debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:
FIFA

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.

ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?

Pay-off-Mortgage-in-15

So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice 😉 ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

 
So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules –Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde –Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money –Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long 🙂 on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  😉   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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The Evil and Grace of Low Rate Cash Advance Credit Cards

We have gathered up quite a bit of available credit (like rolling tumbleweeds) in our debt journey (enough to hang our self with a rope, but lemme try to keep this post positive).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/denise_rowlands/4262433471/sizes/m/in/photolist-7uE5Yg-dgzXnu-4h6bUo-xSUbW-aWcDCx-y2CZX-6SGv-5zt5Jw-4h6c5A-7AhP2e-hQy1pm-3JMPg-ek6urh-b6dUNF-7Sf5oK-FRvA1-8cTe43-axko2Q-4aMjh2-5NyW8-46gqkN-fGBqUR-78Ww5k-5NwdpD-78WMg6-fT3vJw-99ryV-3jkc6s-4H9Mhv-vsdKy-5NAug5-5GZ7M-94nTab-3yq622-3yq5Hv-4h29zT-4h6cgC-bxM8LA-3cFbF8-87XJs2-881VMy-618VEp-xZ5vi-3JMPi-eMVTV1-x9jRV-5XbcqR-7HD3ch-7Hz7RR-7HD4hJ-7Hz72x/

Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Ðeni (break) Denise Rowlands on flickr

Consequently we used to get a lot of telemarketing calls trying to get us to use these credit cards by transferring higher interest debt onto a card with a low balance transfer rate.

Apparently, while I had my head in the sand, the Irishman started to play along. Hence our debt story where we had amassed $250K of consumer debt up to D-day. (I kid you not, go read about it here).

So fast forward to March 2012, more affectionately known as D-day, I put my big girlie panties on and start wrangling this debt monster.  Strategy becomes my game.  Hey, I got nuthin’ else. Continue reading