Friday, July 22, 2016

Best Buy is gone now

So yesterday we made the final payment on Best Buy! It was a very small balance left on a zero interest offer that we have had since May of last year. The final payment, which paid it in full was $168.52.

We started this journey with $50,530.01 in debt.
Now the total amount is $42,318.37. So since May when we started we have paid off $8,211.64. That feels wonderful!

As of today the balances due are:
Citi Card:             $ 3,838.56
Car Max (Van):    $ 6,588.28
PSECU Credit:    $15,962.73
Amex:                  $15,928.80

I have closed my SAMs credit card and also my Discover. Going to be cancelling Kohls very soon. Just haven't gotten that far yet. Best Buy card will be cancelled as soon as this final payment has been credited. Next to cancel is Bry's capital one. We use this for his gym membership which comes out once a month and also for the Xbox live purchases. However I think I'm going to set up a free checking account that gives us a debit card and just have this be the fund for these two items. I just don't like giving the gym access to our main checking account just in case they have an overcharge error, which has happened in the past.

I read Chris Hogan's Retire Inspired the other day. Great book which I highly recommend to anyone. Not a rehash of Dave's books as some Amazon reviews indicate. I felt Chris really explained heavily the retirement steps of the baby steps, which makes sense since it's called Retire Inspired after all.

~May your evening be blessed~

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money

So I read this book for the first time just the other day....

I really like this book very much. While I enjoyed the story based conversational format of the Total Money Make Over... I think I prefer this just a smidge more as I like that it really digs in to the money concepts deeply.
I read Total Money Make Over many years ago. I'm currently re-reading that. I also listen to Dave's Podcasts Daily. As you can tell I am committed to keeping the motivation going here.
I had borrowed the Financial Peace kit from my dear friend who took Financial Peace at our church. I  was sort of teetering about if Bry and I should take the at home version.... but we have known about Dave's "system" for awhile.... I don't think there is anything we would learn specifically out of the class that we don't already know very well already from having been following Dave's materials so far.... We don't feel we need the group support/accountability aspect at this stage or the extras provided in the FPU class. I had already listened to all the FPU CD's and since I would like to get the kit back to my friend sooner than later... I was like okay... open this book and read it so I can give it back. It's basically the handbook for FPU, and it's really a great read and I highly recommend it!

I honestly think I would recommend both books since they work in tandem. Yes some of the info is repeated a bit... but not in a word for word annoying kind of way... Total Money Make Over has lots of stories sprinkled in of others and their journey (for your encouragement) where as Complete Guide to Money is more meat and potatoes and details with sparse stories of encouragement. I know that FPU gives you a workbook to complete which follows this book, but that was something I felt I didn't need much for us to cement the concepts. I did look over the workbook my friend completed and the rest of the materials which were a chart to keep track of your debt and an envelope system. We already have encouraging verses hanging up, a space that prominently lists our current debts to keep track of and our envelopes that my younger daughter and I put together firmly in place. We used regular size 10 envelopes but we decorated them fancy with left over scrapbook paper we had, and then stenciled on them either names of the family members or the category (i.e.: groceries, family spending money, holiday/gift money). And we have our budget going well and budget sheets I made custome for our debts (which I just redid a bit) and then our thermometers to color in as a debt is paid off. So we felt that for us reading the Complete Guide to Money was really the piece of the FPU puzzle that we didn't want to miss right now. I enjoyed the book so much that I asked Bry if maybe after he completes some testing he is doing for a promotion at work (which requires lots of reading and studying) that maybe when that's all said and done he may want to dive into the book because it's nice and to the point which he would enjoy.
I also purchased the TMMO audio book so that I could listen to that anytime I don't have any podcasts going or if I just need some Dave inspiration.

I do have Chris Hogan's Retire Inspired on the way. I had sent that to my Mom as a gift for her birthday (she didn't read it yet) and I really would like to read it and maybe the two of us can chit chat about it.

I did realize a few tweaks we needed to make:
List out all budget categories on the bi-weekly budget... Before I didn't include yearly bills like the sewer bill of $229 or the SAMs $45 or Amazon Prime membership fees $99 or Bry's uniform cleaning which is about $5.50 to $8 per week, or the Master HOA of $93 per quarter or the quarterly trash bill of $43.43... so then I was having to cover that from money we may have wanted to put towards another bill or spending category. So I went back in and updated the budget sheets I like to use to write out for each pay period.

Another thing I realized is that we didn't start by paying the smallest debt first... That is our Best Buy with a current balance of $168.52 so this paycheck we are going to pay that all off and then be moving along in the "proper" order, so to speak.

~Blessings to you and yours~

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Slow snowball, Holiday budget, control

So we got the discover paid off. But the Amex min payment went up.... so instead of being able to devote $200 from the discover to pay off the citi bill quicker, we had to move $200 over to pay toward the Amex. I think there was some sort of grace period going that I didn't realize. So I'm glad I paid attention to the increase of payment or we could have been up a creek.
I have guesstimated that we will have the citi balance paid off by 11/11/16 unless we have to slow a bit for medical bills for some reason.
Man I am feeling so anxious and fired up to get this citi card out of lives and off the sign hanging on my fridge.... you just have no idea!

I wanted to try to put $250 away toward Halloween, Christmas and Birthdays, per month but it slowed the citi snowball far too much. So I've made it more conservative and we are trying to put about $50 to $75 per month aside instead. Christmas won't be a glorious gift adventure this year that's for sure.... especially as that AMEX bill still contains Christmas and Birthday gifts we purchased for at least the last 3 years.... Ugh that's a sobering thought isn't it?

I'm happy to report that my spending habits have changed. I am reformed. I can only say a huge thanks to God for changing my heart about spending and our budget. I have kept a written budget for many years... however I never ever stayed within it. I would use my debit card to spend and just replace the money from the next check that I spent prior, but that kept us from getting out of debt and clearly my spending was out of control to do that because if I was an employee running a business so badly I would have fired me for sure. And the funny thing is.... I would never run anyone's money the way I was running ours.... um hello.... can you say duh?!

When the cash in our envelopes is gone.... it's just gone... and then no more spending.... that's it. I am not even a lil tempted to cheat at this. We have been putting gold stars on the calendar each day we stay in budget. I think Bry is super proud of me.... the feeling of being able to be trusted and know I won't slip up... that feels great to me for sure!

I also canceled my SAMs credit card. That felt good. The man asked "Do you mind my asking why you are cancelling your card?" I replied "Honestly... I want to be debt free and not use credit cards anymore for anything." His response "Well we are sorry to lose your business but that's an admirable goal"
Thank you sir.... I think so too! Yay!

Oh I can't recall if I wrote about this.... my parents are now living on a budget. They are in their mid 60's and this is their first time on a budget... we talked about cash and how you feel spending it. I think my Mom was hesitant at first until we began going through their credit card statements. We spent an entire weekend on video calls getting a workable budget for them to use - spending money for her and my Dad, envelopes for groceries and gas. I felt really excited that my Mom was so open with me and let me into their finances in this way. This past week they used their grocery cash in their grocery envelope for the first time to buy groceries and this is the first time they felt it (having used credit cards for this prior). And I could totally hear the pride in my Mom's voice that she used cash and that she walked out with money - cold hard cash in her pocket and that she scored 6 bags of groceries at Aldi's for like $26! Way to go Mom and Dad! I am so so proud of you guys!

C'mon let's all be debt free!

~Have a blessed evening~

Dental work for two down...

We switched over to a new dentist, great doctor and great staff all around.
So far, myself and 3 of the 4 kids have some work needing to be done. We had the work done for two of the kids so far. And made the appointment for our younger daughter at the end of July.
Our middle daughter has her check up in two weeks and we will see if she has anything needing done. And if not... I'll be next in line to get the work done that I needed to put off just for now while we make sure the kids are all taken care of first in line.
Of course I have to stay in budget. Our flexible savings account doesn't have too much more in it so we need to dig into our pockets pretty soon. Fingers crossed and prayers that our older daughter doesn't need anything at all, and if she does...nothing too pricey. We do have dental insurance put need to cover the out of pocket and deductible portion.

I received an emergency room bill from the ER physicans trying to get me to pay the full balance of $1275, on the bill it never even indicated it was sent to my insurance company. I have been watching my insurance claims carefully and my insurance company explanation of benefits says my out of pocket is $213, not $1275. I have sent the billing office the EOB three times now so hopefully they will get that updated soon. If not I have to keep on top of it. We simply don't have $1275 to devote to this bill right now, and especially a bill that has been paid and processed by my insurance company as per their contract with the ER doctors, far differently.

Today we went to have some dental work done for my son. I ran out to the car to grab The Total Money Make Over. Yes, I've read it but I like re-reading it. :-) And as I walk into the office the Dentist asks me "Who was that financial guy your husband was talking about yesterday" (We were there the day before for cleanings and a baby tooth extraction on one of the kids.) I wasn't in when they had their conversation but I held up the book and asked "was it Dave Ramsey?" He said" yes yes that was him." He asked if he could take a pic of the cover to send to a friend who is deeply in credit card debt, I said oh sure thing. He asked me later how we found Dave so I told him a bit of our history with Dave and about the amount of our current debt and how we had kicked Discover to the curb so far, and the dental assistant asked the name of the book so she could tell her husband who loves reading books about finances.

I sat there thinking... Lord this is super cool... at the ER there was Dave Ramsey talk..... at the dentist there was Dave Ramsey talk.... No one likes debt... don't we all want to be debt free? Man I do! I sooooo do!

~Have a blessed day~