Category Archives: Debt

YAY! For Small Milestones -Paying off Debt

Hello Lovelies,

Milestones can be so hard to reach. Everyone has bills and almost everyone has debt.  It’s taken us over a year to be able to start paying some off. A lot came from previous marriages and idiotic mistakes that we’ve made when we were younger.  I learned the hard way that creditors can “refresh” your debt lengthening the time that entry spends on your credit report.  For example, I had a $44 bill on my report that was unjustified.  They refreshed the debt after I inquired about it because it was dropping off that year.  It refreshed the debt for another three years!

Some necessities do require a small amount of debt and these I can live with.  Over the summer, we needed a new mattress desperately because the one we had hurt Babydoll’s back.  They had the option of 90 days to pay without accruing interest. Needless to say, we had 90 days to pay and it is PAID! Had we accrued interest, we wouldn’t have bought it.  No more debt!

I have five student loans and they’ve haunted me for years.  We are now on a doable payment plan for all of them and it is helping the five different entries on my credit report.  Ouch!  I paid a previous small loan and now its off my report. Whohoo!

So far so good.  We have a few more big bills to take care of and we are well on our way to becoming debt free.  It feels so good to even pay one bill off and it is highly motivating. It’s a baby step with huge impact.  If you are in a situation like we are with past debt that are now with creditors, the calls do not stop.  We get calls for some companies up to eight times a day, they are relentless.  In most instances, the creditors are offering discounts on the total balance. Often you will get a bill from a collection agency in the mail to negotiate your bill so they can recoup someone of their money for buying the debt from the original creditor.  How can they do this?  They buy debt for pennies leaving them ample leg room to negotiate.  I negotiate as I go further saving money and also paying off debt. While this isn’t ideal, by all means if you have the money pay off the debt entirely.  But we’ve been able to settle for almost 40% of our total debt.

We chose to take the bills that had the highest interest or didn’t hit our credit reports yet and work on those first.  These were our primary focus.  We ordered our bills highest to lowest based on the fees and interest accrued.  Tackling the highest interest first.  This seems to work best for me and still leaves us money in the bank.  I keep one folder in our files for past debt.  I throw out the last bill and replace with the new one eliminating paper clutter.  Each month we pay something.  Every little bit helps and it is better than ignoring it.  Once paid off, I ask for a paid invoice stating my debt is now $0.  This goes gets stapled to the last bill that I have with a call reference number and the representatives name.  If needed, this information can save you later on if the payment isn’t posted correctly or if you didn’t receive a payoff letter.  After the payoff letter is stapled to the last bill, I file it in a folder labeled paid debt and keep it filed until the debt drops off my credit report.  Then I shred it.  This has saved me in the past big time!  I went for my car loan and a past bill I had wasn’t posted on my credit report as paid/settled.  With the payoff letter and rep information, I was able to submit this letter with my application and the bank accepted it. Good record keeping comes in very handy.

Does anyone use the Snowball Method by Dave Ramsey for paying off debt?  Leave your comments below and let me know if it works for you.

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image credit to earningmytwocents.com

Good Ole Pen & Paper! Bi-Weekly Budget Printable

Hello Lovelies,

One of my home management binder inserts is a printable that I created.  In searching for free printables online I found they are set up for one income households or households that are paid weekly. In my home, it is bi-weekly.  I use a budget printable daily!  I swear by it. I use this in conjunction with my Horacio Life Planner (review coming soon).  For those that budget this is a great solution.  I do not use bill pay through my bank and nothing comes out automatically except Netflix/Hulu. Everything is paid by me, by hand. This allows me to have full control of our money.

Perks:

  • A monthly overview of every expense or bills coming up
  • A monthly tally of expenses.  As bills come in I fill in the due date and amount due. At the end of the month, I add it all up and what is ever left over I pop into savings and start fresh the next month.
  • A look at how our bills are paid.  If it is with a money order then I can write in my planner before the due date to go to the bank.  It keeps me in the know as the due date approaches.
  • At the end of the month I’ll know if I’ve missed anything versus logging into accounts or looking at online banking. If something wasn’t budgeted and if something comes up…I know if we have enough leftover to pay for it.

Check them out and print if you’d like! 

screenshot_2016-03-24-12-50-02-1.pngBi-Weekly Monthly Budget

Frugal Friday: Budgeting & Money $

Frugalfridays image

Hello Lovelies,

Money is always a headache and bills are evil.  Here are some tips I use for staying on track.  By writing things down and keeping a log, I am able to stay on top of things without having to think too much.  Seeming we are striving for a debt free lifestyle and getting more into homesteading, eliminating future debt and paying late fees etc. is key. I use two main spreadsheets.

  1. Monthly Budget Sheet: to keep track of bills and when they are due.  Our family is paid bi-monthly so our bills are separated into two pay periods.  This gives each pay period a designated purpose.  Once I receive a bill I then write down the amount due. This does not include past debt. This is just for bills we pay each and every month to run our home. I use a new sheet every month because some bills like our gas and electric vary by a few days.  You want this to be as accurate as possible to avoid late fees or that dumb 5% of the total bill late charge.  You can create your own in Word by making a template with two columns.  Bill list on the left and due dates on the right. 
  2. Bill Tracker:  is to keep a list of bills and then have all of the months of the year in columns across the page to check off that they were paid each month. You can create your own in Excel by making a list on the left and each column header being a month.

How I keep organized files:  I keep a manila folder to store bills as they come in.  When I pay them, I pull the bill and write the date paid as well as how I paid (auto draft/bill pay/debit card, money order), the call reference number, and rep I spoke to to make my payment on the actual bill.  I save all bills for one year.  When the following years month comes up, I discard the bill from last years month.  Giberish?  Let me explain.

I get a bill for the month of March for Verizon.  I file the bill with all my payment information on it in my file bin.  Next March, I pay the same bill then file that away while removing the bill from this year and shredding it.  It eliminates a ton of paper clutter and overflowing record keeping.  

Where to find the spreadsheets: Find a monthly budget printable separated by how your family is paid.  Either by week, bi-weekly, or monthly. (Google “free budget printables”). There are a ton of super cute ones to keep you motivated! Find one or make one depending on your frequency of pay.

How I use my spreadsheets:  Every bill should get its own line as well as columns across the page for each month of the year.  As they are paid each month, check mark or X out that month to show its been taken care. Any empty spaces will indicate at first glance you didn’t pay that bill.  Use both of the above spreadsheets together to create a fail proof budgeting system. This works for our home, but do what works best for you.  Getting into the cuteness of it and using creative colorful sheets will help you WANT to use them. Especially if you are a chic like me 🙂 I also have colored Sharpie fine point pens.

How to file your spreadsheets:  I save this sheet only and file it in my  “Annual Payments” folder for quick reference if there ever is a problem.  If I need to show proof of payment or there is a discrepancy, I can pull my bank statement for that month in question and show the charge. Ask my husband, I can argue something I paid 3 years ago!

It’s that easy!  I like the good ole paper and pen technique.  Plus by writing it down you can actually visualize where your money is going and how it is spent versus swiping your card card and checking your statements.  I know what goes out and what comes in.  Every penny is allocated.  Whatever is leftover before each pay period I pop into savings.

Example:  We get paid every other Friday.  So if by Thursday before our payday we have $400 in the bank, I will put $395 in savings and start over the following morning with just our new income.

Happy Budgeting!!

My First E-Book! The Power of Penny Pinching

Hello Lovelies,

I finally finished my first e-book.  I’m so super excited!  It will be a four part series focusing on the basics that I use in my home. Some of what I talk about is common sense or is well known knowledge. But I know that not everyone is into blogging and YouTube like I am. Please be honest and let me know what you think!

It is written while I was talking to you (to my computer).  So it’s not entirely grammatically correct and well….its mine.  Enjoy!

Penny Pinching in an Apartment