Downpayment Complete

Got the $1500 of cash together. Closing in less than two weeks.  Really looking forward to not renting anymore.  The ants are coming back and the antiquated air conditioning unit has been running full blast so far this summer spring.

There are  some costs that moving is eliminating or going to reduce.

  1. Car Wash – Going to do this on my own instead of paying 12.50 each time.  I go on average once every 2 weeks.  Savings 25/mo or 300/yr.  Car Wash is pretty cheap stuff and lasts a few months.
  2. Washer / Dryer – Thanks to our friend’s practically brand-new appliance donation to us,  no longer paying money to Appliance Warehouse.  Savings 35/mo or 420/yr.
  3. Gas – We pay 35/mo for our gas-powered hot water heater and fireplace that barely gets used because it’s shut off by the complex half the time during the winter. Savings 35/mo or 420/yr.
  4. Phone – We are getting rid of our landline phone.  We pay for this phone only because it’s linked to the front gate to let people in.  Part of a triple pay package, the phone bill is 38.64 of the 137.21. Savings 463.68 a year.
By the power of the forces combined, saving 133 a month.  I expect our electricity bill to be 25% less too.  Ground level, new HVAC unit and more shaded area.

Planning to optimize my cell phone too if possible.  Paying 1200/yr, not in a contract and I don’t even have the latest iPhone.   AT&T, grandfathered into the unlimited data package, $20/mo for unlimited texting / mobile to mobile, 450 anytime minutes and a couple thousand rollover minutes I guarantee you I will never use. I use data more than anything and ATT constantly sends me messages about going over my usage and warning me that I may be throttled.  If I switch to Sprint I can save about 25/mo with a Corporate Discount.  Holding off there until the 5 comes out since 4S can’t use Sprint’s 4G network.

The last couple days we’ve spent a lot eating out with friends.  Some have expensive taste.  $12 for a drink, $15 for brunch and 20-30 for an entree.  Of course if we stay there a few hours we’re going to drink.  Then we went somewhere else and drank some more.  I enjoy getting out, but the money adds up real fast.  On my own I would probably never partake, at least not at my income level.

Out of my funk now, think I need to get used to doing things on my own that make me happy and doing things with people independent of my significant other. 🙂  Totally off-topic, just watched a Documentary called Fat Head that really shifts my whole approach toward losing weight and getting healthier.  Key points: The low fat, low calorie advice we’ve been given for the last few decades is wrong.  Excess carbs cause body inflammation and rising insulin levels which make it very difficult to lose body fat.  I went hardcore no fat in my diet a year intentionally and was in a complete mental fog and the crankiest I’ve ever been.  Some buttered toast and I was back to normal.

My point here is to tweak what you’re doing if it isn’t working for you.  Don’t just blindly follow anyone’s advice if it doesn’t feel right to you. I’ve done that before and gotten burned more times than I care to admit. :O

Putting On My Big Boy Hat

I made the realization this week that most of the debt I’ve been carrying on my credit card goes back to 2011, all I have done is shifted it around from a high interest credit card to a low interest one.  The decision to eliminate debt has entered my subconscious and is affecting my behavior.

June 29, 2000 a game called Diablo II was released out into the wild and earned record sales for a computer game at the time.  Almost 12 years later on May 15th, the sequel was released to much fanfare.  The game is $65 with tax if I ordered it through the open beta program and the best deals I’ve seen offer it for $59.99otherwise.  Although I’m excited about the game, for as long as I have credit card debt or it’s not on some crazy sale I will pass. Not to mention the time investment.  Between my new job and a pending move, I don’t think it’s smart to start playing a game that will suck up 8-16 hours of my time to complete then just sit on a shelf and collect dust.

Been continuing to look at side gigs on CraigsList.  One that came to mind was installing printers for a company and getting $40 a pop per printer.  I got no response when I sent a friendly e-mail and my resume.  They wanted what sounded like a single person to travel around the state doing installs and reimbursing them for gas and hotel expenses.  Not the first time I’ve gotten ignored / rejected, but I’m no longer taking it personally.

Still a bit short of making my extra $100/week in OT.  I underestimated how much energy it has been taking out of me.  Need to keep it all together and plan ahead more so I’m not running around like a crazy person in the morning.  I am so looking forward to tomorrow, feeling a lil sensation of burnout.  Dinner out with friends, immediately after my shift ends just outside Downtown Dallas.

In other news, I’m still a bit in shock at the number of musical celebrities who have gone before their time . Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Adam Yauch, Luther Vandross.  People I grew up listening to and are almost part of my identity.  Coming of age moments, as a high school student confused about my identity, dealing with parents divorce and bad breakups.

I still don’t know where my peak is in life.  Things are looking up and getting my finances in order is the first step.  I do crave more and still feel like a bit of an outsider in Dallas.  Building friendships of people with similar interests takes effort and I’m not sure how much I have in me right now.  Just venting….

Maybe I’m in a slight funk right now, but this too shall pass. I want to buy some new clothes too, most of what I own is 2 years old and fading.  Down to $500 left for the downpayment.  It’s all happening quicker than I would’ve imagined.

Celebrating Small Wins

Touched on this briefly, but I have been actively thinking of ways to accelerate payoff of my debts.  The most significant one has been underneath my nose, overtime.  If I can get an extra $100 per week net I can stay on track without depending on any of the other contingencies such as a promotion or getting hired at another company down the road.  This will only take a couple hours extra each week and is the easiest way I know to make some extra money without having a significant impact on my livelihood.

Biggest hurdle is getting an ample amount of sleep each night..  Typically get about 6 hours and am super stubborn about going to bed on time. On a side note, I went out with coworkers for a get together and company paid for our food less drinks. Extremely thankful for the generosity.

After calling AT&T I found out I won’t pay any Early Termination Fee, on account of moving to an area where their service isn’t offered.  I didn’t have to fight for it at all.  Much better than the 180 early termination fee I feared. This home is pre-wired for FIOS and I’m quite fine with that.  Almost 50% faster downloads and uploads up to 600% faster.  The monthly charge is about the same even without a telephone since we’re adding Multi-Room DVR (39.99/mo) and HBO (8.50/mo for the first year, then 16.99/mo).  Still on the fence about that for now.  Would be super nice if PS3 had HBOGo support since I could use my Verizon e-mail on my parents acct, but alas it’s Xbox 360-only.

In an unexpected turn of events, my partner is only asking for another 1000 for the down payment instead of the 1500-2000, so 1500 total without getting any money back.  Welcome news to me and will enable 33% of my credit card debt to go away this month.

 

Still curious about the bonus structure at my company.  I know what it’s based on, but the company is making tweaks to it so it’s hard to really determine a calculation.  Over the years, I’ve learned what you bring to the table should determine earnings ability.  Each day I focus on doing the best job I can, focusing less on the money alone.  I want to show my boss and team that I’m a valuable asset and make them want to pay more because I deserve it. Less than 2 months in, I’m doing a pretty good job.  Couple hiccups along the way, but that’s expected.

Apartment woes

That’s the view of our apartment tonight.  For the 1st time since moving in July, we have no electricity.  Two buildings in the complex have power, but ours doesn’t.  Not a happy camper.  Hope the food in our fridge is still good, we went shopping over the weekend.

Lightbulb went out on Friday, only one part of the front gate opens, a big pothole that I used to hit all the time in the lot was finally fixed about two weeks ago. My knees are starting to hurt (tendonitis?) after walking up 40 stairs each time I go in and out.  Writing on the wall..  It could always be worse though.

New kitchen will require induction cookware, which means buying a new set for the kitchen.  We went shopping around.  Williams Sonoma has super high quality cookware but the prices I’ve seen are out of this world.  Gonna keep on shopping around.

In other news..

We’re getting about 800 off at closing in exchange for doing it two weeks early, something with the first month’s payment and the seller not wanting to leave it vacant for 2+ weeks. I’ll also be switching my auto policy from Geico after 10 years to AllState.  Got quoted less than I’m paying now even without a multi-line discount or joint policy holder discounts applied and what appears to be more perks (accident forgiveness and what not).  I believe it’ll drop from 85/mo to being 40-50, for full coverage.  That’s freakin’ sick.  When I was 18 under my mom’s Traveler’s policy in 2001 insurance was $200/mo.  Age, credit score and being responsible is definitely working in my favor.

Month One Update

I’m still figuring out an intelligent way of graphing this data over time.  Right now I have a clunky graph from Microsoft Excel.

My overall debt is 45099.65 right now, but I have 500 set aside for the townhouse and will be adding 500 a week for the rest of the month.  That will eat up a huge chunk of the money I would have otherwise applied to my credit card.  Some more observations I have made about behavior…  I tend to want to spend money on items I feel I deserve as soon as I get money.  Staying in line with goals can be a real challenge.  I want to see that graph get lower over time.

Actual spending in all different categories has been lower than I would’ve expected other than $85 spent (somewhat foolishly) on fixing the cable from my battery to the subwoofer.  Spent only $113 on gas for the month and most of my dining out expenses were paid for.

Cinco de Mayo was great.  Had a $19 dinner, then drinks at a local bar with a $10 cover.  Drinks were around 5 and change, I bought one and a friend bought the other.  Was worth it to get out of the house.  I discovered I’m uptight sack of social anxiety if I don’t drink at least a little. I’ve never really liked crowds of people.  Part of being an INFP I suppose.

It’s really insightful to see how spending can vary between social circles.  Paying $1000/mo to lease an expensive SUV and $200 for prime tickets at a car race. Even if I made double my income I wouldn’t do either.  I was raised to get as much value as possible from my dollars.  Others seem to be more concerned with image or having the absolute best experience possible regardless of the cost.

Started watching a show on Bravo called Million Dollar Listing – New York.  Type A personalities selling Real Estate.  All the glamor, the charm, the competitiveness.  I see common themes where all of the agents have families with a lot of money and of course the heavily inflated prices for real estate in Manhattan. It’s very entertaining to watch at the least.

The first month wasn’t easy and this second one won’t be much easier.  Brown bagging it each day or going home on my lunch break until I have the $2000 deposited into my partner’s acct for closing.  This experience is making me a stronger person for sure.  Off to bed now… Another update soon.

Shot In The Dark

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I joined the Debt Relief Fresh Start Options Sweepstakes.  The winner gets 100k.  Kind of a shot in the dark. The company is located less than 40 minutes away in Frisco, Tx.  I have a skepticism of debt repayment companies after watching Suze Orman.  How many say they’ll take care of it for you and just end up taking your money.  That and being opposed to getting in over your head with debt on principle.

Some random things that have happened in my life…

  • I won a sweepstakes in 2010 for $200 for a coworker’s school sports fundraiser from $5 of tickets.
  • I ran into a guy I worked with 5 years ago in a store 1600 miles away just a few weeks ago by accident.
  • Two guys I dated briefly in 2008 and 2010 are currently dating each other, one of whom had a crush on me in high school 13 years ago.
  • During my initiation week, one of the people hired worked for the same company I did also in NY.
  • Getting laid off and having a job offer exactly 1 month apart.
  • By the grace of god I ended up unharmed in a high speed police chase on my way to work one Saturday morning. Two fatalities and a ball of fire not even one minute after I saw the car flying past me into oncoming traffic out of nowhere.

Maybe I should play a dollar lotto each week, or do a scratch-off just to see what happens.  The odds are pretty remote, but you never know.

Update: I did more research on this company and it reconfirmed what I thought.  A rep called me at work today 9:40am.  He wanted my address (which I did not provide) and was pushy over the phone about helping me to get out of debt.  All I gave them was my name, phone number and overall amount of debt.  I really have little interest in their Debt Relief Program.  I’m confident I can handle this on my own without getting a 3rd party involved.

They also go by the name DebtXS (http://www.ripoffreport.com/credit-debt-services/debt-xs/debt-xs-biggest-mistake-of-my-cc9x6.htm).  Lots of similar stories along those lines.  Avoid Debt Consolidation companies like the plague. I suspect I will get calls from them in the future, all of which will be ignored.

May Flowers

The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit. -Thomas Malory

Absolutely gorgeous in Texas now.  Arguably the best time of year, warm enough to wear shorts or pants comfortably, go swimming in the pool and not feel like you’re going to be sunburned after an hour.  It reminds me of life on a tropical resort or Long Island beaches during the warmest summer nights. What I enjoy most is just the energy rush I feel.  Even at night, the blood gets pumping, the troubles of the day seem to melt away just a little bit faster and I feel like my spirit is more at one with the universe.  Yes I’m weird…

Making headway on the townhouse.  Right now, I comfortably have $1000 allocated toward the downpayment.  Still putting in more overtime at my job. Not huge amounts and lot 100% by choice (food is a nice incentive), but it certainly helps come payday.

Psychologically having over a G in the bank feels great (a G coupe in my driveway would be even better :P).  It distances one from the feeling of financial insolvency.  I’m in hardcore saver mode right now.  I took my lunch to work today (can of soup and some Pringles), but the company had it catered so we’d complete more work. Then I went out for Happy Hour drinks for a coworker who is joining the Army.  She’s a tough cookie and knows her stuff.  I really was on the fence because I didn’t want to spend $20-30 on booze and dinner.

Draft beer was $2, I left a $1 tip.  Then I stopped at Steak N Shake for a burger and fries for $4.38.  Next I had some frozen yogurt for $3.86.  For eating out, that’s an absolute bargain. Also going out to dinner tomorrow with a friend.  I really don’t mind eating out on a budget if it’s with other people. When by myself, I get all crotchety and think about how I should be making a sacrifice.

In the end, whatever happens it’s just money.  I know plenty of things that are more important to me.  The love of my life, good health and my immediate family.  I will continue steering this ship in the right direction and enjoy the process. 🙂