Friday, October 16, 2009

Yes Virginia, You CAN Blow Your Entire Emergency Fund in a Day

Wow! Talk about a weekend! I guess it all started with a dishwasher. Our dishwasher was having trouble. I said, let's repair it. Dh said, I need a new tool and I can fix it. Father in Law says lets look to see what kind of tool he needs. Wait I can fix it with this tool. Oops, I broke your dishwasher. $365.

I say, I have some work to do on Monday while school is out. Take kids to daycare. Service engine light illuminates. Car in shop $900.

New dishwasher installed. Push button. Nothing happens. Open up. Food stains inside. Uh-oh don't shop at Best Buy. Don't buy open box even if Best Buy says is new.

No more dishwashers. We will give you floor model. Ok, says DH. No way, say I. +$35 for 10 % discount.

Window men come to replace windows (planned for months). Window man say, can't fix this one the casing is rotten through. Call repair man first then we replace. $???

This little demo is just a reminder that $1000 won't always cut it.... we havent even gotten the hospital bills yet, oy!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Half-Way Point

You can go anywhere online and find a ton of tips about what to do if you are in debt and want to start paying it down. You can also find plenty of advice on how to save and invest your money once you are out of debt. But, what about those at the mid-way point? Is there a big difference between someone starting out and someone who has half of their debt paid off?

The simple answer is YES! If you are still in debt but have paid off a significant portion there are still things you have to look out for. This is also where your motivation will start to wear off. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t start to backslide.

1. Don’t increase your spending. This is the first thing you will probably be tempted to do. “Oh, well now I can afford that $25 extra to get more channels on cable. I still have $75 to put toward my next debt.” Sure it is just $25, but the next thing you know there will be another “extra” you will want and that whole hondo will be history!

2. Don’t lose your motivation. If you are now several years into paying off debt, the intensity has probably worn off. When I get like this I do things like check my credit score to see how many more points I have gained. You could also start some kind of spreadsheet to track how much you have left to go. Have a yard sale so you can add an extra chunk one month. Do anything that keeps you focused on the end result which is becoming debt free.

3. Do consider saving more. This may almost sound contradictory to what I said in number one, but this money won’t be going anywhere. You will have it when you need it. Now that I am halfway through paying off my debt I am going to start putting $100 a month in savings to give that a little boost.

4. Repeat this mantra. They’re in debt up to their eyeballs. From the commercial, this little saying has kept me from feeling like I am lacking something when I don’t spend like everyone else. Now that my debt is down a lot and I do have that “extra” money left over after paying regular bills it is hard not to want to start spending again.

5. Give yourself a pat on the back. No matter how far you have come or how far you have to go, if you are making progress that is something to be proud of. Celebrate this! Just don’t blow your snowball cash doing so! J

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It Just Doesn't Make Sense

I think I posted a few months ago about my budget being messed up. I did not have enough money to cover something and had no idea where the money went. It was just gone. I didn't spend it, not that I had recorded anyway. Well, I think I found it. But, again, it makes no sense. This month I have an extra $200 in my account. It makes NO sense. I have zeroed out my budget twice now. Well, this month I took that money and put it in savings. I am going to just hold on to it until the end of this month to see if something comes out of my account that I have forgotten about or something.

I really do a good job of tracking my spending, so this is all just really strange. The thing is the last time I said I thought it had something to do with daycare and the actual amount is exactly one week's worth of a daycare payment. So, either next week, two payments will come out at once or I just overbudgeted the month when I thought I was missing a payment. Who knows.... what I do know is right now I have exactly what I am supposed to have in my account. So if anything strange happens this month I will know for certain that aliens are taking or depositing money in my account. Yeah, I said aliens. :)

Anyway, in other news, I have stopped the snowball while replacing the money that went to clean our vents out and prescription meds. We still owe $306 to that account. So, we are not too far off. I think we should have the cash by the end of this month. I also just realized we will get our "extra" check in October. I always use that check to put an extra payment into that account as well as some of our others.

However, I have to call my insurance company tomorrow. I got a letter this weekend saying that one full day that I was in the hospital along with the day I was discharged was deemed "not medically necessary" because they did not turn in any physician logs or treatment sheets for those days. I don't know if it is just a matter of the hospital submitting extra paperwork or what, but obviously it was medically necessary or I wouldn't have been there!!! The hospital I use is actually really good about this kind of thing though. They will cut 60% of your bill if the insurance does not pay it. Of course they charged me $125 for a $10 pack of diapers once so, uh, yeah, I guess 60% isn't that great a deal after all, ha ha!

I am so glad to have had an emergency fund though. I was going to say I don't know what we would have done, but yeah I do. We would have been putting all of this on a credit card. I am SO glad we didn't have to do that!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Disaster Strikes Again!

Can I just say I am SO glad I bumped up my emergency fund? I added an extra thousand to it from our tax refund this year and thank God I did, because I am about to have to tap into it.

I haven't been around this month because I have been SICK! It started out as bronchitis and turned into ASTHMA! I didn't know you could just "get" asthma. I thought it was something you were born with. I also never realized how serious it could be. I thought it just made you short of breath. I didn't know it could land you in the hospital for a week. That is where I just got back from.

So, over the last 3 weeks I have spent at least $300 on medications. We paid $500 to have our ventilation system cleaned out (the worst vent that was full of mold was directly over my head in bed each night). And, I have no idea how much 6 nights in the hospital with two doctors, the respiratory department, an xray, cat scan, blood gas, respiratory test, and meds for all that will cost. But, you know me! I have a plan!

I have used all of our grocery money for the meds and other things so we are going to have to pull money now to eat. I am going to take only what I absolutely have to take out. After this month is done, I will start putting the money back into our emergency fund using the debt snowball money. Once that is paid back up I am going to go back to the debt snowball. Hopefully by the time I get the bills from the hospital and doctors I will have my car paid off. This way I can pay the hospital bills from the emergency fund and start the process again. But, if the car is paid off this will not take as long (hopefully about 2 months) before things are back to normal.

This is the first time it has not upset me to tap into our extra money. I feel good about it because I have a plan, and the best part is the money was there when we needed it! I think this is the first big crisis we have been through where I didn't have to worry about money! If you haven't started an emergency fund yet DO IT NOW!!! You never know what is going to happen. If anyone had told me I would get asthma as an adult I would have called them crazy.

** As far as how I am doing, I am still having trouble but at least am out of the hospital and able to go back to work on Monday. I am doing EVERYTHING I have been told to get better and then some because if I lose anymore time from work now I will be docked as I am out of days.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Well It is Done :(

I blew every bit of my snowball this month. It was not ALL due to the budget mess up. Actually half was due to the budget screw up and the other half was because we are SICK around here. I have a pretty severe case of bronchitis that apparently required 4 different medications and my daughter was put on a prescription decongestant. All together those 5 scripts were $103!!! Yes that is with insurance... two actually. I haven't gotten the bill for the visit yet. I think it should be less than usual because we shared a room.... that is not going to happen though.

Anyway, I probably could have found a way to pull this money from some other little sub account I have somewhere, but I thought it was important that it came from a place that matters to me the most. I want it to SINK in that I HAVE to be more careful. I still haven't figured out exactly what I did though. I was wrong about it being something with the daycare checks. They have all cleared as normal. So it was something else. However we took a vacation this month and had a money saved specifically for that and we made a lot of purchases while on vacation so it is almost impossible for me to go back and find out exactly what happened.

I guess all I can do now is try to do better this month and from here on out. I am also considering going back to contributing to my 403b again. I have not been since the baby was born due to the high cost of daycare, but I think it is about time to start up again just not quite as much as before. I get so sick now when I those chart showing what would happen if you were to save so much for say 5 years and then quit early on in life... like say around 20 years old. I WISH I had done that then.... if you are 18-20 and reading this PLEASE put that money away for yourself!!! On a good note my retirement account is beginning to recover quite a bit. I knew it would happen which is why I WISH like heck I had been able to contribute these down months, but what can I do now?

I will probably wait to make a decision on my contributions until the end of August which is when I will see my raise for this year. I have decided that as soon as my car is paid off I am going to start another auto withdrawl into my emergency fund account to start a kind of car replacement fund. Lots up plans for the upcoming months!!