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Happy New Year!

January 29th, 2016 at 03:35 pm

Hi all! It's been forever. I basically did not accomplish much of what I hoped to in 2015, and I've gotten over it and moving on. Here's to 2016!

Theend of the year was a little crazy....I had 3 surgeries in December (al planned), and in early January, had a small stroke. I'm a-ok, just have to be careful about things now. The stroke was an indirect result of 2 of the surgeries (feet).

I was out of work for a month (on a medical leave, at full pay), and made it through. Whew. I had time to do lots of thinking during my recovery, and wrap my head around 2016 goals.

First of all, I am definitely moving this year. moving in NYC is very very expensive which is why it's taken so long. I've already saved a decent amount in my moving fund, and started lots of other little savings challenges which I'll go into more detail on in a future blog (hey don't want to give everything away otherwise I'll have nothing to write about!)

Everything else seems to be progressing....401k is moving along even though the market is not cooperating!

That's it for now. Will update on some of the individual things going on in future entries.

Lost Entry! Random Updates...

August 12th, 2015 at 04:38 pm

OH how frustrating. I just typed out a very long entry with lots and lots of updates. Hit save & publish. Gone. UGH!!! Well, now it'll have to be the truncated version.

- Completed balance transfer from Verve to Cap One QS. Verve is out of wallet. Both remaining Cap One cards scheduled to be paid off by the end of the year.
- Credit score has gone up 30 points, due to utilization decrease thanks to QS, and to old items falling off.
- Outstanding debt debt # decreased dramatically, due to age of a few items. Not planning on avoiding them if someone comes knocking, but can't get info on them at this time, so I am going to stop worrying about it for now. Will focus on paying more current, pressing accounts off.
- 401k is up.
- Baby EF is gone. Spending has been out of control. Need to get it back on track. Will build this back up within the next few weeks. Have not had cash flow problems, so it's less of an issue than it was a few months ago. Would still like to have something, though. No new debt added, though, so spending has all been cash. Better than nothing, I guess.
- Have been getting lots of snowflakes. Managed to score a pair of $100 sneakers this morning for $34 out of pocket thanks to finding a good deal on eBay, and my eBates credit in PayPal.
- Received 2 of 3 bank account bonuses. Due to a typo in my direct deposit system, will not be able to receive 3rd. Oh well. Moving on! Found another account, and opened today (TIAA - $150). Will pursue another later on this year (BMO Harris? - $200).
- Booked 2 vacations - LA in October, found a $150 round trip fare. Will stay with a friend, and only have to pay for dining out and car rental. Barbados in February - will be pricey, but mostly paid for already. $600 cheaper than last year, and will save money while there since we are staying in a condo instead of hotel. Can make our own breakfast, lunch, and drinks. Will go out for dinner.

Sorry this seems so rushed, but the other entry took a long time to type!!!!

Hope everyone is doing well with their goals!!!

Balance Transfer Update and Other Musings...

July 21st, 2015 at 07:26 pm

My new Cap One card came yesterday in the mail. I activated it immediately and hopped online to see if I could complete the balance transfer, because I am impatient like that. No dice. I got a message saying balance transfer offers weren't available online, but that I could call. So today, call I did. Turns out an account has to be open for 10 days before balance transfers are available. Oh well. I made a note in my Outlook calendar to complete the transfer on Monday. I'll be transferring the Verve balance after all. You cannot transfer between Cap One accounts. Makes sense - why would they want to lose out on all that yummy interest? Not a big deal....I will transfer the Verve balance, and then apply aggressive payoff plan to the Cap One secured card, while making a modest payment to Cap One QS. Once secured is paid off, then I will turn my attention to QS. Found it funny that as soon as the card was activated, they charged the annual fee. Guess they're impatient too Smile

I decided to keep the Verve card for a little while, even though it will cost me money. As my CC balances get paid down, my utilization will go down as well, which is the biggest thing hurting my credit score at the moment. Once I get through moving, I will re-assess and decide if I want to keep it open. By then, I'd like to have also replaced the Cap One secured card with a non-secured card of a similar credit line. Hopefully I can close the Verve by the end of the year, and then close the Cap One secured by March or so (it'll be paid off before that, just trying to stagger the age of my current accounts so it doesn't look like all of my credit is new).

In non-financial news...my workouts have been going great. I do CrossFit 3-4x a week, and have gained a lot of strength. I'm doing an eating plan that focuses on fueling your body for your workouts, and it's helped me immensely. The by product of fueling your workouts properly is fat loss. I don't know how much tangible loss I've seen so far (in fact, the scale is definitely up about 8 pounds but I would guess some of that is muscle!), but I've been getting a ton of comments that I look like I've lost a lot of weight. Nope, I've gained a little and in fact am eating between 2500-2900 calories a day! But thanks anyway haha. I'm more concerned with how I look and feel than with the number on the scale right now. A recent body fat test informed me that the scale goals I've had for the last 5 years, even though they were conservative, are also impossible based on the amount of lean body mass I have. Soooo, that goal is gone. If I continue on this path, it'll come.

That's about it for me for now...looking very much forward to Thursday (parking account resets!), and Friday (payday!)...hope everyone is having a good week!

New Credit Card!

July 16th, 2015 at 04:14 pm

I applied, and was approved, for the Capital One Quicksilver Card. It should be arriving shortly.

I've been looking to add a credit card to my "portfolio" for a few weeks. The Verve card is one of those designed for folks with bad credit (boo), and carries a fairly sizable annual fee ($96), plus a monthly maintenance fee ($6). Obviously, I don't want to pay these fees, which means this card will not be sticking around long-term. So I decided to try to find another card to replace it, so that I can maintain my credit limit/utilization.

The Quicksilver card is 0% until March 2016, with no balance transfer fees. Plus 1.5% back on all purchases. That's pretty exciting, I thought I was a ways away from being approved for anything with those kind of offers. $39 annual fee, which I am fine with. $500 credit limit.

Originally, I was going to transfer the balance from the Verve card onto this new card. I then realized that I have it scheduled to be paid off in 2 months anyway. I'm going to keep that plan, and transfer as much as I can from the Capital one Secured card to the QuickSilver. I have a fairly aggressive plan to pay that off as well, but if I can avoid accruing interest, why not.

I'm not sure if I should keep the Verve card open for another year, and suck up the fees. I'm very much in a credit re-building phase.
Option A: If I keep it open, I can keep utilization lower, have a higher available credit line, and the average age of my (now) 3 credit card accounts will be longer. I will pay $168 for this privilege in fees.
Option B: close it as soon as it is paid off (Sept), reduce available credit line by $500, and this will increase the utilization percent. This will also decrease the average age of my accounts. Would now be down to two cards. This will cost me nothing, but might not help my credit as much as I would like it to.

Thoughts? What would you do?

Any ever transferred a balance from one Cap One card to another that can give me some insight into the process?

Once the Cap One secured card is paid off (by the end of the year), I'll also be looking to replace that with a non-secured card so I can close that account and get my deposit back. Hopefully by that time, credit score will have gone up enough to get a non-crappy card (ha!) with a decent enough credit limit that I can maintain available credit/utilization, etc. I'm sure I'll be looking for thoughts on the who average age of accounts then too.

Good Progress!

July 12th, 2015 at 01:20 am

Here I am, only writing after payday again. Been busy at work so haven't had much time!

Yesterday was payday. This check went fully into the Key account, not into one of my primary accounts, so I paid the car payment (wanted to get it sent out since the bank has to generate a manual check and mail it thanks to my crappy lender), and then transferred the rest to a primary account. Thankfully, this is a 1 business day thing, so it was all in my main account this morning.

Paid about $400 worth of current/outstanding debt. I have 1 payment left on 3 collections accounts that I've been paying for almost 2 years! Can't wait to re-direct that money every month. The balance on one of those accounts is way incorrect according to their site, so I decided to just go ahead and update it on my spreadsheet, to the tune of almost $300. That'll be a fun phone call on Monday - I have the original payment agreement, and all of my payments as per their site, so they really have no choice. Outstanding debt is under $12k (potentially under $10k based on settlement offers I've received, oping to be able to capitalize on some of those.)

I sent another $250 to the M&T account, so my little baby EF is funded! Of course, if you recall from a previous entry, I'm building it up only to use it for a tax bill, but still, the concept of saving it up to make the payment feels good. As soon as the tax bill is paid, I hope to replenish it quickly, and not go much below the $500 while I'm paying off the big stuff.

Mom has officially taken over the car payment. The payment I sent yesterday will be my last. I upped my 401k contribution to 10% (should take effect next paycheck or the following). Before I make another jump up, I want to research IRAs. I do like that the 401k reduces my taxable income, but I like the flexibility of the IRA, along with it being tax-free in retirement. We'll see - not planning to increase again before the end of the year.

Still spending too much, but better this pay period. I had a lot of extra money on hold in my bank account this week for various things, and it didn't help that it was there. I usually bring my lunch to work, but wasn't in the mood for meal prep last weekend (I had a 4.5 day weekend) so I just bought it and spent more than I'd like to. Back to my Sunday meal prep tomorrow!

That's all I've got for now...hope everyone is having a great summer so far!

Payday and Other Doings!

June 30th, 2015 at 03:07 am

Friday was payday! I managed to get about $100 of "outstanding debt" paid down, and $200 went to the Cap One card. I always forget to mention the car payment because it's on auto-pay and I can't check the balance anyway (so annoying!) but that was paid too. A few fixed bills this paycheck, so progress was smaller (rent, student loan, gym, etc), but I also funded the new M&T account with what I'm considering the start of my baby EF - $250. 401k is up as well, but the app is giving me 2 different balances (using the lower to be conservative, altho I think the higher sounds more accurate).

Spending will be tight until next check, but I'm hopeful I can make it work without dipping into one of the credit cards (didn't work last week, as evidenced by the higher balance on the Verve). Tracking my spending has been eye opening. I'm definitely spending more than is coming in, hence the lack of progress, so I'm looking for ways to make cuts. I cancelled one gym membership that I've been procrastinating on. Trying to drive a little less to conserve parking $$ (a set amount is deducted from my check pre-tax, once it runs out I have to pay out of pocket until the month resets) and gas. I'm already very lean on groceries and entertainment. Once Mom takes the car payment over it gets a little looser, and more money will be directed to debt repayment and/or savings.

Thankfully, I'm traveling for work for a few days this week, which means all of my expenses are being covered. I don't have a corporate card, so I will be reimbursed next week. Since I use a debit card for almost everything, that'll feel like a mini-windfall (although I'll have to juggle funds around in the meantime).

As I mentioned, I sent $250 to fund the M&T account. The direct deposit kicked in for the Key account, so I removed my primary account, and added the M&T account. I'll have a month until the next change, which will be to remove Key and add Nationwide. Still waiting for the M&T debit card, and am slightly annoyed that I can't set up external transfers until it comes. Whew. I am earning this $650!

Happy Monday!

June 22nd, 2015 at 07:37 pm

Hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day! It's a non-event in my house these days, as we all choose to honor my dad differently, but it was a nice Sunday.

Some financial doings over the weekend that I wanted to share!

Mom closed on her refinance on Friday. She is still waiting to see how it all shakes out, but essentially, she is going to take over my car payment for now. Not exactly what I wanted, but she isn't planning on paying anything off in a lump sum, and I certainly am not going to be ungrateful. Might push my timeline back a bit, but I can make it Smile I'm not sure exactly when she is taking over the payment - I've kept 2 additional payments on my budget for now (I pay bi-weekly, so this Friday and July 10th). By then, all the dust should have settled, and she should know her new budget. We do still want to refinance the car to get the rate down, but it needs a bit more principal paydown before that's an option.

Once she officially takes over the payment, I am going to increase my 401k contribution to 8 or 10% (haven't decided which yet, need to run the numbers). I'll also begin attacking the other debt in earnest, starting with tax bills (oh yay), then focusing on debt currently still accruing interest, then moving on to the older things in collections (the damage has been done there, so I don't think a few more months will make much difference one way or the other).

I went ahead and opened the 3rd (and final for now) bank account in my summer of chasing bank bonuses. I did a little research, and they don't seem to have any kind of mobile deposit option, so I wanted to get a jump on it, even though the funding for the account is part of Friday's paycheck. I will mail them a check on Wednesday, and by the time it arrives, I'll have moved money around to cover it. I'm funding this account with $250, which will be the start of my baby e-fund ($500 - which coincidentally is the average balance needed to keep this account fee-free!)

Lastly for today, my company just introduced an ESPP. I was considering it, but decided to opt out for now...I am not yet in a position to start taxable investment accounts. Perhaps during the next enrollment period.

This and That

June 19th, 2015 at 06:12 pm

Making an effort to post in between paychecks. I've accomplished a few tasks this week related to finances, so I thought I'd share.

Bank Account Bonuses:
As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm chasing a few different bank account bonuses right now. I sat down with a calendar, and the fine print from all 3 offers, and figured out a timeline for all of the crazy changes my direct deposit will need to go through to make it all work. Everything should be back to normal by October, and then maybe I will start another round. I may end paying a few months banking fee from my primary bank, but I'm still going to come out way ahead.

I also downloaded all of the banks' apps to my phone, and set up external transfers for the 2 accounts already opened to my primary bank account. Key takes 1 business day to process, waiting on Nationwide (only scheduled the transfer yesterday, it has not come through as of yet). I have not yet opened the M&T account, planning on doing that next Friday, and funding with the $$ allocated for savings from that paycheck. As soon as the account is funded, I'll do a test there as well.

Spending:
I created spending worksheets a few years ago, when I was prepping for a move. I thought it would be a helpful exercise to start using them again, since I am having trouble getting from paycheck to paycheck. So far it's been going well - got a (very long overdue) haircut the other day, and it was about $25 more than I budgeted...I guess the price went up. I'll have to adjust elsewhere. I'm trying very hard not to use my CC...all I need to buy for the next week is groceries, so I should be fine.

The "Mom" plan:
No updates yet. Haven't heard on a closing date, so I am proceeding as usual with my budget. Of course, me being me, I did create a "modeling" tab in my spreadsheet, showing how it COULD look. But no idea when it'll go into effect, so not getting too crazy yet. Still keeping my fingers crossed to be able to move in Nov or Dec. It's a good time to move in NYC, bc no one wants to - helps with inventory and finding a good place.

Think that's it for now. Just keepin' on keepin' on.

Payday...Again...

June 13th, 2015 at 07:54 pm

Here I am...only writing after payday again. Not much interesting stuff happens financially in between checks, it seems. My budget is set up to be bi-weekly to follow paychecks, so all of my financial activity occurs then.

Paid down another $400 or so of debt, between "outstanding" and current CC" debts. But...got hit with a few bills for taxes to the tune of almost $3k (no unexpected but I wasn't thinking about them too much, unfortunately). Those have been added into what used to be called "older debt", and what is now called "outstanding debt". Now the only money owed out not listed on my sidebar are my student loans. And frankly, since they are on auto-pay and in good standing, I just don't think about them that much, since I have so many bigger fish to fry. When the time comes that I am debt-free and have robust savings, I will think about accelerating, but the balance is less than $8k at this point. 401k is up another $230 or so, broke the $1k mark!

Had another long talk with my mom about her paying off the car and the approach we are going to take. I asked if she would consider paying half of the amount she offered ($22k) to the car, and the other half to the "outstanding" category. I think by negotiating with some of those creditors, I could get the balance down a decent amount. I would then re-finance the car, for a much lower payment and (hopefully) lower interest rate, since it'll have a much lower balance and no longer be underwater. I decided to hold off on the idea of trading my car in for the one I want...and will then direct all the funds allocated for debt repayment to the moving fund. She seemed amenable to the idea, since it doesn't cost her any differently than her initial offer and still goes towards paying down debt, but we are still in a holding pattern as we are waiting for the closing on her refinance. Fingers crossed that comes soon. Got the appraisal back, so I think it's moving, albeit slowly.

Found another two bank account offers I plan to go after, one for $200 (Nationwide), and one for $150 (M&T). That'll take me to $650 in bank account offers in a fairly short amount of time. The first account opened (Key Bank) should get its first direct deposit next pay period, and then I'll be able to change it back or to a new account (since it takes a pay period to go into effect, only need that one to deposit twice, no fees to maintain a free account here). Once I know what's happening with the different debt categories and have a better idea of when I can expect these bonuses, I'll decide exactly where they'll be allocated. Either debt repayment or savings for moving - these are the main goals right now.

That's about it financially. On the moving front, spent an evening in the neighborhood I want to move in, and it's gotten me very excited - lit a fire under my a**, so to speak. Obviously, the expense of rent skews my budget a bit, but there are several other ways that moving saves me money - commuting, different gym, time savings, etc. It's really what I want, and I think it'll be great, so I am more motivated than I have been in a while to get this moving. No pun intended Smile

Been a While!

May 29th, 2015 at 03:54 pm

So much for committing to blogging regularly...sigh. Oh well. Haven't had much to report, certainly not a ton of progress anyway. I'll try to summarize Smile

The Great: Mom decided that since she essentially bought my sister a new car (about $22k) a few years ago (long story), and is giving my brother dad's truck (in perfect condition and worth about $17k), that she was going to pay off my car. I wish I was a big enough person and/or in the position to turn her down, but I'm not....so in a few months, the car loan will be paid off, freeing up cash flow for lots of other things. There's a possibility (and this is with Mom's blessing) that I will trade the paid off car in for the car I wanted in the first place, taking out a small loan (~$7k), but I'd like to see how long I can go without a car payment to further other goals. Mom is pushing for this option, because she knows how unhappy I am with the car. This is clearly life-changing.

The Good: I started my 401k. It's only at 6% for now (with a 3% match). Once the car is paid off, I'll bump it up to 10%, with a plan in place to get to 15% by next April. Cap One Secured card increased my limit. Credit score has gone up slightly. I opened a new checking account with Key Bank for a $200 bonus today (should get bonus in 2 months or so). It's a completely free account. Once I get this bonus, will be looking for some others to do as well. All bonus money will go towards current CC debt.

The Bad: Money has been tight (see "The Ugly" below), so I unfortunately spent the additional credit line on the Cap One card, and have been maintaining the maxed out Verve card (make a payment, spend the payment, sigh). Things should loosen up now and it should be easier to make it from check to check soon. Once this happens, the cards are coming out of my wallet. Once the Cap One card is paid off, I'll begin exploring converting it to an unsecured (which would get me back my $900 deposit, which can go towards savings/old debt).

The Ugly: I've been doing a lot of traveling lately. My favorite musician has been on tour, and so I was away for 3 of the 5 weekends in May. This definitely set me back a ways, not sure of the total I spent, but it was probably somewhere around $1500 (this was thankfully all cash, that's the one benefit of cards being maxed out I suppose), it makes me wince a little. What's done is done, though...and moving on now.

So, there's the last 2 months in a nutshell. Numbers on the sidebar updated (except 401k - deposit is made on payday, but I don't see it until the next day, should be close to the $1k mark today, wooo!!!!)

Payday!

March 20th, 2015 at 04:51 pm

Today is payday. I love payday. I feel great for about 15 minutes, then I pay my bills ;-) (I'm kidding, being able to pay my bills is a great feeling...just frustrating staring at what's leftover to get me through the next 2 weeks...)

As far as debt reduction, I paid $75 to Cap 1 card, and $262.23 to old debt. Sidebar numbers updated.

No car payment this check, due to refinance. First payment on new loan will be next check. The payoff check to old lender posted, and I need to call them to confirm that my math is right, but I believe I'm getting $477.69 back from them.

I'm considering shifting my strategy for old debt paydown, as well. I may pay off current balances first, since they have insanely high interest rates, then shift to the old debt, which is all in collections at this point anyway, no longer accruing interest. Waiting another few months won't make a difference - the damage to my credit has already been done. But by lowering credit utilization, maybe I can boost my score that way. Need to think on it a bit more, as I'm afraid that I'll see $xx available credit and use it as an excuse to go shopping...I might assign a monthly bill to each card, set it for autopay, and then remove from my wallet. We shall see.

My birthday was great, I had a lovely day at work, got a great bottle of wine from my (old) boss, and went to dinner with my mom. My sister gave me a $50 Amex gift card, and I decided to treat myself to some more wine. (I reeeeally like wine, collection has been getting a bit low lately. I tend to buy it 10-12 bottles at a time, then drink that down for a few months.)

Onward to the weekend....hope everyone has a great one!

My Car (A Saga)

March 18th, 2015 at 05:04 pm

Though I was born and raised in the Bronx, I lived in Manhattan for several years in my early thirties. No need for a car, although I do love driving. When I made the decision to move home to Mom's house in June of 2014, I knew I couldn't get away with that for long. Although where we live is part of NYC proper, you do definitely need a car to get around. Our area is quite underserved by public transportation. My father passed away 4 years ago, and while we do still have his car, it's a Suburban and not really suitable for a daily driver in NYC. Especially since I drive to work (more on that below...)

The plan was...I was moving home in June, would spend the summer saving up a down payment, and buy a used compact SUV in the $17-$18k range after Labor Day. I have no interest in driving a beater, no matter how much help it would provide to my finances, and need AWD or 4WD for our great winters. I'm a researcher by nature, so decided one afternoon on my way to run some errands in my mom's car to stop by a local dealership to "look at" some cars they had, and maybe test drive some models to decide if I liked them or not.

Well, I need to not be allowed to shop for any big ticket items alone, because 2 hours later, I was driving away in a new (to me) car. With no down payment, a non-manufacturer's warranty, and a hefty interest rate. Sigh. Not the best move by far, but I have no regret...it did wonders for my mental state over the next few months. (It's not really a great feeling to have to ask Mommy if you can borrow her car to go to CVS at the age of 35...)

It made my commute a lot easier, albeit a little more expensive. My options pre-car were 1. to take a local bus to the subway, where I would have to transfer 2x, and get to work 90 minutes later, then do it all again to go home ($113 for a monthly pass, deducted from paycheck pre-tax); 2. Take the "express bus", which takes about 2 hours in the morning and anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes in the evening ($220 for monthly passes, $130 of which can be pre-tax); or 3. Some combination of the above (cost varies, $130 max can be deducted from paycheck pre-tax). I also have the option of having parking $$ deducted, and the max is $250 per month. The net difference to my take home pay between the max for transit and the max for parking is only about $30...most months I come pretty close to staying within that $250, sometimes I go a little over but not by much. I usually stay within my gas budget, and my commute when driving is 60-90 minutes each way (for 15 miles! NYC traffic is crazy). Yes, it's taxing, but not having to deal with crappy public transportation is worth it to me. Once I move, I will be moving to a neighborhood with good subway access, and so will not be driving in anymore, will be using the $113/month option.

So, that's how I justify the purchase...it was definitely not the greatest move I could have made, but it's what happened and so now I am stuck with it and making the best out of the situation.

My Original Loan (initiated in July 2014):
~$23k @ 21.73% for 72 months (ouch, ouch, ouch)
Monthly Payment $574.94 (I pay bi-weekly, $290 every other week.)

I am just finishing up a refinance. It didn't get me too far ahead, but cut my interest rate a tiny bit. I'll continue to make the same bi-weekly payment to get a little more principal paid off. I plan to refinance again either over the summer (at the 1 year mark), or at the end of the year (at the 18 month mark). For this refinance, since I knew it was temporary, I extended the term back out to 72 months. It doesn't matter since I pay bi-weekly and it will be paid off before that, and also since for the NEXT refinance, I will be going with the term that would have been left at that time on the original loan. Make sense? I'm pretty wordy sometimes, sorry Smile

New Loan (initiated in March 2015):
~$22k @ 20.45% for 72 months (STILL ouch, ouch, ouch, but slightly better. Glad to see that all of my payments since August have done so much for my principal *rolls eyes*)
Monthly Payment ~$540 (not sure of exact number, haven't gotten all of the final paperwork yet, will still be paying $290 every other week).

The good news is that the payoff check sent from my new lender to my old lender is for more than the current payoff amount, due to a payment made while everything was processing. Which means the overpayment will be coming back to me...just waiting for them to apply the payoff so I can find out the amount, but somewhere in the $400-$500 range, I'm hoping!

In a way...I'm glad I am paying this much interest. Crazy? Yes, but hear me out. You can bet I'm feeling the pain of it, and am learning my lesson to not screw my finances up again! Once I get out of this mess, I will NEVER let myself get to the point I started at last summer. If I get lazy, all I have to do is some math to figure out how much $$ I wasted on this ridiculous interest rate!!!!!

My First Entry!

March 18th, 2015 at 04:05 pm

Hi there, ho there! (What a cheesy way to start this blog...sheesh...)

I'm Liz. I'm 35 (36 tomorrow!) I was born and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. I've been posting here and reading blogs for over 2 years now, and finally decided to take the plunge to start my own. Scary stuff, I tell ya. I'm in the beginning stages of a total financial makeover. Which will help me with the total life makeover I've got planned.

The good: I've got a stable job, making good money (I actually just got a promotion, and my first paycheck with new higher salary will be 4/17). My housing expenses are low, as I moved back in with my mother last year to be able to pay off debt and save money. It's taken much longer than I had hoped to get started on that, but within my next few paychecks, should be able to start hammering it out. I've got a comprehensive budget, which includes a plan for most of my goals. Needs work, and I need to give myself a little more room in grocery and clothing spending, but it's a good start.

The bad: I've got a bunch of old debt hanging over my head...previous credit cards that defaulted, and other nasty little collections accounts. My credit score is in the toilet (although rising due to recent good behavior). I pay too much for my car, but this is my atonement for my previous sins, so to speak.

The ugly: I have no savings. None. I live paycheck to paycheck, and I have a big fat ZERO in retirement. With 30 years to go, need to get cracking on that.

Sooo, that's my story. Once I figure out how to add things to the sidebar, I'll be adding goals, and balances, and such. This site has been so helpful for me to get my head in the right place over the past few years...I don't think I'll ever live frugally, but with your help, I'll be able to live smartly!