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Archive for December, 2008

Final 2008 Payment

December 30th, 2008 at 06:34 pm

In my previous post, I mentioned that we have $100 left in our checking account. Payday is tomorrow.

I have just made a $100 principal payment to the home equity loan. This brings the beginning balance for 2009 to $13,899.

Once we are paid tomorrow, I will pay all bills and schedule another principal payment to the HEL. I expect this to be about $600!

We have decided to accelerate the home equity loan payoff by using money we previously had allotted for college funding. This doesn't mean we won't save for college this year. We will simply do it later in the year!

All extra money from surveys, interest, cash back from the debit card and ebay sales will also go to paying this debt off!!



$100 Saved

December 30th, 2008 at 02:06 pm

Tomorrow is payday and we seem to have made it though the pay period with $100 left in the checking account! I think it will go to the HEL, but I'll report that when it actually gets done!

We went to a movie yesterday on a $30 Visa gift card we received from friends. We still spent an additional $12.50 out of our own pocket at the concession stand for the four of us! I don't usually do this, but we splurged since the tickets were paid for!

While we were at the mall, I found some candle pillar holders and a large picture for our family room. I used my birthday money to puchase these. The candle holders I've been looking for and I got three for $15. The picture is large,about 3' x 3'. According to the tag it was marked down to $50 from $70. It rang up for $39.98!! We have already put it on the wall and it looks great. Now I need a new couch!! Smile

Last Chance Donations

December 29th, 2008 at 06:07 pm

As we put away the Christmas gifts, I have found several things to donate to charity. I have several books, a couple shirts, a pair of shoes, ornaments and lights. It sure doesn't hurt to lighten the load this time of year!

I keep track of what I donate with a list and generally take a picture. I always ask for a receipt as well. I then use a It's Deductible book to value our donations. One year my donations valued over $1500!! Saved us a few dollars in taxes. Too bad it's not dollar for dollar. Smile

This year my donations of goods were minimal, because I have participated in two garage sales and sold plenty on ebay.

Tomorrow, I expect to make a final sweep through the house for donations and then drive the 5 blocks to drop them off!

Do you have a bag or two that you could donate in the next couple days? It's a great time to help others and also get a tax deduction.

2009 Financial Goals

December 27th, 2008 at 09:41 am

So, maybe you have already sneaked a peak at our 2009 financial goals on the sidebar...but here's the official blog entry of our goals!

1) Save 15% of gross income for retirement.
We max out our Roths at $5000 each, in addition to 4% to my husbands TSP.

2) Save $2000 x 2 for college
We send in $166 for each daughter monthly.

3) Pay down HEL loan by $7000. Beginning balance $13,999.
This will require an average of $533/mo in extra principal payments. Regular payments are $118.01. Total per month $651.

4) Take a vacation with cash, location and amount to be determined.
Approximately $1500-$2000. May use tax refund towards this goal.

We will need to be the most disciplined with the last two. I plan to send in $266 on the 1st and $267 on the 15th of each month to the HE loan to get the $533 extra accomplished. Since we will most likely use tax refund money for vacation, we will need to pick our destination and spending according to the available cash!

The first two are already part of our financial goals from this past year...so those will simply be continued. How are your goals coming along?

Merry Christmas!

December 23rd, 2008 at 02:33 pm

I'm taking a few days off from blogging to celebrate Christmas with my family. I wish each of you peace filled days!

Merry Christmas!

Less Interest

December 23rd, 2008 at 07:32 am

I opened an email from the online bank that has our emergency fund money. The interet rate is going down from 3.25% to 2.80%. I'm not happy about this, but what can I expect in this economy.

I can say that we are still earning more than we were by having it sit in a traditional savings account. So, I will stay focused on that.

The account has about $10K in it and it is our emergency fund money. I haven't had to touch that money in over a year...maybe more. I'm wondering if I should put half in a CD to try to offset some of these falling interest rates. The same bank has 12 month CD's at 3.25%.

Any thoughts on whether that is wise? Since we are military our job is stable...no chance of a layoff!

Results of Hope Goals

December 22nd, 2008 at 08:25 am

At the beginning of the 2008, I just had hopes of sending some additional funds in to our home equity loan. Read that again: I didn't have a plan...just hopes!

As I look back, I know why I just had hopes. First, our income was lower at this time last year, we didn't get a raise until March. I put specifics on other goals that were more of a priority to us. Those priorities were investing for college and retirement. So, my mind set was to meet the priorities first and hope to do something about that HEL I want to pay off.

We met those priority goals with flying colors. We funded our Roth IRA to the max at $5K each. My husband had 4% withdrawn automatically to his TSP. This resulted in a savings of 15% of our gross income. We also consistently sent in $167 to each daughters college fund to meet our goal of $2000 invested for each of them.

The hope goal of sending in additional money to the home equity loan was less than stellar, in my opinion. In 2008, we paid an additional $1,456.44 to our home equity loan.

Why do I think it is less than stellar? It is less than 10% of the original balance. That is just not going to cut it if I want this thing paid off two years from now. The math just doesn't add up. I think I also know that we could have done better with how we spent some of our money. It could have gone to the HEL!

Okay, I'm not going to get too upset about my hope goal. I do realize that the additional money I paid averages out to over $121 per month extra. That is a whole extra payment per month! I actually didn't start sending in additional funds until June of 2008. That would bring my average per month quite a bit higher.

So, my "hope" goal did get me somewhere. I did get ahead, but it didn't get me where I thought I would get. My goal wasn't as flushed out as it could have been.

Next year will be better. I will define the end result I want to attain in as much detail as possible. More on those details later!! Really.

How did your "hope" goals work out this year? Are you going to improve those goals for next year?

More Shopping Done! And an Update!

December 21st, 2008 at 09:37 am

I did get out yesterday to buy gifts for DD's with my MIL gift money. I picked up two $10 items for each from Build a Bear. I used the rest of the money to purchase each of them a pair of pajamas, and a long sleeve shirt from Old Navy.

I will spend today inside because of the very cold temperatures! I will wrap the newly purchased gifts, clean, exercise and hang out with the family. It looks to be a no spend day!!
-------
We have an amazing $320 in our checking account after purchasing a weeks worth of groceries. Prior to Christmas I can think of only $15-$20 in items that will need to be purchased. Not sure where DH stands on gas for his car, so that is a possible purchase.

On Christmas we will travel two hours away, so we will need fuel for that trip. By the 29th, I will need to purchase more groceries. It sure would be nice to have some cash leftover at the end of the month. Does anyone hear home equity payoff bells ringing? I think I do!!

Stocking Up for the Blizzard

December 20th, 2008 at 12:40 pm

We are about to be hit with blizzard like winds. Tomorrow's high will be 1 degree. That doesn't even cover the wind chill. Can you see why I might want to stay in?

I just sent DH to the grocery store to get our groceries for the next week. I have a list that even includes what we need for our Christmas gatherings. I'm in charge of pumpkin pie, a sausage & egg casserole and cresent rolls.

I'm going to run out after he is back to finish Christmas shopping. Yes, I said I was done, but mother in law sent money for me to buy gifts for the girls. Lucky for me I know what I want to get. There will be two stops...Build a Bear and Old Navy.

After those errands...I'm inside for at least the next 24-48 hours! Time to spend some time playing games and watching movies!!

Check Arrives in the Mail

December 19th, 2008 at 07:21 am

Yesterday, we received our Christmas card from my mother in law. It contained a check for $50 to buy the girls gifts. This is the second year in a row that she has done this, although last year it was $100.

She is on a fixed income and has 11 grandchildren. I think it is great that she is willing to pass the shopping duties on to me. As she said in the card, I will do a better job shopping. I actually forgot that she might do this. So, now I'm back to buying more gifts!!

Once the gifts are bought and wrapped we will take them with us so the girls can open them in front of their grandma.

Home Equity Loan Goal Met!!

December 18th, 2008 at 06:42 am

We made a payment of $186.32 yesterday to our home equity loan. That brings the new balance to $13,999!

The goal was to bring the loan balance to under $14K by the end of December. We did it.

For anyone else paying off debt, I think it is incredibly important to look for baby steps to meet while getting your balance to zero. Your baby steps may come in increments of $10, $50, $100 or even $1000. Pick a reasonable amount you think you can meet and go for it. Then see if you can exceed it!

Oh, I have big plans for paying off much more of this loan in 2009! I can't wait to tell you about it.

Donations - Check

December 17th, 2008 at 04:05 pm

I've been trying to do a few things here and there to help others while out shopping.

I've dropped several handfuls of coins in Salvation Army Buckets.

We gave 5 cans of food to our neighbor boy who is collecting food for charity as a class project.

Today, I bought two packages of girls underwear to donate to our local clothes closet. My youngest daughter's school is collecting these.

Here's the great deal I got on the panties. Regular price, at JC Penney's, was $7.99 for 5 pairs. I bought two packages. The second package was 50% off! I also had a $10 coupon for a purchase of $10 or more. Out of pocket, I spent $2.10 with tax.

I'm thrilled to have helped out, without too much out of my pocket!

Cards & Package Mailed - Check

December 17th, 2008 at 09:58 am

I mailed all the cards today at the post office. Normally, I would just drop in the mailbox, but I needed to mail a package.

Now, I should have just paid online for the package postage at usps.com, but I would still have to drop it off. I don't want it sitting on my porch in the snow waiting on the mailman.

The post office was BUSY. Okay, I wasn't surprised. There were at least 14 people in line with only two employess waiting on them. At the automated postal center inside there was only one person in line...the man using it. Now he did have two packages and it seemed to take a little while, but waiting for him was much much faster than waiting behind 14 other people.

So, I didn't save any money, but I sure saved some time!!

HEL Balance is Falling

December 16th, 2008 at 07:31 am

We made our regular Home Equity loan payment yesterday of $118.01. The principal portion was $32.11, bringing our principal balance down to $14,185.32!

The goal before the end of the year is to get the balance under $14K. That leaves me a little over $185 to go.

I expect to make a payment that will help us meet this goal sometime this week. Stay tuned for an update! Smile

Attention Military! 2009 BAH Rates

December 15th, 2008 at 06:09 pm

The 2009 BAH rates were added today. Here is the

Text is link. and Link is http://perdiem.hqda.pentagon.mil/perdiem/bah.html
link.

For those non-military, BAH stands for Basic Allowance for Housing. Those of us who don't live on a base or fort qualify. This money is not taxable income.

For my family, our housing allowance is increasing by $100 per month. I was expecting around $60...but we will take the extra $40.

I hope to allocate this money to our home equity loan! I will have an update on my plans for payoff/paydown later in the month.