Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rolling Over

I am in the process of rolling over my Roth IRA into a fund with Fidelity. It is called Fidelity's Emerging Market Income Fund. I have a friend who is in this fund and loves it. The fund pays a monthly dividend of $.065 a share it has also grown an average of 12% a year, not too bad. If I were to buy into this fund today, I would make $30 a month in dividends, which is $360 a year just on dividends, not including capital gains or growth. Pretty awesome.

I am looking to do this because I somehow lost $400 in my Roth with USAA last year. I am not quite sure how and I am going to call about it to see what is going on. I am hoping that we will see a real nice return being in this fund this year.

I made a mistake in yesterday's update. We paid off $1,081 in principal last month. I forgot I updated my loan payment earlier in the month.

This loan payment will not have a lot go to principal. Since we focused so much on my wife's loans, my interest has accumulated to $200. Ugh!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Really? $.09?

Just went through to see how we did this month. We paid exactly $700 to principle this month. Not too bad, but not as much as I thought we did. I really hate interest. Have I said that before?

Anyway, when I logged into to our accounts, I noticed we owed $.09 on one of the loans. Really? $.09?! I am thinking of mailing them a dime for this loan. It would cost more for the postage than the loan. We are going to end up paying them about $40,000 on $30,000 of loans. They wont let go of $.09? Ridiculous.

I did get excited when I updated our percentage paid. We are getting close to 20%! Woo-hoo! We should reach 20% paid long before our first year trying to get out of debt. Not too bad.

I will be posting an update tomorrow on some opportunities that have arisen where we can make some extra cash.

Hope you are all having a good week!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Use Your Resources

When we set out on this journey of debt reduction, I had no idea how much we would have to scrimp and save, even more so now that we bought a house.  Don't worry, we aren't living in poverty, but there certainly is no room for shopping trips to the mall, spa treatments (not that I did much of those anyway), or fancy dinners out (fancy for us is less than $30!). One thing I've tried to do more and more is to take advantage of are the resources around us. Recently, a friend from college came over to look at our yard and give us her professional opinion.  She is a landscape architect and is planning to provide us with a long term vision for our yard as well as tips on pruning, drainage, plant types etc.  Best part about it... she's free!  Depending on how in-depth her plans go, we may pay for her services eventually, but for now her consultation is free.  Another example of using our resources is buying furniture from people who have nicer things than you.  If they are looking for an upgrade, chances are that their cast offs are a good thing for you.  We have gotten a free desk, coffee table and $130 leather loveseat this way, just by asking.

Another example of using resources around us... tax preparation.  For the past few years, we've used a family friend for our taxes.  Our rate is great, and we've received a pretty decent tax refund each time. My point is, that chances are the people around you have something great to offer.  Whether it's an extra couch, or some free advice, I suggest you ask around for help!  No, I don't mean begging and pleading on someone's doorstep, but there's nothing wrong with being smart, and calling on those who have different talents than yours.

Finally, something that has saved us money is coupons.  No, I'm not the crazy coupon lady on Extreme Couponing, but every little bit helps.  Even if it means switching brands for an extra $1 of savings, it's worth it, just to apply to loans.  Yes, I've become that person who wants to squeeze every dollar into debt that I can... because I'm tired of this black cloud hanging over me!

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day Update

I was going to post last night, but found myself too depressed from the Falcons loss yesterday. Tough game.

Anyway, it looks like we have about $800 extra this month. I think we are going to payoff the smallest loan which is about $490 and we will put the rest in savings. We have to keep on saving to for the upcoming exterior paint job. Taking care of that $490 is a small victory, but it will clear up about $8 a month. It is really irritating that $151 of that $490 is capitalized interest. Bah!

This morning we went and moved some boxes at the mother in-law's work place for $30. It was only 20 boxes, so it breaks down to a little over a dollar a box. I wish they had more for us to move. This money will also be applied to debt.

So, I was checking out some different types of investments the other day. I came across this website called Lending Club. It is a peer-to-peer platform where people apply for loans and individual people can fund the loan with small investments. It may seem dangerous, but it is not a scam. When you look for a loan to invest in they range in APR from 6% all the way to 24%. Obviously, the 24% will be the riskiest. But, you are able to see all of the financial information of people vying for loans. You can see their income, credit score, buy/rent home, number of delinquencies, defaults, and so on. It makes me feel very comfortable knowing you have the power to choose which loan to invest in. When you log in, you are able to see your interest accumulate on a daily basis. It makes me feel better being on the other side.

It is just an experiment for us, but I have already put in $75 and I am waiting on the money to clear so that I can purchase two more loans.

I will post some more updates on this very soon!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Using Groceries to Pay Down Debt?!

Each week, we have an $80 budget to spend at the grocery store. Usually, we spend right around the $80 mark. However, the past two weeks we have only spent $65 each week. We decided that any money we had left in our grocery budget would be applied to our smallest student loan. also, this has encouraged us to find some extra coupons.

Now, we go around the store and ask ourselves do we really need to spend that $2 on potato chips or that $4 on coke? Or, do we want to put that $6 to debt? I think this could potentially become a healthy idea not only for our budget, but our waistlines as well. Woo-hoo!

So far, we have been able to apply $30 to loans in addition to what we have been paying extra already. I am shooting for an additional $300 payment coming up this week. I hope life does not happen and we have an extra $300 to do that. I will keep you guys updated!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bank of America Blues

I really dislike BOA. I have never liked them. I swore I would never bank with them. They are too big and they do not care about the little people, like me.

Many people have had some problems with them, especially with student loans. We have a couple of friends that are unable to pay them their minimum monthly payment. BOA refuses to negotiate a new monthly payment with them and extend the life of the loan. I cannot understand this. Why would they not? That is more money for them in the long run, granted the risk of default is higher.

Recently, they bought out one of my old credit card companies and my card converted to a BOA card. I was extremely irritated by this. I knew it would be trouble before it ever started. I made a $16 purchase on my old card the month before BOA bought them out. I paid this balance off the next month and called to cancel the card because of the BOA buyout. The lady said she would close the account once the funds were received. However, I just got a bill from them for a $1.50. They call this a "minimum interest charge". Why would there be a minimum interest charge when I paid the balance in full and closed the account?! I really, really, really, dislike them. I am going to have to call them and pay a stupid buck-fifty for some ridiculous charge when I paid the card off. Ugh!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The One Car Life

So, it has been a little over 4 months since we sold the Honda.

We get some strange comments. People really don't believe that you have one car and ask "why would you do that to yourself?". I commonly respond by saying, "why would you put yourself through two car payments when you really only need one car".

It really has not been too difficult on one car. It just takes some careful planning to make sure we can both do things that we need to.

The best part is not paying a car payment every month! Also, no insurance payment, no ad valorem tax on the car, gas to put in the tank, maintenance, and you get the picture. This has really been awesome. It has saved us so much money. However, we are not executing that payment ($320) and paying to the loans. This is a must. We will start doing that this month.

Many thanks to my wife posting the other day. She is the best.

I would love to hear if anyone has ever encountered anyone like her boss that believes debt is a part of life.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Is Debt a Fact of Life?

Hello All, this is Brad's wife, adding my thoughts to his blog for the first time, so here goes!

It's been quite a journey, albeit a short one so far, of getting out of debt.  There's always something to think about, talk about, something we could be doing MORE to make our debt go down faster.  Brad and I are both of the opinion that the faster we can get out of debt the better, because only then will we have greater financial freedom and be able to do more, whether it be traveling, house updates etc.

Throughout this journey, we've encountered a variety of opinions on getting out of debt, from the supportive to the skeptical to the let's change the subject as quickly as possible response. One response that stands out in my mind is from a co-worker.  After thanking him for a gift card as a Christmas present, I told him that Brad and I could finally have a date night!  He scoffed at my response and said why don't you go on more date nights, you're young and childless, what are you waiting for?  I then informed him that we were trying to get out from under our student loans, and that means eating at home more and not going to movies or fancy date nights.  He then laughed and laughed and said that debt was a part of life, and that the sooner I realized that the sooner I could go about enjoying my young marriage and child free life.

This made me pause but went on with my day.  After reflecting on it later, I realized that this mentality is prevalent in societies everywhere, but especially in the United States. We rack up thousands of dollars on credit cards, we buy houses and cars we can't afford, and we take out loans for vacations.  This lifestyle has become the norm, and it's something I don't think we should settle for, and it's something that Brad and I won't settle for.  I hope that moving forward, especially after seeing our country these past few years, that more people can choose a debt free lifestyle and not one that ties them to a life of financial stress.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Painting Time

So, we really need to paint the exterior of our home. It is rough. We have cedar siding and some of it is starting to crack and the paint is slowly chipping away. Also, it is just plain ugly. We asked our neighbor who has lived here since the neighborhood opened why the house was painted white with black trim. He told us that an english guy bought the home in the late 90's and painted it right away. Great, now we have to pay about $4,500 to paint and do some carpentry work.

We have got 4 quotes ranging from $3,900 all the way to $8,500. You can tell which way we are leaning...$3,900 easily. But, and the reason for the post, is that one of our quotes was for stain rather than paint. He said it would keep the features of the cedar siding (which I love) and would also penetrate the wood for a deeper protection. However, this was the $8,500 quote. Could anyone provide some guidance on staining the house? We do not have one house in our neighborhood that is stained, so I have nothing to compare it to.

I hate having to pay all of this money while we are tying to get out of debt. $4,000 is a big chunk of debt and could free up almost $60 a month for us, but I fear the longer we put off painting the home, the more money it will cost us in the long run. We are hoping to use our tax return to help us pay for this since it should be sizable amount of money.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

P.S~ You can see the ugly black and white exterior of our home in the halloween post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quick Update

I did some day trading on $300 bucks last month. Turns out I made about $250 off of that! That day trading is a dangerous game and I got lucky. I decided to pull it out and I bought myself 10 shares of Starbucks. I would have used this money to pay off some debt and reinvested the rest, but it was in my retirement account. Pretty cool making nearly 100% off of that money! Woo-hoo! I will let you know about Starbucks in the near future!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Investment Time

I am finally here to update you on some of my investment moves I have made.

The first, I sold off some major gains I had from when I invested a small amount in college. I used this money to purchase 5 shares of Chipotle. Yes, I am a loser. I love their burrito and I now own 5 shares of the company. Sad, but true. I see some good growth for this company in the future. They are just starting to expand internationally and I believe the share price should go up to $400 a share at some point in the next couple of years. I will hold this one for a while. I have made $25 since I purchase it. I was up about $80 right after the fiscal cliff, but it has seen falling back down a little bit.

I have considered selling my position in Sirius XM for a while, however it continues to perform beautifully! It returned over 60% last year! With the resurgence of auto sales, I think this stock should continue to do well. I have made over $800 since this purchase. I was initially in at .05 a share and it is now at $3.16 a share. Almost 1,000% of my investment. I wish I would have put every dollar I had at the time in this company...ugh!

Lastly, I have $2,700 from an old retirement account to invest. I am unsure of where to put this money. I think a mutual fund would provide me with security, but less money. Also, I would love to put it in an aggressive stock to earn a lot more. I have considered looking into some established companies like Walmart, McDonald's, or Amazon to purchase with this money. I would love to hear some feedback on this one.

To this day, I have made $727 over the year from my stocks alone. Not too bad. I would like to increase this and start taking my capital gains and applying them to debt.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Little Things

Good Afternoon!

Back in December, I went to pay my student loans for the month of December. I had to wait to pay the loans until the actual due date, which was the 15th. Normally my principal to interest is $304 to $166, but this time is was $231 to principal and $239 to interest. I was so annoyed! I had to think about this and it was because I waited until the due date to pay it. I forgot that the interest is compounded on a daily basis, not monthly. From there, I decided I would no longer wait until the actual due date to pay. This month, I paid the bill on the 1st and the principal I paid was $367 and interest was $122. I was very happy to see all of that money go to principal. Now, I am paying very small amounts on a weekly basis to try to keep the interest earned down, so come time for the payment, I am able to pay more to principal.

No wonder people are not able to pay these off. If they wait until the actual due date, more interest has accumulated. I can't imagine what it is like to miss a payment and have that interest become capitalized! I believe this is the reason we now have the problem we do in America. Some people have to wait until the day they are paid, which commonly falls on the 15th, a common pay date for working Americans.

In the next couple of days, I will talk about the moves I have made in our investment accounts. I am watching these very closely with the looming debt ceiling crisis. More to come on this later.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Goals!

After reading a lot of other blogs, I decided I would create a list of goals. This is a great idea! It will ensure we are staying on track to meet our ultimate goal of becoming debt free!

Our first goal will be to be under $62,000 this time next year. We will need to pay off about $13,000 of debt. I think this is certainly attainable.

Next, we are going to eat out only once a week. This is very important for us. We have to make sure we are not spending more on fast food. On a side note, we got $150 in gift cards to Chipotle! If you do not know of our addiction to Chipotle, please go back and read about it in an earlier post. We are terrible about going there. So, hopefully, we will not have to pay money for Chipotle until the beginning of March.

As I think of more, I will come back and add some more to it. Happy 2013 everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Early Update

One of my new year's resolutions was to sell some things each month and use that money to pay down debt.

First thing I sold was my old Xbox 360 on ebay for $191! I was pretty excited about getting that much for it. I included all of my games, but I thought I would maybe get $120. So, that was a nice surprise.

I also sold some of these old paver stones we had dug up in our backyard. I sold 20 of those for $70.

We had this old Sony TV in our garage that was just collecting dust. I was able to sell that for $50 to a college student after his was stolen. I felt good about that sell.

Lastly, and the most exciting, I won my fantasy football league! $120! Woo-hoo!

All together, that is $431 to pay down some debt with! That will put a pretty good dent in one of our loans! I am extremely excited about that.

I hope to be able to do this more often. If you guys have any other ideas on how to make some quick cash, please let me know! I am always looking for different things to do to make some easy money.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Did Not Make Much Progress

We did not make much progress. After adding up our total student loan debt, we only paid off $700 of debt in 2 months. However, we did save $1,700. So, we did not reduce much debt, but we did increase our savings. I may empty some of the savings into the loans and wipe out a couple of the smaller loans. We have not decided on this yet. We did pay off 15% of our debt in 4 months though! That is definitely a positive to look at!

I will post some investment updates soon. I am going to go back and review my yields from the year on investments.

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone!

It has been quite a while since I posted an update. My sincere apologies! We had a family friend pass away a couple weeks ago that was expected. So, we took some time for that and the holiday travels allowed time to get away from us! But, we hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

I am going to go through and update some of our debt totals in just a minute to get a look at our progress. Hopefully we will see some!