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

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.

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

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!