Blog posts have been pretty sparse from me lately. This one is going to get a little personal. I am going to share with you all some things that I do not usually tell random Internet strangers.
This past weekend was quite emotional for my family and I. To make a long story short, we live with my parents, in their upstairs (bedroom, bathroom, and living area), while I pay down our debts. My oldest brother (32) also lives there, in the basement. This weekend, my father held a household meeting because of the recent goings-on in the house. My wife and I thought it would be an intervention to try to get my brother to straighten up. Week before last, he left the oven on with a pizza in it for four hours, scorching the pizza. We - my wife, infant, and I - woke up that morning with killer headaches, sick stomach feelings, and our 7.5 (8 months today!) month-old was super cranky that day. Obviously she had some physical issues going on other than just her normal teething. This is a health hazard.
Last week, my brother attacked me for trying to get him to stop yelling at our mother. My wife was worried for my safety and the safety of our child. I was fine, as I have military background. However, that does not lighten the situation by any means. He is physically and verbally abusive.
A couple weeks ago, we came home from running errands, to find smoke wafting up from the basement. The kind of smoke? Marijuana.
So we have this meeting on Saturday evening. And what is it about? It is about how my brother has "agreed" to shape up or get out (though he is drunk and high during this meeting). He was given 30 days. Which, mind you, has been a previous ultimatum given him by them before. They fail to execute. My father went on to say that the fact that my wife and I "practice false religion" (being that we do not go to their religious gatherings; instead, we attend a different "religion's" congregation, because that is where our spirits feel at home), is a negative aspect of what "goes on in his house." I protested, remarking on how my brother was behaving during this meeting, pointing out how he was smiling awkwardly, and obviously pretending. They wouldn't hear it. I also pointed out the recent goings-on and how it effects us, but they would not hear that either, and even said that there were no harmful elements emitted from that burnt pizza, and that my daughter's life was not in danger. They kept saying that we needed to move forward.
Yesterday, at church, the message hit home for us. It was about worship. Where and how it is conducted, and where it should come from within yourself. Basically, the most important PLACE of worship is from your spirit, your heart. The physical place of worship is hardly a matter (within reasonable limits, of course). There was a lot more said, but I DO NOT want this to become a religious or spiritual debate, or even a topic. Just giving a look into who we are and how this has effected us. We then spoke with our pastor and he gave us some real insight and encouragement.
We are now looking at other options.
My wife's mother is in an LPN to RN bridge program currently, and will be out in April or so. She is out of school by 4. I should be moving to that new position with the new employer in the next week or so. That position will net me about $250 more than I am netting right now. It will also allow me to go to school in the Spring. My wife suggested that she go to work at her previously employer, Macy's, where she worked the same nights as my new shift will be. Her mother would come over to watch our little one during that time. Though she will be out of school and back into the workforce in just a few months, she will do what she needs to help us out. Even if that means taking a job that coincides with our schedule. While I hate to put that on her, she has insisted.
My wife and I would also be donating plasma regularly. One person who donates plasma the maximum amount of times per month can make around $200 in that month. However, since they are so strict about your urine and blood contents, you are not guaranteed or even likely to be able to donate that often. So, we are not including this in our future budget plan.
All of this would help us to move out of my parents' house. The goal is to find a one bedroom for no more than $500/mo. It is doable. The university I will be attending offers family housing. One bedroom for $480/mo, and two bedrooms for $500/mo. However, in order to be accepted into the Spring move-in dates, you must apply in November. And the Winter move-in dates application periods have already passed. So, while these rates are far above any other we will find, it looks as though this will not be doable... We need out ASAP!
This brings me to the more financial side of things... We have been trying to decide... Should I take money out of savings in order to pay off a monthly bill of $100 (payoff is $549). We have $793 in our main savings account, $590 of which is EF. We also have $1,154 in another savings account, that might need to be used for airfare later next year for a somewhat expected emergency (sorry that I cannot provide more information on that), that - of not taken care of when it comes up - could spell unemployment for me.
If I do not payoff this $100/mo bill, we will not be able to afford to move out.
Thoughts on this?
Also, I have a $200/mo bill in which I owe a total of $11,600. This is a no-interest loan from my parents. They paid-off a car while I was in college before (yes, I graduated). They did this without me asking, abd considered it a graduation gift. That car is now gone, and so is the loan. The loan was part of their second mortgage. Their second mortgage is being written off as a loss at Wells Fargo. Currently, this $200 goes to lay for my Mother's addictions to beer and cigarettes (which she spends $300/mo on).
Since this loan was written off at the bank, I feel that when we move out, I will stop paying it. Their total disregard for my family's safety is inexcusable, and I do not feel obligated to pay this bill anymore.
The worst thing about stopping payment to them is that I am going back on my word. However, they have gotten $8,000 from me ($600 of which is since the loan was written off). Also, I would be severing ties with my family. I feel they are - with the exception of my father - an endangerment to my child. For instance, my Mother's addictions get in the way of her ability to watch our daughter. She once placed her on the kitchen counter so she could reach into the fridge and get a beer. This is one of many dangerous situations she has put our daughter in...
Would you continue to pay, or would you stop?
Thank you for reading and for providing your opinions. This is an important post to me, personally.
Viewing the 'Debt' Category
Blog posts have been pretty sparse from me lately. This one is going to get a little personal. I am going to share with you all some things that I do not usually tell random Internet strangers.
After not having used eBay since I sold my MacBook Pro over two years ago (simply because I have not had anything to sell that merited the use of eBay over Craigslist), I have posted $250 worth (if you use Buy it Now) of auction items.
If you read my last entry, you would know that our computer – that I built just before I sold that MacBook Pro – recently had a power supply failure, which resulted in some damage to the motherboard, adding up to a little over $300 worth of repairs, if I did it myself. About $450 if I had someone do it.
Rather than repairing, we opted to get our new iMac that we'd planned on getting come tax return time. The total for the new iMac came out a little more than planned, but it was less than $450 in difference, so I believe it was a wise choice. And, since I remembered having received a letter from BillMeLater saying that I now qualified for their 'no interest or payments for six months if paid in full at the end of six months' deal, we will not be making any payments or accruing interest on this. When we receive our returns in - hopefully - February, we will be paying-off the BillMeLater account.
Nice to know is that my BillMeLater account was approved for a $2,608 line of credit. While that is more than I need and more than I used, it is great knowing that I qualified for that. I am sure than my credit score of 715 helps. In February, before we got real serious and organized about this debt reduction and overall healthy financial habits, my score was at 647. I'd say that is a pretty good improvement in less than a year.
Back to eBay... In a matter of one minute of being posted, the processor that I listed sold for $100. I purchased it for $200 when I built it. So I think I got $100 worth of use out of it.
Wondering just how much the govt cares about gas prices?
Take into account that the U.S. has recently reached a historical high for exported oil...
By PATRICK DEHAAN
September 8, 2011
Many Americans know supply and demand can make an impact on how many dollars they shell out at their local gasoline station--the lower the supply the higher the price. Is part of the reason supply is low because refiners are keeping it there deliberately while sending refined oil overseas?
[Read: How Much Oil is There?]
Refiners have been shipping historically high amounts of refined products out of the U.S., much of which is bound for Europe or Asia. Since diesel demand is high from Europe, where a majority of vehicles burn the heavier fuel, refiners can make a few extra dollars from each barrel by shipping it across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, domestic supply of diesel fuel currently sits nearly 11 percent below where it was last year, or some 19 million barrels lower.
[Read the U.S. News debate: Should offshore drilling be expanded?]
Certainly the fact that U.S. refiners are exporting such a high volume of product overseas is not only keeping domestic supply tighter than years past, but it's also supporting high prices. Gasoline exports are also at record highs, some 395,000 barrels per day, according to the most recent Energy Information Administration numbers. Just earlier this summer, we were exporting 200,000 barrels per day of finished gasoline, so refineries are now sending nearly double the amount of gasoline out of this country. Looking at gasoline inventories, we see a similar deficit because of the amount of gasoline being shipped out. Not surprisingly, the latest EIA numbers show gasoline inventories some 7.4 percent or nearly 17 million barrels below there year ago levels. [See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.]
The bottom line is this: historically high exports aren't allowing U.S. domestic supply to grow and are certainly a part of the culprit behind high gasoline and diesel prices. So for those motorists out there rounding up reasons why prices are high can certainly add products being exported to their laundry list of reasons why motor fuel prices remain seasonally high. Keep in mind refinery maintenance season is right around the corner, and if these export rates remain high, we could see even more pressure on gasoline prices, perhaps pushing the fragile U.S. economy closer to the brink of another downturn.
A great article that really got me steaming over this country's so-called "representatives."
Please post comments in my forum post, here.
I wanted to post another regular blog entry today, but I simply have not had time lately. So, instead, I will post the current happenings in my life.
I decided that, since all my credit debt is done away with, I should get a card without an annual fee and with cashback rewards so that I may use it every day in place of my debit card, so as to build my credit up, and to get free money.
I began researching cards, and the two that suit me best were the Chase Freedom and Capital One Cash Rewards cards. I rather liked the Discover and AMEX cards better, but they did not provide the "everywhereness" that Visa/MC does. I may yet use an AMEX of Discover in places that will take it. Probably just stick with one card though. I was declined for the Capital One card with no annual fee, but was approved for Chase's with a $100 cashback if I send $500 in three months. No problem! So, that is in the mail.
I did some quick math, and estimated that I can make at least $84/yr off of this card. And, since it is not a budgeted income, and do not have to redeem it at any time, I can let it sit there until I feel like having a surprise.
Also, just received confirmation that my Best Buy credit card account was closed with zero balance and that it is being reported to the three major credit bureaus. Woohoo for that!
As of the 30th, my wife and I will be in Tillamook, OR, for a family get-together on her mother's side. It will be the longest road trip I've ever driven, so it should be fun!
We have $381 set aside for this trip (money from
We will also be visiting Portland on our last day there. And, as a possible future home for our family, wenwould really like to get a non-touristy feel for the city. We are going to visit a coffee shop or two, a place for breakfast, a place for lunch, and I place for dinner, and then possibly visit some neighbourhoods. We are not sure. Any ideas?
While still paying down debts, I was able to save $100 for a new car stereo. We are so excited! It has been pain not being able to listen to anything other than the radio! So I went onto Crutchfield's web site and looked around there, as well as other retailers. Got a beautiful stereo with USB, AUX in, CD player that reads MP3 and WMA, Bluetooth for hands-free, a remote, and HD Radio! So excited about the HD Radio! The wife and I tried to install it ourselves in order to save $50, but it was unsuccessful. Taking it in today to get it done. Maybe they won't charge the full $50 since it is 3/4 done...
This stereo retails for $139.99. Crutchfield had it for $99.99. A simple Google search found me a $20-off coupon code for Cruthfield. So I ended up paying $79.99 for the stereo, totaling $98 for everything, including free shipping and gear for installation.
I will be working at another location tomorrow. I am not entirely happy with this change that my employer is doing (again!), but I am their go-to guy, so it is to be expected. A long-time employee left for a better job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and I will be taking his place. I do not look forward to the higher maintenance and more fragile work environment, but it may help make the days go faster as well.
Our daughter, Lorelei, is growing every day! Saturday, she decided that she would suck through a straw. This morning, my wife calls me to tell me that she is saying 'mama'.
Our little 5.5-month old will be presenting us with teenage material in no time! Ah!
Some of you know that I execute a wonderful tool called rounding. What this entails, is I round up to the nearest dollar on all withdrawal transactions and run down on all deposit transactions, then record it in my PocketMoney app.
The total saved from rounding this month was $17.61. This goes straight into savings.
I am consistently achieving 120% of my vehicle's EPA rating. The car is rated at 27mpg city/hwy (55%/45%). However, I am getting - on a long-term average - 35mpg, driving 85% city, 15% hwy. Last tank, I reached an astounding 38 mpg. This is great for a 2.0L engine. Granted, my previous Honda Fit's engine got 42mpg without trying...
We came in $27 under budget for the month! Our grocery budget really is helping out!
So that's what's been going on. Hope everyone finds a bit more time off than I - I will be busy this week!
Ah, the allure of credit cards...
The reason that I am in this debt payoff situation that I am in is due to credit card and loan debts. Think about it... if there is no loan or credit line to payoff, well, there is no debt! My situation just so happens to involve too much of both.
When I was 18, one of the first things I did to prove my independence was open a credit card. And for the most part, it was not that bad. Until I began purchasing items that I did not have the money for. That is, of course, when it always gets out of hand. Sure, people say that a credit card is nice to have around in case of an emergency, but to those people, I say - nay! You should - first and foremost! - have an emergency fund set up. This is the number one priority. When you start earning an income, you want an EF. At least $1,000. Then start saving for whatever else you want, separate from that $1,000 EF.
Credit cards are not as horrible as they sound. In fact, it is like with all things - in moderation.
The best way to use a credit card is to first get a card that you can use anywhere. Then use it to purchase your normal expenses - gasoline, groceries, etc. But, be sure that every time you make a purchase on your credit card, you record it so that you may put that money aside to pay for toward the card. In fact, I would even suggest recording the credit card transaction in whatever you use to record your debit/checking account purchases. This way, you are not tempted to spend what you do not have.
When you get home - that day - payoff what you just spent on your credit card. It's just that easy.
Department store cards are hardly another matter. The only difference is that you cannot use them other places. Only get a department store card (or otherwise limited card) if it offers incentives. And remember - only spend what you would otherwise use cash for already. If it is not a planned purchase, do not go through with it.
Of course, the aforementioned practices are of my own preference. You may want, say, an Amazon.com Credit Card, because you make frequent purchases from them, and you would be less likely to overspend on it than you would a general credit card. It all depends on your weaknesses/strengths and preferences.
I cannot stress this enough! Credit cards are NOT free money! Nor are they a 'payday loan' to put off paying. They are, in fact, a great tool - when used responsibly - to raise your credit score/credit worthiness.
Loans can be great. But most of the time, they are very bad. I can say for certain - I am going to try my hardest to never again open another loan that is not 0%. With that said, it is not to be said that I will not ever again have another loan that is not 0%. There are some exceptions...
Student loans are a little excusable, as you are [hopefully] opening them in order to better yourself and to earn a better income. It can be hard to work enough in order to pay for school at the same time, but it can be done - though not by everyone. If a student loan is the only line you have open that has a balance, I would not harp on you!
However, do not abuse those student loans! I used my first student loan to pull out a $6,500 down payment on a car - bad idea! Use it only for schooling.
Mortgages are one of the exceptions to the no-loan policy. Homes are huge purchases, and can rarely be done without a loan or two. Keep in mind for mortgages - do not allow the monthly payment to exceed 29% of your monthly income. This includes HOA, insurance, closing costs, etc. I will not go any further into mortgages at this time.
Business loans are another excusable type of loan. It is quite impossible to start a business without loans. Unless you have some great investors, or already make caboodles from your current income, chances are you will need some startup loans. I have read that you should not expect to pull out more than what your business could realistically earn in two years. While this is not to say that the loans will be paid off that quickly, it is simply a guide.
Personal loans can be dangerous. When I was 18, another thing I did to prove my independence was pull out a $2,200 loan to purchase a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. Why? Because I felt that I needed one. I did not.
A loan that I was sort of forced to get was a personal loan to cover the difference on a vehicle's sale price and loan amount. I sold my 2007 Honda Fit last year in order to cut costs. I sold it for $13,000, and owed $15,000. I still feel I got a great deal because I sold the vehicle above KBB value. And, that loan now has under $900 left on the balance, and is my current paydown target. It will be paid off in a couple of months. That loan was only good because it helped to cut my debt considerably.
This entry has not been as thorough as previous entries. That is because of two things: 1) Credit cards and loans are very extensive matters that require a lot of research, 2) but at the same time, I believe credit cards and loans are some of the most simplistic things in finances - try to avoid loans, and do not overspend. Of course, there are special circumstances, percentages and incentives to consider, types of loans and credit cards that could be beneficial, etc.
In the end, as with all things financial, it is in your hands.
We had been meaning to take in my class ring to sell for cash. Finally had the chance to do so today, as I got off an hour early, since I came in early.
We headed to a not-so well-known gold and silver shop. I believe it was called Idaho Gold & Silver. My class ring was 14k, had two small diamonds in the middle of the 0's for the year (2007), and one larger one right in the middle of a large grey stone that was set on the top of the ring. I cannot remember the name of the stone, but it was - at least at the time - the most expensive stone available from Jostens.
Unfortunately, the shop did not pay for either the stone or the diamonds, but that was the general consensus around town. They believed the diamonds were too small to salvage, except "maybe" the large one. I am sure that any of the shops would take it and use it or sell it though.
When it was new, my father paid around $850 for the ring. Today, with his permission of course, I got $381 just for the gold. Not too shabby, eh? At the time I sold it, gold was at $1,585/oz. So, of course, they pay a percentage of the gold content.
For an unaccounted-for income, this is a pretty good chunk of change. I had already planned on having our car's driver-side mirror fixed (~$120) and getting a stereo for the car ($~60). The stereo is already "free," because it was planned for before I received the
So, at the end of it all, we come out very much on top! We have a planned trip for Portland coming up, and we will be using some of this money for that as well, and applying the money we will be saving towards debt.
I love FREE money!
Also, came in under budget on our grocery budget for the third week in a row! We are currently $30 under budget, and will most likely end up $40 under budget by next week! How cool is that?! And we are getting more food each time!
I just thought I would take a moment to let everyone in on a little-known secret.
So, everybody knows that you can get a free credit report annually. However, very few people realise that you can actually get one for free every four months.
The 'trick' is just going to each individual credit union and getting a free report through them, rather than going to one of these free credit report web sites with a ridiculous jingle.
Here is my rotation:
Equifax - November 1
Transunion - July 1
This way, you can monitor your credit report regularly, and for free. Remember, you cannot view it for free again one year later. That is why we use a different one every four months.
Happy Credit Reporting!