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Here again

May 4th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Well a new month, and fresh start. Lots to get caught up on this month and to straighten out, but with the tax stimulus and some bonus money, I should be able to get caught up on our rental, and we have a new tenant moving in these next few days. So things are slowing starting to look up, I think it will take the rest of this month, and hopefully next month I can straighten out my budget and review my goals to see where else I can improve. Getting out of debt is such a long process, forward and backwards, on it goes.. Well I will just keep plugging away at it.

Another step forward

March 29th, 2008 at 09:57 pm

Well, sorry haven't been posting much here, I have another blog I keep going regularly, but I really like this format and alot of the blogs I read here, so I want to keep this one going. Here's my ramblings, updates, etc:

Debt!
Well we are making progress, I have two cards left to settle, one I'm waiting for a DV letter, if I don't get the validate by 4/8 I will send a 2nd request via certified mail again. So far they haven't responded and if they want me to work with them I want them to validate and proof they own this account. The 2nd card, nothing much, just going to put this one on the back burner until I get the first one settled.

2nd heloc on primary house - well after two calls to two different people, and me offering 3K to bring this account current if they would work with us, still nothing, no call back. Weird, I spoke with the 2nd attorney two weeks ago and he said he would call me back. So I've done my part, I'm going to keep waiting on this one, maybe another 2 weeks and then I'll check in with them again. In the meantime I'm focusing on paying other stuff off.

Here's what I'm working on

$9340 - business CC
$4800 - medical debt
$15000 (est needed in addition to my 5K savings to settle 2 cards)

Thats it for now, should have a good update on the cc in a week or two.

Man oh man, once the business CC and medical debt are done and I can strictly focus on the DS I think I will be almost in heaven.. lol

Progress is being made!

My ramblings

March 19th, 2008 at 09:12 pm

Last weekend we got our rental painted and did the touch ups. We have a few more items to finish up, but we did meet with the management company and now they are working to rent the house. Let's hope they get that done soon! We can't keep these payments up for long, and it really puts a damper on our debt reduction plan by having to pay each month for this house. But we do what we have to.

On another note, I've paid about 3K to my DH's medical bills, we managed to pay off our embroidery machine and now I'm working on snowballing our business CC. As others attest to it sure is easier to get into debt than it is to get out! Sometimes it is very hard for me to really imagine what it will feel like having no consumer debt. We have had it for so long, I don't have any idea how it really feels to be without it. I'm sure the feeling is more than I can imagine, and each day, we are working towards that.

Our tenants are gone!

March 10th, 2008 at 08:28 pm

Well this past weekend we did the walk through with our tenants, and thankfully, everything looks great! Everything was cleaned, scrubbed down, etc. It looks almost like it did when we first rented it out. The only issue was they filled the holes in the walls, so we need to do touch ups, and fix a leaky faucet, and one of the stove's burners, but all in all small repairs we can get done in a day or so. I did call the lady who has a management company, we were playing phone tag last week, but now I've left her two messages and haven't heard back, wonder if she is out of town. They were referred to us by some friends that use them and I think this will be much better for us. We also received the 1st payment of $250 from our previous tenants so looks like we will be getting February's rent after all

Things are looking up!

Renter Woes-Updated

March 3rd, 2008 at 09:05 pm

We went to court this morning, and they gave us an opportunity to work it out with our tenants, at first I didn't want to but our tenants said they would really like to work something out and not have a judgment on their credit file. So the new agreement is they will be out by 3/6. They will pay us a total of $1358 for Feb, this includes the late fee, court costs and the cost to serve them - $250 will be due every Friday starting this Friday 3/7.

They will still owe March's rent but I told them we will do our best to rent this out as quickly as possible, but this will be prorated from the time it's actually rented. Our tenant said she felt she shouldn't have to pay for March, so I said right back to her/him, and you think WE should? You did not provide me ANY time to try and rent this due to this situation. I think she finally got the point.

I explained her deposit would first be used for any damages, the remaining would be applied towards the remaining March rent. We signed the court paperwork and it's been submitted. If they don't keep to that our case is still open and we can go to trial without having to start this process all over again.

So - that's good news at least! I really wanted to get our money back for the Feb payment and it looks like we will!

I guess sometimes tenants do want to make good. Although I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch, first step, see if they are ready for the walk through by Thursday as we agreed.

February totals - so much!

March 2nd, 2008 at 11:11 am

Well thought I would post my numbers for everyone to see. February was the first month I tried to track everything, but in doing this I noticed I missed some categories, so I will be adding them to our tracking for March. I still think I managed to capture about 90% maybe 95% of all our spending. I do have one question though for readers, when tracking your spending do you track spending for items like shipping, items you need for other "business". For example we sell guitars sometimes, well my DH does, he might need to purchase strings, so we buy those, then he sells/ships the guitar and I take only the true "profit" and count this as income. Should I be tracking that as well? And what about our rentals, anything we pay for above and beyond should be tracked? And what about items I'm reimbursed for? Like my cable bill, it was 62.63 but I'm reimbursed for $46 dollars of that? Any suggestions would be welcomed!

I'm still working some of this out, but here's my totals, first number is budget, second is actual spent:

I haven't included all the mortgage payments either, they are on my master budget spreadsheet, but not much I can do about those, they are what they are and included in my master.

Groceries $400/$247
Childcare $200/$200
Pet $30/$16
Cable $62.63/$62.63
Utilities gas $125/$292 - I forgot to pay Jan's so this amount is double what I would have spent.
Electric - $130/$126
Water - $45/$43.20
Cell - $104/$103.27
Dining - $100/$166.90
Auto fuel - $120/$135.16
Auto/insurance - $530.68/$530.68
Timeshare - $60.22/$139.70 - had to pay yearly property taxes this month
Home Repair - $25/$14.20
Life Insurance $58/58
School - $10/20
Medical - $142/58.68
DH misc- $100/119.51
cigs - $100/153.83 - I did buy some lozenges and will work on getting rid of this habit.
Household $50/147.97
entertainment $100/132.77
My misc - $70/67

Some we were over, some under, overall we came pretty close to our budget, the goal for this month is to reduce our total budget by $200 - we should be able to do this. Cutting costs from household, cig's and reducing/staying within our budgets. We'll see! I already started tracking everything again!





Depressed, well alittle

February 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am

So every now and then I do get depressed, shocker I know! But today after reviewing our financial numbers for the 10 millionth time, I just got a little down. We are making progress and we have some good income coming in the next month or so with bonus / taxes but not having a renter and knowing we are going to have to try and re-rent it quickly, and pay another payment on it, is starting to wear on me. I don't think I would be so down, but we are starting to receive medical bills and they total $9000, I've paid some about $1500, but every time I make progress I go backwards again.

The end of last year we made great progress, but then my hubby needed surgery, and then at the beginning of this year, we found out he needed chemo, so all the progress I made was dampen but us adding another 9K to the enormous amount of debt we already owe.

I was reading a friends blog last night and she was feeling the same way, although last night I was fine! And told her sometimes you take one step forward and 5 steps back! not just two, but eventually you will win the race, and I know this to be true as well, but when I see the total amount of our bills each month, and the total we owe, it really is overwhelming at times.

Oh well, I guess I shouldn't look at it anymore today, maybe that will help.

Renter Woes - Continued!

February 25th, 2008 at 02:49 pm

Well it just keeps getting better and better.. lol. We made one final call to our renter and left a message Thursday. On Friday the 22nd we went to the courthouse and filled out all the paperwork to evict them. We paid $60 filing fee's, $4.94 postage to mail two copies and $73 to have them both served. The $ sure adds up. Our court date 3/3. Anyway, I received two calls from our renter on Sunday, I couldn't get them as we were out doing stuff, the 2nd message she left says they will be out of our house by the end of this week. That at least is good news.

So - I call her and leave a message - and she just called me back. Here's a recap:

First she tries to see if we can use the deposit money for the rent, sounds like she wants to avoid going to court and I explained, like I did the last time she asked that we would not do this.

I told her I will be more than happy to do the walk through with them at the end of this week and get the keys back from her. Then I explained that her deposit may have to pay part of March's rent. This of course got her upset, why do I have to pay March's rent if were not living there, it's a month to month, we have an agreement. I said yes and the agreement states you need to give 30 days notice so I have time to rent the house to someone else. You didn't give 30 day notice and originally we were expecting you to stay through March which would allow me to rent the house before your lease was up.

So I basically said we would still go to court on 3/3, I should get the judgment for Feb's rent/late payment and the $60 filing fee, then I need to research CO law to determine if we can use some of her deposit and apply it to March's rent, and I also need to check and see if they have paid the utilities and that they are all current. Whew, this is a long process, hopefully we don't have to do this again, and if we do, at least we will know the process.

Renter Woes

February 21st, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Well still haven't heard from my renter, they haven't paid Feb's rent and I made the payment out of my DS account (which is funds I save up to settle my last two credit cards) So as much as I hate it, I have to try and keep that mortgage current, I have enough to make March's payment as well but unless they pay up my DS account will keep declining. We already submitted last week the demand for payment, and my DH just called and left them a message, saying if we don't hear from them by tomorrow morning, we are going to the court house to get the official notice that we can evict them. Even if we can get them out in the next week, we need a day or so to clean it, and get it in the paper to re-rent it out, which will take some time. So we'll see, the best case scenario is they pay up and stay/pay March's rent and they are out by 3/31 - as I had already given them notice that their lease will not be extended.

Even with that and with a judgment, most likely I will never see the $1150 I paid out this month or the $1150 I'll pay out for March. Which puts me back $2500.

If I could sell the house I would, but at this point I think we could get a tenant who will pay almost the full amount of rent. If we can then I can keep rebuilding my DS account, settle these two cards, work on paying of the medical debt and other business debt and in two years actually be in a position to pay off some of the 2nd on these houses. These could become great assets/investments, but right now, they just aren't. Oh well, were doing what we can. If we can;t get this done, then I may have to list this house and try to work a short sale with the lender. I hope it doesn't come to that, but we only have so much that we can spread around to everything.

I hope it gets better soon though, I really hate stressing about the rental when I thought I was starting to get a good grasp on everything else and making progress.



Spending free fall

February 16th, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Well as much as I watch our spending, sometimes it means watching it fly out the window. So I'm adding it to our spending and my Excel spreadsheet. Since this is the first month of tracking everything, I'm not being to hard on me/us. At least now I can say I know exactly where it's going, and after this month it will give me a better understanding of our spending and how to adjust our budget to make more of what we got. I can already see some trends and thus I need to start thinking about a plan and how to address these next month. Over the next week and I be looking at this and trying to come up with creative solutions and a plan. Something like a plan for each Sun/Wed it's just my hubby and I, and maybe set days for eating out, twice a month, maybe every other Saturday. I think if I have something set in stone and what we can spend on it I will have a much better chance of keeping to a budget and reducing our me/DH/entertainment/misc fund, which from what I can see now a lot of $ is going towards those funds and it should be less and redirected to more important things.

So two weeks left of tracking, then I need to tighten the reins and make more happen, more to saving, more to debt pay down, we need to get moving on this.

How does everyone else plan/budget each month for these items? Do you plan your month ahead or just set a certain amount? If you always have just a certain amount then how do you really know if you can reduce that or use less? What strategies do you utilitze?

My Negative $1200 Budget

February 14th, 2008 at 10:28 am

I've posted this on my other site, but thought it would be interesting to show what I am learning from tracking my daily spending - it has helped me create a more accurate budget and it is also identifying where we need to start cutting the 'fat'!

Since we were able to re-modify our loan, and for the first time, I'm tracking every single dollar I spend (a real eye opener) I thought I would share my budget with everyone. Well, an overview of it anyway. My goal this last year has been to reduce what I can to try and get our budget to equal the regular amount we receive each month. To get this to work with just my regular paychecks and our rental income and I am still working on it. We accumulated so much debt that this still isn't possible yet. So each month we are in the negative unless I receive bonus. Now I usually receive some type of bonuses each month, but this varies, it could be $100 or $5000, I never know. Thus my desire to make our budget work with what I know comes in as a standard paycheck. It will probably take me all this year to finally get there, and possibly another year until we can start living "below" our means. Again referring to just my paychecks and rental income, no other bonus money. Here is my break down so far:

$4742.00 - two paychecks (we do get 2 extra checks each year as I am paid every two weeks - which is not included in this total)
$985 - rental income 1st house
$1225 - rental income 2nd house
$154 - Work reimbursement for internet/cell phone

$7106.00

Monthly budget:
$400 groceries
$200 childcare
$30 pet food
$62.63 Internet/cable
$125 - home gas bill
$130 - Electric
$45 - water bill
$104 - Cell phone
$100 - dining out
$120 - Auto Fuel
$530.68 - Auto payment/insurance
$60.22 - Timeshare
$500 - debt settlement
$400 - embroidery machine
$300 - Business CC
$58.15 - Life Insurance
$10.00 - School supplies
$35 - Prescriptions
$2500 - rental property
$2212 - primary house
$100 - Misc
$200- Matt/Me (personal care, entertainment)
$100-cigs

$8297.00 total
$7106.00 - income

Which leaves - (-1191) per month
(this also doesn't include actual medical bills for my hubby)

So each month we are about 1200 in the hole. What am I doing about it? I'm using my bonus money to get ahead. But also my plan now that I am starting to see where our money is going is this

1 - get a better renter who pays more + $200
2 - quit smoking! (this will be hard but I'm going to try) +100
3 - reduce Matt/Me by $100
4. - reduce Groceries by $50 - so far we have only used $117 of our $400 budget

That would then take us to Negative $750

Next - every time I get bonus money it's going to the embroidery machine and our DS account. I've paid the machine down to $7250 - and I don't have to make another payment until June - so if some months are short I won't pay on this. But any bonus money I do get, some goes to the machine to keep us ahead.

It's not all doom and gloom though, I am realizing that our 'average' for the year on the lower end of the scale from "extra/bonus" money is $1660 per month. Some months 0 and some more than that. So I just have to keep budgeting when we do get extra and keep splitting it up to get out of this mess.

We need to reduce, reduce, and focus all our energy into this.

We will keep at it!

Happy Valentines Day

February 13th, 2008 at 07:37 pm

Well happy VD! Tonight is our VD although it's still the 13th but since we don't have our boys tonight we are celebrating tonight. We went and had dinner, and now I'll have to update our spending for dining, I wasn't going to include this originally since I used a rebate visa card we got for $50 but hubby says that's money we spent months ago and it should be included because it was a reimbursement. So I'll include that tomorrow when I have time to update my daily spending page. We ate way to much! But we are now getting ready to go bowling - it's $1 per game per bowler after 9pm until 11pm, and we are late night owls so hopefully I'll work alittle of the dinner off. I really need to start working out again. But at least we aren't gambling, and were going to do some moving around. To everyone else tomorrow happy VD! Enjoy the day.

Full disclosure

February 10th, 2008 at 07:47 pm

Normally my parents take our boys overnight, every Sun and Wed. They take them to school the next day and pack them lunches, so this means my hubby and I are free both nights with no kids. This has been going on for ages, since they were born, and sometimes they even stay over there on Saturdays! Thank goodness for my parents, we have had it pretty nice all these years. But the downside to this is what my DH and I usually do for our "date nights". This is the full disclosure part-gets interesting now.. Well we live in Colorado and anyone who lives here or has been to visit has probably heard of our gambling casinos. It's in a town called Blackhawk and these casinos have been a constant downfall of ours. In the past we have gone up there sometimes two times a week! They have poker which is fun and sometimes we can play for hours and leave with our money plus some. But that is not always the case. So our plan together is to stop going up there. This is harder than you think because on average our life's are centered around this house. We work from home, all day, don't eat out much, don't go to the movies much, etc. We are ALWAYS at home! In the past this has been our night out. Well this has to stop so we have implemented a NO BLACKHAWK plan. But we still struggle with it because we get bored. So tonight was our date night and around 6:30 DH was bored and wanted to get out the house, so we went to McDonalds and got an ice cream cone, then went to Borders book store and browsed around, we bought one board game for our boys, it was 50% off so it was $16.29 or so, total for our date night $19.29. So far so good. We at least got out of the house and didn't go gambling. Now to make up for some of those "urges" we did setup a sort of budget for online poker, and that's our entertainment now. But we really need to find another hobby. Something where we get out and move and get out of this house. We're still looking so we will take any suggestions you have. I know our money is better spent getting out of debt and putting it in savings, so thats why I need full disclosure, list every penny I spend here so everyone can see our progress or lack of it and help keep me accountable. I have to remember how good it will feel each month to have no debt.

A toast to:
No more gambling date nights! And to finding something more constructive to do with our time.

Staying focused

February 8th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Well we have been through quite a bit the last 6 months, sometimes stressful but were are still here. Staying focused through all this is quite important. I stay focused by reading other blogs, msn and cnn money pages, and general finance. I do this every day, it's become sort of a hobby, and not always in a good thing, sometimes overwhelming. But all this reading overall keeps me focused, to see debt being reduced and to see how I can build wealth once our debt is gone. So every day I read the stories, I read the info and I try to keep my focus on one thing, pay off this debt. And with all the financial woes we are seeing in the US it's even more incentive to get things in order. So this month my goal is to watch every dollar and track it, all the good and the ugly and determine how we can do better next month. Each day, I need to stay informed, watch what we spend and pay what we can. Stay focused, and as quickly as possible do this so we can build wealth, now that would be fun stuff, building wealth!

Our Total Debt - $909,395

February 5th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I thought since this is my new blog and I'm tracking my spending I would share with everyone my "total" debt. This includes everything we owe. Now in looking at our "real estate" holdings you would think were big time investors. But in actuality we made some bad moves and bought houses we shouldn't, etc. and didn't really watch the CC spending etc. So here we are over 900k in debt. Last May things just got to be to much so decided to try and settle 75K worth of CC debt. 30K of it is settled and done and I need to work on the rest. We also have business debt that I'm working on paying down. All the dirty numbers are listed below for anyone who's interested. What we have going for us is my job seems pretty stable at this time, been with them 9 years and I make a pretty decent income, with bonus type things usually monthly. My goals this year is to get the remaining CC debt settled, pay off business debt and get some savings accumulated. I just wanted to share this as alot of blogs I read show the debt numbers and wanted everyone to know we are in a similar boat, alot of debt and it's time to get this straighten out. If I can get some of this paid off, then my goal would be to get the 2nd mortgages paid off in the next 5 years so the real estate will actually work for us not against us as it is now. So that's my dirty laundry, (btw - this was over 1 million last year so I am making some progress!)

ahhhh - I am having way to much fun now!

Primary house - $290,000
1st rental - $118,500
2nd rental - $198,500
3rd rental - $210,000 (bought for our friends, hopefully they can buy it this year)
Car - $22,395
Credit cards - $54000 (although for debt purposes I am trying to settle these for 20K)
Business CC - $11,000
Embroidery machine - $7850
Medical Bills - $5000 (will be capped at $8500 for this year)

I just saved $1000 sort of...

February 4th, 2008 at 07:02 pm

Well I like to think I saved $1K. I got one of the many medical bills that are starting to show up for my DH. My DH had surgery in December for cancer and as of last week he just started Chemo. He has a type of cancer with a 95% success rate, and he only has to go through chemo for 3 months, so in that aspect we are lucky and we believe everything will be fine once he is done with chemo. So on to the medical bills - his insurance lets me track all the bills submitted and how much they pay to the hospitals/doctors/etc, and what we will have to pay. Well I received one bill today from the hospital and it showed the total due was $1503. So I pull up my spreadsheet which has is 15 different bills listed and totals, and I notice on this one my insurance says we only owe $537 total. Why does my bill show $1503? So I call to try and figure this out and get some lame excuse about they don't have the final numbers from the insurance, etc. Then why did I get a bill? Something about our system will update again and you'll get a revised bill, just throw this one away they tell me. Huh? Why even send it out? They have no answer for me really. BUT... if I was not as organized, tracking every single bill and the amount we actually should have to pay, what if I would have paid this bill? Because looking at this bill it looks like the insurance amount WAS applied and the remaining amount was my balance. So if I paid this do you think they would have said anything later on and gave me a credit? Somehow I don't think so. So I could have just saved us $1000 by checking every bill and making sure we really do owe the money.

Honestly could we make the medical billing/paying/insurance ANY more difficult??

Well - on to my spending today - $36.50 for gas - that was it! Bills will be coming in soon but for today that was it.

Todays spending $0

February 3rd, 2008 at 05:35 pm

A big fat $0!! No spending for me today, nothing frivolous, no eating out, no miscellaneous spending. Instead I had a fun filled Sunday cleaning out my office for 2008. Once a year all the old catalogs and accumulated junk must go! So did that, shredded all financial doc's, dusted every corner, table and item in my office and vacuumed. It looks great, and I should be more productive tomorrow. lol, well at least I'll be working in a clean office. (I work from home and my office is for both my full time day job as well as our embroidery business - so always doing double duty) I also did a ton of laundry. Our kids our out at my parents for the day/night and usually when its just me and DH we go out and spend $, dinner or a movie, but we do want to get our finances on track and keep them there, so we are slowly working toward this and just stayed in tonight. So a big fat 0 for me today and I loved it!

And the spending begins..

February 2nd, 2008 at 03:21 pm

Well today I spent $42. Got my nails and my eyebrows waxed and this includes tip. Now before everyone beats me down, saying if I saved this each month or put it towards debt, etc, I know that. But during this journey I have decided not to give up everything, I think I have a much better shot at making progress if I have a few "luxuries". So this is one thing I am not giving up. Now for the last two weeks we haven't eaten out once, no ordering in pizza, no dining out, no fast food. So cut back in some things and have a few things I do enjoy.

Monthly spending so far $42

My blog

February 1st, 2008 at 08:56 pm

Well, since I have another blog that details my process through debt settlement, dealing with creditors and getting my house on track, I've decided to use this blog to focus on our daily spending, bad habits we have to overcome and my debt and savings goals. By tracking and really sharing all this information, I hope to get on track, follow all the money and hopefully really start creating wealth instead of always spending it frivolously. Now of course there are a few things I'm not planning on giving up, but my goal to curtail quite a bit and really get the dirty "laundry" out! LOL. So for day one - Feb 1, 2008 - it was a no spend day! Now if I can figure out how to create other pages I'll post my goals and debt for everyone.