Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Debt Reduction Calculator

CNN Money has the best debt reduction calculator I've seen thus far. Not only can you enter individual credit card balances, minimums and interest rates, it will tell you in what order is most advantageous for you to pay them off. Beats my spreadsheet any day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

403b Disbursments Are Fun!

The check from Vanguard came in record time, was deposited, cleared and has now been used to pay off a large portion of our debt. Huzzah for mortgaging my future!
Now that the 2 worst credit cards are paid off, I've discovered my excellent balance transfer rate with Discover and will be saving a cool grand by transferring the remaining balances to that card at a lower percentage. Just as soon as those payments today clear...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Citi Will Pay You Money for Reducing Your Credit Score

I just got this via email from Citibank:

Paying down your balance is closer than you think.

Earn up to $550 just for paying more than the minimum on time.

Lowering your balance makes good financial sense – and the Citi Payment Partner Program can help you achieve it. Call 1-800-961-4839 to enroll now, and Citi will reward you with a 20% statement credit on the amount you pay over the minimum due on time.

  • Get rewarded with a statement credit for paying more than the minimum on time within the next 4 months.
  • Save money through reduced interest charges and no late fees.
  • Build good credit by reducing your balance and paying on time.
Here’s how it works:

  • Earnings will be credited to your account within 3 billing cycles after the offer period ends.
  • Your account will be suspended until your statement credit is posted.
  • Upon receiving your statement credit, your credit line will decrease by the total amount paid over the minimum, plus your statement credit.
So basically, credit card companies are giving you free money to reduce your credit limit. Unfortunately, this does not really help your credit score (unless you don't pay on time now) because your debt to income ratio and available credit ratio just went down. you want to be sure to have a respectable amount of available credit (not used) on your credit report and lowering your credit line reduces your amount of available credit. Not to mention that it in all likelihood shows on your CR as the lender reducing your credit line, rather than it being at your request - another ding.
How does this improve my credit rating again?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do you hear that?

I'd forgotten the joys of a new washer, specifically quiet efficiency. The new washer is in the spin cycle right now and I can barely hear it. A significant improvement from the loud swishing and banging of the old one.

Other than the fact that they told me between 10 and 4 for the delivery and showed up at 4, meaning I was working from home all day when I could have just come home early, the install was quick and painless and I'm really pleased. Now I'll just see how long the enjoyment lasts.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Yet Another Unplanned Expense

On Friday night, I heard a high pitched squeal and about 15 minutes later the refreshingly sweet aroma of burning rubber wafted through the house. The belt on the washer has broken. Again.

Since it's after 10 on Friday night, this means at least 3 days without a washer while I arrange for service, tell them the belt is broken, they come out, confirm that the belt is broken, tell me they need to order one because they didn't bring one with them and come back 2 days later (while I'm taking another day off work) to replace the belt. I can hardly wait. I called the home warranty company we use to schedule a repairman, and found out from an exceptionally rude customer service rep that they had the wrong expiration number for the credit card on my contract and so my warranty wasn't in effect and would I please go ahead and authorize a $600 charge? Um... no.

So I found a local repair company and they came out Monday morning and for only $64 told me that I needed a new belt and pump, at the discount price of only $300. For that, I might as well just go buy a brand new washer, much as I hate to have thrown away the $200 we dropped 6 years ago on our Amana dent and ding special. Son, happy birthday, you get a new washer! (No actually I took him to Game Stop and he got a new Playstation and DS game)

We found one at Lowe's, a Whirlpool WTW5500SQ Top Load Washer that we got for 10% off a reasonable $440 with free delivery and disposal. I was torn between paying that or the $499 for the 5700 but decided to go midline. Now I've been home and checked out the reviews, it looks like I'll either love it or completely hate it. Kind of wish I'd paid the extra $50 and gotten the more expensive one that everyone loves. It's not set to deliver until Wednesday, so maybe I'll call Lowe's tomorrow and see if they can change it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wake Up!

A few months ago I bought Quicken 2007 as an upgrade to my previous 2002 version so I could connect to my bank and do online updates. It didn't really work so well with my file created in 2000 and eventually I just had a big mess of uncompleted, improperly categorized transactions that told me what my balance was - sometimes.

I got disgusted enough with the situation that I decided to spend a day and set up a new file in 2007 with our last 3 months of financial data that I can get from WAMU online. So glad I did!

I found out how to use features I didn't know the program had and using them finally discovered why we never seem to have enough money. We're paying $1000 a month for debt. It's a lot of debt, I'll grant you, over $20K from J's 3 year period of self employment (paid down from $30K in January when he got a new job) but it's the 29% interest rate that's really killing us.

One of Quicken's other features is an ability to download information on your investment accounts, including retirement accounts. I'm not 30 yet, so I barely even glance at statements that come my way from the account managers, but I'm not able to ignore $25K so easily.

After a little research I found that I can take a loan on half of the balance in the account at a very reasonable 5% interest that is paid back to my account. $12K will go a long way to getting revolving debt paid off much sooner than our previously anticipated 2011 goal. Now we're looking at late 2009. Assuming credit ratings can be resolved, now that all our valid collection accounts have been paid off, that new, more fuel efficient vehicle is on its way!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Giving up on cleaning

I've finally recognized defeat (at least temporary anyway) and set the flylady yahoo group to stop sending me emails. If nothing else it was filling up my gmail account so I didn't see other stuff, and besides I haven't had the time or energy to actually do anything with it in months. I was hoping it would be a motivator to declutter the house, but it ended up just contributing to the clutter in my inbox... Oh well, maybe another time.

Ooooh, shiney

Courtesy of Engadget

Guitar Hero: On Tour technically went on sale on Sunday, but who launches a game on Sunday? Anyway, the DS version of the rocker franchise is now available, goofy Guitar Grip accessory included, for just $49 of your hard-fought dollars. Reviews of the control system have been pretty positive so far, and the game itself looks like it's a solidly fun time -- even if that insanely bad promo video had us convinced otherwise for a while. Rockers -- to arms!