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I am woman hear me roar....

January 17th, 2007 at 12:28 pm

... in numbers too big to ignore.

Okay, many of you may be too young to remember Helen Reddy.

After all the really good suggestions I have received here on financial strategies I feel more in control. I'm also spending my time more wisely which is also empowering me.

Still haven't had an in-depth financial talk with the boys. Things are a little crazy right now. My sister flys in on Friday from Albuquerque for a short (weekend) visit. After she leaves the boys and I will have the "talk" :0

I spent my last $5 (left over grocery money) on a ceramic dog with puppies. I bought it at Goodwill for an eBay item. I know it is very old I just hope it appeals to an eBay purchaser. I won't have it listed until at least this weekend. I'll let everyone know when it's listed so you can say "good purchase" or "bad purchase." It's really a coin toss when you buy things like that for eBay. I have a few items that are now permanent fixtures in my house because they didn't sell. Smile


And the survey says ....

January 14th, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Here are my finances. This is very hard for me to do. I know many of you will gasp and thank the good Lord you aren't in my shoes but in all honesty it was very easy to get here. A good chunk of this is hospital bills. My daughter has cleft lip and palate and I had breast cancer with a bilateral mastectomy in 2002. When times were hard I was charging groceries and gas and well, here we are. I do not spend money on frivolous things. We are cutting the cable (I need the internet for job #2 which I'll be starting soon and also eBay) and the boys are trying to find jobs and they will take over their phone bills.


Bill Balance Payment
Mortgage (186,000) $1,402
Electric 168
Water 75
Car (6,266) 192
Comcast (TV) 51
Comcast (internet) 50
Boys Phones 100
My phone 73
Gasoline 220
Groceries 540
Doctor bills (270) 50
Life Insurance 33
BOA #1 (1,408) 34
BOA #2 (22,388) 446
Chase (900) 35
CapOne (9,836) 196
Tithe 45
Boys Youth Group 18
Boys Lunch Money 80

Totals 3,808

Income:
Main Job 2,160
Child Support 335
Total 2,495


Notes:
1)Mortgage is interest only and includes tax and insurance.
2)Electric is an average of low use and high use months. We haven't had the a/c on since probably about September.
3)My car is a 2001 minivan.
4)Comcast TV is going
5)Boys are very active with school and church and now they are trying to get jobs. I need to be able to track them down so they need phones but I think I can add them to my plan and save us about $100 a month. (We don't have a land line)
6)Gasoline is high because I'm in sales and on the road all day, every day.
7)Groceries include everything (toilet paper, laundry detergent, pet food, deodorant, toothpaste ...) I can trim this down drastically as I saw this week. I think I can trim at least 200 a month off of this.

These changes would bring my new monthly total to $3,484. With a $100 a month increase in child support (which I'm trying to get)and a second job I think I can do it! If I get a renter I may even be able to pay down some of those credit cards; which is my goal.

Okay everyone ... have at me, but be gentle ... please.

Does anyone else have this problem?

January 13th, 2007 at 08:34 pm

I hopped on the computer to check my bank account and shoot a quick e-mail off to my sister. That was almost 2 hours ago. I'm not sure what happened to the time because ... I haven't even e-mailed my sister yet.

Superwoman crashes ... but she's okay

January 13th, 2007 at 03:10 pm

There are some very smart people posting here. Unfortunately Iím one of those people who are a little slow to see the light. Could I actually be doing something wrong? Moi? Well, I still plan to be proactive on the credit card front. What Chase is doing by raising interest rates drastically on customers who have been diligently paying on time is wrong. Itís just wrong. And the homeownerís insurance situation is just ludicrous as is our current health insurance dilemma. My plan here is to let my voice be heard and not just once. I will stay on top of these issues even though Iím quite confident my single voice wonít make much of a difference. Perhaps enough people will feel the same way I do and continually contact all their elected officials.

The increase in my home ownerís insurance and the increase in the credit card finance charge should not be enough to send me into a tail spin. I obviously was in a tail spin before itís just now I see the ground rapidly approaching. I have two choices: crash or pull back on the throttle. The choice would seem obvious but nonetheless it is hard. Pulling back on that throttle means bringing my income and expenses into line. That means sacrificing things Iíve grown accustomed to and some things Iíve grown so accustomed to that it may be a shock to even consider going without them. Iím sure it will take days to build this list. Iíll carry a piece of paper with me for the next 7 days and write down everything that comes to mind and next Saturday I will start carving. It also means sacrificing non-tangible things like free time and sleep. Hopefully it wonít last the rest of my life and hopefully I can teach my children to be more responsible. I think LuckyRobin was correct in that sacrifice builds character. What good am I doing for my boys if I send them off clueless about finances? I think true love would be preparing them so they donít face the day to day worries I face. When I was a child household finances were something you just didnít talk about. Itís time to break the ignorance is bliss cycle and produce a financial savvy generation. That will be hard too. To let my boys see that Iím not superwoman will be a blow to my ego (just another sacrifice).

Screwed

January 11th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

We are a nation dieting and not losing weight and we are a nation saving but not getting out of debt. What are we doing wrong?

Iím finding out that I represent a rather large segment of our nationís population. My expenses far exceed my income. I donít spend frivolously. I just scramble every month to pay the bills. It was just 40-50 years ago that a family could survive on one income. Today one-income families are a minority and now even children are getting jobs working along side adults (as opposed to babysitting and lawn mowing.) Where does it end? I guess it doesnít end; the road just takes another turn.

I recognize part of our problem as not having health insurance. I cringe every time the boys hop on their skate boards or play tackle football with the other boys in the neighborhood.

Homeownerís insurance is another strong current we are swimming against. My insurance more then doubled. Iíve been hit by two major hurricanes and never made a claim. Apparently this doesnít matter. I was told to be happy that I HAD insurance. I feel like Iíve been strong-armed by the Mafia.

My Chase credit card went from a 9.9% to 26%! Why? Not because I was ever once late on a payment (NOT ONCE!) but because they decided to randomly check my credit score and decided it was too low and raised my interest rate. I called them up and tried to figure this all out. If I had been late I would understand but I have always paid at least the minimum and always on time. Chase didnít care.

Iím all for being held accountable for my own reckless actions but I feel more and more that Iím carrying the blame for a situation that was destined to happen regardless of how frugal I was. We do shop at the thrift stores and we shop the grocery stores for sales and I wouldnít let the boys play Pop Warner this year because last year I learned the phrase "buckle fracture" and also learned that muscles can tear and pull. These are painful both physically and monetarily.

I feel sorry for families that have to pay for day care. Itís so expensive that in some cases it doesnít even justify the second job (which you need so that you can make ends meet).

I realize that our financial picture goes much deeper than just income vs. expense. I understand there are a lot of political strings behind the economy but you know Ö enough is enough. We are a democracy but I feel thatís just a book cover. We have no control over anything. I can get a job with great insurance but I have to take a $10,000 pay cut to take that job. I should be able to get affordable home ownerís insurance and it should be illegal for a Chase to do what they did without just cause.

I think we should not accept getting screwed day in and day out. I think we need to say "stop" and get answers. I know it doesn't happen overnight. It takes years to stop an out of control train. However, I think collectively we are a frugal voice that should be heard!


Nothing is impossible

January 11th, 2007 at 12:11 am

When I got home from work I noticed the Christmas tree stand in the front yard. Upon entering the house the Christmas tree was gone, lights neatly packed up and all needles vacuumed! Wow! Twin 2 (based on birth order) had taken it upon himself to do all this when he got home from school. Iím so proud of him! Twin 1 said he would have helped but a friend was over and he felt obligated to entertain him. Twin 2 had wrapped each light strand around cardboard and put each one into a plastic gallon size freezer bag (fleeting moment of ďgee those bags are expensiveĒ immediately replaced with pride in son for doing this).

Home front is in order. Here's the dilemma I need suggestions for. How do you budget when you donít even have enough to pay the bills? Itís never been this bad before. Ever since I separated from my husband (a year ago) I have had problems. I know I pay the bulk of the boysí expenses where I didnít before. I would get more from him but unfortunately his company closed down and he has had a hard time finding work. I know he is looking and I also know it is very hard on your self esteem to be looking for work and no one wants you. Heís 53 and worked for his last company for just less than 10 years. Anyway, I digress. The point is Iím not going after him because he really doesnít have anything. Iím now working 2 jobs and figuring out ways to bring in extra money on top of that. I donít want to be away from the boys anymore than I already am. I have just a short time left with the boys. I know at their age they will have less and less time for me so I literally savor my time with them now. I donít want to be working around the clock and not be able to spend ANY time with them. When you are stressed out itís hard to see the big picture and get creative. My bills are about $1,300 a month more than my income from job #1. It will be at least 45 to 60 days before I start seeing income from job #2 but after job #2 starts rolling I will most likely lose job #1 (which is okay because my plan is to eventually be self sufficient on job #2 alone). However, in the meantime this is what I figure my options are:

1)Sell my house Ė but I donít think renting is going to be much cheaper (especially since I donít get a tax write off for rent).
2)Bankruptcy Ė REALLY donít want to go there!!!
3)Take on a roommate? (Worry about how that would work with the boys especially since they are in school band and practice at home all the time Ė sax and drums and I wouldnít bring a stranger into the house unless it was an 80 year-old-lady from church Ö and then she might have an issue with the sax and drums!!)
4)More jobs???? (Is there like a Guinness World Record for this?)
5)Debt Consolidation (Just delays the problem)
6)Can I sell my debt?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. And yes, I'm still packing my pennies away for a vacation. I just may not get to take it for 10 years Frown


Working on my agenda

January 9th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Yesterday I said I wanted to address 3 things:
1)Debt reduction
2)Prioritize and start some of my projects
3)Vacation ideas (it's what I'm saving for)

Debt Reduction:
Work 2 jobs to cover expenses (I'm just starting job #2)
Odd jobs to pay down debt and fund Vacation Fund! This will most likely be eBay but I'll see what other creative ideas I can come up with. Smile
Goal: cc debt from $36,000 to $18,000 by January 9, 2008
Permanent fix is to look deeply into how I got into this mess in the first place and change that behavior.

Projects:
My project list starts with getting our bedrooms in order. The bedroom is where we start and end our days. It should be a peaceful place and not one of chaos. I want the garage taken care of because itís out of control and the lanai because we like to eat out there. These projects need a completion date to hold me accountable and that will be January 31, 2007.

1.My bedroom
2.Boysí Bedrooms
3.See above (two boys Ö counts as two projects)
4.The garage
5.lanai


Vacation:
Fern suggested Washington D.C. and at first I poo pooed that idea because I was born in D.C. and grew up in the burbs but the more I thought about it I realized how much I loved going to all the museums (Natural History is my favorite) and actually my children havenít been (at least not at an age they would remember anything.) I may even entice my 18 year-old-daughter to come spend some time with me. Itís about a 13 hour drive (I hate driving but I fear flying Ö hmmmm Ö itís a miracle I get anywhere Smile). Our other option was to vacation at home. There is so much to do and see here. It may be time to explore our own backyard. We could eat at all the restaurants (just like we would if we were away from home.) So, right now those are the two top choices. I like them both.

The boys and I cooked dinner together last night and we did pretty well. I like the time we spend together and they are learning a life skill. We ate out on the lanai by candle light. Iím glad we did because it is chilly this morning and it may be several days before we can eat outside again. We talked (me asking many questions that canít be answered with a ďyesĒ or a ďno.Ē Talking to teenagers is a skill unto itself!). Then we cleaned up. We will do this every night that it is possible.




Staying Motivated

January 8th, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Iíve been reading all the blogs and getting some terrific ideas. I liked Contrary1í$ view on actually DOING things. Iím a great planner but a little weak on the action side. I am hands down the queen of unfinished projects. So, I will make a list (Iím a great list maker too) of all my unfinished projects (okay maybe the top 20); prioritize them and DO something each and every day.

I also need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I need motivation. Itís hard to really give it all youíve got if life just seems to be work, work, work and watering down shampoo. Iíve decided that my challenge money is going to make a beautiful transformation into my new ďVacation Fund!Ē I havenít had a vacation since 1997. I used to take one every year and it was great. There just hasnít been time or money. Iím not sure where or when this vacation will be but I am positive it will be a great motivator. Also, my twin 15-year-old boys are in the process of getting their learnerís permits. In another year or two Iím willing to bet I will hardly ever see them. I need some quality time with them. The boys and I can discuss the vacation details over dinner tonight. We are cooking our first meal together (chicken piccata).

This week I will:

Work out a debt reduction plan
List and prioritize projects
Work on vacation ideas with sons

Cheers to 2007!!!

January 7th, 2007 at 10:56 pm

What a great site. It makes us accountable and it lets us draw upon each other's experiences and knowledge. I look forward to many new friends and shoulders to lean on as we all make our way through 2007.

I am starting the $20 challenge (7 days late) and so far in the hole that I can see China (remember when you thought you really could dig that far?). My goals for 2007 are:

1) Make an appreciable stride toward paying off my debt.
2) Have only one job by yearís end
3) Get my house in order (inside and out)
4) Learn to cook with my teenage boys (my future daughter-in-laws will thank me)
5) Get my house in order (inside and out)

Now a quick overview on the above. My DTI is a little off kilter. My debt is about $3,800 a month. My income is about 2,500 a month. Hmmmmm. I think we can all see an ďissueĒ here. Consequently my credit cards are about $36,000 but Iím pretty well maxed out. Add to this that I just found out that I have termites and it will cost about $2,000 to tent my house. Iím checking the termite poo everyday to monitor just how much they are eating. I keep telling them they should consider dieting for 2007. However I need to do something Ö. soon!

Iím in sales but my gasoline and putting 100+/- miles a week on my car are really taking a toll on my budget. Iím reactivating my mortgage brokerís license and I am going to work with a really great company (in addition to my first job). Once my pipeline fills up I can quit job #1 which doesnít really make me much money anyway.

I saw the show ďSuper Size MeĒ on television the other night. I will never eat at a fast food restaurant again! I should teach my boys how to be healthy anyway. So, we are going to start cooking. Tomorrow night is chicken piccata with roasted red potatoes and green beans. Wish us luck.

I live in Southwest Florida. I worked in the yard all day today. Except for the mile high pile of debris you canít really tell I did anything. It is winter and so theoretically things should stop growing (at least slow down?) Although it seems I have many drought resistant weeds that beg to differ. As far as the inside of the house is concerned I would just refer back to the termite poo.

Now the $20 challenge. I have to start with $10 that I took out of my check before I deposited it. So Ö. January 7, 2007 = $10

Thank you to all and I wish all of you the very best this year!!!!