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Archive for July, 2012

First Raise in 3 Years!! :)

August 1st, 2012 at 12:38 am

And it was a welcome surprise, too. It is not a large raise, it equates to an additional $60 per month in take home pay. It is going into savings.

In other good news, I was able to buy my replacement car remote battery for $1.38. Thanks, Lucky Robin! That was a great tip. Smile

I have been thinking about my circumstances, and I have decided to make no mortgage chips whatsoever at this time. Instead, I will focus on increasing my cash accounts and my Roth. Now, paying my mortgage online makes it difficult to resist rounding up a bit. To avoid this temptation, I set up an automatic transfer for my mortgage payments. They will be paid on the 5th of each month, without a single extra cent.

So here is my budget for August and going forward:




Budget Report 7/31/12

August 1st, 2012 at 12:24 am



Utilities are over again. I expected this as the charge for my early termination fee posted. I expect it next month too, because this month I switched from AT & T internet to Comcast internet, and they will bill me $120 for a modem. Why would I do this? Well, even though I am paying $48 some months and $58 other months for high-speed internet, that isn't what the test says. The test says I am getting less than 1 mbps. Less than 1! No, thanks. My new Comcast internet is much faster (haven't tested it, but it is a noticeable difference) and I will be paying $33 per month, but plus taxes I think. So I will save the cost of the modem in 6 or 8 months, and then be ahead. And much better service all the while. Smile

Still need to improve on groceries, or admit that I can't and budget accordingly.

Everything else this month is just 2 items, my car registration ($138) and my garage door repair ($168). I needed a new spring. I could have replaced only the broken spring for $116, but it seemed smarter to replace its twin at the same time. I went over, but I did not pull from CurveBall to cover either of these. Smile

July 2012 Net Worth

July 31st, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Debt is up. Frown
Cash is down. Frown
Investments are up. Smile
Home Zestimate is down. Frown



What is that? Is that a new low for my home value? Yes, I believe that is what we are seeing.

Review of Ting's Service

July 24th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Millions of adoring fans e-mailed me asking how I liked my Ting service. (OK, Ruthie asked today in a comment.) But she is right, I should give some feedback. I heard about Ting right here at Saving Advice, on someone's blog.

I switched to Ting on June 19th, just over 1 month ago. So far, the service is absolutely fine. No dropped calls, no problems getting service out of my area, and that includes Honolulu and Kona.

With Ting, you choose a package size for your minutes, your texts, and your data. You pay $6 per phone line per month.

I have 3 phones, and we chose 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and no data.

My first bill was $29.95. It should have been more, but they only charged me for 1 line instead of 3. I called and asked, and I was told I would be charged the next month.

When I called, a real live person answered. I don't mean they eventually answered after I navigated a menu tree, either. I was stunned.

My second bill was $49.27. This included the missing $12 charge from the first month, two $1 charges for directory assistance (in Hawaii), and a credit for $9. We didn't use all of our minutes the first month, we used only 456 minutes. The next smaller package from the one I chose is 500 minutes. I suspect if I had gone over 500 minutes, I would not have received any credit. There are no rollover minutes.

I expect from now on, my bill will be right at $44 per month. Unless I keep getting those $9 credits, that is.

Anytime you wish, you can go to Ting's website and view your dashboard, which shows you clearly how many minutes, texts, and megabytes you have used, and how many days until your next bill.

You may change any of your packages whenever you like. The changes will not take effect until your next bill.

And they have finally added another flip phone. (So people won't have to troll for a used one in Ting's forums like I did.)

So yes, I am very pleased with my new cell phone service provider. I would recommend Ting to anyone trying to trim the cost of their cell bill. Smile

Escrow Refund On Its Way

July 18th, 2012 at 01:23 am

I emailed Wells Fargo's customer service yesterday about my escrow account, asking for an analysis. I received a reply today that there is $854.09 too much in there and I will be receiving a check in a week or two. When that comes, I will go ahead and send it on to my Chase Freedom Visa. So it looks like no further balance transfer checks nor dips into CurveBall will be necessary. Yay! Now I have to tackle that Citi MC.

I did my secret shop this morning, and have another one scheduled tonight. The one tonight pays $10 plus reimburses me if I have to buy the product. (I may not need to, that is the point of this particular shop. They want to know if the store is selling popular items before the actual release date.)

My garage door has decided to stop opening. I suspect it needs a new spring. I have scheduled a repair person for Friday afternoon.

I have a situation in my hall bathroom. Someone installed the tub/shower combo incorrectly, and water was leaking into the wall. The gap has now been sealed, but I am suspicious about what may be lurking in the wall. I am going to have someone who knows what they are doing come and take a look. I hope there is no expensive repair required, but if there is, then there is. I don't think it is wise to put off a repair of that sort if it is warranted. I'm not sure how I will fund it, but first I need to find out if there is damage or not.

The battery in my car key remote has died. I have had my car 7 years now, so that is reasonable I suppose. I can lock the car just fine by, gasp, inserting the key and turning my wrist. However, I can't set the alarm. I'm not certain how much that will set me back.

So now you know everything. Stick Out Tongue

Another Weekend Whizzes By

July 15th, 2012 at 09:26 pm

On Friday, I did not leave work until 4pm, even though we closed at noon. I continue to fight an uphill battle trying to keep everything caught up.

Friday was payday, so I did a wallet sweep. I had $9 in bills plus coins to deposit, but the line was so long I just deposited the bills at the ATM and saved the coins for another time. This wallet sweep went to Mini E-Fund.

My paycheck was for only 10 days for the second time in a row! The next one will be for 12, but I still lose one day on the deal. My net pay went down exactly $20 as I expected, due to bumping up my Simple IRA contribution by $25.

Yesterday I drove up to camp to pick up J. The camp is located a bit more than 3 hours away. It was his third year and he had another fabulous time. By the time he shows me around and I chat with counselors, a few hours slip by. So picking him up is an all day event.

Today I sat down to pay bills and make transfers. It felt great to transfer $359 to CurveBall. Smile It did not feel so great to write a big check to Chase Freedom. I paid most of the balance, but wrote a balance transfer check from Citi MC for $433. They are no longer offering me 0%, but did offer me 1.99%. I could have looked for another 0% offer from someone else, but I don't want to have a balance here, there, and everywhere. I also have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee. Mathematically, it would have made more sense to skip the CurveBall transfer and just squeeze out another $433. However, my savings is already below my comfort zone, so I didn't do that.

When I get my August statement, I will be facing the same choice. Not all of my vacation charges had posted before the statement cut off and I do not pay charges which are not yet on the statement.

My car insurance is due 8/5. I will charge it just before it is due, then that charge will show up on September's statement. Car insurance money will be coming from CurveBall.

I also received my last AT & T wireless bill! I was expecting it to be for $114, early termination fee on J's contract. It was for $122, which was a $110 early termination fee plus $12 in "taxes". It will automatically bill my credit card at the end of the month, and that is it, all done.

My car registration was due this month to the tune of $138. I did not pull from CurveBall for this, it fits neatly inside "Everything Else". I just have to watch my Everything Else spending this month, since there isn't much left.

So lots of money out. What about money in?

When my new mortgage closed, I expected a new escrow account would fund and my old escrow account would be returned to me. Instead, the new escrow money went into the old escrow account. A few days after closing, they transferred my old escrow account into my new one. It now has way too much money. I expect they will refund about 1k.

No payment from daughter and son-in-law yet.

Ex-h will reimburse half of J's camp ($242.50) at some point.

I need to decide if I am going to pursue recovering half of the cost of my new fence ($630) from my neighbor or not. Even though by law she should share the cost, I know it will make her angry and she will likely try to cause more problems. I'm not sure it is worth it.

I signed up for a secret shop this morning. I don't do them often but this one is for a business just 2 blocks from my office. It is a fast food restaurant. I will have to spend my own money, but will be reimbursed plus paid $5. It is an easy shop.

I should spend the rest of my day doing chores around the house. We'll see if that happens or not.

June 2012 Budget Report

July 13th, 2012 at 01:34 am

Well, it's not my best month, but here it is:



My comments:

Wages - Had a 10 day pay period.

Utilities - This includes the cost of J's and my new Ting cell phones. It also includes a month of Ting's service on top of a month of AT & T's service. With AT & T, you pay after you have received service. With Ting, you pay before. I am still expecting an early termination fee of $114, but I haven't been billed for that yet.

Groceries - Not as great as it seems, since we were gone for the last week. We purchased groceries on vacation too, but I threw that in with other vacation expenses.

Visa allowance - I picked up a few clothing items for J and for myself. I did not count these under vacation.

Everything Else - Wowza. This includes $485 for J's summer camp, $101 for the dentist, an oil change, and $3745 on vacation. This number includes the $800 cash I withdrew from Vacation Fund before we left.

The biggest single expense in there was a decision I made after arriving. One of the main things J and I really wanted to do was to go on a Lost tour. We are fans of the show, it was filmed mostly on Oahu, and you can take a tour of many of their shoot sites. Well, since we arrived in Oahu around noon on one day, planned to see Pearl Harbor the next, and were flying on to the big island at noon on the third day, there just wasn't going to be time. This was a huge mistake on my part, I should have had the agent book us one more day on Oahu and one day less on the big island to start with. But, I didn't. So on the day we arrived, I made the decision to change our accommodations and take the 8 hour Lost tour. Between the tour, changing air tickets, and paying for another night at the hotel at the regular rate (the package rate didn't apply), it was expensive. I regret the extra expense I caused myself by not planning better, but I don't regret that tour; it was fabulous. I think I would have really regretted going to Hawaii and not taking that tour.

The second biggest expense in there was scuba diving. My cousin's family was going, and J really wanted to do it too. I was a little hesitant for him to go, so I asked BF to go along and I treated him. That was only right as BF had not planned to scuba dive. I felt reassured to know BF would be J's diving partner and would be keeping a close eye on him. There are instructors diving too, of course, who also monitor everyone. So the scuba diving for two set me back $500.

Even though some of my vacation spending did not post until July, I have included it all in June. I thought it made sense to have it grouped together.

So, there you have it.

Home from Hawaii; Son Off to Camp

July 10th, 2012 at 04:55 am

Well, I've been home for a few days. We had fun, but did more activities and less lounging about than I would have liked. I worked Thursday and Friday, took it easy Saturday, drove son to camp Sunday.

What can I say about the trip? We had a great time, and I spent too much money. My camera was in BF's jacket pocket, and he left his jacket in my cousin's dining room! So I did take pictures, just not with my camera. I have to wait for others to share with me. It is so frustrating!

We did a lot of snorkeling. We went ziplining and scuba diving. We went to Pearl Harbor. We did the 8 hour "Lost" tour. We went to a luau. And, I had a delicious mango margarita at a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Hawaii certainly is beautiful. Our condo rentals on the big island were very luxurious. Our hotel rooms in Honolulu were right on Waikiki beach. My son had the time of his life. We made a lot of wonderful family memories. I'm so glad my mom went. Smile

I have been waiting for one more vacation expense to post. We had a limo service bus pick us up from my cousin's house and take us to the airport. She paid. When we returned home, the same service met us at the airport and took us back to cousin's house. I was supposed to pay. However, they have never charged me. I suspect that they charged cousin's credit card again. I called the limo service today and they are looking into it. Once that posts, I will have my final tally.

My remaining vacation fund balance will not cover my Visa bill; not even close. I think I will be doing a balance transfer to Citi MC and limping along with credit card debt a while longer. I will divert my vacation savings deposit towards credit card debt until it is paid in full.

Today, BF listed a piece of property his mother owned with an agent. (Not the house, 40 some acres of timberland.) I hope it sells quickly, I want my 6k back!

My new mortgage did fund right on schedule.

June 2012 Net Worth

July 6th, 2012 at 05:24 pm

I actually took the time to note my net worth figures on 6/30/12, while I was on vacation in Hawaii!

Debt is up. Frown
Cash is down. Frown
Investments are up. Smile
Home Zestimate is down. Frown