Monday, June 18, 2012

1st World Problems: I hate my new Mac!

Okay, so before you slap me in the face because of such a stupid subject line please hear me out. If you have read any of my older posts you will know I am in no financial position to be purchasing new technology right now, so no I did not buy this new laptop for myself. My company gives out Macs to top employees that do a lot of travelling, yay me! I was on a long waiting list and I finally got my Mac book pro this past Friday. I have never owned a Mac, I have been a PC girl all my life. I recently converted to using an I-phone (also provided by my company), so that's the extend of my knowledge with Apple products. The problem is this new Mac is so foreign to me, I got so frustrated trying to use it for the past few days that I would get so annoyed, put it aside, and pick up my old trusty HP laptop. Then I couldn't concentrate and do anything on my PC because I felt so much guilt like I should be using my new Mac. I feel like I am in laptop purgatory.

As soon as I got news that I would be getting my Mac I started thinking about selling my PC and putting that money towards my credit card debt. Turns out my mom and brother wanted to purchase it! Yay -  so I'm selling in to my brother for $50 tomorrow (its an old model). I've been watching my credit card balance like a hawk, as if the balance would lower if I don't actually pay the bill... makes no sense. So this $50 is actually a huge deal to me.

Anyways -  I'm feeling so much anxiety over handing over my trusty partner good old HP. It has a much bigger screen, 17" I think and my new Mac is a 13" so I feel "uncomfortable" using it (I know you have probably rolled your eyes about 5 times by now). I think all of this anxiety is stemming from something bigger though...

When I went through my divorce a few years ago I was left computer-less, during that time of horrible confusion and stress I charged a $500 Toshiba laptop on an old debit card over-drafting that account. I never went back and paid for it. I know, thankfully I'm a much better human now. Well I used that computer for a long time and then I dropped it and broke it, then my parents saved me by giving me this HP. I am finally going to pay off that debt to the old laptop and I feel like I I have come such a long way in my maturity level that giving up on my PC will be like letting go of something, I'm not sure exactly what yet.

I always thought Mac people were so fancy and snobby. In my early twenties I couldn't even imagine purchasing an $1,000+ laptop. I feel like I'm scared of embarking on this new journey of being the Mac user. Well, this is my last post using my PC, good bye old friend.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Financial Counseling Session

My new bank, USAA, offers free financial counseling over the phone. My bank is known for it's excellent customer service, so I always thought about calling them up to see what advice they would have for little old me. Today when I was driving home from work the highway came to a total stop and I was sitting there for about 20 minutes dying in the heat. The temperature outside was about 95 degrees and my A/C needs more fluid as per my last car check up. The place I usually go to for oil changes quoted me $140 to fix my A/C. I got so frustrated because of the heat that I decided I was going to drive straight to the car shop to get my A/C fixed as soon as traffic started to move again. I looked up my checking account on my phone and saw I needed to pull from my e-fund to pay for this repair. My heart sunk it took me so much work to save up the $300 sad dollars that I currently sitting in that account, so sitting there sweating I called my bank to see if they could advise me.

I got on the phone with a super friendly lady who actually seemed like she was my age and knew exactly what I was going through. I explained to her all of my woes, my credit card balances my debt due to my dog's surgery. I vented to her about my sky high car insurance rates and my 27.63% interest rate on my used car loan, yes you read that right, 27.63%.

I told her I didn't know whether to save up $1,000 for an E-fund first because I felt suffocated by my credit card debt. I explained to her how I budget using two separate bank account, and funny enough she told me that's how she budgeted herself!

These are the steps she told me to take to better my financial life:

  1. Whenever I get paid automatically save $50. The reason for this is because I told her that I am always pulling money from my savings to finish covering my variable expenses (gas & food). Only putting $50 in savings is comfortable amount for me right now.
  2. Keep most of my money in my fixed expenses account and transfer $400 into my variable expenses account.
  3. After two weeks everything that is left in my fixed expenses account transfer half into savings and half towards the credit cards.
  4. Instead of saving $1,000 towards emergencies, she told me to save 1 month's worth of expenses which for me will come to $1,755.
  5. After I have saved up one month's worth of expenses then I am to call her back and we can start to discuss retirement savings.
I am so happy with this plan. I think this will really help me now get the ball rolling. As far as the A/C for my car - I decided to wait and budget for it. I have two big purchases that I have coming up $140 for my A/C and a plane ticket to visit my boyfriend which is looking like it will cost me around $150 - $250. 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spending Recap! 6/3 - 6/9

This is my spending for this past week, I made a pie chart so I can have a clear visual on what I spend my money on. This week I felt very deprived, and by looking at this chart I don't see how I could possibly have felt that way! My biggest expenses are still food and gas. This week I felt very lonely from staying home so much, whenever I got coffee or lunch that was during work. I'm not really sure how I can cut back any more, I actually was feeling so deprived that's why I had my impulse spending on Friday on clothes. I hate how much money I spend on gas, and I have a very small and economic car. I spent $276 for one person for a week, am I crazy?

Sunday 6/3 : No Spend!

Monday 6/4:
$36 Groceries
$39 Gas
$8 Lunch
$11.50 Pharmacy

Tuesday 6/5:
$6 Lunch
$4 Coffee
Total: $10

Wednesday 6/6:
$20 Groceries
$4 Coffee
$25 Dinner

Thursday 6/7:
$4 Coffee
$25 dinner!
$20 Gas

Friday 6/8:
$8.50 parking
$31 clothes
$11 dinner!

Saturday 6/9:
$16 Groceries
$7 Lunch
$25 gas


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Links for the Week!

So much has happened this week, my head is spinning! These were the most interesting and favorite links of mine:

Additional Characteristics that Separate the Self Manager from Normal People by Joyful Self Manager
Rich People Like Fake Jewelry Too by Shopping to Saving
Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel by Married with Debt
Financial life lessons: True blood edition by Serendipity
Are you underestimating your abilities and potential? by Money Reasons
Addictions ruin budgets by Master the Art of Saving
Miracle Mac-n-Cheese by Budget Bytes
Has travel become a way to keep up with the Jonses? by Well Heeled

  • I also learned about Ready For Zero. I started using it to manage my credit card debt and payments. If I follow through I can be credit card debt free by August of this year! It did tell me to pay off my card with the highest interest first, but I can pay off one of my cards with just one payment for the high interest card - so I'll do that first. 
  • I got my pin in the mail from And Then She Saved! Yay so cute!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

At least I tried?

Two years ago I made a huge mistake with my one of my credit cards, this resulted in me now having a pretty repulsive looking credit score. What did I do that was so wrong? I did not pay my credit card bill for over 3 months, I wrote about this on an early post.

After doing some research I learned that this information will only go away from your credit report after 7 years. I also learned that there is something you could try to do to get this information removed, and that is to write a letter to the creditor requesting that the late payments be removed out of goodwill. If you were experiencing serious hardship during the time that you made the late payments and now currently you are in good standing you can write to them explaining that and ask that in their goodwill they can remove the bad marks.

Well, during the time that I made those late payments I was going through some personal tribulations. One major one was me being in the middle of a divorce which besides leaving me broke led me to have to move to a different city and that took some time settling in. I included all of this info in my letter and sent it off crossing my fingers hoping this would work.

The reason why I would like for this to be removed from my credit report is because I am looking to buy a house within the next few years and my credit score is horrendous. Also, I just got financing on a used car and my interest rate is out of control! I would love to be able to refinance it.

I got a response letter in the mail today and what did it say? "After reviewing your account we have determined that the information in regards to your payment dates is accurate". So basically, they did not remove the bad credit remarks from my credit report. I know this may even seem naive a bit, but I refuse to see it that way.  I screwed up a few years ago and this was me trying to see if I could catch a break somehow, well turns out I couldn't. I'm okay with that though, I will continue to pay my crazy interest rates for a few more years knowing that I will not ever make the same silly mistakes I made in the past again.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Budgeting using checking accounts

After paying an ungodly amount in over-draft fees and  running into too many "oh crap I don't have money to pay *insert bill here*" scenarios, I decided to try something I little different with how I manage my checking account.

First and foremost I recently switched banks, I now have an account with a bank where checking accounts are 100% free (this is becoming rare in my neck of the woods). I then opened not one, but two checking accounts. I decided to use them as tools for budgeting. One checking account I have nicknamed for Variable Expenses and the other Fixed Expenses. I have set up for my automatic direct deposit money to go into my fixed expenses account, then I have automatic transfers from that account going into my variable spending and savings account. This way I have a limited amount of money I can spend for my variable expenses (gas, food) and I can have a full proof way of saving myself from ever running the risk of spending my rent money again. Also my new bank has excellent tracking tools for budgeting, I am able to select view specific categories in variable spending and see where I stand without having to filter through my regular bill expenses.

I have to allocate a certain amount into my variable expenses account because for me it is too hard to track and control my variable spending. I feel like my own daily life is just too hectic and crazy for me to track my expenses and stay within specific dollar amounts for each category. For me tracking them all together from a bigger money pile of money is so much easier.

I also set up automatic bill payments out of my fixed expenses account, this way I don't run the risk of ever forgetting to pay a bill either!

That is what has worked for me, I know it may seem silly to some, but I am trying really hard to build my self control muscle when it comes to swiping my debit card. It has been such difficult lesson for me. It's funny because I exhibit great self control in many other areas of my life, finances though are definitely my Achilles heel.

 Let me know what works for you!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Yakezie Challenge!

I have joined the Yakezie challenge! (see my badge to the right).

I am really looking forward to becoming a part of the PF community. I think I really need the support and helpful advice from everyone to stay motivated and get out of debt.

I have my Alexa score badge thingy, and, funny thing I don't have a score! Hopefully that will improve. It is a 6 month period trial before you become a part of the Yakezie Network.

So, for me that would me December 2nd 2012.

Looking forward to it!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Lessons for the Week

I learned so much this past week! I had to take a few days off from work because I had such a bad cold. I now definitely feel inspired and empowered, ready to take on this week!

  • I got some serious advice on how to buckle down and go bare bones for a while from The Happy Homeowner
  • I realized I wasn't the only one that dealt with the issue of mostly having friends who have money (or spend like they do at least) thanks Budget and the Beach!
  • I giggled from reading From Shopping to Saving's post on being obsessed with PF blogging. Before I started writing it was pretty much all I read online!
  • Read up and learned about Amazon's trade in store fromSo Over Debt. I've sold things on the site before, but never traded anything in, will definitely be looking into doing that soon.
  • Went back in time thanks to Budgets Are Sexy and was able to see the very first issue from Money magazine! Interesting! Love the vintage drawing of the woman carrying the groceries. 
  • Definitely got inspired from seeing Fabulously Broke's closet makeover!

Nervous About June

So.... I was thinking about this upcoming month. I thought I was literally going to be *ballin'* because this is a month with 3 pay checks. I get paid on the 1st, 15th & 29th. BUT I'm kind of confused because looking through my bills things don't seem be adding up.

Bills for 6/1 paycheck: check $1400 
-$750 rent due on the 1st
-$153.12 Dog's surgery payment due on the 1st
-$325 extra car payment made by accident due on the 1st
-$37.48 internet bill due on the 7th
-$25 Credit Card payment

Paycheck minus all of that equals: $109!!!

Coming in, hopefully!!!
$250 rent from roommate
$60 extra money
$150 extra income for expenses

So... $109 + 460 = 569 - 200 VARIABLE = 369.

I need to have this $369 in savings. I absolutely need to!!!! Currently my EFund is at ZERO. That is a recipe for disaster.

I wont be getting these extra money in for probably until the second week. So that means for the first week I will have only $100 in variable spending. Obviously what screwed me over was making my car payment twice! I was so nervous I missed it that I paid it twice... It brought my total left over amount for the car to $7,999 which is nice to be under $8k but still, I really could've used that money. It seems like every month something silly like that comes up.

Bills for 6/15 paycheck: check $1400 
-$42.95 pet insurance due on the 19. I only have one more of these payments left! yay!
-$325 car payment due on the 21
-$265 car insurance due on the 21
-$100 credit card payment due on the 23
-$20 gas bill

I should be left over with around 647 from this check. 647 - 200 variables for these two weeks: 447 + 369 = 816.

I could have 816 in my EFund by July. I have to keep my entire variable spending for the month to $400. I think I can do it. I went insane in May with my spending. Now that I have all of this info layed out I think it will be extra motivayion for me to stick to it. $816 in an EFund would be amazing. I would almost be done with baby step #1 in my first month. *fingers crossed*

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Weekly Recap 5/28 - 6/3

Monday 5/28: No Spend on Memorial Day!

Tuesday 5/29:
$11.77 necklace
$3.16 Starbucks
$14.33 Gas
$21.41 Groceris

ummm not good!

Wednesday 5/30:
$5.33 Panera: NOT worth it, the soup sucked
$8.04 more gas

Thursday 5/31:
$15 gas
$3.34 coffee: NOT worth it, gave me a toothache

Friday 6/1:
.75 cents can of soda

Saturday 6/2:
$17 Groceries
$12 pharmacy
$10 gas

Not good, I need to cut back on my spending for random foods!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

5 Traits of High Achievers

I was listening to the latest Dan Miller 48 Days podcast and today he brought something up quite interesting. I felt compelled to write this down and see how I measured up to these traits.

5 Traits of High Achievers
  1. Access to Counsel: Coaching, mentoring + being around success. I'm pretty good with this. I LOVE listening to podcasts and pretty much spend all of my free time doing things that will lead to self improvement.
  2. Connections + Collaborations: Wide networks of friends. Eh...lately duh to some personal issues I have been very anti-social. I need to look up some networking groups or something, I have isolated myself and I know that is NOT good.
  3. They take breaks! It's not a matter of time. It's a matter of doing things different. Not good with this one either. Whenever I'm not working I struggle with guilt... as if I am suppose to work 24/7. I'm trying to work through this.
  4. They have lives outside of work: Rich private lives.  Another FAIL. This is not looking good. With a long distance relationship and my recent isolation stint my personal life has been pretty much non-existent. Why do I sound so sad and lonely? 
  5. Strategies + Systems: Focus + clarity + plan + execute.  I'm good at focus + executions, I'm not so stellar at clarity and planning. Two out of four is better than nothing huh?
Okay, so I have a few things to work on. But I don't feel so horrible about myself. I guess I earned a 1.5 out of 4. I am hoping that by the end of the year my goal will be to work on and develop my other traits.

Hope this helps!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Debt Snowball Calculator

I'm not the best at keeping track of budgets and I am horrible at Excel, but I came across this handy dady tool. If you are into Dave Ramsey and the debt snowball idea this is for you! This is the link to the calculator:
Debt Snowball Calculator

 It gives you the date you are suppose to have your debts paid off!!!

Hopefully following this I can be debt free by December of next year! That would be great news seeing as I financed my car for 42 months.

Hope this helps!