Success

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Lacking all of the fanfare of the last time that I did this, I am proud to announce that I have paid off all of my credit card debt.

Hooray!

Again.

Today was a pay day and my latest paycheck allowed me to make a $450 payment to the fine folks at Chase Bank.

It worked out quite well too as today was my due date so the statement that will come out in a few days will be a totally clean slate.

So, let’s see, the first time around I paid off $28555 in credit card debt in 17 months.

This time, I paid down $28165 in 11 months.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, you can mark that financial goal for 2012 as completed.

Now to build up some savings…

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So, after a lot of questioning myself, I finally decided to cash the insurance check from Geico that resulted from my accident on leap day.

Just after doing so, I went online and mail-ordered the replacement parts that I thought I needed — a couple of special clips for the bumper trim piece that snapped off, a new light, and even decided on buying some new windshield wipers since they’ve been in need of replacement for probably 6 months now.

Grand total was $90.38.

So this morning, my sidekick and I put on our mechanic hats (figuratively) and got our hands dirty (for real).

Twenty minutes later, this is how things looked.

No, it’s not perfect.

The bumper is still cracked but for $1610 in my pocket, I’ll take it!

And I even got “free” wipers outta the deal!

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Land Rover Discovery IIIt’s been a year now since I bought the Land Rover that’s been sucking down gas each and every month.

The main reason for the purchase was because we’d be becoming a family of four within weeks and we needed another car that we could all fit in for a family vacation…and I’d always wanted one.

Was it worth it?

Well, it has certainly lived up to Land Rover’s well documented reputation as an often-in-the-shop money pit.

There was that $1100 “incident” in March followed by the $1200 accident in June.

And how could I forget that $1675 oil change in August!?

Wow…

That’s a lot of maintenance in a six month period…

But time heals all wounds and, thankfully (or surprisingly), it’s been smooth sailing every since.

So, while I don’t feel as if it was a wise investment yet — I never expected it to run forever — I’m still glad that I bought it.

It’s just eclipsed the 60k mile mark so it “should” have some life left and if I get another 20-40k out of it with minimal maintenance, well, it’ll have been a steal!

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Springfield Punx version of BatmanFor me, it’s to go with my first instinct and to do it quickly.

Right now, my top priority is my credit card debt.

I’ve got a lot of it again and it’s weighing me down.

Anyway, a long overdue invoice came in on Friday.

As it was for something I billed back in October of 2010, I wasn’t really counting on ever receiving payment anymore but since it was a $6k bill, well, I hadn’t forgotton about it either.

My first reaction to seeing the check was, “Wow — I can’t believe they actually paid… FINALLY.”

And then I started to think about how perhaps I’d just sold those I-Bonds for nothing.

But then I thought about how much of a dent I could put in my credit card balances on top of all of the money from the I-bond sell-off.

Holy 5-figures, Batman!

But I did nothing.

Instead, I sat around and waited for Hurricane Irene to arrive… and started to think about all to cool stuff I could afford to buy…

And just as I was about to buy something stupid online this afternoon, I kicked it into reverse and instead scheduled a $6000 credit card payment for tomorrow.

Woo-hoo!

Defrost the Fridge

Spider FridgeNo, silly, not to cut down on your electricity usage…

A few months ago, MoneyBeagle wrote about clearing out the spiders from his gas grill.

Don’t worry, this isn’t about spiders in or on my fridge.

But his advice couldn’t have come at a better time for us.

We don’t use a gas grill — opting for the old school charcoal method instead — but I was having an issue with another food related appliance at exactly the same time.

The fridge.

My ice cream wasn’t as cold as it should have been. My house-brand grape soda was luke warm.

We’d seen this before.

I’m on my fourth refrigerator since I moved into this house 9 years ago so I was kinda shrugging my shoulders and thinking, well, the streak continues…

(I’ve always thought it was a wiring issue in the house that kills the fridge but haven’t bothered to have it checked out because I’m always of the mindset that we’ll get the entire kitchen totally re-done before this fridge dies…)

Anyway, with the daycare bills crushing my finances and all of the auto trouble, and did I mention that I had to buy a new computer too yet?

Well, anyway, purchasing a new refrigerator would just add insult to injury.

Like I said yesterday, when I pretended to be an auto mechanic, this time I put on my appliance repair man hat.

First attempt was just to jack the coldness setting up in both the freezer and the fridge.

Sometimes it’s as simple as that but after a few hours, well, things were only getting warmer.

It was at this point that I remembered the reading about the spiders in the grill…

Maybe I just needed to clean out that plastic vent/grill thing at the bottom of the door. I know that when I clean the air filter on the lawn mower that it runs better. Maybe it’s just too dusty for the fridge to do its thing.

After a few more hours, I thought the coldness factor was a little better but still far from where it should be.

Somewhat stumped, I decided to dial the coldness dials back to their original position.

But I couldn’t.

They wouldn’t move.

While trying with all of my might to turn one of the knobs, I pushed on the back wall of the inside of the refrigerator for more leverage and heard the sound of cracking ice.

Well, duh?

The knobs were now frozen into place.

After pushing on the back wall here and there I concluded that there was probably so much ice built-up back there that the vent opening that cools the fridge from the freezer was probably totally blocked.

So I pulled the whole thing away from the wall, unplugged the beast, left the doors wide open, grabbed a hair dryer, and some towels.

After an hour or so of hair dryer action (the first action the hair dryer has seen in at least a decade), we loaded the fridge back up and plugged it in.

My ice cream is hard as a rock now; just the way I like it.

And sometimes, the Tang on the top shelf of the fridge even gets a little slushy. Mmmmm…Tang slushie…

Thanks MoneyBeag!

Your spiders saved me a fortune!

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So I’ve kept everyone pretty up-to-date on my auto-repair expenses for the Land Rover.

We’re fortunate (or foolish?) enough to have 4 cars in the household so when one goes down, we’ve got plenty of back-up.

Or so you’d think…

My BMW Z3 hasn’t been out of the garage for over a year. Over the past two years, it’s driven maybe 30 miles. I couldn’t get it started months ago and didn’t even consider it as my back-up vehicle while the Rover was in the shop.

So, instead, I hoped in my wife’s Toyota Tacoma, turned the key, and heard the fabled “click-click-click-click” noise.

I’m no gear head but I do know that that means the battery is dead.

We hooked it up to the Scion (our only functioning vehicle) and it started right up.

Phew!

We let it run for an hour or so, you know, to charge the battery before shutting it down.

The next morning, I went out to take it for a spin, turned the key, and got nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Battery must *really* be dead.

And then a lightbulb went on!

Hey, maybe the only problem with the BMW is the battery?

Hmmm…

Needless to say, I went out to AutoZone and spent almost $300 on a couple of batteries and then spent an afternoon pretending to be a real auto mechanic.

I thought these were so cool.  When I was 5.For real, I looked like one of those guys who’s always working on his Trans-Am with the bird on the hood.

(I realize that changing the battery is a simple task — I have some great ideas on how this century old system should be modernized though…)

Three hours later, I had two more running vehicles.

How about that?

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Almost three years ago, to the day, I wrote a post with the same title as today’s post.

I stumbled across the old post by chance while trying to dig up that old chart for yesterday’s entry.

Anyway, since then, I’ve gotten out of debt and then right back into it again…but let’s ignore the second part of that statement for now.

So as I neared the end of my original debt paydown, I listed out a number of things that I wanted to do once the debt payments were no more.

This is that list:

  • Quit my extra job.
  • Start a family.
  • Take a real vacation.
  • Have the entire first floor of my house remodeled. We’re talking the works. New floors, walls, ceilings, electrical work, plumbing…
  • Buy an all new living room set with a sectional couch so we can both sleep comfortably when football is on.
  • Have some trees removed and then have other areas landscaped professionally.
  • Tear down and build a new garage.

Reading it brought a smile to my face.

I quit my extra job — a few weeks before I even wrote the list. After 18 months off, I’ve since taken it back on but with a lot less on my shoulders so it’s no longer as maddening as it once was. It *is* however like being in the dentist’s chair when it comes to being paid in a timely fashion. Yep — they’re over 90 days behind. Again.

I started a family. Duncan was born in May of 2009 and we’ve got another on the way at the end of March.

Take a real vacation? Well… We did take one hell of road trip in the summer of 2008 but I’m not sure I can classify it as a “real” vacation. By “real”, we’re talkin’ about a Wheel of Fortune prize type of vacation. We’ve yet to take one of those.

We had the first floor of the house remodeled in 2010. I still need to have the kitchen done (and the associated plumbing) but everything else was done.

And at the conclusion of the renovation project, I bought a huge sectional couch for our living room back in October!

We had trees removed in July of 2009. And while we haven’t had any professional landscaping done, I’ve had professional landscapers rake my leaves for me since April of 2008.

And we still haven’t gotten to that last “wish” but I think I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do when I got out of debt — and getting out of debt was the only reason that I was able to accomplish as much of it as I did.

Now to start putting together a new list, you know, as something to look forward to.

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Nope...this picture has nothing to do with the post.The last time I pulled a credit report on myself was back in 2008 using one of those free websites.

It was enlightening and kind of disappointing too. I mean, there weren’t any negatives listed in the report and it was cool to see how many accounts that I actually had (and forgotten existed) but it never actually told me what my credit score was — you know, that magic number that’s calculated in total secrecy kinda like how college football rankings are set.

It’s a meaningless number that, for some reason, holds a lot of weight.

Well, while the defensive financial move we made earlier this week hasn’t really gone anywhere just yet — still signing all of the paperwork — the bank did provide us with our credit scores.

Now, I don’t keep track of my wife’s finances here on PIAC but I’m pretty sure she won’t mind me sharing here credit scores as well as my own:

Experian: (Range of Possible Scores: 340 to 820)
   ·Brainy – 821
   ·Wife – 792

TransUnion: (Range of Possible Scores: 300 to 850)
   ·Brainy – 809
   ·Wife – 804

Equifax: (Range of Possible Scores: 300 to 850)
   ·Brainy – 809
   ·Wife – 810

So, if you look closely, I’m apparently “off the chart” on the Experian one…

It’s probably a typo — the paperwork sent to us to sign was littered with them — but, either way, we’re perfectly happy with those scores.

Who wouldn’t be?

The one thing that I did notice listed under my scores is something that I think may have actually hurt my score a tiny bit.

All three credit bureaus listed “No recent revolving balances” and/or “Lack of recently reported balances on revolving/open accounts” as key factors for me but not my wife.

What’s the big difference between me and my wife?

Well, she’ll carry a credit card balance from time-to-time. I haven’t for the past 2+ years but based on this, well, maybe I should.

Or not — I’m still happy with the scores.

I mean, it kind of reinforced what I said earlier — right now we’re quite possibly in the best financial position that we’ll ever be in. Let’s take advantage of it.

Here’s to hoping that it’s enough to make the re-fi happen without a hitch…

Can You Dig It?

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