Becoming Debt Free in 2009

October 31, 2008

Are you the money nerd or the free spirit?

Filed under: Budget — ambercouric @ 8:35 am
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How do you manage your finances?  Are you in it with the support of you husband or your significant other?  Is your DH or SO the money nerd and you like the spending part?  How does it work at your house?

I’ll explain our system later after I have updated my numbers.

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October 30, 2008

I get to pay off some debt today – YIPPEEE

Filed under: Debt,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 8:45 am
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I am so excited today.  This is the first time since starting this blog that I have been paid.  I get to pay off some debt.  Unfortnately, this time of the month is when we pay most of the utilites and other expenses so not to much goes to debt but some will.  I’ll update my totals after the bills are all written.

Who ever knew paying bills could be so much fun?

October 29, 2008

Grocery Store Run and Diet Coke

Filed under: Shopping — ambercouric @ 7:43 pm
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Tomorrow is my normal grocery shopping day but since I haven’t been to the grocery store since Friday DH had to make a run tonight.  I sent a very detailed list – milk, rice milk, Chex cereal, and lemon pepper seasoning.

He brought me a surprise home.  A 20 oz Diet Coke.  It was a nice thought and even nicer that he didn’t break down and buy 2- 12 packs.  I consider this a treat and not a slip up.  He said he almost bought me a bag of chips (remember the only chips I can eat are $5) but it wasn’t on the list.  I appreciate his thoughtfulness both in buying the single coke and leaving the chips at the store.

What Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Student Loans

Filed under: School Loans — ambercouric @ 10:53 am
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Up until a few years ago, I had no idea about Sallie Mae. I remember listening to Dave Ramsey on the internet once in a while and would hear the discussion about student loans. I’ll say up front that both DH and I went to college on full scholarship. Graduated with no debt. That was a little more than 20 years ago. So the truth is I knew some people received loans but had no idea of the impact on their lives. We were blessed with a free education.

Once I started listening to Dave, I was shocked to hear the totals of student loans. Many people had student loans that were more than $50,000 and even some over $100,000. Did I already say I was shocked? This seemed like such a huge amount that I just couldn’t believe it. Now let me say that my reaction wasn’t to do with the fact that people had loans it was just that I had never heard such large amounts in student loans. I thought school loan payments were like $50 – $100 a month. On Dave’s show I was hearing $600 or more.

The reason I never heard of it was because I lived in a vaccum. Well, not really but I was out of college and of course 40 year olds with children aren’t usually hanging out on a college campus. Then my friends’ children began going off to college. At that point I would hear about how much they had to pay and that they were either refinancing their houses or taking out school loans.

We had a small college fund but no where near enough to pay for 4 years of school. Four years would be at least $100,000. At this point my son was two years away from college – a year away from applying. Panic struck. I had heard the horror stories. I began searching on the web and found even more things that would put me in a frenzy. I didn’t tell my son that we couldn’t pay for his entire education. I didn’t want him to worry. I knew I could cover the first year no problem. There was only one school my son wanted to attend. He had decided that was the only school he would apply to. We encouraged (read MADE) him to visit other schools. Not so much because of finances but we felt he needed to see several college campuses.

While he was in the process of visiting schools, I began to research and find the out what types loans and scholarships were available. At some point in the middle of all of this I read and article about SAT scores. At most schools, SAT score is one of the most important factors when receiving scholarships. The reason being SAT is a uniformed test so no matter how your school grades, the SAT gives a better indicator of where you stand against others.

My son had taken the SAT and his score was a guarantee that he would be accepted to any of the schools we visited. But were they good enough to be part of the elite? The “elite” at each college is different. Unless you are looking at Ivy League which we were not. Since we were still in the process of visiting schools, I suggested he take the SAT one more time -“Just for the fun of it.” Actually, I signed him up and told him to be there. Teenagers sometimes have to be told “because I’m the parent”. A couple of weeks later he visited the school that he thought would be his second choice. When he got there he loved it. He left there that day and made up his mind. The school was smaller. He would have more contact with his professors. It was a perfect match.

Between the time of the second SAT and receiving the scores he sent all of his applications off. He was accepted to all of the schools. But the school that eventually became his first choice offered him a full scholarship. The scholarship money also includes his books, parking decal, and all the extra fees. If he hadn’t taken the SAT a second time – the school would have offered him some money but nowhere near the package he received.

How does this apply to Dave Ramsey? He scared me to death about student loans. He caused me to do the research necessary to make sure that my son wasn’t one of his callers in 20 years saying he just paid off his student loan.

For anyone who has junior high to high school children, I encourage you to begin planning for the SAT. I have some great resources I’ll be glad to share. For anyone with student loans, I encourage you to find a high school student that you can encourage to look for alternatives. I heard over and over that scholarships weren’t available. My son is proof that they are available if you search.

October 28, 2008

Budget Item #1- Stopping the coke habit

Filed under: Debt,Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:04 am
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After looking at my budget items that need to be reconsidered, it looks like Diet Coke should be addressed first. I drink Diet Coke when I get up until I go to bed. I am addicted. It is a habit. I need REHAB. For about two years, I have often said I needed to stop drinking so much Diet Coke. I made plans to stop but I could never go for more than a few hours. My husband and kids would BEG me to drink. I get just a little grumpy without my coke.

I stated in a previous post that I spend about $75 on Diet Coke a month. The truth is that the wonderful drink costs me much more per month. You see if I run out of coke someone runs to the store where a lot more is spent. No going to the store for just one thing that would waste gas, right? So I’m guessing that I could save about $200 per month if I cut out having a great refreshing coke every waking hour.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE: I have not been to the store since Friday. No coke – no chips. And since I ran out of coke I am drinking two cups of coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. My family is still alive. No one has begged me to move out. No one has threatened to move out. So all is well.  (I was going to keep a diary of the exact expense associated with my Diet Coke abuse but decided to save the money and just treat my addiction).

How is this going to help my budget? If I go through November with no coke, I will send an extra $200 to my car payment. Not only am I cutting down on the coke, I am cutting down on the snacks we buy when we have to make the quick trip for the coke.  If this works I will be able to add an additional $200 to my debt reduction plan each month.

I would actually become Debt Free a couple of months earlier.  I’ll drink to that.

October 27, 2008

Want vs Need

Filed under: Uncategorized — ambercouric @ 12:15 pm
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Last night I realized that I use these words interchangably.  I caught myself yesterday saying that I needed something when in reality I didn’t  need it I just WANTED it. 

I’ll be paying more attention to what I say.

October 26, 2008

A Question for All – Please Give Your Opinion

Filed under: Giving,Shopping — ambercouric @ 11:43 am
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Gift cards make the perfect gift.  Right?  I so want to give only gift cards to all the adults on my Christmas list this year.  I don’t want  to seem tacky or like I don’t care enough to put thought into the presents.  The truth is many of the people on my list are family that we rarely see (only at Christmas) and I know absolutely nothing about them.  Sure I can go and buy something that suits my taste but they probably hide it in the closet and sale it at the summer yard sale.

If I could convince our family to stop exchanging gifts that would be perfect.  Unfortunately,  that hasn’t worked.  I usually spend hours shopping for family and I really just don’t want to do that this year.

How do you put a stop to all the gift exchanges that you don’t want to participate in?

Do you like receiving gift cards for Christmas?  What store would you most like to receive a gift card for?

October 25, 2008

Some Budget Items to Reconsider

Filed under: Budget — ambercouric @ 8:28 pm
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I am going to review budget items that are wants and not needs.  Some I would like to cut completely, some I would like to scale back on, and some I just want to keep.

I’m going to post the list here in random order and address each one over the next few weeks.  I have rounded up to the nearest dollar so I don’t have to go and hunt down all the bills.

1) Lawn Care – $80 per month

2) Netflix – $16.00 per month

3) Cable and Internet Service – $113  per month (combined – I may look into another service)

4) Fast Food – $25 per month (pizza delivery twice a month)

5) Soft Drinks – $75 (I’m estimating here – I will keep up with this starting November 1st)

6) Phone Service – $27 per month – thinking of combining with Internet

7) Clothing / Shoes – $100 per month

8) Summer Camps – $1200 per summer for 1 child

9) School Trips / Activities – $1000 per year for 1 child

10) Cell Phones – $15 per month (for two phones – prepaid – only actually use about 10 minutes per month but I like for the boys to have the in case of an emergency.)

I am sure there are more and will add to this as I remember them.

October 24, 2008

I Go To The Grocery Store EVERYDAY

Filed under: Food,Shopping — ambercouric @ 8:40 am
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I have spent the last few days looking over my expenses. And I have found that I go to the grocery store every single day. Actually, sometimes I’m not the one physically walking in the there but someone from my house is going. It really doesn’t help that I live two miles from three grocery stores.

I found three trends in our shopping.

1) I make one big shop each week. Usually around $75 -$100.

2) If I go on a grocery run my bill is usually around $10-$12. Only snacks – usually I need more Diet Coke and I pick up chips or crackers.

3) My husband goes and he spends $33-$35. He is usually going to pick up more Diet Coke or milk. He always adds in anything that he may think he needs for work.

I really thought I was spending about $400 per month on groceries. I think it is closer to $600 – $700 and this is for four people.

SOLUTION:

1) I will only go to the grocery store ONCE a week. If we run out of something we will get by until the next shopping day.

2) I am going to keep track of how much Diet Coke we buy. Most of the extra runs would never happen if I didn’t “need” coke and chips.

3) Keep my wonderful husband out of the store. In his defensive he has told me this countless times. Sometimes, I’m just to lazy to go.

Now that I have convinced you all that I sit around and drink coke and eat chips all day, I should say that I am normal weight – I wear a size 8 jeans. Because of my allergies I don’t eat anything like ice cream, candy bars, etc. I have to buy the expensive chips so each bag is $4.99 on sale.

October 22, 2008

Changing My Philosophy

Filed under: Debt,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:13 am
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I started this blog hoping that the first of 2009 I would be inspired to really get out of debt. Not so much because I am suffering or that we are having financial problems but because I just really hate CAR PAYMENTS. I have no problem sending my payment to the credit card company. Probably because I have a tangible item to account for the bill. I know the car is tangible but have you ever noticed how the new wears off of a car in a matter of months? So now I have a $25,000 car that I still owe more than $9,000 on that is no longer a $25,000 car but an $18,000 car (I looked on KBB). Unlike a lot of what I have read in the PF blogs, my credit card is all major purchases. Some I wanted and some I needed. The bulk of my credit card bill is washer, dryer and refrigerator. The washer and refrigerator went out at the same time. Up until that point the card was at zero balance. Then I decided I wanted a new sofa and chair for the family room. So I just put it on the card. So now I have credit card debt and a car payment.

Also, as far as the hospital bills go, I actually could pay them but because they were zero interest I decided to just make the monthly payment.

Now that the bills have been explained let me explain how we decided on the amount to pay extra to our debt (car payment). Every pay period my husband and I sit down and write a “budget”. It is extremely flexible and I usually put in a couple of hundred dollars extra for food and then some extra for misc. and after everything is tallied up we decide if we will send either $700 or $800 to the car.

We have a plan right? So, what is the problem? The problem is that I have NEVER cut back on anything or cut out anything. I know we could payoff the debt sooner but I have never made sacrifices to do it.

I am going to work on a list of budget cuts and maybe try and tackle one or two at a time.

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