Monday, December 27, 2010


Well, I'm very late with this post, and it's not hard to see why. The tally is depressing depressing depressing.

It's all about that new A/C unit. And then I had to have the water heater repaired. Only it turns out that merely repairing it ($100) might not have been good enough, and I may well need a new one ($450). Well, this house is 12 years old. I guess it's not surprising that things are falling apart. The dishwasher already doesn't work, but I'm okay with that. I am, however, waiting with bated breath for the refrigerator to go one of these days.

In November, I got $528.15 from PayPal (my eBay sales). And $7 from a Chex check. Lesson: If you find something in a box of food, always mail it to the company. They send back coupons and/or money. I mean “free” item coupons. Also, some amount from Amazon, but I don't recall how much.

On other fronts, I managed to overdraw one of my two bank accounts by $161.24. I'm still not sure what happened. But at one point those stinkers drew $25 off of the credit card attached to the account (overdraft protection)--and charged me $10 for the privilege from the checking account side and ANOTHER $3 from the credit card side! So I complained and got both of them credited back. Two separate phone calls. It never hurts to try! And always ask for the supervisor, because the first person will often say it can't be done.

My other bank account, meanwhile, has been running an excess balance of $470.13 for months now. I also have no earthly idea how this came about. I've been afraid to touch it, but last month I finally did. I acknowledged $400 of the money, then promptly spent it.

When I paid my bills, I decided to keep out around $900 so I might actually have some money to take care of a few things during December (having my house washed: $150 and overdue; and don't get me started on getting my shower recaulked... and my porch repainted), but things came up in rapid succession and within a few days I was down to $74.

Well, Christmas is behind us, as is all the associated spending. Tax refunds are ahead of us. Time to tighten the old belt buckle (I'm down to 132, so that shouldn't be too hard!!), nose to the grindstone, recommit to getting this done.

By the end of 2011, I want my credit card debt to be in the four figures and out of the five figures. That's my goal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Anti-Hoarding Measures

Men's Health (1-year auto-renewal)I am cleaning my room today! The clutter has started to build again, and the word “hoarder” keeps bouncing around in my brain.

Especially when I got rid of Men's Health from 2005-2008 (again, keeping only the Gerard Butler issue).

But I also had six back issues of The Week magazine. Reading a six-week-old issue of The Week is like reading a six-week-old newspaper. Why do I let this happen?

Again, I console myself with the thought that it's less hoarding than “can't keep up with my life, not even the magazine part”.

After being listed on eBay many times, my wedding rings sold yesterday for $100. I also sold a 1979 Who's Who in American High School Students (Western States edition) for $7. That one I was really just happy to rehome rather than drop in the round file!

I am trying to get more serious about my eBay listings again. Gotta start somewhere. But Amazon has blocked all my toy sales until after the holidays because I'm not a big enough “merchant”.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Tally

I really need to write this part first, to make myself feel better! After sending in that additional $550 check, my tally dropped to $16,779.38.

Sadly, when I finished paying my bills just now, my November tally came in at $16,630.81. So “working ahead” mid-month didn't really do much for me!

But if you add in that new A/C debt, which I am obviously loathe to do because it erases so very much of my progress, then my current tally is $21,741.81.

One step forward, five thousand steps backward.

I am now only $2,541.79 ahead of where I was when I started. I suppose another way to look at that would be to consider that I would have had to incur the A/C debt either way. But, you know, right now that doesn't really help.

As Cathy often says, I feel like the universe is conspiring against me.

The Depressing Part

Right around the time that my A/C went, I calculated exactly how much I owe on my house.

I bought my house for $231,000, but rolled in closing costs, so I really paid $240,000. I got an 80/15/5 mortgage, which means I paid 5% down ($12,000), put 80% into the first mortgage, and owed the remaining 15% in a second mortgage. So really I guess I started off owing $228,000.

Well, kids are expensive. I ended up rolling credit card debt over into my second mortgage. Twice. Each time vowing never to let my credit card debt climb again. Ha ha.

At first, that didn't seem so bad. The value of my house inflated to a whopping $500,000. But then the economy tanked. My realtor told me a few days ago that today I could get around $285,000-$290,000 for it. I've lived here nearly eight years. Once I factor in closing costs on both ends and moving costs, I'm not sure that would leave me with enough money for a down payment on a new place. If I wanted to move. Which I don't. Right now. Well, except to Hawaii.

As of today, I owe $167,398.51 on my first mortgage and $60,000 even on my second mortgage (which always gives me the option to pay “interest only”, so that's what I do) for a total of $227,398.51. That's $601.49 less than I paid for it, if you take the down payment into consideration. It's $3,601.49 less if you use the $231,000 figure and $12,601.49 less if you use the $240,000 figure. But I obsess...

Under almost any calculation, I now owe more on that new A/C unit than I've paid down on my house.


My A/C went. I needed to replace my twelve-year-old unit in its entirety. $5,202 (with $795 of that being a ten-year parts and labor warranty, which is absolutely necessary because some expensive coil goes every sixteen months, at around $1,600 a pop).

And here's where I got stupid. I was so tired when the Del-Air rep came over and met with me. He went over everything. I made my decisions. I asked him what I would find out if I contacted his competitors. He said that since they were the largest around, no one could match their prices. And, like a complete idiot, I believed him and didn't do my homework. In my defense, I was tired. And hot. And in a hurry. But still.

Then while Del-Air was here doing the install on a Friday, two different people asked me why I wasn't using Air Temp, a rival company. So on Monday I called Air Temp. When all was said and done, they quoted me a price that would have been $572 lower for exactly the same equipment and install.

So not only am I out $5,202 I can ill afford, but I made a bad deal.

Oh, and of course I contacted Del-Air in an attempt to get that $572 refunded. After three solid days of jerking me around, they gave me... absolutely nothing.

But I did get a lecture about their quality. I guess they forgot about the time one of their technicians set my attic on fire and then sat down on my stairs and cried.

And I also got a lecture about how they'd put together the financing, and that'd “cost” them something. But he stopped talking when I said the word “kickback”. Just like with auto dealerships, I'm sure.

Bottom Line: I am now carrying an additional $5,202 in credit card debt at a “special” rate of 5.9% on a card where all the other rates are 27.99%. And I'm not even sure how long that 5.9% rate is guaranteed. I'm scared to make the call to find out. And entirely too depressed.

After all my progress, that $5,202 is weighing down on my shoulders very, very hard.

We've been putting off braces for Cathy. My car is older than Maryanne, who would like a car of her own. My living room furniture has holes in it. But, hey, Del-Air now has my $5,202.


It's been one month and one day since my last entry. I've been too discouraged to write. I don't even know where to begin. But if I don't begin, I'll never get back on track.

On October 17th, I pulled $500 out of my Paypal account and then mailed off a check for $550 to a credit card. (That's $500 Paypal bucks + $50 bonus reward money from my Amazon Visa.) So that's THIRTY-TWO, THIRTY-THREE, THIRTY-FOUR, THIRTY-FIVE, and THIRTY-SIX, with $80.68 left towards THIRTY-SEVEN.

Then disaster struck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I am in an amazingly good mood.

I am 49 years old today. My goal for a long time has been to turn 50 in the best shape of my life. (Sadly, that's actually setting the bar rather low!) As part of that goal, I decided to try to get my weight down to 130 by today, then follow that up by actually maintaining the weight loss (for a change) for an entire year, while simultaneously exercising and getting in better shape.

Well, I didn't make my goal. But since July 1st, I have lost 12 pounds (!!!) and I made it all the way to 131.5, which is close enough for me to feel great about it. And I do feel great. I mean, I feel better. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes, not having to drag around those extra pounds of lard.

I got another $50 rewards check from Amazon Visa, which mostly just tells me that I'm still spending too much money at! So that brings me $80.68 towards my next hundred dollars.

They're stinkers. All the credit card companies are. I just got an offer in the mail from Amazon: an extra 2500 bonus points (=$25) if I spend $1600 between October 1st and December 31st on my credit card. They just live to help us rack up the debt, don't they?

And within the last few days, I saw two credit card offers in magazines: (1) Every time you charge a restaurant meal to our card, we'll enter you in our drawing 5 times!! (2) Buy with our card and your purchase may be free! Every few minutes, one of our customers gets their purchase for free. It might be you!

Time to pay it down.

On October 17th, I'm going to log right back onto Paypal and get out my next $500.

I just had a bunch of eBay auctions close. I only sold two small items. But since listing is free until early January, I just turned right back around and relisted everything. It never ceases to amaze me how one week something can generate no interest whatsoever, and the following week it suddenly sells well.

I just finished reading Room. Really good book.