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Archive for February, 2016

$9,722.72. Debt strategy?

February 28th, 2016 at 04:24 pm

I'm jumping up and down. The payment hit, and the new mortgage balance is $9,722.72.

Sadly, though, I need to come up with a new payoff strategy. My wishful math projections were off by $3,000. I'm not finished with the taxes, but anticipate a refund of about $3,500 (probably more, but not much. I'm being conservative).

Once that is in and filed, that would bring the mortgage down to $6,222.72.

I'd hoped we could have it paid off by June using this strategy, plus making our normal monthly payments. $1,035 of each payment goes to principal. But now it looks like if I do that, it'll still be six months until it's gone.

I just want to be free!!

I'm trying to come up with a plan B. What strategies have all of you used to pay off a $10,000 debt as quickly as possible?

I thought maybe. Big maybe, if I tried to keep going on low spend month in March and April, I could free up maybe $1000 to $1500 extra to send to the principal.

But there are a lot of maybes. I think we can reign in all the little expenditures and wastes of money, but I also have to pay for DS2s next session in his fitness class ($155), the freezer is empty and I need to call the farm to stock up on more meat ($200). And, we've got five birthdays between March 11 and April 8.


I've told DS1, who is turning 8, that we were going to do a birthday party at the house this year.

It's at least $300 to have a party at a 'place.'
His laser tag party ended up costing an arm and a leg last year, once all the extras were in.

I sold him on the idea of having a video game party with pizza and cakes at our place. Boys love video games. I don't know why. We're going to borrow more game systems and screens from friends, and set up stations around the house with multiplayer sega, wii, and playstation games going.

I hope it will be cheap, fun, and give me the incentive to clear out the other section of the basement and turn it into a tween hangout spot. I've been eyeing it forever. Now I have a deadline!


We can't do low spend forever though. I'm spending a week in New Orleans in May to visit friends. And, we have to take a family trip to Arizona in June, for DH's parents 50th wedding anniversary. They wanted to do a trip, and it's going to cost us a fortune, but what can I do. It's planned mostly, and it's a family obligation. Argh.

Low spend month/ mortgage payoff progress

February 26th, 2016 at 01:47 pm

DH got a bonus today. I'm super thankful.

I was able to send $11,766 to the mortgage (which is our regular payment plus $10,000). I'll update the balance tomorrow when it posts to our account. I'm estimating we'll be around $9,750.

Still, the bonus was about $3,000 less than my wishful math projections, but I'll still take it. I'll just have to rework the plan to see when we can get this house paid off!

Part one of the new plan is to stick with low spending into March. I feel like No Spend February was a great success, even though on paper it looked like a disaster. We had a budget of $150 a week for food, entertainment, etc. We actually stuck to that!

On paper, the month looks worse because DH and DS2 destroyed my $1500 mac laptop that I adored by spilling coffee on the keyboard. $800 to fix it, so I said no, and bought a $500 windows laptop, which I actually do not like, but hey, I can't rationalize spending a whole lot on another Mac in a house with two little boys and a clumsy DH. I can't skip the computer. I need it to work. (I will be deducting it as an expense on my taxes next year!) But that was still $500 cash out that wasn't expected.

Then, the electricity in the kitchen went out. All the outlets only. The circuit in the panel just got old and went bad. We paid our unemployed electrician friend $100 to come fix/replace it. Money out, but still cheaper than the service call alone for our normal electrical company. And obviously, it couldn't wait. As fun as it was to brew coffee on the floor in the dining room, and run an extension cord to the microwave...

Sigh. I'm still sad about the mortgage, but oh well. Part of it is our fault. The credit card spending got out of hand before and immediately after Christmas, and I had to send $2500 to the cc company today. (It would have been much worse if we hadn't done No Spend Month. We paid a huge chunk of it last payday.) I keep kicking myself, but it's done. It's like that every year. I'll try to do better next Christmas!

The good news is it's paid in full with a zero balance, all the other bills are paid in full too, and I have enough left in the bank to pay the next two weeks of expenses in cash. (Barring any more unforseen disasters!)

No Spend Month really helped me hit the reset button. I've had 3 NSD this week alone. I can't remember the last time I did that.

It also threw a light on my time poverty issue. I realize time management is key for me. I only have 2hours, 45 minutes alone every day to work, finish editing my first novel (so I can send it out for rejection. Yay!), and do anything I need to do but can't do with the kids around. So yes. Time is precious! With no spend month, I cut down extra trips and errands--to one a week-- and that did free up a little bit of time each week.

I told DH we're sticking with the cash in the envelope system we used for NSM. He seemed pouty, even after I told him the budget had gone up. I think he just doesn't like the idea of limits, even though he actually isn't a big spender.

Still, if we double the budget to $300 a week, we'd have plenty left each payday to throw at the mortgage. And really, after cutting back to $150 a week, $300 seems like a king's ransom!

Everything that can go wrong...

February 16th, 2016 at 01:44 pm

No/low Spend Month was going great. We ended our first two weeks under budget, with $16 left over. I was feeling in control of life again and my urge to spend money was curbed. All was well.

Then, life happened. Dh and DS2 were watching videos of whales eating krill on my computer. Then they spilled a quart of hot coffee on the keyboard and immediately fried it. I hadn't backed up the data in two weeks (shame on me). So I lost two weeks of work on my novel and of freelance articles and interviews. The day before they were due. This was a beautiful Macbook air laptop that I adored. long battery life, quiet keyboard, no crapware. Alas, $2000 down the drain. The warranty doesn't cover spills. Despite my long-standing rules of no eating or drinking near my computer. Garrr...

I tried to disguise my sadness and anger. (You know how it is When you're a mom, you've got nothing for yourself. I just wanted one thing of mine to not be ruined, destroyed or messes with! No luck!). We took it to Microcenter. For $40 they did a diagnostic, to see what parts were damaged and if they could be replaced. The bad news: $800 to fix it. The good? The hard drive was fine. I paid $50 (!) for a 1 terrabyte external drive and they moved all my files to it. They saved it all! The guys at Microcenter were top notch. I'm a fan.

So...then I had to laptop shop. I decided I wasn't going to buy a new Macbook. I cant justify an expensive laptop. I have to think disposable, because I live in a house with three males, two of whom are 7 or under, and it's only a matter of time before one of them does something to the laptop that ISN'T covered by the warranty.

After much agonizing, I chose an Acer Aspire with an Intel 5 something or other and a 1 terrabyte HD . It had the longest battery life and the least clunky keyboard, and cost $479. More than I wanted to spend, but half the price of the cheapest macbook. But boy, let me tell you. I was spoiled. None of these windows machines are as quiet, long-batteried, or nice as macs!

The keyboard on this thing is still way too loud, which sounds crazy of me to mention, until I tell you I often have to work inside federal courtrooms, typing, and you can hear a pin drop in there--unless I'll be there typing!

So yes. Halfway through No Spend Month, and I'm it with nearly $600 out of pocket for a busted laptop. My heart is still sick over it, but there was no way around it.

*****In Other News******

On the bright side. I took my (single) sister to a movie for valentine's day. We saw Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies and you know what? It was way better than I thought it would be! The writers were very clever, and there were a lot of top-tier English actors/actresses in the cast. They did a nice job with what could have been a half-ass schlock movie.

As for the mortgage. In past posts, I've done some wishful math calculations in trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage off this spring, instead of in another 18 months as planned.

The great news is that DH is getting a bonus. It's $2000 less than last year, but that's okay. It'll be enough that we can make a huge dent in the mortgage balance. I won't know exactly how much until it's in the checking account.

I still haven't received two of my freelance 1099s, so I don't know exactly if and how much tax refund we will be receiving. I'm going to call the companies this week. Or company? One was bought out, and I don't think it exists anymore. Ugh. The headache! Anyway, the plan is to put the tax refund toward the mortgage as well. I'm estimating it'll be at least $3000. (Plus a possible state refund?)

In an ideal world, if the bonus and taxes work out, I maybe just maybe might be able to pay the house off by July without taking any money out of savings. Which is the huge part. When I came up with this crazy plan, I anticipated draining at least half the money out of the savings account, but it looks like it might not be necessary! Hazzah! Okay okay I'm getting ahead of myself! I already know how life throws curveballs. Let's hope for no more!

No Spend Month progress.

February 5th, 2016 at 01:09 am

Here's a quick recap of the first few days of No Spend Month!

No spend Day, no car day for me, no spend day for DH. (He drives to the gym during lunch hour every day.)

House: I vacuumed and picked up the house. I also began the big job of sorting and organizing the library. We have a lot of books, and a lot of bookcases, but they are in disarray. I'm pulling books out, dusting the shelves, getting rid of some books, and then trying to organize the shelves. It's going to take a few days.

For dinner, we had grass fed ribs, roasted beets, and broccoli-cheese rice, ice cream with caramel sauce for dessert.

No spend day, no drive day for me,and for hubby

Hubby is moping about No Spend Month. He really wanted Mexican restaurant food for lunch. It's weird. He usually doesn't spend much or crave those sorts of things. He's probably thinking about it because he's been told he can't. Oh well. I told him I'd make mexican for dinner on Friday night.

House: I cleaned the microwave and the air hood filter (blech), and the fish tank. I made a batch of all-purpose cleaner (vinegar and seventh gen. dish detergent.) Also ran a cleaning cycle on the HE washing machine with vinegar.

Cool tip: use the dirty fish tank water to water houseplants. It's super good for them. Lots of nitrogen and nutrients in the fish poop!

For dinner, we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and green beans.


Well, the spell is broken. I spent money today. And drove. We were out of milk, a staple for the boys, and needed a few other things from the grocery.

I spent $72.70.

$18.10 was at Aldi's, for cashews ($11), tortilla chips, sweet peppers for Friday's fajita dinner, and vanilla yogurt for DS2's breakfast.

The rest was at Kroger, 4 gallons of organic milk @$24, cat food @ $12, bubble bath and cheese curls, then all the valentines for both son's class exchange next week. (DS2 has a kid with severe allergies in the class, so I was limited in what I could pick), plus two fancy Godiva choco bars for each teacher @$3 each.

I drove 12 miles today, 7 of it taking DS2 to his morning gymnastics class. I tried to get a free vacuum for the car at the place next to the grocery store, but everyone else in town had the same idea, and there wasn't a free spot. Boo.

For dinner, we're having pork chops, sweet potatoes, home-canned apple sauce, and cauliflower. Strawberry jello for dessert.

DH is going to a movie with our friend tonight. (Spent $3 out of pocket because the old $25 gift card I found didn't cover two tickets!)

Drove 15.1 miles, taking DS1 to swim classes. I knew it was far. I didn't know it was that far.

Spent : $10.49, Wendy's, usual once a week eat out after swim.
Junior frosty was free because we had a key tag.

We finished DS1's Pinewood derby car for Cub Scouts. It's our first time trying. It looks like something out of Mad Max but he did a huge chunk of the work, so I'm proud of him.

Dinner was creamy chicken soup with homemade drop dumplings and pumpkin muffins.

Random thoughts during No Spend Month

Doing more good in the world. I just realized DH's company matches 100 percent of charitable donations. That means we've left thousands of dollars on the table for orgs we care about these past years. Sigh. HIs homework this week is to find out how we can get the company to match our donations, so we can put more money into the organizations and causes we care about.

No Spend Month Budgeting.

I think the key to a successful No spend month is to spend as little as possible in the early days of the month, when the cupboards and the gas tanks are still full. I'd rather have money in the budget at the end of the month, when the reserves are gone and we're scraping by.

Wishful math-ing, counting chickens.

February 1st, 2016 at 10:10 pm

So, I'm doing wishful calculating, trying to figure out if we can pay off the house this spring. I know know know I shouldn't and can't count on anything until it's in the bank account, but I've been wishful math-ing.

First wish, that hubby gets a bonus this year, and it's close to what it was last year. Sigh. No word on that yet. Last year, it hit on the last paycheck in February. Fingers crossed we hear something soon.

Math wish. IF he gets a bonus and IF it's close to last year's amount, we can put $14,000 to the mortgage, leaving $6,000 to pay.

I'm working on the taxes. It is very frustrating because, although I try my best to keep our tax and financial lives simple, it takes forever to get all of our forms. I'm 1099, and I have gotten NO 1099s. And, one of the companies I work for was bought by another company in JUne, so that will likely slow things down even more. Ugh. So, I used placeholder estimates of my income, to at least see what maybe maybe we will get as a refund. So far, about $3500. Which would put the mortgage balance near $2500. We'd make two regular payments in between those big windfalls coming in, so we'd be at $500.

Which meant if my fondest math dreams came true we could PAY OFF THE HOUSE AND NOT TOUCH THE SAVINGS ACCOUNT. Which would make me die and go to heaven. But as I said, I'm counting my chickens. Fingers crossed.

Hopefully, we'll know something soon!