Thursday, February 26, 2009

SNL and the Economy

Saturday Night Live comes out with some real gems from time to time (although, admittedly, while the political jabs were funny last year, not much else was).  A short came out about three years ago, and Bob over at Christian Personal Finance reminded his subscribers about it.  Well worth the watch, the message is simple, straight-forward, funny, and just a little sad.  Sad that, in this day and age, people seem to have the same mentality as the couple.

Here’s the link

Monday, February 23, 2009

Insurance Premiums

Remember to shop your insurance premiums on occasion.  I have been with GEICO for nearly five years…  I like the company well enough, but have had ZERO claims in that time, so I haven’t “seen them in action”.  They may be a great company to deal with when you have an accident, but I continually hope that I never have to find out how good or bad the insurance company is…

Anyway, I have a friend who is an independent agent, and when we bought the house, I decided to get him to quote the house insurance for us.  He asked if he could quote the two cars as well, and I told him that would be fine.  He looked at our limits, and decided to double them.  Then he added car rental on.  My thought was that everything he was doing was just going to end up convincing me to go somewhere else…  The quote came in, and it was less than $300 a year more than GEICO.  Except that included the house, whereas GEICO was only on the two cars.

So I called up GEICO to see what they could do.  I told them I got a better rate for twice the coverage, and the quote for the insurance on the house sounded very reasonable, but I wanted to see what they could do.  They informed me that because I’ve been a customer for nearly five years, I would be eligible for “Accident Forgiveness”.  Meaning that if I had a wreck, my insurance wouldn’t go up.

Huh.  wow.   I mean, really?!?  That’s all you can do?  Why would I want to pay about $500 a year MORE money for half the coverage on the off-chance that I file a claim and be protected from my insurance would going up?  Chances are, even if I filed a claim, it wouldn’t jump that high…  And even if it did, I could always go back to the level of coverage I was getting before the change!

So, lesson learned.  Who knows how long I’ve been paying out the nose for insurance, just because I never got them to re-quote me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My posts of late have been, well, nonexistent.  We are in the process of moving from the apartment to the house, and, honestly, my debt reduction and savings have been replaced with getting this little thing, or incurring that expense, etc.

I am hoping, by the middle of next month, to settle down into a routine.  I would like to get back to fighting debt, as well as saving up for the baby.

The $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Credit that was included in the ARRA will help us out by getting some things set pretty quickly after we file our ‘08 taxes, so I would like to get that done by the middle of March as well, and hopefully have our refund in hand by April 15th.

I’ll try to keep the blog updated, and by next month be in a bit more of a groove as far as the updates go.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Some Site Stuff…

I made a couple of changes behind the scenes over the weekend, and I wanted to address the site stuff, so I thought this would be a good time to do that…

First of all, I use Feedburner for my RSS feed, and they have recently been acquired by Google, so my RSS feed had to be updated.  It really shouldn’t cause any problems, but I did have to re-sync the feed when I moved it, so if you noticed a glitch or two in your feed, that’s why.

I’ve had several requests for the code for my debt charts.  Alas, I cannot claim credit.  In fact, I can’t even claim to know the guy (Matthew Harvey over at that provided the code.  Early on, one of my very first readers was Mrs. Accountability over at the Out of Debt Again blog.  At the time, she had a debt chart similar to the one I have now, and she volunteered the code to create one, so thanks to her, I now have the opportunity to share…

In Blogger, create a new “gadget” of HTML/JavaScript, and put the following code in the window:


<!-- Progess bar widget, by Matthew Harvey (matt at -->
<!-- Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License ( -->

<style type="text/css">
  { /* Don't change the following lines. */
    position: relative; border: 1px solid black; }

  { /* Don't change the following lines. */
    position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; height: 100%; }

  { /* Don't change the following lines. */
    text-align: center; position: relative;
    /* Add your customizations after this line. */ }

<!-- Progess bar widget, by Matthew Harvey (matt at -->
<!-- Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License ( -->

<script type="text/javascript">
  function drawProgressBar(color, width, percent) { var pixels = width * (percent / 100);
  document.write('<div style="width: ' + width + 'px" class="smallish-progress-wrapper">');
  document.write('<div style="width: ' + pixels + 'px; background-color: ' + color + ';" class="smallish-progress-bar"></div>');
  document.write('<div style="width: ' + width + 'px" class="smallish-progress-text">' + percent + '%</div>');
  document.write('</div>'); }

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Overall Debt</span>

<br/>Current Balance: $38,695<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 50.4);</script>

$77,962 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp $0



<span style="font-weight:bold;">Credit Cards</span>

<br/>Current Balance: $1,899<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 93.6);</script>

$29,767 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp $0



<span style="font-weight:bold;">Student Loans</span>

<br/>Current Balance: $13,905<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 7.3);</script>

$15,120 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp $0



<span style="font-weight:bold;">Ford Ranger</span>

<br/>Current Balance: $7,931<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 21.3);</script>

$10,076 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp $0



<span style="font-weight:bold;">Ford Fusion</span>

<br/>Current Balance: $14,960<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 35.3);</script>

$23,120 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp $0</p></p></p></p></p></p></p></p>



Of course, if you have a different number of debts, you can adjust accordingly.

The parts you can change are contained in the script that draws the progress bar… 

<script type="text/javascript">drawProgressBar('#223344', 200, 35.3);</script>

#223344 is the color code, 200 is the pixel width, and 35.3 is the percent to the goal.

If you are counting up, then you just replace the big number with 0, and put your goal at the end.

The formula for calculating percentage is easy…  your overall progress divided by the starting point of the debt.  If you are using it as a savings goal, then it would be the current balance divided by the goal.

I hope that helps anybody trying to create their own progress bars!