Smurfette's Debt Gazette

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Smurfette
Posts: 280
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:34 am

Thank you FunSpeedAhead and JDMartin. Your input is ALWAYS appreciated!

August 9, 2017

Cash: $442
Upcoming expenses:

Car Insurance: $71
Sling TV: $33
Sprint: $50
Netflix: $8
Total expenses; $162

Net cash: $280

August 17th pay period forecast:

Revenue (net pay): $1,765
carryover: $100
Total Revenue: $1,865


Expenses:
VISA: $865
Spectrum: $50
Total: $915

Net cash: $950
Living expenses: $500
Disposable cash: $450

Comments: I have 8 days until I get paid. My cash is in a good place; I may even carry some money over to the next payperiod. The extra expenses of the reunion are behind me. Time for me to consider upcoming MAJOR expenses for the remainder of 2017.

August: The rest of the month should be routine. I need an oil change $30 and owe another $100 or so toward repairing my dryer. Total: $130
September: I'm going to the concert I bought tix for in July. I will probably want to buy a new outfit and dine at an upscale restaurant. I also need to buy my plane ticket for thanksgiving. Estimated cost: $700
October: $200 for my civic group; $500 down for 2018 cruise: $700
November: Property tax $300; start holiday shopping $300; Thanksgiving travel $200: $800
December: $335 for civic group; $800 for holidays. Total: $1,135
Total: $3,465


I'm glad I went through this exercise. I have many extra expenses coming up that I need to plan for. The nice thing is that the holiday travel and the cruise are things I've added into my budget that reflect how I want to spend that extra cash. I don't want to fritter it away on stupid stuff. Like I've said 1000x in this journal, I want to TRAVEL more. The cruise is my reward for the years of hard work.

One other ephiphany; I previously believed that I would start spending money just to spend it, once I became (nearly) debt free. That's not the case right now. My dreams of seeing the world are taking precedence.

September budget:

Revenue: $5,295 (3 paychecks)

Rent (sept and oct): $2,294
Car: $550
Insurance: $71
phone: $50
Netflix: 8
Spectrum: $50
Sling TV: $33
Sub-Total expenses: $3,058
Living allowance: $1,000
Total: $4,058
Disposable Income: $1,237 :clap: :clap: :clap:

Yeah, I GOT this!!
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:00 pm

August 10, 2017

Cash: $366

Upcoming expenses:

Sling TV: $33
Sprint: $50
Netflix: $8
Total expenses; $91
Net Cash: $275

Credit cards:
USA: $407
VISA: $807
Total: $1,214

Comments: It's weird to owe so much on my cards, but all of the debt is strategic and can be paid off within 30 days. My payoff plan changed from $850 to $1,214 because I bought my thanksgiving plane ticket once I realized I would have the disposable income. It fits in with my plan to travel more, so, yay for me!

Other than the reunion expenses and my plane ticket, I haven't spent much money. I haven't gone to the grocery store; my gas tank is half full. Payday is less than a week away, so cash is in a good place.

For me, the biggest test is staying vigilant. I've eased off the gazelle intensity of paying off the car loan ($6 a month interest) and have started spending on other priorities. My fear is that I start off with the best of intentions, then look up 5 months later and I'm back in credit card debt. My previous spending problem has been lack of a budget and STRATEGY, so hopefully, since I have a saving/spending STRATEGY and specific assignments for my dollars, I will be okay.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Midwest
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:29 am

August 11, 2017

Cash: $273

Upcoming expenses:

Sling: $33
Sprint: $50
Netflix: $8
Total: $91

Net Cash: $182

Comments: Six days until payday. I have $182 in the bank and $80 in my wallet for a total of $262 to last me six days. This is appropriate, given my allowance is $250 a week. Yesterday, I finished paying for the repairs to my dryer. So, $316 later, I have a brand new dryer. I've owned this dryer since 1990 and it's the FIRST major repair I've had to make! The repairman said it's good to stick with basic models because you can keep them going indefinitely, since the parts are low tech and they're easy and cheaper to fix. The dryer had been making this screeching sound, like nails on a chalkboard. It was loud and crying for attention. It got so bad, I'd have to leave the room whenever I turned it on. Yep, that's a good indicator that it's time for repairs. Money well spent.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I bought my holiday plane ticket. I live in the midwest and will be traveling to the east coast to spend thanksgiving with some high school buddies. During my trip, we're going to go to Washington D.C. and do some touristy stuff. I put the expense on my USA card, which offers a new cashback feature. I also signed up for Southwest Airlines rapid rewards program, so I can build travel points.

I had one impulse purchase; I donated to a political campaign. A colleague of mine is running for city council and I was happy to support her. I had an incident yesterday where a check I wrote two month ago and forgot about was cashed for $40. Uggh. I could go on and on about why me and checkbooks don't agree. Thank goodness that overdraft is there should I ever need it.

Credit cards
USA: $457
VISA: $857
Total: $1,314

This month, I owe nothing on either card. Both accounts close on August 18th. If I don't pay these bills by September 17th, I will owe interest. Fortunately, I have set them BOTH up to automatically pay the balance on the due dates, if I don't make a payment before hand. I get 3 paychecks in September. It's a real convenience cash-flow wise to have until September to pay these bills. When I look at the charges, the only unexpected one (aside from the campaign donation) was my dryer.

This is me mastering how to manage my credit cards in a responsible--not reckless--way. The pain of paying off two maxed-out cards is still with me. At one time, my USA card was $5,000. The highest balance on my VISA was $9,000. These were not concurrent balances, but it was bad enough to put one card away, pay it off, and then run up the other one. Geez.

In 2012, as the recession was winding down, my FICO credit score had dropped to 590. I've gone into detail about why that happened in earlier journal entries. Yesterday, I checked my FICO credit score. It is now 722. Yay for me! The biggest reasons have been the reduced impact of factors hurting my score, paying bills on time, and low credit utilization. My goal for this score is 740. I don't think paying off the car loan will get me there; I believe it's just going to take time for the rotten stuff to drop off. If I want to buy a house, a solid credit score is gonna save me some money on the mortgage. Fortunately, by the time I'm ready, the rotten stuff should be completely gone.

Well, time for me to close and enjoy the rest of this Friday!
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:09 pm

August 12, 2017

Cash: $266

Upcoming expenses:
Dryer (pending): $98
Sling: $33
Netflix: $8

Net cash: $127

Total credit card balances: $1,315 (2 accounts)--due September 17th and 18th

So what does my August 18 check (which drops on the 17th) look like again?

Revenue: $1,765

Fixed Expenses:
Spectrum: $50
Credit Card: $1,315

Net cash: $400

Comments: Today's account/wallet cash is at $167. I finished paying off my dryer using cash instead of credit. I have 5 days to payday.

****WARNING****PSYCHOLOGICAL MUMBO JUMBO BELOW*************

I hope this doesn't sound crazy. If it does, don't judge: I don't trust my credit card auto pays but want to hold onto the cash until autopay takes the money. How can I want it both ways? Here's what I know:
1. I set up autopays on both cards to pay off the entire card balances on both card due dates. The outside account has been tested and works. The account with my bank has not been tested, but I can pay the bill off in seconds, if I want by logging into my account online.
2. I GET ANXIOUS if my money is just sitting there in my account. Must be my craziness, lol. I always want to "do something" with the cash. Spending/debt paydown is "doing something," watching the balance rise is NOT.
3. As I indicated in my September forecast, I will have an extra check. Why DEPLETE my cash NOW, if I KNOW I can payoff the balance in September---before I'd owe interest???

Ah, I think I've captured my feelings with #3.

All of this is purely psychological. I want to keep the cash on hand as LONG as possible, but don't want to screw up my credit should autopay fail. I WANT that $1,000 cushion back. The plane ticket and dryer repair totaled $723 that I had planned to spend, but NOT the same month as my family reunion. This is part of why my cash will be low after I pay the entire card balance.

What I COULD do, is pay 1/2 the balance Thursday, then let autopay do its thing in September. Then, I'm not entirely dependent on autopay to preserve my credit rating, because it will draft the remaining balance in September.

Well, I will TRY it; but I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, lol.

So here's the REVISED August 18th payperiod:

Revenue: $1,765

Fixed Expenses:
Spectrum: $50
Credit cards: $658
Total expenses: $708

Net cash: $1,057
Living expenses: $500
"Disposable cash that I want to leave in my checking account for purely psychological reasons because it functions as a miniature emergency fund but i reserve the right to change my mind because I don't trust myself to really save it, which is why I have the compulsion to "do something" whenever I get cash": $557

Ugggh! Apologies for the utter psychological confusion. I didn't start this journal to be Ms. Perfect; I DO want to reveal how TOUGH it can be to struggle with money, whether you have it or not, because it's not about KNOWLEDGE, it's about BEHAVIOR and not all financial behavior is rational. Given the tapes in my head about being "bad with money," I'm putting pressure on myself to finally "get it right."

On a completely DIFFERENT note, I have determined that if my employer gives me a 2% raise (which is somewhat unlikely, but still possible), that I am increasing my retirement savings from 15% (plus a 3% company match) to 17% (plus a 3% company match). So, a total of 20% will go toward my retirement. I've run the numbers on 1/2 a dozen internet calculators. I am just a LITTLE off in my projections on the most conservative calculator. A savings rate of 20% is the "sweet spot". It gives me enough cash to retire on at 67, plus, I can still pursue other financial goals. I want to work into my 70s (because non-profit work feeds the soul), but eventually want to scale down to part-time hours. This way, I can do so at age 67 without tapping social security. This savings rate also ignores any possibility of me getting an inheritance, which I believe is wise.

Okay, that's me in a nutshell. All mixed up and inconsistent in my decision-making, but nevertheless, focused on my goals.
Last edited by Smurfette on Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:45 am

August 13, 2017

Cash: $266

Upcoming Expenses:
(pending check): $98
Sling: $33
Netflix: $8
Total: $139

Net Cash: $127


Comments: Four days until payday. Weekends are a spendthrift time for me. I did pretty good this weekend; $20 for a carryout dinner/lunchtime leftovers, which isn't bad. That's it. The rest of the time I stayed home. I considered venturing out to a nearby festival, but wasn't motivated enough to make it happen. Had I done so, it would've been another $30 at least for tickets. It looked like a nice time, but I just didn't feel like fixing myself up, driving the 20 minutes and being outdoors. I stayed home, cleaned house, did some reading, spent time on this computer and watched tv. Mundane but CHEAP!

I've had a chance to sleep on my decision yesterday to pay half my credit card balance instead of the full balance. The biggest risk is frittering away the money I don't apply to the cards. On the other hand, it's much better for my cash flow to make two payments--especially since I can do so before interest is charged. Now WHY is this sort of thinking so anxiety-provoking????

I'm going to spend more time looking up articles on personal finance and psychology. It's always interested me to learn more about my relationship with money. Just think of all the behaviors that stem from money: greed, miserliness, compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, materialism, stealing/swindling, and the list goes on. As they say, the love of money is the root of all evil. So is it any surprise that what we've learned about money guides our thoughts and behavior? I suppose I may be conflating two things; personal finance and bad behavior, but I hope you can understand the talking point. What is it that makes some people good with money (you) and some people bad with money (me)? We are all intelligent people. We can think critically and otherwise make good decisions. What is it?

I will pick on NFL players as examples. Bear with me, as I don't know much about how the NFL works. Take two players, I'll nickname Abe and Bo. Both grew up in poverty in violence-ridden communities, both left college after their junior years to enter the NFL draft. Both were drafted in the Top 10 with identical contracts.

Abe immediately goes to the local bar and buys drinks on the house for everyone. He buys a new, fancy car and builds new houses for himself and his mother. He gives thousands of dollars in cash gifts to his inner circle of family and friends, even adding some to a monthly payroll as part of his personal entourage. He fills his home with artifacts imported from other countries, and treats himself to high-end electronic gadgets and designer clothes, shoes and jewelry. He has taken an NFL money management course but is confident his career will last and the money will continue to roll in. Over the years, Abe lives high on the hog; multiple girlfriends that he supports by paying their rents and car notes; frequent trips to Vegas and to concerts. He fathers three kids and writes three separate child support checks every month. Abe buys more cars and even a boat. He hosts parties at his mansion with Hollywood celebrities. He's been known to buy tix for every seat in an airplane to fly in his friends and family for these extravagant parties.

Bo takes time in his decision making. He brushes up on personal finance and meets with a certified personal finance officer. He takes the money management course sponsored by the NFL and determines that the average career of an NFL player spans 5 years. Sure, he has millions of dollars but if he plays his cards right, he can retire after his career ends. He decides to invest 60% of his earnings, give away 20% and live on the rest. He pays off his mother's mortgage and gives away nominal amounts of money to his inner circle. When they ask for more, he gently says no but offers to assist them in other ways. He launches a charitable foundation through the local community foundation to give away grants to nonprofits doing work in his old neighborhood. It's a modest endeavor, but he won't need to worry about hiring staff. Bo lives in a modest 3 bedroom/2 bathroom ranch house in an upper middle class neighborhood with his fiancee and their two children. They have made this decision together so she fully supports him. She's even been known to shop sales and clip an occasional coupon. His fellow players, like Abe, make fun of the couple's frugality. Bo and his fiancee decide she should continue her education. They use the savings from living in a modest house to hire a nanny for the children and enroll her in school to begin work on her Master's degree.

I'm sure from these intros that you can see where their lives are going. Where do they end up after 5 years or so?

Abe has grown weary of the NFL grind, the rigorous workouts. He's even become bored with his jet-setting life. But he must continue to work because he is spending his money as fast as he earns it. He had a sponsorship opportunity with a company, but it was pulled after he was arrested at a brawl that broke out during an after-party in Vegas. In addition, he is paying 30% of his income to support his three children. He barely knows any of them because they live 300 miles away. One Sunday, Abe re-injures his knee. He knows and the management knows that his time in the NFL is up. What is he going to do? How will he pay all of these bills? Abe is worried. He drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Three years after retirement, his mansion is foreclosed and he auctions several prized possessions.

Like Abe, Bo is also tired of the grueling work of the NFL. He wants to spend more time with his (now) wife and their children. He's tired of being on the road. He anticipated this would happen. He has a mentor in the NFL who told him so. Bo is also wary of further injury. He talks to his wife. Together, they decide that they do not want Bo to risk another season in the NFL. Bo has two sponsorship contracts that will end after next year. Combined, those contracts paid him more than his NFL salary. Nevertheless, Bo continued to live on 20% of his NFL salary, investing all of his sponsorship income in an array of mutual funds. Even at this level, he's living better than everyone he grew up with. He and his wife launched a new business, which offers additional income. His wife's MBA is paying off. Most earnings are reinvested to continue to grow and market their business. Long story short, Bo and his wife are multi-millionaires. Their house and cars are paid off. Neither HAS to work. His family can continue to live a robust life off of their investments and business income. After 5 grueling years in the NFL, Bo announces his retirement. Three years after retirement, Bo and his wife launch a new endeavor. They are starting up a new non-profit that will focus on mentoring children from Bo's old neighborhood and teaching them money and business management skills.

See? Two people. Similar backgrounds; similar situations. Abe whiffs a major opportunity to set himself up for life; Bo makes solid, strategic decisions and becomes a multi-millionaire.

We are all some version of Abe and Bo. THIS is what I'm trying to understand. You could argue that Abe had a "live for today" mentality which is common among people who grow up in poverty. But how did Bo make such good, thoughtful decisions, despite the same background? For the sake of argument, we will assume that their family lives growing up were similar.

Maybe I need to go back to school and work on a Ph.D. so I can STUDY this stuff!
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

jdmartin
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby jdmartin » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:32 am

There's no good answer to your question. A lot of it is purely the genetic predisposition of the individual. For example, there was a study where they brought a group of very young children into a room and showed them that there was a marshmallow on the table. They told them if they could leave it sit there for 5 minutes, at the end of 5 minutes they'd get an extra one for waiting. Most of the kids ate the marshmallow right there, with a very small percentage finding ways to occupy themselves until the 5 minutes were up. If you consider this from an evolutionary standpoint, there's little value to not consuming some goody, or killing the game now, because there's no guarantee another meal is around the corner. This applies to just about everything - so, for example, you end up with a totally deforested and uninhabited Easter Island because no one could tell them to ration out the trees.

We're not digging in the dirt for roots anymore but we're still infantile from an evolutionary point of view. If the psyche of the individual truly doubts that greater rewards await, there's no value in waiting. Add to that signals and lessons obtained from parents and society and there you have it!

PS: I vote you pay off the whole repair :)
"Money is better than poverty, for financial reasons" - Woody Allen

Smurfette
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:28 pm

@JDMartin, I heard about that study but had forgotten. I agree that it's tied to personality. I suppose that impulsivity and impatience are twin factors. At least they are for me. Also,that thought about no value in waiting--that's a huge hurdle to overcome.

August 14, 2017

Account/Wallet Cash: $167

Not much more to say today than yesterday. I will add that I brought my lunch to work today, so yay me! Three days to payday and counting.

Here we go!
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Midwest
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:54 pm

August 15, 2017

Account/Wallet Cash: $135


Comments: Two days until payday. I spent $32 on groceries yesterday, which was good. IF I can carry over $100 to the next pay period, I will have enough to payoff the credit cards AND a robust living allowance. That said, I'm still stripping myself of cash on hand, so I'm not 100% convinced it's a great idea. I will continue to mull this over.

This is the second day in a row where I didn't buy lunch. I had an afternoon meeting that provided it, which saves me on dining out expenses.

I need to stay focused on finding a goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal. I also have to be mindful of my upcoming expenses. I'm going to re-read the journal entry where I wrote about six short, medium and long-term priorities.

How many more times can I crunch numbers on my retirement savings? I feel secure until I think about one HUGE expense; healthcare. When I consider that I may need $1M on hand to retire and STILL struggle with expenses, I feel demoralized. I'm a single woman with a moderate wage. WHAT are the experts talking about when they tell someone like me that I need these fantastic amounts of money in my retirement fund? I crunched the numbers. The ONLY way I get to 1M is if I retire at 70 and continue to earn what I'm earning now, with 2% cost of living raises. Right now, I'm on track to have between $500,000 and $750,000 saved up by age 67. And that's still not enough for one person? I believe savings at 10X the annual salary is plenty.

I suppose this retirement talk underscores how IMPORTANT it is to downsize your expenses. If my home and car are paid off, I could live midwest cheap on $50,000 a year. EVEN if I assume that equates to $45,000 in today's money. If my biggest expenses are paid off, and I'm debt free, $45,000 is good money. However, if I carry debt into retirement, I will have big problems.

For the last year and 1/2, my net income has hovered around $43,000. I've applied $12,000 to pay down debt. This means I've been living off of $30,600. If I account for inflation, in 15 years, that is equivalent to $36,720. Let's say I want a little more financial cushion. I'll add another $500 a month to this total, for another $6,000 a year. So, $36,720 + $6,000 = $42,720 a year.

The BIG UNKNOWN is healthcare. If I'm paying $10,000 out of pocket on various deductibles, etc. I would need to bring in $52,000 a year.

The BEST WAY to make this work is to aim for pre-tax income of $60,000. That's a higher amount, but should cover everything if I stay out of debt. The problem is, that most people leave the workforce by age 67. It's a lot to expect me to keep working full-time longer than that.

THEREFORE, I will need to continue squirreling away EVEN MORE than 20% of my income to account for this shorter timeline AND health care costs.

ONCE the year is over, and my car is paid off, I will save in earnest. I think I'll save my AFTER-TAX money, just to diversify my assets in case the tax laws change.

THIS is what I mean when I say I goals for every dollar and dollars for every goal.

I'll continue to think this over.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

MyNewLife27
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby MyNewLife27 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:10 pm

Hey Smurfette,
I just wanted to let you know that you have been such an encouragement to me as I am struggling to pay off my debt. I look forward to your updates and have been rooting for you for a while now! :)

jdmartin
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby jdmartin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:16 am

Quite a few of the "you'll need this much money" figures are just balloon numbers pulled out of someone's ass, and assumes that you will continue to live the exact same life you do now until you're dead. In reality, some costs will go up (health care, for example) and some will disappear entirely (new clothes for going to work). *In general*, most people need less money to live when they don't have a job - just the act of going to work, unless you live next door to your job and can wear the same street clothes, costs a lot of money. A car to commute, or public transportation fare. Work-appropriate clothing. Lunch if you cannot/will not pack every day. Child care. Geographic-appropriate location (so you don't spend 2 hours going to work every morning). ETC.

Figure out what you need at a bare minimum on an annual basis. Add in the niceties that you'd like to have. Divide that by 4% (.04), or whatever 'safe' interest rate you think you can generate, and you'll get a reasonably good rough number on how much money you'd need to prevent depletion (ie your principal will generate enough interest to pay your annual costs). If you don't mind depleting the principal, you can increase the divisor (your percentage number) to see how it will work out. For example, if you had $400k in savings earning 4%, but you need $30k annually, you're going to deplete 3.5% of your principal in year one ($14,000), climbing as time goes by. So in year 2 you are going to have $386k in savings, and if you're still earning 4%, you're going to deplete 4% of your principal ($15,500~). So in year 3 you are going to have $370k to work with. And so on. You can see from this exercise that even depleting your principal, it's going to take you a good number of years to end up at $0. If you alter the equations just a little bit, you can work out it to where you'll still have leftovers when you kick the bucket. It also matters how much rate of return you generate, and what you need to live. If you need $30k but are so conservative that you'll only generate 3% annually, you would need $1 million in savings to prevent depletion. And, of course, this does not take into account inflation, which on some items might be significant (food, maybe) and on others wouldn't matter to you at all.
"Money is better than poverty, for financial reasons" - Woody Allen

Smurfette
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:36 pm

Figure out what you need at a bare minimum on an annual basis. Add in the niceties that you'd like to have. Divide that by 4% (.04), or whatever 'safe' interest rate you think you can generate, and you'll get a reasonably good rough number on how much money you'd need to prevent depletion


@JD Martin: As always, THANK you for such a thoughtful response. Finance experts have an inherent conflict of interest in urging everyone and their mother to save at least $1M. I want to be THOUGHTFUL in my approach, but still have a good quality of life. There are so many VARIABLES that it's hard to know WHAT savings amount is the SWEET SPOT. To your point, even minor tweaks in the equation can make a real difference. I did the math and I believe $750,000 is the sweet spot for me, a single woman, living in the midwest. If I can gross $30,000 a year from my investments, that's a decent amount of money, when combined with my age 67 social security payout. I will do more, if I can, (e.g. work longer/part-time job/social security at age 70), but this is a reasonable goal. I'm saving at 18% now, which will get me there. I will bump that up to 20%, save the rest after taxes for other goals and CALL IT A DAY!

THANK YOU AGAIN!

August 16, 2017

Account/Wallet cash: $125

Comments: Payday is TOMORROW. Since I will be carrying over a few dollars, TODAY, I'm in the mood to just cut the mental gymnastics, pay off the doggone credit cards and quit worrying about the cash cushion. My credit cards are my cushion. Look at how I had $300 in unexpected repairs this month. I didn't even break a sweat. I put it on the card and will pay it off before the month closes.

That's not to say that I wont' be saving money. I will. But right now, thinking about having $500 "sitting around" is giving me a headache. Sitting around, FOR WHAT? I fear frittering it away. I'll just pay off the cards and kick that can into September.

My Sept 1 check is fully obligated. My September 15 check is just extra money. THAT's when I will HAVE to be clear about where to park that extra money.

I know you're reading this going, "This woman can't make up her MIND!" I know, I know.

In the scheme of things, I'm blessed to have these CHOICES. Just think of all the people who rollover credit card balances and HAVE to pay thousands of dollars to various debts every month. That's NOT ME anymore. I am still getting USED to it!!!!
Last edited by Smurfette on Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
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Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:40 pm

MyNewLife27 wrote:Hey Smurfette,
I just wanted to let you know that you have been such an encouragement to me as I am struggling to pay off my debt. I look forward to your updates and have been rooting for you for a while now! :)


Awww, I just spotted this, MyNewLife27. THANK YOU!! :D :D

Trust me, if I can do this, you can too!!

Peace and chicken grease! :rofl:
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Midwest
Contact:

Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:58 am

August 17, 2017


Cash: $1,865

Upcoming Expenses:

USA Card: $459
Spectrum: $50
VISA: $848.64

Net cash: $507.07

Comments: I just sent in an early payment for my USA card. Somehow, it appears as though a $1 or $2 of interest has been tacked on to the balance within the billing month. I thought interest was applied at close, so I'm not sure how that happened. The auto draft was supposed to hit on 8/18. I'm concerned about the company accidentally drafting my account a second time (which HAPPENED earlier this year!). I will call and clarify this, since my payment is posted and my card balance is $0. To avoid further confusion, I'm letting auto draft handle my VISA payment. I set it up to pay the balance off each month, and payment is due tomorrow.

You can see that I've decided to just pay everything off. Guess I've adapted to being cash poor. No more psychological barrier of just keeping $1,000 sittin' around my checking account with the potential to be frittered away.

Now, back to what's going on with my debt:

I owe $2,222 on my car loan. My next car payment is due in September. I am doubling up on my payments, so I have FOUR more payments to make on this loan; September, October, November, December. I reserve the right to pay MORE than double the loan payment and pay it off sooner. Just depends on how I feel.

What else? I brought my lunch to work again today. So far this week, I've only spent $5 on lunches. My goal is to dine out for lunch no more than 3x a week and to focus on inexpensive meals. My grocery bill is doing well. I keep my list on my phone and use that to guide me unless there's a sale. If its not on my list and wasn't supposed to be on my list and isn't on sale, then I don't buy.

My biggest changes in this journey have been:
1. reducing cell phone costs from $125 a month to about $50 a month, by buying my rental phone, revising my package, getting a corporate discount. My employer also pays me $25 a month for my phone, so the net effect is $25 a month.
2. getting rid of cable. This one was HARD! My monthly bill went from $115 to $83, for a savings of $32 a month.
3. clothing/personal care: Another toughie that is saving me anywhere from $60 to $100 a month. Fewer new clothes, makeup and shoes; fewer mani/pedis and fewer trips to the hair salon.
4. food. grocery lists, finding coupons and navigating lunches/dinners out. Maybe I am saving about $35 a month
5. entertainment--skipping concerts, festivals, movie theatres, happy hours and the like. Temporarily giving up XM radio, which I love. I suppose I saved about $20 a month.

Total savings: About $222 a month or $2,664 a year.

The lesson: These small maneuvers added up! I am navigating how to reintroduce some of these things and still meet other financial goals.

In the meantime, I keep on keepin' on!
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Midwest
Contact:

Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:25 am

August 18, 2017

Cash: $473

Upcoming Expenses:

Spectrum: $50

Net Cash: $423

Credit cards: $0

Comments: I paid off my cards manually; the VISA auto-draft didn't do anything because it deducts based on my statement balance, not the actual balance.

I've been re-reading the feedback I've received from fellow GRS Forum members and taking the time to really internalize and listen. In a nutshell, the feedback is that I still have work to do in changing my mindset about money. The fear is that I'm paying off the debt to make room for more debt.

I spoke to a friend of mine who is treasurer of our civic group. She told me there are many well-dressed members who struggle to pay their annual dues. They send in post-dated checks, make partial payments, and otherwise grumble about getting the payment in on time. A similar group complains if they are not reimbursed for volunteer expenses incurred in DAYS. She said they are literally living paycheck-to-paycheck and spending every dime that crosses their palm.

She also talked about the number of federal employees who lack an emergency fund or credit line. Whenever there is a government shut down, banks all over town advertise personal loans to help folks get by without a check. She fears this may happen again soon and wonders if people have learned their lesson from a few years ago.

I don't want to be one of these people. If anything, I'd rather be a family member that people can turn to if they run into problems. I don't want to depend on others for emergencies OR retirement. These are strong motivators. As corny as it sounds, I want to help others and be of service. I can't fill someone else's cup if my cup is empty.

So I will continue to do my best to stay frugal. Not because I'm rushing to achieve some financial goal, but because frugality enables me to save, save save for the independence I crave.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."

Smurfette
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Midwest
Contact:

Re: Smurfette's Debt Gazette

Postby Smurfette » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:48 am

August 19, 2017

My cash is unchanged from yesterday's transactions. I owe nothing on my credit cards and have about $440 in account/wallet cash.

I am looking at my September pay periods:

Here goes;

September 1
Cash: $1,745

Upcoming Expenses:
Rent: $1,147
Insurance: $75
Sling: $33
Phone: $50
Total: $1,305

Net Cash: $440

September 15th
Cash: $1,770

Car: $550 (expected post-payment balance $1,670)
Netflix: $8
Spectrum: $50
Total: $608

Net Cash: $1,162

September 30th
Cash: $1,745

Upcoming expenses:
Rent: $1,147
Car insurance: $75
Sling: $33
Total: $1,255

Net cash: $490

Total September net cash: $2,092
Total variable living expense cash needed: $1,000
Total disposable cash: $1,092

Next month, I will apply $500 of this extra cash toward my 2018 vacation. I can't wait!

i am trying to stay patient as i advance toward my financial goals. Some months are harder than others.
"A goal for every dollar and a dollar for every goal."


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