Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baby steps toward my future house

My approach for this endeavor might seem backwards.  I applied for a credit card yesterday at the credit union where I'll eventually apply for a mortgage (it's where I do all my banking at the moment).   They approved me within minutes and asked if I wanted the paperwork e-mailed to me or if I wanted to visit a branch to sign the application.   Since there were other questions I wanted to ask, I went to the closest branch this morning and signed.   when they gave me the paperwork they included a copy of my FICO score.   It's poor, but I'm not too surprised.  The rep mentioned that it's mostly that low because I don't have much unsecured credit available ($600).   She recommended that I revisit them in 6-8 months and ask that they raise my credit limit, and maintain my balances at 30% across the cards.    My instinct would be to pay them off and keep them at zero, but if I need to play the system for a year or two, I will.   So the new goal is to get them all down to 30% and keep them there.   I was planning on cancelling the Orchard (now Capital One) card, but now I'll keep it for at least another year. 

Here's a picture of the Hatteras Lighthouse.  It doesn't make up for the otherwise boring post, but you deserve some eyecandy for reading this far. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Does anyone use Smarty Pig? I need a referral code.

I'm back from vacation.  Hatteras was lovely, and the company was even better.   I'll post some pictures once I get them uploaded.

While there I came to a decision about my future.  I'm going to go ahead and start saving for a down payment on a condo or townhouse.  I've been resistant to buying a home in this area, but I think most of that was fear of the unknown, if terms of my ex's addiction.  Now that it's just me, and I've decided to stay here, even though my family is 4 states away, I think I'd like to try my hand at home ownership.   How much do I have saved...nothing.   I'm looking for someone with a Smarty Pig account so that they can get the $10 referral bonus.  

I'm setting a $5000 goal to start with.   That would cover a 3% down payment and closing costs.   Obviously I'd want to put more down, but I can't even start looking until I have at least that much.   Shame, since I found a townhouse I'd love to live in for $52,000.  

In order to keep me motivated I've been finding ways to save money in my monthly budget.   I can't get a second job, since my student loan payments are tied to how much (or little as the case may be) I earn.  So I've got to spend less rather than earn more.  I decided to downgrade my internet service and cancel my cable package altogether.   Since my 12 month "new customer" package was up this month, that move saved me $112/month.    In July I'll be switching my cell phone over to TING, saving approx. $70/month.

The next (ongoing) step is to declutter this condo again.    I've lived here for a year and a week, and while I enjoy living here, I'm also looking forward to the future.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning to roll with the punches

If ever there was a set of circumstances that highlighted the need for an emergency fund it's been my past few days.

Friday morning I was checking my bank account to see if a Paypal payment had posted (it hadn't), and I was shocked to find out that my account was overdrawn by $158.   The servicing company for my student loans had taken their $211.75 payment twice, resulting in an overdraft fee of $29.00 from my credit union.   What makes it twice as frustrating is that this error happened because I called them about a message I'd received stating that my payment was late.  They pushed the payment thru the automatic withdrawal process while at the same time telling me to make the payment online with while talking to the customer service rep.   "And since it was their mistake, they'll happy to refund the $211.75, but that process takes 6-8 weeks."      Seriously?   You're holding my money hostage for 6 weeks?   

After I calmed down, I spent most of my day rearranging my spreadsheet to cover the bills for May.   Nothing will be cut off, or even late, but I feel guilty that I won't be sending my mom a Mother's Day present, but luckily I already have cards for her and my Grandma.   

Are you ready to read some good news?
  • There are 4 eBay/ transactions that will make up some of the missing money (about $35), and I relisted a several of video games that didn't sell last time.  
  • As I was angsting over not having Mother's Day presents for her, my Mom was asking if I want her to wire me money.  (No, you silly woman, that's not necessary.  But thanks anyway.) 
  • My work-mom brought me a bag of groceries.  Apparently her husband likes to buy too much when he does the shopping.  I wouldn't have starved and told her so, but the thought that someone cared enough to do that made my day.  
  • I got an email from the Kmart rewards program with a bonus $10 in credit that had to be used by today, so I was able to stock up on toilet paper, koolaid mix, and chocolate without spending any money. 
  • I have no student loan payments due until August.   This should enable me to pay off all the other debts (except the car) by my birthday, which is the day before the next student loan payment is due.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back again

I've had difficult house guests for the past week, and I've finally getting back to what passes for normal.  

Looks like I'm not the only one back though.  Judy has a new blog:   Although I'm concerned that it may be an impostor, I didn't see anything spelled wrong.    ;)

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'll show you mine... pig bank, that is.  This is Gertrude Petunia (my childhood nickname from Mom).  I routinely empty her out and take the coins to the credit union, so when I did it this week I finally remembered to take her picture.  Isn't she pretty? 

I found her on clearance at Target this summer.  I'd been stalking her for awhile because she coordinates so well with my kitchen colors; but I refused to pay full price for a bank.    She only coughed up $15.50 this time, but it's been put into my savings account and will be a nice little snowflake at the end of the month.  I haven't decided which of my credit cards will get the extra, the balances are all within $50 of each other.  With the interest rates figured in it's pretty even on the progress no matter which one gets it. 

I just realized I've never talked about my debt, other than to claim I have it, or my budget.  I suppose I should.  I'm never going to be one of those bloggers who plan out exactly what I'm going to write about, so expect some rambling.

Here goes:  As of today I owe exactly $74,911 (rounded to the nearest dollar). 

Here's how it's broken down:

Home Depot: $241
Orchard Bank: $260
Kohls: $210

Car Loan: $4,876

Student Loan 1: $46,144
Student Loan 2: $23,180

A bit staggering, isn't it.  Especially when considering that the amount I owe is twice what I make in a year.  I still feel better off than at this point last year though when I couldn't even afford to pay all of my bills because my ex husband's addiction and entitlement issues ate every cent I made.  So it may take me the next 10 years to get this paid off, but I'm fine with that.  

And since it's been a judgement issue of some blogs this week let me just cop to the fact right now that even though I'm repaying debt, I'm still planning to taking some vacations this year and probably every year.  But I won't accrue new debt to do so, nor will my bills be going unpaid.   That said, I really do need to find a way to produce extra income. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

I've been on vacation

February was a brutal month at work, which cut into my blogging time.  It's always that way when I have vacation planned, no matter how much notice I give my Project Managers.  I'm the only one who does my specific job in our office, so they always need something at the last minute. 

I met up with my boyfriend in Orlando last week for a short vacation.  It might have been only 6 days, but we packed a ton of activities into the time we had together.   Disney wasn't on the agenda, but we did hit Universal, Sea World and the Kennedy Space Center.  Overall Sea World was my favorite, mostly because my honey surprised me with a behind the scenes Penguin Tour.   I got to pet the penguins.    Isn't that awesome? 

I'm being called to run an errand, so I'll try to post more later.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How I spent my January

Normally I spend New Years holiday's decluttering.  Instead of spring cleaning, I do a major clean up around New Year's and the 4th of July.  Normally these are days that I have off, that my ex usually worked, and I never had plans that were fun.   This year I was invited to my boyfriend/ex-boyfriend's parents house for the weekend.   (My boyfriend is also my ex-boyfriend prior to my disaster of a marriage, it's a long story) So no decluttering for me this year.  Then certain areas of my condo started bothering me.  Mostly the craft area.  When I moved in I put all of my craft stuff in the closet in the den (really the 2nd bedroom), but its so dark and cramped in there that I couldn't find what I needed.    I decided to fix that by moving things around, and it's gotten out of control and taken over my life.   But my craft area looks great now. 

That's a picture from when it was still in progress.  I took a cheap bookcase and attached 4 cheap closet organizers, added backs and painted them.  Then I organized my craft supplies in fancy painted boxes (USPS flat rate and cheap (80%) Christmas painted tins. 
For $30 all of my craft supplies are organized and the best part is that it's in my living room/dining room, which is very under-used.  And furthermore, it blocks the ugly fireplace and the gigantic porn mirror above the fireplace.  Seriously, that mirror is 5.5 feet x 5.5 feet, and hideous. 

The downside to this is that I had to rearrange some furniture, and it's still an ongoing process.  Mostly because I've decided to paint all of my furniture.  I blame Kristen  All her fault, I swear. 

And then I found Pinterest while searching for advice on painting the furniture.   I have a bunch of projects in progress, and even a few that are finished, like these:

My yard sale bar stool/plant stand.  $0.50, painted and stenciled. 

My superhero logo "COEXIST" sign.

Family picture display.  Supplies on hand, photo prints cost 10 cents each at Walgreens.

I hope I've inspired/amused you with my projects, and as I finish up the rest I'll be sure to post them.