Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slowly But Surely

Well, I just checked our total debt payoff progress (and updated it in the sidebar). We started on our journey to become debt free in February of this year (2007). So far, we have decreased our debt by $11,800.00!! This is pretty great since it means that we have paid even more than that amount, since we have also paid interest.

Basically, we have been paying $1,100 towards debt each month, with some extra payments thrown in along the way.

Before we found Dave Ramsey and began to get our financial life in order, we would have been paying only a little more than our minimum payments, probably around $400 a month. Not to mention that we would probably have continued to charge more!

If we keep it up, we will have our last credit card paid off in May 2008 and have all our debts (except our mortgage) paid off in August 2010.

Without Dave Ramsey, this never would have been possible!

Cash Crate & Associated Content

I haven't done much with either Cash Crate or Associated Content in a while, but I decided to check on these accounts today. To my surprise, I am still earning a small stream of income from these sites!

Cash Crate is an on line survey site. You sign up for free. Then you will see a list of offers and how much each one pays. You select only the offers you want to do. You can also do up to two daily surveys each day, with each one paying $ .80. You can earn a decent amount of money just by doing offers and daily surveys.

You can also earn money with Cash Crate through referrals. You will earn $3 for each referral (once they reach the $10 minimum payout). You will also earn 20% of the money your referral earns, and 10% of what their referrals earn! (This is how I am still earning a little cash from CC without having done any offers or surveys in a while.)

Cash Crate is a great way to earn extra money in your spare time. (I usually did offers while watching tv.). I highly recommend them. They pay you by check once each month so long as you've earned at least $10. If you are interested in learning more about Cash Crate and possibly signing up, please click here.

Below is a list of the money I have earned though Cash Crate:

Cash Crate Earnings
$51.47 June
$51.55 July
$80.14 Aug
$23.82 Sep
$11.36 Oct
$ 2.34 Nov (so far)

Join Associated Content

Associated Content is an on line site that calls itself "The People's Media Company". You can read articles on just about every topic. You can also sign up for free to be a "content producer". Basically, you write an article, submit it to them, and they offer you payment. Generally you get paid between $3 and $15 for each article they accept (with an average pay around $8 each). So, the more you write, the more you earn.

You can also earn money with AC from "Performance Bonuses". This is basically extra pay you earn based on the number of page views your articles receive. So, even though I haven't written anything for AC in a few months, I still receive regular payments from them based on the page views my articles are getting.

Another way to earn money from AC is from referrals (if they are still offering this). Basically if you referred someone to AC and they signed up to be a "content producer", after their first article got published, you would get a $3 referral bonus.

One of the best things about AC is that they pay you very quickly, typically every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with no minimum payout. They pay you through PayPal so you do need to have a PayPal account (which is free to get if you don't have one).

Below is a list of the money I have earned with AC. It's not a whole lot of money, but given that I haven't written very much for them, I think AC is one of my best and easiest income producers. And has the potential to earn a lot more, if only I would write a lot more! I highly recommend signing up. (If you would like to learn more about Associated Content and possibly sign up, please click here.)

I have earned a total of $137.79 writing for AC. This is for payment for about a dozen articles, as well as the performance bonuses and referral bonuses that I have received.

$ .22 May
$ .09 Jun
$2.25 Jul
$2.51 Aug
$3.06 Sep
$4.45 Oct
$2.31 Nov (so far)

4 referrals x $3 each = $12.00

11/26/07 - Daily Progress Report

Well, I did a lot of work getting my jewelry ready for the craft show this Saturday. Looks like I'll be ready in time this time. Hopefully will make a little money!

Going to do a little Christmas shopping again today. Went yesterday and did quite well. Those gift cards I got for signing up for American Express have been really fantastic. I have used them for almost all of the gifts for my extended family. Not so much for my kids though, since none were for toy type stores. But only needing to shell out the cash for my kids has been a great help to the Christmas budget.

As for the rest of our finances, I am still very worried about using the last of our "buffer" money from savings. (This is money from my husband's high commission months that I put aside to use for the low commission months.) I feel very nervous about using the rest of that money only leaving the $1,000 emergency fund in savings. What will we do next month if there is another low commission?

I am thinking about only paying the minimum on our debts this month and saving the rest for a "buffer". The minimum would be about $350 and that would leave $750. I really hate to do this as it will move back out debt free date but it might give me peace of mind.

Need to think about it a little more.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

11/25/07 - Daily Progress Report

Worked at the church nursery today. Also placed a rush order for some supplies so that I can go to the craft fair this Saturday and sell some of my jewelry (hopefully!). I hate that I had to pay extra for rush shipping since I waited until the last minute to order. Being busy definitely costs you extra!

We also managed to overdraw our checking account and incur a $25.00 insufficient funds fee. I can also blame this in being busy (and unorganized!). I was transferring $1,500.00 from our savings (reserved for upcoming monthly expenses) and I just didn't do it in time. Ugh!

So, November has not been our best financial month so far.

Also, my husband's upcoming commission check is all wrong. He is only getting $150 and we had budgeted/forecasted for $2,500!! My husband says it will get fixed but probably not until his January check!

I was able to go over all the numbers and come up with a budget of only the necessities and it looks like we can just squeak by in December and still pay $1,100 towards our debt snowball.

I am nervous though, because the $1,500 I transferred is the last of our cushion in our savings account, besides our $1,000 emergency fund.

So, feeling a little nervous about the upcoming months . . .

Today's earnings:
Church Nursery: $28.00

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday

Well, as is the tradition in my family, I went shopping with two of my sisters yesterday - Black Friday. We got up at 4:30am and were at the stores by 5am. The sales weren't as good as they have been in the past, but we still did well and had fun. (I know that would be the farthest thing from fun for a lot of people, but we enjoy it.)

We had a great Thanksgiving. This was the first year that I hosted it at my house, since my parents just moved to Florida. I didn't mind hosting, especially since my Mom gave me a check to pay for the food for the meal, but having so many overnight guests staying at the house did make it difficult. We had my Mom, my Dad, my sister, her husband, and their two kids, and my other sister. On top of the five in my family, it really was a house full - especially with only one shower. But we did fine.

I didn't manage to get things ready for the craft fair that is today, so I skipped it. This really is a waste since I already paid $25 for the booth, but things have just been too busy. I will have to do better planning next year.

I have most of my Christmas shopping done and I think I'm doing okay as far as the budget, but I really need to organize everything and add up how much I have spent on each person.

I have budgeted $200 for each of my three children. I don't know if people think this is high, but it is difficult to keep it less because as the kids get older, the cost of the items they want goes up considerably.

Anyway, I will hopefully be posting more now that my house guests have gone and things can hopefully get back to normal. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

11/18/07 - Daily Progress Report

Things are getting back to normal. Worked at the church nursery today. I am scheduled to sell my jewelry at a Craft Fair next Saturday and another one the next Saturday. Have a lot to do to prepare for that. And, I'm having Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year. On top of that my parents and my sister, her husband, and two kids will all be staying with us for the long weekend.

I have a lot to do!

Today's Earnings: $28.00
Church Nursery: $28.00

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Big Gas Pump Blunder

I had a shocking revelation right before we went away for vacation but didn't have time to post about it yet, so here goes.

I was getting gas at my usual gas station - which was carefully selected long ago for offering one of the lowest prices in town even though they offer full service, which is key when you have young children. I pulled in, rolled down my window, and said my usual "fill it with regular" with a smile.

Then, as I was watching the total go up and up and up, as it always does, something caught my eye. A little red light was lit up next to the octane grade that was being used. To my surprise, it was not the lowest grade that I thought I had selected when I chose "regular".

The sign at this gas station shows three prices for three grades of gas. Regular, plus, and premium - or so I thought.

Turns out that this gas station offers FIVE grades of gas! I thought I was getting the lowest price by ordering "regular" when in fact they call their lowest grade of gas "economy"! And there is a $ .15 difference in price!

Now if I had only made this mistake a couple of times it wouldn't be such a big deal, but I have been going to this gas station for 7 years!!!

So, I fill up about once a week, about 15 gallons each time. So, 15 gallons x $ .15 = $2.25. And $2.25 per week x 52 weeks each year = $117 a year. And $117 a year x 7 years = $819!!!

So, this was a very costly mistake that cost me $819 over the last 7 years!

I guess I learned the hard way to make sure you order carefully!

WOW! A Happy Husband!

Well, I can hardly believe it. My husband just told me how nice it was to go on vacation and have the cash set aside to pay for it! He said he usually feels guilty when we get back from vacation when he thinks about all the money we spent, but not this time. He says it was really great to have the money set aside in advance and be able to spend it guilt free.

I couldn't agree more!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm Back - Finally!

Well, we just got back from a wonderful family vacation in Disney World! We had a great time and paid for the whole trip completely in cash!! Now that was a first! And, we actually came home with a little money left over. Under budget for once! :)

So, I haven't posted much so far this month but I should be back on track now.

It will take me a few days to update all my blog stats and post my November budget and my October actuals - but I'll get there. Thanks for your support - it really has helped keep me on track. And thanks for your patience.

I have missed blogging . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

11/05/07 - Daily Progress Report

Okay, I have been mia lately. Have not been doing very well with finances over the last couple of weeks. It kind of feels like I have been on a strict diet and I just couldn't take it any more and had a big binge. Well, I didn't exactly go on a spending spree or anything, I just haven't been paying very close attention lately. And that's almost as bad.

I need to go over October and find out exactly where we went wrong. And I need to plan out November. The problem is that I'm not sure when this is going to happen. We are leaving for our Disney World trip on Saturday and I have a lot to do to get ready for that. (This trip was planned prior to Dave Ramsey and the start of our financial journey. We saved up and will pay cash for the whole vacation.)

On a good note, I have already finished a lot of my Christmas shopping, and I was able to buy lots of gifts with the $250 in free gift cards I got for signing up for an American Express Rewards card! I had planned to apply an extra $250 that was budgeted for gifts to debts this month, but I'll have to look at our budget to see if we can swing it.

I'm feeling a little uneasy because our surplus funds in savings is very low. (By surplus funds, I mean the money that I put aside from the high commission months to cover for the low commission months.) Starting with my husband's next paycheck his 20% raise should kick in, so that should help, but I'm still a little uneasy.

On top of all that, my husband has told me that he can no longer bear to live on the "measly" $30 a week blow money that "I allow him". He feels that this low amount is "ridiculous". So, this is very discouraging. I told him that we need to look at the budget together and he can tell me what we can cut to increase his spending money. He wants no part in looking at the budget. He says it just stresses him out and he has enough stress at work and doesn't want more of it at home.

So, lots on my mind today . . .