Archive for January, 2012
My state refund is in my checking account this morning. I sent $100 to Piddly (same bank as my checking account) and the rest to CurveBall.
Cashed out another $8 from Beezag, sent that to CurveBall too.
Tonight is my meeting with the mortgage consultant. I can hardly wait! I am an odd bird.
My ex-h and I agreed to $200 every two weeks. He also stated he has arranged to skip a car and credit card payment next month, so no longer wants me to hold onto tomorrow's check for two weeks.
So I have an income reduction of $26 this month and $52 for February and forward.
My ex-h loves debt. He had a huge amount when I married him, and nothing but a mortgage when I divorced him. Now the house is gone (short sale to avoid foreclosure), he has a huge vehicle payment, and 30k or so of credit card debt. He has no savings and no retirement savings (cashed it in last year, spent it). He has experienced income loss due to budget cuts, but still makes a nice salary. (I still do his taxes, and he tells me things from time to time.) Thankfully, his love of debt is no longer my problem.
What he does have going for him is a beautiful pension, so he will always have money coming in.
I submitted my income tax returns this morning. I will be receiving $1100 from the state and $763 federal. This was my last 1k child credit.
I replied to ex-h and suggested we split the insurance increase and change the cs to $200 every two weeks (from $226). I also asked if "defer" meant for two weeks or for some other time period. We will see what he says.
Just got an email from ex-h. He wants to know if I can "defer" his next child support payment as he is being "forced to move", had to come up with a deposit, and is "tight on cash". Also, he would like to reduce his child support payment as the cost for medical ins just went up.
Isn't there always something?
The dental appointment went very well! Since I have been a patient for a long time (decade or so), and since I was paying cash, they gave me a special rate. $75 for my cleaning and x-rays! That was slightly less expensive than paying $80 for insurance, then $36 at each bi-annual cleaning.
The dental copay for J was just $10. I'm going to mention to ex-h that J went to the dentist, but I'm not going to ask him to kick in half. I don't want him to feel nickeled and dimed, and I need him to come through without a fuss when larger expenses roll around. (We don't split everything. For example, I buy all of J's clothes. I receive child support, so we agreed that was fair. But we agreed that medical copays and extras such as summer camp would be split.)
My mammogram had no co-pay at all! Quite reasonable.
I'm on track to come in at or under budget on every category for January. The only "overage" is on the mortgage, because I chipped $5. I don't mind that at all.
Now that I plan to refi and start all over on a 30 year mortgage, I think I need to face the reality that I likely will not have my mortgage paid in full by age 65. Hopefully though, I will have a nice chunk of equity at that point. So perhaps a better plan for me is to downsize. I may have enough equity to purchase a 2 bedroom condo outright.
This morning I received a phone call from a local Wells Fargo mortgage consultant. They will be ready to process Harp 2.0 refis on Feb 6th. I have an appointment with her on Jan 31st. I need to bring the declaration page of my homeowner's policy and that is it. She says the process is very streamlined and we will close quickly. We will go over 30 vs 20 and all costs when we meet.
I was leaning towards the 20, but now I am thinking 30. I am simply not saving enough and need to ramp that up. I need more cash in the bank and I need to plump up my nest egg. I can always prepay once my savings goals are met for the year.
I received a second unexpected phone call from my old Allstate agent. They want me back (I switched to Geico two years ago) and offered me a lower premium than Geico for the same coverage. She quoted $566 whereas Geico is $637. Also, I would receive a multiple policy discount on my homeowner's. Things have certainly changed. When I left them (after 20+ years!), I saved almost $200 on a 6 month policy at Geico. Now they are beating Geico by $71 plus whatever break on homeowner's.
Who will be calling me next today? Publisher's Clearing House? Perhaps Nicolas Cage will come to his senses and call to declare his undying love for me.
Tonight I finally got around to paying all of the bills for the month (except Citi MC which arrives around the 25th). I paid everything, transferred $179 to CurveBall, $100 to my Roth, $50 to vacation savings, and have $339.10 left. Still to come in this month is child support on the 25th ($226) and then payday on the 31st. So I will make it just fine, even with the small paycheck on the 15th.
Tomorrow I will take J to the dentist. He is on his father's dental plan which changed recently, so I am not sure what to expect when it comes time to pay. We will see. J's father will reimburse me half, as per our agreement. Also, the dentist stopped taking my dental plan, and my dental plan was discontinued. (Happened a few months apart, I am not certain if the two events are related or not.) I am not certain what I am going to do. I really like the dentist. My family has been going to him for years. I suppose I will speak with them to see what dental plans they accept and then shop for a new plan. My old plan cost $80 per year and when I had my cleanings, I would pay about $36. I have surfed a little, and some plans are as much as $45 per month. I found some others similar to my old plan, but my dentist doesn't take them. I suppose I will be switching dentists.
Work is so hectic right now. It is just a busy time of year, plus our receptionist/secretary has been out sick all week. My office is very small. There are two partners (CPAs), one full-time staff accountant (moi), one part-time staff accountant, and one full time secretary/receptionist. That is it. So when the rec/sec is out, the other staff accountant and I have to answer the phones and run downstairs every time the front door opens. Until she leaves for the day, then it is all me. Of course, I still have to get all of my work done. My time is already very saturated, so juggling the phone calls and front door as well really makes for a difficult time.
On Friday I will be having my annual mammogram. I'm not sure what my copay is, but I will gladly pay it.
BF was here over the weekend but has gone back to his place now. He and I, J, and J's friend went to the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland on Saturday. We went through a group in which J participates, so the tickets were courtesy of them. We did a scavenger hunt and had a meeting time in a private room with snacks. They were accepting donations and I donated $20 as I had planned. The kids had a great time and it was very interesting. They have a couple of telescopes and we were able to view Venus.
So I continue to mull over the Harp 2 refinance thing. I have learned that the loans are at market rates and the fees are typical. So I could snap up a 4% 30 year fixed or 3.3875% for a 20 year fixed.
I have to say, that 20 year loan is tempting. The rate is unbelievable, and even with no prepayments, I would be done with my mortgage shortly after my 65th birthday. The payments would be slightly less than now (about $10 - $15 per month), and I could stop looking for ways to chip at my mortgage and instead look for ways to save a bit more.
On the other hand, going with the 30 would free up $177 per month due to the lower payment. I could use those dollars towards retirement savings and really give my nest egg a boost. Once my IRA is maxed for the year, there would be nothing preventing me from paying down the mortgage some. Having a lower minimum payment would also come in handy in the event I become unemployed at some point.
I make up my mind one way, then change it again.
Today I did a wallet sweep and chipped $4.07 from my mortgage. Not much, but something. I chipped a little interest I received, too. I hadn't mentioned it, but I have increased my budgeted monthly payment from $1274 to $1284, so a little more will be gained there.
In Harp 2.0 news, it seems that Wells Fargo will not be ready to roll until March now. Unfortunately, new fees for Fannie and Freddie loans (which are funding the Jan - Feb payroll tax cut) begin in mid February. That will add about 1k to my cost if I decide to do the refi. I suppose I should do the refi even so, as dropping from 5.25 to 4.0 on 180k of debt is significant.
I have to say, I do not relish the idea of starting over AGAIN with a new mortgage. I bought my first home in 1989 and diligently chipped away. That equity eventually went into my second home. I didn't chip much on that one, but that mortgage was much smaller than the one I have now. My ex-husband has a very sweet pension too, so I wasn't particularly worried about making the payments. Now at nearly 45 and divorced, the thought of a brand new 30 year mortgage is a bit icky. So I think, well, I'll do a 20. But then I look at my nest egg and think hmmm, maybe that new lower payment would be better because I can feed my nest egg more. I don't know that I am going to live here forever, anyway.
Well, eleven days into the new year and so far, I have been careful with my spending.
I was looking at my checking account balance, and looking forward to my first paycheck of the new year, when I realized it will be a 10 day paycheck. Bleah! January will be a little tighter than I had thought. Thankfully, the second paycheck of the new year will be a 12 day paycheck.
I received an email from Geico that my next car insurance policy is available for my viewing pleasure. I logged on and was very pleased to note that the price has dropped approximately $100! Yay. I can't complain much about that.
I am getting ready to get J off to his dad's, his first day back to school tomorrow, and myself off to work. Last year, I racked up 78.25 hours of OT. This year, I expect to rack up more as my responsibilities keep snowballing. (At times, I find this frustrating.) Last year, between OT pay and my bonus, I cleared 4k (just barely). I have my income tax refund on the horizon too. It is time to begin considering how best to use this extra 6k - 7k. I will give $300 to J (his annual "allowance"). But other than that, every cent of it will go to some savings account, retirement account, or debt. My task is to slice it up wisely. I must send a minimum of $1800 off to my Roth, as that is the shortfall between my budgeted monthly contribution and my planned minimum annual contribution.
So I suppose I am thinking:
I "borrowed" $700 from Vacation a few months back, and would like to repay it.
BTW, J tucks his allowance into his mutual fund account and his savings account. What a good kid.
It has been a full year of blogging and budgeting now. I started using Mint in December 2010 and started this blog for good measure. Even though I am 44 years old, 2011 was the first year I kept a written budget.
When I began, I had $4460.69 of credit card debt. Now I have $1523.00. If I had not enrolled in a CPA Review course and charged it, I would now be credit card debt free again.
(Have I sat for the exam? No. Am I ready to sit for the exam? No. So the books and I have a study date. I can't focus on that right now, but once another tax season is behind me, I have to hit those books. I want to pass and be done with the exam in 2012.)
How has it worked for me? Well, I feel both the budget and blog really helped me rein in my spending. It's not that I didn't overspend, it's that when I overspent, I recognized it. And overspending was typically followed by penny pinching to ease some of the fiscal pain. There is still lots of room for improvement. In 2012, I want to find more dollars for saving/investing/prepaying the mortgage. And let's face it, if I can penny pinch after overspending, then I can penny pinch without overspending. I still want to have fun and enjoy myself, but I also want to make more significant progress towards my ultimate minimum financial goals (600k traditional, 150k Roth, no mortgage).
I will turn 45 in 6 weeks, so I'm just 20 years away from the time I would like to retire.
I have been plugging my budget numbers into a big spreadsheet all year. Now that the year is over, I can look back and see how I did. The spreadsheet is big, so what I am sharing here is my YTD Variance.
What this means:
Wages - I earned $482 less than budgeted
Child Supt - I received $452 more than budgeted
Miscellaneous - I received $11,733.43 more than budgeted. (This is my bonus, my seasonal overtime, my income tax refund, and all small streams of income.)
Mortgage - I paid an extra $442.43
Groceries - I spent $3 less than budgeted
Utilities - I spent $224 more than budgeted
Visa - I spent $700 more than budgeted
Savings - I saved $288 more then budgeted
Cr Crd Debt - I paid $2476 more than budgeted
Cash Allow - I spent $200 more than budgeted
Roth - I contribued $2550 more than budgeted. (My budgeted amount would not allow me to hit my target of 3k per year. So this is necessary)
Medical CoPays - I spent $200 less than budgeted, but I did away with this category and lumped it into "Everything Else".
Travel - I saved $400 less than budgeted
Pest - Exactly as budgeted
Gym - I spent $17 more than budgeted, because of the partial month at sign up.
Life Ins - Exactly as budgeted
Everything Else - I spent $5593 more than budgeted.
So all in all, I spent/saved $11,887.43 more than budgeted, and received $11,703.43 more than budgeted.
In 2012, I want to work on not spending more than budgeted and trimming expenses so I can find more dollars to save/invest/prepay mortgage.