Monday, April 21, 2014

Post surgery, soft foods, cars and spending

I know many people would disagree that a 5-day weekend isn't a weekend off when you're sick or just out of surgery and out of it or in pain, but it was fantastic to have a few days off. FULLY off. No to-do lists outside of taking pain medications, no pending issues besides a lot of napping... We haven't had a real day off since New Year's (plus or minus 2 unscheduled snow days), so I was excited to be off, feeling ill or not. To do it justice, I did nothing at all but rest and I loved it. Back to scheduled madness now.

Surgery went great, and no, I don't remember getting out of the dentist office or taking a rather painful selfie of me with my smile faced bandaid. Everything else went just as well as I could've hoped; bleeding stopped right away, no pulsing throbs yet, a bit of swelling (ok, a LOT of it, but it receded), and little pain. A lot of restricted movement, but little pain. I am happy overall. My follow up will be on Wed (do I have to pay for that appointment? No idea), and hopefully that gives me a clean bill of health.

My brother texted me Sunday that they finally delivered him the letter for the car sale, so once I receive that, hopefully I can "buy" the car. I've made all the payments to it, bringing it to $7,500 (well, $7,434, but who's keeping track). I am hoping I can bring it over to my possession before the month is over. How's THAT for optimism?

Last but not least... outside of $14 worth in pain meds, the $300 in cash for the dentist and about $30 on food to cook with/for my dad, last week was cheap. And for the next 4 days, all I have to buy is something soft but edible (ugh soups and ugh mashed potatoes... maybe I'll get sweet potatoes), and that shouldn't come to more than $15. All the savings will continue to be set aside on a separate savings account until they reach $300, and then moved to my Ally account to partake in any one of my bigger goals... right now, building a much bigger EF is sounding like the best idea.

Hope to catch up with everyone here shortly! Just give me some time. A lot happens in 5 days.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Student Loan Payoff date (as given)

What can I say? I am liking my new "next payment date" for my student loan. I can go by not making another payment until 3/28/2016! Just for fun, I decided to play with math a little bit.

Ok, I faked the math part, but just in rough numbers, the remaining amount (ignoring a scheduled $635 payment made Friday) is accruing about $1.50 in interest every 15 days. Rounding numbers here! So let's say it is $0.10/day. From today to 3/28/16 (when my payment is due), the $1560.28 I owe today would add another $71.70 to the loan. It actually does not sound half as bad as I was expecting it.

Can't say I haven't toyed with the idea of forgoing payment for a while longer. However, I am happy to report that the whole train of thought took about 1.5 seconds to be shot down and laughed at. My last payment is next month, on 5/9 or 5/23. Reason for different dates is that I'll only owe about $130 on 5/9, and if I have the funds to do so, I may as well pay it off and be done with it instead of waiting for 5/23.

Update: My payment posted today, so maybe I should play with math again... nah. (It doesn't show the payment yet, but it updated totals)

I can't wait! It's been 5 years coming! The earlier you start with those things, the easier it becomes. I didnt start until a year later, but it still paid off to get going.

Friday, April 11, 2014

March Totals

I didn't think it'd be any interesting to see what happened in March... I knew there were so many unexpected expenses during it that the graph wouldn't make sense for what I consider a standard, but here it is anyway:
Indeed, very messed up. If we take down the three bigger categories, then we may get a better picture, but let's talk about those 3.

  • Student loans, paid as agreed, no surprise there. I pay way too much extra because I want to get rid of it. My last payment will be in May and I cannot wait! 
  • Vet expenses... yeah. Our pet Star passed away. I was ticked off we had to pay over $300 for a Vet to see her and he did nothing, and then pay cremation fees the day after. I am not blaming him for her passing, but I just felt he did nothing. Guess we'll never know and I should leave it at that.
  • Auto expenses! Yikes! Most of that is tires ($300-some), and then parts to repair what was wrong with the car... parts that need to be put IN the car, but my dad is procrastinating like no other. It's alright, I'll wait. His fee is free vs the $380 the shop was asking for labor. I just want to get it done before something inside the car does break.

Taking those 3 big categories, and we get a better picture:

  • My shopping was extremely high, $120 over. Though to be fair, my spending income for that category also went up. This is mostly for work shoes and a few new work shirts. I'm loving them so far! (budget: $80, spent: $200.61)
  • Food and dining is definitely up. Between cooking more often, and cooking more often at my parents' house (which means buy the stuff), it went over by about $50 (budget: $120, spent $177.67)
  • Gas: Too much going back and forth from work to parents' house to PT job... even 1 extra trip to PT job takes a toll on my gas expense. (budget: $100, spent $123.17)
Everything else is as should be except for Bills&Utilities. I cant find a way to make Quicken account for my phone payments as a bill; instead, it adds it as a negative, which takes away from the total in that category. Pretty annoying, but oh well. I know it's only $50 per month. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Is it debt free or the highway?

The car loan process is really going a lot slower than I anticipated, perhaps because my brother can only sneak a call at 4am on Fridays or a few minutes during the weekend (when I am working, it appears, so no go).

This made me think of something... ok, most of you know how I feel about credit cards. Sucks big time to pay interest, but can be managed to your advantage. Student loans suck as well, no excuse there. Actually, most debts suck. And some will say that ALL debts suck, no exception. I tend to be of the disagreeing type. I believe debt is a dangerous tool, like a double edged sword with little hilt to grab onto, and if you hold it the wrong way or swing it the wrong way, it will either cut you or cut something/someone else. Makes sense?

So why would I be actually OK with getting this car loan? It IS debt, don't get me wrong. It is money I will owe someone else for about 32 months, and paying them up to $10/mo on top of the borrowed amount just for the privilege of using that money now vs saving it and using it later. Look, I wont try the whole "but let me justify this!". Debt is debt is debt. But it is always as bad as something worth burning at the stake? Is it really reasonable for the average person to bypass some debts?

When I started this journey, I never planned to get a car. That's actually something I started after my little car died in 2011. The car I loved and thought would last me forever, but didn't. I did intend to buy a house eventually, and financing was and is my primary choice. Perhaps my only one at this point. But a car loan? Sure, I could go and get a car, though from what I'd see, I couldn't find anything lower than $9.5k with my very low standard requirements. So though I do have $4k saved, I still need some to complete it. The situation under which I am buying the current car is personal/family, and it's not just those two, but also makes financial good sense. Not BEST sense, but good sense.

In summary, yeah, I am alright getting a loan for the car. I think anything that I can do to protect or improve my 5 basic needs (food, shelter, safety, health, transportation) is worth reconsidering. And since I was going to buy a $10k car anyway, may as well help rebuild some family relations, because let's be honest, it sucks being on your own with such a large family.

On your family, is it debt free or no deal, no exceptions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lazy week, busy schedule

Even though I am getting a lot better at cooking meals, with having to drive to parents' house more often and staying longer (hello, night-time working during the weekdays!), cooking really hasn't taken much of a priority. I hate cooking a large batch and not eating it sooner than it starts to lose its flavor, and I REALLY hate throwing food away, because they're money! Down the drain!

Cut carbs from the equation, and I really don't have a whole lot of food options from fast food or pre-made meals that wont cost me an arm and a leg ($4.50 for a frozen Atkins meal? No thanks!). Sometimes I just go for grilled chicken from the deli department, 12 pieces for $10, pair it with 2 bags of frozen vegetables for about $3, and I've got myself dinner for 4 days ($3.25/day, barely a bargain). What's your super short dinner shortcut?