Monday, March 24, 2008

The Name of This Site

I thought about this for a while. I wanted to come up with something smart and catchy like The Simple Dollar or Get Rich Slowly. Obviously, those were taken so I started to think about why I was doing this in the first place. It seemed that before I was tracking where my money went and started an actual budget that my money was for someone else. I would work and work only to pay someone else. Finally, I got fed up with that and took control of my money. I took a look at some credit card bills and loans that I had and decided to pay them off immediately instead of continuing to pay the finance charges on them. I transferred another credit card bill with a larger balance and a high interest rate to a 0% for 12 months card and I plan on paying it off in 11 months. I opened an online savings account and ING; this was the beginning of my emergency fund. This was a very important step as you can read about in my last post. I am just now starting to look at sources of alternate incomes. This blog could eventually become just that, although I am not counting on it. I have changed about 80% of the light bulbs in my house over to CFL’s, (compact fluorescents). My last electric bill was the lowest of the last 12 months, even though it was during the coldest time of the year here in Michigan and the furnace was running a lot. I have taken these steps because I know that “Now My Money Is Mine”. Soon, when the rest of the bills are paid and there is only the mortgage to consider, I will have full control of my money. Anyone can do this, but you have to make an effort to get started. Read this entry at Get Rich Slowly, it got me pumped up again nearly 3 months after I started taking control and I am now going to try finding more sources of alternative income. I have sold on Ebay and Amazon in the past and I think I can find some things lying around the house to sell. Whatever I decide to do, it will help my in my quest for financial freedom because Now My Money Is Mine.

Emergency Fund…..A Must

The other day I had to put 4 new rims and 2 new tires on my car. I went to Discount Tire where I know the manager in hopes of getting some kind of deal. I got a better deal than if I did not know the manager but $600.00 is still pretty steep. That, along with the cook top going out on me a few weeks ago, see My First Blogger Entry, just about depleted my emergency fund. But the fact remains, that is was there and it was used for the purpose that it was intended. If it had not been there, I would have had to finance both purchases and would be paying on them for who knows how long as well as incurring the finance charges. If you don’t have at least a starter emergency fund in place with at least $1000.00 in it, you need to start building this up now. If you have to use it, as I did, you have to replenish as soon as you possibly can. Luckily, I never stopped my automatic deposits into this account so the money will continue to go into it. I may use the Economic Stimulus Payment from the government to get it back to the level that it was before when I receive it. See The Official Economic Stimulus Tax Rebate Payment Schedule, to see when you should receive yours.
Without the emergency fund in place, these items, that I had to have, would still have been purchased, probably on credit, and the finance charges added to the overall cost. This would have potentially cost me around $100.00 more if purchased on credit. I will say it again, build your emergency fund now so that when the unexpected happens, and it will, you will be ready and it will not take away from you goal of saving you hard earned dollars.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Received My CitiBank Card

I got my new CitiBank card the other day and immediately transferred the entire balance of my high rate, high balance account to this new card. It is a 0% rate on balance transfers for 12 months. Like I stated in an earlier post, I will divide the total balance by 11 and have it paid off 1 month early so that I do not incur any of the finance charges. I am still planning on setting this up for automatic payments through my bank that I pay all of my bills online with now. This is just another assurance that I won't get hit with the finance charges because of late payments. I also made one more payment on the small home improvement loan that I have last week. I waited until this week to call, after I figured the payment had beenreceived, to find out the payoff balance and it was only around $250.00. I was told that for every day that I waited, the balance would go up 11 cents. When I asked how I would know what day the payment would actually clear my bank to know exactly how much to pay, the girl on the other end said that we could take care of it over the phone right now. I did this and I have been checking to see if the payment has been taken from my bank account. It has not been yet, but I will keep checking throughout the day. This leaves me with just the credit card balance that I just transferred, which will be done in 11 months, and the HELOC. The balance on the HELOC is rather large, over $40,000.00. It is going to take quite a bit of determination on this one, a lot of time also. We will see how things are looking in 11 months and decide the course of action from there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CitiBank 0% for 12 mos. Balance Transfer Card Received

I received the CitiBank Professional 0% on balance transfers for 12 months card today. I chose this card because it also had no charge associated with balance transfer when using it for the introductory period. Once this card is activated, I will call and set up the balance transfer from my higher rate card. I will then have 12 months to pay this off or risk having to pay all of the finance charges dating back to the inception of the transfer. I definitely do not want this to happen so I have taken the entire balance of the current high rate card and divided it by 11, to pay it off in 11 months to make sure I don’t go over the preset time and get hit with the extra finance charges. I have also decided to try automatic payments through my current bank. This will minimize the risk of having any late payments that will also negate the 0% offer. If you are planning to do this, make sure you read all of the info from the issuing credit card company. Also, read An Introduction and Warnings About 0% Balance Transfer Offers. It is not meant to scare one off but rather make you aware of all the details, some of which I listed above.

Alternative Incomes

There are some very interesting discussions out there on this topic. Most of them deal with the same 7 or 8 key items. See 8 Ways To Earn Passive Income Online, or My Sources Of Alternative Income And How I Make Them Work For Me. The key is to find a few of these items that work for you. How do you do this? What are you passionate about? It could be blogging, or creating videos. What ever it is, if you are good at it, you can make money doing it. Check out Moolanomy’s 40 Alternative Income ideas, or The Simple Dollar’s Seven Ways To Help Your Blogging Friends, if blogging turns out to be your thing. Whatever your ”thing” is, try it. You just might make some extra cash doing it. There are plenty of other resources on the internet. Search “Passive Income” on Google and you will get more than 2 million hits. Try a few. Try 20. Whatever it takes to get you where you want to be financially, you have to take the first step. This blog is my first step, with this being only my 4th post. I am not sure what will happen with this. I might make some extra money with the ads or I might fail miserably and will have wasted my time doing so. Either way, I tried. And if the latter happens, I will try something else as I am determined to set myself on the road to financial freedom. As you might have read in previous posts, I am working hard to eliminate my outstanding debt and work on building a nest egg for retirement. This consists of doing a lot of things at once and finding some alternative sources of income is a very important one to me and it should be for you also.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Credit Cards....Good Or Evil

I recently signed up for a new credit card. Although I have an existing credit card balance, I feel this was the right thing to do. I selected a card with a 0% balance transfer for 12 months and no transfer fee. These are hard to come by but if you want to check it out, go here. I plan on transferring over the entire debt from the first card to the new card. I calculated the payments by taking the total amount owed and dividing that number by eleven. That way I know that it will be paid in full before the 0% offer expires. I will not use this card for anything else during that time. I hope to not use the card ever again after that. You must be very disciplined to do this. If I make a late payment or go over the allotted 12 month period, they will hit me with the finance charges dating back to the inception of the transfer. This is why it is very import to be careful, setting up automatic payments is a good idea in this case. The bank that I use for paying all of my bills offers this so I will probably use it. I have not used it before so we will see if it goes well. If so, I may start using it for other things as well. This will eliminate the possibility of having late payments. Obviously, this can only be done on bills that are a known amount every month and that amount does not change. So…in approximately 11 months, I will have another debt gone. This will leave me with only the Home Equity Line Of Credit, (HELOC), to deal with besides the mortgage. I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to get these debts out of the way and start the wealth building for retirement.


Budget, the mere mention of the word conjures up images of stacks of spreadsheets piled on a desk or computer tapes whizzing and whirring in an old 1970's video, it does to me anyhow. Today, a budget is a necessary tool used to alleviate the burden of living paycheck to paycheck or swimming in debt. A budget can be a simple spreadsheet or a complex software program. Either way, it is a valuable tool in today’s world of finance. By tracking every dollar spent, you can easily determine what areas to cut back on. For instance, we tend to eat out a lot, too much in my opinion. By tracking this cost over the past 2 months I am able to see exactly how much we are spending and can adjust that accordingly. I have decided to try and cut this cost back by 15 - 20% per month. The new number, (15 - 20% lower than the average of January and February), will be plugged into our budget for the month of March. I can then track on an ongoing basis and make every attempt to stay with this budgeted amount. There are plenty of other areas that I can try to make cutbacks as well. I am using Quicken to track all of my expenses and incomes. The software has some good points and some bad ones but I am still getting used to it. A budget is not a set in stone thing; it is a living document, meaning that it will change constantly. I am sure that mistakes will be made, but after 6 months or so of working with it, it should be easier to follow.
Budgeting can be a daunting task, if you let it. Take it slow, at your own pace. Start out knowing that mistakes will be made and learn from those mistakes. Once you have a budget in place and you are tracking everything you spend, you will be amazed at how much money you can NOT spend with a little determination.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My First Blogger Entry

Today is Wednesday 03/12/08, and this is my first attempt at a blog entry. I have been reading others blogs, mostly personal finance, for about 2 months now and I feel I am ready to take the leap into the blogging world. As stated in the "about" section, I live in Michigan where the economy is dead last in the entire US. Like many others around me, I am in debt, I have a mortgage, a home equity line of credit, another small, (under $500.00) home improvement loan, one large credit card balance and a few other store credit cards. I had a balance on my Best Buy card for a digital movie camera that I purchased a while back and don't use nearly enough. This was the smallest of my debts, so I decided to go after this one first. It was small enough that after saving for a couple of weeks, I was able to pay this off. My first little victory. At the same time, I started funding my initial emergency fund. I opened an account at ING and set it to automatic. This means I have a set amount being transfered automatically into this account every 2 weeks. I also took a large chunk of my tax return and put it in the emergency fund account. This was to get this to a point that I was comfortable to start with and then I could get started right away on the debt reduction. It is a good thing that I set up this emergency fund because on Saturday, our electric cooktop died, I had to buy a new for about $500.00. The funds were there, no credit card charge, that was nice. Now back to debt reduction. Using Dave Ramsey'sdebt snowball theory, the next one in line would be the home improvement loan. I need to make a call to get the remaining balance on this. I might be able to pay this off with the rest of the tax refund if it is small enough. I believe that I am on the right track. I have been reading and learning from other personal finance blogs for a while now and I think I have a pretty good grasp of what needs to be done. Doing it? Well, we'll have to wait and see but I am pretty determined to make this happen and become totally debt free eventually.