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I couldn’t wait!!!

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I broke my cardinal rule. I counted my proverbial chickens before the eggs have hatched. And I’m taking a bit of a risk to do this, but…..

I JUST PAID OFF MY WELLS FARGO CREDIT CARD!!!!!!

(*cue the herald angels singing and imagine my euphoric screams here*)

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This was a big – HUGE – deal.

Starting to write here has changed my life (I know this sounds cliche and silly given that it’s been 2 months, but I’m for real). I swear, if I had continued just as a reader (not contributing), there is NO WAY I would be here right now. These past couple months we’ve done pretty well with pay. So we’d be sporting flashy new clothes, or perhaps taking a fun summer vacation. We would put a little extra toward debt, too, but we certainly wouldn’t be throwing every single penny possible toward debt payments and, thus, be in our current position.

You don’t know how happy this makes me! Since I’ve started here: I paid off my Capital One credit card (once maxed out at $7500, balance when I started blogging in March = $413). Next, I paid off my Wells Fargo credit card (once maxed out at over $10,000, balance when I started blogging in March = $7700). Next on my radar is my last credit card, Bank of America. With “only” a balance of $2200, it should be gone within a month.

How did I do this?

First, we’ve been cutting back (I have a whole money-saving tricks series!).

But let’s not kid ourselves, this has primarily been due to increased income (well above our “average”). And every extra cent has been thrown toward debt.

How else did I do this?

Well…..I cheated the system a little. I couldn’t help it. For those with variable incomes, this is a “do what I say, not what I do” moment…..

I have mentioned before that we have a budget (for all of our minimum expenses and debt obligations). We wait until the month is completely over to determine how much “extra” is leftover, and we apply that money toward debt in the following month (as a one-time snowflake payment).

Wellllllll…….I didn’t do that this month. It was driving me CRAZY to see my checking account balance high enough to pay off the WF CC and I didn’t want to wait until May was over to apply the funds! So, this messes up my budget a little but I ended up doing two things I would generally advise AGAINST for anyone with variable incomes (1) I spent money that will hopefully be in surplus from this month (May) to apply toward the WF balance (even though we don’t know yet exactly how much surplus we will have), and (2) I used some logic to assume that, should our surplus not be as much as I’m guesstimating….then I can “borrow” the money from myself. Our current monthly payment to WF is $900, so basically I’m using the June money and applying it toward our balance NOW instead of waiting a week until June is officially here.

I was able to do this because we currently have these funds in my checking account. If something were to go wrong (i.e., husband has work problems/doesn’t have jobs the rest of the month/terrible problem that costs money instead of making money), then it is still “okay” because I had this money available in my Capital One 360 Savings (I talked about all my assets in this first post…we don’t have a ton, but we do have some liquid cash in a money market account + CapOne 360 savings).

This is definitely “counting my chickens before the eggs have hatched” because the month isn’t over yet….so I have no way of knowing whether our income will truly be high enough to justify a huge (almost $3500) payment toward this bill.

But I did it anyway.

So hopefully when the dust settles from May I’ll discover that I made a good decision (meaning, we had enough “extra” money to cover this expense). If not, then that just means that our savings has decreased a little and – oh well. I think it was worth it to get out from under the 13.65% APR credit card debt (side note:  Now all of our remaining debts are under a 10% APR. For some reason, this feels like a big threshold to cross – even though I won’t be satisfied until we have NO debts and aren’t paying ANY interest!)

Oh happy day!!!!

I am smiling from ear to ear! Bank of America….you’re next! Mwhahahaha!!!!! (<<<< I love my evil debt-paying laugh! Feels so good! ) : )

Thanks for all of your advice, suggestions, and support along the way!!!



Doin’ the Carlton

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I am dancing around ya’ll, and just so you’ll have a visual, you can imagine how Carlton dances from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hey, that’s all the rhythm I’ve got! So, let me explain why my children are currently glad their friends can’t see me.

In one of my previous posts we got to talking in the comments about whether or not we should pay credit cards with crazy, stupid interest off first or our furniture loan which is interest free but due to possible trickery, could bite us in the end. Well, this is what happened…

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and……

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The card that had almost $600 on it and the card with a little over $1,000 ? PAID!! I. AM. SO. EXCITED!

Let’s talk about how this was possible, shall we?  My husband has a job that rarely gets overtime.  They have been swamped lately so, he has been working a few hours extra a week to help out. We knew that he would have enough overtime on one check to pay off a good chunk of that smaller balance.  What we did not know is that the weather in our area was gonna go nutso crazy and, fortunately for us, his work is greatly impacted by weather. They sent him out of town, which just so happened to fall on a weekend so, there was lots of overtime. They taxed the heck out of us but in the end it was enough to pay off both cards.

I’m not gonna lie ya’ll, there’s a part of me that really wanted to pay off the small card, put a little on the other card, and have fun with the rest. But, I know that sticking with this is going to benefit us so very much. I also have another confession that I’ll get more into this afternoon.  The crux of it is that we have not been sticking to our budget as strict as we were before.  I’m hoping that these two victories over our credit demons will help us get back on track.

So, what do ya’ll think, was it a good decision to pay these cards off? Or should we have put it towards the furniture loan?


Fighting Mad

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Arrrrgh, I am SO MAD at Wells Fargo!

As you may recall, I recently paid off my Capital One credit card (which had been my highest APR), and have moved onto focusing on my Wells Fargo credit card (my second highest APR).

A few days ago I received a credit card offer from another bank. It offered 0% APR as an introductory rate for the first 24 months. To be clear, IN NO WAY do I want to open a new credit card account. But I thought maybe I could use this letter as leverage. I called Wells Fargo to see if I could negotiate a lower interest rate.

I’ve read advice on how to approach the subject, and I tried to reason with them.

“Hi! I’ve been with you guys for over a decade and really like you! But I just got this 0% APR offer for 24 months. Can you match this deal on my current credit card or, if not, do anything to lower my current APR?”

What should have been a simple call turned into a total nightmare!

I was transfered multiple times. At first, they tried to send me to the sales department, so they could get me a new credit card with an introductory APR (to which I respond “No, I don’t want a new credit card. If I were to do that, I’d just go with this other bank’s offer.”)

Then eventually I’m just told “No, we do not lower APRs….ever.”

Ummm, excuse me? Never? What are you talking about? You don’t do periodic credit reviews and adjust APR as a result? I know my APR was hiked up in the past (as a result of one of these reviews), you never lower it again when credit improves????

“Can I talk to a manager?”

*Another transfer and loooooong wait*

Finally…I’m talking to the person who can make some decisions!

And, again, I’m told no. There is nothing they can do.

GRRRRRRRR!!!!!! I swear I was on the phone close to an hour by the time everything was said and done!

There is one thing that jumped out as interesting. One of the people I spoke with had said something that indadvertedly implied that maybe something could be done if I went into an actual branch. I could be reading into the conversation because she certainly wasn’t giving me advice or trying to help me out, but during our conversation about “how on Earth do you never lower APRs? I swear this has been done before!?!” One of the girl’s replies was something along the lines of “No, never, not as long as I’ve worked here. Maybe if you’ve gone to a branch they could’ve lowered your APR in the past??” It was more of a question than a statement, but still….

I’m tired of my efforts resulting in wasted time (Exhibit A:  Trying to negotiate credit card APR; Exhibit B:  Trying to negotiate lower medical bills), but this APR is so outrageously high that it could be worthwhile to go into a branch if it actually makes a difference (and has the potential to be extra-frustrating if it results in nothing).

Has anyone else had SUCCESS getting a credit card company to lower your APR? Is there any difference if you go into the branch as opposed to calling the company? Advice? Tips?

 

Edited to add:

So many people are saying I should take the 0% offer that I wanted to say something further….

The offer was one of those mass offers that lots of people get. They would still have to run my credit to see if I qualify (and I may not). Also, I’m trying not to run my credit right now because I want to try to refinance my car loan for a lower APR in the next month or two. Last March when we bought the car our credit was dinged from multiple inquiries (shopping around to get the car – I’ve always heard you have a 72-hour window to shop around, but our credit still took a hit regardless). So I’m trying to avoid having my credit run right now.

I love the advice and suggestions! Given this information, would you still suggest I apply for the 0% card?? Should I wait until after I try to refinance the car? Not sure if those offers expire??


YOU GUYS!!!!!

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Guess what I just did!!!! I just mailed in the last payment for my Capital One (highest APR) credit card!!! Wahoo!!!!

last bill

Notice that the credit limit is $7500. At one point, this card was maxed out and now, after mailing in that final $413.27, it’s down to ZERO!!!! Eeeeek!!!!

I could not be more elated! Now the plan is to snowball the payments I was making toward Capital One over to my next highest APR credit card (in this case, my Wells Fargo CC). It still has over $7500 in debt on it, so its not going to be a quick pay-off, but it’s at a 13.65% APR so its got to go!!!

Mwhahahahahah!!!! (<<evil genius debt-paying laugh)


And Now It’s Time for a Breakdown (Part 1)

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Name that tune.

Now that we’ve done the formal introductions, it’s time to get you acquainted with our debt situation.  We’ve been working on our mountain of debt for 3 years so far, and our goal is to make our last payment on my 35th birthday in July, 2017.

At this point in the journey, we’ve paid off all of our cars, some credit cards, and our undergraduate loans.  Still to go, we have 2 credit cards that are a testament to our ongoing financial lack of discipline, and my remaining graduate school loans.  Here are  the debts we’ve paid off so far.

Emily Credit Line $180
Orchard Bank Card $250
Short-term Loan $500
Prudential Insurance $1,000
Citi Private Student Loan $3,070
Ford Focus $9,365
Emily Dept. of Ed. $7,000
Emily Sallie Mae $6,350
Citi Credit Card $2,400
Lexus RX300 $5,000
Adam Sallie Mae $15,200
Total Paid – July 2013 $50,315

Emily’s credit line was a revolving loan she took on with her bank after college. Thankfully we knocked that out right away, along with the dreaded Orchard Bank card.

Short-term loan: During my first year of graduate school, my loans for the entire semester were disbursed at the beginning, and it was my job to budget my living expenses until the next disbursement in January.  As I approached Christmas my first year, I realized I wasn’t going to make it! This was one of the most stressful times of my entire life. I was worried I might not be able to go home for Christmas, get anyone any gifts, or anything else.  For the first time in my adult life, my bank account approached $0. I’m grateful that my school offered a $500 bridge loan that got me through the holidays, but it was on our snowball list when I graduated.  I definitely knew at that point that I didn’t want to be in that position ever again, to the extent that I could control it.

Prudential Insurance:  Chalk this up to the stupid tax.  My parents bought me a whole life policy when I was a baby. They paid the premiums and the policy was worth about $5000 when I was in high school. I wrecked my car during high school and had to get some repairs, and my mom suggested I borrow against this policy.  She paid the interest on the debt every year (about $30) until I was 26. I finally said I wanted to get that weight off my shoulders and paid that stupid debt back, cashed out the remaining policy amount and paid off some of our other debts. I’m glad to be rid of it.

Citi Private Loan: The hits keep coming. My junior year of college, I had the opportunity to study at Oxford University for 4 weeks during the summer. Of course my family couldn’t pay for this, so Uncle Citibank came to the rescue. It was a great study abroad program, but every month making that payment for several years so I could do a cool extracurricular was just maddening.  Thankfully we got that one eliminated.

Cars: These stories are worth a post of their own. We currently have a 2009 Ford Focus with 60k miles and a 2002 Lexus RX300 with 174k miles. We hope these cars last us until we are out of debt so we can buy our future cars in cash.

Credit card:  stupid stuff that I thought couldn’t wait, like school expenses, interview suits, a plane ticket for the holidays here and there, and suddenly we have a big credit card balance.  We’ll talk more about this as we go.

Student Loans:  Both Emily and I attended small private liberal arts schools.  She had more help from her family than I did, but we both ended up with about $15k in loans.  This May, 9 years after I graduated, I finally paid off that bachelor’s degree.

That’s the story on what we’ve paid so far! Next time we’ll get into the tsunami wall of remaining debt we have to tackle!


Debt Specifics

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For the new readers, I’d like to give a quick recap on my debt specifics. As you can see from the info on the side bar, I started this journey with a lot of debt.  I still have a lot of debt but I was able to pay off the little ones and then obtain a consolidation through a credit union signature loan.  Then my husband moved out on Labor Day weekend and my debt was further reduced by a car loan going with him and the selling of my newer vehicle got rid of my car loan. We divorced on Dec 14, 2012 and I was left with what you see in the debt column.  That was my pre-marital debt.

 

The three debts break down like this:

$13,210 USAA @ 11.9%

$18,110 Bank of America @ 12.9%

$9,844 credit union @ 11%

 

I have an excellent income that I’m working hard to use more responsibly than I have in the past.

So if you’re new here…welcome!  I have a long way to go but the new year has motivated me to get even more focused on being debt free!

 

 


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