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Check Out My New Credit Card Balance

January 7th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Don't see it listed in my sidebar? I don't either! What a great way to begin the new year. Smile

I am waiting for the last of the money I am owed to transfer in. When it does, it will go into savings.

I redeemed my first bit of credit card rewards in 2016, a whole $169.51. I have already applied it to my car loan. I ended up redeeming $611.84 in 2015, and I didn't even try very hard. I am sure I can beat that this year.

Today I filled out a new W-4 and increased my Simple IRA per paycheck contribution. I cancelled my monthly automatic Roth contribution. Everything on track with those plans.

I will be having my surgical procedure next Wednesday the 13th, saying good-bye to the lump under my arm at last.

Budget Getting Leaner

June 9th, 2015 at 10:05 am

My budget is getting leaner. Child support has ended (good-bye $433 per month). My PITI payment has jumped to $1194.16, an increase of $113.52.

I am still paying J's car expenses for now. He had a job interview last week but did not get the job. He is still looking.

BF is accruing rent, but not actually paying it yet. No offers on the house yet either. BF did decide that we need lawn service as he doesn't have time to fiddle with it, and he is paying for that.

So, I have no choice but to re-jigger (is that a word?) my numbers.

I've gotten a bit lax about tracking my spending. I know it's been over, (waaaay over) and I just don't want to look! But as of June 1, I am back to tracking each dollar.

I'm not going to be able to pay my credit card bill in full this month. There have just been too many big expenses in the past few months. Big dental bills for both J and I (I have no dental insurance, J's new dental insurance is not accepted at our dentist), prom, senior trip, big car repair, and ouch-y high car insurance, all on top of everything else. They have ganged up and made a formidable enemy! I will be able to get away with paying no interest, which is a small comfort.

So, how am I adjusting my budget? Much as I hate to do it, I have eliminated the $50 extra car loan principal payment. I have trimmed CurveBall to $300, which is not enough. Further, I'm going to have to use it for credit card debt repayment for a bit.

I have trimmed my grocery budget from $550 to $500, which I'm not entirely certain I can do. That's groceries for me, J, two dogs, and general household supplies. MrsM180 and hubby buy their own groceries, and BF picks up some groceries. However, we really don't have a hands-off policy on general items. We tend to make enough dinner for everyone, regardless of who bought the groceries. And when it comes to milk, salad dressing, bread, we just share. When it comes to specialty items, we tend to ask the purchaser if it is OK to have some, but people mostly say "yes". I'm not going to tell someone who is hungry that they can't have my granola bar, or whatever.

So in short, I'm not real tickled, but it is what it is. For now, this is what it is.

Mercury Casualty Company; Credit Declined

November 15th, 2013 at 08:31 am

Since my last post, I have received the written policy quote for my new homeowner's policy via e-mail. The company is Mercury Casualty Company. The quote is for $579, slightly higher than the $575 I reported earlier.

While she was at it, she went ahead ahead and quoted me auto from Mercury as well. The quote was for the same exact coverage I have now, and is $483.90 for 6 months. In August, I paid $532 to Allstate for 6 months. So I believe I will switch that to Mercury as well. Although, I do need to check if my Allstate policy uses straight-line or sum of the years digits when calculating refunds. If it uses SOTYD, it will cost more to cancel and start a new policy than it will to just let the current one run out, and switch at renewal.

I got paid yesterday, did my banking, did a wallet sweep and sent $4 off to my mortgage.

MrsM180 paid me $300 yesterday for November. I used the money to make an extra payment to my electric company. Because my electric usage has increased with 2 additional people in the house, I am expecting a large jump when my balanced-bill-pay plan is recalculated. Paying an extra $300 now means it will jump less. I plan to do this next month, too.

I used my Barclay's NFL rewards Visa to pay the additional $300, and that put my activity over $500. When I receive my first statement, I will have earned my $100 bonus. Now I just need to wait to be able to redeem my rewards, then I will close the account. Well, that and the small matter of paying them. Big Grin

Yesterday I applied for a Citi Dividends Visa which offered me the same deal, spend $500 in the first 3 months, receive a $100 bonus. This card features rotating 5% bonus categories each quarter, just like Chase Freedom. If I am approved, I just may keep that card permanently, to take advantage of the 5%.

Why would I not be approved? Well, I was recently declined by the SwagBucks Visa. I could not believe it! It seems I have opened too many new accounts of late, and may need to wait for some of my hard pulls to drop off. I can't recall the last time I was declined for credit! I am certain it has been more than 20 years.

I still have a few November bills to pay, but it is looking as though my checking account sweep this month will be fat. I will leave $600 instead of my usual $500, since my 11/29 paycheck will be for 10 days instead of 11. Even so, I expect to have about $300 to sweep. Smile It is nice to see my penny-pinching rewarded this way.

J is asking some girl to the winter formal today. He was so nervous this morning. He made a sign on poster board which reads "K, will you go to winter formal?", and he brought a rose and some chocolates. How sweet is that? How will the girl resist? I told MrsM180, I hope she says yes or he will be crushed. MrsM180 confided that the girl has hinted heavily she wants him to ask her, but he is nervous just the same. I've been working at my second job this week, so have been getting home late each night. I have missed the unfolding drama. Thank goodness MrsM180 keeps me in the loop.

NFL Rewards Card Alert

September 21st, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Tonight while I was clicking through my Inbox Dollars emails, I came across an offer for an NFL rewards Visa. The Visa card is offering a $100 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months, plus 1% cash back on purchases (so $105). There is no annual fee. The card is issued by Barclays.

In addition, if you apply through the Inbox Dollars link, Inbox Dollars will pay you $15.

I plan to collect my $120, then cancel the card.

New Rewards Card

August 5th, 2013 at 08:37 am

I get new posts from My Money Blog e-mailed to me. This morning, there is a post about a new rewards card. It is from Capital One, and it pays 1.5% on everything. You can cash out as often as you wish, there are no minimums. There is no annual fee. There is a $100 bonus if you spend $500 during the first 3 months.

I have already applied and been approved. Smile I am thinking this is going to be my new main credit card.

You can read it for yourself here:

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/capital-one-quicksilver-cash-rewa...

Looking Over December's Spending

December 29th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I worked on updating my budget spreadsheet this morning, tallying all transactions and entering them into their respective categories. Spending is OK, I am over on "Groceries" and "Everything Else" because of holiday gifts and edible treats, but of course my bonus was extra income and paid for the lion's share of the extra spending. I will wait for the month to be over to post my budget report.

My checking account balance is ending the month lower than usual, and I realize why that is. I have started using my WF Visa for most things, and transferring money to pay in full within a day or two. So, instead of paying November's charges in December, I have paid the bulk of December's charges in December. I like it! Smile My Chase Freedom bill next month will be $47.30. My AmEx bill next month will be $152.39. There won't be a WF Visa bill, the balance is $0.

The AmEx bill represents 2 tanks of gas and groceries at my "on occasion" grocery store (not my regular grocery store). So, it is looking as though I will not be applying for the Preferred Card ($75 annual fee, 6% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on gas). Not being able to use it at my regular grocery store is a deal killer.

From Jan 1 - Mar 31, gasoline is one of the bonus categories for Chase Freedom. So, I won't be using AmEx much at all for 3 months.

It looks as though I will have enough reward points on WF Visa by mid January (when the statement closes) to redeem for a $25 credit to my mortgage. I know from past experience they will hold it until Feb 1 then apply it. So, it looks like my first mortgage chip on my new mortgage is about 6 weeks away.





Generous Xmas Bonus

December 9th, 2012 at 04:02 pm

We had our company Christmas dinner last night. Along with a nice meal and a fun time, I received a check for 2k. Smile

What will I do with these riches? The first 1.3k is going to Citi MC. Along with my budgeted $100 December payment, that is the end of my credit card debt! Yay!! I will give $150 to each of my kiddos, and the final $400 will go to savings.

Tomorrow is my mom's 80th birthday. One of my nieces came to visit for a few days, along with her husband and 2 small children. I went to my mom's Friday night to visit. My brother showed up yesterday morning, so back I went to mom's. We had a cake and sang happy bday. Tomorrow night on her actual birthday, I will pick mom up and take her to her favorite restaurant, The Elephant Bar.

My brother has a timeshare, and plans to go to Mexico next summer. My mother wants to go. This means she wants me to go. I don't know that I can swing it. But I want to go, I don't want to be her excuse for not going. My brother says we can rent a 2 bedroom condo for 2 weeks for $773. That is inexpensive, but of course there is still airfare, meals, and a rental car. I told mom I will see what I can do, but that I don't know. I have always wanted to see some Mayan or Aztec ruins in Mexico. I also have nothing against the beach. Smile

BF has been working with a realtor towards getting his mom's house sold. They plan to list in the spring.

Another Month Is Winding Down...

November 27th, 2012 at 08:57 pm

...and I am doing OK with the old budget. Smile

I did send a bit extra off to Citi MC, an extra $30.20 to be exact. This whittled the balance down to $1,400.00.

I estimated my 2012 income tax returns, and it looks as though I will net about $500. So, I did OK with my tax planning too.

I stopped at the grocery store tonight and whipped out my AmEx card for the very first time. I learned that they don't take AmEx! This particular grocery store is conveniently located, just a few subdivision blocks away. It has low prices. I do most of my grocery shopping there. So, I don't know if I will apply for that Preferred Blue AmEx card or not, the one Monkey Mama mentioned (and I think I read that CeeJay has that one, too) which gives 6% back on groceries but charges a $75 annual fee. I am going to try using the one I have (Blue) for a few months and see how much I can use an AmEx without changing my shopping habits.

I have been working on switching automatic payments to my WF Home Rebate Visa. If something falls into the "and 1% on everything else" category, I prefer to earn a principal reduction to my mortgage.

I have also been working on getting payees set up on bill pay, for those vendors who will not accept a credit card as payment, or who do but charge a fee.

I'm looking forward to whittling down the number of open credit cards I have. I want to get down to just AmEx, Chase Freedom, and WF Home Rebate Visa. I will keep my Kohl's store card open too, but that is the only store card for which I have any use. I think I am only one month away from being able to make that happen.

October 2012 Budget Report

November 4th, 2012 at 08:58 am



I did not make my budgeted savings contribution, using the money to cover October's Visa bill.

I'm quite pleased with how my spending went. In November, my Visa bill is going to be less than $300. Smile I will have no trouble whatsoever with paying it in full and making my budgeted savings deposit.

My utilites were under $500! I now have credit balances on both my PG & E (gas) and MID (electric) accounts. PG & E just adjusted my balanced bill pay amount from $62 to $43. November will be the first month I pay $43. I have received my MID bill for November too, and my balanced bill pay has not adjusted yet. I currently have a credit balance of $100 odd dollars and I must pay another $238. Since we are going into winter when the bill is much lower I've been expecting it to adjust down. My Ting bill was $35.27 in October. I am loving Ting. Smile

I ended the pay period with $16 plus coins in my wallet. I withdrew my cash allowance of $60 for the next pay period, then sent $20 off to E Fund.

My Intentions

September 21st, 2012 at 09:27 am

I received $44.91 today in my Paypal account, for secret shops I did 2 months ago. I have already transferred it to Mini E-Fund. I have not received any repayment from daughter this month, nor any reimbursement from ex-h for J's summer camp last July.

I decided not to completely drain CurveBall in order to pay Chase Freedom in full. Instead, I drew it down to 1k, then did a balance transfer from Citi MC for the rest. The terms of this most recent transfer are 0% with a 3% balance transfer fee. This will increase my Citi MC balance up to approximately 1.7k, 1.6k after I send them their $100 payment.

In each of the past 2 years, I have received a Christmas bonus of $1,750. If that happens again this year, I will pay Citi MC in full and end the year with my savings too low, but no credit card debt. I will have an additional $100 per month to use towards re-building my cash accounts. It also means I will not hit my 3k Roth goal for 2012. I will have contributed 2.1k to Roth and nothing to traditional. But, I am ready to be D-O-N-E with credit card debt.

Fastforwarding to next April 15th, between overtime and my tax season bonus, I should net 4k and change. I guesstimate my income tax returns to total a 1k refund. The first $3,200 will go to my traditional and Roth IRAs. Along with my $150 per month automatic transfer to Roth, that will max them for 2013. The rest of the tax season money will go to savings.

Right now, when I buy groceries, I swipe my debit card. I also have in my wallet a Wells Fargo credit card which earns a 1% rebate towards my mortgage. I think I am going to switch to swiping the credit card instead, then transfer funds when I get home. By adding the extra step of transferring funds, I can accumulate points towards a $25 mortgage chip. I should average two such chips a year. I am online checking my balance all the time anyway, so it is not much effort to transfer funds from checking to my linked credit card. And mortgage chips do not hurt my feelings. Smile

It is just me again at work today. The senior partner does not work on Fridays. Our receptionist is still out, and the temporary one we had over the summer went back to school a month ago. The other staff accountant is part-time. She was been coming in every day to help (she and I have to absorb the receptionist's duties) but had no work at all today to do. Fridays are slow, so it seemed silly for her to come in just to answer a phone call every hour or two. Plus, while I do have work to do, I am pretty current on everything, so nothing is pressing. I told her I could manage fine, there was no need for her to come in too. Well, the junior partner cracked his tooth last night. He came in at 8, called his dentist, and the dentist said come on down. So, he left and doesn't think he will be back today. He told me to close at noon if I wanted. That sounds like a plan to me. Smile

Another Weekend Whizzes By

July 15th, 2012 at 02:26 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.

End of Tax Season

April 18th, 2012 at 06:44 pm

What a relief that another tax season has ended. This year was especially exhausting. Our receptionist/secretary needed time off which meant the other staff accountant and I had to take on her duties as well. We hired a temp, she was trained for 5 days, then worked solo for 7 days. She was doing a great job, but stopped showing up. She didn't resign, just stopped showing up. Her agency e-mailed us to say she had a family emergency and had to go out of town. However, we discovered that she left her key in her desk at the end of her last day, even though it would be hours before she would even learn of her family emergency. Hmmmm.

I racked up less overtime this year than last, due to my Bodega Bay overnight trip fiasco, and being sick for 3 weeks. My bonus was $100 larger than last year. Together, I cleared just a few dollars under 4k. I deposited them, then transferred $1400 to vacation fund, $1000 to CurveBall, and $600 to my Roth. I plan to send $400 extra to Citi MC and $170 to my son's mutual fund. (I promised him $300, but he asked for 2 video games. I told him they would come out of his $300.) That's $3570, the rest is sitting in checking.

My Simple IRA transfer is still in transit. I am expecting my matching plus my contributions from Jan - March to be deposited. The transfer is holding up my deposits. Together, that amounts to $1920 which needs to be added to my account. It will be so nice to not lose 5.75% right off the top anymore!

Yesterday in the mail I received a refund from my impound account in the amount of $119.05. I have already turned it into a mortgage chip. Beginning in June, my PITI payment will drop a few dollars. I do not plan to change my budgeted PITI.

Still waiting for my Card Pool check. The website says it takes 3 - 7 business days, and today was only the 3rd business day.

BF brought me a nice big garbage can to keep in the garage for my recyclables. I think that will be nicer than storing them in used grocery store plastic bags. I don't buy a lot of canned sodas, or bottled water, but I do buy some. (I don't like my son to drink a lot of soda, and I rarely drink soda. We have a Brita pitcher for home drinking water.) When my nephew lived here, he would always throw the empty containers away. I got tired of asking him not to, so I started taking them to work with me. I work downtown and park in an alley behind our office. We have a large homeless population downtown. I would simply set my empty containers next to a dumpster, and they wouldn't last 30 minutes. So it worked out both for me and for the person who found them first. However, I think now that I have a nice big plastic can to store them in, I will sell them every so often and use the money for....you guessed it, mortgage chips.

Reward Points Big Boo-Boo

February 6th, 2012 at 10:09 am

I made a big mistake at Christmas time when I redeemed rewards points. I had 50,000 pts on Chase Sapphire and was expecting, at any moment, 50,000 pts on Chase Southwest. I was saving the Sapphire pts to use on airfare to Hawaii, as that yields a 25% bonus. Half of the Sapphire pts belonged to BF as it was his purchase which earned them. But the Southwest pts were mine, all mine, and I planned to use them for Best Buy gift cards to buy J's iPad2 (his Christmas gift).

Well, Christmas was approaching and my Southwest pts kept not showing up. I was beginning to worry they would not arrive in time. So I thought, I'll just use the Sapphire pts, then the Southwest pts will go towards airfare. So that is just what I did. And it might have worked beautifully. But guess what? Southwest doesn't fly to Hawaii. Did I bother to check before using the Sapphire pts? No, I did not.
Frown

My next thought was to cash them in for gas cards. They do have Shell gas cards, but only $25 cards. $25 cards cost 3,000 pts each. $50 gift cards cost 5,000 pts each. I'm not too excited about losing 500 pts on each $25 gas card. If I cashed in all of the pts, I would receive 16 $25 cards, or $400 worth of gasoline.

So, today I cashed Southwest pts in for Wal-Mart gift cards. I bought 10 @ $50 each for 50,000 pts. Once I receive the gift cards, I will close the credit card account. I will sell the Wal-Mart cards on Plastic Jungle and take a loss on the face value (3.4%). The transaction should net $483. That is $241.50 each for BF and I.

I suppose it isn't too awful since we ended up buying a travel package including airfare. I had priced tickets, and they are running $850 each including taxes. Our whole package is right at $1800 per person, for air, 9 nights lodging, and rental cars while on the big island. (Our 2 days on Oahu, we will not have a rental car. We do have shuttle service to and from the airport included in that price.)

Previously I said $1850 each person, but that was based on the first resort we booked. (My cousin has narrowed it down to two resorts. One was almost booked solid, the other was not. She booked the one which was almost full, and we had a time window during which we could switch if we wanted with no penalty. We did decide to switch to the Mauna Lani Point resort, which is the link I posted in my last entry.) There was a small price difference and our total went down. We are actually staying in condos, and will have a kitchen with a stove, fridge, pots and pans, dishes, and utensils. This will be nice as we will not need to eat out for every meal. We will do a grocery shopping trip shortly after arrival. We will eat some meals in and also will pack lunches to take with us on outings. And I want to try the local farmer's market. I wonder how freshly picked bananas taste? I'm going to find out! Smile

Bill Paying Night, Broke Up with BF

November 29th, 2011 at 07:01 pm

I paid the last two November bills tonight. I have been very careful with every dollar all month and I was able to send Citi MC the $124 regular payment plus the new charges in full! So that train has not been de-railed at all. Yay!

I paid Chase Freedom in full only by pulling $700 from vacation savings. So that is not so yay.

I did not contribute to Roth or any savings, other than the few "extra" dollars I sent to CurveBall (credit card rewards, class action lawsuit, change from my wallet).

My monthly budget report will be good news for a change.

In other news, I broke up with my BF last night. I am sad and angry, but know it is for the best. I have been waiting for 17 months now for him to move in, and he just won't make any progress at all. It has been 2.5 months since I told him I was very tired of waiting and if he wanted to move in with me, he needed to do it. He promised no more video games until he moved in. I'll bet he has spent 100 hours playing video games in the past month, yet not 1 single hour doing anything move related.

Last week, when BF and I were at my cousin's for Thanksgiving, he casually mentioned in conversation that years ago when he broke up with a particular girlfriend, he moved out of their place in 24 hours. I said "Really? 24 hours?" and he said yes and launched into details. That remark made me very angry but I don't think he realized it.

Last night when I got home from work, I discovered that he had done nothing much all day yet again. And that was just the final straw, I felt very angry and I knew that I was done waiting. So I told him I had decided it would be a mistake for him to move all the way in and he should start moving out. I also said it was not fair to me that he makes promises but does not keep them. He was surprised and then I think a little angry, and he just looked at me. He slept on the couch last night, was still asleep this morning when I left the house, and is gone now. He hasn't moved anything that I can tell, but he had driven his car and left his truck and trailer at his house the last time he was there.

(That is another story. He has some important mail waiting for him at his p.o. box. The week before Thanksgiving, he would say each morning he would be gone when I got home, he needed to go get the mail and attend to the matter. Each evening he would still be at my house. Finally, when I got home that Friday, he was ready to go. I said "Tomorrow is my 1 day off this week (I had to work last Sunday), and NOW you are ready to go?" So he did stay, then went home on Monday. He came back Wednesday night because we were leaving Thursday morning for my cousin's house. Guess what he hadn't done? That's right, he hadn't gotten the mail. He went to the post office, discovered he must have lost his key, spoke to an employee and was told he needed a certain document (the p.o. box is in a corporate name, not his personal name) to get a new key. So he went home to get the document but was not able to find it. This is the sort of thing he does which makes me CRAZY.)

Do I sound angry? I am starting to have a lot of anger towards him, and I don't want that. He really is a lovely person with some fabulous qualities, but he is extremely unorganized and cannot manage his time at all. The breaking promises is a deal-breaker for me. If I was OK with that, I'd have just stayed married.

What I am most worried about is how my son J will take this news. He goes to his dad's house on Sunday afternoons and gets dropped off back here on Tuesday evenings. So in an hour or so, I will have to tell him. He and now Ex-BF had really bonded. I'm not going to make that mistake again.

Approved for Chase Southwest

November 14th, 2011 at 06:53 pm

I got an email from Chase today, I have been approved for the Chase Southwest card! Whoo-hoo!! Now I hope that I can qualify for my gift cards in time to use them for J's iPad for Christmas. That probably won't work out, but I am hoping anyway.

Today I received 10 more decoy mail pieces! My biggest day yet (this time around). I have racked up $16.25 in earnings now.

I chipped my $8.00 from Dell today and updated my sidebar. Does my mortgage look exponentially smaller now? Yeah, I didn't think so either. Oh well, one chip after another and eventually I should get somewhere.

The best think I can say about my tax update class today is....my lunch was delicious! Smile

Taking Stock

November 9th, 2011 at 03:27 pm

Well, here I am yet again with more expenses than cash on hand (in checking) to cover them. So far this month, I have been sticking carefully to my budget. Poor consolation after last month!

At the moment, I have $593.06 in checking. I have paid my mortgage and deducted my gym membership for the month. Still to receive in this month are two $1,512.41 net paychecks and two $226 child support checks. Still to pay out this month are utilities, my $1,326 Chase Visa bill, and my Citi MC debt payment. I put some of my charges on Citi MC, which I had resolved not to do, but there they are. So I am looking at increasing my revolving debt. I will have to increase my minimum payment to Citi as well, as I still intend to keep my Dec 2012 payoff date.

At first blush, it looks as though I can cover everything. But wait, I can't draw checking down to nothing as I will pay December's mortgage payment with my second paycheck of November. I need to leave a cushion.

What to do? Well, I will transfer some money from vacation savings and pay it back with my approaching Christmas bonus. I hate relying on a bonus to cover my overspending. I would much rather have the whole thing to save/invest. But this is the pickle I put myself into.

I dug out a purse from my purse bin and transferred my stuff into it from my summer purse. Guess what I found? A $50 Visa gift card from last Christmas. I remember Ex-H gave it to me (from J) and I wasn't able to figure out how to use it. I called and got it set up, and will use it the next time I buy gas. That will help me in December when it is time to pay for November's charges. J is turning 16 tomorrow! I plan to tell Ex-H that I think we can stop giving each other gifts from J now. This will make life simpler for both of us.

Every day after school, J walks to a friend's house. I pick him up there after school. I also swing by in the mornings and give that friend a ride to school. I think tomorrow I will take a long lunch and pick up some bakery cookies or other treat and swing by the friend's house, so that the treat is waiting as a surprise when J gets there after school. I will speak to the friend's dad tonight about it.

J has been having some acne problems, so I ordered him some Proactive (my cousin suggested it). It was worth every cent, it is really working. But that is another recurring expense for me to cough up.

I have been Googling for Cyber Monday deals. I have found an HP notebook for $399 from Amazon. I think it might be a great substitute for an iPad. I would want a cover for the iPad (more money) as J would be carting it around. I think a notebook would make more sense as it snaps closed. It is still lighter and smaller than a laptop. I think I will take J to look before we decide, but I will buy online to get a better price.

If I am approved for the Chase Southwest card, I will use my bonus points for giftcards and buy the notebook. Ex-H plans to contribute $150 to J's present, so I could use his cash elsewhere since the giftcards would cover the entire cost. I might not be approved, though. Chase might be tired of giving rewards away to me. Big Grin

Speaking of, I hadn't received my 2,500 rewards points for opening a stamps.com account. I messaged a rep yesterday and today the points are in my account. I was able to cancel stamps.com without incident as well, so I feel the effort was worth $25.

Ryan Is Correct

September 20th, 2011 at 11:25 am

Gravity certainly DOES take its toll on my bank accounts.

I have dipped into CurveBall to pay my Chase Visa balance in full this month. Frown I went back and forth on that, then finally decided that it would be silly to not pay in full. So CurveBall is poor now. Poor, poor CurveBall.

As of this moment, I have $635.73 in checking and will deposit $226.00 tomorrow. I have paid all of my bills for the month except Citi MC which has yet to arrive. I will pay them $124 towards my debt. That leaves me $737.73 for the rest of the month. I shouldn't need more than $100 of that for groceries, so that leaves $637.73 towards my early October bills. Tight, but doable.

So far this month, I am on track with spending. So that is my silver lining. Next month's Visa bill will not be so steep, and thanks to balanced bill pay, my electric bills won't be either.

In other news, my daughter and son-in-law will be moving out of my house and into their new place on Oct 1st. Smile

Credit Karma, Mortgage Chip

September 14th, 2011 at 07:59 am

Yesterday I received a reminder email from Credit Karma. It had been a while since I had updated my score. So I went ahead and did that and their estimate of my score rose to 775. That was nice.

One thing which hurts my score is my length of accounts. They say my oldest account is 105 months, and my average age is 90 months. When I divorced, I closed all of my joint credit accounts. Two of my very oldest individual accounts were Mervyn's (1987) and Gottschalk's (1992). Since both retailers have declared bankruptcy in the past couple of years, those accounts are now closed.

The other thing which hurts my score is they insist I have a credit utilization ratio of 30%. This is not true, I have available credit of 60k or so. However, some of my cards don't report a limit, so they assume my limit is equal to the highest balance ever on the card.

Even with those little dings, I don't have any trouble obtaining credit when I want it.

Tomorrow is payday. I have just counted the contents of my wallet, and I see that I have $6.37 which will go to the bank to be swept into my mortgage.

Someday, all of these little chips should add up.

Attn: Chase Credit Card Holders

September 9th, 2011 at 08:25 am

If you have a Chase Freedom or Sapphire, you can get 2500 bonus pts (worth $25) plus $5 of free stamps if you enroll in stamps.com. The first 4 weeks are free, then there is a monthly fee of $15.99.

So basically, you can have $30 at the price of calling an 800 number to cancel.

I read about this on My Money Blog.

If you are interested, log on to Chase and go to Ultimate Rewards, browse the vendors and select stamps.com.

How to Use Credit Card to Pay Utilities?

August 27th, 2011 at 09:19 am

In the interest of racking up rewards points, how does one use a credit card to pay utility bills? I know that some people do it successfully, but how?

Looking at my particular utility companies, I see they will accept them but there is always a fee associated. Or you can use a third party processor, which is very expensive.

I just cannot see a way to do it without the fees outweighing the benefits.

Help?

50,000 Bonus Rewards Points

August 20th, 2011 at 11:15 am

My Chase Sapphire statement closed yesterday, and I have an extra 50,000 bonus rewards points. I am not planning on cashing them in right now. Instead, I plan to use mine towards a plane ticket (extra 25% if you use your points this way) when we go on our trip to Hawaii next year.

Have I mentioned that a lot of family members have gotten on board? My Mom says she will go. My cousin to whom I am close (and with whom I went to China) and her husband want to go. Cousin's son and his wife and daughter want to go (their daughter 1 year younger than my son). Cousin's daughter and her husband and their 2 kids are considering.

I am a late life baby, so I am roughly the same age as the generation after me. My cousin's son is 1 year younger than me. Most of my nieces and nephews were born when I was in grade school.

Yesterday I received a $20 credit cards reward check which I have already transferred to my mortgage. This month I have chipped $21.85. I am already thinking I will not chip my expected $150 bonus for opening a checking account. I am thinking I will stash it in my Roth instead. I have in the back of my mind that if I hit retirement with more than my Roth goal of 150k, I will be willing to use it towards my mortgage. You know, if I have one at that point. I am still up in the air about what exactly I will do. I may sell my house, take my equity and move elsewhere. At least, I certainly hope I have some equity again at some point. Maybe I am being presumptuous. So anyway, overshooting my Roth goal will not be bad, but missing it will be bad. So if I overfund my Roth, I can always use the extra towards my mortgage later.

I spent some money last night which I shouldn't have. BF and son and I had been invited to dinner at my ex-nieces house. (She was married to my nephew at one time, they have a daughter together.) Something came up in the late afternoon with her son (she is remarried) and they had to cancel. So there we were, all dressed up and no place to go. On a whim, I suggested we go out to dinner. We went to Applebee's. Afterwards, we decided to go see Cowboys & Aliens (we really liked it). When that was over, we decided to see Rise of The Apes (loved it). So it was an expensive night. I paid for everything. BF and I have a policy that s/he who suggests an outing pays for it. We have been together almost 2 years now, so are past the point of "dating". The first few months he paid for almost everything, but then I said that it was silly that one person should always pay. For awhile, we would tussle from time to time over who was paying. At this point, we just go with the person who suggests also pays.

At Applebee's, I had pineapple glazed shrimp served on white rice with a spinach salad on the side. It was delicious and only 310 calories! Applebee's has quite a few low calorie entrees.

Mid Month Mortgage Chips

July 27th, 2011 at 10:32 am

So in the past week, I have transferred 3 small chips to my mortgage. I had never done this before, I have always saved my chips to send with my next regular payment. I had thought the chips would be held in suspense and then applied on the 1st of the month. But look at this:

Date Description Amount Principal Balance
07/25/11 PRINCIPAL PMT ( Details) $0.81 $181,912.06
07/25/11 PRINCIPAL PMT ( Details) $6.72 $181,905.34
07/22/11 PRINCIPAL PMT ( Details) $9.00 $181,912.87
07/05/11 PAYMENT ( Details) $1,273.49 $181,921.87

Wells Fargo has been applying the chips directly to my balance. I expect the chips will not reduce the interest accrued in July. By rights, they shouldn't. I calculate I should be charged $795.91 of interest when I make my August payment. We will see if that is what happens.

In other riveting news, I have received my first Citi MC bill. It came a few days ago and is due early in August. I am not fond of the timing. I think I will go ahead and send them their minimum payment now (although I have already made my July credit card debt payments) and then in mid August, I will use bill pay to send them what I want to send them. The timing will be off, but if I send them their minimum now, I will be ahead of the game and it should turn out OK. I will have to keep an eye on it though, so that I don't have a billing period with 2 payments and then a billing period with none.

I applied and was approved for an Amex Blue yesterday. I have too many rewards cards with too many small point balances. I am going to work on getting my rewards up to cash out level, then close some of the cards. I won't close Chase Freedom (since 2004) or B of A (since 2003), but Discover and Sapphire can go. Then I will begin using Amex Blue. It pays 3% cash back on groceries and drug stores, 2% cash back on gasoline and department stores, 1% cash back on everything else. Not bad. I will have to get in the habit of charging my groceries.

Where Art Thou, Balance Transfer Fee?

July 22nd, 2011 at 09:01 am

Both balance transfer checks have now posted to my Citi MC account ($800 and $1300), as well as a $24 balance transfer fee for the $800 check. And that is all. Where is the $39 balance transfer fee for the $1300 check? Well, that is a really good question. I don't know quite what to make of this.

Update: My balance transfer fee has finally shown up, on 8/16/11!

My mortgage is owned by Wells Fargo, which is where I also do my banking. Therefore, I make my mortgage payment by logging on to my account and doing a transfer from checking to mortgage. Just for kicks, I went ahead today and transferred $9, specifying it is an additional principal payment. I just wanted to see how they will handle it. Will it just float around in suspense until I make my regular payment? I suspect that it will, but I would like to KNOW.

Credit Card Debt Transfers

July 13th, 2011 at 01:40 pm

My Bank of America credit card is now charging me 7.24%. It seems that all of my extra payments were applied to the debt that is at 1.99% until September, not the part that was at 1.99% until June. I thought that was no longer allowed, but it is allowed because it was all at 1.99% at the time the extra payments were made. So the remaining balance is now being charged 7.24%. What is a girl to do? Well, I did a balance transfer of the last $800 to Citi today. There is a 3% fee and I am at 0.0% until January 2013.

I called Discover and learned that I am at 0.0% until July 25th, then the rate will be going to 14.99%. I did a balance transfer of the last $1300 to Citi today under the same terms.

That's $2163 and 18 months to pay it off before more interest is charged. So that is just what I am going to do. Smile

Chase Sapphire

July 6th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Over the weekend, I received my new Chase Sapphire card. My offer was 50,000 bonus pts if I spend at least 3k in the first 3 months. My boyfriend bought his trailer today, it came to $2600ish. That means I only have to spend $400 in the next 3 months. With gas so high, that will be no problem.

Edit: Just for the record, I am not financing the trailer for BF. He will be paying in full when the bill arrives. This is merely a devious plot to rack up reward points. Smile

I just emailed Chase using the suggested script from My Money Blog, asking that they extend the 100,000 bonus pts offer to me. They don't have to, so we will see if they are willing or not.

At any rate, I will have at least $250 cash for my trouble ($500 split with BF).

Thanks again, Monkey Mama!!

Update: Got a response already. The answer is no, I will not be getting the extra 50,000 pts. Further, the rep said they will be reversing the extra bonus pts already awarded to other customers! Here is the actual response:

Dear xxxxx,

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your e-mail regarding the sign up bonus offer inquiry on your Chase Sapphire account ending in xxxx.

I would first like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for choosing Chase to handle your account. As per the offer on your account, you will receive 50,000 Chase Sapphire bonus points after spending $3,000.00 in purchases within 93 days of account open date. These points will post to your account within one to two billing cycles.

The 100,000 bonus point?s offer was made through a small direct mail test and is non-transferable. The Offer Code and Invitation Number included in the mailing can only be applied to the recipient?s account. If you are not listed as the addressee of the mailing, we will be unable to apply the offer to your account. I understand you may be disappointed and I am sincerely sorry for any confusion.
Please know that we will consider reviewing the terms of other offers you receive in the future. We are aware of unintended card member manage to earn extra points and we are going to reverse those points in the near future.

Your satisfaction is important to us and I sincerely value your business. If you have any further questions, please reply using the Secure Message Center.

Thank you,

xxxxx

Applied for Chase Sapphire

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 pm

This morning over breakfast, I was telling my boyfriend about the Chase Sapphire deal, about the possible DOUBLE deal, and lamenting that I didn't know about the offer before I paid for my review class. BF says, well, I am buying that utility trailer soon. Eureka, I thought, I have known BF has been shopping for a utility trailer to use in his small business. He went to the website of the place he was planning on buying from and they take Visa! So I applied for Chase Sapphire this morning. If I am approved, I will split the points with BF as I couldn't have spent 3k in 3 months without his help.

So now I just have to wait and see if I am approved or not.

Thanks to Monkey Mama for alerting us to this deal!

Bill Paying Day, Summer Camp Rant

June 17th, 2011 at 10:45 am

I paid all the rest of my bills for June. I will need some more grocery money, but that is it. I had $2,244.36 left in my checking account. I like to keep $1,500 sitting there, and I still have $400 earmarked for my planter, but that still leaves me with some extra. So, I transferred $100 off to my CurveBall savings account. This was over and above what I had budgeted! Smile

I had budgeted $373 for credit card debt. I paid $65 to Discover (my new debt for my CPA review class) which left $308 for B of A Visa. I added the $20 rewards check I received last week and paid them $328. My balance is down to $897.11. Yay!

The cost of my class was $3,065. I paid $65 last week. Since then, I have received $1,532.50 from work to pay for half the class. I transferred $32.50 to CurveBall and sent Discover $1,500. This leaves a balance of $1,500 on Discover.

Right now, the rate on Discover is 0.0% but that will not last forever. I think I may focus on Discover to get it paid down as much as possible before the rate goes up. I'm really not sure what the regular rate is, but I am reasonably certain I don't want to pay it. Smile

My ex-husband says he will have to pay his share of summer camp over the next few months. I said OK, but in truth I find this very annoying. Our son went to this camp last year and it was a great experience for him. We agreed last July we would send him again this July. Last November we talked about it again, still both agreeing that we would send son to camp this July. Then when May rolls around and it is time to register and pay, he has no money set aside for camp and I get to pay the whole thing and wait to be reimbursed. Mind you, my ex-husband makes significantly more money than I do. The entire cost is $465, making his half $232.50. He had 10 months from July to May to set it aside, that is only $23.25 per month. If I can plan ahead and have the money ready to go on my salary, I don't see why he can't do it on his. How I look forward to the day I no longer have to deal with ex-husband at all.

How I Squandered My OT Check

May 6th, 2011 at 04:26 pm

I sent $800 to B of A Visa and $800 to my Roth; the rest is sitting in my checking account. I will have to pay my half of summer camp soon, so that is where it will go.

For the rest of the year, I have to contribute $100 per month to my Roth to hit my 3k goal for 2011. That shouldn't be a problem, so I am pleased to be on track with that.

My B of A Visa billing cycle closed yesterday. I just logged on to view the statement, and I see that I was charged $2.46 in interest this month. I expect it to go up next month, as my "1.99% until July 2011" apparently ends after my May billing statement (???). I think that was the gist of the vague letter they sent me two months ago. My balance is down to $1779.61 and my minimum payment is down to $20. I'm glad, because in a pinch, $20 isn't too hard to cough up. Also, I'm glad I got the balance significantly lower before the 1.99% promo rate ends. My regular rate is variable, currently at 7.24%. So not too awful, but of course I would rather pay no interest at all! With my most recent budget revision, the balance will be gone by the end of the year.

My brother is supposed to show up sometime tonight, to visit our Mom for Mother's Day. I'm looking forward to catching up with him.

I brown bagged it 4 days this week, ate out 1 day. I had been slipping into my old habit of eating out every day, which I simply can't afford. But 1 day? Sure, I can swing that. That money comes out of my "cash allowance" budget category.

How The Dollars Shook Out

April 20th, 2011 at 06:55 pm

I ended up adding my impound account refund to my EF, as well as $200 from my bonus. My EF is now a full 3 months of take home pay! I feel good about reaching this milestone. Smile

Also, from my bonus, I sent $600 to B of A Visa, $300 to my Roth, $300 to my son's accounts, and the balance ($700) is sitting in my checking account. My bonus was $2700 gross, which is $300 more than last year, so I was very pleased with that.

I have not yet been paid for my seasonal OT. I expect to clear $1900. I think I will send $400 to my Roth and $1500 to B of A Visa. This will mean I need only another extra $400 (on top of my regular monthly contributions) to hit my goal of 3k for 2011. Also, it will get B of A under $1100. It was $4500 and change in November, so I am pleased with my progress.

I'm wishy-washy I know, but I just don't want to miss hitting my annual Roth targets, because that will lower my odds of hitting my ultimate target, and THAT would be BAD.

Please Help Me Decide

April 13th, 2011 at 10:30 am

The life insurance money is now safely tucked into my Roth.

On Monday I will be receiving my seasonal OT check (about 80 hours) and my bonus. I expect to clear about 4k.

I am going back and forth on what to do. Please help me decide!

Plan 1
Pay off B of A Visa. Balance approximately 3.2k.
.3k to son.
Remainder to checking towards yard maintenance.


Plan 2
1k to B of A Visa
1k to Roth
.3k to EF
.3k to Egypt savings
.3k to son
.3k to Trad IRA
Remainder to hold until yard maintenance complete, then pay down B of A some more with what is left.

It would feel GREAT to pay off B of A. But without that extra boost to Roth, I may not hit my 3k goal.

Opinions?


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