March 2017 Statement of Net Worth

Hello and welcome to our March 2017 Statement of Net Worth!

Statement of Net Worth. March

We have another awesome increase this month, the amount of which is a little deceptive. I’ll explain more in the Liabilities section below.

Assets

We are only seeing 2 decreases this month in the House category and Savings – Reg category. I’m not worried about either of these because the house is probably responding to a downturn in our local housing market, and the savings is going down in value due to having paid bills recently.

I’ve explained in previous posts that we save our money all month long and on the last pay day of the month we pay all the bills. If there is excess remaining (there hasn’t been lately due to the car insurance situation) we will put that toward debt payoff. Typically when I share our net worth the Savings – Reg should be at or near 0.

Even though it is March, we have not yet increased the contributions to the Vacation Club and Christmas Club accounts. For one, the bills are not 100% paid off on the last pay day of the month and secondly, it sounded like a good idea in theory but when it comes to actually putting it to practice? I just don’t know!

­Liabilities

Only one liability increased in value this month and that is the Navient account due to my Income Based Repayment Plan not being high enough to offset the interest that accrues each month. It is interesting that this account has been increasing in value only around $100 a month, but when I talk to customer service representatives they advise me that my student loans accrue around $258 in interest per month. If I am paying $90.61 every month (my IBR amount) you would think the value would go up $168 or so. Interesting.

Navient is another one of the accounts that I said I would increase payment too once I got our bills back to being paid in full on the last payday of the month, and I have absolutely no hesitation regarding this! I can’t wait to see NO increases in value in our liability accounts, and I can’t wait to start working on paying it off altogether. I really want it gone.

Our Equinox looks as though we have made a double payment but we haven’t. I’ve been tracking our balance on my notepad since we first got our lease in December 2014. Somewhere along the line I must have not counted a payment that we had made because our actual account balance is $460.61 less than I always counted it as in my notepad. So, this is making our increase just a tiny bit dishonest but at least now our amount due is correct!

Next month our Personal Loan should be moving to the Capital One credit card for a 0% for 18 months balance transfer. The transfer will cost about $110.25 (3% transfer fee) and will increase our bills $75 for the next 16 months. It’s going to save about $700 in interest and move the loan maturation date from 12/2020 to 8/2018.

Our CP credit card is seeing a very sad decrease of only $147 this month because we had to travel to NYC for a funeral. Hubby did not want to use his travel fund money for this obligation trip so we used the credit card and savings. The good news is the spending we did that long weekend did not increase our credit card balance, but the bad news is we would have had an additional $350 decrease had that not happened, but what can you do? It’s all a learning experience.

We have not had the doors put up yet for Home Depot. I did get some quotes using ThumbTack but the funeral came up and everything was up in the air so we didn’t move forward with that. We did however get our new bathroom sink and vanity installed! There is still $240 in our Home Renovation envelope; I’ll have to make a post about our small scale renovations! I keep saying I will but now that we actually have something done I can show you that.

I send Home Depot $50 per month, so the $42 balance from February really should have been paid off, but we needed to buy a faucet for our sink so there’s a very slight increase there.

We also have Home Depot coming out this Saturday to give a quote on swapping out our furnace and AC which will be on special 24 month 0% interest financing. Very exciting stuff there! Our electric and gas bills have been horrendous. I’ll have to show you guys our mammoth furnace in another post. In 2016 we spent $1,609.69 in electricity and $736.99 in gas so I’m hoping updating the units will make a difference in our bills! Also, we can finally have our handy dandy wifi enabled thermostat installed for even more savings!

We are still waiting to hear back regarding Compassionate Care for all of my husband’s medical bills. We also received separate bills for his CT scan which is not covered by Compassionate Care. I called to make a payment arrangement on them of $100/month (the bill was over $700) and completely forgot to take my own advice about negotiating the balance! The first payment isn’t due until 4/1, and I should know more about what’s going on with Compassionate Care at that point; how much they are covering if anything, so I will call them back and try to negotiate the balance down.

So, at the end of the day we have an increase of net worth of $2,083, and I am very excited to note that our March 2017 net worth of (67,370) is VERY near our very first Statement of Net Worth back in 10/2016 of (67,325).

Coming up in March 2017:

  • Home Depot increased balance for our new furnace and central air conditioner under 0% interest 24 month financing offer
  • Medical bill changes
    • Emergency fund – will it live to see another month?
    • Compassionate Care? Payment Arrangements?
  • Personal loan balance moved in to Capital One for 0% 18 month financing offer
  • An on time statement of Net Worth – Maybe.

Thanks for reading!

XOXO,

Dolores

Blindsided by Medical Bills

The medical bills for my husband’s therapeutic phlebotomy started rolling in. I did not expect each visit to be $720 a pop! Insurance reduced the $720 charge to about $600, and then we needed to meet our $1,000 deductible. These blood draws started in December and continued weekly for about 5 weeks. Into the New Year, and into a whole new $1,000 deductible. I could throw up, guys. So far we have about $1,800 in medical bills! We are expecting another $1,350 in bills to come in soon, too for a sleep study and a CT Scan.

My husband is healthy which is the most important thing, they just don’t know why he has elevated red blood cells. All the tests have come back normal!

Luckily, we have our emergency fund of $1,000 and the Savings – Tax CD that I set aside to pay our tax bill, which we won’t need since we got a refund this year. So theoretically we can cover the expense, but it will set us so far back!

Fortunately for me, I heard an amazing podcast by Shannon Lally-Mclay over at Financialy-Blonde.com in which she interviewed Pat Palmer. The episode is called Medical Billing Questions Answered. Using the advice from this show, I learned some actionable steps to work out an arrangement with this bill.

  • Request an itemized bill to look for billing errors
    1. This didn’t help me much. There was hope originally because each of my bills that were originally $720 had a charge of $628 that was listed as “other charges”. ‘Great!’ I thought. ‘Let them explain that!’ The itemized bills came, and the $628 changed from “other” to Therapeutic Phlebotomy. Boo.
  • My second plan was to negotiate a reduction in the bill BUT, I found that my particular hospital has a program called Compassionate Care in which you submit your financial information and if approved, 70-100% of your bills will be forgiven. That will be a God send!

I submitted the application a few weeks ago and we are waiting to hear back regarding it. Now that I know the hospital is willing to forgive up to 100% for charity, I feel much better negotiating our balances!

What Now?

Here are some more steps as I interpreted them:

  1. Ask for a payment plan on the negotiated amount. Medical bills are a 0% interest payment plan! We will not bust the budget if we don’t have to! It doesn’t cost anything to stretch the payments out as long as possible and make it easier on ourselves. However….
  2. We can request a further discount for prompt payment in CASH. Like, today. Right now. I will bring you $500 to make this go away. That’s what the good ol’ Emergency Fund is for! Also, always make sure your negotiation is in writing.
  3. If we cannot get a further discount for prompt payment in cash, we will use our Flex Spending Account to make the payments. If we don’t have enough on my Flex Spending Account to make the monthly payments, I’ll make post tax contributions which we can claim on our Income Tax at the end of the year regardless if we itemize or not. This could mean a further discount of however much our income tax rate is for the year.

Wish me luck in battling these medical bills! Thanks for reading.

 

XOXO
Dolores

February 2017 Net Worth Update

Welcome to our February 2017 Net Worth Update! We are getting closer and closer to having 100% of the bills paid on the last pay day of the month.

statement-of-net-worth-february

As promised, we are seeing an increase in net worth this month! We had some surprise medical bills come up. A LOT of medical bills, so I’ll be making a post about how we plan to deal with that in the next few days. I suppose at that time I’ll have to add those bills to the Statement of Net Worth if we decide to make a payment arrangement on them. If not, we may do a combination of our Tax CD and Emergency Fund to pay them off. But, I digress! On to the breakdown.

Assets

The house, man! I have been entering numbers in Excel since I started paying February’s bills on January 27th. The house has been steadily decreasing in value since then. It started off with $500 decrease and now we are at $984! Darn it!! There really isn’t much I can do about it.

At the time of writing this blog, I’m waiting for our handyman to arrive and take measurements of our doors and give us a verdict on whether he thinks they need to be filled and sanded with a new door hole installed, or completely swapped out. I have $350 cash to pay him for the job and I think it’s going to cost about $250 plus the cost of one new door. I think the bathroom door is beyond repair. Note to Self: Claustrophobic dogs are no less claustrophobic when enclosed in a bathroom rather than a kennel. Since we will have about $100 left in the Handyman Labor budget, I think I’m going to ask him to install a new dishwasher because ours has been broken a long time, and it would just make my life so much easier! Some other things I considered asking for repair with this $100:

  • Bathroom vanity and faucet – you guys know how much I hate my bathroom sink. Oh you don’t? Perhaps I should show you sometime. That would be a fun blog post. Small Scale Renovation Goals!
  • New kitchen sink with garbage disposal – Oooh how I long for a garbage disposal. Plus my drains in the kitchen sink are shot. One side of the sink is not functional at all, and the other side ate the drain guard thingy. It’s stuck in there now and broken. #oldhouseproblems My ideal sink would be a 60/40 double sink or maybe even 70/30 if those exist.

Moving on…

The Dodge Dart also went down quite a bit. I’m trying to keep track of what I’m entering in to Kelly Blue Book so I can be sure to get an accurate depreciation each time so I can be sure these fluctuations are actual increases and decreases in value and not just me mistakenly entering in the wrong model and wrong mileage.

Savings is a little higher in recent months than it typically would be when I show our Statement of Net Worth because I have been needing to wait later in the month to make our credit card payment, so you’re seeing the savings we are building up for the next month’s bills.

Our Emergency Fund and our Savings – Tax CD might be leaving soon due to the medical bills I discussed earlier. I have a plan of attack for those, though. Will write more about that in a later blog.

Due to the decrease in our home’s value and the Dodge Dart, our assets decreased in value this month $654. Darn. It. All. But on the good side, other increases in assets offset the loss so that’s a bonus.

Liabilities

This month, only one account went up in value and that’s the Navient account which is to be expected. I know I mentioned that I would start sending extra to this account soon, but until I know 100% what’s going on with the medical bills I’m just not sure what I can do with this.

All in all I think our medical bills before fighting and negotiating are going to be more than $2,500. Scary stuff!! But the love of my life is healthy and that’s what matters most.

So all in all we have an INCREASE in Net Worth (just like I promised) of $1,167!! This is by far the largest increase we have seen in our journey and is much more typical of what we can do every month when we aren’t buying new cars and giving vehicles to our children 🙂

Thank you guys so much for reading and keeping me accountable!

Coming up in March 2017:

  • Stupid, stupid medical bill post. Booo….
  • An Increase in the Liability Account – Home Depot for the purchase of a new interior door and dishwasher on special 0% interest financing

Windfalls, Tax Returns, and Bonuses…. Oh, my!

Around the beginning of 2016 I was inspired to reduce my Federal Income Tax withholding to a point where our family would not get a return, and instead increase our weekly take home pay so that we could spend it more responsibly than we would with a huge windfall in February.

How did I do this? I looked at a tax table and calculated how much tax we would need to pay on 100% of our income.

tax-returns

I always always give a whole lot of wiggle room so I didn’t include the fact that some of our income was nontaxable: health dental and vision insurance, flex spending and 401(k) contributions were not taken in to account. I wasn’t aiming directly at a $0 refund (not brave enough) but I did significantly increase our take home pay by about $50 a week! I felt like I got a raise, it was great!

Then, my mom took me to bingo for my birthday in April. I’m an old lady at heart! Can you believe I won $6,200?! I firmly believe the reason that I won was because I looked at the jackpot and calculated how much money we would all get if I split it between myself, my mom, and a friend that came with us (it was also her birthday). Then I did win, and I promptly gave my mom $1,550, the friend $1,550, myself $1,550, and I opened up a 1 year CD for $1,550 to pay taxes on what I assumed the amount due would be. I cannot for the life of me remember what I used my $1,550 on but I searched my bank account and it looks like I paid a whole lot of bills on 4/8/2016. It looks like I was catching up?

Anywhosies, come April 2017 I will have another 1,550 windfall since we did our taxes and we are actually getting a small refund! We are going to use the refund to pay labor for the handyman to put in the new doors. The $1,550 I think I will hold on to a bit more for our auto insurance renewal which will be put on the auto pay credit card on 5/11. This way instead of knocking us on our butts again and taking a few months to recover we can continue with our debt pay off! Smart, no?

I hope if you are expecting a windfall that you are planning out the most responsible way to use yours as well!

Blessings Abound

I am an aspiring minimalist and own very few items. I don’t purchase clothes or shoes for myself unless I absolutely love them. I also am very savvy at shopping sales and never pay full price for anything. If I have to pay full price that makes an item 75% less attractive to me!

It’s not unusual for me to go through a purge and start cleaning my closet and home of things I don’t love anymore, and I did that this past weekend.  I donated books that have been sitting around for years to my local library and I have a basket in the dining room where I collect items to be donated which I took to Goodwill.

The great thing about working at the dance studio is I have to pass the library on the way there. I stopped in last Saturday when I made my donation and looked through the personal finance section and saw lots of books that I wanted to read! Unfortunately time didn’t allow for my to actually check one out, but I hope to do so this Thursday or Saturday. Also, the dance studio is located across the street from Goodwill so I can drop off our unwanted items there very easily and regularly.

I think we have all heard the advice to sell unwanted items around the house for help coming up with funds. Since I am a little behind on bills I decided to do just that, and I had some gems around the house that I was having trouble letting go of, but I went ahead and  listed them for sale on my local Facebook Buy Sell Trade page and couldn’t be happier.

blessings-about

I sold 2 pairs of jeans that fit a little too large and just made me kind of sad every time I would attempt to wear them. The colors were adorable and I had shoes that matched perfectly but they were baggy in the thighs and fell down my butt. 😦 They got me $15.

I sold a brand new pair of Nikes that I bought for my daughter for gym class, but she never had gym last year and refuses to wear sneakers (girly girl problems). I got $20 for those.

I sold another pair of Nikes that were a touch too small for me which made me upset because I loved them so much and I wanted them to fit! I even put water bags in the toes and froze them over night in an attempt to stretch them out, but no dice. Those got me $15.

I sold an Ann Cherry waist trainer that I was so sure I wanted over year ago and cost $50 but was way too small on me. I kept it for a while for thinspiration but it was just gathering dust and looking ugly in the closet. I got $20 for that.

So, this is all money now that can go toward catching up on those bills at the end of the month! Great news, right?

I have found that when I bless others, blessings come my way. Read what happens next…

Yesterday I got an email from the dance studio very apologetically asking if I could come in to work this Saturday (it was supposed to be my off weekend). I said, “Absolutely! I have nothing better to do.” There’s $50 more toward bills.

Today I received my paystub and found that my check was $50 more than I anticipated due to being refunded for a payroll error for the last 2 weeks. I still don’t have my new normal paycheck amount, but based on this week’s paystub I’m thinking I might bring home $25 more a week from the changes I made to my health insurance for 2017. Great! I’ll find out for sure next week. In any case, $50 more toward bills this week!

I got home from work today and had a check in the mail from the bank where we originally had the Dodge Dart financed. A refund of $21.55 for loan over payment. This will be $25 more toward bills!

Have you ever found unexpected money once you decided to get serious about your debt? Have you been blessed when you decided to make a donation to charity? I’d love to hear about it!

January 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello, and welcome to our January 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update. I’m sorry it is so delayed but as I said in my previous post, Christmas and some mighty big insurance changes have knocked us on our butt this month.

First of all, we pay our insurance in full every 6 months so we can take advantage of the 5% discount for doing so. It’s always a bit of a stretch to pull this off, but this month our policy went up $50 from the last statement, then we added the Dart which added $400+ dollars to the policy but then we made sure my son had full coverage on his car which made the policy go up another $350! Great googly moogly! So now we are “behind” again. Being behind means I have to wait for payments to post in order to give the update on our Net Worth.

We did hit over negative 70,000 in Net Worth but I am committed this year to not have any other decreases in our net worth. It is onward and upward from here! I am pretty sure we are done shuffling around assets and taking on new debts… Except for the new doors, I forgot about that. Eh. And new Furnace/AC…. Okay maybe one more decrease. I am terrible! Okay, on to the breakdown!

statement-of-net-worth-january

Assets

Our Home went up in value $96 which I was feeling pretty good about until I looked at our very first Statement of Net Worth and saw it was worth $75,373! It still hasn’t made up that huge $1,452 decrease in value we saw in November! I was wondering if that big decrease was due to the house that sold a couple doors down that I told you guys about in a previous blog, but I looked up the address and found it sold in 3/2015 for $25,000! What a buy! I can’t blame the decrease on that house anymore but in any case, we are still recovering nicely. The landscaper comes back in April and we are planning to plant petunias and break up some huge mums I have in the front of the house. I’m certain the increased curb appeal will amount to an increase in home value.

The HHR is off the books and now belongs to my son. I hope he enjoys it for many years to come.

My 401(k) went up $113 but we should be seeing some huge increases in this account in the coming months! My work has changed from a 2% contribution they just gave with no contribution necessary on my part, to 4% matching. I of course will be contributing 4% now and getting the company’s 4% so I’m excited to see how this grows over the coming months!

Liabilities

3 accounts increased in value this month: The Dart loan, CP Visa, and Navient. Wait, I can explain!

Dart – We refinanced our loan through our local credit union for a .25% interest rate reduction and also to add GAP insurance for $399 since we owe nearly $5,000 more than the car is worth. GAP insurance will cover 100% of the loan in the event that our car is totaled plus give us an additional $1,000 to go toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle. I was happy to add this insurance and I feel much better knowing it’s in place now. We are seeing a $461 increase in this account due to the $399 cost of GAP insurance and because we had no payment due in January. Not the smartest decision I know but I did need that $250 since I was short on paying the bills on the last pay day of the month.

CP Visa – We used this card for Christmas purchases and have been paying it down $100/week so we are only seeing a $118 increase in this account. We have put our cards away and hope to have this account paid in full by August so that we can start using that $100/week toward saving for a down payment on another home.

Navient – Like I said in previous blogs I was keeping an eye on this account to see how much it grows even when I make my minimum Income Based Repayment Plan payment. It only grew $114 this month vs. $161 last month. I called Navient and they advised me that my account accrues about $275 of interest every month. I have listed in my 2017 Goals blog post that I intend to start sending an additional $175/mo on top of my Income Based Repayment Plan amount of $90.61/mo in or around 4/2017. I will keep you posted! I intend to write a blog post in the future detailing each of my Navient student loans, their amounts, and interest rates. The smallest loan is around $1,200 and I know I will be able to knock that one out quickly.  I can’t wait to get started!

So, due to the HHR coming off the books, and adding GAP insurance to the Dart loan we are once again seeing a decrease in net worth. We have to stop getting deeper in the hole! This blog keeps me accountable, and without it I wouldn’t even realize just how much trouble we are in. We now have a negative net worth of $70,620 with a decrease of $3,651 this month.

Coming up in February 2017:

  • An increase in net worth!
  • An increase in 401(k) – D account due to increased contributions

Thank you for reading!

XOXO,

Dolores

2017 Goals

It took me a little while to come up with some goals after I realized how far behind we were due to the major changes we had with our car insurance this month which I will cover more on the January Statement of Net Worth post. I was left feeling defeated and depressed.

be·hind
bəˈhīnd

1. The inability to cover all of the next month’s payments on the last payday of the current month

According to my calculations we should be caught up at the end of March. Once we are caught up it should be smooth sailing from there on out and I thought I would share some of my financial goals of 2017.

Financial

  • Bills caught up (approximately 4/2017)
    • Send extra payment of $175 to Navient
      • Focus on smallest student loans first
    • Increase automatic deposits in to Christmas Club and Vacation Club accounts from $5/week to $20/week
  • Personal Loan sent to 0% for 18 months balance transfer 4/1/2017
    • This will increase our monthly bills $50 for the next 17 months
    • Will cost approximately $101 (3% balance transfer fee)
    • Saves $336.60 in interest
    • Cuts loan maturation date from approximately 8/2019 to 9/2018
  • CP Credit Card paid in full 8/2017
    • Currently send $100/week
    • After paid off, will set up automatic transfer of $100/week in to savings for down payment on a new home
  • HHR 0% balance transfer paid in full 10/2017
    • Currently send $275/mo.
    • After paid off, will set up automatic transfer of $250/month in to savings for future car purchase (projected 3/2018 when Equinox lease is up)

After 8/2017 we will have extra money to send to bills or to send to a retirement account. I’m really unsure what to do at that point. I think I should get in touch with a financial planner to ask which I should focus on. After 8/2017 I could:

  • Send extra money to the home to bring balance down to $56,160 and get rid of PMI payment of $54.54/mo.
  • Send extra money to Navient which has interest rates up to 6.55%
  • Send extra money to retirement account which would earn 8-10% interest over the next 29+ years
  • Could work on complete debt freedom

Perhaps I should add seeing a financial planner as a goal in 2017? What do you guys think?

Home Goals

  • Install new interior doors upstairs 4/2017
    • Safety issue as well as an increase in the financial value (eventually, if we were to get it appraised) and our intrinsic value of our home

 

  • Purchase a High efficiency furnace and central AC 6/2017 with Home Depot special 0% 24 month financing option.
    • Our central AC was installed in 1988, and our furnace is probably older than that. This will not only increase the value of the home, and our intrinsic value of our home but it should also drastically reduce our gas and electric bill which is currently $187/mo.
    • Will increase monthly bills about $150/month for the next 24 months assuming a price of $4,000 for the pair.

 

What are your goals for 2017? Feel free to link me to your blog I love reading and commenting on your ideas.

 

Talk again once the net worth update is ready.

 

XOXO

Dolores