Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Bye Bank Of America

Some may call it the "Golden Ticket" and others will call it stupidity, but I am happy and relieved to have dropped off my final payments to Bank of America. Now before you get all excited for me, all I did was transfer the balances to another card. The good news is I went from 27% to 3.99% which will save an incredible amount of money. Essentially, I will be paying less than $40 per month in finance charges compared to ever $300. The bad news is this is not my credit card that I transferred it to; it's my mothers and I have 23 months to pay it off.

I'm not worried about paying it off in time. The payments equal what I'm currently paying every month. Any follower of Dave Ramsey knows that you should never lend money to family unless you're prepared to gift it or accept that you won't see it again. I took over a month to accept my mother's offer because of my concern on how it would affect her credit rating and the fine print her bank would put into such an offer. To guarantee that my actions will to adversely affect my mom's good credit, I am giving her an extra payment up front to act as a cushion. I will also roll over the payments I've been making towards my LASIK surgery as soon as that's paid off in October.

It's Harvest Time!

I have been enjoying a fantastic bounty! As you may or may not know, I have been working with my mother on her garden and enjoying part of the bounty. This weekend I picked another 4 cups of raspberries which are set to become jam, lettuce, peppers, snow peas, and the first tomatoes of the season. Through a bit of swapping with the neighbor, I also have some wonderfully sweet yellow cherry tomatoes.

No reason to let excess go to waste. Now is a great time to pickle, freeze, and make preserves for later in the year. Check your local paper for recipes or the local extension office for classes. Better yet, spend some time with an older relative or friend to learn techniques, split the work load, and share to rewards. Do you have a bounty to share? Consider swapping with neighbors or co-workers. (I picked up a big zucchini for zucchini bread from a co-worker.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Goal Progress

After 6 deliveries in one day last week, I'm happy to report an extra $100 payment to one of my credit cards as well as an extra $100 payment for my LASIK. I realize I should have put all $200 towards the LASIK, but the balance on the credit card is so small it will be easy to snowball once its out of the way.

The "Free" Box Revolution

I've been noticing more and more "Free" Boxes out on curbs as I walk around my neighborhood. Its a relatively new phenomenon around here even though I know it has been commonplace in other areas of the US. People are taking advantage of this recession as an opportunity to purge excess. Garage sales take a lot of energy and work often yielding an extra $20-$50 (more if you have big ticket items or items in high demand), but at the end of the day you still have all of this stuff leftover that needs to go somewhere. "Free" boxes allow people with just a few items to get rid of things without a lot of effort. I'm amazed at some of the things I've seen on the curb including nice chairs, a new bag of batting, a guitar, even plants. Take advantage of these opportunities and take a peek. You never know what kind of treasure is waiting for you.

Do you already look? What is your favorite find?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goal Progress

I took back pop cans for the $.05 refund and earned a nifty $4.00. It may seem like a waste, but every bit helps! On a more positive note, I am set up for deliveries next Saturday. Wahoo!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Announcing My Newest Goal!

Dave Ramsey has coined a term the "Idiot Tax." Basically, the Idiot Tax is the true cost of an item after all of the interest you've paid is added into the original cost. One example is a$400 sweater that was originally on sale for $14. Another example is the $70 dinner that ends up being $568. All of this because many people do not pay off their credit cards every month.

While I don't follow Dave Ramsey's program and I disagree with him on some of the advice he provides to his audience, I do tune into his radio program in the evenings when I'm driving and you can't argue with the numbers. Families following his program are successfully getting out of debt and learning about fiscal responsibility.

So how does this all tie into announcing my newest goal? First, most articles you read on setting goals say that you are more likely to succeed if you let people know what your goals are. Telling people what you are working towards holds you accountable. If you let your support network know, they will even help you work towards those goals, cheering you on in victory or supporting you in getting back on the horse.

My personal Idiot Tax has not occurred yet... but the deadline is coming quickly. I had LASIK surgery done a little over a year ago. I signed up for my flexible spending medical savings account through work, but could not pay it all in one year. I was offered financing at 0% interest if I paid it within 18 months. After 18 months, all of the interest will be tacked onto the bill. Unfortunately, things always come up when your emergency fund isn't adequately funded. I have been making payments faithfully every month, but I'm coming up short by about $1,600. Essentially, I have to earn an extra $400 per month for the next four months in order to avoid $1,200 in interest. It's not as difficult to do as it sounds. During the summer I have a delivery job that brought in an extra $2,300 last year. My challenge is, thanks to the recession, this year is slower. I will be working on my creativity in order to meet the challenge, but I'm determined to do it. I'll be posting updates regularly and feel free to post any challenges you may be working on.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Field Trip to the Convenience Store

Anyone with any frugal sense knows know not to shop at a convenience store. However, there are some times when the convenience is worth the extra money. I was pleasantly surprised on two counts today although one of them was bitter sweet.

First, I have another confession. Occasionally I crave junk food, usually in the form of frozen pizza or chips. On my field trip, I discovered my secret treat to be on sale. My frozen pizza was $1, which is a rare price in the grocery store let alone the high priced convenience store. The lesson here is... always keep an eye out for bargains no matter where you are. There may be a diamond in the rough just waiting to be discovered.

My second surprise was to discover that the receipt coming out of the Debit/Credit card machine had a space for the clerk to initial that they checked ID. I've never seen that before and commented to the clerk with glee in my voice. Unfortunately, the clerk replied that most people don't actually follow those directions. She then tore off her receipt from mine and stuffed it into the till... without asking to check my ID. Bittersweet frustration.