February 2014 Recap: How We Did

Feb 28 blog info

Current Debt Eradicator Chart

February is going to look a little different than most of the months following, but that’s okay because it’s TAX REFUND TIME! WOOT WOOT

Tax Refund ($3,986): see how we allocated it here!

If you're interested, you can click on this to enlarge; this chart includes all of the months from Dec. 2013 through today, not just Dec and the most recent month.

This chart includes all of the months from 12/2013 – today, not just Dec and the most recent month.


Review of our 2014 Goals

Mintly Goal #1: Pay off our Citibank credit card 

Verdict: AWESOME. With the help of our tax refund, we are well on our way to having this card paid off in June, which is the perfect time, as we make less money in the summers. I really like that we’ll have a little more breathing room in case we need extra cash on hand. Current balance: $2,000. The last time we had a balance that low was two years ago!

Mintly Goal #2: Pay off our car loan

Car Loan Screen Shot

Car loan – woohoo!

Verdict: GETTING THERE. This month we put $1,645.59 extra towards the car loan (a combination of $1,500 tax money and $145.59 from snowflaking) plus our normal payment of $172 to equal $1817.59! Our car loan debt (as of Feb. 28th) is now down to $3,014.55! (It’s actually currently lower than that, as our car payments go through as soon as we get paid. But I wanted to separate out our February monthly progress.)

In some ways, I would have loved to have thrown our entire tax refund at this just to get it done. Then I had to remind myself that paying off the Citibank card was more of a priority, because we don’t want to be stuck making payments that we HAVE to make over the summer, if we can avoid it. The car minimum payment is $172, so we could certainly afford to keep up with that during leaner months, but keeping up with $500 is a bit trickier (if we have some kind of emergency or problem).

I got us into trouble this month (well, almost) by sending the extra money I was holding onto from our tax return (~$400) to the Car Loan. Then we almost came up short at the end of the month when we went over budget on our food expenses. In the end, we were able to cover the charge on the credit card for food with what we had left in our checking account at the end of the month, and the last ~$7 went to snowflaking to the car loan. That was added stress I really didn’t need, but it was definitely of my own making! I’d like to say (“lesson learned,” but I also know that it may take me a while to overcome my lack of patience problem.)

Mintly Goal #3: Save for known expenses that don’t occur monthly (sinking fund)

Verdict: YES – AND MORE! We put an extra month’s worth of expenses in the account ($450) in addition to our regular month’s transfer (thanks to the tax refund!)

Mintly Goal #4: Snowflake any extra money to consumer debt

Verdict: $145.59! DO A HAPPY DANCE. This went even better than I had hoped.

  • $16.09 to Car Loan – My mom wanted me to buy L some new spring dresses (woohoo!) on zulily.com** (that’s a referral link) and she reimbursed me! Only she reimbursed me $16.09 more (I love how my mom rounds up!) and I decided to snowflake that right to the Car Loan.
  • $30.68 to Car Loan – I turned in some credit card reward points into a statement credit, but instead of just leaving it at that, I decided to snowflake that amount to our Car Loan also. I had originally planned to turn all credit card points into checks or PayPal statements or what-have-you, and then snowflake them, but I decided to just do it this way, since it would be immediate and I could take care of the transfer much faster to the car loan.
  • $60.01 to Car Loan – This is from taking surveys and redeeming my points for Paypal credit. I was pretty excited about this number, as I had placed the “orders” back in January but they took a while to go through, so I had forgotten how much the different amounts were. (I use multiple survey sites, so I don’t always keep track the way I should when I redeem my points. After this month, I’m now keeping track of when I request points to be redeemed and for the amount I’m requesting.)
  • $11.00 to Car Loan – This is a paypal transfer from MySurvey.com, one of the survey sites I use! (These survey links are not affiliate links.)
  • $20.00 to Car Loan – Another paypal transfer from Toluna.com
  • $0.30 to Car Loan – This is the interest we got from the Credit Union this month. I figured, why not go ahead and snowflake it? Can’t hurt….
  • $7.51 to Car Loan – This is all that was left in our checking account we before we got paid on the 28th.

Mintly Goal #5: Track Goal Successes

Verdict: PASS! I probably don’t even need to include this on these monthly round-ups….


Money Accomplishments this Month:

  • GOT A NEW JOB OMG OMG OMG. 
  • Sallie Mae emailed me to tell me that they are changing my loan repayment again, and I guess it’s probably due to the fact that I went to automatic debits, and they’ve lowered my monthly rates. Normally I would have kept up with my regular payments (and applied any extra to principal), but my loans are actually the ones that have the lowest interest rate of all of our loans, so we’re saving those as the last loans to pay off. The payment is now $114.01, down from $134.76 and instead of designating something specific for that money, I’m going to let it help offset the change in our mortgage (see below….grrrrr). (We’ll still snowflake any money left over each month to the car, though.) That payment plus H’s ($442.83) makes our total student loan payments $556.84.
  • I signed up for CreditKarma.com, at the recommendation of a commenter (thanks, duamei!), and found out that my personal credit score is in the upper 700s! That was reassuring. It was also free! Woohoo!

Money Setbacks this Month: 

  • Over our food budget. We went to Sam’s Club at the very beginning of the month, which meant that we spent more on food than I intended (since I put all household items like toilet paper under that category, too). We only have to do a Sam’s Club trip once very few months, though, so hopefully this is just a minor bump. Another problem: we hosted a party and although people brought their own goodies to share, we wanted to stock up on alcohol and have the appropriate party food. Hopefully March will go a little more smoothly and be a “normal” month (if there is such a thing?).
  • We got a notice from our mortgage holder that we are short in our escrow account, due to our property taxes rising and our home insurance going up. (It’s the property tax that’s affecting us the most.) In order to make up the shortfall and to have enough in the escrow account for next year, our mortgage is going up by around $50 a month. This makes me want to do the opposite of a happy dance. (The Charlie Brown sad music as showcased in Arrested Development, anyone?) The change takes place in April, but I went ahead and made the change in our automatic payment so I wouldn’t somehow forget. For now, the extra payment will just to to the principal.
  • I found out that I won’t actually get the $ for my new side-hustle until after they mail the checks on the last day of March – so, not until April. Sadness.

Life (as in, Non-Monetary) Accomplishments this Month:

  • GOT THAT PART-TIME JOB (mentioned above). Seriously, although jobs are directly related to money, of course, it has done wonders for my mood, given me confidence to keep forging ahead with my plan for a career shift, and I feel GREAT! I’m sure it’s possible that once the job gets going in earnest I may be a lot less enthusiastic (it is work, after all), but I’m going to relish this positive feeling as much as I can! 🙂

What I’m Looking Forward to in March:

  • Getting into a rhythm with my new part-time job
  • Staying on budget with food.
  • Continuing to hammer away at our debt. We’ll be one month closer to getting our Citibank card paid off!
  • Perhaps applying for that new AmEx card? Not sure…..

I know this was a long post…. so, thanks for reading! Now I’m off to update our “About our Debt” page. Woohoo!

– M.

** This isn’t a sponsored post, but this site is awesome! If you use this link to sign up, I’ll get $15 credit! No pressure. I’m just sayin’.

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5 thoughts on “February 2014 Recap: How We Did

  1. You did very well this month! You made some very good progress towards getting that debt down!

    If that car payment is manageable (and I know you’re on goal to pay it off) I would focus hardcore on that credit card this month and get it out of your house! Especially if the minimum payment is what you’re saying. HOLY COW I would freak! 😉

    And Sam’s…I swear that place does have the best deals if you’re able to buy in bulk- espeically on GOOD fresh fruits and veggies, but I can’t leave that place for less than $150.00! It’s the bane of my budget!

    Congrats again on the work you’ve put into this. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Technically, the minimum on the card is much lower than what we pay – we just set ourselves a minimum payment to get the card paid off before the interest comes due in September. Right now, we’re on track to pay it off in June… and as long as we do, we won’t accrue any interest. Since the car loan is accruing interest, I thought it would make more financial sense to pay that off more aggressively. I do think that emotionally-speaking, it would feel really good to have the credit card paid off as soon as possible. I’ve even talked to my husband about doing that, but we agreed to save whatever little amount we could by paying off the car loan first.

      Thanks for the kudos – it’s great to get positive feedback on these things, because I don’t really talk about with friends (or even family).

      Like

  2. Emotional vs. Logic. It’s always difficult!

    Talking to friend and family about debt, especially when they think you’re nuts, is difficult. I’m happy to cheer you on and live vicariously through you getting past it all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your new job! That sounds like a great opportunity in addition to the increase in income. I just applied to a summer job as well and am crossing my fingers very hard that I get it.

    Like

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