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 Post subject: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:09 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Hi! I've been reading this forum for a while and thought that starting a journal might help hold me accountable to my financial goals. Plus, my friends and family have no interest in talking about personal finance, so here I am. Any suggestions or advice is always appreciated!

We moved across town last fall and I feel like we've been playing catch-up with our finances ever since the move. After several unexpected expenses nearly wiped out our emergency fund this summer, I'm ready to take a step back and really focus on getting us back on firmer footing.

Here are my goals for the rest of 2011:
--Pay off my credit card ~1300 - This is tuition for grad school that I just put on my card last week. Will pay it all when the bill is due in early September and my company will reimburse me at the end of the semester.
--Rebuild the emergency fund to $5000.
--Pay off DH's credit card ~$4000 (we've never carried balances before and he informed me earlier this week that he has been adding to this card all year…yikes!)
--Save up $1300 for spring tuition.

The good news is that we both have well-paying (for our area), stable jobs and our only other debt is our mortgage. Plus, today is DD's last day of preschool, so I'll have at least an extra $400 per month to help me meet my goals.

August is going to be tight since I wiped out most of our cash for this summer's emergencies. Stay tuned...


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:28 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
I don't know how much you have in your E-fund, but I wouldn't pay interest on your school credit card if you don't have to. Your company is not going to reimburse you interest, so get that paid, work on your hub's card with your extra 400 and rebuild your efund. And tell hubs to let you know what's going on if he's not going to play a role in paying off these loans.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:00 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Thanks for the suggestions, peachy! I won't pay any interest on my tuition bill as long as it's paid by early September, so my Sept. 1st paycheck is already earmarked for that.

The E-fund is right at $1,900, and as much as I would love to to build it up first, I know I need to concentrate on the credit card debt next. September is a 3 paycheck month, so I'm hoping to pay it down by at least $1,000, maybe more if I can cut some other expenses.

Once the 2011 goals are checked off, I have some decisions about where to head next. Here's our bigger financial picture:

Me: 34
DH: 35
Yearly income around $125k

--Mortgage $309k fixed at 4.1%
--Emergency fund - $1900 :(
--DH 401k - ~$75,000
--My 403b - $3,700 (have only been eligible for ~9months)
--My IRA and Roth IRA- $31,000
--529 plan for daughter - $11,500
--2 cars paid for, 7 and 8 years old (need to start replacement fund pretty soon just in case)

I feel like my retirement funds are low for my age, so I definitely want to max out my Roth next year and raise my 403b contribution at work. Beyond that, I'm not sure, but I have a while to think about it!


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 Post subject: Payday update
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:18 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Payday progress report:

Goal 1: Pay off my credit card: $655/$1310 --- 50%
Goal 2: Pay off DH credit card: 0/$4235 --- 0%
Goal 3: Save $1300 for spring tuition: 0/$1300 --- 0%
Goal 4: Get E-fund to $5k: 0/$3100 --- 0%

Total needed to meet 2011 goals: $9945 - This means using half or more of my take-home pay the rest of the year. Not sure how realistic that is, but it's worth a try!

Percent complete: 6.6% :( That's depressing, but it's a step in the right direction! I should be able to make a big dent in September.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:20 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Payday progress report:

Goal 1: Pay off my credit card: $1310/$1310 --- DONE
Goal 2: Pay off DH credit card: 0/$4235 --- 0%
Goal 3: Save $1300 for spring tuition: 0/$1300 --- 0%
Goal 4: Get E-fund to $5k: 0/$3100 --- 0%

Percent complete: 13%

September will be the month to see just how low we can get DH's credit card balance. I'm hoping that between the two of us, we'll pay off at least half of it.


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 Post subject: August Update
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:05 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
It's been a month since I started my journal and I'm feeling much better about finances. It's amazing how much extra money I have when I keep tabs on my spending! I'm embarrassed to be 34 and just realizing how helpful a budget can be. Mint is my new best friend. :)

Here's the progress on my 2011 goals:

Goal 1: Pay off my credit card: $1310/$1310 --- DONE
Goal 2: Pay off DH credit card: $1955/$4235 --- 46%
Goal 3: Save $1300 for spring tuition: $58/$1300 --- 4% ("snowflaked" this one a bit)
Goal 4: Get E-fund to $5k: 0/$3100 --- 0%

Percent complete: 33%

DH has really stepped up to the plate on paying down his CC. We also got an unexpected $700 from our mortgage company for escrow overage that went to the CC. We talked last night and if everything goes normally this month (knock on wood!), we should be able to pay the CC off. What a relief!

Going to track my spending again this month. Have several gifts to buy, plus expenses for my sister's wedding next month. I figure the wedding is going to cost us between $600-700 by the time I pay for formalwear for the 3 of us, another gift, plus hotel and food for the wedding weekend. That's on top of the gifts I've already purchased for showers and my bridesmaid dress. Sigh...

Anyway, I'm excited to make good progress this month. Hopefully, Goal 2 will be history and I'll be able to find a little money here and there to add to Goal 3.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:56 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:10 am
Posts: 224
You are doing a great job with all of those goals.

I do have a quick question... are you using any type of model, I mean an over-arching plan of some sort? It seems like you are trying to do many things at once (paying down debt, saving up an EF, pay for college, pay off house, save for retirement, etc.)

I think you would gain more progress (and feel more excited about it) if you were extremely focused on one goal at a time. I'm thinking specifically of Dave Ramsey's 7 step plan, but you could do any that works for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:57 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Samantha, I know what you mean. I think we're doing half of the Dave Ramsey steps at the moment! :oops:

My goal is to get the emergency fund to $5k this year and ultimately to $20k. If we stopped our retirement and 529 plan contributions, we could do that in less than a year, but we'd be missing out on over $7k of employer matched funds. Plus, I'm so used to those autodrafts, I don't even think of that money as mine anymore.

Here's what I'm thinking for 2012:
1) Fully fund my Roth IRA (from $200 per month to ~$400)
2) Cash flow grad school tuition, vacation, and hotel reservations for Yellowstone in 2013 (have to reserve rooms way, way in advance)
3) Work on emergency fund - shoot for $20k in there by the end of 2012 although that is probably a bit optimistic. Might as well dream big!

Then in 2013, I can focus on other stuff like home improvement projects, car funds, and paying down the mortgage. Any suggestions or different opinions?


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:30 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:10 am
Posts: 224
Well a few more questions:

So after the CC debt, are you guys debt free? No student loans or car loans? Because I would say that should come before building the EF up to $20k. You will pay them off faster if have more motivation to do so!

BUT if you are debt-free (besides the house)... how old is DD? i.e. how many years until college? If she is young, which I am guessing, then you can definitely put the 529 on the back burner for a year or two.

As for your goals next year... what I would do... I would concentrate really hard on one of them (like the EF) and when you build it up to where you want it, then begin putting the rest of the money into your IRA. See,... maybe you could do both, and by December be done with both. But maybe you could finish the EF by July if you got super intense, and then you'd have extra $$ to throw at the IRA the rest of the year. (I believe you have until you file your taxes the next year to contribute to the IRA...) And then if an Emergency happens next year, you can cover it. And if not, then you can finish the fund and begin saving for retirement.

It is much more motivating when you make great progress on one goal than trying to do them all at once. And then you can celebrate when you complete it, and gather more momentum for the next one!


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:39 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
I really appreciate getting a different perspective on things, Samantha. I mulled over your suggestions this weekend, and I think you're right, I will be more focused if I just pick one goal and completely focus on it. In the past, I've tended to make lots of smaller goals, but maybe that's why we're where we are now - not in terrible shape, but not in great shape either.

No other debt (besides the mortgage) after the CC is paid off. DD is in kindergarten, so we have plenty of time to worry about her 529. Besides, her current career interests are can-can dancer or unicorn hunter, so we may not even need a college fund! :D

As painful as it was, I dropped my 403b contribution to the amount my employer matches. I also lowered the 529 monthly draft to $25 (that way I can keep everything open and set up for when I'm ready to up the amount again). That gives me around $250 extra per month. I hate, hate, hate stopping these savings, so it will be extra motivation for meeting my goal!

So here's what happens when the 2011 goals are done:
1) Get e-fund to $20k
2) Cash flow vacation and save tuition reimbursement for Fall 2012 semester
3) When e-fund is finished, save up to complete $5k Roth contribution for 2012 (good point about having until April 2013 to do this) and increase 403b contribution


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:03 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
I gave DH some money for his CC this week and told him that he's on his own paying the rest of it off. I want it to be a little hard and painful for him so that he won't be tempted to start carrying a balance on it again. If he doesn't get it paid off next month, I can always help him finish paying it. The delay shouldn't cost us more than $10 in interest charges.

Today is payday, so time to see how I'm doing:

Goal 1: Pay off my credit card: $1310/$1310 --- DONE
Goal 2: Pay off DH credit card: $2376/$4235 --- 56% (not including what DH will pay with his paycheck, balance should be below $1k after that)
Goal 3: Save $1300 for spring tuition: $574/$1300 --- 44%
Goal 4: Get E-fund to $5k: 0/$3100 --- 0%

Percent complete: 43%

Hoping to pass the halfway mark before October, although my car needs a checkup for some funny behavior. If it's something major, I'll have to pull some money from the e-fund.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:20 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 961
Your being counter productive and an enabler.

You told him he is on his own to pay off his credit card balance and then turn around to state you'll help him pay it off if he doesn't by next month.

Without even realizing it your enabling. You are confusing him by saying one thing to turn around and renege.

How can he take your final statement seriously, when you bail him out if he doesn't make any payments?

_________________
Be what you want to attract.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Fantasma, I'm not worried about him not paying the CC down, just didn't know if he would have enough wiggle room to pay it all off in the next month. Trust me, he's to the point of wanting it paid off as much as me! The good news is the balance is down to $600 now. :clap:

Just need a place to vent tonight...my car needs major repairs. Will probably be between $1500-$2000, depending on which part ends up being the problem. :@

Since May, I've found out I needed hearing aids and purchased those, had a large vet bill, replaced a ton of carpet due to water damage, and now a major car repair. Dear Universe, if you're trying to teach me the importance of having a hefty emergency fund, you can stop now. I get it!

Ok, rant over... I'm grateful that the car didn't break down on me in the middle of the interstate, plus even if it ends up being $2000, we're still in a better spot than we were a couple months ago. This will just delay us for a while.

I have $1900 in the e-fund, plus $766 in my tuition fund for next semester. I'll pull from those to pay the bill and then the extra from next week's paycheck will go to start building them back up.


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 200
Got my car back from the dealer today...FINALLY! Cost was $1500. Good news is that I was able to cover it without touching the $1900 in my e-fund. Bad news is that my tuition savings is back to $0. This will delay my progress by about a month, but I *think* I can still finish my goals before the year is over.

Goal 1: Pay off my credit card: $1310/$1310 --- DONE
Goal 2: Pay off DH credit card: $3635/$4235 --- 86%
Goal 3: Save $1300 for spring tuition: $0/$1300 --- 0%
Goal 4: Get E-fund to $5k: 0/$3100 --- 0%

Total Progress: 50%

The car is almost 9 years old and every repair gets more expensive. How do I know when to replace it before I end up with a repair that's nearly as much as the car's worth? Any advice?


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 Post subject: Re: Holding Fiddlefaddle Accountable!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:30 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1780
Location: Ottawa, Canada
fiddlefaddle wrote:
The car is almost 9 years old and every repair gets more expensive. How do I know when to replace it before I end up with a repair that's nearly as much as the car's worth? Any advice?


You answered your own question, in my opinion. I use the benchmark that when the repair costs more than the car is worth, it's time to replace the car. If the repair is less than the car's value, then I make the repair.

This gets complicated when repeated repairs start piling up in rapid succession, but in general, that's the rule I use.


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