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2015 Financial Goal Update

January 4th, 2016 at 08:14 am

About a year ago I set a financial goal for the 2015 year. My goal was to gave a 250K net worth by the end of the year. I missed that. By a long shot.

My net worth a year ago was $227,074. My net worth today is $227,948. An $874 increase.

Of course the stock market is tanking, that's a big factor.

I've also taken on more debt - to renovate that barn that I was talking about last time I was actively blogging, and braces for DD1, that I blogged about in April/May.

Also, when we were lining up the barn loan, our house was appraised. It wasn't fully appraised. We got what is called a BPO - Broker's Price Opinion. That's a drive-by appraisal.

I had our house listed on my balance sheet at 85K, and the BPO came back at 80K. Who knows, if the broker had walked through the house, he might have been closer to an 85K number, but to "official" number was 80K, so I changed my balance sheet to match that, so that's a 5K difference.

I wish I had recorded and saved what my retirement fund balance was a year ago. I have no idea, but I know it is less than it was a few months ago.

I suppose it only makes sense to set my 2016 goal back at 250K for 2016. We'll see how I do this year.

I paid off my truck

October 2nd, 2015 at 06:34 am

I paid off my truck with my October 1 payment. The final payment was due Jan. 1, so I'm three months early - a 36 mo. loan paid back in 33 mos.

I'm happy to have my truck paid off. I really am. But, I've discovered, or maybe re-discovered something about myself.

When the payment went through, I thought to myself about how it will be another almost 2 1/2 years before my wife's mini van is paid off. And that my truck will need to last AT LEAST that long before we can replace it. And what if it doesn't. What if it breaks down tomorrow. We're screwed.

OK, maybe all of those thoughts didn't come into my head that rapidly. But still, that's the basic flavor of what was running through my head. Instead of being completely happy about having my truck paid off, I was worrying about having this van paid off in time that we wouldn't have two $300+ payments at the same time.

I need to be worrying about something at all times. My grandma P.'s contribution to my psyche, I guess.

Truly, I am happy about having the truck paid off, and no, I'm not really all that worried about my truck taking a crap.

But, that thought was still there, and that says something about my approach to life.

Response to my request

February 26th, 2015 at 01:37 pm

After my post yesterday about the negative entries on my credit report, doingitallwrong suggested I send a letter to my creditors asking for a goodwill removal of the negatives from my credit history.

I have an ongoing relationship with one of the creditors, our credit union, where we have taken out two car loans over the past three years. I logged on to the CU site, and sent an e-message asking if they would remove the negatives. I based my letter on a template found on a link provided by doingitallwrong. Here's the response I received:

Thank you for contacting Credit Union via eMessage. We appreciate you taking the time to message us with your request. We greatly appreciate your membership with Credit Union and are happy to hear you have had such a positive experience with us. Although I am able to confirm you have had a very positive payment history with us in the recent past we are not able to reverse or remove late payments reported to the credit agencies unless they were reported in error. If the payments were reported late and it was not the result of an error on our part we are obligated to report them and are not able to remove them. Although we are not able to accommodate your request and remove late payments from your payment history, I would like to assure you that your credit history only reflects the last two years of your payment history. As the payments referenced in your previous message were between the years 2008 and 2011 they should no longer be reporting on your credit. If you have any additional questions or if we can assist you with anything else you are always welcome to contact us …

I struck out.

There is one other CC that has reported negatives. I cancelled that card a long time ago. I have no idea what my account number was. I do have a mailing address that appeared on my credit report, but the above mentioned credit union at least has the incentive of keeping my happy because of my continued business. The other company (Bank of America) really has no incentive to make or keep me happy. So, I doubt that I'll send a request to them.

There was really no harm nor foul in sending the request to the credit union.

Credit Maintenance

February 25th, 2015 at 07:23 am

I pulled my credit report yesterday. I don't pull my report often enough. I know that you can get a free report form each of the three companies once per year. So the best strategy is to pull each of the three every four months. I just don't do it often enough. It's probably been 12-18 months since I last pulled it.

What I've done is recorded the date and reporting company in the same spread sheet where I keep my budget, balance sheet, and amortization schedules. That way I can keep better track of when and where I pulled my last report, and keep on a better schedule.

I have a total of 17 negatives, from two credit companies on my report. The first has a string of 11 negatives ranging from May 2009 - March 2010, where I was 30 - 120 days past due. The other has a string from August 2008 - November 2008 where I was 30 - 90 days past due, plus March 2010, and October 2010 where I was 30 days past due. Note that I started becoming active on the SA forums around October 2010.

If negatives stay on a report for seven years, my first string of four will start dropping August through November this year. May of next year through March 2017 will see the end of the entire string from the other card, and the last negative will drop off October 2017. But, that's a long time from now.

According to my current Discover card statements, my credit score hovers between 720 and 725 any given month. It will be interesting to see how my score comes in as these negatives drop.

I also did something I should have done a long, long time ago. There were three open accounts listed that I don't use. One was a credit card I no longer use, one was a store card I opened when I bought a suit at a department store, and the third was an Amazon card I opened two Christmases ago. I called today, and had each of those accounts closed. We'll see what that does to my score.

This credit report monitoring is something I think I can and will keep up on from now on.

New Year Financial Goal

January 5th, 2015 at 09:52 am

Happy New Year! It's Jan. 5, so maybe I'm a bit late.

I'm not sure if I've ever set a New Year goal in this blog. After I post, I'll check the archives to see for sure, but I don't think I have.

My financial goal for this 2015 year is to end the year with a $250,000 net worth - a quarter of a million dollars.

My current family net worth is $227,000 - 23K short of 250K. To reach the goal, we'll have to increase net worth by about 2K per month - or $1,916.67 per month to be a bit more precise.

We currently have three debts - house, mini van, and pickup. We'll be making average principal payments of about $1,080 on the house, $300 on the van, and $140 on the truck. That's $1,520 average monthly decrease in debt. The rest will have to come from growth in retirement investments. Between my employer and personal contributions, I invest about $780 per month into retirement.

Between investment and debt reduction - that's about $2,300 per month increase in net worth. As long as the stock market doesn't tank, I should reach my goal. We'll see.

Some of you my disagree with how I calculate net worth. I include home equity as well as vehicle equity, and even include $3,700 for household items. Basically, if we were to sell each and every item my family owns, how much would be left.

I do estimate home and vehicle equity low.

A Fresh Start

December 4th, 2014 at 09:28 am

I'm going to kind of start this blog over, right where I started it in April 2011. At or near the beginning of each month, I would list my debts. I set different debt reduction goals for myself along the way, and I tried to use this blog to keep myself accountable. My situation isn't nearly as dire as it was four years ago, but that formula seemed to work well.

Last time I reported in the blog, about a month and a half ago, Oct. 24, my credit card balance was $4,361. The current (not really current, I just now made the payment on-line, and it won't post til 5:00, but I'm going with it as current) balance is $4,149. My total debts are (debt, interest rate, balance)

Mortgage 2.25% $40,037
Truck 3.99% $4,568
Credit Card 19.99% $4,149
Total Debt $48,754

My only goal at this point is that I owe less on each account than I did the previous month.

I'm still toying with the idea of transferring that CC debt to a 0.00% intro rate card, but I'm not really sure I want to play that game again.

Last time I blogged, I mentioned a freelance job my DW had. For the first time in about 12 years of serious freelance work, DW has been stiffed for payment - about $2,000. The worst part of it is that she had recruited her sister, and a friend of ours from college to work with her, and they got stiffed too. Live and learn, but really after 12 years, it seems like a pretty good record.

Another Way Too in Depth Financial Calculation

May 21st, 2014 at 08:39 am

The only non-mortgage debt we have right now is the loan on my pickup. I bought the (used) pickup a year ago December, and borrowed $12,750. I took out a 36 month loan. The current balance on the loan is $5,784.59. Most months I've made extra principal payments, especially after our CC debt was retired last August.

According to KBB.com, the value of the pickup is just slightly more than $10,000 ($10,018 to be exact). The L/V ratio is 0.577. Because I am prone to wondering such things, I calculated what I would owe, and what the L/V ratio would be if I hadn't made the extra principal payments, or if I had taken out a longer (48 month) loan.

If I had just made required minimum payments on the 36 month schedule, the current balance on the loan would be $7,271.03, and the L/V ratio would be 0.726.

As far as the hypothetical 48 month loan goes, I'm not sure what the interest rate would have been if I had asked for one. My 36 month rate was 3.99%. Maybe they would have charged more, maybe not. I'll stick with a 3.99% 48 month loan. In that scenario, making only minimum payments, I'd owe $8,723.56, and the L/V would be 0.871.

I've gone this far, I might as well figure the 60 month loan while I'm at it. I'll use the same interest rate, and assume minimum payments. At 60 months, the current loan would be $9,594.32, with an L/V of 0.958. That's not quite underwater, but close. If I hadn't have made a down payment, it would be underwater!

That's pretty convincing evidence for me to shorten the loan period, to make a down payment, and to pay ahead if and when you can.

Update on truck loan

November 20th, 2013 at 09:25 am

Besides our mortgage, my truck loan is the only debt we currently carry.

I bought the truck last December. I borrowed $12,750. The term on the loan is 36 months. It's a 2004 Dodge Ram half-ton.

The current balance on the loan is $7,777.67. Minimum payment is $378. Of the 10 months I've made payments (the first payment wasn't due until Feb. 1), I've made the $378 minimum payment four times, and I've paid something greater than the minimum payment the other six months.

If I make $425 payments each of the next 18 months, and a projected $387.20 payment in June 2015, I'll have the truck paid off six months early.

My hope is to have the truck paid off before we need a new family van. My goal is to have only one vehicle loan at any given time.

If there is more life in the van after June 2015, we'll save the truck payment toward a down payment for the new family vehicle.

I really don't see us saving enough money to buy a replacement family vehicle out right, but all things are possible.

October Financial Reflections

October 1st, 2013 at 07:31 am

For the past couple of years I've done some extra financial reflection in the month of October. It was three years ago this month that we finally woke up, and started to pay serious attention to our finances.

A couple things happened that month. DW received a freelance check (that was in the days before four kids, and she did some freelance work). I think it was a couple thousand dollars. We also had our second of three sets of renters move into the our for sale house. I think the house had been vacant since July or August - a couple months anyway. We were also about $450 past due on one of our CCs. That CC had a whopping 32.99% APR.

Within the same week that we received DW's freelance check, we received a letter from the above mentioned CC. The CC company (Advanta) was offering us a deal - if we paid the $450 that we were past due, they would cut our interest rate to 16.99%. We jumped on the deal, and sent the check that day. Advanta kept their end of the bargain, and cut our interest rate. Most of the rest of DW's freelance check went to various other debts.

That bit of momentum got the ball rolling for us. I dug in, and totaled all our CC balances, compared the balances to each card's interest rate, and realized that (after the $450 payment, and interest rate cut on the one CC), we would still be paying very nearly $200 per month in CC interest alone.

The first step I opted to take was to find a 0% APR transfer to a new CC. My credit score was in a shambles, and I didn't qualify for a new card at that time. Another thought I had was to borrow against my retirement fund. I actually went to a bank, and picked up the forms to apply for the loan. I think they were offering an 8.99% APR on the loan. I don't remember for sure, but I may have filled out the paperwork, but I never did submit it.

That previous August, I had stumbled upon the SA forums when my mom and dad had a question for me about retirement savings. I had asked the question for them, and passed on the answers, and never did return to SA until I was faced with the question - should I borrow against my retirement fund to pay off CC debt (or, shift unsecured debt to a lower APR with my retirement fund as collateral, to be more precise). Thankfully I asked the question, and thankfully the forum regulars steered me away from that choice.

DW did qualify for a 0% APR 3% balance fee card that next January. The limit was $750. We transferred that, minus the 3% fee, and ended up doing two more balance transfers until the Advanta debt was paid off this past January.

It would be another six months before I found the Blog side of this site, and those of you who have been following my blog for most of the pat 2 1/2 years know the rest of the story in gory detail.

You also know that we've stumbled at times, and have had help along the way. But, as I remember that seemingly unbearable, rocky mountain that we faced three years ago, I can't believe that we've turned it around.

September Financial Snapshot

September 3rd, 2013 at 05:53 am

Mortgage $55,921
Truck Loan $8,555
Lawn Mower $103
CC1 $0
CC2 $0

Total Debt - $64,579

Retirement Fund $127,771
DD1 Savings $5,442
DD2 Savings $339
DS1 Savings $1,000
DS2 Savings $1000
Emergency Fund $800

Total Savings - $136,292

Debt reduced by $6,392
Savings increased by $3,657

About $1,700 of that increase in savings is because DD1 received her check for selling hogs at the fair. It's her money, but is earmarked for college savings, so I'll include it as a family asset.

I intended to pay the lawn mower loan in full last month. I went into the website to pay it off, and it's not easy to navigate. I entered the wrong amount to pay. When I went back in to see if the payment had posted, I saw that there was still a balance. I was unable to set the payment date for any sooner than 9 days before it's due. So, it will be paid in full on the 18th of this month.

I have another milestone to report. Our total family debt is now less than our annual household income! That sounds pretty good to me. Also, our total family savings is twice as much as our debt. Also good!

One last thing on the EF. We intend to beef that up. Right now the money sits in checking, which I've not listed here. Basically, we keep our EF in a bank in DW's home town. That way it's inconvenient for us to access. It's also inconvenient for us to add money. Our goal will be to get that money transferred over to the savings account before the end of this month.

Updated DTI Ratio

August 27th, 2013 at 07:19 am

We've retired some debt this month. All credit cards completely paid off. Truck loan - took a big chunk out of the loan. Lawn mower loan - almost completely retired (balance will be paid next month).

So, I decided to re-figure our debt to income ratio. It's now 24.5% - that is a wee bit less than 1/4 of our before tax income is required to meet monthly minimum required debt obligations.

That being said, we'll plan to send more than the required minimum to the truck loan per month from here on out. Not quite a double payment, but I'm thinking a payment that would amount to 10% of gross monthly income. That will bring our effective DTI to about 30%, and retire the loan about 14 months early. I think we can live comfortably with that.