Success

4 1772

Mortgage on the MoveAs of this morning, I officially owe less than six figures on my mortage!

Balance is now $99,623.76.

It feels like a weight off of my shoulders even though it’s a pretty meaningless milestone and, really, still a pretty staggering number too.

Even still, from my experiences wiping out credit card debt, every milestone reached seemed to bring me more and more momentum.

I’m not exactly attacking this balance quite as aggressively as I did on the credit card balances but I’m comfortably (relatively) on pace to have my mortgage paid in full sometime in 2014.

So, while I envisioned the day my credit card balances reached $0 as the day I could spend freely (and to a degree, I almost have, though under an unwritten no-debt-incurred rule), with this new 5-figure balance, I’m feeling that much closer to the day when I can obnoxiously spend freely.

Yeah, I know it’s 5 years down the road but I’ve got momentum on my side…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

PIAC Post Extension:
Yes, an entire year after breaking that 22% threshold (which is apparently a law with a TON of loopholes), I’m *still* paying PMI… Ugh.

3 1712

DOMO Attack!I’m not really certain what prompted it but I’ve already committed to spending over $3300 this month… and we’re only one week in.

Ouch!

So much for the budget!?

Last month, I *so* wanted to increase my savings by $1000, decrease my mortgage balance by $1000, and somehow manage to pad my checking account with another $1000 too…

Doing the math (while keeping regular monthly expenses in mind), technically, that doesn’t even seem to be possible. But, man, I came darn close in May.

So far, the new baby isn’t costing us anything more than we expected or could handle.

Of course, with child care looming in the future, I’m well aware that that’s going to change in a hurry so I’m going to do my best to put the biggest dent in the mortgage that I can while I can still afford to.

So, this past week (I’m already one payment in!), I increased my weekly additional mortgage principle payment from $75 all the way up to $230.

Wow, Brainy! How can you afford $230 per week extra?

That’s a great question, and really, if you asked me if I could afford to send between $920 and $1150 extra towards my mortgage each month, I’d immediately say “No freakin’ way…

That’s why weekly payments are the only way to go.

You can afford to deprive yourself of more than you think you can.

Doesn’t Suze Orman say something like that?

I’m pretty sure it’s her.

She’s right.

Though I’ll just be scraping by, I somehow can afford to send $230 each week to CountryWide, or Bank of America, or whatever they’re called this month…

While making this budgetary change, which all but ensures that my mortgage balance will fall by over $1000 each month, I decided to make sure my savings account balance would grow by at least $1000 per month too.

It just seemed like a good time to go all out.

Five minutes on the computer and another modification of weekly auto-transfers — an increase from $165/per week all the way up to $250 per week.

There are always at least 4-weeks per month, so I’m guaranteed to increase my balance by $1000 plus interest.

That wasn’t so painful…

So, putting it all together, I essentially increased my weekly outflow by $240.

Considering that I was totally accustomed to my previous outflow, this almost feels like I’m eliminating $1k worth of debt and amassing $1k in savings for just $240 per week.

That’s a pretty good return.

I know it’s not as simple as that — it’s actually costing me double — but it certainly feels like I’m getting a great deal.

The only spot that I’ll tank each month will be in my checking account. I can live with that.

Now I know what some are saying, “Must be nice to have a 14-figure salary… I could do that too if I made as much as you…

I’ll be the first to admit that $240 per week is not a small number. And it’s certainly not an amount that everyone can afford — and that’s okay.

I started with a $25/week auto payment to Countrywide back in June of 2007.

Twenty five bucks.

At minimum wage, that’s just a half day’s worth of work. You smokers out there probably spend more than that on cigarettes each week. Think about it.

Point is, $25 is do-able.

And it makes a difference. A HUGE difference — see for yourself.

Whether it’s for debt repayment, savings, or even investments. Automatic weekly (not monthly) payments and transfers are the way to go.

– – – – – – –
PIAC Factoid: Setting the record straight, I don’t make a 14-figure salary.

I may be a multi-thousandaire but I got there on a 5-figure salary…

10 2881

Grateful Dead Tie Dye T-ShirtLast month I proclaimed that I would keep my expenses for the month of April under $2500.

I should have been more specific but, even still, I’m happy to report that my expenses for the month totalled exactly $2500.00.

I’ve put my wallet away until Friday so this is where the number will stay.

Here’s the breakdown for the month April:

  • $1653.90 : Mortgage
  • $153.59 : Natural Gas
  • $124.01 : Business Expenses
  • $112.91 : Electricity
  • $109.26 : Cable/Internet
  • $99.99 : Frivolous eBay Purchase
  • $66.05 : Phone
  • $66.04 : Gas
  • $47.67 : Smurf Dolls
  • $40.00 : Cash
  • $26.58 : Grateful Dead T-Shirt

So, after just three months of paying attention to my spending, I’ve taken my expenses (that were previously an unknown grey area) from $4133 all the way down to $2500.

That’s a difference of over $1600!

Basically, I was blowing $400 per week on non-essentials… and thought I was doing a great job.

And really, even this month, I *still* managed to “blow” roughly $175 on Smurf dolls, some eBay junk, and a tie dye t-shirt.

That means that there’s still room for improvement…

4 1602

Two!Wierd that it falls on April 15. Total coincidence, though…

It’s amazing how much things can change in the short span of two years, not just from a financial aspect, but all-around.

For now, though, I’m going to stick with the financial stuff.

When I started, I had $7215 in credit card debt, owed $4014 on a high interest personal loan, and I still had $9700 to pay down on one of my cars.

Total non-mortgage debt was $20929.

Though I said then that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel of debt, now, I can’t fathom how I was so comfortable with my finances.

My head was apparently in the clouds…and had been for quite some time.

Just a few months later, though, my credit card debt alone would swell to over $20k.

Talk about moving in the wrong direction…

But this site kept me in line. Just posting the numbers each month, even if no one was reading them, forced me to hold myself accountable so I kept at it…

Amazingly, at the one year mark, I was well on my way to being 100% non-mortgage debt free and proclaimed that by this anniversary/birthday, I would be.

Guess what?

I am.

Let’s hope that year three brings even more success.

And that I continue to feel shame everytime I overspend on something silly…

10 2538

You lost me at $21kWhen I first came across a personal finance blog, which happened to be Jonathan’s My Money Blog, just over two years ago, my most anticipated post was the one that comes at the beginning of each month — the net worth update.

At the time, I was in 20-something thousand dollars in credit card debt and seeing updates like his — how his finances were on the up-and-up each and every month — really inspired me not only to start Pants in a Can but to get my own finances in order and start really keeping track of not only of my finances but my progress too…

I also felt that I could relate to his situation (and many others too) as it seemed that we were all in the same boat. A decent income, a nice retirement plan already in place, and some HUGE debts.

It got to the point where I started to think, hey, if so-and-so can knock down $XXX off of their credit card balances each month, why can’t I?

Just weeks later, I was doing the exact same thing — following their lead — and it took less than two years to wipe all of my debts off of the table. It was an awesome exercise.

Another blogger’s net worth that I’ve followed pretty closely for the past couple of years is Flexo’s over at Consumerism Commentary.

He’s been doing the net worth updates since 2003 and really started from scratch with a net worth bouncing around the $20k mark for the first few months.

That has to be pretty relatable for those just starting out.

His whole journey of building wealth from that $20k mark has been really amazing — each month he just kept plugging away.

It’s also been quite motivational, giving me the feeling that, hey, I can do that too…

Until recently…

You lost me at $21k…

See, Flexo’s last two monthly updates have listed “other income” of over $21k for each month. That’s in addition to his salary.

Yes, in February and March, he brought in over $42k of “extra” cash.

Our net worths aren’t that far apart but I’m not even close to having made even half of that this entire year — including my salary.

I can’t relate.

Now I’m not knocking Flexo’s site or even his success — it’s downright amazing and I’d like to shake his hand — I’m just saying that I can’t “personally” relate to his situation anymore and I’d bet that that’s the case for a lot of readers out there.

I mean, I’ve had a few great months here and there where I’ve brought in over $10k in the span of a month but… $21k consecutively? In a down economy? (I can’t believe I just said that…)

He’s doing something right, that’s for sure.

It just doesn’t feel like it falls under “Personal” anymore. More like, “Small Business” or something…

I dunno, maybe it’s just me.

3 1821

Smurfs are cool.  I don't care what you say...  they are.  That's a fact.One year ago today, following a $508.13 payment, I posed that I’d eliminated $28000+ worth of credit card debt.

I even included a neat little graph to show how awesome my progress was.

That’s right — I said “awesome”.

In a four month span, I absolutely destroyed over $13k in debt. That was awesome.

(In reality, it was just a ton of momentum… Once I saw the debts falling, things started moving faster than I ever could have imagined…)

The good news is that my total credit card debt is still $0.

The bad news is that I don’t feel like I’ve progressed very much since then…

Sure, I paid off my auto loan in full (no car payments! woo-hoo!), I knocked nearly 10% of my mortgage balance out, I finally secured conventional homeowners insurance, and I somehow even managed to grow my savings account to 5-figures but for whatever reason, I dunno, I thought that once the credit cards were under control, I guess I thought I’d have, oh, say, a couple grand each month to spend on whatever I fancied.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

I wonder if that’ll kick in when I polish off the mortgage? Hmmmmm…

Either way, that’s still a long way off…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Fun PIAC Financial Factoid: Sure, the past week has been pretty kind to everyone’s investments but even without the recent uptick in the markets, my investments have done better in 2009 than they did for the same time period in 2008. Crazy, huh?

From January 1 through March 22, my investments were down $1098.85 in 2008.
This year, not even including this week’s gains, from January 1 through March 22, they were only down $120.40.

Perhaps that says something about my personal investment strategy but I still think it’s clear that things aren’t nearly as bad as they might seem.

0 1439

Happy Valentine's Day!Valentine’s day is over and I survived…

No, I’m just kidding… (I did survive, though…)

I’m actually breathing easier these days because I’m pretty confident that the dark cloud that I used to call homeowner’s insurance has finally blown over.

After 5 long years…

Yep, it’s officially been three months now with the new carrier — a conventional one, not a bottom-of-the-barrel State run one — and I haven’t been treated like a piece of crap or cancelled for no apparent reason yet.

This is a good thing. It’s new for me.

And, best of all, I’m actually covered should anything happen.

At least, I think I am

Reviewing My ProgressWell, 2008 is all but over so how’d you do?

I did pretty well on my goals for 2008. I mean, I certainly can’t complain.

In order of completion, I managed to increase my 401k contributions to 15% of my income, I eliminated all of my credit card debt, I paid down enough principle on my mortgage to have PMI removed (though it never actually happened), and I paid off all of my auto loans.

That’s a pretty decent set of achievements and I’m proud of every single one of them!

But there were a couple more goals on my list…

One, that I considered lofty, was to have $10k in savings.

Here, on the last day of the year, I’m finding myself in a bit of a grey area. I don’t feel that I accomplished the goal but by a technicality (my paycheck was deposited today instead of tomorrow because of the holiday), I actually have $10k at my disposal.

Just saying that blows my mind but, honestly, it doesn’t feel real.

And it isn’t all in my savings account right this minute, but it could be, so that goal was pseudo accomplished as well.

The final goal was to increase my passive income. That was a wishy-washy goal from the get-go and though my “side income” decreased by over $13k this past year, I managed to increase my 100% passive income… by just $63 over the entire year.

Hey, it’s better than nothing, right? It’s not like I “worked” for it…

So, with that, I can’t say that I accomplished all of my goals, but I think I took care of the big ones.

Hopefully 2009 goes even better — though my goals for the coming year are far less specific.

Can You Dig It?

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