Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Labor day - I'm avoiding labor.

So Although I have to work a wee bit on Monday, I plan to chill for the next 48 hours.

I did happen to get my new 0% card unfortunately, the credit line is only $1000.

Fortunately, it appears I'll be able to put $400 towards my collection bill - taking the total down to $1219.

I look forward to destroying my debt.

Going to hang out with the girlfriend tomorrow.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Will exercise for money' & rental car issue resolved

I will be entering a 'fitness' challenge this weekend. It is a 3 month challenge that has cash prizes of $5K, $3K & $1K for whoever looses the most - gains the most, gets toned-the most- etc. Since becoming focused on paying off the debt, my physical fitness has taken a serious hit - i.e., cheap food is not necessarily good food for you. My ability to lift weight has also suffered significantly. When I bend over I notice my once , toned, 'six-pack' is gone and has been replaced with a thin (for now) layer of flab. I don't want to add 'man-boobs' to the list. Plus, it will be fun to work out and know that I will be putting an extra $5k in my pocket next year sometime for looking good and being healthy.

In Other news, , earlier this week I spoke to the rental car company that was planning on charging me $200 to my credit card after I paid $200 in cash already. Luckily the matter was quickly resolved when they informed me that their credits generally take 5-7 days longer to process than charges (figures). So today I called my credit card company to check on the balance of my card. It stands at a whopping $25 (the cost of my credit report) and the minimum balance due is at $20. Good stuff.

Quote of the week:#4

"I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation."

-Mike Todd

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My *new* plan for becoming debt free in the next 3 months.

Seeing as I have been thrust back into the realm of 20-something debtors,I have decided it's time to make a couple changes in order to return to the less-stress realm of debt-free 20-somethings.

The following are a couple steps that will hopefully work out sooner than later:

  1. Use $200 of 'extra' spending money and immediately apply to Collection as a sign of good faith.
  2. Use new bank 0%- for 12 mos-card to pay off remaining $1400 so it is not showing as a 'negative' entry on my credit
  3. Reduce 401K contribution to 1% for the next several months - from the 3% it is currently at. This will free up $50-100 extra that I can devote directly to the new cards balance
  4. Put all extra discretionary money towards debt - this would be give or take $500-700 a month depending how it's spent
  5. Call medical center to make sure there are no lingering bills - that they don't want to call me about but, do want to submit to collections and damage my credit report with.
  6. Take a deep breath, then start searching for an engagement ring and Christmas gifts at the same time.
At some point I might have to find a part time gig as well but, I think I'd rather do something more freelance than retail. Submitting my book to publishers and/or working on art for my friend's children's book comes to mind.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Permission to Propose and the 'Dowery' reminder...

So a few hours after I got off the plane from the 'wild west' last week, I picked up my car and went over to my girlfriend's adopted parent's house.

To update those not familiar:

My girlfriend is an immigrant from a country out west of Hawaii & East of England. For the past 10 years she has lived with friends of her real parents who are American and who she calls MOM & DAD - I call them her adopted parents. I've been in contact with her real father via e-mail, have already asked him for her hand and he said yes and soon after mentioned the fact that his culture believes in 'bride price' or a dowry...

So I went over to her adopted parent's house in order to ask them for permission to marry their adopted daughter as well. After a nice conversation they said they would give their blessing.

They also mentioned that they have told & will continue to tell my girlfriend's real parents that 'bride price' is not something that's realistic here in the U.S.

However, toward the end of the conversation they did sort of hint at the fact that marrying without a 'bride price' in there culture is similar to "shackin' up" or having kids out of wedlock - while still living together in U.S. culture...say 30 yrs ago, seeing as it's pretty much an accepted fact today. Vow's apparently mean nothing to them it's all about the dollar bills.

This bugs me quite a bit to say the least- the whole idea of purchasing my bride completely cheapens it for me. Does that mean she becomes my slave if I pay the bride price?

You can see how a family that has struggled for generations to overcome the implications of slavery (like mine) and a family that has sort of had some slave-like ideas ingrained into their culture (like hers) could eventually come at odds.

Just in case you're wondering a conservative guess on a 'bride price' amount is somewhere in the range of $10,000-$20,000 - something I have no intention of paying anytime soon.

Article/News bit of the week: Panic on Wall street

I found this article yesterday on The aritcle is entitled - Panic on Wall Street: A brief history of fear.

It talks in detail about prior stock market messes & panics.

One interesting excerpt of this article is:

"Before it became known as the Great Crash, it was, for a few days, the Panic of 1929. Weeks of volatility accelerated into a free fall on Black Thursday. Once again a rescue effort was organized by private bankers at the corner, who made conspicuous buys of blue-chip stocks, but its effects were short lived."

Hopefully, America is only headed towards a short recession and not a prolonged depression. Although, the more I read the more Likely a depression seems possible.

I personally nominate Warren Buffett & Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve Co-Chairmen. Not that Bernanke doesn't know what he's doing but, I think Buffett & Greenspan can definitely keep the markets from getting 'nervous'.

Monday, August 27, 2007

47 business magazines for $20? I'm in.

So, last week I spent $20 for two subscriptions to business magazines - My current favorite.

I paid $10 for 1 year, 25 issues of Fortune.

I also paid $10 for 2 years, 22 issues of Business 2.0.

Hopefully it was a good investment - I think it will be.

Both are affiliated with the financial website I probably visit the most. I was really interested in a Business 2.0 article on new businesses overseas in the latest issue.

I held off on buying the Fortune article about the world's *new* richest man. Seeing as I have already read it online.

It can become tiresome reading everything online sometimes it's nice to sit back on the couch and flip pages, rather than pointing and clicking...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My name is Reggie, and I have a Tithing Problem (Karma's a b-)

I have been grappling for the last couple of days on why - in a Karmic sense - I had this unknown collection that just suddenly showed up on my credit report with no fore-warning.

After thinking about it a little bit I came to the realization that maybe God or some higher force is getting back at me for being overly stingy with my money and not tithing hardly anything. I've never really thought too highly of tithing, I mean God doesn't need the money - but after thinking about it the place where I worship does.

So today, I decided to actually put some effort towards tithing - as opposed to the usual $1-5 I've 'given' during my time in debt I instead gave 10% of my weekly income. It did make me feel a little bit better and quite honestly I think that's the most I've ever dropped at services period.

Hopefully, this is actually the cosmic mistake I made after becoming 'debt-free' (or so I thought) - I still contributed little to nothing to religious services saving the extra money for my own pleasure and mainly on junk food. I'm trying to change my ways and maybe the Man* Upstairs will show me a little slack in the financial catastrophe category for a couple months if not longer.
[crossing fingers now]

*who knows it could be a Woman

Financial goals for the week of 8/27/07, and results for the past 2 weeks

My financial goals for the week of 8/13/07 were:

  1. To budget money for west-coast vacation, approx $600 available - SUCCESS
  2. Save some of the vacation money, approx. $200, and put towards clothes shopping when I return - SUCCESS
  3. Add full coverage to auto insurance while on trip ( to avoid paying rental companies insurance) - SUCCESS
  4. Have frugal fun while on vacation - SUCCESS - I did have fun.

So it appears I was able to achieve all of my financial goals directly prior to my vacation. While on vacation though, I got a little nervous and lowered my expectations for week of 8/20/07:

"Goal for this week - not to break $150 + left in discretionary spending money until I've returned to Ohio." - SUCCESS

Fortunately I was able to obtain this goal as well as I had $201 on hand when I landed in Northeast, Ohio.

For this week I have quite a few new goals seeing as I am once again, no longer debt-free due to a $1600 medical bill that went to collections that I was never contacted about. I only found it after pulling my credit - expecting a great credit score.

I'll try my best not to whine about that too much but here are some goals for the next week:

  1. Call rental car place and find out why a $200 credit hasn't been placed on my credit card as I reimbursed them in cash once returning their rental car at the end of my vacation.
  2. Send payment of $200 to medical bill collector
  3. See if it's possible to get a new-new cell phone as my 2-day old cell does not have speaker phone. Send in cell phone rebate for $50 either way. (lost my cell phone on Friday)
  4. Make plan for paying off medical bill in the next 3 months (2 months if possible)
  5. Continue looking for an inexpensive-yet-dazzling engagement ring for my girlfriend (I've shopped around a little already and seriously thought about going further into debt for a literal steal on a healthy sized rock through my 2nd job that I thought someone was holding for me. Luckily, that associate apparently already sold the ring to someone else - so I don't have to worry about the irrational demon on my shoulder whispering 'charge it, charge it Reggie!")
Hopefully, the coming week will bring with it at least a few financial blessings. The end of this past week has not exactly helped me financially.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blog-of-the-week: for the weeks 8/13 & 8/20

This is a little late due to a much deserved vacation but, here it goes:

The blog of the week for the week of 8/13 would have to go to Mapgirl for her blog "Caveat Lector" which explains in detail why she doesn't really give specific advice to readers on finance. Honestly, unless we specifically state we are finance professionals with a financial planning certificate you should take any advice with a grain of salt. Honestly, even then, do you really want to take free advice from a complete stranger about what to do with your nest egg? I don't & won't - thank you very much. Read up on your own situation and/or contact a professional! (Honorable mention to Basil at Bizarro World for his post on how he is looking more like a Hobo as he pursues debt-freedom - I can definitely relate)

The blog of the week for this past week of 8/20 would go to Money, Matter and More musings - it turns out scientists from OSU (Ohio Love!) have determined that you don't have to be smart to be rich. Well that's a little bit of a relief! So don't ever say you're 'too stupid' to be rich or wealthy - you could be a PhD and broke due to student loans! I actually might know one or three people who are in a situation similar to that now.

Bottom line, you don't need to be a rocket scientist or a member of Mensa to be wealthy. Look at Paris Hilton...OK bad example; look at Dave Thomas.

from bad to worse...

So I got my credit card bill for the 'temporary charge' on my credit card for the rental car I used on vacation.

My bill was issued the day before I returned so naturally, the $200 charge was still on there. I paid for the $200 in rental in cash when I returned the rental car the next day. I did get a printed out receipt.

So I called my credit card company just a few minutes ago to confirm that they had received a credit from the rental place because I paid in cash and all is right in the world.

Unfortunately, the credit card CSR told me nothing of the sort, instead she informed me that there was still a $200 balance, my minimum payment is $20 and she also offered me their credit monitoring service for an additional charge to my credit card. I politely declined the credit monitoring as I already have it, thanks to the state of Ohio.

Rather than getting all huffy with the credit card company - who for once, had nothing to do with it. I hung up and called the rental car place.

The representative on the phone informed me that she wasn't aware that her company ever accepted cash - even when returning the rental!

the billing "customer service" department does not have weekend hours and will not be available until Monday, 8am, CST. She did ask though "out of her own curiosity" If I had received a 'written receipt' or a 'electronic/printed receipt' I quickly explained that I had a printed receipt that showed a '$0' charged to my credit card and '$200' with the marker 'CS' next to it which the rental rep I left the car with explained stood for 'cash'

All I can say Is I will swiftly leave my Buddha-mindset and adopt a more Angry-black-male- mindset if this issue is not fixed within the week. It's bad enough I have a collection that no one bothered to tell me about - I definitely don't need a wild-west rental rep pocketing my $200 in cash and then charging my credit card too! To quote Norbit, 'hell-to-the no!'

Hopefully next week will be a better week all-around cause I'm quickly going from "zero-debt" to "average-American debt" and me no likey.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Contest: Two words rap/rhyme/freestyle

Inspired by one of my friends who posted this on her blog just for fun, I've decided to do a 'two words' rhyme contest a la Kanye West & Mos Def. If you haven't ever heard the song - here's the video:

How it works: Just post a rhyme that is no more than two words per line in the comment's section of this post.

Prize: bragging rights, my eternal gratitude, a deep longing admiration and pretty much anything else I can give that has no monetary value whatsoever...In case I hadn't mentioned it, I'm back to broke again... I'll try and give 1st , 2nd & 3rd prize depending on the response.

Deadline: Friday, September 28th at around 10:00 PM EST +/- , that's right you have a little over a month to contribute.

Here's an example:

Two Words,

Debt Free

Not me

Thought so

turns out

bill collectors

hate me

OK - I know that was lame, so I know you can do a ton better so post whatever you like as long as it's not too offensive - extra points for finance related frustration!

24 hours and $1700 poorer...

So, as I was just beginning to enjoy my debt free status - I had that status quickly ripped from me when I pulled my credit late last night.

By pulling my credit it revealed that I had a medical bill collection on my credit from December 2006 which wasn't reported to my credit until February 2007 - 1 month after I checked my credit!

I called the collection agency today and asked if they had ever sent me a bill. They said "yes, back in December"

I asked them where they sent it to and confirmed my address but, I know I haven't received ANYTHING from them at all.

I asked if they ever called, "yes we called once in March" I never recall getting ANY call, as I know I would have called them back immediately.

I almost wanted to ask "Are you really in the collection business? you called once in March?"

With this new setback, I think I'll focus on getting engaged and put this bill on the back burner. So many thoughts, so little time.

I've already got another 0% card in the works which is loosely related to me loosing my cell phone(this is a whole 'nother story altogether). I might do the unthinkable, I might, buy a ring using a credit card and also put the collection on the credit card... if it's 0% and I can get a deal - a great deal actually with the ring, it might all work out for the best. I think I'll run and check on that option right now actually.

Anyone have any opinions?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

DANG it all ! cursed credit report surprises!

So I was messing around online and went to to try and get a peak at my free annual credit report. So I entered a little information and got a basic credit report and saw instead of '1' negative entry - which, has been paid for some time - I found '2' negative entries!

After investigating it further it turns out an old, $1600+ medical bill was reported right after I pulled my credit the last time, back in January of this year.

What annoys me is that the medical bill holder has not made any effort to contact me about the bill and the last time I spoke to them(over a year ago) they explained that I had settled my account with them.

My credit scores are now 'average' but, not 'good'.

Experian = 688

Equifax = 688

TransUnion =712

collection accounts always seem to seriously effect credit scores. I'm so frustrated right now, here I was, ready to start shopping for a ring for my girlfriend. As a mater of fact, I just asked her adopted parents yesterday if it would be OK to marry her and they both said 'yes'.

What really worries me is if/when I get in contact with my medical bill holder if they'll end up saying they have other bills that they want me to pay but, have decided not to contact me for a year about.

Good thing I'm gonna start hitting the gym soon. I'll need the stress relief.

Qoute of the week #3

"Don't spend all of your time worrying about the weather, spend some of your time and LIVE your LIFE"

- posted by a Mickey-D's employee on a dry-erase board earlier today in Northeast Ohio[more about that later]

Pics & Point of View from the west...

So yesterday evening I returned back to Ohio. And I'm glad to be back.

I did have fun out in the 'wild west' but it was so Gooood-La'wd-HOT that you could barely stand to stay outside for more then a couple minutes. We got a convertible rental car which at first, my girlfriend was really excited about and quickly volunteered to drive, then... we got out of the shade.

The 110-degree weather quickly had us putting the top up.

Other than the weather though, it was a great experience. I got to meet one of my girlfriend's good friends and her family. Since they are all from my girlfriend's home country - they happen to have slightly different ways of doing things - much more laid back.

As far as staying within my budget I made it! I didn't think I was going to make after the first two days, we went out and spent about $75-100 each day (going $25-50 above my budget) but once we switched from the hotel to a friend's house, our daily expenses went down significantly.

In the end I ended up coming back with $201 to spare.

Unfortunately, I spent about $50 of that on food & magazines while waiting stand-by in the airport on a lay-over. By the way, I wasn't really familiar with the whole 'stand-by' process before this trip and now that I understand it:

- you pay a lower price for the possibility of getting a seat on the plane.

I've decided I'd much rather pay the higher place and KNOW that I have a spot on the plane rather than assuming there MIGHT be a place on the plane only to learn I have to wait another 2 hours for a flight - or longer.

Overall it was a great trip, I got to see the grand Canyon and forgot, for a moment, about the stress at work.

Here are some pics:

Mountain-view from town:

to the left, you'll see the, in-room credit card swiper for those who want to order movies. Needless to say I did not use.

Middle of the Grand Canyon:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm backfrom vacation. and the budget worked this time

I'm a little jet-lagged and also convinced that I will not fly 'stand-by' anytime soon.

I ended up saving about $201 up until the time I reached Atlanta for my lay-over. I was so happy, I saved so much, I promptly spent about $50 on food and magazines up to right now - kind of counter-intuitive.

Once again, I'm a little jet lagged and I'm actually using a relative's computer (haven't made it home yet) So I'll try and give a more detailed update tomorrow. I accomplished most of my goals for this past week - looking forward to going clothes shopping tomorrow.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Out west, spending money like

it is going out of style.

Brief update, I did make it out to the wild, wild west for vacation. I'm having fun but, sense I have almost all track of $ exiting my wallet I feel I am definitely spending too much.

We went out last night, and are about to again tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow, Tuesday & Wednesday will be easier on the pocket books.

Goal for this week - not to break $150 + left in discretionary spending money until I've returned to Ohio.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Debt-Free Vacation - at last!

So when, I get off work tomorrow I will be doing a number of things but, most importantly I will be preparing to fly far away from Ohio.

I have a red-eye flight on Friday to someplace really hot. it will be my first debt-free vacation since College. I hope to stay within my budget of $600 max, I told my girlfriend $50 a day (I'll be there 6 days, she'll be there slightly longer) . The only thing holding us back is there is a slight issue with our flight that appears to be all but resolved.

If I post late tomorrow night, then I didn't make it.

Hopefully that's not the case and I'll plan to re-post around Wednesday/Thursday of next week - again depending on flights.

Hopefully I'll be able to relax for a bit...might see some wonderful western landmarks too- I'll try and take pictures.

Why I didn't use Credit Counseling...

to get out of debt.

About a year and a couple months ago, I made the decision that I was going to get out of debt. The only thing was, I didn't know quite how to do it. I knew there was a Credit Counseling office a few blocks away so, on a day off, I went in.

I met with a gentleman who had the title 'Financial Counselor' listed on his business card. We went into his office, and for the first time, I told someone about all of my debt. I had explained to my mother some of my debt, but didn't want to overwhelm her with all of it.

When we were done though, I decided I needed to 'think about it' before signing up. Ultimately, I didn't choose to get out of debt through credit counseling, and here's a couple reasons why:
  1. I didn't like being charged extra - When I went into the credit counseling office, I initially thought 'hey, this is great' that is until the F.C. brought up the $30 month fee for using the service along with a '$50 1-time set up fee" - that's right they wanted to charge me $80 from the word 'go' to get out of debt. I thought I could do better. I did and saved about $500 in the process...
  2. I was too impatient to get the debt paid off - After doing all the calculations, the financial counselor found my debt to be $18,830.64 at the moment I stepped into his office. When one calculated the $560 monthly debt payment he suggested, I would be debt free by 'August 21, 2009' after only 40 monthly payments.
  3. I didn't want my credit cards canceled, just paid off - I knew from a little research beforehand that by canceling my credit cards I would not exactly help my credit score. SO when the F.C. suggested that by using their system they would effectively 'freeze' my credit and only pay on the remaining balance I became more concerned. Also, while in this freeze mode, the best interest rate he could promise me was around 11-13% - as opposed to 0% which I was shooting for.
  4. I figured I could do it myself - Ultimately, I just felt like something was slightly up when I was going through the budgeting process with the F.C. and he kept assuming my budget for different monthly things should be pushed upward because 'most people' have a budget of '$XYZ'. For example, as I look at year and a half-old packet, he had a category for 'work lunches' & a category for 'grocery expenses' that totaled $450 a month! Currently, I spend about $80-$150 monthly on both categories combined. But I guess I'm not 'most people'.
Given these as well as other reasons I just figured I wanted to get out of debt faster, pay less and have the satisfaction of knowing I had control of my life. I think I accomplished all of these goals.

Credit counseling is a great resource though, for those who just can't trust themselves with credit cards. One especially beneficial thing I did take out of the credit counseling experience was the importance of budgeting - The Financial Counselor did make out a very itemized budget of everything I was spending each month. This woke me up quite a bit and showed me where the 'leaks' in my budget were and what I could afford to cut in order to tackle the debt.

One thing's for sure, paying off my debt in just over a year felt a whole lot better than waiting three years & three months to get out of debt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Article/News bit of the week: new career time

Again, I've been a little bit busy but, after sifting through a couple online articles, I'd say this article
found on yahoo's finance site is the best.

It's an article entitled "The Right Career Is Yours for the Taking"

Penelope Trunk gives 5 tips for finding the best job for you. The 'tip' that I can learn the most from would have to be:

4. Start caring about how you present yourself.

Luckily, I will be able to do this without going broke very shortly. I'm started to get excited for my impending shopping spree.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin,

appears he lived a fairly wealthy life. I'd love to get out to California someday and maybe recreate his success.

I checked out the following article on :

I also watched Access Hollywood, (sigh) for more than 1 minute, for quite possibly the first and maybe the last time in my life. Mainly because they were showing bits of interviews they did with Merv over the years.

He seems to have lived a good life - he built a TV empire after starting out as a singer, then he moved into real estate. a Millionaire many times over...and he got to live in California for most of his life. I think one would be hard-pressed to improve upon that life...

Compund Interest is amazing....part 2: $6286 later

So I finished going through my old files and I haven't put it through a spreadsheet yet to make sure my figures are correct but, it looks like that since 1999 - when I first got into debt. I have paid credit card companies nearly

$6,286 in interest alone!

I think I might be off a couple dollars or so because I rounded up for $0.50 and up, and rounded down for $0.49 and below but, still that's kind of impressive. I also am missing a few bills from 1999-2003 so it's likely that the total interest I've paid over the years is closer to $7,000!

If I had held off on these impulse buys I would probably have a pretty nice savings right now.

What I think is most odd though is the fact that I owed/paid the most interest after I moved back from Chicago, I would've thought it would have been the other way around.

I moved back to Ohio at the end of 2003 and according to what records I have, I paid $801 in interest alone that year.

In 2005, when I was well aware of the fact that I had a debt problem but, hadn't yet made up my mind how I was going to get out - I paid $1,579 in interest alone. I guess it didn't help that shortly after moving back all of my credit card companies decided to increase my interest rates.

I will try and upload interest-only debt to spreadsheet if I have time later this week. I'm glad I'm on the 'good side' of compound interest now instead of the bad side. 'Cause as it turns out, the bad side is expensive...

Financial Goals for the week of 8/13/07, last weeks results

results from last week:

last week my solitary financial goal was to:

  1. Stop spending until next paycheck!
End result: FAILURE

There a multiple reasons for this week's failure. I had an unexpected 1st-job wedding shower that I was asked to contribute to at the last moment. I went out with co-workers on Thursday for lunch (instead of packing) which set me back about $6. I also decided to continue to celebrate being debt-free by going out and having a few drinks with a friend yesterday.

Altogether, I spent about $37. $27 of which I wasn't planning on spending. This effectively puts me about ($27) in the hole as far as what I've earned the past 2 weeks and what I've spent.

This week's (8/13/07) financial goals:

  1. To budget money for west-coast vacation, approx $600 available
  2. Save some of the vacation money, approx. $200, and put towards clothes shopping when I return
  3. Add full coverage to auto insurance while on trip ( to avoid paying rental companies insurance)
  4. Have frugal fun while on vacation
I'm not trying to set the bar too high this week, the main thing is I don't want to spend more than $600 while on my trip out west - I'll be leaving 8/17/07. I already have $160 set aside for a rental car. I'm trying to maintain a budget of $50 a day for me and my girlfriend as far as food & entertainment. Ideally this would leave me with $300 when I return on 8/22/07. Since I'm counting on unexpected expenses I'll give myself $100 in wiggle room for extra money, $300 in wiggle room for absolute maximum budget.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Blog of the week: for 8/6/07

This week I've been a little busy so I didn't get a chance to read as many blogs as I'd like but, of those I did, I'd have to say Debt Hater's blog "Wheeling and Dealing, I hope" Has to be the one I can identify the most with.

I definitely would love to be able to make ends meet one day without relying on a 'boss' or several bosses to tell me what to do.

I think that's part of the reason I've had so many jobs over the past several years is largely because I have little to no respect for authority. I'm not sure If it's just a Generation-X gene or if I am just mentally and physically incapable of doing what others tell me to for an extended period of time.

Whatever it may be hopefully 5 years from now I will not be forced to answer to that many people or a very small number of people at least.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Compund interest is amazing...

I'm going through my records here and there and it looks like the first couple years that I decided not to to pay off my balance on my card monthly, it came to about $1,000 in interest and late charges(never over 30 days late though) so far - some of my old bills are missing though.

I think I'll try and add up all the interest paid over the next couple of days to see how much I've paid the credit card companies for being 'cool'.

In other news: My girlfriend just got done whining to me about how she does not have any money. I was not quite the sympathetic ear to lean on though. She was previously living with her adopted parents rent-free and saving probably half of her income, spending the other half.

Now she spends about 70-80% of her income on regular expenses. One of my requirements for getting a certain piece of jewelry for her was for her to move out of the parent's house. She's been on her own for the first time for a few months now. I'm proud of her, but every time she can't buy some 'frill' or get her nails done as often as she wants - she gets angry with me and calls me to let me know her displeasure.

In the end I believe this will be fore her benefit though. She is learning who she is as a person and learning how to budget (she has an envelope system) assuming we get married this will make her dealing with a family/household budget a lot easier. Otherwise I can see her and I having conflict on why we can't just buy whatever she wants - whenever she wants. Hopefully, it'll all work out for the best.

Quote of the week #2

" Learning is to the studious and riches to the careful."

-Poor Richard a.k.a Ben Franklin

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

V is for Victory: I'm DEBT FREE!!!

[I originally tired to POST this Monday 8/6/07 - but it wouldn't post correctly, here's a 2nd try]

I officially determined my debt is paid off yesterday. I'm in kind of a good mood. I thought I'd add some mood music:

If You've never seen V for Vendetta - don't hit play. If you have, in this scene I play 'Evie'-short hair and all - while the credit card companies/God play "V"

This scene, the 'God is in the rain' scene, I think makes a similar analogy of what I've gone through over the last several years. I've been trapped and lived a tortured life pretty much of my own making. At any time I could have given up all hope but a little over a year ago I made a decision that I needed to be free from this debt if it was the last thing I did. Now, as I've accomplished this goal I realize this experience, being in debt, was a necessary life lesson that I won't soon forget. This lesson from the school of hard knocks has also allowed me to appreciate the benefits of saving much more than I did beforehand and hopefully, with some willpower I'll be able to realize the benefits of budgeting as well.

I'd like to quit... What do you mean I can't?

So I presented my 3 weeks resignation to my 2nd job a couple weeks ago and I thought I was being nice.

Yesterday though, my 2nd job boss somewhat begged me to stay until they could get more people
which will most likely be in the 4- week to 5 week range.

The sincerity in her voice made me feel sorry and I agreed but told her I needed less hours. I also told her I probably need this Saturday off so I could get some stuff done at my other job but told her I'd check today and let know for sure later in the week.

When I called today to let 2nd-job boss know I would be calling off this Saturday she immediately asked "all this Saturday?!"

I backed down a little and said "well at least until 4"

She then asked "can you close?!"

Begrudgingly I said "yes... I'll close" Man I wish I could take those words back but, I'm a man of my word - or at least try to be.

However, the more I think about it - knowing I'm already stressed out as it is with the first job - I might just start calling off the day of work until they get the point that I DON'T need a 2nd job no more!

I guess the old saying holds true:

"Give them an inch and they'll take a mile"

I might have to get my 'inches' back. F- being nice.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Article/News bit of the week: Carlos Slim richest man

Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world

an article I found on that talks about the newest, richest person on the planet.

I mentioned this earlier but, I was hesitant to call wikipedia an official 'news source' now with Fortune/cnnmoney validating the claim it seems that Mr. Slim is in fact the richest person on the planet.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Financial Goals for week of 8/6/07

For this coming week, I have one main goal:

  1. Stop spending until next paycheck!
I think I immediately over-reacted to being debt free and almost outspent my budget:

I had about $160 available to spend on what I wanted - and boy did I!

Over the weekend, I went to work at the 2nd job on Friday and Saturday. While there, I ate mall food on both days Friday for about $4, Saturday for about $7.

Also On Friday I bought a publication that I had been meaning to buy to congratulate myself - it set me back about $16. I also gave 3 -weeks notice at my 2nd job - mainly so I can go on a shopping spree once back from vacation.

While at work on Saturday I realized my dress shirt was a little tattered and I bought a new one for about $8 with all the discounts. On Saturday, after work, on the way to visit my girlfriend I bought a $2 energy drink from the gas station. Once I got to my girlfriend's place we went and got something quick to eat at a semi-fast food place that set me back $7. We wanted to go see a movie but, beforehand I told her I wanted to try and look at some shoes at a department store. We did and she picked out a pair that she liked since my current sense of style is 'Sooo 2003'. The shoes were reasonably priced but set me back about $31 & change. Then we went to the movie and I paid $16 & change. My girlfriend wanted to get popcorn there too but the last shred of cheapskate in me wouldn't allow me to spend any money on the popcorn. She bought some for herself instead.

Today(Sunday) we went to breakfast before going to her friend's church. She ordered steak & eggs, orange juice, coffee, I ordered a waffle combo & coffee. When the bill came my 'spend-what-you-want' budget took another $25 hit. Then we went to her friend's church for services offering/tithing knocked the budget down some more. My girlfriend did cook a very tasty steak & rice dinner for me at $0 so that was great!When leaving and heading home today, I filled my half-full tank and that took my budget down by another $16...

I haven't done all of the math yet or balanced my checkbook - which I plan to do tomorrow - but, from my running total I have in my head I think I spent a total of $150 on unplanned/unnecessary purchases in the course of 3 days. On Friday I was hopeful that I could spread out the $160 so that I would have $80 to spend this week and $80 to spend next week.

Honestly, I don't feel too terribly bad about this - seeing as I did need to blow off some financial steam. I just know that if I want to achieve a goal of retiring in my 40's, spending behavior like this will have to stop. I plan to spend the last $10 on food /celebration lunch with co-workers possibly.

In other news, I just checked my [shiny red 0% card] balance and the female, automated voice kindly told me "Your current balance is $0!" OK, maybe I just added the exclamation mark but, if that computer had any idea what I've been through to get to that $0 she would have been exclaiming too! IT'S OFFICIAL I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Blog-of-the-week for 7/30/07

I've read quite a few good blog entries this week but, Tuesday's post over at Zen Habits was probably the best I had the opportunity to read this week.

It goes into the importance of an Emergency Fund if you are trying to get out of debt.

Before I started reading finance books for fun, I had no concept of what an emergency fund was. I would pay down my credit cards little by little and then something with my car would go wrong for $500-$700 or I would get an unexpected medical bill (back when I had no health insurance). Having no savings & no other option I would charge the unexpected expense to my credit card - the cycle of debt would continue to repeat itself. Talk about 1 step forward, two steps back!

Once I had learned about an emergency fund, I made it a priority to set aside a little savings away for these unexpected expenses. For the past year, I've tried to make sure there is at least $1K in the bank at all times - and I don't touch this for anything.

Technically I could have paid off my debt 1-2 months ago if I wasn't unwavering in keeping at least that $1000 in the bank. But it's a necessary evil as no one knows what tomorrow may bring.

My next goal - after I buy a piece of jewelry for my girlfriend - is to build upon the emergency fund until it's at least 3 months worth of expenses.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Apologies ...

I apologize in advance (again) for the next week or so;

I will most likely be enjoying my new lack of indebtedness. It will most likely sound like I am bragging. In essence my posts will likely be pretty boorish for the next week or so.

I also plan to re-claim a 'life' I've lost while pursuing this dream of being debt free. Thus, I may post a little bit less but I will try and keep them at least regular.

Thank all of you for the comments and support - I'm debt free and loving it.

1 day to go...TILL I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK let me be honest,

Technically, I am debt-free at this moment. The check is in the mail.

However, My money-market is in danger of accruing no interest and thus ruining my passive income for the month unless I get paycheck from my 2nd job today and deposit it into my money market along with money from another bank. Seeing as I don't want to lose that interest, I will be doing some running at lunch today.

I did call the credit card company yesterday to see if they had miraculously received my check after 1 day in the mail - they didn't. I expect it to hit there books on Monday. I only wish I could somehow record the automated credit card system saying "Your current balance is...$0" that would be Priceless...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

August 2007 - Financial Goals

After the first month of keeping track of my financial state, I've decided to set some financial & semi-financial goals:

  1. Raise net worth to $8,200 -this is a very small increase but, I will be spending money out West while on vacation later this month. I will also be going on a much deserved 'spending spree' mainly to buy clothes once I get back
  2. Raise passive income to 'double digits' i.e., $10 or more -this is something I want to focus on more in the future. $5-7 in interest a month is not too impressive.
  3. Work with friend on children's book illustration. -I have a friend who wanted me to illustrate a children's book she is working on - only in the planning stage now.
  4. Call at least 5 book agent's about their submission process -This is probably the goal I'll have the least time to face but, I guess before I faced my debt, I thought I had 'no time' to face that either. This will truly be a challenge.
  5. Pay off debt [verify it's paid off] - self explanatory

Quote of the week #1

"Wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed."


borrowed from

2 days to go...till I'm debt FREE!!!

I don't have the that many complaints about today.

For the last 2 days I've been getting up at about 5 or 6 in the morning without the help of my alarm clock.

Two days ago, I woke up at 5 AM and went right to the gym, worked out and got back home about 5 minutes before my alarm went off! I feel like the idea of this debt being gone is relieving at least a 1/3 of the stress in my life.

Today, I worked on a skeleton crew at work while everyone else went to a company picnic. Don't worry, I didn't really want to go + I got free pizza for staying. This was a much better alternative to my packed lunch. And apparently, according to co-workers, I was honored at the picnic by my bosses' bosses' boss - so that was pretty nice to hear.

Oh debt, I wish you well -well not that well.

2 days till I'm debt free - it feels gooooood!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Oh Screw Mark 11:15-17" ...ATM's in church...

So I was checking out and came across this video:

Just in case your browser is like mine and doesn't play video that well.

the gist:

Churches can now buy ATM's, from a pastor who sells them, that don't dispense money but instead take cash ( or credit or debit). Just in case you interested in purchasing a 'money changer' -pun intended - for your church, here's the website:

Finally, Religion & Money brought together again...Priceless*

* by 'Priceless'I really mean 'Tasteless'

3 days to go...till I'm debt Free!

So now the real countdown begins.

I actually sent the check today and now it's a waiting game on when it hits the money market to determine if it go there ok. Based on when I sent my last check to the Shiny red 0% card and when they 'received it'. They should get it by Monday.

Tomorrow I get paid by my 1st job, Friday I get paid by my 2nd job.

Saturday I'll be off the 2nd job and hopefully put in the 2 weeks as well - I might make it 3 weeks so i can take advantage of the 20% discount on clothes cause I will definitely need a shopping spree.

debt-free, it's slowly hitting me I apologize for the self-congratulatory posts - they will most likely continue for a week or so...don't say I didn't warn you.