Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

OCD Coupon shoppers

A friend at work shared this with me, and I was mortified. These folks make a full time job out of couponing, but I loved that the one guy gave alot of it to the church foodbank.

And it also makes me sad that they zeroed in on the overweight girl while she buying candy and really unhealthy stuff.

I dont have time to coupon like this. I just look for good deals on things I need. I dont see any point in buying something I'm not going to use just because it's free. If I stumble across it and I have time to get it and I can donate it to a local shelter, I certainly will, but I'm not going to get crazy in order to do it.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cash Paid for Christmas

This is the second year that we've paid for Christmas completely in cash. Prior to this journey, we used credit cards for everything.....with no regard for how much anything cost. As long as there was room on the card to buy it, we did. The sad thing is, I bought for people I really didn't have any reason to, either. I got caught up in the spirit of the season, but when you can't afford it, it becomes more stressful when the credit card bill comes in, then warm fuzzies you get from the spirit of giving when you're making the purchases.

We had a total budget of probably less than a third of the crap we spent several years ago. Most of that was spent on Miss Elizabeth, our niece, and the only child currently in our family - well, close family anyway. Some of my cousins have some kids, but we're lucky if we see them once a year, considering how far apart we all live now. I think I've finally got the rest of my family onboard for doing the Secret Santa thing next year. It's just too expensive to buy for so many adults, and those that I've talked to agree that it would be easier to buy a nicer gift for one person than to try to come up with some item that's affordable that they don't really want or need for everyone. Don't get me wrong....I LOVE to give....and I cannot wait until the day I can truly afford to give and it not feel like a burden.

Tomorrow morning, hubby and I will have breakfast and open gifts from one another. I'm going to bake in the morning to take goodies to our families. We have the church service at 5 tomorrow evening, and then we'll be driving up to my parents house in Winder to spend the night, and have Christmas Morning breakfast with them. I'm hoping we'll be able to go to the IMAX at Mall of GA to see the new 3D Tron Legacy movie that afternoon.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 7-8 Year Student

Warning. I'm going to offend some of you with this post. If you're easily offended, you might as well stop reading now.

I have some friends who constantly whine and moan and complain about how long it's taking them to get through school. They gripe about finals and beg for a pity party about why it's going to take them another 3-4 years before they can graduate. And these are folks who have been in school 2-3, 4 years already. So why is it going to take them so long to finish?

Stupidity, that's why. These folks changed universities, or majors, or a combination of, when they were already at least a junior in college. Hello? Really. I mean if you are already THAT far into your education, does it really make sense to change your major or university to pursue something else, and basically have to start all over? The folks I have talked to about this situation always say the same thing "my previous classes didn't transfer, or they all became electives and now I need new general level classes."

Say what? Okay so if you had been SMART and took the "standard" generic level classes your freshman and sophomore years, more of those classes would have been transferable to another school or major. But I'm guessing you were too big for your britches and dove head first into those lower level major specific classes, which DO become electives when you make the SILLY choice to change majors after being 75% of the way through anyway.

Here's an idea: If you're going to put yourself in a position where you're basically starting over from scratch and are going to need another 4 years of school anyway, why not finish the degree you started, and then go to grad school for your passion?

"That's not a fair assumption, Amanda. You're just being mean." No I'm not. I'm being realistic. I learned about halfway through my junior year that I really wanted to work in finances rather than computers. But there was no way I was going to change my major or university that late in the game. So what did I do? I finished what I started, thats what. After I graduated, I worked in IT for a year and a half. It sucked. I hated it, and I went back to grad school for more education in the field I was now interested in: finance.

I spent 7 1/2 years total in school, with a 1 year break in the middle. I have a bachelors AND a masters. Why any doofus would go to school 8 years non stop for a single bachelors degree is stupid. If you're going to spend that much money on your education, you might as well make it worth it. 8 years for 1 degree is a poor financial choice.

Now, before you get all up in my case about this, I'm not saying don't change your major and or university. What i'm saying is, if you don't know for certain what you want to do with your life, play it safe and take generic classes that are probably transferable over many different types of degrees. And do some soul searching EARLY on, if you think you may want to do something else. Eventually, though, you're going to reach a point that it doesn't make sense to change your major. you might as well finish what you start and go on to grad school afterwards.

//end rant.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My mother tried to kill me

Yesterday, mom and I went on our yearly Christmas shopping trip to the north GA outlet mall in Commerce. I had my cash, I was being good. Mom had her debit card, she was being good too....Until we got to Lane Bryant. She picked out 3 or 4 outfits and the total bill was $115 or so. The cashier asked if she wanted to save an extra 15% by applying for the credit card.

I looked at my mother (who went with me to the Dave Live event in 2009) absolutely horrified. "Mother, don't you do it....." She broke eye contact with me and said "yeah, why not?"

It took every ounce of composure I had to not have a hissy fit in the store. It doesn't make it any better in my eyes, but she did turn around and pay it right off right there in the store. After we left she was like "but I saved $15!!!!" and I was like "I don't care, I don't think it was worth it, and you know that...." I also said that if the bill comes in and it has $0.01 penny of interest on it, she had better call and raise hell.

I was completely mortified by the whole situation. I think she thinks I was being a drama queen about it. I don't think she realizes just how upset I was about it...

She's a grown woman. She can do what she wants, I guess.... 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Disheartened and feeling discouraged

I was working on our budgets for the next few months tonight, and the more I look, the more I can't seem to figure out how in the world we are possibly going to be able to meet the February 22nd goal of having the car paid off. I think we're still going to be a good $4000 shy. The reason for this is part of the money from Jonny's final semester of student loans that we were going to throw at it, we've had to decide to set aside in a savings account for him to take the Becker CPA prep courses, and exams later in the year. At first we were going to try to set a monthly sinking fund account to cover those expenses, but we need such a large bulk of money to pay when he registers, there's really no way for us to do a sinking funds account and make the amount of money we'll need on time for him to register.

Additionally, our regular monthly income is going to be decreasing due to the change in Jonny's GIBill status for his final semester in school. That's at least $400 less per month that he's going to be bringing in, than before...

He's going to try to get picked up by a tax firm for the upcoming tax season again this year. Hopefully, he'll be with a more recognized company and will be more successful this year than last.

I'm just down in the dumps. I got great news on the work front today....I wish my personal success would spill over to him. It's only a matter of time. One day he's going to be soo successful. I'm just tired of the hurry up and wait. It's been 2 years since we made this transition. TWO YEARS. Hey Obama, where are those damn jobs you promised us? My husband needs one, thanks. I'm irritated with myself because I won't allow myself to be excited about the progress we have made because I'm mad at the road blocks still in our way.

I shouldn't be this upset. Our original debt free date when we started was November 2013. Even if it's May or June before we're done, we'll still have cut that time in half. Why cant I just shut up and be okay with that?

I'm tired of being in debt. I'm tired of struggling. I am scared of what next summer and beyond is going to look like, if he's not working full time and the car is not paid off. I NEED that car to be paid off. At least with it paid off, my paycheck will cover all of our other regular monthly expenses. No, I wont be able to pay student loans when they come out of deferment, and heaven forbid, I have to turn around and ask for a hardship deferral, but I don't see any other way around it. I feel like we've worked so hard and come SO far, only to be running into a brick wall again, and it SUCKS.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The National Debt

After watching this 30 minute version of the documentary I.O.U.S.A., my ~100K in student loans doesn't seem so bad...

What I didn't expect, being the conservative Republican that I am, is to feel such a disgust at GWBush... I'm a very graphically minded individual, and the charts this documentary showed made me cry out in disgust as I watched it. Our amazing country, which borrowed only when necessary for war, and turned around and paid it right back, got stupidly addicted to debt....and individual Americans followed suit.

I didn't realize until watching this video how the Bush administration's cut of interest rates, which lead to stupid folks buying houses they couldn't afford, and the tax cuts, which were TOO aggressive - so aggressive that it DIDN'T actually result in a higher income, had the astronomical effect that it did....

I've been a long time Bush supporter, so this video shed some light that certainly bruises that support. While I don't believe he is to blame for everything that is currently wrong...the consequences we are suffering as a nation now, because of practices enforced during his term, are sickening.

According to the documentary, by 2040, our debts projected to be 244% of the GDP....completely unacceptable.

I'm too disgusted to write anymore.... I strongly recommend you watch this video.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Christmas Shopping....have you started? Here's an idea that may help.

I learned of another cool way to save money that you all may be interested in: Discount Gift Cards.

 From these websites, you can "sell" unwanted giftcards and buy new ones at a discount. Many people sell/trade in their store credits. There are a LOT of well name merchants on here, so if you know you're going to be doing alot of shopping at places like Kohls, or Old Navy, Home Depot, etc, you may want to buy a discounted gift card before making your purchase.

I havent been able to find grocery gift cards yet, but if I ever do, it's alllllll over :)

Check it out....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another way to save money on groceries....

Cook with ingredients you already have in your house. Novel concept, eh? Even if you think you dont have very many ingredients to work with, begs to differ.

All you have to do is create an account, and you can enter in the items you already have in your kitchen. Remember EVERYTHING. The site will pull up a list of starters, entrees and desserts based on what you enter. It will also list recipes you can cook if you are willing to go out and buy just a few extra things.

I found this link on the DR message boards, so decided to give it a shot. I'm tired of making the same old thing week after week, so maybe this will help me save money and try something new at the same time..

Monday, August 30, 2010


Even though Jonny and I ended up with a messload of debt before we figured out how to take control of it, I can honestly say that unlike some people, we never EVER attempted to get out of our moral obligations for things we had purchased using credit. NEVER. Even when his scum of an ex-girlfriend allowed a car he co-signed on to be repossessed, we paid the $900 or so that was left after it had been auctioned. Granted, if we had the DR knowledge back then, we probably could have settled for less, but now we know better.

This is why it makes me ILL when I hear stories of people who let their homes go to foreclosure, filing bankruptcy, or just going to collections because the bill is not important enough to pay. Now I realize that extenuating circumstances is one thing, but stories like the post I made several months ago about people who stopped paying their mortgage so they could start eating out and driving their boat on the lake again, is another.

There are people I know who never paid outstanding tuition, or they filed bankruptcy because they racked debt up and got in over their head. Rather than being responsible and hunkering down to get it done, they begged the government to forgive their stupidity. What irritates me even more, is many of those same individuals go right back to their old habits once they have a clean slate, and they do it all over again. They start using credit again because it's EASY. And the people who tell me I'm a freak because I'm working my butt off to reach that ultimate level of financial peace. Yeah, you may never understand what it's like to pay cash for something that you appreciate much more because you worked for it, rather than getting selfish instant gratification on credit, even though it ends up costing you more later because you're paying interest on your card.

After a year and a half, I cannot imagine life as it used to be. I cannot imagine using credit cards to buy dinner, or a pedicure, or a movie, or a music CD. I cannot imagine a $400 clothes shopping spree just because I'm "bored." I cannot imagine going to the tanning bed to pass time between classes. I can't imagine wondering around Target aimlessly for no reason, throwing things in my cart just because.

My life has been forever changed. Even when we're out of debt, I think alot of things I used to pay for on stupid tax, will not be able to be justified to pay the price. Yes...the point of financial peace is to be able to buy what you want, when you want, and not worry about it....but what I'm trying to say is that things that were previously important to me when I was being stupid is no longer important. The things that are important now is retirement, a paid for education, paying cash for a car, paying cash for furniture, paying CASH for major home repairs, paying cash for vacations and experiences, and that vacation not following me home on a credit card.

CDs, clothes, and tanning beds are no longer important.

I just bought a brand new set of pots and pans through pampered chef. I got a deal on them because I bought them through hosting a party. Sure, those kinds of things are overpriced to begin with, so that you will host a party, and bring in more orders....I get it, and I'll play the game. Yes, they were still expensive, but the quality is much better than any crap I could have gotten at WalMart or Bed Bath and Beyond. It was emotionally painful to write the check to pay for it, because it was alot of money. However, I thought long and hard about which items I purchased...which items were important now, and which items could wait. Had I been buying it on credit, I wouldn't have had that tough conversation with myself about what was important now and what I could afford now...I would have just bought it all.

Getting a "Get out of jail free" card and a clean slate does not equal financial peace. Paying off debt that is legitimately yours and changing your attitude to determine whats important versus what isn't, does.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Only 4 Digits....EXCITING!

$9,984.46. That's the amount that is left to pay on Jonny's car. The consolidation loan at $320 a month has been paid in FULL!

If we continued to pay only the minimum payment on the car, it would be December 2013 before it got paid off. This is completely unacceptable, and we are going to snowball this amount by as much as we can. Christmas doesn't look like it's going to our modified new goal is February 22,2011 - our 2 year FPU-aversary.

I'm not going to lie - that is going to be HARD to do...because of the house situation, our sinking funds account got raided, and some of those bills are going to be due before too much longer. I actually need to reconfigure our sinking funds accounts, but I just haven't been able to do that just yet.

I'm still not quite certain on our new monthly budget with the new house, and utility expenses, but here's a best guess so far:

Church                             330
AXiD                               10
Mortgage/Tax/Ins                   613.76
ADT Security                       28.99
AT&T Land Phone                    35
Water                              50
Trash Collection                   16.95
Cooks Pest Control                 37
Alabama Power                      175
Cable TV/Internet                  85
Sprint Cell Phone                  143
Food & Household                   400
Gas & Oil                          350
A Blow                             200
J Blow                             200
Car                                276.11

Disclaimer: The totals do not list our entire monthly income, and this budget is not $0 based....I still have extra to spend, but if I don't find somewhere else that I need it, it will be snowballed to the car. I've also left out paycheck allotments to our savings account and sinking fund accounts which fund our life insurance, car insurance and tags, and home repair expenses.

We're more than 3/4 done!!!! Only 4 digits left in our non student loan/mortgage debt. Jonny's working hard to find a full time, or a better part time job/internship with a CPA firm this fall. Please keep him in your prayers. His military benefits income will go away once he graduates, and so we'll need to be able to replace that income with a job in order to start paying on the student loans at that time.... I'm slightly stressed about repaying the student loans, but not as bad as I would be if I still had all this other consumer for that, I'm grateful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear Chase....

Dear Chase,

Please issue a refund for the credit balance on my account.

Also, please close my account effective immediately. I no longer use credit cards and do not wish to keep it open. 
Now that I have moved into a house, I no longer care what my FICO score looks like, so please don t try to change my mind. If you need to list a reason for account cancellation, you can put Dave Ramsey. 

Thank you!

Jonathan Hicks 


Dear Jonathan Hicks,

I sincerely regret that you have chosen to close your account ending in 9771.

I have closed your account as requested. Also, a refund check for the credit balance will be mailed to the address
listed on your account and should be received by September 13, 2010.

Please destroy all cards and checks associated with this account. Remember to contact any merchants with whom you have authorized recurring charges to this account and make alternate arrangements.

Although you have chosen to close your account, please consider Chase for your future financial needs.

If you have any further questions, please reply using the Secure Message Center.

Thank you,

Vanita D'souza
E-mail Customer Service Representative
Account is owned by Chase Bank USA, N.A. and may be serviced by its affiliates.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! Now THAT is Financial Peace. No More Chase. No More CUofGA....the only credit card we have left "open" but currently not in use is the NavyFCU Visa, and that's only because we're still paying off debt and do not have our fully funded emergency fund in place. This is Jonny's security gland, which I totally get. Once this last $13K is paid off, and the FFEF is built up....NavyFCU Visa will be going bye bye too...

Friday, July 30, 2010


With the house situation, we hadn't made any true progress on our debt in the last 2 months because we were holding our funds for the house situation. Well, now we're in, it's painted, I have *some* new furniture, but for the most part, we're working on getting settled in. I am excited to see what our monthly utilities are going to look like, because if things go like I think they will, we'll be saving on our regular monthly expenses now, and will require the budget to be adjusted, which will give us a bigger snowball payment each month. That's the plan, anyway.

I also recently opened yet ANOTHER checking account. This one is with USAA and it's going to become our primary checking account....sort of.

Remember how a few months ago we started on the "month ahead" plan? Well, it's working out fine, but I've realized that I'm a little OCD about the money I'm using this month, mingling with the money that I'll be using NEXT month. I know, I know, it sounds corny, and it shouldn't matter since I have a budget. But it does matter. It's a mind game, that's kind of kicking my butt so what I've decided to do is starting with August, I'll let my paychecks deposit to my Regions bank account as it always has. Right now, I'm transferring all the spending money I have for August to the USAA account and will pull out cash each week for my weekly expenses (gas, groceries, blow money, etc). I'll basically leave Regions alone during the month and won't touch it at all until after the final paycheck for August has been received. After it's been received, I'll immediately transfer it all over to USAA to use for the month of September, and the process, will start over...

This way, I wont be tempted to pay September bills early, which will jack me all up with my budget, and whats been spent for THIS month, and what's been spent for NEXT month....and all that mess. I'm certain this will make it easier to manage....

Oh! You may have noticed that I changed the debt thermometer recently. That's because the $50612.50 total figure was the total figure of all my debts prior to us really starting the plan - maxed out CCs, total car loan prices, etc...). I mentioned when we started in Feb 2009, that we had ~$42K in I decided to change it to reflect only what we owed when we started and how much we've paid during that time.

I guess that's all for now... :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama

When this Georgia Girl returned from being in the navy, she swore she'd never leave Georgia again.

So much for that. 

Jonny and I bought our first home today in Smiths Station, Alabama. Our home is located not even 10 miles from the state line. Benefits to  buying in Alabama include lower taxes, lower insurance and a whole lot more house for alot less money. We bought our 1279 sq ft house, as a foreclosure for $100K. When we looked at houses in GA, the houses that were in this price range were much smaller and not near as nice.

Smiths Station AL actually runs on Eastern Time, even though Alabama is Central time. It's a good thing, too, because it was going to SUCK trying to adapt to living in one time zone while working in another.

I don't have any pictures of our own yet, so for now, I'll cheat and post this one that I saved from the MLS listing. You can tell this pic is from the winter because there are no leaves on the trees.

We got our entire earnest money deposit back, so today, we went SHOPPING! I bought 3 new tables for the living room to match the coffee table I already have. They had to be ordered, so it'll be about a week and a half before they come in.

Here's the coffee table I already had. I bought it from Big Lots in 2005 with 2 broken tiles that I replaced at Home Depot. It's an Ashley Furniture piece - the collection is called Antigo.

Blogger is not cooperating for me to upload alot of pictures, but the 3 new tables I bought today match this one. 2 end tables, and a sofa table. Pictures of the finished product will come as soon as we're moved in and set up.

We also looked at rugs while we were at the furniture store and I had just about given up when we were walking out and I found the $99 rug section...which of course NEVER have anything good to choose from. YEAH RIGHT! I found one and it was GREAT. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture yet.

Tomorrow will be a busy day - more shopping, more prepping, etc. This is such an exciting time, and I'm so glad to finally be able to do this..... YAY!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grand Canyon University: Financial Aid CRAP.

Dear Arman,

I emailed yesterday, and I called, and the lady I spoke with told me that you were going to call me back. I didn't hear from you.

I wanted to let you know that a check for $706.54 arrived yesterday. While I am grateful, this is nowhere NEAR what I expected it to be. 

For starters, I am taking 3 classes for Summer term. 

Marketing Management: $1455.00
Management of Working Capital: $1455.00
Sales Tax: $6.23
Canyon Connect?: $75.00
Investments: $1455.00
Sales Tax: $6.23
Canyon Connect?: $75.00
Total for Summer: $4527.46

HOWEVER, that doesn't even include my military scholarship, OR the Post 9/11 GIbill payment that the school should have received on my behalf. The military scholarship should have reduced the cost of the classes from $1455.00 to...what? I'm not even sure how much the scholarship is. 

Nevertheless, according to the NSLDS, $6873.00 was disbursed for Summer term. So not even taking into consideration the scholarship or the GIBill, the cost of my attendance was only $4527.46. 

$6873.00 - $4527.46 = $2345.54. I only received a check for $706.54. Where is the remaining $1639.00????

I've been a student at this university for over 2 years now, and I have NEVER had this much trouble. I am trying to graduate in December, and I should not be having to jump through so many hoops to get my financial aid sorted out. I do not understand what the problem is. PLEASE process my scholarship. PLEASE disburse the rest of my loans, and PLEASE send my post 9/11 GIBill benefits ASAP. We are now finishing the 3rd week of the SECOND 8 week session of summer term. It's going to be really pathetic if my summer aid has not been fixed before I have to go through this mess again for Fall term. If I had the money available, I'd pay cash for Fall just to avoid going through this again.

Please help. If you haven't learned by now, I'm a VERY persistent individual and I am not going to give up on this until I get some answers. I promise I will leave you alone if SOMEONE would just answer my questions and quit giving me the run around.

Thank you.

Amanda Hicks

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reality of our wish list....

5 days now.... Jonny and I spent the day together yesterday, driving around, pricing items we're going to need to paint and clean and get the house ready. There's so many things we want to do to the house, but we've got to remember to take it slow and only do what we can actually afford to do,when the time is right.

3 years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to open up a new credit card at home depot, lowes, or kohl's and buy everything we "needed" to make the house perfect. But because we don't use credit anymore, we're going to have to do things little by little, as we have the money to be able to afford to do it.

Sure, I would love to buy a new bedroom set, and new living room furniture, replace out current bathroom theme, replace the carpet in the master bedroom, get new faux wood blinds instead of ugly plastic ones, get a new front door with a window in it to allow in some more natural light, refinish the kitchen cabinets, etc etc etc. Yes, that's our wish list that we've come up with so far. But the fact of the matter is, we cannot afford to do all of that right now, so we have to prioritize.

For now, we're going to paint, and we're going to rent a carpet cleaner from publix to clean the carpet in the mater bedroom and throw a rug on the ugly stained spot. I priced carpet at Home Depot yesterday, and even for one room, for the kind of carpet we want is going to be about $500. I've got other things more important to spend $500.

We're going to use Mr Clean Magic Erasers to clean the kitchen cabinets for now. They need to be repainted, but that will have to wait for now. Eventually when we repaint them, we'll replace the handles and knobs because I don't like the yellow gold color - I want silver or white.

The ugly wallpaper in the guest bathroom will have to stay. It's not a priority, but it will eventually be changed.

While our mortgage, rent and insurance will be less expensive then paying rent - this wish list more than makes up the difference. It's all good though, because I'm hunting for deals, thrift mall, flea marketing, and yard saling to see what I can find. I'll be able to do a little something new each month until we've finally fixed everything we want. I cant fix it all at once, but I can have fun fixing it all over time....and that will be an adventure.

Friday, Friday. I cannot wait.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My prayers have been answered. :)

So, my FINAL student loan finally posted to the direct loans website. I emailed Adam, my lender with Met Life this morning, to inform him. I asked how it may could affect my loan, and asked what I needed to do to make sure the mortgage loan process ran smoothly.

Long story short, the loan is listed as deferred until October 2011, because the school listed the last day of the school year (4/29/11) as my last day of classes, even though I technically will finish classes in December 2010. Because October 2011 is more than 12 months out, the loan will not count in my debt ratio. Additionally, Adam confirmed today that my credit check was good for 90 days, and Met Life will not be re-pulling my credit just prior to closing.

Hallelujah, Praise Jesus!!!!

If that weren't big enough news today, we also got a blessing in disguise. Apparently, there were a string of burglaries in Lee and Russell Counties over the weekend. The thieves were targeting vacant homes with for sale signs in them. Ours was one of them (even though the sign said "sale pending." What was stolen? The AC Unit. Because we're under contract, Fannie Mae is going to have to buy us a new one. SCORE!!!!!

I cannot WAIT for closing! I'm so excited to get out of this apt complex. It's gone downhill quick. Since our car was broken into a little over a month ago, there have been several other break ins, including a flat screen TV that grew legs and walked away last week.

Thank you God, for getting us out of here...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Student financial aid, military benefits....and waiting

First things first - I wanted to let you all know that the Dave Ramsey ELP in Auburn, Jason Young with Cotton States, gave me a great rate of $469 a year for homeowners insurance. Yes!

I am so anxious about closing on this house, and the lending aspect of it. Because the loan will be in my name only, that has put a great deal of stress on me for the "what ifs" about it going through. Deep down, I feel like everything is going to be okay. I've had a good feeling from the get-go, and I feel certain that things would not be falling into place like they have been if it wasn't meant to be. But at the same time, I just hate waiting to make it official.

The VA will be sending me some education benefits....hopefully sooner rather than later. Once I get this money, I'm going throw it all at the consolidation loan we've got. That loan has a balance of about $6700 right now. The military benefits will eat about 2/3 of it, and the remaining amount should be paid for with my student loan refund disbursement for summer...

Oh wait - yeah the school has been ridiculous to deal with this summer. I have called and emailed, called and emailed and got nowhere. On Thursday, I emailed my slacker of a financial counselor one more time and I basically told him I was tired of dealing with the crap, and I was 2 seconds away from filing a complaint with the department of education. I don't have a copy of the email with me, but I wish I did - I'd share it. I copied a few other folks at the school, and I guess my barking was FINALLY loud enough this time. On Friday, the assistant director for financial services called, luckily, while I was on my lunch break, and we talked for about 45 minutes. When I got back to the office, there was an email with new forms waiting on me to fill out. I was most disgusted with the whole situation because my so-called counselor assured me time and time again that he had all the necessary documents he needed from me to process my aid, but yet, the asst director had me fill out new forms because the ones he had on file were incorrect.

By Friday evening a new award package was posted to my account. I was told that I *should* receive the funds within 2 weeks....July 2nd. Worst case backup scenario if they don't arrive by then - I can transfer the balance of the loan to a credit card with my credit union. It's certainly not ideal (gah! credit cards!) but the rate is actually lower - 10% vs the 12.25% that my loan is currently at. The only reason I haven't transferred it before is the loan balance was still too high to transfer and I didn't want to transfer just a portion of it. I'm holding off on actually doing this transfer though, and will only do it if I absolutely need to shuffle funds around - as you'll see why by reading further....If I do shuffle the loan balance to the credit card, it would be primarily to decrease my debt ratio, because the minimum monthly credit card payment would be significantly less than the consolidation loan payment, and 2, because the interest rate is lower. Even still transferring to the credit card would be a VERY temporary last resort in the even that the funds don't arrive when I need them to, and I would pay it off once they DID finally arrive.

Like I said, I pray and hope that the military benefits and aid arrive sooner rather than later....I need that money to pay off the consolidation loan that I have. I need that consolidation loan paid off to I can decrease my individual debt ratio. This is only a problem because my pre-qualification was so tight, that there's no wiggle room for anything to go wrong....and the fact that my summer financial aid had not posted at the time of pre-qualification, and I'm not sure if my lender took that information into consideration when he pre-qualified me. I was up front and honest with him about it, but I really don't know if he included the last bit of my student loans into his calculations.

This sucks. If the student loans were going to be deferred for at least another year, they wouldn't have to count them in the calculations. But because they call come out of deferment in May, they have to count them. And the thing that sucks even more is that each of the student loan lenders are reporting level repayment options, even though I fully intend to do the graduated repayment option (smaller payments for the first few years, which will get increasingly bigger) so that I can snowball the "extra" money I have each month at paying a bigger chunk at one loan until it's knocked out, and then I'll snowball the next one, and so on and so forth... The other strike with these student loans being in deferment, is that the reason they are all reporting a level repayment option is because I'm not allowed to request a graduated repayment plan until they come out of deferment.

Thank you student loan lenders, for telling my mortgage lender that my debt ratio is higher than what it ACTUALLY will be when I start making the payments because you wont let me go ahead and sign up for the graduated repayment plan. And thank you, GCU, for f*ckin' around and not doing a damn thing until I barked so loud that the asst director had to contact me and promised to expedite my aid. I should hope so, a full 7 weeks into a 16 week session of classes when I should have been paid in full by the end of week 4!!!! If I had been paid at the end of week 4, that damn consolidation loan would have been paid off already and my debt ratio would have dropped significantly anyway, and the summer disbursement would have appeared on my credit so there would have been no question if my lender included it in his calculations for my pre-qual. Of course, my lender did say that he thinks I'll be okay - he specifically told me not to do any shuffling right now. I wont do anything (expect actual payoffs) without asking him first. The last thing I need is to shuffle money around in a way that looks shady and they drop my loan altogether and financing falls though.

Moral of the story: Don't take out student loans. If I had it to do all over again, I would have only taken out the tuition cost only while in grad school...I didn't have the option to pay cash. I only went back to grad school to get my dream job. I got it, but it would have been stupid to drop out of grad school, so I've continued forward. December cannot get here fast enough.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homeowners Insurance

So today I met with my lender to sign my life away on a bunch of forms. He told me that I needed to start shopping for homeowners insurance to be added in with my escrow account. The first quote I got was with Progressive. Our auto and renters insurance is through progressive, so I thought it would be simple. Yeah right. The quote was over $3000 a year...and everyone - and I mean EVERYONE I have talked to has said that it should only be about $600 a year.

I checked out USAA and State Farm - which were both about $1200 a year.

Geico was $850.

I still haven't found a quote for ~$600. I did, however, request that a Cotton States provider contact me. There's an agent in Auburn who is endorsed by Dave Ramsey, so hopefully I'll have some better luck with him. In the mean time - if any of you have ideas on who I should check out, let me know. Thanks!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wish List

Well, Jonny and I have been talking about things we've got to do to the house, and making our wish list.

Paint Living Room
Paint Master Bed/Bath
Carpet for Master Bedroom
Remove Wall Paper and Paint Guest Bath
Paint Dining Room/Kitchen

Funny story about the living room...I wasn't planning on painting it, because it looks like a light tan me anyway. Jonny said "Um, no, it's pink." So when we were at the inspection on Friday I looked at it close, and I have to admit, it's one of those weird colors, that *could* be pink. You all know how much I DESPISE pink. When it was tan, I didn't care, but PINK? Heavens no. If there's any chance it could be mistaken for pink, it's gotta be changed.

So, we've decided to paint the dining room and kitchen a yellow color, the living room will be green - like guacamole green, and our bedroom will be a blue color. I'm not sure about the guest bathroom color yet - probably a tan or off-white color.

Also, because we're moving from an apartment to a house, we have a wish list of furniture and decorative items and other things that we will need:

sofa table & mirror
leaning bookshelf or bakers rack
art for over fireplace
area rug (pref 8*10 but 5*8 will be okay too.)

Eventually, I'd like some new dinnerware, cookware, and flatware, but those are further down on the priority list. For everything else, I am planning on yard-saling it, and trying to find super deals between now and then. I do NOT want some ugly flower based area rug. I prefer something modern or contemporary - circles, stripes, squares, whatever...and hopefully something with some green in it to go with the walls. I found one at Lowes that I'll be okay with if I don't find something else soon. If you guys know of anywhere I can find these things in a great deal - please let me know!!!

It's becoming VERY easy to dream big right now, and the temptation is definitely there to go out and overspend on things we "need," but we aren't going to let the dreams consume our lives. Okay, so I may have some flimsy ugly blinds with no curtains for a little while, but eventually, I'll be able to acquire everything I want.

Just doing the waiting game now....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We're buying a house!


Those of you on FB already know this but...we found a house!!!

So after some hiccups with prequalification, we finally got word on how much the bank was willing to give us right now. We weren't sure if we wanted to hold off and wait until we could pay more debt down, so we could qualify for more, or look within the parameters they would allow us. We decided to go ahead and look, because there may be something perfect for us, and at this price range, the payments would be low...

We found one last Thursday that was slightly out of our price range, but we decided to put an offer in on it anyway. We thought the seller might be motivated to sell, and maybe we'd be lucky. Nahh. We were a little bummed, but figured it wasn't meant to be. In fact, we turned around and went looking at houses again on Sunday, and THAT is when we found "the one..."

It was the second house we looked at on Sunday. We both were very impressed. Pros about the house? 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a separate shower and garden tub in the master. Covered Carport, hardwood (okay, parquet) floors, Vaulted ceiling, BIG kitchen (yes!) Separate dining area from the great room, fireplace, storage shed...and something we just found out today after getting a layout of the ploy of land...a BIG BIG YARD. I see the clearing of some trees in my, er, Jonny's future....

So on Monday, we put in an offer, and after some back and forth banter, we became official. So then we started jumping through the VA Loan requirement hoops. the house is a Fannie Mae foreclosure, and they aren't paying for anything extra...They are taking care of the termite letter and that's about it. We ha to get septic records from the county, and scheduled a septic inspection. If the inspection comes back good, we're good, if not, we'll have to pay to get it pumped. Our buyers inspection was today, and everything was minor fixes that we'll be able to handle easily. So the next stop is the VA Appraisal. Our inspector informed us of a few things the VA appraiser may ding, but then again, s/he may not. So at this point, we're still in the waiting game. Once the appraisal is done, and we know what the VA requires to be fixed (if anything) then we plan to ask Fannie Mae to do the repairs, but we figure they probably wont, so more than likely, we will have to pay for those things to be fixed before we'll be allowed to close.

The crappy part of this whole thing, though, is that Alabama is a right to rescission state - which means that for foreclosed homes, the original owner has a year to pay up to be current and then they can reclaim their home. Say WHAT? So in order to protect ourselves, we have to buy title bond insurance, because we don't know how long its been since the house was foreclosed on.'s 1% of appraisal price....which is 121K. So I have to have $1210 at closing for title bond insurance. Crap. Well, in the grand scheme of things, that's not so bad. We're already shelled out our escrow and the payment for the septic inspection and buyers inspection....if things go well, we wont have to do anything else until closing, with the exception of any repairs the VA appraiser may require, which we anticipate will only be a few hundred bucks, if that.

So that's about it. We're now in a hurry up and wait situation. 34 days until closing. I pray that the VA appraiser doesn't find anything that we aren't already aware of, and that the septic is not in crappy (no pun intended) condition. Hopefully all will go well, and we'll close on time.... Weee!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Here's another one

Lunch is over, so I don't have time to really comment on this one. Just going to shake my head in disbelief.... STUPID. How do you not know how mcuh student loan debt you're taking out????

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Irresponsible Home THIEVES

If you've read my previous post, you'll see that I cannot qualify for [clarification: as much home as I would like] due to lenders tightening up their reigns. Why? Because of asshats like these:

Foreclosure has allowed them to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.

“Instead of the house dragging us down, it’s become a life raft,” said Mr. Pemberton, who stopped paying the mortgage on their house here last summer. “It’s really been a blessing.”

You know what? If you buy a house, and you don't pay on it, guess what that makes you? A THIEF. Yes, a THIEF. You promised to pay, and then you stopped. HOW DARE YOU???

And yeah, I know there are people who may be reading this who have either gone through a foreclosure, or know someone close to them who has. I'm not one bit sorry for my comments. Yeah, the economy sucks, but there is ALWAYS a way to work on your obligations, even if you cant quite meet them. To stop paying on your house so that you can have fun on your boat, or go to an upscale steakhouse is DISGUSTING...

Actually, I should be thanking you. Thank you for forcing the lenders to not be allowed to sucker me into buying more home than I can afford. Thank you for forcing the lenders to hold me responsible, and for me to have realistic expectations on a home I can afford so that if something ever happened to me in the future, I wouldn't be so down on my luck that the only way to go boating or out to eat would be to take on the personality of a thief and STEAL from the lenders.

Good GOD I'm in a mood. This article fired me up. These selfish people are going to get what's coming to way or another.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grad School had better be worth it....

Those of you who follow me on facebook may already know most of what this post is about. Thursday evening, we went to look at houses with our agent. We looked at probably 10 houses. We found one that we loved. It didn't have "everything" but it had almost everything, and we were happy with it. We wanted it, and we wanted it badly. Asking price: $129,900.

Jonny and I discussed it Thursday night and decided that we wanted to offer the asking price, if the seller would make a few updates for us and pay all closing costs. On Friday, I called a lender to get preapproval so we could put in an offer. Long story short, we didn't qualify for that amount. Collectively, between the two of us, we *should have* qualified, but because of the housing market, lenders have toughened their criteria. Jonny not being full time, and only working at his part time job for 3 months meant that they would not count his income in the approval process at all. So therefore, it was all on me. Well, I didn't qualify for that amount by myself because of my student loans, and when they are going to come out of deferment and be due. Gee, thanks grad school.

I really do understand it from the lender's point of view - I just wish they would have counted Jonny's income because that is how much on the fence I was being able to qualify.

But I guess it's a sign that it's not meant to happen yet - or at that price. Truthfully, that was just a smidge over what I really wanted to pay. The problem is that of the other homes we looked at Thursday night that were lower in price, I was really not impressed. I don't mind a little bit of elbow grease, but it needs to be almost move in ready, and if I'm going to have to replace ALL the carpet because it smells like cat piss, it had better be a bargain. I'm not going to pay alot of money if I'm going to have to put alot more money in to it to make it work. I don't mind ugly paint. I don't mind ugly 70s wood paneling on the walls. I dunno - I really don't think our wishes are unrealistic in our price range. I know there has got to be something out there in the low 100s that has potential. And I'm determined to find it.

I thought our realtor would be upset with us, but she wasn't. In fact, we saw her at church this morning and said she would be in touch with us later this week. She said she had other agents looking for us, and she said she is determined to help us find what we're looking for.

Nonetheless, we're going to keep on plan of paying as much of our 2 remaining non-student loan debts off as quickly as we can (hopefully by Christmas) so that if we haven't found a home by the first of the year, those 2 debts will not factor into our preapproval process, and hopefully we'll have more options available to us. On one hand, I've learned that the kind of home we "really" want,is probably most realistically in the 130-150 price range, but on the other hand, there just might be a diamond in the rough out there....perhaps a foreclosure that the bank just wants off it's books....with some cosmetic upgrades, it would be good as new.

So, we continue to look, while continuing to pay down our debt. The right one will come along, and when it does, we'll be ready for it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

House Hunting

It's been a while since I wrote, but I wanted to give you all an update. Jonny and I are still hard charging to get out of debt, but we made a decision to go ahead and start looking at houses. The market is awesome right now for buyers, but things are starting to turn back up - thankfully. However, we realize that we really do need to go ahead and start getting our feelers out there if we want to make this happen before the buyers market goes away.

We're going in with a mindset that we're not going to settle. Our goal is to get something affordable on my single income alone, especially since his full time job status is up in the air, and we still don't know for certain what he will be doing a year from now. I am hoping that whatever we get, with taxes and everything, our payments will hopefully be about $850 a month, if not less.

We wanted a realtor who was experienced in this area, and we wanted recommendations. I got rec for a lady at our church and we sent her our mile long wish list. She replied "No Problem," and she also understands that we aren't pushing hard core to get into a house right now, unless the right opportunity presents itself. Yeah, we just resigned a lease at our apt, but it's only a 1 month fee to break it, which we could handle.

Miss Mary (the realtor) has already sent us a few listings that she matched to us based on our preferences, and Thursday night, right after work, we are meeting with her to go look at these houses, and maybe a few more. I'm so excited. Jonny's in May-mester right now, and his classes are in the mornings, so we both have the evenings to go look at these together. YAY!

I hate that we've pushed up our plan...I really did want to wait until next Spring. but something - a gut feeling I guess you could say, is telling me that now is the time to do it. The market is picking back up, and I don't want to miss the train. We're not going to get more house than we can afford, but I'm ready for a place to call my own.

If it's meant for us to get one sooner rather than later, we'll know. Just because we're looking doesn't mean it's going to happen right away.

I'll keep you all updated. More to come - I promise.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Update on Buster...

So as I mentioned in the previous post, Jonny had to take Buster to the vet today about his newest lick spot. The good news is, there is no surgery as far as knives and stitches and things like that involved. We're doing 10 laser treatment sessions which are supposed to help disintegrate the spot, heal it up, and somehow affect the skin to where he won't have the urge to lick anymore. Psh, I guess we'll see.

Good news is that I don't have to buy anymore darn Atopica at $50 a box. Doc is switching him to prednisone which is much less expensive ($16 for 4 months worth of pills).

My poor little pain the butt child...Ugh!

When it rains.... pours.

 In one swift kick, $2000 I had saved up for the trip to New York next Spring, and AXiD Convention next Summer has been wiped out.

Columbus State didn't disburse Jonny's financial aid this year as he requested them to, and he had no way of knowing that it had been over disbursed for Fall and Spring. Instead of splitting it in 3 installments for Fall, Spring and Summer, they disbursed it in 2 installments for Fall and Spring....So guess who had to come up with $2000 fast, to pay for summer tuition?

The good news is, we had it, and we didn't have to pull out a credit card to go do it, or apply for a personal loan to cover it. It didn't kill us...but that was by far, the biggest chunk of our actual savings that we had at this point, due to the fact that in Baby Step 2, you aren't really "supposed" to save. I guess it's a darn good thing I had been saving that money though, because without it, our alternatives for paying for his summer session didn't look too good.

I'm not worried, I'll build it back up in no time.

Of course, Buster is being a pain in the ass again. Jonny's gotta take him to the vet tomorrow. He's licking at his right back paw - you know, the only back paw he still has. In one week, ONE WEEK, he's licked up a dime size spot on it. Last time, we ignored it because we thought it was like the one he had on his front paw a few months after we got him that ended up being nothing, but after the snowball problem with the cancer that it ended up being, we're taking him in ASAP this time. Hopefully, they can stick with with cortisone to make it stop itching, or they can remove the spot before it progresses any further. I'm so tired and frustrated. I love my Buster, but good grief this is alot to deal with.

Which just goes to prove that I am nowhere near ready to have a baby, even though ever since Baby Kallie was born (yes, Anna, I blame you, for letting me hold her when she wasn't even 2 full days old yet), my clock has been screeching at me like a wild banshee. Financially, emotionally, and physically, I cannot do a thing about it right now. So I'll just continue to wait. And wait, and wait.

Jonny and I are reconsidering looking at houses. I'm not sure if it fails under the "we're getting impatient" mentality, or if we just feel like it's finally the right time. I think the market is proving that there are alot of potential homes out there for us that I could easily afford on my income alone, and Jonny's full time status not be an issue. Even still, we don't want to jump the gun. If you know a good real estate agent in the area, please let me know. I don't want some random person who is going to rake us over the coals, or someone who is going to force us to buy right away. I want someone who will let us do this at the pace we set, and show us good deals in the price range we provide, with as many of our wish list items as possible.

Good news for the week: I made a 100% on my first marketing assignment. Woo Hoo! Hopefully I can keep my grades up this term. This two class thing is already stressing me out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

When We're Debt Free....

I thought it would be fun to make a list of things we want to do once we're debt free. We've cut back on so many things that were "normal" before we started this journey. Some things I miss...some things, I have learned I can do without. It will also be interesting to see what things we actually follow through with once we are debt free, or if this journey will have taught us that just because we can, doesn't mean we should. <--this is a lesson I'm grateful for, and I'm sure there will be things that I'll say I'm going to do when I can finally afford it, but when it comes down to it, I'll say "nah, I cant justify spending my money on that."

tanning beds.
trips to the day spa.
movie night at the movie know, current movies, not the dollar theatre.
dinner at restaraunts...more than once a month.
clothes shopping...just because I want to, and not because I need something.
going to the mall for no reason, and leaving with several bags of stuff.

^^ Those are things I used to do stupid with credit cards, that I cannot wait to do again, with cash this time. Here are the things I'm looking forward to:

house hunting.
house buying.
shopping for appliances and furniture, lawn equipment and tools for said house.
decorating and organizing the house.
buying a truck...just a beater truck - something to tow a camper.
yes...a camper. but I have to have a house first.
have a massive sinking funds account for things like car replacement, and other big purchases that someone normal would use a credit card on. 
random weekend trips.....or week LONG trips. Australia? Yes yes.
having a fenced in yard....and getting another dog.
Giving like no one else. I cannot wait until I can donate money to my church, and my sorority, and school, and other charitable causes...I'm actually REALLY looking forward to this...

Oh yeah....and babies. *sigh* yes. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I've got babies on my mind, and another year before I can do anything about it.

Adventure Bootcamp

What in the world did I get myself roped into? One day this week, I heard Anna and Andrea talking about Adventure Bootcamp. Before I could stop myself, my mouth opened and I said "Can I join you?" So after talking to hubby about the cost ($204.99 for 12 sessions) and getting the okay, I signed up.

Today, I went out and got some new running shoes, a yoga mat, and some 3lb weights. Our first session is bright and early Monday morning at 5:30am. I'm really REALLY concerned that I wont be able to keep up with everyone, and will feel like a miserable failure, but I'm going to go and do the best I can. I'm not going to let the money go to waste, so I've got to make it worth it...

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap?

I've read about this on the Dave Ramsey forums, and some of the frugal money websites I've participated on, but I haven't actually gotten around to trying it yet. Why? Because you need a 5 gallon bucket, and I dont have one, or the space to store one. PLUS, using coupons, I'm stocked up on laundry detergent at least for another year.

Nonetheless, I wanted to post a link to this story because I believe it's got alot of truth to it. They have a point - how did people in the olllllld days clean their clothes? Here's an idea - with WATER. If you like the smell of laundry detergent, this may not be the best option for you though.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Amanda's gonna try again...

A couple of weeks ago, my employer started a new health initiative to get all of us healthier and happier, and all that jazz... One of the sessions that week was a lunch and learn from a nutritionist. Work paid for us to each have a health assessment done, which included standing on this machine that looked like a scale, but instead of measuring only your weight, you had to stand on it barefoot, and it sent electrical currents through your body to determine your muscle mass, your water weight, fat mass, etc.

This assessment was SUCH an eye opener for me. It confirmed a lot of stuff for me - for example, just because I'm 5'8 does NOT mean that my ideal weight is 150 pounds, which is what standard weight charts tell me. Because I DO have very large bones, and large shoulders (I'm built like a linebacker, lol) and a lot of muscle, I realistically only need to get down to 205 to be considered "Healthy." Now granted, I'll probably try to get down just below 200 just for numbers sake, but that makes my target weight a lot more achievable and doesn’t feel so impossible anymore.

The nutritionist offered other services, such as a metabolism test, which tests your metabolism to see how much your body burns just on it's own, and how many calories per day you need to eat to lose weight, versus what you've been eating to maintain your current weight. So on Monday, i met with her to take the metabolism test (you breathe into this machine for 10 minutes and it's able to calculate everything out for you). What I learned shocked me:

My metabolism is actually fast. It's smack dab in the middle of "normal" and "very fast" This basically means that is I cut back on the amount of calories I'm eating, my metabolism will kick in and help me lose weight quicker than it would if it was only "normal." The downside of that is apparently, I've been eating so much garbage which is why I haven’t been losing, but rather, maintaining.

I also learned that I have 142 pounds of solid muscle, which she said was very good, and will work in my favor.

She's put me on a 1800-1900 calorie per day diet, which may sound like a lot to you guys, but you gotta remember I'm a big girl - and truthfully, I've been eating much more than that. She's helping me work on portion control. She gave me 1 week worth of sample menus that I can use to plan my meals, and what ways I can substitute one item out for another.

She has an 8 or 12 week program that you can sign up for with her, but honestly, I just cannot afford to pay that right now. So my plan is to go back monthly for follow up visits with her. The cost for that is only $35 a session, which I can swing to have accountability for my follow ups.

In addition, I signed up on to keep track of my food and exercise. SparkPeople is COOL because you can plug in your nutrition and fitness goals, and it will help keep track of where you did good and what you need to improve on daily. So for me, my nutrition goals are 1800-1900 calories, 200-275 carbs, 25-50 fat (she's got me on a low fat diet), and 125-200 protein. The other AWESOME thing about sparkpeople is that after plugging in these goals, it will offer sample menus to me as well, which also fall within those parameters. If you don’t particularly like the meal they have suggested, you can click on it, and pick out a different one. if you pick a meal out, but there's one or 2 things on there that you don’t have or won’t want to eat, you can click on that individual item, and it will give you a list of appropriate substitutes which have close to the same nutritional value.

Yesterday was my first day following it. I went over my calories - but not by much. I has 1981 calories yesterday, but I feel good about it, because that's a whole lot better than the 2500+ that I had been eating.

If I stick to this plan, I should lose 1.5-2 pounds per week. I might be able to reach my under 200 plan by the end of the year. WOOO HOO! Plus, she stressed that it's important to not deprive myself, and splurge every now and then, in order to avoid completely falling off the wagon. Jonny and I are going camping this weekend, and I'm going to have a fatty lumberjack breakfast with sausage egg, cheese and hash browns over the fire. That's okay, that’s one meal. I'll eat healthy the rest of the weekend, you know?

I'm trying to look at this the same way I am attacking my debt. I'm being intense about paying off the debt, but every now and then, I have to go buy something I don’t necessarily need. If I can treat them equally, I think I can be more successful this time. Weight watchers "worked" for me, but it was too hard to stay on the program. With sparkpeople, and a range of nutritional values, and meal options planned in advance, hopefully I can quit letting food control me, and I'll eat what right not just what happens to be within reach.

I haven’t been as good about getting to the gym as I had hoped for, so she's starting me off slow - I just need to make a commitment to workout at least once a week for now. That should be easy enough because I play softball with the church, but I don’t want to count that - I still need to start making it to the gym...

I'm tried of my weight being a roller coaster, and I'm tired of falling off a plan. Maybe the metabolism test and the AWESOME news that my goal is not THAT far out of reach will be the motivation I need to "getrdun" this time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coupon Swap List

I love love LOVE seeing my friends getting into this couponing thing as well. I've been talking to several folks about starting a coupon swap list, but we havent seemed to actually do it yet, so here's the place to start. If you have particular items that you want to stock up on, list them below, and those of us who dont use those coupons, or may have extras can make arrangements to send them your way.

Here's my list (for now).
Wheaties Fuel Cereal (this stuff is to DIE for)
Gillette Fusion razors and blades
Sister Schuberts frozen breads
Frozen Pizza coupons (any kind...Jonny and I have pizza night once a week)
Birds Eye Steamfresh meals

I can't really think of anything else that I really use on a regular basis, but if I do, I'll add to the list below....

I want to tell you all about my Target Trip this weekend.

Dishwasher Disposer Care - On Sale $1.99 - normal $2.49 - $0.55 coupon - total savings on each $1.05 (bought 3 of these, used 3 coupons) Spent $2.88, saved $2.10

Betty Crocker Cake Mix - On Sale $1.00 - normal $1.29
Betty Crocker Icing - On Sale $1.00 - normal $1.29 - $0.75 WYB (when you buy) cake mix and icing together. Bought 2 cake mixes, 2 icings, used 2 coupons. Spent $2.50, saved $2.66

Clearasil Face Wash - On Sale 20% off - $5.59, normal 6.99. $1 coupon. Bought 2, used 2 coupons. Spent 9.18, saved 4.80.

Crest Toothpaste - $2.99 each, coupon for B1G1F - bought 2. Spent $2.99, Saved $2.99

Oral B Toothbrush - $2.99 each,  $1.50 coupon, bought 2, used 2 coupons - spent $2.98, saved $3.00

*Big Deal Here*
Crest 3D Whitestrips (this is one of those things that I probably would have never bought, but at the savings, I thought it was worth trying. I may never buy them again after this, but like I said, figured I would try them. I don't advocate buying things JUST to use coupons - it's stupid to spend money on stuff you dont need, but I figured I could afford this deal to try it out...)
Regular Price: $22.49. Manufacture Coupon: $10, Target Coupon $10. Bought 2, used 4 coupons (2 store, 2 manufacturer coupons) - Total Spent: $4.98, Total Saved: $40.00 <--talk about EXCITING!

Ore Ida Hash Browns - B2G1F - $2.50 each, $0.75 coupon. Bought 3, used 2 coupons. Total Spent:  $3.50, saved $4.00

Archers Farm Coffee - 5.89 each. Get 1 International Delight Coffee Creamer free with purchase of Coffee. 0.55 coupons to use on the creamers. used 2. Spent $11.78, saved $5.04.

I had a couple other random items - birthday present for my niece, etc...but my total spent was $56.58, total saved $76.57.

This stuff is addicting!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Slimey AFLAC Agent

My employer officers us an allowance of $20 bi-weekly towards the purchase of any AFLAC policies. When I started at this job, Pre DR, I signed up for the accident policy, and the cancer policy.

I verified today that the cost per each is 14.97 for the accident policy, and 26.67 for the cancer policy bi-weekly. If I were to cancel the cancer policy, my employer would drop my benefit to the 14.97 for the accident policy, but it's no money out of my pocket. if I cancelled both, it would still be no money out of pocket, but they wouldnt give me that additional benefit. Additionally, this has been a pre-tax benefit, so really, in th last year and a half, I've only been paying $20 or so out of my own pocket, bi weekly. Well, thats $40 a month I'm paying towards a policy that dave says I don't need.

So I figured that I could cancel that policy and use that $40 a month to pick up an additional life insurance policy through zander instead, because I don't have enough. 

Well, this slimey aflac agent starts giving me the run around today. Tried to make me feel guilty about wanting to cancel, and I even told him "Look, I know you're a salesman, and it's your job to sell to me, but I don't need this policy." and he was like "Why not? Who have you been talking to?" and I told him, "My close, personal friend, Dave Ramsey." He paused for a minute and he said "I know who Dave Ramsey is, and I know what he teaches, but he's wrong about not needing cancer policy. There's a little girl in my church who got cancer, and we paid out $50K cash to the family. Would Dave Ramsey tell you to give that $50K back?" and I said no, but he would tell me to save my $40 a month to use it for something better, like life insurance or paying down debt, especially since my health insurance will cover cancer..."

So then he goes into overdrive, and says "Well, your company uses the cafeteria plan, and IRS code 125 blah blah blah....something about it being pretax dollars you can't un-enroll until open enrollment (which is in december)" and I said "Um, You can't ENROLL until open enrollment, you can opt out, at anytime." and he said "With anything else, yes, but not this." and he went on to say "Tell ya what I'm gonna do, I'll talk to your employer and see if they are going to allow you to do this, but they might get audited and fined by the IRS, so I'm going to recommend that she not allow you..."

I pressed record on my phone about halfway through the conversation. He was really beginning to tick me off now - trying to scare me in to it - how can an insurance agency, or my company force me to continue to purchase a product that I don't want any more? Is he right? Or is he just pushing my buttons, trying to keep my business?

OH! The other thing I told him was that i was planning on keeping the accident policy, because it was a free benefit to me, but realistically, it hadn't done much for me anyway, except payout a single $60 claim from having my yearly exam. He said that my cancer policy had the same benefit - I could get a cancer screening every year, and they would pay me $75. And I said "So let me get this straight, I should pay you $26 every 2 weeks, so that I cn get a $75 check from you once a year?" and again, he stumbled, "Well, yeah, but if you get cancer, we pay you cash....blah blah EFFING blah."

So, I emailed my HR lady to tell her that he was going to be calling, and I told her that he said he was going to recommend to her that I not be allowed to opt out until open enrollment. I'm calling BS. This stinks. What an @$$. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jonny got a job!

This picture best described what I'm feeling right about now.

Tomorrow, Jonny starts a job as a bookkeeper for a property management group here in Columbus. One of his professors recommended him. It's 10-15 hours a week, and it's going to be an extra few hundred bucks a month. He interviewed on Monday and they offered him the position yesterday.

Oh happy day for more money going toward our debt snowball to pay that sucker off even faster. It's financial/accounting experience, and it's current, and it's going to look great on his resume. YIPPEE!

As we quicken the pace with getting stuff paid off, I find myself becoming more and more gazelle intense. My snowball calculator estimates a debt freedom date of November 2011. I've already set a personal goal of this Christmas, but I'm hoping I can shave a couple of more months off of that. Maybe by our anniversary? October 6 - we'll have been married 3 years. That would be AWESOME. With a few extra hundred dollars a month, I feel confident we can make it happen, if we just...don't spend everything we budget, and throw it at the debt at the end of the month....

I wish I had some crap I could sell. I have boxes and boxes of books that at one point, I care about keeping, but now I don't, and I cant find a way to get rid of them AND make a profit. I could donate them, but I'd rather keep them if I can get any money off of them.

I'm going to have to go through my clothes and see if there's anything I can offload at Plato's Closet. Maybe I can do that this weekend....

Until next time...

Monday, March 22, 2010

We're already there!

Well, in my post last week about the month ahead plan, I lied. I said the money I had coming in from the GIBill was about $2000.

Wrong. It was $4000. And it arrived today.

Oh my gosh, I cannot even express how excited I am. The money is sitting in our account, waiting for April 1st, when I'll go ahead and pay everything. I don't even care when payday is, because it doesn't matter.

I don't have to temporarily pause my debt snowball, and I don't have to wait until June to implement the month ahead plan. WE'RE ALREADY THERE!!!

The only downside of this is that it's KILLING me to not throw that entire amount at our debt, NOW. That's 50% of our remaining consolidation loan debt, and as much as I would love to throw it all at it, I really believe that getting on the month ahead system is going to help us be in a better position.

Now, let's see how this job interview situation with Jonny turns out. That will be a treat to see if that results in more income.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Student Loans, Buying a House, and Babies

Okay FINE. I'll address the stupid student loan/house/babies situation, since so many people are riding my tail about it.

My undergrad student loans were not that bad. $22K. My grad student loans are going to be about $47K. Jonny's are going to be about $36K when all is said and done, for a total of $105K.

Surprisingly, that number does not bother me, because we have a plan. The plan, as I've mentioned before, is to have the car and consolidation loan gone by Christmas. Maybe earlier if Jonny can find some more permanent steady income before then. My undergrad student loans will come out of deferment in December, my grad student loans will still have a 6 month grace period. Jonny graduates in May 2011 and he will have a 6 month grace period as well.

My undergrad student loans are in an interest only repayment bracket, for the first 5 years. I'm not sure if that will change since I defered them for 2 1/2 to go back to school, However, because I will have no other debt at that point, I plan to use the amount that was going towards the debt snowball and build up the fully funded emergency fund.

But Amanda, that's not Dave's plan. You're supposed to be COMPLETELY debt free except for the house before you move on to Baby step 3.

You know what? Stuff a sock in it. Daves plan is about making changes. It's MY total money makeover. It's making smart financial choices. I am smart to know that I cannot continue to live life with a measly $1000 emergency fund. I must have more. Plus, my total money makeover is about LIVING on a budget......not isolating yourself from life and the rest of the world to stay on a budget.

Do you really think it's fair, or right, that we should have to wait to get a house just because we have student loan debt? We have made the decision to wait until we have a house to start having a family. Being debt free isnt a prerequisite to having babies, but it's a prerequisite to getting a house? Say WHAT? Yes, There are nimrods on the TMMO forums who believe this. It's okay to have a baby in an apartment. Babies dont cost anything. LIKE HELL THEY DON'T. Mind you, these are the same folks who already had houses before they started the process, so for them to wag their fingers at me like tsk tsk shame on you for not knocking out that student loan debt before getting a house, is ridiculous. Psh, to think that it's okay to have a kid and more expenses that way, but it's not okay to buy a house? So in other words, you're trying to discriminate against me because I didnt do stupid BEFORE starting the process to crawl out of debt by buying a house and then getting gazelle instense. Tsk tsk shame on me for pausing temporarily so that I can get a house and start a family. I guess my eggs just need to wait another 6-7 years and shrivle up because I must be student loan debt free first, is that it?

Yes, I realize that this is because of limitations I have put on myself. I realize that someone people are perfectly happy popping out babies while they still live in an apartment. I would not be. I know how I am and that's just not me. Jonny and I are not going to go buy some big fancy smancy house - we just want a home. But we want a home before we work on a family. Don't piss on my parade and the accomplishments we will have made by paying off $42K in STUPID DEBT because we have decided to hold tight temporarily, to the debt that is going to better our careers before moving forward.

Some people are just SO narrow minded. How dare you bark at me about temporarily pausing my debt snowball to get a house, when you have NO room to talk because you already have a house and are still in debt?

At any rate, to close everything up - the plan is that after we finish the consolidation and car loans, we will do our FFEF, and then buy a house next summer. If we have a downpayment, which I would like, then great - if not, it wont be the end of the world because we've got the VA Loan guarantee. Once we're successfull in a house, guess what? We will go back to being snowball intense and will work on knocking out that student loans at a rate of about $1500-$2K a month (and find time to have a baby in there somewhere too). If we do this, we'll be debt free but the house by ~2016. However, whats going to be REALLY awesome is if Jonny does get a great paying job and we can knock it out even faster. I really dont think that's a bad timeline to shoot for, but anything quicker depends on circumstance.

So yeah - if you want to tsk tsk me because I'm slightly deviating from Dave's plan, you go right ahead. Who are you to talk anyway?