Friday, September 30, 2011

So long, September!

I haven't much enjoyed this month, so October holds oodles of promise. I'm not going to add up the numbers for fear of pulling myself down and I want to keep going! I'll just hit the highlights worth celebrating:

* Enrolled Citi card account in a 5-year BLP at a 0% interest rate.

* Spent $523 on groceries. Close enough to my goal to call a win.

* Switched to a credit union. Looking forward to the day when everything clears and I can bid Wells Fargo farewell for good.

* Saw on one of DS's college apps that the application fee would be waived if signed by an alumni of the university. Found one of those real quick!

* Paid $3.36/gallon for gas today. Who would have thought that would ever be worth celebrating?

Sarah

Friday, September 23, 2011

Success!

Having sufficiently recovered from seeing an actual in-print update from sister Jenny, it was time to move on to something much less fun. Seems Citibank jacked the interest rate on our credit card to just shy of 30%. We had been paying on time and hadn't been adding to the debt. They did it because they could.

So the minimum payment naturally skyrocketed. In fact, it went from a little over $100 a month to more than $350. And the bulk of the payment was interest. So for the first time ever, I was late with a payment to this card this month. But I buckled down this morning and signed on to my account online to try to formulate a plan. When I did, I saw an option to click on a button to "make payment arrangement." So I did. It asked me some routine questions and then on the next click had a list of offers.

The first offer was to pay off the entire debt right now and we would all be happy. Next. Then there was one to divide up the balance into three easy payments. Yeah, right. Finally, there was an offer for a 60-month BLP that would close the account while we pay it off. That's what I was looking for, but at 9.9% APR, it was not an option. As I sat here contemplating the offer, a chat box popped up on my screen and "Corey" offered to help. I explained the dilemma - that I did want to do a 60-month plan, but that I couldn't commit to that high of a payment and if he could lower the interest rate, it might be doable. Corey says "do you see a button to decline the offer?" Uh, yes I do. So I click on it and, lo and behold, a new 60-month offer pops up.

At 0%. ZERO! For 60 months, at which time the debt will be paid in full. Would that be acceptable, Corey asks? Um, yes, I think I will make that acceptable, Corey. And so it is done.

I'm amazed that it was so simple. I didn't have to provide information about anything and everything like I've had to with other creditors. And I did it without ever having to talk to someone in person. I'm thinking that some of the credit card companies might finally be coming to the realization that if they're going to get back what's owed to them, they're going to have to stop being quite so greedy.

I will say this about the BLPs. At least when the statement comes, I already know what the payment will be. There's a whole lot less stress that way.

Sarah

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't faint - this is Jenny.

I didn't intend to post so soon after Sarah and her good news, but with the insane schedule I've had for the past few months, I'm popping in while I can. I can't believe it's been almost 4 months since I was here last! Jeepers.

Briefly, our daughter was married in a simple, fun wedding in June. We are VERY blessed that she acquired generous in-laws in the process!

Less than two days after our return from the wedding, the intensity of football got underway in the form of field house work and practice. The accompanying gas bills were - and still are - outrageous, with travel 7 days/week to school (60 miles one way) and picking up players from all over the spacious county for practice (an average of 45 extra miles a day). Our little car was 10 years old earlier this month and has over 350K miles on it. Whew.

We didn't qualify for the state program because the side businesses which I've handled for years are in DH's name. Even my caseworker thought it was nuts because we're married (my husband and I, not the caseworker and I), but despite my offer of proof that I've been the one in charge, the underwriter said nope. Believing that things work out for the best, I'm convinced that for some reason that program wasn't in our best interest, but it's a bummer at the moment.

So I've now contacted our credit union (you'll love the CU, Sarah!) and have been given a list of documents to dig up to see if they might have any 'mortgage assistance' programs for us. We're not behind on our mortgage, but freeing up some pennies would surely ease the delinquent accounts - 8 cards thru 5 different companies.

Speaking of... today I contacted all the credit card companies for which we don't yet have a plan in place. I wasn't looking forward to it because the amount I have to pay remains negligible, but I was reminded how nice the reps are, or at least seem to be. They've always thanked me for contacting them and trying. Of course, the balances will continue racking up until I can commit to a regular BLP, something I hope is possible with some help from the credit union.

On a positive note, fall has arrived here, and it is already gorgeous. We obviously have enough food to eat, and while we don't get enough time to enjoy our cozy bed, at least we have a cozy bed. As Sarah has mentioned before, we are blessed in many ways and know it.

While I haven't posted in a few eons, I have been zipping in and out and remain encouraged and inspired by your support for Sarah (well, us) and your own stories of determination and success. It's so much more fun - if you can call it that! - to do this with friends :)

Jenny

Murphy's been busy this week

Murphy started by visiting the bathroom. The toilet wouldn't stop running. He then moved to the kitchen. When he was done, the dishwasher wouldn't work. Then he went for the big guns. He checked out the van and made sure the brakes needed replacing.

I've decided I don't want to check up on Murphy anymore. It's too much work - and way too expensive - cleaning up after him. I replaced the flapper on the toilet for $4.36. Ha, Murphy! The dishwasher is just going to have to stay broken for the time being. It won't be the first time I've done dishes by hand. Double ha, Murphy! The van is the challenge. The brakes will have to be taken care of. Hubby is in charge of that. So, Murphy, we survived your visit and life goes on.

In other news, we did indeed join a local credit union and are in the process of making the changeover from Wachovia/Wells Fargo. It's going to take awhile to clear everything, but in the end I know we will be much happier.

Found out yesterday that 100% of the costs associated with DS's $25,000+ surgery will be covered by insurance - woo hoo! Sometimes it pays to easily make the annual deductible early on.

We still don't have two nickels to rub together. And two of our bills will be paid late this month. But on the upside, I came across some notes I had made this time last year and the total debt I had scribbled down was $172,800. So we're about $15,000 better off now than we were then. It's not much when you look at our numbers, but it's better than the alternative. I know we can do this. It's going to take what seems like forever, but it can be done. When we finally get to the point where we have much of a snowfall, there's going to be a blizzard! I'm glad we decided to forego the bankruptcy route and dig out on our own. I certainly don't fault anyone who makes that decision, but for us, the satisfaction of having paid it all off and doing it ourselves is going to pay off in a big way - and I don't mean dollars and cents.

Sarah

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My bank's giving me a headache

I finally had time to sit down today and look over the huge packet of information that came the other day regarding changes at my bank. I've banked with Wachovia since I was 16. Suffice it to say that was well over 30 years ago. Well, Wachovia is being bought out by Wells Fargo and that's what all the info was about.

Since our mortgage is with Wells Fargo and hasn't given us any problems, I wasn't too worried about the change. But then, a week or so ago, I read a news item about Wells Fargo testing the market in some states by implementing a flat fee for using a debit card. I'm talking about using one of their cards at one of their banks. So I was determined to read the fine print.

I don't like what I found. The one thing that jumped off the page was the part about using the online bill pay system. This is how I pay almost all of our bills, so I was particularly interested if it would continue as it always has or if I needed to do anything. The little asterisk noted that "at Wells Fargo, funds to pay your bills will be withdrawn from your account up to five business days earlier than they were at Wachovia." HUH?? At Wachovia, if I scheduled a payment for Sept. 14, that's the day the funds were withdrawn. Since the bank already has the money, seems reasonable to me. But FIVE DAYS ahead?? They have got to be kidding.

Aside from the insanity of this, it means I am in big trouble. I schedule plenty of payments on payday and there isn't the money for them ahead of time.

Grrrrrrrr.

I'm off to research local banks. Changing banks sounds like a whole lot of work and not like a whole lot of fun, but it doesn't look like I have a choice.

I have a headache already.

Sarah

Friday, September 9, 2011

Surgery, recovery and, of course, bills

We're a week past DS's surgery and are so relieved to be here. DS has made remarkable progress and we are optimistic that the surgery was a success. What a blessing!

DS spent only one night in PICU and another night in a regular room. We're frequent visitors to hospitals, but DS had not been an in-patient in this particular one since 2005. Once we were moved to a regular room, I found things had changed. Specifically, a nurse never administered his medication during the time we were there. The nurse on duty would bring in the medications - five in all - and plop the measured doses on the bed tray. And leave. The first time it happened, I wasn't sure what to do. I am certainly capable of giving him his medicine. But I couldn't believe that I would be left to do so unsupervised. There were some pretty heavy duty narcotics in there and I kept thinking that if I had a drug problem, this might just be the place to go.

At any rate, we're home and I'm sure the insurance company has been busy trying to figure out how much they can get us to pay.

I finally updated our current debt. You probably won't be able to tell because it's not much of a difference. Our terrific progress has come to a screeching halt this summer. We've had to use a credit card more than once. On the upside, the total did go down, if only by $100+. At least it went down!

My grocery bill in September has been wonderfully light. Church friends have been feeding us for the past week and consequently the fridge is bursting at the seams with yummy offerings. I've even been able to freeze some of what we couldn't finish for later. I'm so thankful for good friends.

It will take me awhile to catch up with all of you, but I will!

Sarah