Our initial mortgages (yes, 's' as in more than one) was taken when we bought our house in October 2006, and consisted of:
*the main mortgage (80%), a 30-year at 6.375%
*a piggyback, amortized over 30 years, but a payout after 10 (or was it 15?) years. Rate: 8.125%.
In August 2010, we refinanced. The goals were:
(1) lower our payment
(2) lower out rate, and
(3) consolidate both loans into one.
In 2010, both (1) and (2) were reasonable wishes. However, (3) depended on the 80% home-ownership holy grail.
Fortunately for us, the appraiser came up with a value on our house that made us reach the 80%. What a sigh of relieve when I got that phone call!
So we refinanced, another 30-year at 4.75% this time. We are "saving" over $300 a month, but that means we've also added 2 years to the amount of time we'll be paying for this loan.
Now is July 2012, and rates are even lower than what they were 2 years ago. This time, there are 2 goals:
(1) lower our rate
(2) lower the loan period to 20, or, if at all possible, 15 years.
I've made a few calls, and both should be possible. I was quoted 3.625% for a 20-year.
The downside: payment would go up (about $150). But, we're at a place were we can afford that extra payment. So, is it worth it?
Ever heard "the more you spend, the more you save"?
It drives me nuts when I hear this in commercials, because it's just stupid to suggest to people that "the more they spend, the more they save". No! The more you spend, the more you spend. Period.
In this case, however, it would mean that over the period of 20 years, we would truly save over $100,000 in interest. I don't know about you, but that's not money I can just turn my nose up at.
But are you planning on staying in the house for 20 years? you're asking (yes, I can hear you).
Maybe not, but here's the kicker:
*30-year at 4.75%:
Principal paid to start is around $300. After almost 2 years, we're paying $350 towards principal
*20-year at 3.625%:
Principal paid to start is $720. That's $720 that's going towards equity and not in the bank's pocket.
Or put in other terms: I'm building equity in my house twice as fast.
Next step: call my mortgage officer to schedule a new appraisal.
Last blog entry was in July 2007... Holy moly, 4 years.
So, where are we at? First, let's take a look at where I left thing at...
Hhmm... Not all that inspiring. Our total credit card debt was a bit above $12,500.
And in September 2011? $10,500. We actually reached an all-time-high of $21,800 in August 2009 (Did I mention I keep record of everything? )
The numbers are not aw inspiring, but there are a few things that have changed since 2007:
1. I changed jobs in early 2010 and am making a bit more money
2. We have a plan to pay off the debt - which started in February 2010
3. We have the motivation!! - laugh all you want, but this is making a huge difference.
So the plan:
I love spreadsheets! So I've come up with a card-by-card and month-by-month pay off schedule.
If we stick to the schedule (and WE WILL!), we're on our way to pay all of our credit cards by April 2012. The monthly payment on credit cards is along the line of $1200-1400 depending on the month. This is a big chunk of our budget, but it's just necessary at this point. I'm simply tired of dragging this debt around. It's ridiculous and preventing us from enjoying ourselves.
So here we go... April 2012! Let's do it
Well, I don't know what to say. I thought I could go on my own. Create my own blog, but it's hard work, especially when you don't have a supporting community as there is here.
I've decided to close my Wordpress blog and come back to my SavingAdvice blog.
Posting this right after the year-old "I did it!" post is a little ridiculous, but I'll live
I'm on vacations, visiting family and friends right now. I think being here at home is giving me some inspiration and motivation to start blogging again.
I need to do a little bit of dusting around my page as well, but I'm glad I'm back here.
Update July 2012: well, the blog is still up, but I have not posted to it in ages. I will probably not delete it, but will not post to it either
My own Wordpress blog is up and running. You can check it out at:
The Little Blog That Could
I will still post post here about my personal finances, but you'll be able to find more generic or non-PF related post over there.
Let me know how I am doing.
My boss is paying for me to go take a Java course next week. I'm pretty excited about it. Especially knowing that I'll be at Sun's Burlington Campus That's pretty awesome actually. I'll be learning Java where it was invented.
We haven't discussed any raises when I get back the following week, but since the class is all paid for (it is $2,000!), I though I wouldn't push my luck.
I did sign a paper saying that if I left the company within the year after I completed the course, I would have to reimburse the full amount. That part I'm not thrilled about. Even though I understand the reason, I though that a pro-rated reimbursement would have been more appropriate.
Anyway, so that where I'll be next week.
I have been thinking of creating my own blog for a little while now. My first step is figuring out what I need for a platform. The 2 big names out there are Blogger and Typepad.
Blogger is free, but Typepad charges a monthly or yearly fee.
I have found a bunch of blog entries comparing the two, but none recent. I have opened an account at Blogger Authority, where I have started a thread asking just that.
What would I talk about you ask? I have compiled a list of topics that I want to talk about:
- Personal finance and money in general
- Energy efficiency and conservation / Living green
- House and home improvements
- Cooking and Baking
- Pregnancy, Parenting and Babies
- Current events
- Work, Career and Job Search
It is as random as I could come up with
One topic that I will not discuss: politics.
[UPDATE 09/2011: so, this little plan didn't pan out as well as I had hoped it would. It takes time and efforts that 'm simply not willing to spend to develop such thing. No worries though, SA is a much better place for my needs, and the people are way cooler ]
I am very angry right now. Here's the deal, we have been in a office for the past year where we all share one room. I don't mind it so much, but we are all craving some kind of privacy. Well, there it is! We are moving tomorrow in permanent spaces. Problem? There are a limited number of "real" offices and the rest are cubicles.
When the announcement was made a few months ago that we would be moving by our director of something-something-very-important, I had asked him for one of the "real" office. Why did I think I deserved it? Well, I'm the employee with the most seniority. I have been working here for 4 years and the next most senior employee has been here for only 1 year. He told me would get it.
Today, he tells me that I am not getting one of the offices. No, I am getting a cubicle. Well, that's just BS! Especially when the people who are getting offices are:
- The CEO, alright, I guess she could get one
- The CFO, who is there part time
- One sales guy, who is NEVER here, always traveling left and right
- Our dear director of something-something-very-important. The guy has been here a few months and I know so much more than he does, but he has "Director" in his title, so he gets an office.
This is so unfair.
I realize that it's very trivial,but it's little things like that that make me feel so not appreciated and make me want to tell them where they can go.
Where does the picture of the rock fit in all of this? Well, it doesn't, but I like it
My Roth IRA at Vanguard is now worth $ 2,456.51. Up 5.66% since January 19. Not bad.
I've decided to increase the contribution from $50 to $75.
It's not going to make a HUGE difference, but it's still 50% more.
2007 GOAL UPDATE
My goal of putting 10% of our income in a savings account is not going to happen. I am able to put between $100 and $200 every month, but $7,000 is too much at that point.
I have come up with a Debt repayment plan a few months ago, and we are sticking to it. So far so good! We should end up with only one CC by December.
The car loan will be gone by February, just like my goal was set to.
Right now, we cannot make the $1,550 and $300 payment on the mortgage as I wanted to, so I am sticking with the regular payments of $1,477.32 and $252.45 respectively.
Update on My new computer post.
The HSBC account I opened for it is slowly growing and has $ 121.01 in it. The configuration I want has gone down since last March. I've also had to change a few components as the initial ones were not available anymore.
Previous quote: $ 513.96
New quote: $ 436.96
Only $300 more to go
I'm getting ready to go and volunteer to clean the Esplanade, along the Charles River, in Boston.
I'm part of an association called Boston Cares.
Boston Cares organizes and leads team oriented volunteer opportunities throughout Greater Boston that have a positive impact on individuals and communities
Check it out if you live in the area.
One thing that was very overdue since we got the house was to get both me and hubby covered with life insurance.
And because Suze says that no insurance is useful except term life, I requested quotes just for that: Term Life.
Wow! I didn't expect such high premiums.
I asked for coverage at $250k and $500k, for 20 and 30 year term.
For me? $452 to $1,225.
For hubby? $1,600 to $4,615.
Well, we might look at a lower coverage.
Oh yeah, he did. Really.
I left him alone downstairs last night for about 5 minutes. When I came down the stairs, my glasses were on the floor. One lens was out of its socket. One branch is completely chewed and bent.
I don't think I can have it fixed. It is was only the lenses, it wouldn't be too bad, but frames are so expensive. And off course, hubby and I didn't think it would be worth getting the vision plan. Well, THAT was a smart move.
I bought these glasses in France, and I was covered by insurance so it wasn't much. I don't even know what I should expect to pay for a new pair... Any idea??
And on a totally unrelated subject. I've been watching the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. AWESOME show!!
I've had the biggest school girl crush on Sig Hansen... I've never cared for the whole blond hair, blue eyes, Norwegian type, but there's something about him...
I've computed all the debts we have which includes:
- 4 credits cards
- 1 credit card at 0%
- 1 medical bill
- 1 car loan
The plan is to have all of it, except one credit card paid off on February 2008.
The debt totals $11,447.28. Hmm... not great, but we'll get to it.
The plan: snowball the payments until one remains and gets paid off.
The order it will be paid off:
- Chase $25 owed
- Home Depot $35 owed
- Target $311.98 owed
- Citi $1,138.24 owed (all at 0%)
- Medical bill $241.78
- Car $4,603.89
- MBNA $4,918.39
We can allocate $1,180 every months towards that debt, increasing it by $10 every months.
We're actually already 2 months into the plan. The goal is to see all 0.00 in that first column.
------- Edit -------
D's comment about putting the payment from the 0% card into a high yield savings account and only making minimum payments got me thinking: how much would we make in interest if I did that?
The minimum payment on the card is $20. Since we make between $160 and $165 payments, it would leave us $140-145 to put in the savings.
We have an E-Loan account at 5.12%. Let's see...
So we're talking $22 in interest. What should I do? Not as much as I thought it would be.
Is it worth it??
I opened an HSBC savings account a few months ago. I am scheduling a transfer for this month, and checked last month's transfer to see for what day I should plan it...
Well, well, I didn't notice but, the money was taken out of my account on April 19, only to be credited in the HSBC one on April 23. That's 4 days of money floating around somewhere. Granted, it was only $25 so I didn't lose a lot of interest, but if I'm not getting the interests, someone else must be...
Just a thought!...
I wrote a few days ago that hubby sat me down, asked me about our bills and debts. I was happy. I thought he got it. Yay!
Today, all of this came down. He got a will kit a few days ago from his work. He couldn't pay for it then, so agreed with his boss that he would when he gets paid next week. He calls me today saying that his boss told him he had to pay for it before next Monday. He's broke (what else is new?) and wants to charge it on my credit card (balance is $5,100 right now and I keep telling him that it's WAY TOO HIGH and I want it GONE!!). I say "No!".
Then I thought: he has a credit card. The limit is only $1,000, but why isn't he using that?
Well, guess why he's not using it? Yes, it's maxed out!!
We've had a gazillion talks about credit cards. He's bad with money, he knows it, I know it. I hate the fact that he has a card because I know he can't manage it properly. He was so happy when he got approved for this one. This meant his credit score and report were almost back to normal. He told me it was his responsibility and he was going to prove to me that he could do it. yaddi... yaddi... yadda... I should have known better.
One of his argument was that it wasn't fair that I have a card and he doesn't. He can't picture himself without a card. I can't make him understand that "you don't have to have a credit card" and that "if you can't afford it, don't buy it".
I want him to give me both cards (mine and his). We're going to have a huge fight over this. I am not looking forward to it tonight.
This is so frustrating...
I just found out about the Citi Home Rebate Card.
Here are a few features of the card. The first one is the one that intrigues me the most:
1. Rebates applied to your mortgage principal.
2. Don't have a mortgage yet? Good News! You will get statement credit instead to start saving for your dream house.
3. NO CAP or limits on the amount of rebates you can accumulate in a year.
4. NO ANNUAL FEE
Now, I'm not sure what this means. I'm tempted to open it, especially with the 0% APR on balance transfer for 12-month, with no fee.
Does anyone have that card? Ever heard of it?
I haven't been keeping my blog up to date lately. Spring has come and hubby and I have been spending time outside cleaning out the yard, planting a few vegetables. I think we got started a little late, but we'll see. I will post a few pics.
On the financial front. NTD (Nothing To Declare) Bills are getting paid. Although I think I finally got through to DH. He understands now that we have to get our credit cards balances paid. Don't ask me how that happened! When I did a big sigh on Friday when he told me he needed to go to the store and was going to have to charge it on the credit card, he ended up sitting down with me. Asked me where and how much we owed. What are regular bills were, and so on. We have a breakthrough!! Woohoo
The water bill came in this week: $124.09. More than last quarter.
The car is getting paid at a good rate. Balance is $5,135.21. 9 more months and we should be done. When this is over with, next step is to tackle the credit cards.
We had to take $1,000 out of our savings to pay for taxes! Damn... That hurt. But I'd rather pay taxes then get money back. I just wish we had planed that a little better and adjusted our deductions better so we didn't have to pay as much. Anyway, I'm trying to replace it. We're still far from the $18k we need as an EF and I'm not comfortable with that.
I closed my BofA checking account and transfered the money to the MBNA card. That helped a bit.
The balance I transfered from Chase to Citi (at 0%) is also getting paid. This one needs $150/month in order to get paid without paying any interests. We're on track there. Nothing gets charged to that card. I don't even know where it is! (ok, yes, I know where it is, but it's hidden somewhere and I never think about it)
I have been using a little program to save and manage my passwords for a few years now. It's called PasswordSafe.
A few things I like about it:
- It generates passwords with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
- It is very easy to use
- You don't type passwords anymore. All you do is double click, the password is saved to the clipboard, and you can paste it to your login.
- You only have to remember one password: the one that open your database of password, and each of your account can now have a different and more secure password.
You can check it out:
Cap at StopBuyingCrap.com made a very useful post on Friday.
HOWTO: Protect What’s Left of Your Consumer Privacy.
You'll find links to different institutions' site where you can opt-out of mailing and phone calls if you have an account with them. Check it out...
A few month ago, I opened a Bank of America account. I had also seen an article mentioning that BoA would start charging fees on their "free" checking account. Well people, that moment is here.
I deposited $40, got $100 in referral and bonus. When I checked it this morning, instead of seeing my regular $140, I see $134.05. They took $5.95 for Account Maintenance Fee. This is the most ridiculous thing. Needless to say that this account will be closed first thing on Monday.
This post is a follow up from my previous post on Lotto Scams. After reading the comments, I realized that other people got a similar letter, and even called the number. These are rules of thumbs that you should keep in mind in the event you should receive one of these letters:
#1... If you didn't enter a contest, or bought a lotto ticket, chances are you won't win. Why are you being told you won something you didn't enter in the first place?
#2... If you did buy that ticket or enter that contest, you should never, I repeat NEVER!! send in money to cover any kind of fees. If anything, you'll pay taxes, but that will either directly taken out of the winnings, or you'll have to declare them on your return comes the following year.
#3... Why is it always the lottery from Italy, Australia, or Spain or any other country than the one I live in? Seriously, I wouldn't be half as suspicious if the letterhead said "US Lottery" (Note that there is no such thing as the "US Lottery")
#4... The old adage is and always be true: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"
Now, if, like me, you are curious and still want to call that number, well.. DON'T!!
What is most likely to happen is that you would deposit that check and send money back to them to cover those "fees" only to find out - after you're account as been debited off course - that the check you deposited bounced.
If you have received such an e-mail or letter, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
From the FTC website:
The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:
* If you play a foreign lottery — through the mail or over the telephone — you’re violating federal law.
* There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
* If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment “opportunities.” Your name will be placed on “sucker lists” that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
* Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.
If you are not sure the letter you got is, in fact, a scam, check this website:
Lotto Scam Repository. You'll also find resources on what to do in case you have replied to it.
The FTC have compiled a list of Spam Scams. You will find a lot more than just the lotto ones in there.
The internet is a great bucket of resources. But everywhere you go, some people will try to take advantage of a good thing, and the internet is no exception. Please be careful and do not trust anyone or anything that looks suspicious.
As some of you might have understood, I'm on the market for a new job. I added my LinkedIn.com profile. Now, I'm adding the link for my personal website
I'm constantly working on it, adding things, removing other, changing things around, modifying CSS. It's not so much a content showing site as much as showing off what I can do with HTML, PHP, and CSS.
I'm hoping to help people put up their website.
Hope you enjoy and if you think of stuff I could add to make it better, feel free to suggest.
He he he... I've been playing around with colors for the past 30 minutes! I love it...
We are officially done with taxes. It cost us this year, about $1,000 in federal taxes.
Bills are getting paid as usual. So nothing new on that front.
I've wanted to work at Deloitte's Financial Advisory Services for a few years now. I've gotten in touch with fellow alumni who work there, applied to all the job which description match my skills, had informal phone interviews, and so on.
A few weeks ago, tada! I get a phone call saying that my resume popped up and they're interested in having me interview. Yay!
I went through a phone screening, a first round of interviews, and a second round of interviews on Friday.
I still emailed him and thanked him for his time, blah, blah, blah... I also added that I was very motivated and wanted to know what I could/where I could go to improve these 2 skills. That's how much I wanted this job. If he told me to jump of a bridge to get it, I would. I also called him at the end of the day (we're still Friday at that point).
Well... I don't know what happened. He must have though I was harassing him because I got a phone call this morning from the same person at HR I had been speaking with. She leaves me a voicemail telling me that they will not follow up with my candidacy (I knew that already) "be it now or in the future"... WHAT (???). She tells me verbatim: "You can continue to look at our site, and apply for positions, but other than [in that group], but I don't want you to keep reaching out to [that guy]."
What is this all about??? Basically she's telling me that I could become a SQL Server and VB expert, they would not consider me. What did I ever do to that guy?? So that's the part I am fuming about.
Am I overreacting here or should I feel that enraged?
Imagine my surprise tonight when I get home, open my mail (snail mail, not email) and find a check for $4,485.46!!!!! Woohoo... I won!!!!
Wait... What? I never entered the Australian Lottery. Oh, and what is this saying:
In accordance with our disbursement policy, your winnings have been forwarded to the clearing institution authorized to release your funds. You claim number is assigned to BENCOOLEN FINANCIAL INC, out North America affiliate. You funds are insured for security reason and will be released to you after the confirmation protocol. You'll not be asked to provide any personal information or use of your personal funds to pay fees associated with this award.
To expedite the process, a check of $4,485.46 deducted from your winnings is hereby enclosed to enable you pay the non-resident fees and taxes totaling $2850.25. Please contact your claim Assessment Agent, Mrs. Debbie Danda at 1-289-888-1255. She will handle all matters relating to your award and the release of your funds. PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY
The part that sort of ticked me...
Be further advised that you should not attempt to use or cash this check until you have contacted the Agent above tio validate the check and activate your claim no later than 5 business days upon receipt of this final notification
So what do you say?? Should I call Mrs. Debbie???
====== Edit 4/07/07 =====
I just went through that letter again (Yes, I still have it!). The very bottom contains the following text:
INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN MUST BE KEPT IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 305 OF THE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY COMMISSION RULES. ANY DISCLOSURE OF THIS NOTIFICATION IN PART OR WHOLE TO ANY PARTY NOT SPECIFICALLY NAMED HEREIN WILL RESULT IN CANCELLATION OF AWARD
I guess I just forfeited my award... aawww!
I've had my Roth IRA with Vanguard for a little over 2 months now, and I just wanted to give an update.
I put in $2000, and have an automatic $50 going in on the 16th of every month.
The only fund I was able to get with this money was Vanguard STAR (VGSTX).
I have put $ 2,099.98 and now own 99.672 shares, for a total value of $ 2,134.97. That's +1.67%.
I thought that IRA contributions were deductible, but found out that Roth IRA contributions were not. I'm already not going to pay taxes on the gain, so I guess I should consider myself happy.
I've been in need of a serious upgrade for my computer. The one I have now is 5 years old. I love playing RTS (Real Time Strategy) games, and because of my old hardware I cannot play any of the newer games.
I'm comfortable with replacing the new components myself. This is a project I've been thinking about for a while now. Only I don't have the budget for it.
In order to get a functioning PC, I will the following new components:
- CPU (w/ cooling)
- Graphic Card
I have 2 hard drives, so I'm set with that.
I've done a bit of research and here's what I came up with on Newegg.com:
- DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra...
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Toledo 2.2GHz
- Thermaltake CL-P0296 CPU Cooler
- CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 40...
- BFG Tech GeForce 7600GT 256MB
Total: $ 513.96
The processor is not exactly what I wanted. I am looking for a 4400 Toledo, but I can't seem to find one anywhere anymore!
I have opened an HSBC account, which is our "Fund" account. There are $45 in it, so I still have a little bit to go.
My hubby and I got a gym membership 2 years ago. It was a 2-year contract - mistake No. 1 - that I didn't bother to read - mistake No. 2 - and the fee was directly taken out of my account every month - mistake No. 3.
I'm not doing very well so far, am I?
As you can guess, we went to the gym a few times a week and the first 2 months. Then it was once a week, and once a month. Before the first year ended, we weren't going anymore. But we signed a contract, so we sucked it up and let them take the $50 a month.
Finally... the last month was this January. I am happy. That is, until I see a withdraw for $19 a few days ago. The withdrawer was the gym. What? What happened? It turns out that the contract (yes, the one I didn't bother to read) had an automatic renewal clause. How surprising!
I called, said I didn't want my contract to be renewed. Ok, they'll cancel it, but no, they won't refund the $19.
To top it: I wasn't expecting such a fee this month. This happened on 3/13 and I get paid on 3/15, and there was not enough funds to cover the $19. So I got charged $30 for insufficient fund. They will not refund that either.
I called my bank (Sovereign Bank, not to name it). I have been a good customer for over 5 years and my account has been overdrawn maybe 3 times. I explain the situation. They won't refund the fee.
So I'm out $50 for no good reason.
Lesson learned: never EVER EVER sign up for automatic withdrawal or let anyone have direct access to your account.
Ok, I'm over-reacting a little, but here's the story:
I sent my mortgage payment with an extra $22.68 to go to our principal. First of all, it's the second months in a row I have to call them because they put extra payments in the escrow account vs. principal. Even though I had called prior and made sure that any and all extra would go toward principal, but anyway...
I sent the payment on 2/20 and called on 2/21 to rectify the mistake. On Friday 2/23, I see that nothing has changed so I write to customer service and get a response back saying this will be fixed.
My payment is due 3/1 and this is the part I'm over-reacting about because we're talking about a tiny amount of money: they applied my extra payment toward NEXT MONTH, which made means that I will pay a whole $1 or so extra in interest.
It's no so much the amount that bothers me (after all, we are talking about $1!!), but it's more that first of all, I've had to call many times, and write in order to get this done. I had called once, before making my very first payment, and was told that any extra payment were, by default, credited to the principal, which is apparently not true.
Second is that when I did this last month, the money was moved from escrow to principal right away. This time, it feels like they waited until my normal payment was due (3/1) and then fixed it so it would be credited to the principal after 3/1.
This means that on a one-person scale (me), it is $1, but what if they do this to a hundreds of thousands of customers every months. It does add up for them!
I was watching Suze Orman last night (yeah.. we're such party hoots!! ) when an advertisement for CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge came up.
I start Monday, March 5th, next Monday.
I've signed up and am ready to trade!! I have no expectation whatsoever, but I think it could be fun.
If you're interested, you can sign-up
After Ima's comment, I realize I might not have given enough information. Below are some of the rules. To view the whole thing: Click Here
The Contest is a stock trading game that provides Participants with a fictional trading account, One Million (1,000,000) fictional dollars (“CNBC Bucks”) and the fictional ability to trade individual stocks on the NYSE, NASDAQ and/or AMEX exchanges. At the end of the Contest, the winner will be announced on CNBC television and/or CNBC.com.
|<< Newer Entries||Older Entries >>|