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Archive for December, 2012

How Many Credit Cards?

December 28th, 2012 at 07:51 pm

I've been thinking lately about credit cards. Not in the "why" of having them but in HOW MANY should a person have?

I currently have two cards. I will be cancelling one (it has an annual fee) and opening a new one (a cashback card with my credit union). So I will have two cards.

One main card (rewards card) and the other card which will hopefully have a 6% APR by the time I get back to the states. It currently has a $2k credit limit on it. I'm keeping this one because I feel safer having it if I need to in case of emergency even though I have an emergency fund. That's just how I am. It's basically my "stays at home" card.

The cashback card I will use daily but pay off the balances as well (it also doesn't have an annual fee and also has low APR).

But really, how many cards should a person have? I think two should be the limit. Now have much should the limit be on the cards? That's up to the individuals ability to handle. If you can only handle $500 limit then only get that. If you can handle more then get that instead. I've actually figured out that I can handle more so I may get a higher limit just to help out my credit score.

But again, how many credit cards do YOU think a person should have?

Coupon Insert Deliveries

December 27th, 2012 at 11:02 am

I'M SO EXCITED!!!

I have found a coupon insert deliver service. What's so special about this service? It's actually a subscription service. So instead of getting one or two delivered I can actually set up to receive a certain amount of inserts weekly until I cancel it.

I've been looking for this type of service for a few weeks now. I'm so glad I've found it. It just means that I will be able to really be ready to go when I get back stateside. WHOOHOO!!!

If you're trying to find one here's the link:

http://neclippers.com/

2013 Goals

December 25th, 2012 at 02:24 pm

So my goals for the new year are:

*Pay off last credit card
*Close Capital One card (this is not my oldest account)
*Open new credit card (cashback card) (yes I will pay off balances when I use it)
*Refinance car loan
*Go over budget with parents
*Come up with do-able 5 year debt free plan
*Emergency fund amount to $6,000
*Saving fund to $2,000
*Start putting money in Roth IRA again
*Pay SUV down an extra $1,000 before refinancing
*Start Christmas fund ($350)
*Clean/Organize items for Ebay/yard sale
*Donate items not for sale
*Lose 46.7lbs and lose 12.6% bodyfat
*Get store coupon cards for all the stores in my area
*Sign up for newspaper and coupon insert delivery
*Donate to humane society
*Donate to retirement home/shelter
*Help kids out with their needs

That's all I can think of for now...

(26 dec updated weight loss goal after finding out that i'm at 24.6% bodyfat. if i lose 62lbs i'd have to lose 30lbs of lean muscle mass...)

Donating Items to Family and Organizations

December 22nd, 2012 at 04:32 pm

Well I know they aren't kids anymore but they're still MY kids.

But I've been in their current shoes. One has just moved to a new place with my granddaughter and her new husband. The other has moved into her first apartment with her boyfriend and are expecting my other grandbaby.

Well I've decided to help out my kids. I'm not giving them money. I'm actually giving them things that they need instead.

I know for my youngest, I'll be getting her diapers, baby food and whatnot for the new baby as well as laundry detergent, paper towels, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

As for the oldest one I'm not sure what I can give her yet besides the same as above except for the baby stuff. (unless she's expecting and hasn't told us yet). The older one knows how to coupon but she who would say no to extra help. I'm not sure if the younger one knows how to coupon (if not she needs to learn).

I'm not actually spending extra money to get these items. I know how to get the majority of these items for free (such as diapers and laundry detergent).

Since this doesn't actually affect my budget I'm not worried about cost.

I've also will donate to at least two other types of organizaitons. A humane society, retirement home and possibly a women's shelter.

I actually know what the humane society in my area want/need. But more than likely I'll need to visit the shelter and retirement home to get an actual list of things they also want/need.

I have the ability to get certain items for free or near free and not a lot of money. I figure that since the actual item is more valuable, I'd donate that instead. In other words, since I can't afford to give them $20 but I can buy a few items for less than $5 but it actually would have cost $20-40 without coupons, I'd rather give them the product.

I don't know if that seems selfish or anything. I'm not sure if anyone will think that I'm not "donating correctly". I really don't care what they think. This is within my capabilities to donate the way I've described.

I've already decided to have several boxes for this. I figured that if I do this every few months then I'd have a good supply to give. (I plan on visiting my children so I'll just take them with me instead of mailing them).

By the way, I also donate my coupons (the ones I don't use). You can donate your coupons to the military overseas (they can use expired coupons up to six months after the expiration date).

Go to this link for more information about it: http://www.ocpnet.org/

What Do You Think?

December 15th, 2012 at 01:30 am

I have made a tentative budget of $200/mo for groceries. This not only includes food but also hygiene products, cleaning supplies and whatnot. I didn't think that I would be able to do this but I've reminded myself that I've done this before on less with coupons.

I've been thinking about something though. What if at the end of the month that I've spent less than $200 for all my groceries. Should I:

1. Roll over the difference for the next month
2. Use the difference to pay towards debt
3. One month rollover, then the next month put towards debt.
4. After 3 months rollover to savings.

I'm leaning towards number "3".

What do you suggest?

Cutting My Grocery Bill in Half

December 14th, 2012 at 04:22 am

Normally when you go to the grocery store you try to use coupons and buy things that are only on sale. Well I know that a lot of people get tired of doing that. I found a way to help solve the issue. e-Meals! This is a service built by two SAHMs. They go to the stores in your area according to the sales items they make a grocery list for you and/or your family as well as the menu with recipes. They do it for dinner and lunches.

No more scouring the ads to find out what's for sale. It's done for you. No more trying to figure out a dinner and/or lunch menu. It's done for you. They also give you the recipes for the menu.

Now even if you don't use coupons you've already saved because they only use foods that are on sale. But if you DO use coupons then you'll save even more money!

As an added benefit they can even customize your meals. From vegetarian, low-carb, gluten-free, portion control and so on.

You don't have to keep the same menu either you can change it ever so often. I bought the 1 year for half price (got it from groupon.com). They have new menu/grocery lists every wednesday.

I think it's great for all of us that want to pay less groceries but don't have the time to go through everything to build the menu and grocery lists.

By the way, they also do crockpot meals!

Expected but Unexpected Debt

December 13th, 2012 at 12:27 am

I need to give you a little history...

Back in 2000/2001 my ex-husband (i call him ex even though we're only legally separated) he took out two loans in order to get microsoft certified or something like that. It was one of those ITT schools. I credit was NOT good but mine was the better of the two. In order for him to attend he needed to take out two loans. I think they both totalled $25,000.

Well I took one out for him with Sallie Mae for $15,950. This means that the loan was in my name but he is listed as the student because the loan is for him but I'M the one responsible for it. The other loan HE took out but my parents co-signed on it (which I didn't know about til 3 years ago).

We made payments to the Sallie Mae loan but if you're familiar with private loans you know how this goes. We made payments but didn't know they only went to interest although now it goes towards principal. So after 11 years I still have about $10,000 left to pay. The Sallie Mae loan is what I've been paying ever since we've been separated. I knew about that so I pay it diligently. It will be one of the first things I pay off in the next few years because I don't want to be responsible for loans that weren't for me anymore.

Now the other loan... I didn't realize that he had stopped paying on it when we separated. So of course they went after my parents. They've been paying it ever since. Fortunately it's only $110/mo and currently there is about $6,500 left to pay on it at 6%.

I wanted to take up the payments then but I simply couldn't afford it but my parents could. I had alimony, rent, utilities, car repair (95 altima), gas and bills. I pretty much had about $50/mo extra at first. I would do side jobs but it wasn't guaranteed monies so I wouldn't count that into my monthly income.

When I joined the military after the first two months in I realized that I could handle those payments especially with my parents handling my bills (they're like debt payor gurus or something. plus since they have learned from past mistakes they apply their knowledge to my finances so i don't suffer as they once did).

After talking to them when I was in AIT (job training school) I told him to add the other loan to my finances. I didn't want them to pay for my past. Plus both of my parents are retired so this frees up more of their finances which is what I really want also.

So I spoke with them the other day (i love skype) and we spoke about my finances. I told them that I wanted to pay extra towards my car loan because when I refi, it'll be for a lower debt and the payments will be lower. They told me that if I do that then it'll only save me about $11/mo in payments. It would be better to save. So I said that I would think about it.

But then I mentioned paying Sallie Mae with it because it'll get paid off sooner. And they mentioned the other loan which was $110/mo that my ex has that THEY ARE STILL PAYING. I was shocked!! I told them that I thought that they had added that to my bills but they told me I didn't. UGH!! So I told my dad to add it to my bills please so that they aren't paying for it.

So as of this month I will be paying another debt because of my ex. But it was a debt I was already expecting but unexpected because I thought I was already paying it.

So I had worked out an extra $275/mo when I got back home. Now that has dwindled to an extra $165/mo when I get back home...

$110/mo less makes a big difference. Not sure how to handle it at this moment in time but I'll figure it out. I'm a bit OCD-ish so I know that it'll get figured out.

A Bit About Myself

December 8th, 2012 at 09:04 pm

Here's a little bit of information about me that will probably put things in perspective.

I'm 36 years old and currently legally separated from my spouse for the last 2.5 years. I have two beautiful adult daughters (one just got married) and one beautifully rambunctious granddaughter (and another grandchild on the way).

I use to work in a call center for an insurance company (was an agent in 21 different states for auto/home insurance) and later for a bank. After 7 years of working at the bank and 3 years in the same position I received a raise of .98% (it literally only added $600 to my pay at the end of the year).

After taking a look at my life and realizing more things needed to change (by this time I was already separated) I re-started working towards a goal that I had started almost 10 years ago. To join the military.

The reason I did so was because I wanted to have a career and not just a job. I wanted something that I chose and I wanted to be able to retire when I reached retirement age. I no longer wanted to "survive" and I wanted to start living my life. I knew that this was a way for me to move forward despite a certain disadvantage (I currently PAY alimony but that will end in 2016).

I lost a lot of weight (about 60lbs) and joined the U.S. Army Nov 2012. I actually turned 35 years old in basic training (and no I wasn't the oldest person their. i'll leave that to my good friend Sandy who was 51 years old and what we like to call a PT Beast!! she ran the 2-mile run in 16min 30sec!).

After basic I then went to AIT for job training and went to visit my family for 2 weeks after I graduated. I then went to my first duty station and after I arrived I discovered we were deploying to Afghanistan which is where I currently am residing.

The good thing about Afghanistan is that during deployment, I can really pay off bills and accrue savings. The con is that you miss your family terribly. There are a lot of people here that will be debt free when they get back. That will not be me but at least I'll be on the road to being debt free. I know that if I get deployed at least once more that more than likely I will be or VERY close to being free of debt.

I can do this. It's no biggie. Just make a plan and stick to it. Things change and I'll need to be able to roll with the punches. But it's all good. It's my life and I finally feel as if I am in control of it.

Net Worth and Debt Free Projection

December 8th, 2012 at 06:41 pm

I had decided to look at all the stuff that I have and see what my net worth is currently.

-$30,000 approximately

Pretty sad I'd say...

My current debts equal $50,000 and my assets equal $18,000 approximately.

What I want is to be debt free by May 2018. It seems impossible right now, but I know that I'll at least be able to pay approximately $30,000 towards debt by then. That means that there is a difference of about $20,000. I'd have to make up about $4,000/yr to be able to payoff everything by that timeline. So hopefully I'll get promoted in a timely manner, or get a really good bonus when i re-enlist.

But that is my projected goal of debt free.

May 2018 here I come!

Selling My Timeshare?

December 8th, 2012 at 08:40 am

So I have a timeshare that I don't want. I have approximately $7,000 left to pay on it and I would love to sell it.

It is a 1 bdrm/ 1 bthrm Woodstone at Casa de Campo at Massanutten Resort that's for week 40-something (sometime in October) and I believe that I have a floating week with it also. Here's the link:


http://www.massresort.com/v.php?pg=128

It's a mountain resort in and of itself that can be used year 'round. From horseback riding to skiing (even has a ski school). (I'm a gold card member also)

I believe that I can pay it off in a little over a year if I truly needed to. I can't remember a lot of stuff about it since for the pass year I haven't even been home except for about a total of a month.

If I sell it I gather that I have several choices. I could sell it through a real estate agent, ebay, craigslist or word of mouth when I get back. I'm not looking to make a profit, but paying for the amount I have left on the loan would be great. But if I had to go a little lower than the lown that would be fine since I have the money for it.

I would really like to sell it so that I don't have to pay for the rest of it.

Does anyone have any other ideas for getting rid of a timeshare?

If I don't get rid of it then I'll end up keeping it.. oh well...

Deciding the Next Step...

December 6th, 2012 at 06:24 am

I've been trying to decided what my next move should be and I had posted my position in the forum and received some suggestions already.

These are my current bills:

auto insurance: 129.92
netflix: 7.99
credit card: 36.24
sallie mae: 0 (deferred until Nov 2013 then will probably be at 190.01)
timeshare: 132.80
student loans: 0 (deferred til July 2013 & Sept 2013) (although they'll be deferred til i finish school)
car loan: 213.55 (i actually pay this every two weeks (113.55 & 100)
miscellaneous charges: $13.96 (trying to get these cancelled)
alimony: 600
dental: 11
life insurance: 27
AFRH: 0.50
spouse life insurance: 13

Totalling: $1,185.96

That's until I get back from deployment. Once i'm back home these bills will be added:

rent: 600
water: 10
renters insurance: 15
cell: 75
fuel: 200 (guesstimate)
food: 200 (guesstimate)

Totalling: $1,185.96 + 1,100 = $2,285.96

When i get back my paycheck should be $2,564/mo

Which leaves $275 to play with.

My debt is:

credit card: $1,681.60 @ 19.99%
car Loan: $9357.19 @ 11.5%
timeshare: $7,503 @ 12.087%
sallie mae: $9,543.16 @ 6%
student loans: $37,164.06

My emergency fund amount is already at $9,500 approximately. It'll go down to about $5,500 because I'm going to use some of it to pay off my medical collections.

I'm going to use my tax refund to pay off the credit card so I'm ok with paying just the minimums until I get my refund. I'm also going to get my car loan re-financed for a lower interest rate but I'm using it to help re-build my credit so my plans are to just pay it monthly but to keep the loan equal to if not below the value.

If I could get rid of the timeshare I would. I don't want it and I didn't take it to get anything money-wise out of it. If someone would buy it off me for the amount of my loan, I would sell it to them right now but at this time no one will purchase it.

I don't use my credit cards (haven't for a year now) so there won't be any new charges on them. I'm going to get a credit card with my credit union and have them set a low credit limit (500 - 1000) which is only to be used in emergencies and close the other accounts.

I don't qualify for the college loan repayment program because I have the MGIB and you can only have one or the other.

In 3.5 years I will no longer be paying alimony and will be able to pay off/save money quicker.

The 6% interest rate is only available for certain things for deployed service members.

So these were the suggestions that I had received:


I'd say to dump the timeshare. You will never get your money out of it. If you can find someone to take it off your hands at any price, even $1, do it and get it off your balance sheet.

*i'm not going to sell the timeshare for $1 but i'll sell for what is left on the timeshare loan. i'm not looking to recoup any money from it.

Start applying that toward your highest interest debt - either the timeshare until you are able to sell it or the car loan until you refi.

*working out the math

I would suggest the bulk to be put towards debt. You should start making a habit of saving. Save a portion in the TSP or in a Roth IRA.

*i haven't decided WHEN i'll contribute towards the TSP, Roth TSP or Roth IRA yet. although i will because i would like to have money when retire even if i am going into real estate when i do.

All good suggestions that I've taken into consideration.

Basically my two options were to put it towards the timeshare or the car loan. Since I'm unable to get in touch with the timeshare people and I can actually make an extra payment to the car loan with a click of the button (since it IS with my credit union) it came down to convenience.

Car loan it is!!

So I'll make an extra payment of $275/mo maximum on the car loan. I'll still pay off the credit card when I get my tax refund.

Now there where two things that I hadn't mentioned:

1. $275/mo is only for eight (8) months. Because after that I will be putting it towards the Sallie Mae loan (making a total payment of $200 - $500/mo)

2. For the next several months I will be able to make an extra payment of $385/mo towards anything. Again, this is only for several months.

What I've decided to do was to put this towards whatever I will be making extra payments towards when I get back home. Basically I'm adding $385/mo for several months to the car loan then $275/mo for eight months. I'm hoping this will allow for me to refinance for a lower interest rate for less. Allowing me to make more of a payment towards the principal.

Thank goodness I don't plan on getting a car loan again for a LONG time. I'm thinking the SUV will last me another ten years if I take really good car of it. I truly like my car and it fits me (SUV) and it's a color I like!

Earning Extra Income

December 4th, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Being in the military we can earn extra income but we have to fill out a form for permission so to speak.

What I like to do is earn income with jobs that don't have set hours but may have set deadlines for them to be completed.

I used to work for Market Force. I would go to the movie theatre and either set up displays or monitor trailers. I sometimes would be able to watch a movie and critique it according to peoples reactions (this was overt work so the theatre knew about me). I liked them because they would send you a direct deposit as soon as the money was available (2-4 weeks depending on the job). I had actually made more than $1,000 one year. But I've also made less than $600 another year. It all came down to jobs that I chose or didn't choose.

I'll go back to them but I've also been looking at other ways to earn money without leaving the house. I've only so far heard of SwagBucks, ChaCha and mTurk which I'm currently looking into.

Are there any others that are known that are pretty good with their payouts?

Back Home To Do List

December 3rd, 2012 at 09:01 pm

When I get back home, there are a number of things that I'll have to do.

*go over my finances with my parents

*make a snowball schedule for all my finances

*make a five year financial plan (which i'll probably start now)

*make a five year career/personal plan (i'll probably start this now as well)

*gather all my possessions (at both my parents' and brothers' house)

*get storage for my items (i plan on having storage for 3 months max)

*spend several hours daily organizing my things as I unpack all my boxes

*purchase two closet organizers

*purchase other items for organization

It's a short list but it'll do for now.

Credit Score

December 1st, 2012 at 06:29 am

For the last few years I've been keeping up with my credit score.

Normally I use www.creditkarma.com because it's free and it doesn't impact my credit report. It uses Transunion to give you a score. I also use Experian every now-and-again because I've noticed that it will give you the lowest score out of the three major companies.

The lowest score that I've had (due to financial issues to which I'm no longer married to) was a Transunion score of 517 on March 2009.

Currently my scores are:

Experian: 617 - 1 Dec 2012
CreditKarma: 655 - 1 Dec 2012


*i've paid off a credit card since i received my experian score so it could actually be higher

This just verifies for me that I'm doing the right thing. Not only is my family noticing the stress that I no longer have about finances but through my efforts of paying off bills, companies have noticed as well.

I've had an overall increase of 138!

------------------POSTSCRIPT------------------

I signed up for www.creditsesame.com which I got from creditcardfree (THANKS BY THE WAY!!) and it's free. It uses Experian as the reporting agency. So I've updated the score from Experian above from 567 that was reported on 14 Nov 2012.