Redykle

Just a little blog about me and mine.

End of Month Budget Update September 30, 2009

Filed under: family,finances — Katie @ 3:34 pm

Well we’re at the end of our first month sticking to our new budget. As I shared at the mid-month update, things were going well so far as I monitored our expenses. I was embarrassingly excited for the end of the month to be here so that I could tally up everything and look at some receipts and split expense categories. At the very least I knew we stuck to our restaurant/eating out budget thanks to the cash system.


Here’s the full report:

$108 over budget, but still $683 under our income for the month. I wish we had come in under the budget but certainly happy with how we did. The budget still might need some adjusting (and our spending might too), but I think we’re on the right track. It is a nice sense of accomplishment to know we spent less than we earned (what a novel and shocking idea!). The cash system for restaurants has been the best part for me–I know we would stick to the budgeted amount and that made our eating out adventures even more fun–they were planned for and intentional rather than just the spontaneous, ‘oh crap we forgot to figure out something to eat tonight.’

We were over budget in some categories but that was mostly balanced by being under in others. I also know exactly where most of our extra spending came from–$20 for a tarp to sit on at a very wet concert, $60 in emergency new raincoats thanks to Atlanta’s torrential rain to keep us dry at the concert, and $20 of extra groceries(over and above what we normally buy and nicer stuff too) for fun picnic at the wet concert. We had a really hard time finding raincoats at the last minute and couldn’t shop around, but we actually found nice ones that will last. So even though that $60 was a lot to spend on 2 new coats, to me it’s better to spend more money for good things rather than having wasted $10 or so on cheap plastic ponchos that we would throw away.

Sadly, we were over our budget in a few categories:

Groceries-$43 (fancy picnic food plus buying some large packages of meat on sale this weekend probably put us over, the real test is if we manage to be under next month thanks to some of our bulk shopping)
Gas-$25 (but remember we drove 12 hours on a weekend trip)
Personal Care/Health-$44 (that $44 deficit came from buying a large package of toothpaste at Sam’s plus 2 large bottles of Fish Oil tablets that will last a long time)
Pet Food-$26 (we technically had to buy dog food 3 times this month, but will probably need it just once next month since when we buy it is usually lasts 2 weeks–hopefully it evens out.)
Clothes-$33 (including $60 for above mentioned emergency but nice raincoats)
Gifts-$51 (a birthday present plus a wedding/wedding shower present put us over the category for the month–most of our gift buying for the whole year is located September-December each year so I’ll watch this budget category but I’m not concerned for now)


We did succeed in coming in under budget in several categories:


Electricity +$15 (that’s based on this month last year, so that’s very exciting)
Prescription Medicine + $15 (this is a relief since we were worried about PL’s new insurance, but her new doctor has done a good job shifting to cheaper alternatives and even changing dosage size of the same drugs to make the same amount she takes cheaper to buy)
Entertainment +$25 (we’re cheap dates, what can I say)
Car Maintenance/Emissions +$15 (I had to get an oil change and emissions done, but PL seems to have taken my car for me when they were running a special and to a place that offers cheaper emissions that most-nice job! I’d much rather have that $15 to spend on something more exciting.)

 

Harmony September 18, 2009

Filed under: family,finances,fitness — Katie @ 10:54 am

I’m not a very new-agey person, but I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that I find a certain harmony and wholeness in focusing on going to the gym, eating healthy, and managing my money wisely–all at the same time. I’ve always read that you should never try to break or start more than one habit at a time if you want to succeed, but I’ve noticed that the opposite is true for me. Each good habit fuels the others in a circular way. Lack of time and money (created by going to the gym and simultaneously cutting back on expenses) foster good habits and keep me away from bad habits.

Here are a few further thoughts on why this works for me:

  • When I go the gym I feel so good that afterward I want to eat healthy, light foods that will refuel my body. I also drink a lot more water during the day because when I don’t I can feel that my body doesn’t perform as well when I work out. So while it’s hard to get home late from the gym and then have to cook dinner, I don’t actually have the desire to just grab something quick and unhealthy on the way home.
  • Since I’m also trying to watch our finances more closely, we plan our meals a week at a time and have all needed groceries on hand. When I do get home late from the gym late and need to cook, I know what we’re cooking that night and know that everything we need is thawed out and ready to go. I have also been trying to plan easier meals on nights I’ll get home late, and even cook larger amounts on other nights and have leftovers.
  • Since we tightened our budget, I have less available funds to spend on going out to eat, going to movies or other entertainment, so I actually have more time to go to the gym even though it’s time consuming. I’ve been going Tuesdays and Thursdays when I get off of work, and don’t get home until close to 8pm.
  • When I eat better, I feel better and have more energy, so it’s easier to generate the energy and motivation to go to the gym–which makes me feel even better. When I eat poorly, I feel sluggish and even sort of sickly so I certainly won’t go to the gym even if it would make me feel better–instead I’ll get home, crash, snack, and sit around on the couch all night.
  • This new routine also affects how much alcohol I buy and drink. I really don’t drink very often, but when I do drink, it’s usually social and it’s not just usually one drink. But wine and beer is expensive, and full of calories, so by not wanting to spend an extra $10-$15 on a bottle of wine at the grocery store, and not wanting to consume an extra 500 calories or so when I’m trying to eat better, I don’t really buy or drink much alcohol.

It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve started this new routine of being all around healthy and awesome, so I can easily back slide (to use the lingo of my southern religious roots), but I keep reminding myself how good I feel when I go to the gym, how much better I will feel about myself if I get in better shape and lose weight, and now nice it will be to increase our savings and have more money for the future.

I’ll close with a somewhat embarrassing and self-effacing story from last Friday. I had my gym back packed and in the car but felt tired and cranky and worn out after work–I even ended up staying almost an hour late to finish up some things. When I left I really didn’t want to go to the gym. I called PL and said, “I either need you to talk me into going to the gym or tell me it’s ok to come home. I want to go home and drink and eat pizza and sit on the couch.” She knew I was in a classic foul mood, and would be even worse all evening. While I was whining about going to the gym I still drove that way instead of towards home, I turned onto the road and even pulled into the parking deck while still on the phone with her being in a bad mood. I was so grouchy I even pulled back out of the parking lot and decided to head home instead–I didn’t want her to be right that I’d be in a better mood if I went to the gym, so I’ll go home and be a pill all evening–that will show her! But I didn’t want to be in a bad mood, and I didn’t want to be cranky with her all evening when she did nothing wrong. I also had just told a co-worker that I was going to the gym after work, so I exited the parking deck, drove back around the block, pulled back into the parking deck and walked to the gym. I didn’t have a great workout, I hadn’t had enough water that day so I felt sluggish, but I went and then felt a 100% better and less grumpy and managed to have a good Friday night instead of starting a fight.

 

Credit Card Rewards September 17, 2009

Filed under: finances — Katie @ 4:16 pm

Rachel asked me about my thoughts on Credit Card Rewards programs, and my comment in response got increasingly longer, so it made more sense to make it even longer still and turn it into an actual blog post.


Why I Use a Credit Card for Daily Expenses
I will never advocate that anyone carry credit card debt, and I can see that for some people the benefit of rewards from a credit card can justify or excuse excessive spending. Even the best rewards cards don’t pay much more than 2% back to you, so that’s the first perspective to start with. For me, it’s easier to pay with a credit card for most daily expenses (don’t you just get angry at those little old ladies who try to pay with checks at the grocery store?). I prefer an actual credit card to my debit card which are equally convenient but the balance has to be watched even more closely since sometimes deposits and withdrawals can easily cross paths and be poorly timed. That’s a nice way of saying I’ve had deposits not clear even though they should have, while payments cleared way sooner than they should have and bounced a virtual check and got hit with a fee, even though I wasn’t actually overspending. I know that cash based budgets or even keeping a closer eye on actual spending via a debit card can be very useful budgeting tools, but I just find it easier to use plastic at a store. I’m actually not a very wise spender of cash, I also lose it sometimes, and I don’t feel comfortable carrying lots of cash. I also don’t carry a purse, just a metal card case wallet which I then rubber band cash to when I have it (except for now, as PL noticed last night, my rubber band broke a few weeks ago and I can’t remember to find a new one, so cash is just hanging out loose in the non-closed up pocket of my work bag waiting to get pulled out and lost by accident), so those are more personal reasons why I like prefer credit cards for daily spending.

What Card(s) Do I Use?
For the past year or so we’ve used the Kroger Rewards Mastercard for most daily expenses. So probably $500-$600 a month spent on groceries, gas, random shopping etc… that we then pay off. That’s been my only experience with reward cards up to now.

This card has a $1500 limit so it’s great for daily expenses without worrying about reaching that limit, but if there is an occasion where we’d have to travel unexpectedly or otherwise need to quickly access more money than we have on hand in an emergency fund quickly, a credit card is the easiest thing to use in that case and we could easily go over the limit on this card. For situations like that, and for times where we had a big purchase like a freezer or washer and dryer, it was easier to use a credit card we have with a much higher limit at the store and pay the full amount later-knowing that we could afford the purchase we were making, of course. That high limit card has been nice for times like that, but it had no rewards at all.

For that reason, when I recently learned about the new Invest First Credit Card with Charles Schwab which rewards you with an unlimited 2% cash back deposited in your brokerage account, I signed up. I already had a Charles Schwab brokerage account, and find them great to work with. For instance, when I was 21 I inherited some money and needed to open an investment account to put it in. I had a great deal of trouble getting anyone at Fidelity to help me and explain things to me since I knew nothing about investing, but the very first person I talked to at Charles Schwab invited me to come in and talk through my options and get some good investing advice for the future (it didn’t matter to them how little or how much money I had, or how young or old I was). When we decided to buy a house, we went first to Charles Schwab, asked for a gay friendly staffer, and we sat down with him (in person!) and he was wonderful in walking us through applying for our first mortgage, and gave us some good general financial advice as well without any fees for doing so. I think the timing of the introduction of this new card is good since while Americans certainly don’t need any more credit cards, there is a renewed interest in savings and investing money and a brokerage account potentially gets you greater return that sticking the money in a savings account.

What’s the Reward?

From the Kroger rewards card, we seem to receive $20 off every quarter (in the form of check-like coupons that you just hand to the cashier and cash in easily). They claim you get $5 off for each 1000 points you earn, and you get a point for each dollar spent anywhere, 2 points for each dollar at Kroger and 3 points on Kroger brand products. That’s really only $80 a year cash back, which is nice but doesn’t drastically make a difference in our budget.

The real reason I like this reward credit card though is accumulating points for gasoline discounts (and the Kroger gas station is conveniently located not too far from home at the store we prefer). With a regular Kroger shopper card you get 3 cents off a gallon, and 10 cents off for every $100 you spend. With the credit card we get 15 cents off with that $100, and prescriptions also add to the benefit of getting the 15 cents. (I believe for every 2 prescriptions you fill there you get the 10 cent, or in our case 15 cent, gas discount…and PL has 3-4 prescriptions a month to fill). Because of this, we have found that we always end up with the 15 cents benefit which, if my very quick math is right, is probably about $150 saved per year on gas at the rate we fill up. If you’re Kroger isn’t nice, or if it’s not convenient, it’s certainly not worth going out of your way just for these rewards.

With the new Charles Schwab card, I expect that we’ll shift some expenses to that, while right now planning to keep Kroger-based spending on the Kroger card since the gas benefit does seem to help out. Confusing, no? This new card is also a Visa Signature card, which according to their commercials anyway, has some other perks that I need to check out. So, my best guess for now is that with regular spending we’ll get $100-$200 cash back this year just from daily spending deposited in the brokerage account, maybe more if we take any trips. That’s still not a ton of money (and again, not at all something you can justify spending more to get) but it’s a competitive credit card reward rate and it goes straight into an investment account where it can earn more over time through wise investing and compound interest.

How?

I own some shares of a mutual fund (SWPPX) that consists of the same stocks as the S&P 500, so I’ll use that as an example. That fund currently costs $16.76 a share (it used to cost more than that, but this has been a rough year), so with $200 (which I didn’t do anything to earn other than buy the things I was going to buy anyway), I can buy almost 12 shares of that mutual fund. So if I bought those 12 shares yesterday, today that fund went up .25 a share. That’s $3 I earned today while sitting on my butt blogging at work. Not bad. That fund also pays a .39 dividend (a way the company shares the profits) per share annually, so that would be another $4.68 I didn’t do anything to earn. I reinvest all of my stock/mutual fund dividends right now, so that’s even more shares that I can buy, and then when the prices goes up or dividends are calculated, I’m starting with more shares than before. This is off topic from reward credit cards, but does explain why I think the reward from the Invest First Charles Schwab card is worth it.

Other Reward Cards

While these are the only reward cards I’ve personally had experience with, reward cards with airlines or hotels are much more common. Many of these programs charge an annual fee to join, and I simply don’t spend enough money, and in particular, don’t spend enough money on plane tickets or hotels to recover that fee each year through the benefits received. We’ve probably all heard about the Capital One no hassle rewards,card, and I looked that card up and it has no annual fee, and gives you 1 frequent flyer mile for every $1 spent up to $1000 spent per month, and 2 miles $2 after that. It takes 25,000 or so Delta frequent flyer miles for a free ticket, so that doesn’t seem very rewarding to me…at least not at the rate I spend money. For cash back cards, I see 1-2% as the average at http://www.creditcards.com/ and some Discover cards pay up to 5% for certain types of purchases, but many places do not take Discover.

So I would conclude that it can be beneficial to use a rewards card, but to find one that will get you a reward you can actually obtain and use. The main thing though is remembering that you aren’t really making enough back to justify greater spending. The credit card companies wouldn’t offer reward cards if they didn’t earn more from it than they give to their customers.

 

Mid-Month Budgeting

Filed under: family,finances — Katie @ 12:00 pm

This week is the middle of the first month with our new budget and spending goals, so I sat down and looked at our budget and monthly expenses more closely to see how we are doing so far. As of the 15th of the month, we’re on track to not run out of money by the time I get paid next week on the 25th, and that’s the point, so we’re doing ok.

The new budget consisted of:

1. Cash only for eating out ($120 a month total)
2. A customized monthly budget for each month, linked to an overall yearly and monthly average budget
3. A new Charles Schwab invest first credit card (for rewards of cash for the brokerage account)
4. Not using Mint (which was just bought by Intuit, perhaps making it appear more secure, but I hear terrible things about the unreliability of Intuit so I’m glad I’m done)

Here’s how we’re doing:

Cash only for eating out–I think we’re almost out of cash, maybe $12 left, from our $120 total restaurant cash plus our $20 each for incidentals. PL’s extra cash seems to have gone towards our restaurant budget too, while I did need $12 cash one day and had it. Technically our month for restaurant cash starts over when I get paid on the 25th since that’s when we took it out last month, and of course immediately started spending it. I might try to see if we can tough it out and wait until October 1st to start the cash again so it tracks more easily month by month. But with knowing we have a limited amount of cash, when we have gone out we were mindful of prices, but also mindful that we were choosing to spend that money and should enjoy it knowing we could afford it. This is much better than feeling guilty about eating out, or also mindlessly grabbing something on the way home since we didn’t feel like cooking.

A customized monthly budget–I knew going into this that the budget would need some work over time, but so far it’s working out ok. I really like this customized monthly budget, and in particular it’s helpful to predict the actual amount we’ll spend on an irregular expense in the month it will occur, rather than some random $10 or so every month. It’s certainly not a perfect system but we made sure to have some backup padding in our budget and savings, so we have a little flexibility to try this out as a way to better predict those expenses.

The budget has categories of fixed monthly expenses (mortgage, car insurance, cell phone, etc…that occur every month and are the same amount every month), variable monthly expenses with a same goal amount each month (groceries, gas, electricity, lawn/garden) and then the tricky category–irregular expenses (gifts, magazine subscriptions, gym membership, vet bills and those other things that don’t get paid every month and often aren’t even the same amount).

Here’s a snapshot at some of our progress:

Groceries: $160 spent out of a $400 budget. We’ve had really small grocery lists lately, partly since we usually buy large amounts of meat when it’s on sale and then freeze it and also by using some pantry staples like lentils and freezer staples like peas. That budget amount still seems pretty high for just 2 people–is it? It’s based on what we had historically spent on groceries, even though buy very little pre-packaged food, except for lots of cereal (even that is store brand, healthy grown up cereal, and on sale).

Gas: $125.8 out of a $130 budget. So maybe this budget category needs to be adjusted. We did drive 6 hours to and from Durham, NC during Labor Day in the SUV so that took a lot of gas-$69 at some stations not at home, plus the filling up before and after. Luckily, we will still be able to afford to buy more gas this month, but we can reduce our gas expenses a lot I think by driving the Ford Escort more than we drive the Mariner when we make trips around town.

Now for those pesky irregular expenses:

My birthday is next month, and I got my early birthday present from the County in the form of a $178 car registration bill and had to get a mandatory emissions test. I did learn that while $25 is the recommended price for emissions tests, companies are free to charge whatever, so we got it for $17. The point is that I knew this expense would be coming this month, and knew it was going to be roughly $200 so I was prepared and counted that money in the budget.

We also had a birthday party and then a wedding shower to go to, which I hadn’t planned for in the budget for this month. It was accounted for in a more traditional average yearly and monthly expense way though after I estimated birthdays, weddings and holidays.

New credit card–So far I’ve been happy with the new Charles Schwab credit card. We haven’t gotten any cash rewards yet, but I got the ebill and online bill pay set up. It doesn’t really affect our daily spending, it’s just the way we’re paying for some of it now instead of on a card with no rewards back to us.

 

Finances Schminances September 1, 2009

Filed under: finances — Katie @ 12:29 pm

I’ve either mentioned this to you in person, or just via the blog perhaps, but with my new job comes just one paycheck a month. Even though it’s a bigger paycheck, the first month was rough, to put it mildly. I believe we had about $20 left in the checking account when my paycheck came around again. What ended up happening is that when I got my first paycheck I paid many of our bills for the month and then paid off the credit card bills that contained the rest of our daily expenses–but that was really paying for the previous month not our current spending. We also had some unexpected and irregular expenses (which really shouldn’t be unexpected or irregular if my budget worked): replacing a dead weed whacker, new glasses, expensive prescriptions because of a gap in PL’s health insurance since she can’t be on my new plan and the school plan hadn’t started yet. We were able to make it through the month and lucky enough to be able to bail ourselves out with savings to avoid carrying over balances to this month, and we started fresh on September 1st with no outstanding balances. But, it was a bit of a wake up call that we need a better way of planning our spending and keeping an eye on things.

So, here’s the new system that starts today:


1. No more Mint or Bank of America “My Portfolio” for keeping up with our budget goals


I’ve written about both of these free online budgeting services before, and I played around with then both a good bit but neither works the way I want it to. Plenty of other bloggers have listed the pros and cons to the many online budgeting programs, so I won’t detail that here. Simply put, both programs have some big pros and some smaller cons, but clearly I had a breakdown in their usefulness since I ran out of money ­čÖé

2. Continuing to use Bank of America’s portfolio for frequent monitoring of expenses but not budget planning

One thing I do enjoy about these budgeting programs is being able to link multiple accounts–checking, savings, credit cards–all in one place to see all transactions and their categories. I need to do better at splitting transactions though–something that’s easy in the program if you hang onto a receipt. For example, if we go to Sam’s club we typically don’t leave without spending $100+ on things like detergent, kitty litter, razor blades and trash bags plus some grocery items, but I should split that transaction into groceries and household items so that long term I will have enough data to see a) whether Sam’s actually saves us money b) which items we should buy there and c) to better predict how often we’ll need to budget for those big trips. Mint is a little slower on the uptake of processing your transactions but BoA is pretty good. So, I want to just keep an eye on things during the month by logging in and seeing where we stand budget wise, but won’t use this service for more than simple monitoring and adjusting our spending as needed.


3. My own budget spreadsheet



Taking some helpful advice from Rachel on her budget, I sat down and figured out which categories of our expenses were the same every month, which things happen every month but are different amounts, and which things occur without a monthly pattern. I made a master monthly and yearly budget column for everything, averaging out even those irregular patterns into a monthly amount–I had done this before but it’s that monthly average part that frustrated me. To help solve that problem I decided to then add a column for every single month as well–treating each month differently since their actual expenses are different. I looked back at our power and gas bill history (something that was quick and easy to do using our bank’s online system), putting the monthly bill amount from last year as our goal for the corresponding month this year. Our gas and power bills vary wildly depending on the season, and while I was right on with my monthly and yearly estimates in the master budget, it was frustrating to try to account for these swings in a static budget. So those budget goals for the month are already filled in going forward, and then in months that I know things like car registrations are due, I also filled in that amount in that month’s budget as well. So the overall amount for the year and the monthly average is included in the master budget which is balanced, I might add, but that random $8 for magazine subscriptions doesn’t show up every month, just the total amount in the month when it gets paid. I think that if each month’s unique budget comes in under the master monthly budget, we’ll have the money in the account for those other months when we need it. Will that actually work out mathematically? I hate accounting, but I think it will work out, but hope someone with a better head for this than I have will let me know if I estimated that wrong before I find out the hard way that it won’t work that way.



4. Cash only for eating out


When I got paid, I took out $120 in cash for our monthly budgeted restaurant excursions, and another $20 each for those random things that you just need cash on hand for occasionally. When it’s gone it’s gone. I know a cash system works well for many people for paying for gas and groceries too, but for now we are confident we can manage those expenses so we’re just sticking with cash for restaurants.

5. A new credit card

After reading a great New York Times article on some of the recent happenings in the credit card world–seriously, go read it– I reevaluated the Bank of America credit card account (formerly MBNA) that I’ve had since 2001 and then added PL to in 2004 or 2005 when we co-mingled our lives and finances. The limit continues to shrink, without warning, even though we’re terrific customers–I think they hate me since I don’t carry a balance. That’s really happening everywhere right now, and I totally get why since so many of us are up to our ears in credit card debt and then not able to pay it off. But, my card’s limit was cut in half and then cut by another 30% (without notice except for me seeing it on the account). This card also has no rewards back to us for using it either, so we’ve rarely been using it lately (only for big things like airline tickets that might normally put us over the limit on our other card). While I’m certain we really could and should get by without a high credit limit, is sure is nice to have. I guess this has less to do with our daily money management, but I found it helpful for thinking about the big picture of our finances as well.

One credit card mentioned in the Times article was a card with Charles Schwab bank that will put cash back into a brokerage account. I already have a Brokerage account and IRA with Chuck, and they handle our mortgage as well, so I did some more research on this card. No annual fee. A higher APR than I’d like (13.4%), but we rarely carry a balance and sadly, that rate is actually pretty competitive right now. Unlimited 2% cash back on purchases, deposited directly into your brokerage account each month. I’ve been completely pleased with Charles Schwab in every bit of business I’ve ever done with them, so I decided to apply for this new card–it was super easy since I already have a brokerage account with them but if you don’t I think you just do both at once. The 2% will be nice, even if it’s not a huge amount, and putting it directly into the brokerage account contributes more to longer term investing goals than just giving us $20 in free groceries once a quarter like our Kroger card does now. We were approved and will now have a Charles Schwab Visa Signature Card (so Bank of America with their lousy platinum card can bite me), so the Visa Signature category also gets us some other discounts other places. I’ve researched reward cards before, typically airline ones, but they usually come with an annual fee and we really don’t fly enough or spend enough to rack up enough rewards to cover the fee.

So, that’s where we are today. It’s nice to start a new month with some nice goals and a clean slate going forward with better money management. We actually have a fair bit of income left over after our budgeted expenses are paid each month, unless I forgot some giant category, so I’m hoping to continue to save that and pay for our ever growing wedding expenses and any travel we might have time to do. Wish us luck.

 

Oh no you didn’t… April 2, 2009

Filed under: finances — Katie @ 4:02 pm

I log into my bank and credit card accounts online pretty regularly–almost every day, certainly a few times a week, just to check on things. Today I noticed that my credit limit shrank. A lot. On March 31st I had a credit limit of $32,200. On April 1st, it was $16,500. That’s a 51.24% decrease. First, since I’m mad, let’s temporarily ignore the fact that my credit limit shouldn’t have been that high in the first place. Let’s also ignore that I would still be in deep trouble if I reached the new smaller limit.

So, what gives? I scoured my March and April statements for a notice about my limit changing. Is it even a surprise that nothing was noted in there? I didn’t get anything in the mail–if they did send something they probably packaged it with those cash advance checks they always send and I tossed it. If I get something in the mail today or over the next few days, it still wasn’t advance notice. I’ve never missed a single payment. I’ve never even been late with a payment. I’ve been a customer for close to 10 years. I don’t normally talk about specific institutions or businesses, but…Bank of America…bite me.

Given the overall badness of the economy, banks are┬átightening up credit limits to reduce their risk. It had been a customer satisfaction strategy by banks to keep raising credit limits, even giving unsolicited raises–but not anymore. The number of people delinquent on their credit card payments has increased by 12% over the past quarter, and as a country it’s pretty clear we’re all way over our heads in debt. PL and I don’t really have any credit card debt and no car payment at all, but we try not to think about the mortgage on our house that’s probably worth way less than we paid for it and the insane amount of student loan debt it’s taking for PL to become a lawyer.

A recent This American Life Episode, “Bad Banks,” noted that our national amount of debt is equal to our national GDP–the last time that happened was 1929. Oops. We clearly all have debt problems and probably should tighten our credit belts. I get that. I really do. But lower someone else’s credit card limit.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to call to complain and get it reinstated. It probably won’t help, and I’m not actually willing to back up my threat to leave them with actually leaving them. Even though I’d like my $15,500 extra credit limit option to create crippling debt burden back, I probably can’t find any other bank that will give me a high limit.

This credit limit slash doesn’t really affect me on a day to day basis, but other customers wouldn’t be so lucky. Had this card been a $2500 limit card and it was cut to $1000, I’d be pretty much maxed out at the moment, and maybe even in danger of going over my limit. I’d also be using up a much higher percentage of my available credit–a ratio that really affects your credit score.

I checked my other credit card, my $1000 limit Kroger Mastercard that I use for most of my everyday things because of the 15 cent gas rewards, and it’s still $1000.┬á So far the worst thing they’ve done to me is send me the ugly red card with the Kroger logos on it when I requested the pretty green one with circies.┬á

What about you?

 

A Raise? March 31, 2009

Filed under: finances — Katie @ 9:25 am

No actually. I didn’t get a raise. No one in my office is getting a raise this year, and even our retirement plan match was cut to keep us afloat. Fun times. I’m so not feeling like I should be a martyr by staying with an organization any more just to help keep it going in a tough time. But no one else seems to really be wanting to hire me so I take the liberty to hit snooze now and again and have mysterious Friday afternoon meetings at 3pm–out of the office of course.

But on my last paycheck on March 15th, and again in the pending bank direct deposit for tomorrow’s paycheck, I have $20 extra bucks or so. It’s a tax cut. Thanks federal government. That $40 is sure saving my family from foreclosure. Sadly enough for the size of my non-profit paycheck (see above re: martyr) $40 a month is a 1.7% yearly raise. So very very sad but that’s true.