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

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

A Very Merry Weekly Recap

Just in time for the New Year I have decided to take a new direction with my blog, which is more of the direction I had originally planned in my first blog post.

I recently heard an interview in which Andrew at familymoneyplan.com stated that he didn’t try to blog about how to get out of debt, but how HE got out of debt. That really hit home for me. I have been slow at posting lately because I struggled to come up with detailed, well thought out, informative posts for my readers when my mission was to document THIS family’s journey to have a positive net worth.

So, going forward I will document our wins and losses as I always planned to do.  Let’s start now.

12/21/2016

Today I was in touch with our credit union to request the interest rate reduction on our personal loan, and was advised that we could transfer our loan for our Dodge Dart from Huntington at a 4.49% interest rate to the credit union at a 3.99% interest rate.

Christmas has us just a little “short” on bills. I say this even though we never pay our bills late. My strategy as the family accountant is to save our paychecks all month long, and on the last pay-day of the month we pay all the bills that are due the following month regardless of their due date. So at the end of December, we would have been $650 short on paying 100% of all the January bills, so I would have to pay 2 of the January bills on 1/8, and those 2 were due 1/10 and 1/11. No big deal, but I don’t like when this happens! It’s a signal to me that we have mismanaged our money this month.

When our credit union told me the terms of the new loan agreement, the payment amount dropped about $40 a month but mostly because the term is now 60 months. On the old loan our terms were 54 months. Also, our first payment will not be due until 2/4, so we are skipping the January payment. The financial side of me knows that it’s a bad idea to skip a payment and to extend the loan, but in the short-term it really helps! I figure once I catch up and pay off things that are costing us more money in interest I can work this down quickly.

We also added GAP insurance for $399 since we owe more on the Dart than it is worth, so we will see the balance owed on the car go up again this month.

I have also created a list of all the loans we have currently that cost us interest.  I have a plan of attack which basically amounts to the debt avalanche method (paying off highest interest first). Whenever I start thinking about these plans I get excited and carried away and start planning the next debt, and the next debt until I find myself planning budgets for 3 years in the future! I’m not joking!

There is some marital discord because my husband wants to buy a new home because the one we are living in now is really a starter home. I would like to stay modest in the home that we have and spruce it up to our standards. I also want to buy rental properties, but my husband wants us to be in a better home first. I can’t plan too far in to the future (ie: past 10/2017) because at that point I would really like to be throwing all I can at my student loans, and my husband would like to pile up money for a down payment on another home. I usually do go with what my husband wants first, because as long as he’s happy then I can go about doing what I want! What do you think the best course of action would be? The more I have been thinking about it, I start to think that maybe we can halve our savings between a down payment on a new hone, and paying off student loans. But I have also heard a saying, “If you aim at many targets you’ll miss them all’, which basically means to focus on one thing at a time.

It’s killing me not to be able to look ahead. I guess all we can do is take it one day at a time…And I’ll continue with the small home improvements here and there to make our humble abode ever so slightly less cumbersome.

12/22/2016

Today was No Spend Thursday and I started the day off by buying a $2.12 Extra Large coffee from Tim Horton’s because I knew I had a big shipping project to work on at my first job. Then, I went to my second job at the dance studio and bought crackers and a soda for $1.50 with $2 I found in my husband’s pocket while I was sorting laundry 😉 So we had a tiny bit of a fail for No Spend Thursday and it was all on me!

12/23/2016

I’m writing this just before noon in my PJs sipping on a coffee from a Santa mug. I’m going to have a busy day today. We need to:

  1. Grocery shop for Christmas Eve dinner
  2. Put up the Christmas tree
  3. Finish wrapping the Christmas presents
  4. Clean house

Luckily only one of these costs money! Christmas Eve dinner shouldn’t be too bad since I coupon a lot, I have a lot of the stuff I need stockpiled, and some stuff left over from Thanksgiving. Here’s what’s on the menu:

  1. Small Turkey Breast
  2. Ham with Pineapple
  3. Stuffing
  4. Mashed Potatoes
  5. Macaroni and Cheese
  6. Green Bean Casserole
  7. Hawaiian Rolls
  8. Apple Pie & Chocolate Pudding Pie
  9. Watergate Salad (made by my mom!)

An update from Future Dolores: Christmas Eve dinner cost about $50, and we got all our goals accomplished this day. Win!

12/24

One of our big splurge events happens on Black Friday. This is when we give ourselves the green light to go ahead and buy things that we really want if they are on sale. Some of the things we bought this Black Friday were:

  1. An electric fireplace for my daughter – $38 marked down from $70 (the heat doesn’t quite reach up to her room in our old drafty home)
  2. A pair of boots for myself and my daughter – $20 each, marked down from $80 each
  3. 4 pairs of leggings for my daughter – $5 each marked down from $20 each
  4. 2 boxes of Tupperware – $10 each
  5. Decorative baskets – $10 (I have a thing for baskets and boxes)
  6. 2 double slow cookers – $20 each

I can’t remember what my husband and son got!  Anyway, last night we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner and I was finally able to use those double crock pots for the first time. All other Thanksgivings and Christmas Eves in this home we have had disposable tin foil pans laid out along the table and I would be stressed out trying to time everything so it got done at the same time. This year I was able to cook the stuffing and green bean casserole early and just throw them in the crockpots on warm. In the other crock pots I put the mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I wasn’t too worried about the turkey and ham, but then my mom came over with her Christmas gifts, and what did she give me? A 3 pan warmer! I was a little disappointed at first because I really liked my slow cooker set up better, and my mom comes to all the holiday dinners so there’s no way I could get out of using it without hurting her feelings – but then I discovered that it perfectly fit our turkey breast, ham, and dinner rolls!

christmas-eve-dinner

The picture doesn’t do it justice; I snapped the picture quickly before my phone died, but Christmas Eve dinner looked so beautiful and stayed warm for everyone to get seconds and thirds, including my nephew who couldn’t make it until 8pm due to work. Truly a wonderful Christmas Eve.

I hope your holidays were just as great!

XOXO,

Dolores

December 2016 Net Worth Update

Hello, World and welcome to our December 2016 Statement of Net Worth!

statement-of-net-worth-december

This month we see a decrease (egad!) in our Net Worth because we bought a 2013 Dodge Dart. Buying cars is definitely a learning process for us and I expect we will get better as time goes on. This was an expense that we expected and did plan for. The car was for sale for $10,000 and we negotiated with the dealership to get the price down to $9,400 which I thought was awesome. We were aiming for $9,000 but there was really nothing wrong with the car so we went ahead and paid that. BUT my husband really wanted a warranty added on to the car. We disagreed about this so we came to the conclusion that we will go ahead and get the warranty because he really wanted it, and I would feel terrible if something happened to the car where we needed the warranty! It cost $2,495 and was added on to the loan, which automatically makes it cost more. I really wasn’t happy about this! But we went ahead and added it to the loan and we are using it as a learning experience. I have an ongoing note of the repairs that we get under this 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. If the costs don’t exceed $2,495, going forward we will know to opt out of the warranty for future car purchases and just hold that money aside in an Emergency Fund especially for car repairs.

I looked up the car value using Kelly Blue Book and I believe I selected excellent condition, and sell to a private party. Dealerships are always more expensive but we aren’t to the point yet that we are ready to risk going to a private seller. I might attempt it when I buy my daughter’s VW Beetle in 2018. Scott Alan Turner had some good ideas on how to achieve this: Look up the cars you want on your preferred search tool, and then arrange for the seller to take the car to the dealership for an inspection. If everything is up to par then you go ahead and buy the car. If everything is not up to par, you and the seller both know what cards are on the table and you can perhaps negotiate the price even lower if you are still interested in buying the car. If not, you’re out the cost of the inspection but that’s a small price to pay because you avoided buying a lemon. Plus, you could save thousands by going to a private seller. Just look at our deficit for the Dodge Dart: It is worth $7,524 had we purchased it from a private party and we owe $12,526… Stupid warranty. Grr.

On to our regularly scheduled breakdown:

Assets

­The value of our home went up $477! Great news, but nothing under our control, just the fluctuations of the housing market.

The HHR went down in value $46 which isn’t a big deal, but what will be a big deal is when I sign this car over to my son it will be coming off our Assets resulting in another $2,000 decrease in net worth! I really don’t want to hit $(70,000)!

In regards to the Christmas Club and Vacation Club accounts, my husband and I have agreed to make a New Year’s Resolution to increase the automatic transfers in to these accounts from $5/week to $20/week! That will be super helpful come Christmastime next year, and should allow for something of a vacation eventually.

On to the ugly…

Liabilities

This was the first month of our increased principal payment due to the regular monthly payment amount due dropping from the escrow adjustment last month. So our mortgage decreased $124 instead of only $95 in November.

We will be scoring a 5.5% interest rate reduction on our personal loan later this month due to our credit scores increasing 2 letter grades in 1 year, so that will help take more off the principal until I add this to my Capital One 0% balance transfer I have planned for April.

Some awesome news is that we paid off my 401(k) loan last month! I left it on the spreadsheet to reflect the 0 balance, but I’ll be taking if off next month. I can’t wait for the day when we have more asset accounts than liability accounts. Maybe in April when I  transfer the personal loan to Capital One.

I made my first Income Based Repayment Plan payment to Navient this month, and my balance actually went UP $161! How heartbreaking, right? There were some hiccups with autopay which was supposed to start 11/3 and then again 12/3 but they never drafted, so I had to call and make the payment myself. I’m going to watch next month and see what the balance increases to and then increase my payment that much. It stinks I’ll have to pay that much extra just to keep from falling deeper in to debt, but if I had done it years ago I wouldn’t be paying compounding interest on the balance now. I have to draw the line somewhere! I can’t choose to wait for the 25 year forgiveness to save me because my balance will have grown to $81,000 by then and all of that will be counted as income on that tax year. Plus, I just want it gone. I really want to pay this off.

Home Depot went up a little bit because we purchased a leaf blower, the expense of which was offset by my payment. This will actually be going up quite a bit more in the next month or 2 because I’m planning on updating the bedroom and bathroom doors in our home. I’m doing a bit here and there to try to not only increase the value of our home but increase OUR value of the home. I am trying to make it as comfortable and accommodating as possible so we are happy in it as long as possible.

Our Capital One account balance has decreased $351 thanks to $275 coming of for the 0% HHR payment, and other miscellaneous balance changes that happen month to month since we have many of our bills on autopay and pay it in full each month.

And here we have our December 2016 Net Worth amount of: $(69,580)! A decrease of $2,611 from November. Whomp Whomp.

Fun Facts:

This month we have started a New Month Resolution called No Spend Thursdays! I have been inspired by Youtubers who engage in No Spend Months but I really can’t imagine going that long without spending! Another Youtuber suggested to start out small by having a certain day of the week where you don’t spend anything. That’s Thursday for this Family!

Exciting Changes Coming Up in January:

  • Increased principal payment to personal loan due to interest rate reduction
  • Increased auto transfer of $20 to Christmas and Vacation Clubs

I really wish this month had more success to share. I love that this blog and the monthly updates keep me accountable.

Talk again soon!

XOXO,

Dolores