December 16, 2009

Gives Me Hope

Filed under: budgets,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 7:36 pm
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I think the best website I’ve seen this week is http://www.givesmehope.com/. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me it can be hard to remember to be hopeful. All those little daily struggles and frustrations can really bring me down. And certainly the news and friends, they don’t often share these little hopeful stories. (Except Gimundo — they had a great story yesterday about restaurant diners paying it forward all day.)

Today, the little thing in my life that I’m focusing on that GMH is that I finally paid off one credit card. My American Express Optima, which many years ago I’d used to consolidate debt at a lower interest rate (3.9), is finally paid off. I only wish I’d managed to have that be the last time I consolidated debt thinking I’d never do it again! Still, it’s something. Lowest interest rate but the lowest balance, and it’s done. And I can see my other debts going slowly down as well, and I hope it’s going to go down ever faster.

This month has certainly had a strong learning curve on budgets, though. I underestimated how much we’d need to spend for Christmas, even though we’ve severely limited how much we’re spending and who we’re buying for. I think because this is the first year I’ve had a real budget, I really hadn’t paid attention to all the costs (cards, stamps, school and teacher gifts, cookie tins to share our homemade cookies in lieu of gifts). I’m not charging anything… but I’d hoped to have a little left over to push at debt.

So, the wrap up for the month… $383,291.31, down $2,673.94 since last month and $20,146.83 since April when I started this quest. I think I did figure out why it was so high in November, I did the calculation before (vile) credit cards had added finance charges. My fault for having them!!!

Anyway, this give *me* hope. And I’m happy to be hopeful. And I hope that part of my budget in the new year can be a secular tithe. As a truly non-religious person, I’m unlikely to give to a church, but there are certainly causes that I believe in and would like to do a better job supporting… Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity and my local NPR station to name just a few.


December 1, 2009

The Terms They are a’changing

Filed under: debt,money — by elysianconfusion @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have so much paper in my house, and review the card balances so carefully that I determined that paper billing wasn’t necessary. So I get an ebill, which is fine. I’m totally capable of paying those on time. But then I also get these notes from American Express:

Your billing statement includes important notices about your American Express® Card account and Membership Rewards® account.”

And instead of just saying IN the email what the changes are (and in English), I have to log in to my account, find the billing statement, download and open it as a PDF. And then search through many pages to find what they’re talking about. Then I have to decide how much of it is necessary to read and ponder the language. It says

“See Page 7 For A Notice Of Changes To Your Agreement
See Page 11 for important Privacy Notice and the following page for important Electronic Fund Transfer Error Resolution Notice”

Um. Page SEVEN? Page ELEVEN?  And actually, the EFT Error notice is on page TWELVE. I think the summary is:

1) If you pay more than the minimum, we apply the remainder to the balance with the highest interest rate. (I’m sure this is killing them.)

2) They no longer charge a fee for spending over the credit limit and over limit spending will not result in a penalty interest rate.

3) If you pay late or your payment is returned (bounces), a penalty interest rate will apply.

All I can say is… I’m paying this one off this month. Then (hopefully) I no longer have to think about the 5 pages they have explaining all this stuff.

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