June 2010 Month Review

Here is where I spent/saved in June of 2010.   For most of May, I was driving a rental car, so my gas prices have gone back up this month, which is unfortunate.  I also have paid off the last of my credit card debt, finally.  I used part of my snowball to pay off my credit card debt, and I’m going to send the remainder to my smallest student loan.  My goal is to have that loan gone by the end of the year.  Once that’s gone, I’ll have some decisions to make about what to tackle next, and I’m sure I’ll be asking for some help.

Credit Card Debt:

I cancelled two of my cards last month after I paid them off.  I’m pretty happy about that!  Right now I have 1 card that I think I’m going to keep, as it is pretty good with rewards miles.  I haven’t decided yet though.

Southwest  Card: $ 0 ! My last credit card (tear, not).  I’m so sorry that we are going to have to break up, but right now, I think it’s for the best.  Do you know how much money it will save me?

Student Loans:

This is by far my largest liability at this point — It’s unsecured and it’s just lame run of the mill debt.  I’ve got 3 loans from 3 different banks (way to go, feds!).  These loans came from 6 years of school, so I got out pretty good.

Nelnet Student Loan $ 3,041 ($32) This normal payment is $50, which I have been paying.  Apparently, of the $50 I pay, $18 goes to interest.  This is my next target.  Get ready to part ways, nelnet.

Direct Loan $ 7,109 ($359).  The regular payment on this is 92, and I paid that, but my parents send some money occasionally to this loan.  It’s a really, really big help.  This loan started out at 12k I believe.

Great Lakes Loan $ 12,944 ($86) Just paid the standard payment of $150, but because of interest, the amount it went down was much less than that.

Truck Debt:

This is for my vehicle.  I had already started trying to become debt free when I bought this, so I was quite torn as to wether or not to take on new debt while I was trying to eliminate other debt.  If you want to read more about it, check here, here and here.  Despite most of the advice I heard, I went ahead and took out a loan on this.  I’m still thinking I made the right move.  Either way, here is the status.

Ford Credit: $ 19,588 ($325):  This one is just holding steady for now.  I pay more than the minimum each month, and I call every month to make sure that they apply my extra to the principal.

Total Debt Level: $42,682 ($793) Another month where this number dropped.  I’m fine with that, although it’s not dropping as much/as fast as I’d like.  I’m hoping I can get another side hustle going  soon.  More importantly, I have spent less than I earned all year!  I’m hoping to continue this all year, and for the rest of my life!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Daquella manera

Monthly Review: May 2010

May Month Review

Credit: www.destination360.com

Well, another month is gone, and it sure seemed to go by fast.  Here’s my recap for the month of May, 2010.   There were quite a few changes from last month, and one was due to the fact that for 3 weeks of May (and 1 of april) I was driving a rental car after my car went in for a problem and there were issues with the dealer obtaining the part.  It didnt really matter to me not having my car.  I drive a lot, so I was happy to put miles on someone else’ car (and get a huge increase in gas mileage).  Also, according to mint, I’ve finally made it into the positive side of the net worth scale!  Wooohooo to me!

Credit Card debt – This just seems to be the hardest thing to shake.  Most of these cards have been paid off at one time or another.  To read the stories about them, click here and here.

Citi Card:   $0 ($1702) This card has been my main focus, as the promotional rate was to expire this month.  I paid a significant amount to this card last month, and I did again this month.  Although I have yet to transfer the funds, this is paid off!

Southwest Card: $450 ($27) I’ve been using this for gas recently, because of the airline rewards.  I’ve had the car for just over a year, and I’ve already earned a free ticket!  I think when my other two cards are paid off, this will be the one that I keep.

WaMu Card: $0 ($0) This was paid off, then when I went to purchase something over the internet, I accidently used this one instead of my Southwest card, so it had a bit of a balance this month, but I’m going to pay it off this week.

Other Debt – This is all non credit card debt.  Just Student Loans and an Auto Loan that I took out which you can read about here.  This debt has held steady, and will become the target of my debt snowball soon enough. I just haven’t figured out which debt it will be.  The amount of my debt at this writing is in red, the amount I paid last month is in green.

Nelnet Student Loan $ 3,073 ($50) This normal payment is $50, which I paid last month.  It seems like there’s not too much of this going to principal, considering the small balance.  I think this will be my next target.

Direct Loan $ 7,468 ($92).  The regular payment on this is 92, but the amount the note went down was $67….Interest…Sheesh.  This was up above 12k, but I started sending them a bit of interest payments while in grad school, and by the time my repayment came around, my balance was lower than what I borrowed.  I’m glad this is going down.

Great Lakes Loan $ 13,030 ($ 156) Double paid on this one last month, but just hit it with the standard payment this time.

Ford Credit Loan $ 19,907 ($ 350) I always pay a bit more than the minimum, but always have to call and get my extra payment applied to the principal of the loan.  I’m really not sure why the payoff balance sunk almost 1k this month, but I dont care.  The sooner this is gone, the better!

Total Debt Level: $ 43,475 ($3251)  When this number goes down, I’ll never be complaining.

I’ve kept up my handy excel spreadsheet, and it’s fun to see the amount go down every time I update it.  It’s similar to the spreadsheet Matt Jabs created, but with more graphs (I’m a visual person) and less focus on interest paid.

Another point of note: It’s been 5 months since I’ve spent more than I earned (!) and I’m excited to keep this gap open and widen it in the future!   My goals for the next month include focusing on my non credit card debt and hopefully getting myself into a position where I can have only 3 debts.

April 2010 Recap

Well it looks like April is finally over, so its time for my monthly spending recap. I was hoping to be credit card debt free by the end of this month, but unfortunately that dream did not become a reality, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. I was the happy recipient of 3 paychecks in April, something us bi-weekly paycheck receivers covet that happens twice a year. To me, it is better than Christmas and my birthday put together. So, without further ado, here is what went down last month.

I’ve started to keep track of my debt in something in addition to mint, and I’ll explain that as well.  After what seemed like many prosperous months in a row, April included quite a few oddities, mostly me misallocating my funds, and forgetting about autopayments (this was the biggest mistake, and most costly).

Citi Card$ 1,702($790)– This had been the focus of my efforts for last month. Im glad to see this one go down, but I wish that it would have been gone by now. I’ll keep at it next month.

Southwest Card $ 477($477)This was paid off in March, but I put more on it this last month.  I’m really, really not sure how this happened (well, I know how I spent it, but I’m not really sure what it was on).  It looks like most of it was to gas & food.  Part of the reason this was used was because I caused myself a cashflow problem.

WaMu Card – 0 – Im considering closing this card, but I don’t want to change my available credit and thus the ratio of credit im using to what’s available until I pay off more of the other 2

Other Debt – This is all non credit card debt.  Just Student Loans and an Auto Loan that I took out which you can read about here.  This went down more than I had expected, and caused the liquidity crisis that I mentioned above.  See, one night I went home and was really excited about paying all my bills (I don’t know why) but I paid just about everything in one night, and then about a week later, one that I paid came up for Auto-draft, right after I had sent what I had left to my Citi Card.  This caused me to overdraft my account (which made me mad, as I havent had one in ages, and was hoping to not have one all year), but caused quite a cash crunch while I waited everything out, causing me to turn to the other card.

Nelnet Student Loan $ 3,106($60) This normal payment is $50, but I paid extra last month.  I think when I get my Cards paid off, I’ll shift my focus to this because the balance is so small, although I’m not too sure yet.  This used to be a department of ed student loan, but was sold.

Direct Loan $ 7,535($262).  The regular payment on this is 92, but my parents threw me some extra change to toss on this bad boy.  This was up above 12k, but I started sending them a bit of interest payments while in grad school, and by the time my repayment came around, my balance was lower than what I borrowed.  I’m glad this is going down.

Great Lakes Loan $13,269($239)This is where my double payment happened, so it went down much more than normal.  I’d rather have the credit card lower than this, but progress is progress, and my numbers are lower than they were last month, so I don’t have much whining to do.

Ford Credit $20,874($350) This is the truck loan.  I pay $15 extra every month, but on some months, I’ve forgotten to call & ask for them to apply my extra to the principal instead of next months payment.

Total Debt $46,726 This number is higher by last month, and by a bit.  I apparently need to determine what calculator I use and use the balance, because it should be lower.  My spreadsheet has it going from 48k to 46k.  This needs to be worked out.

Here’s how I monitor all of my stuff in excel (along with monitoring my day-to-day with mint)

It consists of 2 Graphs:  One showing my monthly income vs my monthly expense, plotted over time.  The other has my debt to income.  It’s got a line for each one of my lines of credit (credit cards, auto & student loan), my total debt, and my income.  I just take all of this info from mint, and make the charts myself.  I also calculate the difference between my spending and income, and I’m happy to report that I have not been at a deficit since 12-09, when I stretched (maybe too much) for a down payment on the truck.

The only thing that confuses me is the difference between the accounts. I’m thinking they should be mostly similar, but I’m relieved by the fact that they are trending downward.

Questions for the readers:

1) What has been your best/worst month for paying down debt, and why do you think it was?

As an aside, I’m hoping to continue to blog 2-3x per week, and I’m also looking to change the theme.  Not sure if I like the one I’ve got, and I may change up quite a few things about the blog.  I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for reading.

August 09 Budget Review

Ahhh….finally.  With the end of august comes the end of summer, the childrens are going back to school, and the weather starts to get a bit cooler.  It’s also the end of the month, which means time to review the progress made in august towards becoming debt free, and re-evaluating (or creating new) goals for my budget.

Income: This is all the income that I earned during the month of August.

  • Paycheck – $1,100
  • Gifts – $383 – This income is not normal, and I do not budget for having it every month.

Total $1,485.90

Spending: This is how I allocated my resources during the month

  • $416 on Auto and Transportation –  This is the most I’ve ever spent on this category, by far.  I had some things happen earlier in the summer, and now I commute to work every day.  This includes insurance, gas, and some repairs that I did myself, and some that I paid to have done.
  • $441 on Home – This is rent ($375) and home improvement.  Im comfortable with this number, although typically this would include just rent.  I built a new bookcase this month.
  • $232 on Bills & Utilities – This includes water, trash, electricity and cell phone and tv/internet.
  • $226 on Food – This includes grochery shopping and dining out.  I believe that I budgeted for $225, so im ok with this
  • $40 on Education – This is to pay to keep me in school.
  • $19 on Shopping – Not too sure what I bought, which is probably not a good sign.
  • $40 on Travel – Went camping in the Badlands of North and South Dakota this month.  Had a great time. Totally worth it.

Total: $1,414

Difference: $71Not much, but it’s better than a negative number.

There has also been some exciting news reguarding my credit cards.  (wooo!).  As you’ll recall in my paying off credit cards with savings post, I recently paid off one of my credit cards with my savings.  It was a difficult decision, but in the end it made the most sense.  Due to an inturruption in my cash flow, I was going to have to use a significant portion of my savings to live off of for a time,  so I figured I may as well slay one of the beasts.  Boy, did it feel good.  Without further ado, My credit card debt levels:

  1. Southwest RapidRewards Card: $0 – I paid this card off, and im more than happy about that
  2. Chase/WaMu Card – $2,110 – I was able to direct 300 towards this account from my savings.  It’s my next target for payoff.
  3. Citibank – $2,472 – This card is at a 0% balance, and will be my last card to pay off.  The balance ends may, 2010.

Total Debt: $4,582 Im happy to see this number getting lower, and my net worth approaching $0.  Then I can start building a positive  net worth!  Who else is with me?!

Note: As Im still a student, this does not include my student loans, which are currently are in-school status, and will be so until ~june 2010

Want to get more out of the sustainablelife blog? Here are a few tips.

  1. Subscribe Via RSS – Click on the orange icon under the top posts on the side bar.  Aren’t familiar with RSS? Its like a news service.  Whenever the blog updates, it will take it to your feed reader (I use google reader) and you can view the article there.
  2. Email me at info [at] sustainablelifeblog.com
  3. Follow me on twitter @sustainlifeblog
  4. Have a Comment  Party – I would love to hear your comments on my articles, and the things I talk about.
  5. Email an article to a friend, then ask them to join in the comment party.  The more the merrier