March 2013 Report

Name                                  APR                      Balance          Percent Change

Store Card #1                     24.99%                 $0.00                 –

Store Card #2                     22.9%                   $637.08              -4.63%

Credit Card #1                    19.99%                 $0.00                  -59.46%

Credit Card #2                    22.9%                   $2.85                 -98.98%

Credit Card #3                    13.99%                 $3707.87            -1.01%

Furniture Loan                    18%                      $1890.44           -9.60%

Personal Loan                    15.5%                   $2717.37             -3.08%

Car Loan                             10.19%                 $3400.01             -5.39%

Notes About This Month

Today my son turns one year old, and boy did that year go by super fast.  But I am so very grateful that I have been able to watch him grow.  Just last month he only had two teeth and was crawling everywhere.  It didn’t look like he was ever going to walk.  Now he is up to six teeth, and he walks just about everywhere.  I feel so blessed to be able to partake in this miracle.

Do I regret not making the kind of money when I wasn’t working for myself?  Not one ounce… I know that someday, I will be out of debt and there will be a surplus that I can do what I want with it. Not that my way of living will change that much, I have learned to live pretty frugal, how to save lots of money by couponing, and finally living the way I want to live.

I have been tracking my spending for the last three months, and come the first of the month I will be able to sit down with my wife and come up with a realistic budget.  I am very excited for this.  There are a few categories that need updating, since I didn’t track a few things.  Mostly from my cash tips from some of my clients, which for the most part paid for an expense that I really want to track. I found a post from a blog I have been following that is dated 2006, but is still very relevant today, it’s about how to track cash spending with Quicken.

I also have to start to split up some transactions, like for instance my groceries is grouped in with shopping.  One of the places I shop is WalMart and I buy many things that aren’t considered groceries.  But when I do not have time to go to many different grocery stores during the week, I will ad match everything at WalMart.  To me this savings is more important than tracking how much of everything goes into what.  But I do mean to change this and actually start splitting up the bill and see where every last cent is going to.

This month I actually wanted to throw more money at my debt but was unable to for a few reasons.  I loaned $500 to one of my best friends, out of all my friends this is the only person that I probably would loan money to.  We have each done it in the past, and we both paid the other back.  My wife wasn’t that happy that I loaned out this month, since we still don’t really have an emergency fund.  But I know this particular person would give us the last ten dollars in his bank account if we needed it.  Plus he has been down in the dumps, and hit rock bottom this month.  I wanted him to know that I would always be there for him.

This was the month that my vehicle needed to be registered and inspected.  Now I bought about $300 worth of parts at the end of January.  But there was some things that came up that were either unexpected that I fixed myself, or things I didn’t feel comfortable or capable of doing.  So all in all probably another $300 for that.

Also this month was the month for our pets to have their annual check ups and rabies shot.  My one cat was basically self mutilating herself, and had to go back another time, to actually get her shots.  But turns out that they still wouldn’t give them to her, and in a few days we have to go back yet again.  I swear they do this so I have to pay for yet another exam fee.  So far this month I spent $282 for them.

Well that’s it for this month.  Hopefully starting the first of the month I will start really posting here, instead of just the monthly reports.  Oh by the way did I mention how much I hate credit card companies.  I actually thought I paid off two of the accounts this month, but turns out that Credit Card #2 charged me interest on the amount I paid off.  Seems that the amount is compounded daily, which sucks but what can I do about it. Part of doing business I guess.  Hopefully this $2.85 won’t have interest so it will be paid off next month.

 

February 2013 Report

Name                                  APR                      Balance          Percent Change

Store Card #1                     24.99%                 $0.00                 -100.00%

Store Card #2                     22.9%                   $668.01             1.77%

Credit Card #1                    19.99%                 $66.67               -59.46%

Credit Card #2                    22.9%                   $280.48             -29.48%

Credit Card #3                    13.99%                 $3745.70            -0.91%

Furniture Loan                    18%                       $2091.27           -8.76%

Personal Loan                    15.5%                    2803.80             -2.75%

Car Loan                             10.19%                  3593.78             -4.84%

January 2013 Report

Name                               APR                        Balance          Percent Change

Store Card #1                  24.99%                  35.40

Store Card #2                   22.9%                    656.37

Credit Card #1                  19.99%                  164.46

Credit Card #2                  22.9%                    358.59

Credit Card #3                  13.99%                  3780.05

Furniture Loan                  18%                        2292.10

Personal Loan                  15.5%                    2883.17

Car Loan                           10.19%                  3776.72

Bad Luck

Life Cards

You know that saying “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”  Let’s just say… Story of my life, not only that it seems that my luck has rolled into my family.  The day after I wrote my last post, I hurt my back again.  I was gimping around for close to three weeks.  The thing I can’t get over is that I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.  I can understand if I over asserted myself, but I didn’t.  That’s the thing once you hurt your back, you will always have some sort of pain.  That’s all on top of having scoliosis.

Now some people might say that is a stroke of bad luck, but that’s not my luck.  No, my luck has to be worse.  My wife was feeling sick for just about the entire month; so as much as I would have loved to have lain on the couch for the entire time.  With two young children one of us had to be up at all times.

In the last week and a half I was in the Emergency Room four times.  One night as my son was laying on me sleeping; I noticed the side of his face was a little red.  As I lifted him up I realized it wasn’t a little red but a lot red, breaking out in hives, and his eye was swollen shut.  He was having an allergic reaction to something.  Thinking about it, the only new thing he had was orange Pedialyte.  Well the E. R. gave him a shot of Benadryl and a shot of a steroid.  By the time we left, Xaiden was all cleared up.  The next morning I talked to his allergist, she didn’t think it was the Pedialyte, since having dye allergies are pretty rare and prescribed that we get him an EpiPen in case he got hives or had trouble breathing.

Later that day, as previously mentioned my wife hasn’t been feeling good, well for the past few days she wasn’t able to keep anything down.  It was by the recommendation of her doctor that she go to the Emergency room and get an IV.  So off we went, everything was pretty routine and we were home a few hours later.  At bedtime that night it seemed Xaiden had another allergic reaction.  This trip to the E. R. took longer than the night before, but because of the EpiPen it seemed my son was better before even going into the room.  This time around, after getting yelled at by the doctor, he prescribed my son some steroids.

If things weren’t bad enough two days after that my wife was having trouble with her chest.  Another trip to the E. R. and another 12 hours we found out that her gull bladder had stones in them, which as the doctor stated was common with having babies.  The next day she had surgery and is now recovering from it.

So there you have it, my month in a nutshell.  I am glad that everyone is doing better now, even though we still don’t know what made my son break out in hives, but we do have an appointment soon with our allergist.  But now that everything is over and I took a deep breathe; the only thing I worry about is how much this is going to cost me.  Luckily my family has pretty good medical coverage.  Although because of all this drama I did miss two credit card payments and will likely to incur some late fees, but I am willing to pay those.

I’m Back

Volcano

So last July I started this blog and it just appeared as I lost interest.  Well, let me tell you, that was not the case at all.  You know who has the worst luck in the world?  That’s right, this guy does.  Back in July my computer took a dump on me.  My Mac finally decided to die on me, and without any sort of sign. After five faithful years of service, with no problems at all it!  So I guess I really can’t complain, but I did want to cry.  I still do, in fact.  I have resorted back to a windows operation system, and boy do I hate it.

There was simply no money in the budget to buy a new computer, let alone a Mac.  I was finally able to get one at the beginning of this year.  So what have I been up to the last six months?  Spending time with the family, getting a seasonal job, and basically just relaxing were among the main things.

One thing that didn’t die was my growing desire to get out of debt.  And with the New Year just started, that fire is growing even bigger.  I came up with a game plan that will get the ball rolling.  Unfortunately because I didn’t have a computer so long, my budget last year got majorly fudged up.  But I am happy to say, that I was able to make Christmas all cash Christmas by taking on a long term contract throughout the holidays.  So I didn’t add to my debt, but I really didn’t do anything to eliminate it either.

I will be posting up all the grueling details about my debt in the next couple of posts.  Some of you might laugh at how little my debt is, and some be relieved to see that my debt is higher than yours.  The only thing I can say is that it is a problem for me, maybe because of how much I actually make each month.

But it is not just that, I am 31 years old, a kind of new husband/father.   I have no emergency fund, no sort of retirement, no medical insurance, and my car is about to completely break down while I still owe money on it.  I have goals and dreams just like the rest of you, I would love to own my own house, be the entrepreneur that I know is in me, and buy my wife and me two cars.  These are the short term goals, while I have lots of medium and long term ones as well.

I hope this blog and all of you that find this blog can help keep me held accountable.  Please help me reach some of these goals.

 

Help I’m In Debt! The Present

Melissa and I were doing good for the first year of us living together, we were working on maintaining her good credit, by adding a few lines of credits, but always paying off the full amount at the end of the month.  The only debt that wasn’t being paid off in its entirety was the car payment, and a $6,000 loan we took out in order to furnish our apartment.

We each had many things that could have partially furnished our dwelling, but we both decided we didn’t want anything from the past being brought into our present and future.  Which to this day, I will stand by saying that it was a good decision.  Little did I realize our 18 month same as cash loan, the payments that they provided didn’t add up to the same amount.  (Another story!  Boy do I have many stories about our stupid decisions.)

By the middle of 2010 we had 3 credit cards, 3 store credit cards, 1 jewelry card, 1 furniture loan, and 1 car loan.  We were doing just fine, that is when all the (pardon the language) shit hit the floor.  We have been in a long standing battle with Dipshit over two things custody and the house that he lived in that has Melissa’s name on it.

Well on the custody front, as we fought for full custody, he tried to fight and say that my wife was mentally incompetent to support her daughter, the judge ordered Psychological Evaluations be done.  This cost $1,200 dollars, that plus the lawyer’s fees just kept adding up.

On top of all this we were in a legal battle with him over getting Melissa’s name off the house.  So there were more lawyer/legal fees.  We decided to take out another $5,000 loan.  At this point in time, we are still able to maintain our payments.

Well all said and done, let’s just say that we couldn’t have picked a worse lawyer to help us with these two legal matters.  Friends of ours recommended this lawyer, but in my opinion she didn’t do anything and we had to keep on her to do things.  So we end up with the same custody stipulations that we had, and nothing was done about the house.  Basically $5,000 down the drain.  We chalk it up to being naive and knowing nothing about the law.

In July of 2010, while on vacation Melissa proposed to me on the beach.  I was shocked, not really expecting it, but very excited.  On Christmas day, I re-proposed to her and  on 1/1/11 we were married, in a very small wedding that didn’t cost us anything besides the cost of the marriage license and her engagement ring and wedding ring, which I put on the jewelry card.

It’s funny to look back and you can pinpoint the very instance the downward spiral started.  It was February of 2011, one month after Melissa and I were married.  Dipshit started his crap again, saying he couldn’t afford the house anymore and threw the keys at Melissa and moved down the street from the house to his mom’s.  Kinda funny, since he made more money than I did, and I managed to pay rent (when I was single) that was twice as much as the mortgage.

So what are we to do?  We decided that we couldn’t risk hurting Melissa’s great credit that we carefully built up, so we couldn’t let this house go into foreclosure.  We decide we will live in the house, after seeing the inside of this house, I decide that I just couldn’t live in the house with it looking like it did (ugly stained carpet, holes in the wall, etc.) So with the help of my dad, her step father, and a close family friend, we started working on this house.  We were paying our rent for the apartment we were living in, paying all the bills for it, plus paying for all the remodeling of this house, and the mortgage and bills.

Some how we were managing to keep up with it.  Her parents loaned us money to do this remodeling, since we didn’t have that big chunk of change at our disposable.  We put in another $5,000 dollars into this house, and were about to take out another loan for I think it was for $3,500 for carpet, when we finally had the last straw.

Legal fact that didn’t dawn on us, since we never did it ourselves.  But you could legally walk into a house that has your name on it at anytime you wanted.  Dipshit did it at least three times to us, and with him living down the street, my wife didn’t think she could handle the added stress, due to her disability.  During the times he walked in on us, he started taking pictures and posting on the internet that we were destroying the house.  If destroying meant, running all new electrical in the house, re-drywalling and insulating the downstairs, and many other things, then yeah we were “destroying” the house.

Melissa and I decided we would take the credit hit if need be, but we wouldn’t deal with any of this madness any longer.  So we told him we weren’t going to keep paying on the house.  Funny how things work out, in less then a week Dipshit moved back into the “destroyed” house.  All I’m thinking is thank god, it wasn’t a week later when we would have gotten the carpet installed.

Then the madness happened, in July I hurt my back (thinking I was a teenager still, doing a backflip off the diving board), and was out of work for about two months.  Trying to work on that house had taken out our savings completely, so you can guess what happened.  We couldn’t keep up with the payments.  By the time I got back to work, the damage already set in, and we were in debt to our necks.

Trying to catch up on everything and with big events coming (X-mas and daughter’s b-day) we didn’t know what to do.  Then it got worse, a few days before Christmas I was let go from my job.  Through various methods, I had some money coming in each month, but it wasn’t that much, nor did it help with our debt problems.

In May I was able to take my part time income and make it into something more, but if you fast forward to today, we are just now kinda getting back on our feet.

So there you have it, a long condensed version of my debt journey, please follow along with me as I take this journey to become debt free and more.

Read the rest of my story:  Part One | Part Two

Help! I’m In Debt: The Not Too Distant Past

So six years go by, since the humiliating experience of getting arrested for bouncing checks.  The only things I put in my name are the stuff that I have to, electric bill, phone/internet, and my cell phone.  To be honest I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to pay a security deposit on any of them, even though my credit score was a very low 500.  Like I mentioned in my last post, for the majority of this time I didn’t even have a bank account.

During all this time, I sat on the fence with all the personal finance advice I was reading about.  I was still living paycheck to paycheck, making very little money… Partially because of the career industry (Restaurant) I chose to go into after the military… Mostly because I was still living above my means, without collecting debt.

I wasn’t out at the bars wasting money like most of the people my age, but I did have a healthy or should I say unhealthy addiction to the latest technology, especially video games.  Although I was making decent money by working 60-80 hours a week, I was blowing it by buying at the very least $500 on these video games.

My logic was that I wasn’t blowing my at bars, and these video games gave me hours upon hours of entertainment and I had something to show for it.  When I first moved back home in 2009, my dad and I were fixing up the house I grew up in, so I would be able to live there.  It was broken into, and all my TVs, DVDs, Computers, and video games were stolen.  Over $75,000 (what I paid, not what they were worth) was taken.  I soon learned that my logic was flawed.

Very shortly after this I ran into Melissa, a girl I graduated school with.  As it turned out she was just getting out of  a emotionally abusive relationship, one that also brought a smart and beautiful girl into this world.  Now Melissa, suffers from depression and an anxiety disorder… at the end of this relationship, her ex (who I will from now on call Dipshit,) even though they were broken up, he made it appear that she had no money because all of it was tied up into various things, meaning she didn’t have enough money to move out, which I didn’t find out until we started talking again.

He even went so far as contacting me, calling me a home wrecker.  Because of this fact I kinda backed away for a few months.  During that time time I was offered a great position with Yellowstone National Park.  The amount would make was double what I made each year, and it was only for about 6 months.  As the time was counting down till I would leave for this opportunity, my best friend decided to open a restaurant, and asked me to help him achieve his dream.  I couldn’t turn this down, so I stayed in my hometown.

Almost immediately after, I ran into Melissa again, just recently moved back in with her mother, who tore her from that household.  After hearing that he was basically holding all of her money in ransom, I corrected that situation.  I also came to find out that he brought her credit score to around the same figure as I was.  Difference was is that her score was current debt that could be corrected.

During this time, as I was helping a friend, it started to become something more, and I fell in love.  (Little did I know, she had feelings for me the whole time.)  I was also able to bring her credit score up to a mid 700.  We got her a car, so that she didn’t have to pay for a car that was in Dipshit’s name, so he could hold that against her.  We wanted very little to do with him, and we achieved that in just about all aspects of life except two, one being Gianna (my step daughter) and the second being the house that has both of their names on it.  (Another story all together)  By the beginning of 2010 we decide to move in together, and this is where my debt story begins, which I will save for tomorrow’s post.

Read the rest of my story:  The Past | The Present

Help! I’m In Debt: The Past

So the name is Jim, and like most Americans I am in debt.  *Phew* I finally said it out loud.  Now I am not as bad off as some, and probably worse than others, but I am trying my best to get my spending in check, and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

In all the 30 years that I have been alive, no one taught me anything about personal finance.  School?  I excelled in all math courses, but did this prepare me for the outside world?  Not one bit.  Home?  This was something that was never talked about in my house growing up.  I did notice that this was the main topic that caused fights between my parents once I was old enough to understand.

I graduated high school when I was 17, and immediately went into the military.  By the time I was 19, I accumulated over $20,000 worth of debt.  Most creditors were willing to give me credit, since being in the military allowed them to automatically deduct the amount of the loan from my paycheck.  At one point in time, I was receiving $42.50 every 1st and 15th of the month.

It really didn’t hit me, that I was in a terrible state, since being a single soldier, I was supplied a room to stay in and a meal card to eat with.  But I didn’t have any money at all, so what was I supposed to do?  That’s right I kept racking up my credit cards.

What finally made me open my eyes and see the situation at hand?  I got arrested for bouncing checks!  What made an already embarrassing situation worse, was that the military was notified and I had disciplinary action taken against me.  Not only did I owe so much money, but I had my pay cut for a few months.

I started paying back my debts… well until I got out of the military.  I wasn’t able to secure a job immediately after getting out of the military, so the collection calls started to come.  So what was a 22 year old that didn’t have any kind of training in personal finance supposed to do?  I am quite ashamed to admit but I just forgot about everything.

Moving around many times over the next few years had the collection agencies catching to find me.  I swore to myself I wasn’t dealing with any credit cards until I was responsible enough.  And for the next five years I didn’t, Hell I didn’t even have a bank account in fear that I would screw that up as well.

During all this time, it became a passion of mine to read books about personal finance and business.  But you know what became out of that?  Nothing!  That’s right I sat on the fence.  That was until I reconnected with my wife… which is a story for another time.

Read it here!  Part Two | Part Three