February 8, 2013

Happy 2013!

Filed under: budgets,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 10:03 pm

As trolls and other vermin like to comment, I haven’t updated in a while. Shockingly, life is busy and it’s hard to update something when you know no one is reading. Or at least, no one civil and intelligent. Anyway, if someone wanders along looking for a person who made progress, I hope this little journey is encouraging.

So the big news is that both our cars are paid off completely. We’ve also paid off all credit cards. The only debts remaining are our home equity loan, mortgage and student loan. Once the student loan is paid in full we’ll try to make our emergency fund more robust than $1,000. We’re sort of at the slow slog of debt payoff.

Still, I continue to keep a budget using one of my spreadsheets. I also track the remaining debt payoff with a spreadsheet calculator, and I still look at how much we pay in interest. Last year we paid over 43k in principal and just over 10k in interest. (This year we used a bonus for extra kick, so we’ve already paid over 13k in principal and not quite 1,500 in interest.) We really are turning that around, and it’s very rewarding.

Since I hardly need a table any more, I’ll just go for the big picture. In March 2012 we had $300,029.69 remaining, and in February 2013 we have $266,786.14. Seriously, I know people who owe more than that just on their house (we are near Boston, if you think that’s a ton, look at home values around here).

Anyway, Happy New Year (belatedly)!




May 25, 2012

College Savings… Really?

Ok, so I’m totally not there yet. And I know everyone says save for your retirement, not your kids college. And I definitely understand that. But in the long slog to debt-free, I’ve found it useful to consider where else I *could* be spending (or saving) my money. So I naturally went in search of an online calculator: http://www.savingforcollege.com/college-savings-calculator/index.php (aka World’s Simplest College Cost Calculator).

So – taking the defaults (for a child who has 9 years until college, will attend full time for four years, wish to pay 100% of costs, wish to meet goal by time child ends college, expect costs to increase 6% each year, expect to earn 7% after tax each year in your college savings fund) – plus adding in the little bit we have saved (mainly that my mom saved for them), and selecting the HALF-PRICE* rate of 25,000$ annually – 100% of the total college costs will be $184,771. I will need to make monthly contributions of $885 to meet this cost. For my second son, 100% of my total college costs will be $220,065. I will need to make monthly contributions of $751 to meet this cost. That’s a total of $1,636 per MONTH. Who has that much PER MONTH to save – just for college? Seriously?

Obviously that’s assuming a lot. I have no idea whether they’ll actually choose to go to college. I sincerely hope and expect that they will contribute, and that we will do our best to get whatever scholarships we can. I don’t know how to tell whether they’ll go to public or private, and both the cost increases and the percentage of earnings after tax seem like they’d be a little hard to reliably predict. Still, I’ll tell you this. Those numbers of what I need to save? They seem crazy (885 x 9 years of school x 12 months per year = $95,580 – which is a ton but seriously shy of $185k – $108,144 in deposits for the other child). Holy crap. Those two numbers added together are more than (we are still paying for) our house. And the total costs for both kids for college – that’s two houses! How do people do this? We are not what I’d qualify as poor. Stupid at money management (but getting better), but not poor. If this looks well nigh impossible to us, how does it look to everyone else?

For now, that makes me think seriously about AP classes, Community College courses, living at home during college, and encouraging my kids to save as much as possible. All of which we should do anyway. But seriously? Yikes!

*For 2010-11

Public 4-Year (in-state tuition)
Tuition = $7,605
Room & board = $8,535
Books & supplies = $1,137
Transportation = $1,073
Other expenses = $1,989
Total = $20,339

Private 4-Year
Tuition = $27,293
Room & board = $9,700
Books & supplies = $1,181
Transportation = $862
Other expenses = $1,440
Total = $40,476

November 3, 2011

It’s been forever…

Life gets in the way. But I was reminded by some asshole today that my blog sucks, so even if no one is interested, I’m going to post something just to piss it off. HA.

So – my home equity loan – easy to refinance last November or so – then I noticed rates went down so asked if we could get the new rate? YES! So it’s at 3.99 and that cost us NOTHING.

My 5/1, which arguably was a huge mistake, now has an interest rate of 3.00%. Every year that it has adjusted, it’s gone down. Crazy. It’s certainly working for us right now. For these rates and many other reasons, I love my credit union.  Find one for yourself! http://www.findacreditunion.com/

What else… last November we were at $352,211.05. Now we’re at $319,589.11. That’s $32,621.94 and I guess that’ll have to be good enough. Our car is almost paid off, so that’ll help quite a bit. For now I plan to throw that payment at debt, then I’ll start saving for the next car.

There really is something to using those debt snowball spreadsheets – even if you’re doing an avalanche or whatever. Just seeing that it’s possible for ALL the numbers to go to zero is really empowering.

At our current payment rate, it looks like everything but the mortgage could be completely paid off by March 2015. That’s not so far away. And maybe it could go faster if we work out our snowflakes.

Maybe I’ll do another update soon to see where we are on reducing specific debts (credit cards, car loan, mortgage, student loan).


December 22, 2010

Oh December, why do you cost so much?

Filed under: family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 12:23 pm
Tags: , ,

December, December. It’s so busy and stressful, I can’t think straight. I have no progress to report this month except for rolling my home equity lines together for a lower rate — it’s done, we’re happy & hooray.

Is my money perspective all screwed up because of my family? Here’s the basics:

1) My dad made good money but didn’t talk about it and accumulated painful credit card debt and is terrible at managing money and has nothing.

2) My mom never made that much and now they’re apart manages her money much better, but I didn’t grow up with this example.

3) My older sister is a surgeon with a couple of multi-million dollar homes.

4) My younger sister is semi-sane thus far (and better with money, partly I think because her husband is seriously debt-averse other than medical school loans). But next year his salary plus bonus & signing bonus will be more than I’ve made in my life.

We’re not poor, me and my husband. But my goodness, you’d think we were! My older sister had a gift shipped here for her husband for Christmas. It’s a $6,000 Rolex. Yes. That one gift cost more than four times my entire Christmas budget. Crazy!

I hope to have lots of lovely news in the new year though. Happy Holidays!!!

November 18, 2010

Giving Thanks for Every Day

Ok, first of all, today’s grand total is… no drum roll, I think … $352,211.05. Down by $2,274.39.

And what have I accomplished? Feels like nothing much. I did decide to charge $40/hour for copy writing and editing. My husband said $50, another friend suggested $75. The range out there was huge. At the end of the day, I felt like it was my first free lance job and I don’t know how I’m going to do, and it’s my brother in law. So. There you have it.

I’m really wishing I could consolidate my mortgage and home equity loans, but you know what? I really can’t. I don’t have enough equity to be allowed to do it. And because my loans are through my credit union and have no affiliation with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, I can’t do anything like the Making Home Affordable plan. What annoys me even more is that I don’t even want to reduce my payments or increase my terms! I just want to fix the buggers at a low rate so I’m not worried about future adjustments. Seems like I’m totally out of luck on that front. (Can you hear the huge sigh?)

I haven’t yet figured out new 529 plans. I haven’t figured out whether my 401k dollars are going in the right place. I hate trying to figure it out. I’ve read that Index Funds are the way to go but that the ING Retirement Plans have index funds with high associated costs. I also gathered that I shouldn’t look at MorningStar ratings, which is included in my ING account and apparently partly what the people who choose available funds for my account are using. Great.

Anyone want to help me out here?

1164 ING Index Solution 2055 Port Adv:


Gross Prosp Exp Ratio 1.06% of fund assets

Net Prosp Exp Ratio 1.06% of fund assets

Management Fee 0.10%

12b-1 Fee 0.50%

Other Fee .

Miscellaneous Fee(s) 0.46%

Fund Inception Date 03-08-10

They all seem similar.

Still, with all of this, I’m thankful for my family and my life, and I know we are so fortunate in so many ways.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

August 16, 2010

Slowly, slowly

Filed under: debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 2:17 pm

It’s 358,727.58.  Under 360k! (Down 2,241.10 from last month.)

I keep thinking it’s going to get easier and it doesn’t.  I don’t know if that’s because of impulse spending or bad budgeting or what. We haven’t spent a lot on impulse, but a little here and a little there and it adds up.

I’ve been reading a bit of Frugal Babe here and there… she appears to exceed my ability to be frugal. Scraps of fabric for reusable toilet paper… um, can’t quite envision. And although the reusable pads do seem like a good idea, I really do like tampons. I tried one of those cups and perhaps I didn’t give it enough time but I found the whole thing rather … messy.

Our summer has been way too busy, that’s for sure, and no end in sight. If only we can hang on a bit longer, I think it will all even out.

Meanwhile, I’m tired, I’m stressed, and I have a lot to do. Off to it!

July 23, 2010

It’s Just Not FAST Enough!

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 10:36 am

Patience, patience, patience! I don’t have it. I’ve never been good at it (perhaps this explains our debts? I don’t know!)

The new number for this month is 360,968.68. That means we’ll get under 360k next month, which is a good thing. I know people who owe more than that on their houses! In August we also have to pay for all of preschool for next year, $4,000. I’ve mentioned before, this will be a weight off my mind once it’s been paid. I still have to do the paying.

Meanwhile, my budget doesn’t seem to be great. I’ve definitely underestimated the real costs of vacation. I’m having trouble balancing a realistic budget we can stick to and an aggressive enough payment plan.

I did successfully hold down costs for my oldest son’s 7th birthday party. Instead of having a pinata with candy no parent wants, or a goody bag full of stuff the kids will break or throw away immediately. Instead, we had a low-key party in the yard with tents and a campfire, and we all tie dyed shirts that the kids got to take home. I thought it was a lovely party!

Next week we’re on vacation. I keep asking friends how they plan a budget for vacation. You know, they all look at me like I’m nuts. A budget for vacation? They think it’s crazy. But I don’t know how to relax about the money I’m spending on vacation unless I planned for it.

Am I crazy?

June 16, 2010

Writing and paying

Filed under: budgets,children,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 7:53 am

I know, I’ve been terrible at writing lately. I’ve felt stalled and it’s depressing. Plus life is busy for a working mom :-).
Today is the last day of school for my six year old son (almost seven! I need to write and send out birthday party invitations FAST). My four year old is sleeping shockingly late, so I’m grabbing a minute to write an update.
Current total debt (including mortgage) is $363,036.04. That’s down $2215.82 from last month. I was looking back and thought GAH! Why is it 200$ less than last month? I don’t know, maybe I used numbers before new interest expenses were applied? But in April it was only ~1800, so I guess I’ll take comfort where I can. And on the PLUS side — that’s $40,402.10 down from last year when we started! So that’s something. $40k has to be some kind of milestone, right?
I have managed a few things… I paid for all of summer camp and I’m on track to pay for all of preschool next year by August, freeing up an enormous (to me) amount of money to throw at debt. I also paid all of next year’s auto insurance (saved money that way and reduces monthly expenses). We still have money in our targeted savings account for stuff, including our vacation (camping in Maine), which has GOT to be a first.
I’ll try to post more to keep myself on track if nothing else. The little one is up and needs breakfast!

May 14, 2010

Financial Frustration

Filed under: budgets,crazy,debt,family,money,parents — by elysianconfusion @ 2:13 pm

Well, the new numbers are in.

Current total debt is $365, 251.86.

That’s $2,412.82 in principle. I guess it’s better than nothing, but it’s all got me down. I felt like we were making so much progress.

We’ve sold a couple of things on Craigslist (randomly had a sink top; I have no idea why, it was new and we didn’t order or pay for it). That was $50, and we’ve mostly sold a double stroller. (How do you mostly sell something? Well, she PAID for it via PayPal, but doesn’t have it yet. Weird, huh?)

We’re still sorting through to see what else we don’t need. I do have two bags of clothes and stuffed animals ready to donate.

So, we paid our deposit for school next year, we paid for two weeks of preschool camp, we paid our town taxes.

Then I charged the balance of summer camp. Happily I paid that back within a few days of charging it, so now camp is PAID for! I only have to save another $4,000 for August to pay for next year’s preschool and then I think we’re on a regular budget for all this.

I’m looking forward to this but I don’t like the lack of momentum. There are always things that come up. My husband says we need a new lawn mower. My wedding band needs repair.  We need a booster seat, as my oldest has outgrown his car seat and isn’t big or heavy enough to sit on his own.

Ah, life, it’s pricy!

February 24, 2010

Summer Camp Costs

Filed under: budgets,children,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 5:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ahh childcare. I want my kids to have a good summer. I want them to do and learn fun things, and I think they’ll be happy at camp. Last year we had a babysitter for the summer, and that was great but…

I don’t like having people in my house every day. I didn’t like having to tell her what to do to keep the kids out of my hair (one of the burdens of working at home I suppose). I didn’t like not knowing what they did when they weren’t here (how much tv did they watch? I have no idea).  And they got almost no playtime with other kids. So this year we’re thinking camp. Unfortunately for me, this really kills our budget.

1) Camp costs at least 200$ per week per child.

2) Many camps don’t have full programs for 4 year olds.

3) Camps seem to require payment before the program begins, which means I need at least 3k by June 1 for summer costs.

4) I have to figure it out now to make sure we have a spot.

5) The sessions seem to be typically for two weeks, and you pay for both even if you don’t go to both. So either I keep them home for a week and go on vacation for a week, or I pay for two weeks and only use one (I don’t want to do that).

6) It’s really hard to find comprehensive summer camp information for the area, and it’s impossible to search on things I want to know (price, minimum age, hours). I don’t even want to look at the camp unless they take both kids. Otherwise I’ll spend all my time driving them to and from and won’t get any work done.

So although of course I knew I’d have summer childcare costs, I somehow didn’t realize that I had to pay for them before sending the kids for a single day. I’ve been redoing my budget to try figure out how to get everything paid in cash and on time. The worst thing about that, really, is that I can’t think of any way to do it without (temporarily) cutting back on my snowball. I’m really disappointed about that.

I think I can get it all worked out and make sure I have enough to prepay preschool (saving 400$ in interest I’d pay taking the monthly payment plan) in August. So it’s basically six months of lowered snowball payments (I think they’ll be 379$ extra going to debt a month, but I’d sorta been planning on 719, which would have paid off a credit card in the next twelve months. (Can you hear the big sigh??) And I’d just calculated a new emergency fund goal of $6,000 and started my own little snowflake spreadsheet to keep track of everything and hopefully ramp this stuff up a bit!

Well, I guess I’ll see what I can do with what I’ve got… maybe I can find more corners to cut in our budget and push a little hard on the EF and snowball. (Although my husband was just complaining about how tight the budget was last night — and I think we waste lots of money! I guess we need to sit down and look at everything we spend — I do this all the time and he pretty much never does. Two posts at Get Rich Slowly made me think we need to work on this: What Marriage Has Taught Me About Money and Money Without Matrimony (even though we’re married and heterosexual, sounds like a good book!))

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