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A Small Setback – Property Taxes

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A tiny set back that I just realized that I forgot to plan for in my Hardcore Budget : Personal Property Taxes (essentially car ownership tax.)  They will be due in June and while I haven’t received the bill yet, but I anticipate it will be somewhere around $300.  I didn’t account for them in my budget for these tighter months.  So how to deal…

I have decided that since I have brought in several new clients and monies that were not in play when I made the budget that I am going to just use some of that income to pay the bill.  That way it will not affect my Consumer Debt Free date or budget.

Problem solved…what a change from when I couldn’t buy toilet paper, eh?  We’ve come a long way this year!

 


A Reward for Us

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Over the years that I was a reader of this blog prior to becoming a writer, I always found the “reward” posts interesting.  And as I have been facing down this “consumer loan debt free” date, after months of extreme budget living, I started thinking about giving ourselves a reward for all we’ve done this year to get to this point.

For those newer readers, we have done the following (some by choice, some not:)

  1. Moved out of our more expensive home to a tiny apartment.
  2. Sold our fabulously large, though gas guzzling family car.
  3. Tortured ourselves by squeezing like sardines into a tiny, though paid off and good gas mileage car (and learning to drive stick shift to do it.)
  4. Given up all travel since August – HUGE for us!
  5. Lots of individuals sacrifices to which my kids have learned to respond when someone asks “Budget Cuts” which cracks me up every time.
  6. Lived without many conveniences ie microwave, fenced yard, individual bedrooms
  7. Purge – we have sold, given away, trashed or donated almost 70% of everything we owned since September, 2014.
  8. Several months of pretty much living on nothing, not a single dime of money to spend.  We call it living on air.  This was by choice to reach the “living on last month’s pay” and “consumer debt free by July” goals, but we are doing it.

Did I miss anything?

So I have decided we deserve a reward and I need your advice on it!  This is what I want….Drumroll please….

A counter top water filtration system!

Not what you expected was it!  Ha!  I guess, I’m now so engrained in frugal and practical and all other things that continue to point us toward debt free living, that it’s now habit.

So here’s my reasoning:

1) Our apartment water is NASTY!

2) Gallon’s of water eat up our budget and we go through it FAST!  (Typically $0.79 per gallon.)  Lots of time when we are tight, I just won’t buy it and then we suffer through the nasty taste, and thus drink less water. (Ok, I can’t even drink it so we will put lemon in it or some of my essential oils to help.)

3) We need to drink WAY more water…all of us!

So while counter space is prime real estate in our tiny apartment, I have decided that a counter top water filtration system is a wonderful reward for us becoming consumer debt free.  I haven’t priced them, haven’t researched them, so now I am here…asking for your suggestions, advice and recommendations.

Tell me everything you can about your counter top water filtration system!  Anticipate purchase date…July, 2015!


Debt Update – Consumer Loans only

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Working extremely long days this week with two major projects due and one new client just coming on board, so I apologize for the late and very brief update.  But I knew a debt update was long over due…so here we go.  Quick and dirty.

As a reminder, the goal is to have ALL consumer debt paid off by July 1.  Here is where are at as of now:

Debt NameCurrent BalanceInterest RateMin. Mo. PymtOriginal BalanceStatus
TOTALS$5,525$201$13,474
CC Intro Rate - Retail #2$03.99%N/A$3500Retail #2 refinance
Personal Loan - Car$308612%$96$5000Car Sale Difference
Credit Card - Consumer$243913.90%$105$4,974Minimum Payments

So not only are we now living on last month’s income and  on a really tight budget, we are only a little over $5K away from being consumer debt free.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this debt!

Now to start planning for the student loan debt…and more!


April ’15- Month in Review

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I hope everyone is having a fantastic week thus far!

I want to start doing a “month in review” here on BAD to clue everyone in on what’s occurred during the previous month. I think this will help summarize what’s going on in my life as we move forward on my debt reduction journey and allow people to quickly get up to speed that didn’t catch my weekly updates.

To summarize, A LOT occurred in April:

  • I began the month (technically it was March 31st, but let’s call it April) by telling you what’s been bothering me even since I started my hardcore paydown (read it here). This was the hardest to write but most heart felt post to date. Update: I’m starting to realize time is more important than money and or gifts, and spending time with people and giving them a minute or two every couple of days is priceless.
  • I vowed to help my sister by contributing to a 529 in my nephew’s name (read it here). Update: I officially opened up an ESA (not 529) account in my nephew’s name over the weekend. The first contribution will be this Wednesday.
  • In the same post, I decided to re-contribute into my company’s 401K plan (read it here). Update: All the paperwork has been filed and I’m set to start contributing 4% (giving me the max. 2% company match, as well) of my paycheck this Wednesday.
  • I also decided to start budgeting for $50 of “fun” money per month to use to go out with friends (read it here). Update: I’m going to set the $50 aside on the 2nd Wednesday of every month for the following 4 weeks. I don’t have any other bills, except my electric due at this time.
  • I came across a roof leak in our house and freaked out! (read it here) Update: I haven’t opened any ceilings yet (mostly out of fear) but it’s been dry now since the day I ventured upon it. We’ve had some pretty good rainstorms already this year, so if it was from rainwater, I feel it would still be wet. My hunch is still ice dams.
  • I got a work bonus and a raise! (read it here) Update: The bonus was quickly put into my savings account. The raise has amounted to $17 a paycheck, but every additional penny helps.
  • We (GF and I) finally got around to celebrating Valentine’s Day, while also doing a fun little getaway up in Buffalo, NY (read it here).
  • Lastly, I got around to putting  our summer plans down on paper (read it here). It may not seem like much but I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy one this year!

For those interested in where my budget shook out:

April '15

I had some major expenses this month: 1) a tax bill close to $200. Since my I didn’t pay enough taxes last year to match my income (which was greatly increased due to pulling out my retirement fund), I owe the state of PA estimated quarterly taxes this year. 2) Our get-away cost nearly $400 in total 3) I spent more for groceries and dinner than I normally do. After my post to kick-off the month, I’m not too upset about this.

In debt reduction notes:

I reduced it by OVER $2,500!!

Pretty exciting stuff.

However, all good news aside, I had thoughts last week of stopping my debt reduction pay down altogether (obviously I’d still pay the minimums), which would have also meant writing for BAD, too. As I was sitting my car thinking about everything, I couldn’t help but wonder if instead of throwing every extra cent at debt, if I threw every extra cent into my savings. It would build quickly, giving me a large enough windfall to get through any obstacle, and when the balance was big enough, I could use it to pay off all the debt at once, alleviating my stress while giving me comfort that I won’t be in debt forever. After talking it over with GF, the feeling came to pass. With savings interest rates so low, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense mathematically, but, as I’ve always said, being in debt is a psychological, as well as, financial burden.

But what do you think? Do you ever get feelings like this? If so, did you suddenly change course, or did you let it pass? Let me know in the comments!

Have a fantastic week!


Lofting Beds – Money Well Spent

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We spent the weekend in construction mode.  I decided a month or so back that Little Gymnast would move into the twins room for the summer no matter what we decided as far as long term housing.  He’s just at the age and with them working quite a bit this summer, it was a good time to make the move.

I researched bunk beds, custom built lofts, diy lofts and as I was at the hardware store pricing things needed, I came up with my own brilliant, if I do say myself, design.  I called my dad as he has years of construction experience and ran my idea by him to make sure it was viable.  With just a few modifications, he thought it would work and for just a few dollars more than a traditional bunk bed we created our own custom lofts in the two bedrooms. Figured a picture was better than my description. Please excuse the messiness, we are still organizing and arranging.

2015-04-27 18.22.12

We purchased the following to complete this project:

  • Four steel utility shelving units, 2 per loft at $72 each
  • Eight 2″x4″x10′ to bolster the lofts at $3 each
  • Two sheets of plywood originally 4’x8′ but they trimmed the width down 2″ for free at $20 each
  • One box of nails at $3.60
  • One twin mattress at $119

Each loft (not counting the single mattress) cost right at $178 each. The design solved multiple problems in one fell swoop ie storage, desks and separate beds. They are identical in the two rooms with the exception of my king size bed under Princess’ bed and both the twins’ beds under Little Gymnast.

2015-04-27 18.22.21

You will see in this picture that Princess and Gymnast both have plenty of room to sit up in their beds and are using the top shelves have made desks. We’ve then been able to use the remaining shelves for much needed storage…shoes, extra blankets and possibly a stock pile of home goods that up until now we had no way to store.

Everyone is proud of a job well done, appreciates the new “private” space and is getting settled into the new boundaries and room situations. Overall, I think we have solved the bulk of the larger issues we were encountering with our small space living. And I’m pretty proud of the design.

Next up…dining room tables out of extra piece of plywood we already have and a set of saw horses. Just trying to figure out how to stabilize the plywood to keep it from warping.

Update: When I first wrote this, I forgot to say where this money came from and I’m sure it will be asked. We did not break out of our extreme budget. We used monies earned from the massive purge last fall when we were downsizing – between the individual item sales and garage sales we socked away right at $2048 which has been saved towards furniture. Aside from a few odds and ends in our new place, that money has remained untouched.


It’s Hard Saying No

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I suppose this is a financial win and a testament to just how much my self control and decision making has come, but I have to admit that it still makes me a little sad.  As I mentioned a week or so ago, we took a quick weekend trip up to DC for the VA Boys Gymnastics State meet.  Well, I am super proud to report that in almost every event Little Gymnast did one of the best routines I have seen him do AND as a result of his scores, qualified for the regional meet.

Regionals are just a couple of weeks away and would require a longer trip to participate.  Another meet fee, hotels, gas, food, etc.  So I made the very hard call to stay on budget and not go this year.  My reasoning….

  1. Stay on budget, stay on budget
  2. Debt payoff by July
  3. He’s only 9, he’ll have another chance

So we are not going, and I had to let him know this after it was announced at the gym that he made it, etc.  I think it broke his heart a little bit.  He works so hard at gymnastics and sacrifices so much.  But this mom stayed strong despite a reasonable amount of backlash from his disappointment.  (I think it was a good lesson to both of us in disappointment and appropriate ways to handle it.)

I know it’s the right decision financially.  And I will tell you now, that if he makes it next year, even if I still have student loan debt, we are going.  But I made a very hard choice and am proud of the financial implications it will have for us.


Weekly Debt Update #9- Over the Hump and Future Plans

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Hope everyone had a great weekend and a great start to the week!

I’ve officially paid off more on my student loans than I owe! I can’t describe just how good that feels (but I can try- amazing!) but I still have a lot of work to do…approximately $55,000 of work. So…I don’t really feel much need to celebrate anything, just take a nice long look at how far I’ve come, then put my nose back to the grindstone.

Here’s what my balances look like as of the 21st (my Navient auto-debit date):

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,224.78$3,612.46
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,006.27$3,190.75
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,570.60$2,779.58
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$4,276.91$1,819.12
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$55,078.56$55,509.10

Since last week, I’ve been doing some thinking about what I’m going to do after all my (non-mortgage) debt is gone. I know my number one goal is going to save up 1 years worth of expenses. Basing the 1 year on my current expenses, less the student loans, since I’ve lived my entire adult life on a bare bones budget, I have annual expenses around $15,000. If I throw all the money that I put onto my debt into a savings account, it should take me between 5 and 6 months to do this. I also know that after I save this money I want to catch up my retirement that I missed on this past year, which will go to a Roth IRA- roughly $5,000.

So that’s what I know I want to do for sure. After not, I’m not quite sure at all. I developed a future budget that I could use:

Future Budget

Since I haven’t done any spending in the past few years, I’d like to have budget lines for a future vehicle and/or repairs for my current car (which is already at 86K miles), clothing, and some travel. HOWEVER, I also want to pay 2 mortgage payments monthly and continue to save. One of my biggest inspirations to really start hammering the debt was/is Mr. Money Mustache, so I’d really like to continue living a fairly frugal lifestyle while continuing to save as much as possible. Well- I can’t have it all, so I think this budget is a good balance between spending and saving. And the good news is this is all based on my current pay, which, hopefully, I should be making more in a couple years. I also based my income on the fact I’d like to contribute 5% to our company’s 401K plan to get the most match as I can.

I’d like to hear from people in comments on what you did after you paid off debt- were you to worn out from the payoff that you went into spending mode, or did you continue the lifestyle?

On a budget note, here’s where I currently stand in March:

Weekly Update #9

 

There’s couple of big items that came up this month (which weren’t all that unexpected): 1) I had a crown put in at the dentist a couple weeks ago. I have insurance, but I owe %50 out of pocket for this type of work. The cost- $397.50. 2) I filed and paid my local taxes. I knew when I withdrew my government retirement account (back in September) I would owe state and local taxes on it when I filed in the new year so I knew this was coming. I paid $700 to PA last month and $310 to the city of Erie over the weekend. 3) I had to take our one dog to vet a couple of weekends ago to have them look at an ear infection and to get her vaccinations. The costs- $132.02, but me and my GF have a plan set up- if it’s “her” dog (the white one, Harlow) that she brought to the relationship, the GF will take care of the vet bills and vice versa for my dog (Bubba, the black one). Since I took Harlow in while my GF worked, she wrote me a check for the visit that I just deposited yesterday and, thus, isn’t reflected in my budget, yet. 4) I had to put down a $100 deposit for the B&B I’m taking my GF to in April to make up for my V-day gift to her (the poorly timed concert tickets :/). I didn’t expect this since I didn’t remember putting a deposit down the last time I booked a room. O well, it just means I’ll pay less when we check out.

I also spent more in the groceries/eating out category than I normally do. I had to go into work for a couple of weekends this month, so I bought breakfast for myself on the way to make it easier to go in. I also had a surprise visit from one of my best friends (who lives in North Carolina) over this weekend. Didn’t spend to much, but I treated him to lunch at Moe’s while he was passing through town. It only cost $25 and he has paid for me more times than I can count in the past, so I owed it to him.

My slush plan is fairly low, much lower than I’d like it to be:

Slush Fund= $1,129.84 (plus $132.02 when the check clears)

I have future plans to fill it back up, but I’m not going to do anything at the moment, just continue staying the course for now.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!