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Archive for March, 2015


March 20th, 2015 at 09:51 am

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 10:04 am

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 09:05 am

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!