July 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello, there. Pardon the lack of enthusiasm, I am a bit annoyed at myself. You see, here I am ready to write out my August Statement of Net Worth, and I find I never posted July! And then when I go to post my July Statement of Net Worth I find that I never even wrote it!

So now I’m going to try to write this post a month later, and try to conjure up the level of enthusiasm I would have had, had I wrote it on time! On to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. July

Assets

The house and the Dart continue to fall in value, sadly.

Our savings account appears to have fallen a great deal, but that’s because I ran our numbers just after paying the bills, so the holding account was at $0. Normal fluctuations there.

Liabilities

We have a new account here: My husband opened up an Amazon Store card. This is a card I have been interested in for a while due to the 5% cash back on regular purchases, and special financing options (0%) on purchases greater than $150. He purchased parts to build a new computer. This is 0% interest for the next 6 months, so we will be decreasing this by $100/mo in order to pay it off before the promotion ends.

Other than adding the Amazon account, all our other liabilities decreased nicely! Aside from Navient, of course. I’ll come for that eventually…

Debt Payoff

At the end of June, we were able to pay off RAC: $127.43, and we were able to pay an additional $206 on our next smallest debt, Vermuelen’s! $100 remains to pay on this debt.

Our smallest 3 debts now are:

  1. Vermuelen’s – $100
  2. Radiology – $346
  3. Amazon – $516

You may notice that Radiology is at the same balance as our June 2017 Statement of Net Worth. I had another math error somewhere along the way, this is the correct balance.

We have a very modest increase in net worth of $484. World’s better than an decrease! So we again are at an all time high net worth: $(65,669)!

Thank you so much for following my journey.

XOXO,

Dolores

What Happened When I Stopped Asking “How?”

HowIf you had asked me a few weeks ago how I would go about achieving a goal I would have told you I follow the SMART Principal…. Loosely. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. I didn’t actually know this acronym off the top of my head, I had to look it up. Anyway, my long term focus has always been on what it reasonable and attainable. I realize now what is reasonable and attainable is a matter of opinion and can change drastically.

July was going to be a short month for me, and I wasn’t going to be able to put any extra income toward my debts.

One of the people in the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram posed the question, “What is your goal for July?” Without asking “How?” for the first time ever, I responded “Have something extra to put toward debt.” That was neither reasonable nor attainable for me in that moment because I wasn’t even sure if I was going to have enough to make my minimum payments! Add to that the fact that I enrolled my daughter in driver’s education for a cool $330 (something I had already been putting off for some time), I had no idea how I was going to pull any of this off aside from dipping in to the savings for August bills. This goal was not specific, it was not really measurable ( …greater than $0?), and about the only thing it had going for it was that it was Time-Bound. By the end of July, I would have something extra to put toward debt, I just didn’t ask how I would pull it off, and how much would be a success.

Then funny things started happening.

I got a raise. I got overtime for the first time in 4 years. The Driver’s Education price dropped to $305 and wasn’t due until August. My husband who is typically not cooperative with our debt free journey sold his unused TV for $400 and paid off 2 debts on his own. We now have a surplus for the end of July, and we have already paid $400 extra to debt!

A couple days ago while doing dishes I watched a YouTube video called Napoleon Hill Secrets to Financial Freedom (you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj9Ny3kv0zA&t=310s). The narrator said “Asking ‘how?’ is what failures and losers do. Winners and successful people never ask ‘how?’ first. They define their dream first.’”

This seems to be in direct contrast with the SMART Principal outlined above. Perhaps when I was making sure that my goals were reasonable and attainable all I was really doing was underestimating myself and the universe’s funny way of giving you exactly what you need. Here is a poem written by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse that I discovered while reading The One Thing that sums this up perfectly:

I bargained with life for a penny
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store

For life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menials hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

June 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello and welcome to our June 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update which is extremely late even though I had the numbers ready by 6/2! I’ve been busy settling in to the summer routine, finishing up the side hustle, and I’m working on diet and exercise lately. So sorry I have neglected my blog! I get summer blues and usually find myself more motivated in the Fall/Winter seasons. I’m strange. Anyway, on to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. June

Assets

You will notice an incredible decrease in our Car Insurance savings, because the car insurance became due! So all this money got cleaned out and we were able to pay the car insurance in full without a problem. That was a great feeling. I also charged it to our Capital One account before paying it off to earn 1.5% cash back. Yay, free money!

Starting July 1st we will start an automatic transfer of $325 per month in to this account so we will see it growing again soon!

The Dart lost another significant chunk of value this month as well, but looking at the liabilities section makes me feel a little better about that. The value of the liability decreased $208 compared to the decrease in the asset of $188. It still stinks, though.

Again, the decrease in Savings – Reg is a holding place for our paychecks until we pay all the bills on the last day of the month so that will go up and down in value but it doesn’t mean much for reporting purposes.

Liabilities

This was a good month, with only the Navient going up in value $121. I had planned to increase my payments to this account in order to avoid growth in my liabilities, but I have become very active in the Instagram Debt Free Community and they advised me that I should go ahead with the Debt Snowball method so that is what I’ll be doing.

I have some more liabilities that I haven’t been completely honest about. Well, not un-honest it’s just I failed to add them to my spreadsheet. They are RAC once again. My husband has a laptop on 0% interest. As of the writing of this blog, the balance is now $169.84.

We are also on a payment plan for the medical bills I discussed in a previous blog. In fact it has been my intention to write a blog about our success with the Compassionate Care program – Our $1,800 bill got knocked down to $378.83 and we were placed automatically on a payment plan of $127 per month. I just never got around to writing that blog. We also have a radiology bill for the MRI he had to have of $746 which we are on a $100/mo payment plan. These are all 0% interest of course.

Vermuelen’s didn’t come down at all because I have been counting $50 ahead somehow and just caught on to it. Whoops! This is the corrected balance.

Debt Pay Off

Hey, what is this? This is a new section where I will discuss what debts were paid off this month (if any) and where I will announce future debt pay off plans.

It just so happens we did pay off a debt for the month of June! That $1,800 bill that became $378.83 is now paid in full! This saves us $127 a month on our total bills each month. Win! Now, our 3 smallest debts at the end of June will be: RAC – $106.27, Vermuelen’s – $306, and Radiology – $346. I should have $350 left after paying bills so we will hopefully be saying goodbye to RAC and possibly Vermuelen’s as well!

Conclusion

You guys! We are now at our HIGHEST Net Worth since I started my blog in October! I only see good things from here on out, We increased $1,560 for a Net Worth of $(66,153)!

As always, thank you for reading. Please follow me on Instagram for daily updates on our journey! @networthnegative

XOXO,

 

Dolores

May 2017 Net Worth Update

May.SNWWelcome to another installment of our Statement of Net Worth updates!

I have been slacking on posting lately, I apologize for that. I have a lot of ideas that I would like to share with my readers so I’m hoping to get back in to posting once weekly. Also, I’m on Instagram! Please follow me @networthnegative.

We have made a nice recovery from last month’s decrease of $3,354 with an increase this month of $3,011!

I’m excited because I don’t foresee us having any more decreases in our Net Worth for about another year. I am considering the Central A/C replacement in March of 2018, and we will be buying a used car that same month because our lease for the Equinox is up 3/31/2018.

But, I digress. On to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. May

Assets

Only one decrease in assets this month which is the Dodge Dart depreciation. Quite a sizeable decrease though. $268 in only one month!

You may have noticed that the Savings – Tax CD account name has been changed to Savings – Car Ins. I mentioned to you guys in a previous post how I was unable to put anything extra toward debt for a few months because we were recovering from our car insurance costs. Well, now I have made a plan to contribute an equal monthly amount to this account automatically so that we will be able to make our car insurance payment in one go. We also charge this bill automatically to our credit card and earn 1.5% cash back on it. Winning all around!

The car insurance is due 5/11/2017 so we will have a ginormous decrease in this account next month. Sad face. We are being charged an exorbitant amount due to having our son on our policy and then we recently discovered 1 error on each of our credit reports so we are working on getting those errors fixed and then we will shop around for different car insurance quotes. I heard a quote today: “Your insurance company isn’t loyal to you, so don’t be loyal to your insurance company! Shop around!” I do love my agent though, but he’s not worth $2,020.32 for full coverage on 3 cars for 6 months. Sorry, Chris!

Liabilities

2 liabilities increased in value this month and that was the CP Credit Card and Navient. The CP Credit Card continues to be a problem. We went on a bit of a spending spree for my birthday (April 5), and we spent a lot this weekend attending my best friends graduation (flowers, parking, gifts). My card has been put away since the day after my birthday, but my husband still has his and refuses to be cooperative.

Many of our credit card transactions are restaurant visits for us. I like to think that I’m doing much better about cooking dinner at home every night, but the credit card statement says otherwise. Also, my husband is a fan of picking up the check when he has lunch with friends much to my chagrin. His generous spirit needs to be reined in.

As for Navient, this was an odd increase this month. Typically we see over $100 increase each  month but this month it was only $87! I think that may be due to the timing of the month when I’m writing this post. It’s the earliest I think that I’ve ever been able to give an update on our net worth since I changed both our student loans to autodraft on the 1st instead of the 3rd of the months.

Overall, we see an increase in net worth of $3,011 and that brings our Net Worth for 5/2017 to $(67,713). Our record highest net worth was in 11/2016 of $(66,969). I’m sure we can beat that next month! We have only had 2 consecutive months of net worth increases since we started tracking in 10/2016 so having consecutive months of increases in our net worth will be another goal.

Coming up in May:

Fully funded baby emergency fund – $1,000

Drastic decrease in Savings – Car Ins

0 increases in liability accounts???

Thank you for reading and following our journey!

XOXO,
Dolores

April 2017 Net Worth Update

It’s time for our Net Worth update for the month of April!

We were finally able to get 100% of our April bills paid on the last day of March, which is our goal. The reason for the delay in releasing our net worth is because I have to wait for the payments to post to our student loan accounts so we can have the updated balances. We have signed up for auto-pay on both of our accounts so that we can save the additional .25% on our interest rate. Every bit helps! My husbands comes out on the 1st of each month and then takes a few days to post, while mine comes out on the 3rd of each month and posts immediately. So our net worth updates will typically be around the 4th of the month or so.

On to the update!

Statement of Net Worth. April

Assets

The decreases in our Dart, Checking, and Savings – Reg account are typical fluctuations. The checking account is a holding place for our spending money, and the Savings – Reg is a holding account for our bill money. Since all the bills were just paid, the Savings – Reg is pretty low at the moment and just beginning to accumulate money for May bills which will be paid on 4/28/2017.

The only decrease that is unexpected is in the Savings – Emergency account. We had to use $800 of our $1,000 emergency fund to take out tree that fell in our yard during a windstorm. There is only a $275 decrease reported because at the end of March we had $525 left over so it went back in the Emergency Fund. At this point any excess remaining after we pay bills will first go toward getting our Emergency Fund back up to $1,000 and then toward a liability account: either CP Visa or Personal Loan which both have an interest rate of 9%. More about that later.

Liabilties

We have some pretty drastic increases in value in our Liabilites accounts which I’m not proud of, the most of it being the CP Visa account. While you only see an increase of $106, this is an increase reported despite this account receiving $400 in payments since our last update. That means we spent about $500 on the credit card this month. We obviously need to put the credit cards away again.

Our Navient account increased by $135 this month, which is a bit more than March and February ($100 and $101 respectively). This account is increasing in value due to my Income Based Repayment Plan payment amount of $90.61 not being enough to offset the interest that accrues each month. We have a goal of sending this account an additional $175 per month, focusing on the account with the lowest balance and highest interest first. I believe we can start doing this in May.

The huge increase in our Home Depot account is due to buying a new furnace under a 0% for 24 months financing plan. The hope here was to save money on our gas bills, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen because 70 degrees on the new thermostat feels so much colder than 70 degrees on our old thermostat, so the heat has been turned up to 74 at times. We have been working out the kinks of getting on a schedule where we have the heat turn down to 62 degrees when we aren’t home and when we are sleeping, but the kids were on spring break and my husband was on vacation this week so there was a whole lot of turning the heat up going on. We will see how it goes, though.

Our Capital One increase is due to fluctuations in regular monthly bills that are put on autopay, and is currently carrying a balance of $1,609.53 toward the 0% balance transfer for the HHR we transferred to our son.

Overall, we have a decrease in net worth of $3,354 which is to be expected due to adding the debt for our new furnace. Our net worth is now (70,724) which is just a bit lower than our all time low in January 2017 of (70,620).

Coming up….

We had planned to do a 0% balance transfer this month for the Personal Loan but I haven’t received an offer from Capital One to do so yet, so I’m just waiting for that invitation. Funny they seem to come every other month but once I am counting on using one, it’s nowhere to be found! Once we receive one we will move forward with transferring that balance.

All about our furnace replacement – and an extra repair that needs to be done which was found at the time of installation!

Medical bill negotiation – Compassionate Care Success!

Student Loan Breakdown – Look for an upcoming blog post displaying the balances of each of my 11(!) student loan accounts and the plan of attack.

As always, thanks for reading and talk again soon.

XOXO

Dolores

An Emergency for Our Emergency Fund

 

It took us quite a bit of time to come up with our $1,000 emergency fund. Once we had it, it felt like the act of having an emergency fund guarded us against emergencies happening. Murphy’s Law, amirite? Meaning, if we didn’t have money set aside that would be when an emergency would pop up!

On March 8, 2017 Southern Michigan had a wind storm with wind gusts in excess of 60 mph. I came home from work and found this!

Fallen Tree

We were incredibly lucky, because those high winds brought cold air and resulted in numerous power outages that took days to be restored. That is not good news when temperatures were in the teens and twenties. Not only that, but this tree could have done so much damage: to our house, our next door neighbor’s house or their shed, our garage, deck, fence, or either of the garages for the neighbors in the back. Instead, it was caught by another tree! So lucky!

Unfortunately that luck meant that this tree was not able to be claimed under our home insurance policy since it didn’t do any damage to any of the various structures surrounding it. So, it was all on us.

I started calling tree service companies right away, but there was so much storm damage that all of them were really busy! Most didn’t answer the phone, a couple others bid $900 to take this tree down for me, and one company said $500 to remove everything!

And then the owner ignored my calls and texts.

I went with another company that a coworker recommended. He bid $850 but when I said I would think about it, he texted me back and said he would do it all for $800.

I’m really happy to see this tree go, because for one, it was really ugly. There was about 20 feet of tree trunk before the pine branches showed. It dropped really ugly skinny curved pine cones. If it dropped those fat majestic ones we could slather with Elmer’s Glue and glitter we would have had Christmas ornaments for years! I would have loved it! But all we had was ugly wormy looking ones. Also, I couldn’t get grass to grow due to the constant layer of pine needles and shade.

Now we begin the process of rebuilding the Emergency Fund. I felt like we had it for a long time, but when I asked the bank teller he advised that we opened the account in the beginning of October (right around when I started tracking my net worth with you guys)! Let’s hope we have a better streak in the future.

Small Scale Home Improvement Goals

 

I have mentioned previously how I am trying to increase not only the value of our home so that it can help our Statement of Net Worth but I am also trying to increase our intrinsic value of our home.

My goal here is to make the home as comfortable for us as possible so that we stay here as long as possible. We however are not going to go overboard with a $15,000 kitchen and bath renovation! I have listed a few small things that we can improve over time that will not break the budget but will make our home so much more enjoyable.

Dishwasher

The dishwasher has been broken for quite some time. It is old, clunky, and doesn’t wash dishes all that well. I have gone through different phases of rinsing the dishes really well before putting them in the dishwasher to washing the dishes and then putting them in the dishwasher to rinse and sanitize.

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One day, I went to throw a load of laundry in while the dishwasher was running, and realized it was raining in the basement!! The dishwasher was literally pouring water through the floor and through the ceiling of the basement!  And it was falling directly in to my laundry room sink so I had never noticed because I had never happened to go in to the basement while the dishwasher was running. What makes matters worse is that the water was raining right next to an electrical box. We were risking our home every time I ran the dishwasher and I even didn’t know it.

New dishwasher: About $500

Floor

I have tried to get the dishwasher replaced before with a tax return a few years ago but learned that the laminate flooring was actually built up around the dishwasher. We were told by the Sears installer that we would have to completely rip up the floor in order to put a new dishwasher in. Which I’m kind of okay with because look at this floor!

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It was like this when we moved in and it’s probably damaged due to the leaky dishwasher.

We have original hardwood throughout the house so you would wonder why they covered it up with a fake wood sticker, but my husband pointed out that it was probably so the transition to this added room would match.

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Ripping up a whole floor is way out of our budget, though. I was told by another handyman that we could actually lift up the counter top, swap out the dishwasher and then put the counter back down and re-caulk it. That will be the plan, and I would like to of course replace the flooring (cover it up) at some point with a realistic tile like this:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Armstrong-CeraRoma-16-in-x-16-in-Cliffside-Beige-Groutable-Vinyl-Tile-24-89-sq-ft-case-A6207161/202709126

Approximate cost for flooring materials for approximately 124 SF: $300+

Garbage Disposal

I would really like a garbage disposal and I think it would make my life easier because my family is constantly throwing scraps in the sink with their dishes as if we have one!

http://www.homedepot.com/p/InSinkErator-Badger-5-1-2-HP-Continuous-Feed-Garbage-Disposal-BADGER-5/100091168

Garbage disposal: About $100

Speaking of the laundry room sink….

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This thing is dark and scary looking. Especially with our old washer that used a ton of water! Sometimes it would get clogged and I would have to reach down in to the murky depths to clear hair and lint out of the drain while imagining dead mice and other scary things that I might be touching that I couldn’t see!

When we bought the house, the hot water faucet was broken, and when we swapped out the old washer and dryer my husband had a hard time with the pipes because they are so old and corroded.

I’d love this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BigTub-Utilatub-Combo-40-in-x-24-in-Polypropylene-Single-Floor-Mount-with-Pull-Out-Faucet-P-Trap-and-Supply-Lines-in-White-28CF/203155730

New laundry room sink and faucet: About $200

Interior Doors

We have old fashioned bedroom and bathroom doors with the old fashioned doorknobs, the kinds that screw on to a square pole. Our door handles are completely stripped out so they go flying off their poles and sometimes they go missing.

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My daughter is taking advantage of the situation by using it as a way to lock her door. This is a safety concern however; if there was a fire we would have to bust her door down!

Not to mention the bathroom door. Our husky, Aspen is a bit claustrophobic. We tried kenneling him and he would poop and pee in his kennel and pace and try to chew his way out, and actually broke a tooth! So we tried leaving him in the bathroom while we were gone to work and school for the day. He pooped and peed and paced in there, too and it would take forever to get the smell out of the house, and well, this happened:

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We have since discovered if we leave him loose in the house while we are gone and make sure that our house is completely dog proof all he does is take a nap on the sofa (where he’s not allowed) and looks out the window. I just have to sweep off the sofa every day, and I’m okay with that.

I found some really great door handles on Amazon for $12. Similar door handles with privacy locks run about $30 at Home Depot.

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We were advised by the handyman that we could fill the old door holes, sand them down and repaint them so they look nice, and drill a larger hole for the more modern door handles . This would be ideal since our house is very old, these doors all have very odd dimensions, however I’m not sure if that idea will work on our bedroom door. It has a weird block of wood that I’ve never really noticed before, and I’m not sure what that’s all about.

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Cost of modern-izing doors: Unknown! My handyman quoted me a price of $75 per door and then promptly stopped answering my calls. I also don’t know if I need new doors, or if the ones we have can be salvaged so I can’t even make a good estimation of what that would be.

One of my best friends advised me of an app called ThumbTack where you can list the work you need done along with pictures, and handymen will bid to do your work for you! I got some quotes for doing that work but then we had to go to the funeral in NYC so I haven’t followed up on them yet.

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And finally, the furnace and air conditioner. I have a HVAC company coming out today at 3pm to give a quote on a new system through Home Depot’s 24 month 0% interest financing. If the system costs $4,000 this will increase our monthly bills about $175 a month but I have faith that it will make our electric and gas bills so much more affordable. Also, it increases our value of the home because it will be more comfortable and the heat will reach to all the rooms in the house.

Our air conditioner is from the 1980s and our furnace is much older than that and they are both very inefficient!

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*UPDATE*

I originally wrote this post on March 11, 2017 and today is March 21, 2017. The HVAC Company did come out and quoted us $7,100 for both the furnace and the air conditioner. This would have increased our bills $300 a month for 24 months which I was sure we could afford, but my husband talked some sense in to me.

He said that right now everything is perfect, but we should figure our bills on what we could afford if one of us lost our income. That’s a huge factor because with Home Depot 0% financing, the fine print is that if you are ever late on your payment, or if you take longer than the 24 months to pay off your purchase, then you agree to pay your regular interest rate amount retroactively, back to the date of the original purchase! I already knew this of course, but I hadn’t thought so far as to think “What if something happens?”

So long story short, we decided to just go with the furnace for now. The cost of the furnace alone is $3,852 and will get us the Wi-Fi thermostat installed which will also help with the cost of cooling in the summer because we can change the heat and AC from our phones, and also set up schedules with the app.

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Shannon over at financially-blonde.com often asks what our “sacred cow” is. You can only have one, and I think mine is home improvements and/or 0% financing. I know that this will decrease my net worth quite a bit, but having a comfortable sanctuary to come home to is more important to me. And, as long as we always keep that buffer I think the risk we assume when taking on a new loan is minimal.

Finally, here is a repair that we have finally accomplished! Meet our old bathroom sink, Mr. Sink Face.

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Oh, how I hated Mr. Sink Face. I hated it because there was no cabinet space, it was bolted to the wall and sloped downward so everything slid off of it (phones, toothbrushes, soap dispensers). My son, who has Spina Bifida couldn’t lean on the sink to support himself while brushing his teeth and washing his face. It was hugely inconvenient.

When we got our income tax refund my husband and I split it in half to use on each of our “sacred cows”. His is travel, mine is home improvements. We each had $340 that we put in a cash envelope.  I posted the job for the interior doors on Thumb Tack, but we know that didn’t work out. In the meantime, I saw someone on one of those Facebook For Sale groups selling a vanity with attached sink for $75! I quickly jumped on that, talked her down to $70, got my husband and his friend to install everything, and now we have this:

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I am in love.

Do you have a sacred cow? Tell me what yours is in the comment section!

As always, thank you so much for reading!

XOXO,

Dolores