Thanks for the response. Many of your points are things that I think I figured out on my own just by virtue of having to think through the whole situation in order to type it all out. My wife and I were talking just this afternoon about including an item or items for non-regular, non-discretionary payments. I'm already doing this for regular but non-monthly payments, like insurance premiums, etc., as well as a monthly budgets for expenses that occur every month but are not always quite the same, such as fuel bills, and utilities.
Here is our current list of debts and the associated interest rates:
As I stated before, the credit card interest payments are deductible since the balance on the card represents work done on my rental property.
What's interesting is that I guess I haven't been paying much attention to my student loan rates because some of the seem to unnecessarily high interest rates. I know that they haven't always been that high but I believe they are variable and can change once per year. I have looked into consolidation before, but the interest rates offered always seemed to be a bad deal compared to what I have. I might almost be better off using a balance transfer option on a credit card for some of them since the rate I would be paying would be lower than the tax advantaged rate on the student loan.
I have reviewed my discretionary purchases for the last few months, and there are definitely some things that we spent money an that were unnecessary. I believe that part of this was simply inattention to budget. We have 2 checking accounts, one that pays all of our fixed bills (mortgage, car loans, utilities, etc.) and a second one that gets funded 3 times a month for discretionary spending. Recently I had to cancel the debit card associated with the discretionary spending account since it had been compromised. The ineptness of my bank (which has just been bought out by another bank, thank goodness...) left me without a discretionary card for far longer than I would have liked which left me using my "fixed payments" debit card for discretionary purchases. Because I wasn't paying close attention to this card as closely as I should have I probably spent a bit too much. Added together with those other non-regular, non-discretionary expenses and here I am asking for advice on a personal finance forum...
Here's another question about my retirement plan:
I have already contributed $3000 for this tax year to a Regular IRA (with post tax money... I will have to wait until next spring to see the tax advantage...). Would I be better off converting that to a Roth? Is this easy to do given that I'm still in the same tax year that I contributed the money?