me to further see my overall progress on a broader scale.

Hope this inspires you to organize your expenses and debt elimination just a little bit more!

Count those Raindrops!

-DecMeadow


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


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

Every month I’ll share a few little things that can cause you lose to money and some possible solutions that can be implemented to avoid them.  Here’s the third installment of the series! Again, as I said before, 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.

Cars –  These suckers can end up being money pits. Instead of driving a car, maintaining it, feeding its gas guzzling belly, go walk in that 8 inch deep snow! You’ll love the exercise, seriously! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to bring your shovel and come my way to shovel out my walk.  Thanks!  To be truthful though, cars can end up doing this very thing.  You have to buy the car, feed it with gas, maintenance, auto insurance… It’s worse than a house!  Something that can help you save some money though, is to coordinate your errands with the other people in your circle/home.  When the weather does get better, go walk/ride a bike to do your errands.  I see many who put a milk crate on the back of their bikes or even wear a back pack.  Not only will you be limiting your budget for what you can carry or transport, but you’ll also be exercising.

Credit Cards – Worse things in the world!  Cut these up asap, as they have no positive function for you! Perhaps they can help you earn credit for other various purposes, but they can become a black hole for your debt.  They crush you with their weight in interest fees.  Be very careful with them.  Make sure you have the money to begin with and pay it off immediately.  If you can follow that rule and never actually spend more than you make, you’ll be fine.

College – Don’t go! As Admiral Ackbar likes to say, “It’s a TRAP!”  This academic realm is nothing but loans and debt! No, really… students graduating today are on average 40k+ in debt by the time they graduate.  I, myself am only just under that, and I trying very hard even in my unemployment to get the rest of my debt out of the way so that when the student loans come around…. I don’t end up getting in trouble.  These are the worst kind of debt to have, as even bankruptcy can’t help you.  And don’t even think that dying will do the trick, as many former students who have had tragic ends end up still owing thousands and it’s up to the family to deal with it.

Cellphones – Smartphones are all the rage. Everybody has to be able to prove they are the best of their peers when it comes to Angry Birds.  In reality, the data plans, texting charges, minute overages can cost you. Consider having a pay as you go phone.  In many cases, these are just as great as big boys, you just might be a little limited on your phone upgrades.  In my area, it’s actually a well kept secret that the pay as you go phone’s service (because they rent cell towers from everybody) is actually better than most of the regular providers as I live in a valley. If you insist on having all the trimmings, consider joining forces with your parents or siblings on a plan.  Granted, you have to be able to trust they’ll take care of their end of the bill, but it can be just like having a roommate – you get the smartphone and data plan of your dreams.

Cigarettes/Cigars – These cancer sticks will cost you not only money, but your life!  Beware!  Take heed of the surgeon general’s warning on the pack! Run away, and never return to the nasty habit! Meh… while quitting would most definitely save you money on perhaps a daily basis, it’s a little harder to quit than non-smokers think. Knowing and living with smokers, I am very much aware of the problems that are associated with this lifestyle choice, but I also realize that sometimes it’s a crutch that might be necessary. Perhaps consider cutting it down to a pack, or half a pack a day if you can.  If you’re really wanting to quit, consider e-cigarettes. If you’re needing the motion, these are just the trick.  Many of my former regulars have quit using these babies, and it’s really encouraging.

 

Be safe this New Year’s Eve!  Don’t let amateur night get the better of you!  Here’s a more successful and rewarding 2013!

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


A Raindrop – 0% APR for 12 Months

I made a decision in the month of October when the credit union that I have my auto loan sent me a letter.  It was a card for 0% APR for a 12 month period.  After looking at some of the interest rates of my other cards, I knew I had to do something that a lot of people consider drastic.  I accepted the card and began transferring some of my balances to it.

Now, a lot of you are probably thinking that I’m desperate.  You bet I am.  I am unemployed, I needed to stall, and I was just starting to feel like I was able to float in the water in which I jumped.  However, that was NOT the line of thought that I was having when I accepted this.  I saw that 0% interest for twelve months was a great idea for me.  It meant that I would be able to transfer two, perhaps three of my card balances THAT HAVE HUGE APR RATES to this new card and say sayonara to them.  And when the twelve months was over, the APR would only be 12%.

So that is exactly what I did.  I kissed my Best Buy Store card (27.9% APR) and my Capital One Credit Card (21.9% APR) goodbye and made sure it was final.

bye bye credit cards

Yup, they are bye bye.  (To be honest, that’s just a picture someone else took, I forgot to do the same when I cut mine up). While I was also transferring funds, I transferred about a third of my Chase card to this as well.  This was to make sure that wouldn’t just be making interest payments on the the Chase card, I could actually make a dent in that one too.  Needless to say, I know this might hurt the credit report right now, but it was probably the best choice and decision that I made.  Hindsight being 20/20, I did not know I would be without a job, but man am I glad I was thinking of the future for me even at the beginning of my get out of debt decision.

The only con:  My credit report might be hurt for this.  But honestly, I’m already so much in debt, missing a payment is more of a problem in my eyes, and being unemployed, that might have happened.  So it’s a minor blip.

The benefits: I have eliminated two high APR credit cards.  I have a more reliable source of credit (my credit union won’t be going anywhere), and I can now begin to knock out even more of my debt just by paying minimum monthly payments on it every month.  No interest made, just debt going away.  Now yes there were some fees for it, but those fees are minimal compared to the accrued interest that would be charged every month until these cards were gone.

All I can say is I’m happy with my decision and honestly think it was probably the most sound for me at this time.

Have you ever transferred a credit card balance to a new card?  How did that work for you?  Got any tips?

Count those raindrops!

DecMeadow.