Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday Update: 1 Day Late Edition

This past week, I found out that I was in charge of doing the campaign video for our church’s new building – which should be exciting to do, but is going to require a lot of work – especially since the video will be played the weekend after Easter.  So all intents on getting an update done over here yesterday failed.  I spent most of the evening working on pictures, listening to the theme song, and storyboarding.

But, progress was still made this week.  We haven’t gotten our taxes done yet (they are ready, just not submitted yet), but we did get our first house payment mailed off.  It will be very interesting to see how the next few months play out as we settle into the groove, but I think when all is said and done, we’ll be in a much better position at the end of the year than we were last year.

Once our finances settle down from the move, I’m going to be able to update this blog more frequently, and with better content (hopefully).  In the meantime, be sure and follow me on Twitter (see the link over there <---), and stay tuned for further updates!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Due Dates? What are those?

My filing system has been a disorganized disaster ever since we’ve moved, and I am still finding bills that are a month (or even more) late.  Some of these get assessed with a $5.00 late fee and then get listed as a “previous balance” on the next bill.  If I do this with only one bill per month, I’m still paying $60 a year for the privilege of only paying once every other month.  It can really start to stack up if we start talking about more than one bill, and especially so if we get to the bill that charges a percentage or higher late fee.

Some bills just got lost in the transition from one address to another, so it probably won’t be as big a deal from now on, but it is still frustrating that between last month and this month, I’ve spent about $20 on late fees  (No credit cards or consumer debt, because it is all on auto-pay).

To rectify this situation, I’ve decided that, no matter when the bill is due, I’m going to go ahead and pay it.  Right then, right there.  There is usually enough fluff in my checking account to handle a bill, even if it comes a few days earlier than it should, and I’m working on getting my short-term emergency fund back up to the place it needs to be so that I can handle paying even a large bill a week or two earlier than normal.

How do you handle bill payments?  Do you wait until the last minute?  Or do you pay the bill when it comes in?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Update Thursday: Too Long Gone Edition

I really need to get back on track with churning out the Thursday updates, if only to help spur me on to further accomplishments.  It has been pretty depressing to see our money go out the door to things other than debt reduction, especially after making such progress in the final months of 2008.

I do need to remember that I was working two jobs vs. the one I am working now.  Add to that the fact that we now are in a house vs. an apartment, and suddenly I begin to see clearly why we aren’t making any progress.  Then throw on top of that the fact that we are having to make purchases and sock away money for the pregnancy, and I begin to be surprised that we aren’t any further in the hole than we currently are.

The filing of the income taxes will help significantly, as we should be able to finish paying for the pregnancy, pay off the credit card, purchase the needed furniture, and still have enough left over to re-fund the short-term emergency fund, and set a little bit aside for the big emergency fund.

I’m ready to get that taken care of, if only to get back on top of our budget and really focus on some of these expenses.  Part of my solution was to run through our budget and begin to trim any unnecessary fat out of it.  I have been putting $3/week towards my XM Radio subscription.  But they are about to go up on prices and their books don’t look real promising anyway, so I cut it off.  True, it makes less than $200/year difference in our finances, but it is something that we can live without, so we are going to.  My goal this week is to go through the budget and begin to realistically attack the fat in it and free up some more money.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Catching Up

Many things have happened since my last “real” blog entry.  I wanted to get some things to settle down and be solid before I really posted anything.

The most significant thing that happened was that we bought a house!  We are very excited about this, but it comes with some trepidation as well.  The monthly payment is well within our means of handling, but there is a lot to a house that isn’t always obvious at the beginning.  The little expenses haven’t really let up since we got in the house, and by now, most of my “extra” savings has evaporated.  This will be a real test of my commitment to only buying things as we can afford them – I put over $1,000 on the credit card this past month, just in miscellaneous expenses (solar screens, blinds, water hoses, sprinklers, curtains, tools, etc., etc., etc.).  Fortunately, I had enough money set aside that none of this will stay on the credit card, but it does squeeze down the amount of money that I had set aside for the pregnancy.

We will get there, but the discipline needs to start now so that we don’t fall back on the credit cards as a means to survive.

I’m hoping to have enough time to sit down in the next few weeks, and get a budget filled out that will be fairly accurate.  As a result of all these expenses and not knowing exactly what our electric, gas, water, and garbage bills will look like, we’ve decided to hold off on getting internet access at the house.  This has been particularly hard on my wife, since many of her friends are spread all over the globe, and online is how she keeps up with them.  On the other hand, it has given us some real opportunities to get things done, rather than spending the time online.

Of course, through the middle of all this, President Obama signed the ARRA into law, meaning that we will qualify for the $8,000 credit as first time homebuyers.  I have mixed feelings about this, because I’m against the philosophy of allowing the government to finance my life, but, at the same time, the money could come in very useful.

We passed the halfway mark for the pregnancy, which serves as a continual reminder that baby expenses are not far off, both birth and ensuing expenses.  In this economy, I am sorely tempted to go back to work with a part-time evening & weekend job to help pay for all of this.

Fortunately, my wife is still working part-time every week, which should allow us to get caught up on everything within the month.

Over the course of the next few days, I’m going to add the mortgage to my debt picture, but I think I’m going to leave it out of my “Overall Debt” figuring, since, although my goal is to be completely out of debt eventually, the current goals are the elimination of the credit cards, student loans, and vehicles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Site Improvements

Over the past several days, I’ve set up a Twitter account (GoliathDebt), and a TwitterFeed account, which means that all of my blog posts should be updated on my twitter.

I attempted to post my last 5 updates on Twitter over on the sidebar, but I haven’t got that part working yet.

I am also considering moving (at least partly) from written blog to a podcast.  As my subscribers, what do you think?