I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here.
The cruise went very well. Was only $12 over my budget. Managed to not pay for any beverages, gifts, port o call trinkets, or extra food. ($3.25 for a small cup of ben and jerry's??) The gratuities came to $70. I gifted the family table with two bottles of wine on Thursday, ($50! Yikes!) and bought 1 picture and got the hell off that boat. What a racket! But I ate like a pig. My friends commented on the last day that I ate a lot of steak.... Didn't I like chicken? I replied: "Yep. I love chicken. I eat it everyday I'm not on this cruise ship. " I had top sirloin, ny strip, prime rib, and a couple more of the same for good measure. Yum! The food was really excellent.
As for the rest of my financial life... I got another escrow refund because the amendment passed increasing homestead exemptions. My new and permanent mortgage is now $931 a month. Down from $1062 last april when I closed. My HELOC is now down to $150 (7.25% interest,) but of course I send an additional $125 so I pay them $275. Down from a high of $348 last spring. (9.5%)
That is a difference of $200 in my housing costs. Whew! I made it through the worst of it. So now I'm just on crusie control. I need time to pass. I'm on track to pay off Amex Blue 8/1. The IRS 04/09. Suntrust 11/09. At that point I'll have $0 debt on credit cards. Then I begin pounding on my HELOC. Of course if the Feds start nudging the interest rates back up I'll move the HELOC up on my pay off list but right now that interest is below some of my others.
I opened up a Way2Save savings account with Wachovia and closed my static Suntrust savings. They put $1 in everytime I use my debit card or have an EFT and since both my mortgages are paid with EFT and I pay Amex electronically, that counts. So I force myself to save $130 a month just by doing what I always have done with my debit card PLUS I get 5% interest on it after the first 12 months. ( I can and will put $25 a week in there automatically plus $30 a month for my debit transactions.) That'll add up nicely. I merely looked at my suntrust balance and never did anything with it. So I'm happy.
More info is here and so is a calculator:http://www.wachovia.com/personal/page/0 ... 60,00.html
Way2SaveSM is our new savings program. Here's how it works. We link your Way2Save account with your Wachovia checking account and automatically transfer $1 from your checking account to your Way2Save account when you do everyday banking like: Make Check Card purchases. Pay bills online, Set up automatic debits made from your checking account. To build balances even faster, you can set up an automatic transfer, up to $100 each month, from your checking to your Way2Save account.
The first year, we'll give you a 5% bonus on what you've socked away. Keep saving, and in the second and third years, we'll pay a 2% bonus on the dollars you have contributed within each year. Plus, for those first three years, you'll earn high interest rates on every dollar saved.
The calc says I'll have $5149 in there after 3 years, if I don't withdraw anything, $325 of that is all their money they are giving me.
Oh And my company credit union is closing. Sad. I'll miss those nice ladies. They are gifting all members with a 11% bonus when they transfer our accounts. I can't not go with them since that is a payroll deduction and I like squirreling away the $125 a week I put in that account. Otherwise I can only have 2 direct deposits and I already do that with suntrust and wachovia checking accounts. I can't trust myself so I have to automate it all. The older I get the more appreciation I have for the amount of discipline it must have taken in the old days to save money. The cookie jar, the mattress, the jar in the backyard. Folks had all kinds of tricks to keep their money hidden from themselves.
I can't think of anything else to add. I'm just not spending and waiting for money to accrue so I can pay off debts.
It is all so much easier once it is a habit. I felt true horror watching people spending money on that cruise ship.