Showing posts with label Budgeting Debt and Finances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Budgeting Debt and Finances. Show all posts


I'm Back for Real This Time

Ya'll didn't think that I was serious when I said I'd be back right away, did you? 'Cause I did.

But then life happened. Life like me losing the only crown I had after 15 years. (Apparently this is common. No one bothered to tell me that 15 years ago so that I could save up to replace it. Thanks a LOT!)

Don't worry, I'm not really mad at anyone.

About that.

Oh I kid. But really I'm not.

Did I mention that the crown coming out happened just after we'd almost met our $1100 allotment for the year for dental care? They managed to cement it back in for now, but suspect they'll have to put a new one in come January as the walls of this one are really bad. There's no decay...just a crummy crown...that managed to stay in for 15 years.

Did I also mention that 2 days after my dental financial attack, my daughter decided to fall while at the park and split one of her 2 front ADULT teeth in half horizontally? Sure, hon. We'll spend umpteen dollars fixing your teeth. And then spend double umpteen fixing mine in January.

Because we have a money tree in the backyard.

Basically, I'm saying my excuse for not coming back when I said I'd come back is that I was reeling from the pending financial doom of our future. Okay, maybe not doom compared to the over $40K we owed in medical bills at one time, but you get the idea. It was unexpected. So I took some time to curl up in a fetal position in the corner and cry.

After some phenomenal weeks couponing, I've got some tips for newbies coming up. I'm also talking politics (a favored topic of mine).

Let me know what you'd like to hear and I'll do my best to work it into an upcoming post!

Again, thanks for your patience. Bloggers are humans too. As I've proved all too well these last several weeks.


Are "Fixed" Expenses Really Fixed? Part 3 (Car Expenses)

Earlier, I talked about re-evaluating our expenses and determining what we currently consider “fixed” and “variable” expenses. I discussed housing expenses in Part 2.

After housing, the next biggest expense for many of us is our car. Most of us will put this expense in our “fixed” category because that amount doesn’t change from month to month.

Again I ask… Does it HAVE to be fixed? CAN it change?

Do you have to have a car payment? Keep your car ‘till it’s paid off and WELL beyond. Or, better yet, sell that high-priced vehicle and buy a used one for MUCH less up front…and keep THAT one until it dies. Our current vehicle has almost 250,000 miles…and is still going strong! In most cases, the cost to repair an older car is FAR less than the cost of car payments and insurance on a newer vehicle. In our WORST year, we spent close to $800 on our car. That included new tires (at $450), oil changes & other regular maintenance as well as a “repair” (anything outside of “regular maintenance” you’d do on any vehicle). Our cost most years has been less than that. Our total monthly out of pocket including the purchase price of our car, the tags & taxes, all regular maintenance including oil changes, and repairs has been around $100/month since we purchased our car. You can’t have numbers like that if you’re paying $400-$600/month for a new car.

Better yet, try going down to ONE car. I fully believe it is possible for the majority of families to live on one car. As with many things I’m sure there are exceptions. However, I think they are just that…exceptions rather than the rule. Sure it will take some adjustment, but it’s so worth it. We’ve been a one car family for close to 9 years now, and wouldn’t go back. We only have insurance for one car. We only have gas, maintenance, and repair for one car. If we happened to need to do a repair, we’d rent a car while ours was being fixed. The $30 cost for that was FAR less than if we’d have had 2 cars the entire time “just in case”. If you’re currently making 2 car payments, or paying insurance and maintenance and repair costs for 2 cars, just think of how much money you’ll save by going down to one.

There are even people who can go completely without a car. People in some areas have ditched their cars in favor of bikes. No gas, no high-cost maintenance. Can’t beat that! Even if you can’t completely ditch your car (we can’t), you could still possibly reduce your car expenses and extend the life of your car by utilizing those legs to walk or ride a bike.

I would like to encourage you to look at your car expenses again. Are they really fixed? Is there something you can do to change (lesson) the amount you spend on your car expenses?



Update on Fraud Issue

Thank you everyone for your prayers. From what we can see, the fact that two of my husband’s co-workers also had fraud on their accounts is purely coincidental. Either that, or we all happened to shop at the same place where a breach occurred.

Our initial cause for concern was because unlike normal transactions, the bank couldn’t immediately tell whether this was a debt, credit, or electronic check transaction. It took more digging than usual, but they did narrow it down to my debit card which has been cancelled and will be re-issued with a new number.

They were able to stop everything that was pending. We did have to file a police report and some paperwork for the bank. Once they receive that, we should get all of our money back. Praise God!

The police said that this is happening to more people lately. We’re very blessed in that I regularly check our online account and caught this before the other pending transactions (totaling over $1500) went through. Had I waited another day, they would have cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with ve cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with ve cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with overdraft protection charges to boot! As it was, part of what did go through only did so BECAUSE of our overdraft protection.

We also have an account with Chase bank and assumed that because they have international holds on your account unless you call them and tell them otherwise that all banks did that. We were wrong. I would HIGHLY encourage you to call your bank ASAP and let them know that you do not go overseas and that no international charges would be authorized. Don’t worry about it causing problems if you buy through Ebay from Canada, etc. If those transactions go through Paypal, they’re still US-based transactions. If you do go overseas, call your bank a week or two in advance, tell them the date you’ll leave, where you’ll be while you’re gone, & when you’ll return. They’ll keep the hold lifted until a week after you return typically unless you instruct them otherwise.

I would also encourage you to check on your account regularly if you (like me) use your debit card as your main way of paying. If you haven’t previously heard, let me explain what happened to us. Heartland (or another processer possibly in our case) had their systems breached. What that means is that all transactions going through their processing system within a certain time system were vulnerable and that information could have been transmitted to a hacker’s system. The reason this is so big is because companies like Heartland handle nationwide transactions for many different companies. For example, Heartland might handle all Target credit &/or check transactions or all Wal-Mart check &/or credit transactions. You get the idea. If it’s electronic, it has to go through one of these processers before it goes to your bank. It was not the store, but the processer that was compromised leaving millions upon millions of people vulnerable.

When the compromise was first announced, it was THREE months after the first breach. (I hear there have been several.) At that time, Heartland refused to state which companies it served citing confidentiality. Many banks as a precautionary measure cancelled and replaced the debit &/or credit cards for all of their customers. Many others sent out letters warning their customers of the possible breach giving them the option to cancel & re-issue their cards, but they didn’t do it automatically. Still others (like my credit union) opted to do NOTHING. They didn’t re-issue cards with new numbers, they didn’t notify their customers, they did NOTHING! I now know that we probably should have taken preventative action on our own. Lesson learned.

Again, thanks for your prayers. We’re temporarily inconvenienced, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been.



Please Pray! Fraud &/or Identity Theft

We have had someone take money out of our account fraudently. Please pray. When I talked to a friend about it, she said that we were the THIRD person at my husband's work to have this happen to them. Now, I'm wondering if there isn't a breach in Acrisure (sp?) the company that handles their payroll.

I do not know that for sure, but when three people at the same company have overseas charges on their account, I can't help but wonder. I also can't help but mention it knowing that the "powers that be" at big companies often wait until it's too late for a consumer to take action before they mention any kind of a breach or problem.

Thanks for your prayers for us and my husband's co-workers.



Are "Fixed" Expenses Really Fixed? Part 2 (Housing)

Earlier, I talked about re-evaluating our expenses and determining what we currently consider “fixed” and “variable” expenses.

Today, let’s talk about your biggest “fixed” expense. For most of us, that expense would be our mortgage or rent payment. Most of us will put this expense in our “fixed” category because that amount doesn’t change from month to month.

Does it HAVE to be fixed? CAN it change?

I know, you’ve got your mortgage and that amount won’t change. Then again, will it? Is your house too big? Could you make some sacrifices to lower that amount?

Even if you can’t sell your current house and move into a smaller one, are there things you can do to reduce that amount more quickly? Don’t borrow any more (or ever) on your house. Can you pay any extra to help pay off your mortgage early? Imagine how much more money you’ll have to work with for your kid’s college, your retirement, traveling, whatever once your mortgage is paid off.

With the mortgage industry as it currently stands, many are reporting that they’re able to make adjustments to their loan terms even if they aren’t behind on payments. What could it hurt to call your mortgage company and ask if they’ll do a contract adjustment to lower your rate? If you’re in an adjustable rate mortgage, see if they’ll offer to fix the rate for the rest of the mortgage. Of course you should ask for paper confirmation of any changes they make, but one call COULD save you money! Some mortgage companies are even willing to do this with one phone call. They’d rather have you paying on time than they would have to deal with another possible delinquent mortgage or foreclosure house.

Renting? Check out current rental rates. With the housing market being down in many areas, it’s possible that the glut of available houses has led to many rentals which will drive down the price of renting. Talk to your landlord. If they aren’t willing to bend, consider moving when your lease is up. What you save now will benefit you in the future if you save the difference.

I’ve learned through the years and MANY moves that it’s not the size of the house that determines whether it will work for you or not. A really small house that’s set up really well can be much more comfortable and easier to live in than a big one that doesn’t have what you need. Likewise, a big one that’s set up well can be better than a crummily (is that a word?) set up small house. In other words, it’s not the size of the house but what it offers that matters. Plus, the smaller the house, the less you have to clean. (That’s a HUGE plus for me!)

I realize that housing is not only usually the biggest expense a family has, but it’s often the hardest to change. Therefore, any change to this category will take the longest to happen. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It just means it will take perhaps more of a sacrifice to make this particular change happen.

So, I’ll ask again. Is your housing expense really fixed? Can you make changes? I challenge you to ponder this for a bit. Consider it. Talk to your spouse about it. Pray about it. (And think of the money you can save!)



Are "Fixed" Expenses Really Fixed?

We’re currently on a quest to save money, pay off our remaining medical bills, and to become more self-sufficient. In this quest, I have been challenged to take another look at our budget. We all have those expenses that we consider fixed. I started to wonder, though, if there was really any expense that was fixed.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking about our quest to further reduce our bills.

I’ll talk a little about what we’ve done in the past and a little about what we’re doing now to change our bills and our life for the better. I’m also looking for ideas. If there’s something you’ve done that I haven’t mentioned please post a comment here or e-mail me. I’d love new ideas!

If you haven’t recently, you should take the time to write out your monthly expenses. Do your best to separate them into “fixed” and “variable” expenses. I know what’s “fixed” and what’s “variable” can be different for each family. There are usually some similarities, though. (Housing and car payments come to mind.)

I would like to encourage you to take another look at those expenses in your budget that you consider to be “fixed”. Are they really?