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Archive for January, 2007

Month End - Budget Figures

January 31st, 2007 at 02:09 pm

Month end is finaly here! I have actually been looking forward to looking at my budget figures since I have been following the budget all month long (yes I am nerdy).

I have been trying to use the pearbudget to track my budget. It has been a little of an adjustment since before I was trying to budget by payperiod (every two weeks) instead of for the entire month. I have had to add a few additional spreadsheets to the workbook to track other items like the breakdown of my savings account, but otherwise I think it is working pretty good.

January Stats:
My income exceeded my expenses by 38.10, which I was pretty pleased about since I did got over in a few of my categories.

I went over in my 'Household' category by $60, but I still have over $50 cash in my bilfold, so I am not going to stress about that one too much.

My low point in my checking account was just over $500. Hopefully that will get larger as I go.

I paid an extra $260 to my car loan (Yea!).

No money went to savings this month, but I didn't expect it to since I am focusing on my car loan right now.


Working at home today

January 26th, 2007 at 07:05 am

I took the day off from my real job today to start getting paperwork organized for our taxes. I also need to do some research on what we can deduct and how much for our home business. With two little ones running around, I have been finding it hard to do this type of stuff on the weekends.

I would rather be at work - I just cannot get motivated. The girls were dropped off at daycare an hour ago and I haven't started. I have made myself a sausage mc muffin, threw out old leftovers in the fridge and sat here at the computer and read my favorite blogs.

Well I guess I better get started. I told myself if I could work 4 good hours today I would go to the gym or something else later today.

Credit Report and Score

January 24th, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Last night I went to www.annualcreditreport.com to get my free credit report - I believe it has been 2 years since I have actually looked at one. I selected Equifax for the report (no specific reason - just random).

The site said I could get my score for just under $8 - I didn't really plan on getting my score, but I figured $8 was worth a piece of mind.

I haven't fully dug into the report yet - just skimmed a few items, but here were some things I noticed and some thoughts.

1. My credit score is 789 - Excellent rating. At first I was pissed for wasting the $8 when my score is good, but now I am glad I did it. Since I am a numbers person, my score makes me think - Why not 800? Should I try to improve it? Does it really matter if it is already "excellent"?

2. The name displayed on my report is my last name on my first marriage. I thought that was very strange - That marriage only lasted 1 year and I changed my name back to my maiden name once the divorce was over. I haven't used that name on anything since 1998.

3. I have 16 revolving accounts listed on the report. YIKES! most of them were opened for a 1 time charge for a discount or some other promotion. I will definately think twice about doing this in the future.

4. Negative factors affecting my score.
a. The time since your most recent account opening is very recent. This is probalby true - no arguements.
b. You have no recent revolving balance information being reported. If I am reading this correctly - since I do not have any credit card balances - it negatively affects my score? hmmm... I don't think I am going to work on this one.
c. You have a relatively high number of consumer finance company accounts being reported. I agree - I probably need to close a lot of these accounts, but will closing them also negatively affect my score? I thought I read somewhere that it would.
d. The length of time your accounts have been establised is relatively short. I have two credit cards and one business card account - all of them I have opened in the last year or two. These will be the ones I keep "open".

This next year since I am buckling down to pay off my car loan I do not want to use credit cards at all - only pay for items I have the money for. Is that wise? Should I use them occasionally?

I plan on digging into the report more the next few days - just by glancing at the report it seems a little confusing.

My other gripe about the credit report thing is why can I only have one free copy a year? This is information about ME. I should be able to access it (with out paying) whenever I want. And why is the score such a secret? This is something that affects what kind of interest rates I qualify for - why should I have to pay to receive my own score?


The cost of being disorganized

January 22nd, 2007 at 10:06 am

I have spent the last few months trying to de-clutter my house. I have never considered myself a pack rat, but I think the problem is laziness - I am too lazy to get rid of things we don't need. I started out with the easy things - my cookbooksrecipes, my cothes closet, bathroom closets... Well now I HAVE to tackle our home office since it is nearing tax time. We have a small home buiness that we started in 2006 and I am bound and determined to figure out how to do the taxes by myself - I have an accounting degree (that I don't currently use...) for god's sake - I should be able to figure it out. My record keeping has been minimal at best for our business in 2006 - so I think I am going to start the year from scratch. It really shouldn't be a huge deal since the business probably only averaged about 10 transactions a month.

I have PILES of paper in my office so I thought the first step would be to sort those. I created 4 piles - File, Read, Act, Toss. Going through the papers I realized I had crap back from 2003 - I can't believe that was the last time I filed! I guess it makes since - that is when our 1st DD was born - I just haven't had the desire to do anything since.

Anyway - here is the costs of me being disorganized (besides spending an entire Sunday going through papers).

1. I found a $30 amazon gift certificate taht expired December 2006. I was hoping the expiration date wouldn't really matter, so I tried using it last night and was denied.

2. I have lost a few utility bills for 2006. I THINK I can deduct part of our utilities since we have a home business. We should be able to at least deduct internet since we didn't have that expense before the business.

3. My DH wanted to pull the girls in a sled around the house yesterday. We both swear we purchased a sled last year, but we could not find it anywhere. Luckily he decided to build a snowman instead so the missing sled has not cost us anything... yet.

4. Snowpants for our youngest DD - I know we had a pair when my oldest was this age, but we can't find them anywhere. We haven't replaced them yet - hoping we can just live with it this winter.

5. I lost my wedding ring - it has been missing for about 2 weeks. Granted, it is just a wedding band - no diamonds or anything fancy - just a silver band, but it is also pricless to me. I am still on the hunt for it - I haven't given up yet.

I will continue to make progress in my organizing skills - maybe I will check out a book at the library for pointers, since I have been disoranized (lazy) most of my life.

Gas at $1.97 and other gas ramblings

January 19th, 2007 at 06:27 am

I noticed the gas stations around my area were under $2/gallon this week. Of course my tank is half full so I don't need gas right now since I normally wait until my tank is almost completely empty. Hopefully it will stay under the $2 mark for a while. I only drive about 15 miles a day so I only need to put in about $20 once a week or so.

On another gas subject - I do budget billing for my natural gas for the house. November was the end of my budget billing period and I had paid nearly $400 over the amount of my actual expenses. Don't get me wrong - I have been enjoying having 4 months with no gas bill - especially this time of year. Where the heck do they come up with that monthly amount - they actually INCREASED the amount I am supposed to pay once my credit is gone. A part of me thinks I should stop the budget billing and just pay actual costs, but the other part of me knows I am bad at planning ahaead and would just blow the extra money I would have during the warmer months/low bill periods. We actually just got new insulation installed last month also so I am pretty sure my bills will be lower this coming year.

I won't bore you with my DHs gas problems ... it's not related to money anyway Smile

Picky Eaters and Vacation Delima

January 17th, 2007 at 06:55 am

My 3 1/2 year old has been picky since she started eating solid foods. I am not sure why or how this happened - we don't eat anything too strange and we have never made seperate meals for her to encourage her to want something different (the exception is when we make something spicey). Now our 18 month old - who used to eat everything in site - is starting to follow in her footsteps. It is getting really frustrating. I don't want to eat chicken or noodles or blueberry pancakes every night! Last night we had cheeseburger soup - one of my hubby's favorite. We also made grilled cheese sandwiches because we knew the girls would probably not eat the soup. There is nothing in this soup that is offensive to a kid - hamburger, potatoes, a few carrots, valveeda cheese and topped with bacon. I put a small amount in front of each girl to have them try it. After a lot of persuasion (and a little bribery - chocolate cake) My 3 year old finally put a bite in her mouth. She started gagging at the first taste of it. My hubby was so pissed! where does a 3 year old learn to gag?

We also got a email from some friends of our asking us to go on a small vacation with them in May. Since I started working on paying off my debt the last few months I have pretty much cleared my savings acct (except for $1500) and used any extra money I have at the end of the month to go towards my car loan. We really do want to go - we haven't been on any type of vacation with the girs yet. I think we will try to go, even though the timing sucks. I don't want to interrupt paying on my car, so I hope I can shave a little money off my household budget (currently at $600 a month) to make it work. I know we can spend less in that category - I just need to do better planning (and quit buying crap we don't need).

The Grapefruit

January 15th, 2007 at 07:41 am

Grapefruits have been on sale the last few weeks so I have picked a few up each time I go to the grocery store. I am the only one that eats them, so I only pick up 2-3 each time. I like them, but I don't always have the time to cut one up in the morning. My mom saw them sitting on the counter and suggested I try eating them warm. What? are you crazy? Here is her method:
Cut one in half and cut the sections out like normal. Top with a little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and place in the microwave for 45 seconds or so.

At first I thought it was pretty sad to put butter on such a heathly fruit, but I gave it a try anyway. Yumm-O! It was super juicy, sour and sweet. I will definately do it again.

The weekend was pretty good spending wise. I picked up my weeks worth of groceries and a few things at Sam's. Saturday my mom and I went to a wedding and I treated her to a latte on the ride down. She spent a lot of money taking my kids to Seasame Street Live last week, so I figured I should at least pay for the lattes. Sunday I had a no-spend and no-drive day. In fact I stayed in my pj pants all day. I love those days!

I am hoping to eat in for lunch every day this week. I have already said no to the bagel run this morning so I am starting off good.

I updated my budget spreadsheet up to the end of June. I was hopeing to have most of my car paid off my then, but I think realistically I will just be at the half way point of what is left. September/October is when I think it will be paid off. I really can't wait to have that payment out of my monthly budget each month. It will be like getting a raise!

Car Loans - they don't make it easy to payoff early...

January 9th, 2007 at 02:05 pm

I have my car loan through ford credit. From day 1 it has been set up to be automatically deducted from my account (like almost all my bills are). I don't have to worry about paying late, hunting down a stamp or anything.

This car loan is my next debt to tackle. I logged on to the ford credit website to find out how to make extra payments - can I do it online, or what address to send it to. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so I sent an email to customer service. They replied that the only way to make extra payments is to stop my automatic deductions and make payments manually. What I wanted to do is keep my regular payment and when I had extra money in my budget to put it towards the loan. Now I have to remember to do my regular monthly payment each month. I guess I should be happy I can at least do this online.

The debt snowball is beginning to roll

January 3rd, 2007 at 09:34 am

The last two weeks I have:

Paid off my school loan - $630
Paid off the little bit of christmas I charged from internet shopping - $200
Paid off my medical bill - $368

Now I should be able to concentrate on my car loan. I have about $6,000 left to pay. I am hoping to have it paid off by September by paying an extra $300 a month. This will pay off the loan a year early. I did a spreadsheet on how much I will save by paying off early and unfortunately it is only about $100 (I should have started this 3 years ago...), but I guess just having the debt gone is the most important at this point.

On another note - I have not spent any money (other than bills, debt payments...) in 2007! Yea!