Becoming Debt Free in 2009

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.

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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.

January 22, 2009

Procrastinating Costs Money

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 10:40 am
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I’ve needed to book a flight for a week or so now.  When I first looked at the prices the cost was $98 round trip.  Before I booked I wanted to check a few other details of the trip and just put the tickets on the back burner.  Well, I checked this morning and the tickets are now$205 round trip.  I went ahead and booked but I ended up paying more than $214 more for the two of us just because I waited.  I knew about this trip earlier enough but procrastinating costs me a lot in the long run.

Focusing on all the “little” things doesn’t help a whole lot when something big like this gets overlooked.

I am ready for January to be over.  I have spent more money this month while I’m trying to save than I spent in probably the last six months of last year. 

 One step forward 10 steps back.   Anyone else feel like this?

January 15, 2009

It’s Pay Day

Filed under: Budget,Car,Debt,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 10:21 am
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I can’t believe I actually forgot today is payday.  What is wrong with me?  For someone trying to pay off debt this is supposed to be the highlight of the month. 

I am mailing off my car payment and I owe less than $8000 on it now.  To be exact I owe $7996.00.  This is a big deal considering when we bought the car we financed *DRUM ROLL* TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Absolutely crazy.  Of course, we were convinced that we needed all this extra stuff on the car so my $25,000 car became $28,000. 

A few other positives with the bills.

1) I cancelled the equal pay on my electric bill so I have no bill this month or for a few more months – so for this month I save $142

2) My gas bill is $45.28 – about $15 less than I expected

I still need to sit down and figure out how much to send to the credit card.  I just know this is going to be a great debt payoff month.

December 15, 2008

My Pay Vs. Save Plan

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:48 am
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A few days ago I was wondering if I should save more or pay back debt.  After many discussions with my husband and hours using financial calculators, I think I have come up with the plan for us.

I read about this in the comments of someone’s blog but unfortunately I don’t remember where.  The concept is simple and it was actually like a “I should have had a V8” moment when I read it.  It fits in perfectly with our 2009 goals.

So here is the plan.  We will pay the minimums on both the car and the credit card and put the snowball amount in a savings account and when we have saved enough to pay off either the car or credit card we will pay it in one lump sum.   Then we will save enough to pay off the last debt.  The total interest we pay each month is about $75 so we will end up paying a little extra in interest but I will feel better about having the money on hand for a few months.

Here is how we are working the savings accounts.  We have 3 accounts.  One has our long term savings (about 3 months worth).   This is our security blanket and is NEVER used.  The second has $500 in it for whatever comes up (this is what we refer to as our EF).  The third account has money that we pay yearly bills (camps, insurance, etc.).  We will open a fourth account to use as our debt savings account.

I can’t wait to open up my debt savings account.  By December 31, 2009 – I WILL BE DEBT FREE.

December 13, 2008

2009 Goals to Debt Freedom

Filed under: Debt,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 8:15 pm
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Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what I want to accomplish during 2009.

I have decided on 5 financial goals.  Some are relatively easy while others will take some major sacrifices and work. 

1) Pay off car by July 31, 2009.  This is my major goal for the year. 

2) Pay off credit card by December 31, 2009.   When this is paid off our only debt will be the mortgage.

3) Do the home version of Financial Peace University with my boys.  Most of this doesn’t apply to them now but it will in the future so I want them to be financially literate.

4) Put $200 extra in savings each month to cover summer camp, fence for the dog, and tuition for course for DH.

5) Start a vacation fund.

In order to pay off all the debt I will have to average adding an extra $400 per month to my current snowball amount.  This will be a stretch but I think I can do it.

Personal Goals

These goals have nothing to do with personal finance  but are two things that I would like to do.

1)  Create a website that provides tips for high school students taking the SAT and applying to college.  Several people have asked for tips and advice and I would like to share what I learned during the process with my son.  And share the testing strategies that I use when tutoring.

2)  I would like to take the training to become a Hospice Volunteer.

What are your goals for 2009?

December 10, 2008

Save More or Pay More

Filed under: Budget — ambercouric @ 9:51 am
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My plans were to focus on getting  the car paid off but I’m wondering if I should be more worried about the credit card since the interest rate may change with all the stuff going on with the banks.  The rate for the credit card is supposed to be fixed until the total is paid off  but I’m always afraid that the interest will shoot up.

I need to sit down and really think about what I need to do for the new year’s goals.  It seems to be changing on a daily basis.  I know we plan to up the amount that we put in savings each month by $200 but that is mostly to cover summer camps, tuition for a class for my husband, and a fence for the back yard.

We do have an EF and we aren’t worried about a layoff.  My husband has to take  5 days unpaid leave due to budget cuts but that isn’t a big deal.  My biggest problem is the uncertainty of the economy and how it may effect us.   Maybe I should just quit listening to the news.  It is driving me crazy.

What are some of the unknown effects this economy could have?  What are you doing?  Putting more in savings or paying off more debt.

December 4, 2008

Kick in the butt – Reduced Expenses

Filed under: Budget — ambercouric @ 3:52 pm
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This blog has been a tremendous kick in the BUTT.   All of your comments really give me the motivation to step up and do something.  Just writing it and getting your feedback really gives me that boost to do what needs to be done.

First, with the hospital bill I would have never called back until I received the statement in the mail.  With the encouragement of several readers I called back and got it all worked out the very next day.  This would have lingered for weeks without your encouragement.

Second, after writing about my utility expenses I got some great feedback.  Thanks all of you for your comments.  I really appreciate it.  I did two things today.

1)  I downgraded our Netflix.  Thus, saving about $5 per month.  We use the instant play portion of Netflix much more than movies in the mail so this works out great.  After a few months I may downgrade one more step.

2)  After looking over my electric bill I realized that only two months in the entire year has my bill gone over $142 – February and August.  As a matter of fact most months the bill is around $70 – $90 so this would be a big savings most months.  Also, we have a credit right now of about $232 so we actually won’t have a bill for a few months.

We also told the kids we were thinking of downgrading cable.  Younger son wanted to know how much we pay and when I told him the cable portion of the bill is $68 he agreed we didn’t need it.  Older son wasn’t happy with the idea so we won’t do anything until January when he is back in college.  I can’t promise we will follow through with this but  just to think it wasn’t totally shot down was great.  We would still do antenna enhancement which I think cost $6 per month and gives 15 channels.

December 3, 2008

Cutting 10-15% off Utilities

Filed under: Budget — ambercouric @ 9:51 am
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Taking a look at the next area of my budget on the chopping block.   I have decided to look at our utilities and other recurring expenses.  I would really like to cut these by 10-15% over the next 3 months.

Currently, the total for all of these bills is $564.05

Bills include:

  1. Cable – cable tv, internet connection -$114
  2. Electric – $142 – this is equal pay  – the company has a built in 20% extra so usually we get a either a check back with the overage or a reduction in payment
  3. Water – this also includes garbage pickup -we live in the city so no op-out -$70
  4. Gas – $50 – this is a little high – it is usually between $36-$50
  5. Car Insurance – this is paid every six months -works out to $158.05 per month  – includes two cars with a teenage driver and high coverage ( this is a sue happy country and I prefer to be prepared)
  6. Phone – basic with no long distance $30

Do any of these numbers look especially high?  Can you give me you best tip of cutting any of these areas? (Without cutting cable).  Do you bundle cable services?  Also, I’m a little worried that they give a guarantee of a price for two years.  Has anyone else change companies with success or with problems?  I would like to hear the positive and the negative.

 I would like to get these numbers to about $500 per month.

November 30, 2008

Just a few December Goals

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Goals — ambercouric @ 6:19 pm
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I’m not going to make a lot of goals for December.  I know that things will be busy and I really want to spend some time developing my goals for 2009.  So I’m going to keep it simple.

Goals:

  1. Pay off hospital – I’m sick of this hanging over my head. 
  2. Read –  Your Money or Your Life – I read this several years ago but I think it will help to reread it and get me focused for the new year
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