Becoming Debt Free in 2009

May 3, 2009

Read the Bill Notices

Filed under: Budget,Car,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 2:53 pm

Okay, I have been paying a water bill to the same place for nearly 20 years.  In the past the bill was due on the 19th by 5:00 or the late fee was $1.00.  I have always sent my bill off usually the 14th or 15th because they received the bill the next day and it posts on the day they receive the bill.  I just took the bill out to get ready to write the check and noticed a $4 previous balance.  I thought maybe I paid the wrong amount so I went and checked and I paid the amount due.  Then in VERY SMALL writing it said payments must be made by 5:00 pm on the 15th of each month or there is a $4  late fee.  Also, they charge a fee if you pay online, something like$3.50 so I always mail the payment.

I wonder how many of these late fees they collected for the last couple of months from their normal on time payees.  This started at the first of the year but I must have mailed on the 14th the first couple of months.

Lesson learned – read the bills carefully.

Another thing I noticed last month was with my car payment.  I am nearly three years ahead of the payoff and every month there is a zero balance.  I still pay above the payment amount so it will be paid off in just a couple of months.  Last month there was a minimum balance of $121.  Again, this makes no sense to me since for the last year it has been zero due.

Being debt free can’t get here soon enough.


March 23, 2009

The Big Announcement

Filed under: Budget,Kids,School Expenses — ambercouric @ 8:41 am

If you have been reading for a while you know that we have been trying to cut our monthly expenses.  Someone asked what we would do with the money and I was just a little vague in saying maybe pay off the house early.

Well things have really changed.  Remember this post when Kennedy out of the blue decided he wanted to go to boarding school?    He was absolutely determined to make it work.    He has received scholarship offers from two schools.  FULL SCHOLARSHIPS.  That amounts to about $160,000 over the next four years.   I am both pleased and  terrified at the same time.  I can’t imagine him being gone for weeks on end.  Of course, he has planned to use Skype each day so I can see him.  I don’t even know what Skype is but I guess I will learn.

This will also change things for us financially.   The money we were trying to cut would be for plane tickets and other costs associated with boarding school.   Maybe my blog will change to Debtfree with boarding school expenses.

We haven’t sent back our forms yet so there is still time for him to change his mind but I doubt that will happen. 

I know I should be happy but I am a bit sad too.  I know this is the opportunity of  a lifetime.  One that many kids would love to have.

March 16, 2009

Keeping the lawn service

Filed under: Budget,Journey to Debt Freedom,Weekly Budget Cuts — ambercouric @ 8:16 am

Over the last few months we have been looking to cut expenses.  There are several reasons to cut expenses 1) husband had to take a pay cut 2) the uncertainty of the economy 3) prices on everything seem to be going up 4) A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT later this week ( I hope).

In our discussions we had decided to cut our beloved lawn service.  The service we use is a small town business.  The owner and two workers.  These guys all work hard and do a beautiful job.  I hadn’t mentioned to the owner that we were considering stopping the service.  But when I talked to him I could tell that quite a few of his customers had to cut his service from there expenses.

So we looked at the reasons to keep the service.  1) I don’t have to worry with the yard. 2) They do excellent work above and beyond what we actually pay. 3) There are three people that depend on people like me to keep my lawn service.

Saving money is important but helping others during these crazy times is a little more important to me right now.

March 4, 2009

March Goals & Update

Filed under: Budget,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 10:34 am
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First a quick update on our budget session yesterday.  We were calm, considerate, and willing to make the cuts.  We have given ourselves a list of cuts and will think about them until the weekend.  No spur of the moment cuts that we may regret in a couple of weeks.  I will tell you one of the major cuts we are considering is our lawn service.  More on the cuts and the “reason” for the cuts soon.

March Goals

1) Paint Bathrooms – this has nothing to do with money just need to get it done

2)  Twitter – I have a Twitter account but don’t really do a lot with it.  I am going to figure it out and use it.

3) Pay car down to $5,500

4) Add an extra $200 to savings.  This is beyond our normal saving amount that is always added.

March 3, 2009

Oh No – The “B” Word

Filed under: Budget,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 11:02 am
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DH is home today (one of those unpaid leave days) and we are going to be tweaking the budget.   We may have a major change coming up in a few months and we need to see where we stand.

I think we will be cutting some of those things “that we can’t live without”.

Wish us luck and peace.  We both need to be happy ( or at least agreeable) in the end.

February 11, 2009

Big Announcement!!!

Filed under: Budget,Food,Frugal,Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:17 am
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I can’t really make the announcement until tomorrow but I just wanted everyone to get prepared for it.

Now a question for all of you.  How do you balance saving money (shopping at the cheapest places) vs supporting your community (shopping at locally owned usually more expensive places)?

I try to shop locally.  But lately I have considered doing mail order for prescriptions and contacts.  I could shop at a chain pet store and a cheaper grocery store and the list goes on.   So how do you balance the whole shop locally thing?  In all, I’m talking about saving $150 – $200 a month without shopping Wal-Mart.  If I shopped Wal-Mart that number would increase another couple hundred dollars.  I will say I’m not willing to shop at Wal-Mart.  In this economy a couple hundred dollars is a lot of money and I would like to find a balance.

Do you shop the cheapest stores?  Shop mostly local? Or a combination of the two?

February 10, 2009

I’m becoming frugal

Filed under: Budget,Frugal,Journey to Debt Freedom,Shopping — ambercouric @ 9:58 am

I’m one of those people that when I need / want something I usually go get it.  One blessing for us is that I don’t like to shop.  Also, I am not one of the people who needs to keep up with the Joneses.  I made a decision yesterday that looking back on it – I’m quite surprised and excited by it.

So what did I do that was so special?  I sewed a big hole in my son’s comforter.  The stitching had come loose and I went and bought a spool of thread (no, I didn’t have one – I’ve never sewed anything) and hand sewed the entire side.  I must say that Kennedy was impressed with my sewing.  I took home economics in 7th grade and that was the only time I have ever had a needle and thread in my hand.

For me the major shift here was in my thinking.  Six months ago I would have gone out and purchased a new comforter even though I would have used cash I would have been spending money.  This is one of the first times  I can really say that my actions are becoming in line with my goals as far as money goes.

Oh yeah, I saved at least $100.

February 9, 2009

Weekly Budget Cut #3

Filed under: Budget,Journey to Debt Freedom,Weekly Budget Cuts — ambercouric @ 10:34 am

This has been a great week for weekly budget cut ideas.  We have come up with three that are easily implemented.  I am only going to give one today because I need to get the calculations right for the others.  One will be for next week because that is when the actual cut will take place.

So the budget cut for this week is to reduce the use of the clothes dryer.  We will hang out at least 5 loads of laundry each week or at least average a total of 20 loads per month.  One thing that is important for us is that the clothes don’t feel stiff.  So, I have found that if I dry the clothes for 10 minutes I don’t have this problem.

Using this great calculator I estimate I will save about $9 per month.

Total monthly savings to date – $46.  Only $354 to go.

February 6, 2009

Weekly Budget Cut #2 -Mail Order Rx

Filed under: Budget,Journey to Debt Freedom,Weekly Budget Cuts — ambercouric @ 11:13 am
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Sorry, I forgot to post this on Monday.  We have made our second weekly budget cut.  This cut is easy it just takes a little effort on my part to get things ordered.  There are two of us that take a daily medication.  I usually use our RX plan and get the prescriptions from the local pharmacy and only pay the co-pay.  Our insurance company also has a mail order plan.  If I order a three month supply I will save $40 over the three month period.  An added bonus is that I won’t be running to the pharmacy all the time.

This is so simple.  I could have been doing this for years.  Better late than never.

Monthly savings so far – $37.  Only $363 to go.

February 5, 2009

Debt Free in 11 Months

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 11:34 am
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As I was going through the bills and shredding all the old stuff this morning, I realized I will be DEBT FREE in just 11 months. 

I really need to start  focusing on the end – DEBT FREE DAY – instead of the daily ups and downs of the process.  It seems that my attitude has been – Gosh will the day ever come – and my attitude needs to be – IT’S ONLY 11 MONTHS AWAY.

Hope you all have a great positive day!!

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