March 2014 Financial Update

April 6th, 2014 by Jennifer

As always, numbers first:

Debt February 28, 2014 March 31, 2014 Difference
ER Bill 0.00 0.00 0.00
MyPoints Visa 0.00 0.00 0.00
Perkins Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Car Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Surgery Center 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chase 0.00 0.00 0.00
Capital One 2974.03 2174.75 -799.28
CU Visa 5945.54 5978.90 +33.36
Nelnet 12290.76 12132.15 -158.61
Total 21210.33 20285.80 -924.53

Not a whole lot to report for March, just steady progress forward. There is a slight blip on my CU Visa card, which is entirely my fault. I made an online purchase, and did not use the credit card I thought I used. So I made the purchase on one card, and the payment to a different card. That one will be right back down as soon as the other credit card company refunds my surplus.

I’m just plugging away trying to get this credit card debt paid off as fast as possible! I also put about $180 into my emergency fund in March as well.

I did sign up for credit score monitoring with Quizzle, so it was fun for me to see that this month, my debt repayments pushed my credit score above 700 for the first time in a long time! Woohoo! Might be a waste of a few bucks to some people, but I find watching that score creep up incredibly motivating! :)

February 2014 Financial Update

February 28th, 2014 by Jennifer

First, the numbers:

Debt December 31, 2013 February 28, 2014 Difference
ER Bill 0.00 0.00 0.00
MyPoints Visa 0.00 0.00 0.00
Perkins Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Car Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Surgery Center 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chase 1197.15 0.00 -1197.15
Capital One 3520.96 2974.03 -546.93
CU Visa 6129.83 5945.54 -184.29
Nelnet 12289.50 12290.76 +1.26
Total 23137.44 21210.33 -1927.11

A good amount of progress to report for the first 2 months of 2014, thanks largely to my tax refund. January, even with its extra paycheck, ended up being a month of being mostly at a standstill, which is part of why I never updated my financial charts at the end of the month. I have several annual bills due at the beginning of the year that were paid for with January funds, as well as setting aside money for upcoming renter’s insurance and car insurance payments.

February numbers bring the debt repayment boost of my tax refund as well as one paycheck’s worth of normal payments. The second paycheck for February came this morning, so while I’ve scheduled debt payments, they haven’t actually posted yet and those payments will be reflected in March’s numbers. This is part of why the Nelnet student loan is showing a slight increase… I’ve been ahead on payments, so in January I paid just enough to cover the accrued interest and put the rest of the money towards paying off the Chase credit card. My February payment is scheduled to go through today, but my account always shows the accumulated interest, hence the appearance of going the wrong direction.

As you can see, I’ve finally paid off the Chase credit card. Woohoo! I do auto pay several things through this credit card, but that amount is accounted for in the monthly budget. You can also see that I was able to start throwing money at the Capital One account, which is the next one on the list. I’m hoping to get rid of that one as quickly as possible. Just with my budgeted amounts of debt repayment, and without any overtime I get at work, quick and dirty math tells me that this one should be paid off by July. Sooner if more OT becomes available!

Not reflected in my debt chart is the fact that I’ve also added a little over $300 to my savings since the beginning of the year. Not a huge amount, but definitely the most I’ve had in savings for a long time. I know you’re supposed to have an emergency fund in place before paying down debt, but I’ve always had a terrible time sitting on money, especially when I get to the point on a debt where I can wipe it out with the money I have in savings! I’m slowly adding money to savings though, and I’m determined not to touch it unless it’s an emergency! I zero out my checking account every payday, so anything left from the previous paycheck gets transferred over to savings, plus a small amount that I’ve set aside out of every paycheck. It’s not a lot, but I’m hoping it will start to add up over time.

Weigh In 2-24-14

February 24th, 2014 by Jennifer

Official weigh in: Down -0.7 lbs this week for a 19 lb loss overall. It's not coming off fast, but it's coming off and that's all that matters.

This was the best week I’ve had in awhile! Not only did I lose 0.7 lbs, but I came in 35 calories under my weekly goal. Talk about getting it right! It helped that 6 out of the 7 days this week I was at work… I definitely keep it reigned in a little better when I’m working than when I’m home all day! This week is 3 days off and 4 days at work, so hopefully I don’t go too far off course!

Though I do have to admit that when I wasn’t spending my day like this…

I'm sorry, I can't clean the apartment. One of my hands is currently functioning as a kitty pillow. #pudge #catsofinstagram

…I was making lemon brownies. Oops? Haha, but they’re delicious! Everything in moderation, right?

Part of what I’m crediting for last week’s success is a new calorie goal. Previously I’ve been allowing myfitnesspal to set my calorie goal for a 1 lb weight loss a week. It has not been working well, and frankly, has been kind of hard to meet the goals. Reading Runs for Cookies one day recently led me to a Ultimate Weight Loss Calorie Calculator. I plugged all my information in, and set it to a sedentary level since I’m not really exercising right now, and came up with a daily calorie goal that was about 100 calories more than myfitnesspal was giving me. Since I was coming close to the myfitnesspal goal, but was consistently between 30-100 calories above it, I thought I’d give the new goal a shot.

You’d think it would be just the same as what I was doing already, but it actually made a big difference to make the slightly higher number my official goal. Like many people, I fall into the trap of seeing that I’m consistently over my goal and justifying eating a little bit more because I’ve already “failed”. It seems counterintuitive but setting a calorie goal that was a teensy bit higher allowed me to eat less! Hoping for a good week this week too.

Tidy Cats LightWeight Litter Review

February 23rd, 2014 by Jennifer

promo_lightweight

Scooping litterboxes last night reminded me that I have been meaning to post about my experience with Tidy Cats Lightweight litter. Several people who knew I bought it asked what I thought, as did the cashier at the grocery store, so I thought I’d write something up.

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials on TV of people throwing around jugs of this LightWeight litter like nothing. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that? I have 3 litterboxes that take conventional litter and live on the second floor… if I could purchase a litter that wasn’t as heavy, I was all for it! I found a large box of it at Sam’s Club and decided to give it a go. It IS light weight, that’s for sure. I was able to easily carry the club sized box of litter all by myself. But…

That’s about all it had going for it. I knew I was in trouble the first time I went to scoop the boxes after putting it in the boxes… it’s very, VERY dusty. Like cough and hold your breath, turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom dusty. I don’t want to breathe that in while scooping boxes, and I certainly don’t want my kitties breathing it in while digging around doing their business either.

The nail in the coffin for the Tidy Cats LightWeight litter in my house though, was the fact that it immediately turned the urine basically into cement. I practically had to chisel the urine chunks off the edges of the litterbox, no matter how quickly I got to scooping. (I am, admittedly, not the best box cleaner.) This led the clumps to break apart and just become a fine, urine soaked dust in the litter box.

So while the ability to easily carry around containers of the Light Weight litter was pretty fantastic, how it WORKS is what matters to me. So I went back to carrying the heavier Tidy Cats Small Spaces multicat litter version that I always seem to go back to no matter what else I try! Your mileage may vary.

I jinxed myself!

February 13th, 2014 by Jennifer

Just yesterday I wrote that every time I get motivated to step up the exercise, I get sick or something happens. I’ve had a lingering cough that makes cardio difficult since I got sick at the beginning of January. So I started thinking, well, I can do some core work instead. Right on cue, just a few short hours later, I somehow hurt my back! I don’t even know how I did it, although I suspect I did something to it when I bent down to unplug my laptop, but I definitely hurt it somehow as I’m still wincing 24 hours later!

So I guess instead of some crunches and push ups, I’ll be sitting very still on the couch wishing I had some muscle relaxers. Awesome.

Weigh In 2/10/14

February 12th, 2014 by Jennifer

I could have sworn I had updated on the weight loss sometime since December 2nd, but a quick perusal of the blog tells me that is not the case! Whoops! When last I posted, I was at 12.8 lbs down. Let’s go ahead and fast forward to two days ago, as I count my “official” weigh in on Mondays, even though I weigh myself nearly every morning.

Weekly #weighin. New low weight (by .1 lb) lol I've not been doing a good job of staying on track, so I'll just be happy it's not a gain! #myfitnesspal #fitbit #countingcalories #weightloss #fatkid #damnoreos

In the last two months, I’ve managed to lose an additional 4.5 lbs, putting me at 17.3 lbs lost overall. It’s certainly not a HUGE accomplishment, but it’s trending the right direction so I won’t get too upset. I also can’t get that mad when it certainly represents the amount of effort that I’ve put in! This time around I seem to be losing a couple of pounds, and then staying the same for a month or so… lose a couple more, stay the same for awhile. Seems like every time I really get geared up to work harder, I get sick again. The cough from my last illness is still lingering which makes it difficult to (want to) do any kind of exercise to ramp up my efforts. Not to mention, it’s damn cold and all I want to do is hibernate!

2013 Financial Summary

January 8th, 2014 by Jennifer

Wow, am I starting 2014 behind or what? Good thing this wasn’t one of my new year’s resolutions! haha I’ve been busy, and sick, and frankly antisocial so I haven’t gotten around to posting lately, but I don’t want to get too far into the year without posting so here we go.

First, I owe you the numbers from December:

Debt December 1, 2013 December 31, 2013 Difference
ER Bill 0.00 0.00 0.00
MyPoints Visa 0.00 0.00 0.00
Perkins Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Car Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Surgery Center 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chase 1326.08 1197.15 -128.93
Capital One 3566.64 3520.96 -45.68
CU Visa 6244.23 6129.83 -114.40
Nelnet 12365.18 12289.50 -75.68
Total 23502.13 23137.44 -364.69

As you can see, forward progress in all categories, for more than $350 paid off during the month of December.

And to sum up for the entire year….

Debt January 1, 2013 December 31, 2013 Difference
ER Bill 1110.00 0.00 -1110.00
Capital One 1182.01 3520.96 +2338.95
MyPoints Visa 1326.27 0.00 -1326.27
Perkins Loan 1579.53 0.00 -1579.53
Chase 1619.32 1197.15 -422.17
Surgery Center 2311.25 0.00 -2311.25
Car Loan 2475.48 0.00 -2475.48
CU Visa 6898.58 6129.83 -768.75
Nelnet 12831.59 12289.50 -542.09
Total 31334.03 23137.44 -8196.59

$8196.59 paid off from January 1st to December 31st 2013. By far the most successful I have ever been in paying off debt. Obviously at over 23k, I have a LONG way to go, but I feel like I have a decent amount of traction now and I’m hoping to be able to keep that going in 2014. At this point in time, there is a decent amount of uncertainty about what my employment is going to look like in 2015, so that’s coloring a lot of my financial goals for this year.

My big fat goal is to pay off everything except the Nelnet student loan this year… that’s getting close to 11k, so I’m not sure how feasible that is. Especially since I’d like to get some cash in savings this year too. Either way, I’m shooting to pay off as much of that total as I possibly can, so we’ll see how far I get!

Going forward, I am going to total up my bills as of the last of the month instead of the first of the next month. It’s felt kind of absurd to me to call it a “November update” and provide numbers for December 1st, so I’m going to change it!

Weekly Weigh In 12-2-13

December 2nd, 2013 by Jennifer

A little backsliding between Thanksgiving overindulgence and TOTM water weight. Ever onward. #myfitnesspal #fitbit #fatkid #weighin #weightloss #countingcalories

It’s always tempting to just not update on weeks like this, but honesty is the name of the game. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to pretend like you never fall off the wagon, or there are never any bumps in the road.

This little bump is courtesy of Thanksgiving, general over indulgence for the entire week really, and compounded by starting my period and the accompanying water weight that always comes with that.

I feel like I’ve mentioned it almost every week, but these weeks are exactly the reason I weigh every day. I’ve watched the trend of my weight every day this week, so today wasn’t a surprise. It also doesn’t hold much power. I know that tomorrow is a new day. Hopefully with less candy in it, but a new day. :)

December 2013 Financial Update

December 2nd, 2013 by Jennifer

Debt Chart

Debt November 1, 2013 December 1, 2013 Difference
ER Bill 0.00 0.00 0.00
MyPoints Visa 0.00 0.00 0.00
Perkins Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Car Loan 0.00 0.00 0.00
Surgery Center 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chase 1437.88 1326.08 -111.80
Capital One 3611.02 3566.64 -44.38
CU Visa 6237.36 6244.23 +6.87
Nelnet 12431.95 12365.18 -66.77
Total 23718.21 23502.13 -216.08

Not a whole lot of progress to report this month. I’ve been focusing on finishing up Christmas, been replacing a few things for myself, and I have a lot of things that come due at this time of year like the plates for my car and car insurance just to name a couple. Still, 216 more dollars off the debt is 216 dollars in the right direction! And honestly, the balance on my Chase card was a lot lower before Amazon started all their Black Friday deals! LOL

My only goal for the month of December is to stop the bleeding, since I do feel like I have been hemorrhaging money for the last month or so. I’ll be putting minimum payments across all the bills, as always, and adding in some of the overtime I got this month. I know I’d like to get my total paid off for the calendar year to over 8k, and since it is less than $200 short of that, I don’t think that will be a problem.

Thanksgiving 2013

November 28th, 2013 by Jennifer

On the left, getting on the road in South Bend. On the right, about an hour/hour and a half or so later just outside of Rochester.

This Thanksgiving, I was grateful to be able to leave town in the middle of a snowstorm, and go down to spend the holiday with my mom. It was a really quick trip… I was at her house for about 24 hours, but it was a good trip. The holidays are a lonely time of year, so I appreciated being able to go and spend time with her for a little while.

Because what else would you do on Thanksgiving morning?! #parade

She cooked a huge feast (which was delicious!), we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ate said feast, both ended up taking a nap, and just hung out on the couch visiting and crocheting. I packed up, with several meals worth of leftovers in tow (SCORE), and hit the road before it got dark. Now I’m hanging out at home, loving on the kitties, crocheting some more, and just trying to get myself ready to start another work week tomorrow.

I was trying to think how to put into words what I’m thankful for, since that’s what you DO on this holiday. It always feels a little contrived to me, but nonetheless, there are things to be grateful for. I’m thankful for my family. For the handful of close friends who see me, and love me for me. For a job that pays my bills, allows me to work towards my goals, and lends me a sense of personal fulfillment. For two furry little kitties that make my days a little more frustrating and a lot less lonely. For the many, many blessings in my life that I couldn’t possibly begin to put into words.

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