Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Too many hours of work, not enough at home...

The past two days have been busy for me, worked my new 8 hr/day job during the day, then worked 3 hours trying to fix someone's RAID setup when their motherboard is bad.

Today was 8 hr/day work and 2 hrs of tutoring. I'm not used to working like "normal" people...

The house is a mess, dishes are piling up, but more money will be direct deposited into my bank account....

To work or not to work (or more appropriately to work outside the home or inside the home). My wife has been struggling with that decision ever since we got married and she has decided that she will be a mother and housewife instead of working outside the home.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Where is the money going to come from?

Yesterday's budget talks caused some issues for my wife, which we talked about before going to bed, but I figure I should post them here.

Because things have been so tight for us the past 6 months, she doesn't yet believe March's budget. She's a "doubting Thomas" even though we have gone check by check, showing where the money is coming from to pay each bill when and discussed all expenses coming. I'm convinced though that as the month progresses, she will see it come to fruition.

One other item on our April budget is that she brought a question to the numbers I brought. "You have $10 for prescription, once our child is born though in May, birth control is going to cost $50/month." I have been listening to a lot of financial "gurus" recently and one of them taught me to ask the question, "OK, where will we get the shortfall of the $40?". This is the first time I've ever used that question. In the past I would have been like, "OK, let's just bump income by a bit since my on-call pay is variable, blah blah blah". That DOES NOT WORK in real life, since you should base your fluctuating income on the average and have an emergency fund to handle when things are lower, not base it off of your emotions.

The cost of the birth control and the reductions we had to make on some things (eg: our education fund, her sewing fund, my computer fund) made her feel like she is a burden on me, a financial drain. She has this struggle every so often, it is part of the reason her heart says she wants to be a housewife but she tries her hardest to work a job to help pay the bills. All I do in those times when she feels like a financial burden is remind her that I love her, that the things she does around the house help us, the volunteering she does has a value that I wish if we were financially independent I could do right with her during the week. Right now as well, I remind her she is working 24/7 to bring our daughter in the world, a blessing we had been praying for a long time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

April Budget

I know it's a little early for an April budget, but this is our goal for our overall budget starting in April once everything is current.

  • $2400 - System Admin. Job
  • $250 - Huntington part time job
  • $1100 - Rent from 3 roommates
  • $250 - On-call computer support (minimum)
  • $4000 - TOTAL
The on-call computer support can vary from month to month, so I'm setting it at a low amount of $250.

  • $1645 - Housing ($1030 mortgage, $100 electricity, $145 gas, $30 water, $40 telephone, $300 maintenance)
  • $100 - Food
  • $555 - Transporation ($200 gasoline, $40 auto insurance, $10 license & taxes, $300 maintenance, $5 tolls)
  • $95 - Insurance ($95 life insurance)
  • $320 - Unsecured Debts
  • $125 - Entertainment ($100 vacation/trips, $15 computer maintenance, $10 sewing supplies)
  • $125 - Clothing ($100 baby's needs, $25 husband/wife needs)
  • $200 - Savings
  • $100 - Medical ($35 foot dr, $20 dentist, $40 prescriptions, $5 eyeglasses)
  • $235 - Misc ($30 toiletries, $15 haircuts, $5 laundry supplies, $25 gifts, $160 cell phone)
  • $100 - Education
For housing, the $300 maintenance is for fixing our driveway, install insulation, install a storm door, repair front door glass, and if possible install a used fence. For transportation, the $300 maintenance is for a replacement vehicle within the next 6-9 months. For entertainment, the $100 vacation/trips is a weekend conference in August for my wife's work and Thanksgiving with my in-laws in Colorado. For clothing, the $100 baby needs is for our child due on 5/21 and all that entails. For education, the $100 goes towards certifications, study material, etc. All the ones marked in blue are going into cash funds to take care of items in those categories when they come up.

March Budget

Here's our budget for March:

  • $1200 - New System Administrator Job (Pay is on 1st and 16th, starting tomorrow, so first check is on the 16th)
  • $1100 - 3 Roommates paying rent
  • $300 - Huntington Learning Center
  • $200 - Video Store Part-Time (My Wife)
  • $400 - 2 On-call computer support jobs
  • $230 - Gift from roommate for laptop bought in February
  • $3430 - TOTAL
  • $2070 - Double Mortgage payments (Feb & Mar)
  • $38 - AT&T (House Phone)
  • $145 - Nicor (Gas)
  • $430 - ComEd (Electricity, bring it current)
  • $60 - Water (Feb & Mar)
  • $158 - Verizon (Cell Phone)
  • $200 - Auto Gasoline
  • $50 - Auto Insurance
  • $25 - Auto Oil Change
  • $95 - Life Insurance
  • $25 - Commission Charge-backs
  • $10 - Capital One
  • $10 - Robinson Chiropractor
  • $35 - Humidifier
  • $30 - Toiletries/Clothing
  • $54 - Misc Expenses
  • $3430 - TOTAL
This month we're not paying much to our unsecured debts, but we're going to finally get caught up on our mortgage and utilities. We're needing a humidifier due to my wife getting bloody noses from the dry air, car needs an oil-change again, we are low on bath supplies, as well as my pregnant wife needs a little bit of clothing. For misc. expenses, we will be looking closer to the end of the month any unexpected expenses.

$650 check from dad, $210 from Huntington

Yesterday was a busy day for me, ended up not being in front of my computer. My wonderful wife helped with making a deposit from Huntington and getting $50 cash to pay the guy with a truck that helped us move the big-screen TV that I was holding until my dad would pay us back some for money he owed us. I'm glad we got cash out, because my dad ended up writing me a check for the money he owed us.

I worked 6 hours tutoring high school students on the ACT, 2 of them wanted to succeed, 1 of them was there because their parents want them there.

Once I moved the TV to my dad's place, he went to get his cable universal remote but did not know where the directions were, so he went out in the snow and bought a $9 universal remote that was not the one he wanted. I see where I learned about my poor money skills.

Today is a full day of church, helping setup/tear-down for a special luncheon, having homework from small group, then heading off to small group. Tomorrow is the big day of full-time job!

Friday, February 23, 2007

$65/hr by cutting costs

My wife came home yesterday and said "I just got paid $65/hr!". I asked her how, she explained that she spent an hour going to the Verizon store and made changes to our phone bill that will cut off $65/month. Our cell phone situation has been a delicate one, we co-signed (and have learned our lesson) on some phones and the other parties have unreliable on paying. Our contract is half up, we're working on ways to cut and change the plan so that we are not responsible for their 950 text messages in a month (which cost a total of $45 extra that we're paying half of).

I went to court this morning, got myself out of a $1K fine, but still had to pay $120 for driving an unregistered vehicle. That fiasco is now far behind us. I was tempted to go with the easy ATM they had in the lobby of the courthouse to pay for my ticket, but I drove down the street to an ATM with my bank (and no fees).

Other financial activities going on, I cashed out a $50 treasury bond I had bought 2 years ago as the start of a saving plan. Looking back at it, 2% interest is falling behind inflation, not a good idea. Good thing I did cash it, because the $120 fine was unexpected in our budget.

TripRewards - I had some points sitting in my account, got another e-mail reminder about it, so I went on there to get a gift certificate. VERY TEMPTING to get an gift card, but I went with the $25 Shell gas card instead. Figure I'm trying to get myself OUT of debt, not perpetuate the debt I am carrying on my back.

Got ahold of my father, he's going to be paying us $600, working on getting a truck to move his TV from my house to his apartment. On-call jobs haven't had much work, I'm thanking God every day that I took the full-time job. Found out also I get paid at Huntington today, very happy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

$10 haircut for free!

My wife this morning cut my hair, another $10 saved. Canceled horrible Traveler's Advantage program today (signed up when I rented with Super 8 for a job late last year thinking I was going to use it more), they are going to refund me back the $11.99 they charged me last month. Cha-ching!

I cracked my wife up as well when she dropped a quarter on our laminate flooring in the next room by screaming "MONEY!!!". She dropped it a second time to see if I would do it again, which I of course did!

I filled out the yucky student loan deferment form for my student loans (easier than I thought). Last night before I went to sleep I was beating myself up for not getting it done sooner, reminding myself if I can't get things done for my personal finances in a timely fashion, how will I ever do a good job for my future employer?

Called my better-paying on-call job to see if they had anything for me, they are supposed to call me today to see if they have anything for me.

My wife went out today to do some purse display fixing at a department store nearby, where the vendor pays her $8/hr for 2 hrs of work every 2 weeks. She found this job through one of those "secret shopper" sites. She's less nervous than the first time she went, but still nervous. She's not used to working on your own with no boss hanging over your shoulder.

We looked over our budget yesterday for this month and everything is looking on target. WE EVEN PAID OUR SMALLEST DEBT OFF!!!! Now it was only $11.52, but I wrote on it PAID and posted it in our bedroom so we can have encouragement. Just by doing that, it got my wife talking about the next smallest one ($12.15) and asking what needed to be done to pay it off. Once the mortgage is paid for this month and our cash flow over the weekend wraps up, we'll probably take care of that small one too (tolls, need to drop off the transponder for I-Pass as well when we pay it in person). Also paid $10 to 2 separate medical bills to prevent them from going into collections, as well as $50 in charge-backs of commissions my wife received from her life insurance sales (about $80 more to go on that one).

Web site I visited today: Prosper which I think is a very cool idea. In a few months once I have built up an emergency fund and have been consistent on paying off debts, I am really thinking about starting off with a small loan to settle some of my credit card debt, pay it back quickly, and keep doing that to get the creditors off my back.

Things for tomorrow:
  1. Go to court first thing in the morning, prevent a $1K fine for driving an unregistered vehicle.
  2. Wife's monthly ob-gyn pregnancy appointment is tomorrow afternoon.
  3. Work 2 hours at Huntington Learning Center (I LOVE IT!).
  4. Hopefully get a paycheck tomorrow from Huntington.
  5. Do some studying on material for my new job starting on Monday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

$3 saved is $3 earned (and more...)

My wife had an ultrasound today and we drove to the hospital. We first pulled up to the first parking garage and it cost $3 for the first 4 hours. We had the money on hand, but I'm trying to save money, so I said "Let's look for something free instead." I dropped my wife off at the entrance and found a free parking space about a block away. I was thinking the whole way "Saving $3 AND getting exercise in 45 degree weather, can't beat that!"

Regarding the tasks to do today, I called my father and left a message. I also called to get my replacement W-2. One of my small-time jobs from December transferred $210 into my bank account ($105 short, sent them an e-mail stating the problem). My wife is working on the money from our roommate, she's having car troubles so it might be a few days until we see the money. My two on-call jobs brought no work today, I am so glad that I chose to take a full-time job that starts on Monday ($36K/yr, Systems Administrator). We're watching an episode of Heroes right now, but after it's done we're going to look at our budget.

Things for tomorrow:
  1. Finish deferment paperwork of our student loans. STILL TO DO
  2. Keep trying to work one of my 2 on-call jobs.
  3. Confirm the status of the replacement W-2.
  4. Receive a receipt for my old Saturn junked tomorrow to prevent myself from having legal troubles on Friday at court. The car failed it's emissions test and I drove it (out of the need to get to work) and got a ticket.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Plan for 2-21-07

I'm off to work at one of my 4 jobs in a little bit, but here's the game plan of things needed to be done tomorrow to help us get out of debt:
  1. Finish deferment paperwork of our student loans.
  2. Look at this month's budget and see what items are left to be paid. Pay the ones that we can.
  3. Contact my father regarding $600 he is going to pay us back from his tax return (long story, we made a bad choice and he rented our condo for a few months and never paid us).
  4. See about 1 more W-2 that I never received from last year so I can start our taxes to see if we get any money back this year.
  5. Contact the manager of one small job that I had worked last month on and have not been paid on yet to see about the next step.
  6. If possible, work one of my 2 on-call jobs tomorrow to bring in additional income. One pays $40/hr, one pays $20/hr.
  7. Collect rent from one of our 3 roommates as well as a gift of $230 she was going to give us so that I could buy a laptop for work.

First Post

This is my first blog, so forgive me for my lack of knowledge of how this works...

I figure I should start at the beginning. As a child, I experienced times of want (asking where the meat was in our stew while my mom and step-dad were hiding from the landlord) and times of plenty (ordering out food every night before filing for bankruptcy). My parents divorced when I was 2 and was dragged between the two of them until I went to college.

When I turned 16, my dad took me out to the nearby strip mall and told me "Get a job before coming home." (in a joking way). I wanted to make my dad proud of me, so I went to every place I could and found one! And started working that night! After that point, I paid for my bus pass and my lunches at school out of my paycheck, along with other little things along the way.

My mom's method of teaching me how to manage my money was "Put half of it in the bank and then you can spend the other half." The problem I had with that was I was barely making anything as it was, but I listened and followed (for the most part...more on that later).

I went to college at the University of Illinois, where I learned about debt. Before then, I had little experience with finances but knew that I was going to need to pay for school somehow. Due to having enough saved up, I spent my first semester at college just focused on studying. As my pile of cash from high school started to dwindle and I had plenty of spare time, I started working again. That's when I started using credit cards.

I was a good kid with them in college, I knew if I didn't pay, I'd have to pay a lot more later on. I was pretty good at paying them off, occasionally I'd go a month but no more. During that time I was piling up student loans and saying to myself "I'll be making big $$$ out of college, no need to worry about them."

Out of college, career-wise things didn't go as planned. I piled up a small amount of credit card debt ($1K) due to preparing to start a job that was canceled the Friday before I started. A few years after college and I was able to save up $6K, but still kept paying the minimum on my student loans. That's when I met the woman of my dreams...

My problems with debt started there, it's hard to say "no" to the needs and wants of the woman of your dreams. First came a car, then came a condo, and furnishings, vacations, etc. I don't blame her for the mistakes we made, it's just hard to try to live the life your parents live when you make half the money they do. I'll probably talk more about that another time...

In the end, we are right now $192K in debt (including our 5 bedroom home for $110K) and it has caused me to be feel sick, scared, wake up in the middle of the night, everything you can imagine. This blog is going to be about my adventure to say goodbye to debt!