Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Credit Card Debt Updates

Grrrrrr! I went ahead and paid down most of our credit card debt. As you may recall I purchased a new refrigerator and our yearly vacation added a ton of  new debt. I went ahead and paid off the refrigerator and used part of our paychecks and some eBay profits to pay down our Citi credit cards.

Below you can see my the latest totals:

Citi & Best Buy:


The current balance as of this morning is $1,426.41 with some minor charges pending on the Thank You card. Wife also placed an Amazon order last night on the Forward card so that will show a charge in the next few days. The Citi Thank You card also charged me a yearly fee of $95! I called and tried to get this taken off but no luck. I don't mind paying it since I still have a offer for $300 in gift cards if i spend $3,000 in the next 3 months so for now I'm going to keep the account and try to get that $300. They said if I close the card in the next few months I could get part of that money back.

August to September was expensive. I had mom and wife's birthday so that set me back around $600 between gifts and dinner. Towards the end of September we are taking a trip, wife asked me to book a trip to San Antonio, TX to take the kids to Sea World for one last hurrah before we settle in to the winter. I'm thinking that will cost around $600 to $700 for hotel, tickets and meals. October will probably also be costly, wife is going out of town for 2 nights with the girls to a wine and beer festival and that will probably set me back another $500.

That's all the updates I have for now, I still don't understand how most of you don't spend any money!!! 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Credit Card Debt Updates

What would this debt blog be without credit card debt?! Summer is always when we spend the most and our vacation didn’t help but we had a great time so now it’s time to focus on paying stuff back. Below you can see the latest balance on our Citi Thank You card. You may recall I had a balance of close to $500 on our Citi Forward card and now that one is ZERO!  I also had a balance of $1,577 on our Best Buy credit card and that balance is now down to $1,000. I will post a screen shot of that one when I get it back down to zero. I have a ton of stuff to post on eBay, I went on a buying spree locally and picked up 15 watches to re-sell so when I make some profits I will probably send that money to our Citi Thank You card.

I'll post more updates as I get this balance down.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Did I Say That? New Refrigerator and Best Buy

Did I really say Never never ever buy anything Samsung! four years ago on this post?? Well not sure what I was thinking last week but I decided to buy the exact same refrigerator, yup I bought Samsung again! The one that we bought to replace that model four years one was never my favorite- it had all kinds of issues with temperature, it had leak inside where water would get everywhere and also the ice maker went out. Most people would call a repair company but the refrigerator sorts of works so I decided why not make that a beer fridge in my garage and then get a brand new one for the kitchen. I also went back to black. Most people say stainless looks nice but you cannot keep it clean and I totally agree! I’m much happier having black back in my kitchen. I also went back to side by side, I cannot stand the French doors with the freezer at the bottom, call me old school LOL. If this new fridge lasts us four years, that’s fine I think by now I’m going to get used to buying a new refrigerator every four to five years. Here's my new refrigerator:

You probably already know where this topic is headed and you are correct, I added new debt. I will say I love that I can walk in to a store and get anything I want on credit. Over the years you know that I pay off my debts quickly so I don’t mind charging stuff on the cards. This new purchase went on our Best Buy credit card and like most of my previous purchases on that card you know I’m going to pay this off quickly. If I don’t do that I still get 18 months of deferred finance charges so as long as I make the small minimum payment I should be good for a while which is why I love credit!! (ssshhhh don’t tell Dave Ramsey). Here’s the current balance on the card, the fridge was not that much but I threw in a new Apple TV so the balance is a little bit higher:

Happy happy happy!! I now have a cold refrigerator, a working ice maker and I love that the color is black! I also have a refrigerator in my garage that’s also cold and with the ice maker off hopefully I won’t have as many issues and I can have it stocked with lots of beer- mmmmmmm cold beer!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Summer Vacation and Crazy Spending

From Friday July 24 to Friday July 31 we went on what I’d like to call our official summer vacation. We left Houston Friday afternoon and we spent one night in Lafayette, Louisiana. Next day we drove all the way to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Our best friends’ parents own a high rise luxury condo that they rent out most of the year so they let them have it for a week. They invited us to come hang out with them for the week. We took the kids but let me tell you it is no fun traveling with a 1 year old and a 3 year old but we made it. We arrived there on Saturday around 6 PM and checked in. The place was amazing, high rise luxury, 3 bedrooms with beach view. Each room had their own bathroom so wife and I each shared a room with a kid. Our friends also have 2 kids around the same ages so they took the master bedroom with their little ones.

Vacation for us apparently means spending a ton of money and we really went all out. We bought groceries for the week and tons of beer ($300) but we still ate a lot of meals out ($300). We bought a ton of stuff we didn’t use like champagne for mimosas and fancy steaks but we didn’t have time to consume it all. We also did the zoo in Gulf Shores for the little ones ($100) and a ton of shopping at the outlet mall for the adults ($300). One day we also had the bright idea to drive all the way to Pensacola beach FL so that was probably another $200. Gas for the trip was a good $200 to $250 since we took the gas guzzler. One the way back we decided to spend one night in New Orleans in the French Quarter and do the Aquarium so that another $400! We got home on Friday but then we had to spend more money on things like groceries and feeding our family as a thank you for keeping our golden retriever. Let me tell you, we had a great time but now I have to deal with the bills. Below are the current totals on our credit cards. Note- the Forward card balance is mostly cash advances, did I mention Mr. HS snuck out to party in New Orleans after he put the family to bed? Casino and bars are not cheap in NOLA LOL. Here are the totals:

Yikes! I have no clue how I’m going to pay most of this back but I will probably tackle the Citi Forward balance first then tackle the larger amounts. Enough about bills and money, below are a few pictures of our crazy adventure through 5 states:

We took the scenic routes so we had beach views most of the way:

Condo Views from balcony:

First thing we did was get beer:

We also got everyone YETI tumblers, they are awesome:

Lots of card games and catching up:

We picked up stuffed chickens in Louisiana  to cook, this one had crawfish- YUM: 

Beach Views:

Sand was amazing:

Random things people do in the sand:

New Orleans, Canal Street:

View from our hotel room in New Orleans:

The food in New Orleans is amazing:

That's some of the pictures I took I still need to go through my camera and I also took tons of video with my GoPro. On the way there we also got rear ended in Baton Rouge so I'm also having to deal with that this week, the car was fine but our bumper got some damage.

That's all for now, next for me is to try to figure out a way to pay all of this off :)


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Apple Took Me Down!

Well no luck trading Apple after the quarterly earnings report came out last night. I had made back most of my money and probably had around $9,955 at the close of the market yesterday. The closing price was around $130 to $131 and I felt like the stock could hit $134 to $135 post earnings so I stayed in hoping to cash in around $10,250 but then our friend Tim Cook gave us the news that Apple only sold 47.5 million iPhones in the quarter which was not good enough so the stock took a nice dive this morning. Below you can see my happy face at the close of market and the arrow is where I sold my shares this morning:

I lost a good $800 to $900!!! I haven't done the math yet but I lost a nice chunk of change in a matter of hours! I probably have around $9,250 in there now so I will probably take a break this week and try to get back in the market next week.

Hehehe- you know what they say about money- 'If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people HE gives it to." - apparently I wasn't on his list this morning LOL


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

June to July Updates

Hey! Remember me? Still around but not a whole lot going on. Getting that new project I told you about reminded me how much I don’t like what I do but my pay is OK so I pretty much go to work and do the zombie dance- answer emails, schedule meetings, configure the software and act happy. I am still looking at what I want to do when I grow up but you know how life goes and we usually never get what we want, especially when kids are in the picture. I still pretty much try to do the things I enjoy like running and playing golf when I can find the time.

I had another bad episode with alcohol around my birthday. Those of you who know me may remember I struggle a bit with alcohol. I had been drinking a lot from last summer to this summer, pretty much every day, 4 to 6 beers here and there and the occasional hard liquors. An opportunity arose when I would be around family without my kids so I wanted to make it memorable and as usual the night ended up in disaster. A divorce or separation was probably in the works but I love my kids too much to be away from them so I decided to cut back and take control and make things right. I will not let drinking control my life but I don’t want to stop drinking either. There are things I will not do anymore and from here on I will be reminded of my past mistakes when I’m around drinking- moderation is key, I know I have a problem but I don’t want to completely stop drinking.

Summer is here and it’s usually the time when we spend the most money. As usual I keep things under control but spending is bound to happen so the credit card is up a bit. The current balance is $1,600 as of this morning; I should be able to pay that down with our next paychecks. We have a week-long vacation coming up in Gulf Shores, Alabama at the end of July which will probably add another $1,000 to this debt but you only live once and I want to spend some time with my kids so I’m not going to worry too much about it right now. You know me and I can pay down any credit card balance that comes my way LOL

Finances- cash savings still around $26,000. Around $16,000 sits in our savings account and the rest is on the market riding Apple. I lost a bit over the past couple of weeks, probably around $500 but I’m going to let it sit for a while and see where it goes. If it gets down another $500 I may just sell and take a loss, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. As far as cash only goes at home I’m still trying and paying for most things in cash but stuff still ends up on credit. eBay still my tiny little cash cow, I probably make $200 to $300 in profit every month. I buy stuff low, sell high and also look for stuff locally. If I make $25 to $50 in profit per item, I am happy but sometimes I do take a loss and just get my money back with fees and shipping being that loss.

That is all I have for now, I have you are having the time of your life!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Project Done, I'm Back Home!

The project I got last month came to an end on Friday. I knew it was a short term role and I was fine with it ending as I didn't really like the client that much or the clunky desktop that they required me to use. I also couldn't get on eBay or Facebook on that machine so that made it seem like the days would never end. As of Monday I'm back home and I will admit, I missed being home. I get lots of quiet time since the kids go to daycare and wife still working. I get all our errands done and I can do all the grocery shopping. I also love to cook so I can get dinner ready and I keep the house clean. I know I have to go back to work soon but I'm going to enjoy the next few days and just take it easy.

Yesterday I had an interview with a client downtown for a long term role doing what I love which is trading products and testing the software that handles those transactions. I think everything went well so I'm hoping to hear from them today. The manager also said they would bill me at a higher rate so that would mean I can easily get promoted in December. The only minor issue is they go with the open-office trend which means everyone can see your computer and what you are doing. This is exactly what it looked like but not an actual picture of the client:

I don't mind these type of work setups but I'm the type of person that works very fast and gets everything done in 2 to 3 hours so then I tend to 'play' a bit and take it easy the rest of the day. The other issue I have is everyone knows exactly what time you came in and and when you leave. I'm the type that comes in at 9 and leaves around 4:30 PM and take my hour lunch so I can't really get away with that when everyone is looking at you. At the same time I don't mind, I adjust quickly but at my previous client I got spoiled to my own little space away from everyone and could come and go as I pleased. Again, all of this is minor, I really want this role and I want to get promoted so I hope I get call today.

Today is National Running Day so I have to go running this afternoon!! Have a good day and go for  a run!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Appraisal District Protest and Settlement

You may remember I had an issue with our 2015 appraisal of our home. I got a notice in the mail that our house was valued at $207,000 but in reality that number was way too high so I filed a protest with them right away. In that protest I said the actual value should be $185,000 and they agreed with me. I got an email this morning asking me to accept 185,000 offer which I did right away. It may not be much but a dollar saved is a dollar made right? Here's the confirmation:

Houston home prices continue going up and up and up. There is no bubble, houses sell quickly with bidding wars and with people paying way higher than asking price. This has been going on for the past five years! Homes in the million dollar range are doing even better. Don't ask me who has all this money, all I know is I can't afford higher taxes which is why I had to protest. I love the fact that we don't have a state income tax in Texas but hate the fact that we have to pay property taxes. That means if you want to own property you will always have to pay taxes on it, there's is no paying it off and you're done. For example if I was to pay off my house I would still have to pay $6,000 per year in taxes! and as you can see, that number would continue going up. If you rent you don't have to pay any tax but with rents so high, you're basically throwing money away. With that said, I'm all for getting rid of property taxes and just having a higher sales tax on all items, maybe something like 15 to 18 percent but of course that's probably never going to happen.


Friday, May 29, 2015

New Savings Strategy and Trading

A while back I promised you I would do the unthinkable and pay off my current car but I really don't like my car so I'm probably going to hold off on that idea for a while. I probably owe around $10,600 on it and could probably sell it for $13,000 but if I keep paying on it I won't have to use my savings. I haven't had any luck with my savings lately since stuff keeps coming up but I do have a new strategy going forward. You may recall I keep some money on our Discover savings account and I also have money on my Scottrade brokerage account. Here's the latest balance on Discover:

The new plan going forward is to pretend this is all the savings I have and get into 'obsessive compulsive mode' about saving money and bring this amount up to $20,000. I know I can do it if I really set my mind to it so I will try it over the summer. Most of the money will come from daycare since we will not have that expense the next couple of months. Wife will be home keeping the kids but I'm going to pretend that I'm still making that weekly payment so that should get me to close to my $20,000 goal by August. I'll also throw in any found money and I may even bring some cash from my PayPal account once I start selling more stuff over the next few months. Again, the goal is to pretend this is all the savings we have and forget about the money on the Scottrade account.

Now on to the brokerage account. Below is the current balance on my Scottrade account:

I will NOT lie to you and say that I made a ton of money over the past month trading so here's the truth. As usual I was all in on Apple but the stock took a dive after earnings so this balance got all the way down to $9,500! I was hoping to be at $10,400 after earnings but my plan did not work out as it usually does. Apple is always up after earnings but this time around selling millions of iPhones didn't seem to impress Wall Street so I lost a good $700. From my experience and knowledge I knew Apple would come back so I waited, picked up the dividend and got out this week when the stock was back around $131. I'm pretty much still $200 higher so nothing's really changed since I last posted this balance. The plan going forward is to continue trading and see if I can make $200 per week. I will only trade the stocks I like such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Salesforce. If I make that 2 to 3 percent gain I will be happy. I will not trade options, I know I can make way more money doing that but from past experience I know I can also lose a ton of money doing that.

That's my new savings strategy, you always hear people say don't put all your eggs in one basket so hopefully now that I have two baskets I can make more money.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

401K Update

About a year ago I did a post on my 401K balance, you can find that post here. I did a quick check on the balance again this morning since I really don't check it that often. I probably log in every 3 months or so to take a look. As of this morning my 401K balance is close to hitting $100,000. Last year when I did that post the balance was around $80,000 so if my math is correct the balance went up $17,300 in one year! Here's the latest balance as of this morning:

I would like to see this balance go up a little bit faster so the plan in the Fall is to increase my contributions by 2 to 3 percent more. I would love to see this thing go up $25,000 every year but most experts are expecting a correction in the market so it may not go up as fast. Most of my asset allocation is on the more aggressive end, if I remember correctly 100% of my 401K is invested in stocks so if the markets go down I can also expect the balance to go down. Since I don't look at this on a daily basis I really don't have to worry about it too much but I will admit it's nice to see the balance up when I do log in. 

My employer counts their contributions as income which makes my salary look way better than my actual pay. According to my employer I'm making over $90,000 per year, but believe me it's more like $50,000 after taxes and other stuff. Here are my Total Rewards:

I'm finally happy with my pay, company and job. I really don't work that much so I feel that the pay and benefits are good for what I do. I also get a lot of time off. Any work that I do get I quickly automate and so I'm able to do things way faster which allows me to take more time off. My employer gives me 5 weeks of paid vacation per year and I really do use most of it so I can't really complain when it comes to pay. I'm finally making decent money, saving money and have good work life balance. At the same time I hope I can keep this all up, you may recall I was out of work for 3 months and that could happen again.