Recent Divine Discussions

Thursday, September 27, 2007

7 Random Things About Me

I got tagged by Juice Fairy for the 7 Random Things Meme going around. Here ya go:

  1. I own 46 pairs of shoes.
  2. I speak 3 languages.
  3. I don't eat red meat.
  4. I am of Caribbean decent.
  5. I have one tattoo and its on my right thigh
  6. I graduated from high school with a 4.3 GPA but I never ever studied
  7. Number six didn't carry over into college
Alrighty, thats all for now folks. I am gonna tag some of the newbies to the game. tee hee

Mya Moola

Dreams @ Soon Enough

I Am Fabulous


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The savings account game

Well it seems like ING lost their dang on minds and lowered their interest rate on the Ultimate Savings. Unfortunately, that is where I have my emergency fund. I have gotten pretty used to the nice interest I earn every month. I am a little discouraged by the rate drop that I am tempted to move my money to another account. So I did some hustlette work and found the current interest rates for the money market/savings accounts for competing banks.


APY (%)

ING Direct




Capital One


HSBC Direct




I will move my E-fund to an already established account. I am not looking to open a whole new account for this since I already have three. I currently have an online savings account with ING, Citibank, and Capital One. I added the others for your information. Aside from a higher interest rate, I am also taking in consideration transfer time, ATM accessibility, and easiness of the online banking. Between Capital One and Citibank, Capital One wins hands down. It currently has a 5% APY (4.88% interest rate), you get free checks, and an ATM card. Their online banking system is easy to navigate through and very nifty. Their transfers, to and from the account, only take 2 days to process. Citibank takes 3-5 days, actually leaning more to 5 days.

There was some discussion over at @ Mya Moola's on what was the best place to keep your emergency fund. I say it depends on your situation. I am content with what the online savings accounts offer. Currently, none of the brick and mortar banks in my area offer an APY that can even compete with online savings banks. I also find the customer service for the online banks to be much more friendly. The online banking system is far better than what I have seen at WAMU, Suntrust, BofA, etc. Easy navigation and the multitude of options make logging on and fidgeting with your account fun. I also enjoy the fact that my money far away enough for me to be not to be tempted but close enough for when an emergency does occur. For these reasons, I will keep all my savings in online savings accounts (as long as they keep up with the perps).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Random Ish

I took Hustler's advice and called Vonage to change my rate plan. I currently had the $24.99 Unlimited Residential Plan and changed it to the current promo which was the same exact plan but for $14.99. So I just saved myself $10 bucks a month. I have unlimited minutes, free long distance, and all the features and I only pay $15 a month. You can't beat that! Thanx Hustler!

I am on the fence with what to do with my cable. I currently have both my internet and digital cable through Brighthouse. I pay $20 for Roadrunner and $50 for digital cable. I don't watch that much television and when I do it's specific shows. My fav shows are Prison Break, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, House, House of Payne, Burn Notice, and Monk. All but the last two are shown on my local channels. And from what Saving Diva says ( I think it was her), some of the ones I just listed are also shown online. I am tempted to cancel my cable and go without it for the entirety of my cc debt snowball. Doing so will free up $600 total in that time, therefore allowing my to reach my goal a month earlier and save about $42 in interest. This dilemma reminds me of Single Ma's post titled, "What will you sacrifice?". Is going without cable for a year and missing some of my beloved shows worth a month and $42 bucks???!! Do I want to make that kind of sacrifice? Right now I don't think I want to. I mean I have gone without cable before but thats because I had to. It was either that or food on the table for me and my daughter. Another option is that I can go and get satellite cable for cheap. Hustler had a post on how you can possibly get Direct TV and only pay $60 for 12 months. I called in but got discouraged when the rep wanted to do a hard pull on my credit BEFORE she could even tell me if I was eligible for any of the promos I mentioned. Uhh, no sweetie! Anyways, I'll stick with the cable for now unless something cheap comes up.

I finally created the blog for single mothers. It is called Single Moms of Florida. It is going to be real hard keeping up two blogs. I am hoping to bring on one or two other folks on to write guests post or something once I get everything ironed out. Hopefully I can provide some kind of insight, assistance, or just inspiration to a single mom out there. Wish me luck on that.

I am trying to find other ways to trim my budget. I found this article @ Money Central, 50 Ways to Trim Your Budget. I found it via someone's blog. I forgot who so sorry if I don't give you your props. I haven't read the article yet but I plan to. My expenses currently take up 89.5% of my monthly income. I would like to get this number down considerably by both increasing my income and decreasing my expenses. We shall see.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Closing Credit Cards

I have been doing a lot of research these past few days, trying to find information on the "right" way to close credit cards. And I have concluded that there isn't one right way. It all depends on your situation. My research did uncover certain elements of your credit report that you will need to take into account when deciding how to close your credit card accounts.

  • Credit History :
    • Definition : Measurement of how long you have had credit, starting with your first credit card or installment account (15% of credit score).
      • Dimples' Research Says: Closing one or more credit card does not disturb your credit history. Accounts will stay on your credit card for a 10 years after they are closed and during that time you will still retain that card's credit history.
  • Revolving Utilization (AKA balance to credit limit ratio):
    • Definition : Amount of your revolving credit limit that you are currently using (30% of credit score).
      • Dimples' Research Says : This is what you should really analyze when closing your credit card(s). As you close accounts, you lower the amount of your available credit. If you are not paying down your usage of that available credit (i.e. debt snowball), then your ratio will increase as you close off each credit card.

Dimples Do's and Don't of Closing a Credit Card

Do not close any card that still has a balance
Do request a zero balance letter prior to closing a card
Do not close your oldest card
Do not close your ONLY card
Do request written confirmation that the card was closed in good standing
Do send a written notice to close you account to your card issuer
Do not close all cards at once, try and space it out

(Wanna add one? Leave a comment and I will edit this to add yours in)

So based on the results of my research, the plan I currently have set in regards to closing my credit cards will take into account both factors. My six years of credit history will remain six years of credit history regardless if I close eight accounts that are no more than three years old. And I have it set up where I am closing my credit cards by credit limit, the card with the lowest credit limit going first.

Again this is based on MY credit card status, credit history, and future plans. To each his own. I am holding off buying a home at the current moment. I have made the mistake of trying to set a date on when to start this process back up when in actuality I should be going by my financial picture. So with that said, if my plan does wind up hurting my score then I will invest the time and effort needed to get it back up to where I need it to be.


How Lenders Keep Score
Five Credit Cards You Should Never Close
The Top Ten Credit Mistakes Forums - Credit Cards

*I am not a financial expert. I just do what I do.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dimples Divine Supports the Jena 6

Nuff said.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another site I like

I have been searching for discussion boards where I can log on and communicate with other people who are or have been in the same financial situation that I am currently in. I have found that in the forums at Debt Consolidation Care. It's one of two forums I currently use to ask questions and receive answers back from folks who have actually had experience in that subject.

Anyone working on repair the credit? Do you have collection accounts? Did you know that you can write a 'Pay to Delete' letter to your creditors? A agreement that once you pay off your debt that the creditor will remove all notation of delinquency and change the account to paid , no late payments.

Some of the other forums that caught my interest are Credit Repair, Dealing with Collection Agencies, Getting a loan (Mya, this one's for you), and Dealing with Student Loans.

I recommend trying out your questions at this site. You'll be amazed by the practical solutions you can get from regular folks who have been there and done that.

Go on AmEx!!! and Go Tar-jay!!

I received my travelers cheques and gift card that I redeemed my Amex bonus points for. I ordered these things Sunday and got them in the mail today! To think they had an option where I could pay $10 and receive my stuff in 3 business days instead of the 10 business days @ no charge.

Glad I didn't fall for that mess.

Anyone know if I can cash in travelers cheques at a bank?? I am thinking about using one of the the cheques to pay off another card. Actually, I think that is what I will do. I have $158.23 left over in my budget. I forgot that I received a payout from Cash Duck for $80 and my rebate from my laptop purchase for $150. So that is where the leftover is coming from. I will use that and $15.01 from the Amex bonus to pay off my Avenue card which is $173.24 total.

I can still use the remaining $85 for my daughter's birthday trip. Yeah Amex!!

I returned my Target online purchase to one of their stores today. My online purchase total was $57.21 while my refund total was $63.57. ?? I didn't realize that till I got home and looked at the confirmation email with my total. Oh well. Go Tar-jay!!!

I am on a roll. Gotta love it.


I actually have $208.44 in leftovers. So I will not need to use any of the Amex bonus. I can pay the Avenue card off and still have $35 in leftovers. Go me!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I paid off a credit card

I paid off my Office Depot card yesterday. Balance was $152.31 and now it is a big fat $0. I am so happy. :-D

Did I ever tell yall that I have 13 credit cards?


Well........I do.

As you can see the interest rates are horrendous. For a while there, I thought they were normal. Uh no sweetie......they aint! LOL. Anyways, out of the 13, I would like to keep 4 of them and close the rest. The 4 are the oldest of all my cards. That way I can keep my credit history. I have been thinking about when and how I should close the other 9 out. I need to do them one at a time and spaced out. I don't want to close them all at once. That would be a big hit on my credit score. I set it up so that I close one every two months or so, starting next month. I am also closing out in order of credit limit, with the smallest limit being first. Hopefully this system works and my credit score won't take to much of a beating. I have the last card closing out around the time I would like to start up my home purchase process again. But thats just an estimate.

Looks like I have a nice chunk of money remaining in my budget. I can't figure out where it came from. So I won't be messing with it until I do. It's over $100. Once I do my end of the month and I see that all bills are accounted for then I will most likely take a $100 and apply it to the next credit card in the snowball line and deposit the remaining into my Misc account.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This is too funny

I mean truly hilarious.......tee hee

This past Thursday I was in the process of giving my apartment a thorough clean down and was in the midst of changing the sheets on my bed. Well I went to get some new sheets and found only one. What the heck? Why do I only have two sets of sheets? I mean I had to throw away one set about a week ago because it got ruined in the washer machine (pen) but I could have sworn I had at least 4 more sets.

I mean come on. I know I should live beneath my means but damn........a sistah need some nice, quality, and purty sheets. Right? Right. So you know what I did? I hopped my happy tail online and went a searching for some sheets on sale. I finally found some nice ones at Target; 300 thread count (one blue and one violet) and some organic cotton pillowcase......... I placed my order and used a 15% coupon code. The total came up to $55 which I charged to my Target card. Great deal!.............(cough).........What?

So why when I finished doing laundry today, 3 sets of bed sheets turned up?! Now I have 5 total and 2 coming via UPS any day now.

Ha ha ha ha. Tee hee hee. LOLOLOLOL. Hilarious!

OK........maybe not that funny.

Dag nabbit! Its so hard to say good-bye to shopping at a whim. Its hard I tell ya! Lawd forgive me for I have reneged! I have fallen.

But I will get up. Needless to say I will be partaking in some return festivities tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Divineness of this weekend

My weekend has been oh so divine. :-D


Just got PAID!! I was blazing Johnny Kemp the whole time I paid bills on Friday. Feels good! Feels good!

N-E-WAYS.....I paid off the second half of monthly bills. Budget is questionable at the moment on if I am over or under. I came under in some categories and over in some others. I still have many open ones so we shall see whats what when I do my monthly report at the end of this month.

Emergency Fund

My automatic transfer into E-fund account should take place on Monday. I updated the sidebars. I REACHED MY $3K E-FUND GOAL YALL!!!! Yessir. My E-fund's current balance is $3008.38. Last month I said that I would extend my E-fund goal to $10K once I hit my $3K goal. But I was reading a post @ Mya Moola where, in anticipation of her new salary, she discusses how she will establish her E-fund and then redirect all her money towards her debt. Well this got me thinking. My main goal is to eliminate my credit card debt. I have already established a pretty okay emergency fund that is equal to a little over a month's living expenses. So I have decided to stop the automatic transfer I set up originally and redirect the $200 to my credit card debt.

Credit Card Debt Snowball

Now that I am redirecting the money I originally had alloted for my E-fund towards my debt, I will have $722 available a month instead of $522. As I said in my previous post, I did an analysis on my cc debt and set up a snowball plan. I didn't quite like the the snowball debt calculator I found so I decided to see if I could create something similar on excel but more in line with my situation. I winded up not having to do that because this snowball worksheet worked out perfectly. I inputted my credit card debt info and monthly amount available to apply towards the debt. Then I inputted info on extra payments I would make during specific months. For example, every December during the company Holiday party my employer gives us a $500 cash bonus. I plan on applying that bonus to my debt. So that is $500 on top of the regular $722 that I would apply that month. I did the same thing for February (tax refund) and some other months. Based off that information, I will eliminate my credit card debt by November of 2008. Totally different from February 2010 that the snowball calculator gave me. My goal is still set for October 2008. Other factors, such as raises and other bonuses still exist.

American Express Business Card and Rewards

Back in July I applied and got approved for the AmEx Business credit card for the sole purpose of cashing in on the introductory bonus of 25,000 points. I was contemplating on how I should redeem my points once they applied to my account. Well low and behold, I checked today and my points had hit my account. Yes.......its been just like Christmas this whole weekend! *cheesing*

Yeah so I had 25,000 points to play with. After about an hour of careful consideration to my current situation and upcoming events I decided and redeemed my points for the following:

  • 2 AmEx Travelers Cheques @ $50 each (10,000 points each)
  • 1 AmEx Gift Card - Especially for kids @ $25 each (5,000 points)
The gift card is for my daughter and will be part of her birthday surprise. Her birthday is in October and her god-mother and I are taking her to Disney World (her first time). She can use the gift card for anything she wants while we are there. I will also use one of the $50 Travelers Cheques for that day instead of putting aside money as I initially stated. I'll keep a hold of the second $50 Travelers Cheque for another event/holiday. The cheques don't expire so no worries. There is Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up so I will make good use of it then.

Alright yall. That is it for now. Till next time.....

Dimps out

Friday, September 14, 2007

Your 20s: See how your wealth measures up

A good friend sent me this article about how wealth measures up for folks in their 20s.

Check out the following chart:

How you measure up

What you haveAge 20-29Read more
Median net worth


Your free financial report card
Median net worth of top 25%


5 lessons the rich can teach you
Median net worth of top 10%


So you want to be a millionaire
Median income


Live well without busting your budget
Life expectancy*58.2 yearsInsure Your Life Decision Center
Children in household


Raise Kids Decision Center


Home Buying Guide
Median value of home


Home equity calculator
Own a car or cars


Buy a Car Decision Center
Median value of vehicle(s)


Insure Your Car Decision Center
What you owe

Households with debt


Debt Evaluator
Median total debt


Your Credit Rating Decision Center
% carrying credit card debt


Credit Card Smarts Decision Center
Median balance


Debt Consolidation Calculator
% carrying student loans


Saving for College Decision Center
Median amount owed


Cut College Costs Decision Center
% carrying installment loans


Manage Debt Decision Center
Median amount owed


A survival guide for new grads
% with a mortgage


Home Financing Guide
Median amount owed


Insure Your Home Decision Center
Households on the edge

Negative net worth


Learn to Budget Decision Center
60 days late on a bill


How not to pay your bills
Owe $10K or more on credit cards


Big debts, paid off fast
No health insurance


A guide for the uninsured
Your future

Households with a pension


Create a Plan Decision Center
401(k) or IRA


A Beginner's Guide to Investing
Median value of accounts


Retirement Planner
401(k) or IRA


A Beginner's Guide to Investing
Median value of accounts


Retirement Planner

They gave the following advice to consider as you sketch your financial plan for your 20s:

  • Live cheaply as long as you can.
  • Get health insurance.
  • Shovel money into your retirement funds.
  • Take a chance.
  • Be strategic about debt.
  • Pay attention to your credit score.

My take on the article:

Interesting. Majority of folks I know that are in that age range fall way above the medians for income, credit card debt, and student loan debt. Median credit card debt is $1400??? I would leave to see where they got their data from.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alternative way to cook that saves time

I wanted share with you guys a certain way I cook some of my food that has always been fast, efficient, and healthy. I have been doing it for the last 4 years or so. Just came to me one day. It's similar to the oven bag but without the bag. LOL. So a not-so-original idea.

I cook my food wrapped in foil in the oven. I do it with chicken or fish. I don't eat red meat so I don't know if this will work with it. I haven't tried pork either. The food comes out moist and delicious and it only takes 30 minutes for chicken and about 15-20 minutes for fish. You can add in any veggie you want.


Preheat oven to 350. Take a round or square cake pan. Pull out a long sheet of foil and place it on top of the pan. The sheet needs to be long enough to fold over your food. Push the foil down inside the pan. Place the seasoned, defrosted chicken (any part) and any veggies (frozen, unfrozen, or raw) into the foil. You can also add potatoes or minute rice (I haven't tried regular rice but I'll let you know how it goes when I do.). Add seasoning if you haven't done so. Add butter. Fold foil over food and seal (pinch and fold) all edges so that no steam can escape from within. Put the pan into the oven. If your cooking fish, check in 15 minutes. If its chicken, then check in 30.

My food comes out delicious each time. You can try out different things and see how they cook. I don't know if this is a well known method or not. I get surprised looks every time I tell or show someone. If this isn't knew to you then ho-hum. If it is then...WOOOHOOO!!!.

Tee hee

Someone try it out and let me know how it goes.


Money Management Tools and Financial Calculators

I found these on a forum on Credit Boards and I thought I would share them with you all. I bolded my favs.


Printable Personal Budget Worksheet

Printable Weekly Expense Worksheet

Providian Budget Calculator


Credit Card Balance Transfer Savings Calculator

How Long Will it Take to Pay off My Credit Card? (CardWeb)

What Will It Take to Pay Off My Credit Card (Bankrate)

The True Cost of Paying The Minimum

When Will You Be Debt Free?

Quicken Debt Payoff Planner

Debt Tracker Spreadsheet

Debt Snowball Payoff Spreadsheet


Savings Calculator

Asset Allocator

Millionaire Calculator

IRA Certificate Calculator

Money Market Calculator

Balance Sheet/Statement of Net Worth


The True Cost of a Loan

Loan Calculator and Amortization

Auto Loan Calculators


Debt-to-Income Ratio

Monthy Mortgage Payment

Mortgage Amortization Schedule

Home Equity Loan

Home Equity Loan Amortization Schedule

Home Equity Loan Comparison

Home Equity Calculators (Bank One/Chase)


FICO Score Estimator

Small Business Calculators

Microsoft Office Templates

H&R Block Tax Calculators

Financial Aid Calculators


How Much Will You Need for Retirement?

Retirement Planner

Social Security Calculator

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is the best way to snowball your debt?

I have been pondering this question for the last couple of days. I did some research online and I am debating on what exactly is the best way I should snowball my debt.

The majority says to pay off your debts in interest order: paying the credit cards with the highest interest first. Paying the cards with the highest interests first reduces the debts that grow the fastest due to the interest added every month. This way helps you save a lot in interest over the period of the snowball.

Other folks, like Dave Ramsey, suggest arranging your debt by balance and paying off the card with the smallest balance first. I think this is the best way for me to go. My logic is this: Paying off my debt in balance order starting with my smallest balance will free up funds from my minimum payments and allow me to apply more towards my debt each time. Factoring the bonuses and tax refund I will use towards my cc debt will make an even bigger dent.

I checked out the popular Snowball Debt Calculator and tried out both scenarios to get an idea of how much of a difference there is between the two

I currently have 11 credit cards with balances. My total minimum payment is $322 and I have budgeted an extra $205 to apply on top of that.

--> Here are my results when snowballing higher interest first:

It will take you 29 months to pay off these debts if you snowball correctly. During that time, you'll pay $2,298.00 in interest.

If you paid the same amount per month, but changed the order in which you paid your debts so you weren't paying the highest interest rates first, it would cost you an additional $753.00 in interest.

--> Here are my results when snowballing smaller balances first:

It will take you 30 months to pay off these debts if you snowball correctly. During that time, you'll pay $2,442.00 in interest.

If you paid the same amount per month, but changed the order in which you paid your debts so you weren't paying the highest interest rates first, it would cost you an additional $609.00 in interest.

As you can see there isn't that much of a difference. The analysis shows that the best choice is to payoff debt by interest rate order but thats only by paying it off 1 month earlier and $144 less in interest. The calculator doesn't take into account the bonuses and tax refund I plan on applying to my cc debt. Nor does it take in account the fact that my current $522 available towards debt repayment will increase as I get further into my repayment. Taking these factors in account, how much of a difference between the two scenarios will there then be?

I can create an excel sheet with formulas similar to that on the Snowball website yet specific to my situation. I may do that this weekend if I have time and compare the two choices then. But for now I am leaning more towards snowballing my debt by balance order. You can't beat the plus of wiping out at least one credit card a month and seeing that zero balance each time.

How do you plan on snowballing your debt? Credit card debt?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blog Template Change


Well I changed the template of my blog.

I was getting tired of the two columns.

I dunno yet.

Not feeling the new look.

Maybe it will grow on me.....................................maybe.


I changed some of the colors. I am starting to like the new look more and more. I seem to have lost some of the page elements such as my BlogRoll. I added it back but may have left some folks on. If I left you off and we have done a link exchange please email me and let me know.

There also seems to be an issue with the alignment of the sidebars when you view my blog in Firefox. Will work on that tomorrow.

Edited Again:

Sidebar alignment issue should be fixed.

Publish Post

Free lip product with any Bath & Body Works purchase

Here goes another one. Hopefully everyone interested can take advantage of it.


Free Lip product with any purchase (up to a $7.50 value).
Offer valid now through October 7, 2007. Offer excludes Goldie lip products.

To Redeem In Stores:
Print this offer and present it at any
Bath & Body Works Store. Authorization code 6489.
Print this Offer
To Redeem Online (Shop Now):
1. Add your merchandise to your shopping bag.
2. Add your FREE Lip product, up to a $7.50 value.
3. At checkout, enter promotion code WE

Ulta coupon

Anyone like to shop @ Ulta??

I just received the following coupon via email. I think I will start sharing stuff like this from now on. Well until these remaining companies decide to adhere to my unsubscribe request.

Enjoy! Click on the $3.50 to get to the site.

ULTA Gift Certificate
$ 3 50
any purchase
of $10 or more*
To redeem on-line enter
Coupon Code 83835
- or -
Store Coupon
*Coupon offer valid 9/9/07 through 9/29/07 on all regular price, sale and clearance merchandise. Excludes salon services, fragrance, prestige cosmetics including Bare Escentuals, prestige skincare, GoSMILE and T3.** Cannot be redeemed for cash or gift cards. This offer cannot be combined with any other ULTA coupon offer. Not valid on prior purchases. Limit one per customer. **See in-store for exclusions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Capital One Credit Card Bonus

I just got this in my inbox and thought I would share.

Capital is offering a $25 bonus. You will need to apply, get approved, and activate their card to qualify before December 31, 2007. This is a referral bonus so you can only get the bonus via a referral. Here are the instructions on applying:


Edited: I can't seem to get any confirmation on if this is legit or not. So for now we will say it is a no-go.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cash Duck is back!!

......actually it will reopen mid-October.

I received the following email from Kira, Cash Duck creator:

"Well, I guess I just missed you guys too much to leave.. I've decided to revamp CashDuck and reopen in mid-October. Look for new features, new offers, and new ways to earn.

All withdraws that have already been requested will be sent out as previously scheduled, and I expect all prizes to be sent out by the end of next week. Then I'll be busy making the new and improved CashDuck a reality!"

Cash Duck is coming back yall! Yes! For all who don't know, Cash Duck is a "pay to" site where you get paid for doing offers that range from surveys to shopping. I signed up with Cash Duck in April and since then I have made $412.04. I can't wait to get back to making some more money with the site. I'll keep you guys posted if I hear anything more. For anyone looking to make some money on the side, this is definitely a great site to do so. You can easily bank $200 a month with Cash Duck.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Subscribe to my blog now!!!

Do you enjoy reading my blog?

Want to be instantly notified each time there is a wonderfully divine post here at DDD?

Then you should definitely subscribe to my blog via RSS feeds or by email. This way you will be able to stay on top of ongoings in Dimples Divine's life and her journey to eliminate her debt and financial empowerment. See below to sign-up.

Thanks for reading!

Via Reader:

Subscribe in a reader

Via Email:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Friday, September 7, 2007

Step 3: Never let my credit card be my only option

Back in July I decided to take the time to understand why I keep building more debt. I am on a mission to find out exactly what the underlying factors are when it comes to my accumulation of credit card debt and find a solution to each one. Here is what I have discovered so far.

Step 1: Unsubscribe from all store emails.

Step 2: Find a cure to my ESS.

And now I have discovered another flaw in my ways and have developed step 3.

Step 3: Never let my credit card be my only option.

On a previous post I shared what I had decided to do with any money leftover at the end of each month. In the midst of coming to that conclusion, I realized that I have been committing the same mistake every single holiday, birthday, and any other significant event where I would need to spend money.


I knew that these occasions were coming up and that I would need to spend money yet I never thought to plan ahead. See this is what I didn't realize:

Dimples has always had somewhat of a budget where ALL her money is allotted for something. Every payday, she pays all her bills, transfers money to savings, and anything left over is directed towards debt. So when a birthday, holiday, wedding came along she had to resort to using her credit cards to fund the birthday party, wedding gifts, holiday meal, decorations, etc.

(ok enough of me speaking in third person.....getting lil eerie)

My credit card was my only option. I didn't plan ahead and save money. Even when I was paying bills I could have easily set aside some of that remaining money and just not applied as much to my credit card debt. If you count up all the holidays and birthdays and gifts that have been sponsored by my credit cards then you can see how much all that can amount to. Shoot, I did the very same thing with my sister's wedding two weeks ago. And yall saw how much my cc debt increased by. What if I had planned ahead and saved money for it.? Ugh! I swear, its times like this where I am amazed on how I can be an engineer and still not be able to figure out something so simple.

Well I plan on changing that trend. From now on I will always have a plan. Next big event for us is my daughter's birthday. I will get two paychecks by then. I plan on setting aside $25 each paycheck for a total of $50. Then I will add $50 from my miscellaneous budget for a total of $100 to use for her birthday. Next big event after that is Thanksgiving. I will be going home to my parents for that holiday. But I will set aside $50 to use just in case I need to help my mom buy food and cook.

I created a list of all upcoming big events up until my birthday in January and have "budgeted" a set amount for each. These are situations where I would be tempted to use my credit card and spend spend spend. Doing this I will be able to avoid that.

Anyone else in the same boat? Or were in the same boat?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Damn Gas! *sigh* How to set up a SUCCESSFUL budget

I am only 5 days into the month and I have already spent $55.02 on gas. And I budgeted $90 for the entire month. UGH!!!

Needless to say, my assumption that 90 bucks would be enough for gas when I drive @ least 120 miles a day just on work will have me looking like an ass when I do my end-of-the-month analysis.

I looked over how much I have spent on gas in the past few months (something I should have done from the get-go) and I averaged about $180 a month. OMG!!! Double than what I budgeted.

All my dang on fault! I blindly threw a number in for my gas budget and thought I would nail it. WRONG!! This just shows how NOT easy it is to develop a budget. Obviously Dimples doesn't fully understand the concept of creating a budget. A SUCCESSFUL budget. So I did some research and found the following article. I wonder if I should recalculate my budget. Its early in the month. I dunno why but it feels like it would be cheating. Aww well. I'll just roll with it for this month and just learn my lesson come October. And for those who are wondering, gas is the only category I messed up on. Everything else is pretty much fixed or based on averages.

How to Set Up a Successful Budget

Setting up a budget that will work for you is the first step in Financial Planning. Here's how to do it right.

Difficulty Level: Average Time Required: 1 to 3 hours

Here's How:
  1. Start with a canned budget worksheet (see link below).
  2. Go through your check book or bills for the last two to three months and add and delete categories from the worksheet to fit your expenditures.
  3. Think about your hobbies and your habits and be sure to add categories for these expenses.
  4. Go through your pay stubs and calculate your average monthly gross pay.
  5. Do the same for any interest income, dividends, bonuses, or other miscellaneous income.
  6. For each expense category, try to determine a budget amount that realistically reflects your actual expenses while setting targeted spending levels that will enable you to save money.
  7. Once you're comfortable with your expense categories and budgeted amounts, enter expenditures from your checkbook from the last month.
  8. Keep track of cash expenditures throughout the month and total and categorize these at the end of each month.
  9. Subtotal the income and expense categories.
  10. Subtract the total expenses from the total income to arrive at your net income.
  11. If the number is negative, your expenses are greater than your income. Your situation can probably be greatly improved by changing your spending habits.
  12. If you have a positive net income, transfer most of it to a savings or investment account at the end of each month. Extra cash left in a regular checking account has a way of getting spent.
  13. After you've tracked your actual spending for a month or two, analyze your spending to identify where you can comfortably make cuts.
  14. Once you've got the budgeting process in place, take an in-depth look at your largest spending categories, brainstorm about ways to reduce spending in specific categories, and set realistic goals
  15. Update your budget and expenses monthly.
  1. Don't try to fit your expenses into somebody else's budget categories. Tailor the categories to fit your own situation.
  2. Make your categories detailed enough to provide useful information, but not so detailed that you become bogged down in trivial details.
  3. Think of your budget as a tool to help you get out of debt and save money, not as a financial diet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Net Worth by age and income

Single Guy Money had a neat post about a net worth calculator that shows your rank based on age and income. I took the test and here are my results. Obviously, yall know I am no where NEAR the median net worth for my age. Absolutely NO comment on the median net worth based on my income.

And it looks like I make way
more than the average income for my age group. A sistah is still in the RED! *sigh*

See where you rank based on your age and income.

What I plan on doing with my leftovers

In my last post I asked everyone what they did with money left over at the end of the month when they came under budget. I received a lot of good responses and suggestions. Taking into account those suggestions, my current financial position, and the very near future I have decided to roll the remainder into my savings account and use it for important miscellaneous things that pop up.


Well I have a set budget that I need to follow every month. Aside from the $50 for miscellaneous stuff I have budgeted, I don't have extra money for things that may and will come up. For instance, my daughter's birthday is October 17. My plan is to take her to Disney for a full day of fun. Her godmother is sponsoring the event (getting us tickets). So all I need to worry about is food, parking, and any souvenirs Sweet Pea might want to take home. I don't think $50 will cut it. That is where the savings account would play its part. Another scenario is Christmas. I could use the bonus money I know I will get from work but that is going to be applied to my cc debt. So again, any money in that savings account could go to Christmas gifts.

My main goal is to get rid of my credit card debt. In order to do so I need to make sure I don't create anymore than I currently have. Those two scenarios are situations where I would be tempted to use my credit card and spend spend spend. Doing this I will be able to avoid that.

Of course this means that I will work hard to come under my budget each month. That way I can guarantee some extra money for my daughter's b-day trip and Christmas.