Saturday, July 22, 2006

Credit Card Debt is UNDER $30,000!!!!

As I write that title, I still can't believe it.

Our credit card debt is now $29,999!!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

June's Spending Report is Ready!

Sorry for the delay, so without further ado here is the spending report for June:

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Yuk - I'm Tired and Cranky

For some reason, at least once a month I seem to pull an all-nighter. Usually, I'm on the computer working on a paid project or working on my blog. At 29, I'm getting too old for this stuff - and today it shows. I'm just a wee bit cranky and very tired.

I'm also a little bummed today because we had some rain and there is a new leak in our roof. Tomorrow I will check out the roof and hopefully it's a minor problem and some sealant or something can fix it until a whole new roof is needed. Anyone recommend a good product for that purpose? I'm just hoping that a professional isn't needed and I hope the whole roof isn't shot. That would be really bad right now because big expenses would mean a big setback with reducing debt.

Anyways, just wanted to check in and let everyone know I'm still here. Just not the happiest camper right now but I'm sure after a good night's sleep I'll feel better.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Are You Linking To Me?

I try to keep track of my stats to see who is linking to me, but I don't always catch everyone. A big change is coming to Blogging Away Debt, so please email me at bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com or leave a comment here if you are linked to me. I'll check out your site and probably provide a link back. As long as I find your blog informative and it isn't offensive then there's a good change I'll add it.

I read every blog on my blogroll at least weekly. I'm a little old fashioned and (cough) just click on my links to visit everyone's blogs. I know, I should get with the times and sign up to some feeds!

Did You Check out the Festival of Frugality Yet?

Dawn over at Frugal for Life is hosting this week's Festival of Frugality. She did an awesome job and her ABC format is great! Go check it out!

Thanks Dawn for Hosting :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Credit Card Debt Update - $30,616

I had a little bit of fun yesterday, and just started paying credit cards. It was best to get the money out of my checking account before I ended up spending it on something.

Seeing that number...$30,616...I am so close to having it under 30 grand. If I didn't have to worry about some final finance charges from Credit Card #2, I'm pretty sure I could do it. I just don't know how much those finance charges will be and I still have a few days to wait to find out.

I am also waiting for another statement to arrive, and then I will know all of my new minimum payments to I can calculate our new DTI as well as seeing how long it will take to pay all of this off! I'm thinking if it could be done in 2 years, that would be awesome. Then I can finally start thinking about saving!! Oh, what a glorious day that will be :)

My New Perfume - Deep Woods Off

It started a few weeks husband got a tick. Luckily for me, he was able to get it off himself and I didn't have to see it. I wasn't so lucky the next time because it was right on his back.

As I looked at that thing ferociously attached to his skin I could feel my heart pound like you wouldn't believe. The buggers have eight legs! Eight legs in my mind = a spider and I am deathly afraid of spiders, especially the big ones. I felt my whole body start shaking, but I knew I had to get that thing off my hubby.

I grabbed the tweezers and followed tick removal instructions and I had to stop a few times to compose myself. Every time that thing moved I wanted to jump a mile back. I finally got the sucker off.

My husband has been walking in the woods recently, so I was sure it was just him picking them up from there.

A few days later, my husband wakes my son up and he has a tick right on his head!! My hubby took that one off, but I still do not understand where my son got it because he hadn't been in the woods or anywhere with long grass, etc in a while. Another weird thing is that no one in my family has had ticks before and this year there have been three!

My son and I went fishing last week, and I sprayed Deep Woods Off all over. I am not taking any chances and I guess I will just have to smell like Off all summer. I can't help it. Those things freak me out!! I guess I will have a large expense for this summer for buying insect repellent.

I feel like such a wimp.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Awesome Extra Money and Free Goodies Day!

I checked the mail today and I was pleased to find two things waiting for me:

1.) A check for $5.00 for completing a survey with Pinecone Research. I've been doing surveys for them for a while, and it's a great way to earn a few extra dollars every now and then. The surveys don't take long to do (usually 10 minutes) and I've never had a problem getting paid. Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity gave the news that Pinecone is having an open enrollment. If interested, check out his link. Chances are it probably won't last long, so check it out soon!

2.) A box of snack size Take 5 candy bars for a BzzBlast. I get to try them, as well as pass them on to others to try. I thought the candy bars would be pretty gross with having pretzels in them - but they actually taste good. Just so you know, I am in no way required to promote products and I'm not being paid to say that I like them. The idea behind the program is that you try something new and if you like it - you spread the word. Like how things happen everyday with word-of-mouth advertising. Just, in this case, I get to try products for free :) If you are interested in becoming a BzzAgent, here's their website

That reminds me, what sort of freebies are at Walmart right now? Better check!

A Couple of My Best, I mean, Worst Customers

Over at Punny Money he shared his experience with a rude retail worker. Then Mighty Bargain Hunter shared with us his jaw-dropping experiences with retail workers.

I can't top those, but I can offer a different perspective - from a retail worker's side.

I worked as a cashier for a few years and here's the best er...worst of my experiences:

1.) I was training another cashier and scanning through a woman's groceries (the trainee was bagging as I was talking him through things). Something didn't scan and I was explaining to my trainee how to enter the barcode manually. It probably took two more seconds to talk while performing the action. The lady went off on us! She started yelling and screaming and we just took it because that's what you are supposed to do. She quieted down, and we continued with her order. Afterwards, we both tried to figure out what happened, but we couldn't figure out what made her blow. A few days later, she came in and apologized to us and said she was having a very bad day.


2.) Late at night, a man stumbled into the store. He tripped over the gumball machine and proceeded to go towards the beer. He had to check-out in my lane, and I told him that I could not sell to him because he is intoxicated. That never goes over well. He started slurring obscenities and calling me every name in the book. He finally gave up because I wasn't budging. He was about 10 feet away from me and he turned around and threw a few pennies at me. As he did that, he said, "Here's a few pennies for ya!" Thank goodness for the beer because he missed me by at least 10 feet. He saw he missed me, called me one last name and stumbled away. He must have remembered what he did, because he avoided my line and when he had to go through it he was very quiet and very polite.

Anyone else have any cashier stories?

My Favorites from the Carnivals

I didn't participate in these carnivals this week. I was a little busy and it slipped my mind. But there are some great articles to read.

My Money Forest hosted the 43rd Carnival of Debt Reduction. My favorite article is from the one....the only....No Credit Needed. That guy never ceases to amaze me. He has whittled down his debt and pumped up his savings at a speed that takes my breath away. I am proud to be a member of the No Credit Needed Network. I am in GREAT company over there with lots of inspiration.

The Real Returns hosted the Carnival of Personal Finance #56. There's one article that everyone should read. It's from Steve Mertz at In Cash Flow We Trust. The unexpected can happen to any one of us and we could lose our source of income. Steve poses a challenge to everyone to help figure out a way to help a mother generate money while staying home with her autistic son. Please visit his site, read the story, and think your brains out to try to help the woman mentioned as well as others in her situation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Where's the June Spending Report?

Sorry everyone, I am a bit of perfectionist when it comes to reports and I can't find a single receipt for $22.02! It's from a department store, so I can't just guess what we bought. I am still searching for that receipt and once I find it - the June reports are ready to go.

I have a feeling I know where it is, and I just have to remember to ask if he has it when he gets home :)

I Wish Those LCD HDTVs Would Quit Calling My Name

I briefly mentioned how HDTVs are tempting in my Keeping Motivated to Become Debt Free post. I mentioned that back in April and here it is July. They are still so tempting.

It doesn't help that we didn't have a very nice time at the movie theater yesterday. Our current TV is a 27" and it's about 8 years old. It still works, but the picture quality isn't the best.

We did take a look at them at Walmart, and there was a 26" that I practically fell in love with. The picture was so crisp and clear and with the wide screen, it looked beautiful. I hate to admit, I went as far as asking if there were any in stock. It turns out that the display is all they have of that model and they would not be getting any more. All of the other LCDs didn't have that beautiful picuture. There were a few flat screen TVs that looked nice, but there is no way to fit one of those in our car.

I think for now, I will continue to argue in my mind for and against the purchase. Of course, the biggest "against" is the fact that the money used to pay for the TV would be extra money that was going to go towards debt (I have a big amount slated for this month ~ shooting to get the credit card debt under $30,000). Do I really want to fall behind a month with trying to reach the goal date?

The worst thing is...I don't understand why I am being lured to them. I am not normally a electronic wow-able person. That's usually my husband. But why me and why now? One thing I've learned is that sometimes when you want something, you could actually be wanting something else. Ahh...the psychology of spending. Hopefully soon I will figure it out.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Movie Theaters - A Waste of Money

My husband and I haven't been to a movie theater in over 5 years. My son, being 4, has never been to one. That is...until today.

We decided to take our son to the "big screen" to see the Pixar movie, Cars. Since we haven't been to one in a while, we were unsure what to expect with prices. For the three of us, the matinee tickets cost $14.50. Wow. Then, a large Coke and a medium popcorn was $7.50. Double wow. Total cost of outing, $22.00.

Our particular theater was a disappointment as well. The picture was projected slightly crooked and the sound quality was horrible. I couldn't believe that with the roar of race cars I couldn't feel it. I guess for the amount that I paid I was expecting to feel the hairs on my arm rise with the roar of a race car's engine. I'm sure that's what Pixar had in mind with the movie, but our movie theater didn't deliver that experience.

We will happily be renting movies and watching them at home from now on. They sound better and we can be more comforatble. And to think...I know going to the movies costs more in bigger cities. Triple wow.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Chipmunks are Frugal!!

I know, I's a Friday night and I must be drinking or something to write a post title like that. But I am as sober as sober can be. And I am pretty serious about my title because I saw something today that amazed me.

I was outside and I heard a rustle from the neighbor's yard. I looked, and I saw a grocery store plastic bag moving around. At first I thought it was the wind, but it was moving around too much. Then it hit me - the chipmunk that hangs around there probably trapped himself in it. I was just about to get my shoes on to give the little fellow a hand when I saw him outside of the bag. He wasn't in it...he was dragging it around!

Then, the funniest thing happened. He went into a hole into the ground and drug that bag right in there with him. It took him a while to get the whole thing in the hole, but he did. I watched in amazement the entire time. When the bag disappeared, I couldn't help but wonder what value that little guy saw in a plastic bag. Oh how I wish I had a way to see into the ground to take a peek at his home.

Then, I realized something - he/she is being frugal. Not frugal in the sense of spending less than you make but in the sense of utilizing old things for new uses. Thinking about it more, birds do this a lot with using "human" things they find to help build their nests.

Maybe I'm stretching the meaning of frugal a little bit, but that plastic bag sure seemed like an inexpensive treasure to that little guy. I'm thinking that he/she ended up making a nice lounge chair with that plastic bag. Admit it - you are envisioning it now :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Quick Post - I Got My Raise :)

I knew I had a raise coming from work, but I tend to not count my chickens before they hatch. I have received official word that I will be receiving a 7% increase in pay starting this month, so I'm excited.

The best part of my current job is that I'm pretty sure they like me and I enjoy working for them. I can see myself working my way up in the company, expecially if I increase my education (which I have been doing). It has taken a while to get here in regards to my career, with some really odd jobs, but I think it has been worth it.

June Credit Card Debt and Finance Charges took me a while to get this ready, but I finished running the numbers in Quicken and formatting the charts in Excel. I only ended up reducing my debt by $409 and of course I would have hoped for more progress there. I still had quite a hit with the finance charges of $330.53, but next month should be a very pretty picture in terms of finance charges. It's funny how my attitude has changed - now I want to hurry up and see my credit card statements :)

I mentioned earlier today, well yesterday now, that I am feeling quite uneasy about how my debt is spread out with balance transfers. It's late and I should get some sleep so I will elaborate more this weekend.

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NOTE: This blog focuses on my credit card debt, but because my Prosper loan transferred some of that debt away, it will now be included in future reports.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I Made My First Prosper Loan Payment Today

I've been feeling a little apprehensive lately about the ability to have a trouble-free first payment with Prosper. In fact, there is even one borrower who had Prosper take out her funds twice! For anyone looking to Prosper for a loan, a double-dip like that could wreck havoc on their bank balance. For me, I better keep a buffer in place because normally I run my checking account VERY low. We're talking $40 in it sometimes, and that's for a few reasons: you can't spend it if you don't have I am just throwing as much as I can towards debt.

The process of making a payment is really easy. After logging into my account, I clicked the "Make a payment now" link. I was taken to another screen where I have the following choices:

1.) "Make next monthly payment of $112.77 now - Your next payment is due on Jul-20-2006"

2.) "Make an additional payment of $ (fill in amount here) - Your next monthly payment will proceed as scheduled for Jul-20-2006"

3.) "Pay off entire loan balance now"

Of course, being able to do #3 would be awesome but I'm not there yet ;) So, I went with #1 and I am just paying my first payment a little early. After I indicate that I would like to do #1, I am taken to a page where I confirm the information and click submit. After that, the next screen states the payment was successful and I was given a transaction number. I'd highly recommend that every borrower keep track of the transaction number for each payment. I just include it in my memo line in Quicken.

Next, I head on over to my account overview and I see that I now have $0.00 due July 20, 2006. So far, so good.

Now, where's the interest info? If you click on the "View loan details" link, you will be taken to a page that shows the status of your payments and it also breaks down how much of your payment went towards interest and how much went towards the principal. My payment split ended up being $18.99 interest and $93.78 principal.

I sure hope my loan payment goes off without a hitch and my payment is made early and no duplicate payment occurs. If not, I have a buffer in place and if the payment doesn't go through I will have a few days to try to work it out before lenders start worrying about a late borrower. Luckily, I have the ability to contact most of my lenders to let them know if there is a problem - and for those who check in on me here, you'll find out here as well :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

The Balance Transfer Blues

Ever have that feeling in your stomache that tells you that maybe something bad is going to happen? I have that feeling, and I can pinpoint it to the shifting of funds I have done lately. I'm working right now on getting my new debt picture posted for June and I do not like what I see (sorry - still working on it, but I had to get this out).

I like the fact that the interest rates are lowered now. But I do not like the fact that there are many more payments to make and more accounts to watch. Maybe because I was comfortable with the payment schedule I have had for so long. Gosh, I hope that's it and I'm not having a psychic vision of financial headaches to come.

I tend to rely VERY heavily on my gut and my gut is saying that it doesn't like my debt spread out like it is. I'm not sure what to do about it, though. In hindsight, perhaps I should have asked for a larger loan with Prosper. Then again, I might not have received the 9.9% interest rate.

When I post the picture (later tonight), you'll see what I mean. As always, any comments are appreciated.

UPDATE: June credit card debt and finance charges are posted here.

When You Hear the Music, the Kids (and Adults) Come Running

I was sitting on the couch the other day when I heard kid songs playing and I could hear them coming closer. I ran to the window to look and low and behold, it was an ice cream truck!

I've only heard about ice cream trucks and never saw one actually cruising the streets waiting for kids (except in the movies). Being a new experience for me and also my son, we ran across the street to grab a treat. Along the way, we were stopped by a little boy with ice cream in his hand and in a very hurried sentence told me that he heard the music and hopped on his bike and rode all the way over here see what it was making the music. The wide eyes and the ear to ear smile on his face was one that I will not soon forget.

The ice cream was pretty expensive ($1.00 for a push-up pop) and I ended up spending over $2.00 for our treat when we could have bought a quart of ice cream from the grocery store. But sometimes just the experience makes up for spending an extra dollar.

The Carnival of Personal Finance #55 is Up!

The Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Raising4boys. Make sure you take a few minutes and check out the submissions. I thought it took a bit of time to host the Carnival of Debt Reduction this week and I only had 10 entries. I really appreciate all of the work the hosts do after hosting myself so a big thank you to Raising4boys for hosting this week :)

My contributions were Hospitals - Gotta Watch them Like a Hawk and Using Classes in Quicken to Further Breakdown Expenses from my other blog, Quicken Tips.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Any Johnny Cash Fans Out There?

Calling all Johnny Cash fans...

If you would like to listen to the new American V album, AOL has the full album for your listening pleasure for free! I just found this, so I'm not sure how long it lasts. But thought I would spread the news!

Just visit and scroll down until you see "Listen to Full CD's for Free." There are some other albums listed as well.


More Info on How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

I wrote a while ago about a program that helped me with the cost of prescription drugs. I was just left a comment by a brand new personal finance blogger, Scarlett from Financially Secure, that gave some great info!

"This is a great resource if you can't afford your prescriptions. There's lots of information on this site - eligibility guidlines, application requirements, etc.
Just about every drug manufacturer has it's own patient assistance program. Once you find the correct program - try searching by brand name or generic name - print off the paperwork, fill in your part, provide proof of income if necessary and give it to your doctor to fill out the rest. They'll mail or fax it in for you."

I just took a peek, and the program I was in was listed. What a great resource!

Thanks for the info Scarlett!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Wishing Everyone a Happy and Safe 4th

We slept in a little bit this morning and headed out to watch a local parade. It was a small town parade and smiles were abundant. My son loved all the candy, and my husband liked helping my son find every last piece. As for me, parades always make me happy. Not exactly sure why...but they do.

Unfortunately, we will not be watching fireworks this year. We try to go to one of the best displays in the state every year, but my husband has to work tonight. A bummer, but we have a few sparklers from last year that my son and I will go out and have some fun with. I look forward to the day that my husband and I both work regular business hours and get all holidays off together.

That's another one of my motivators to pay down debt :)

Happy 4th Everyone!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Oh Great, Another Addictive Site

Leave it to a woman's anti-perspirant (Secret) to put up a site that I'll probably be checking out for a while. It's all about revealing your secrets (anonymously on the website, of course) for anyone in cyberspace to read.

Most are about love and relationships, but here's a few that are personal finance related:

This one doesn't surprise me at all, it's about a CEO that doesn't like her job

I have done this one in the past. I've since learned that when I am just being me I am acting more like a millionaire than I previously realized

This one I know too well

I haven't posted a secret yet, but I will soon. I think it is cleansing to get secrets and I have a few that I would like to anonymously declare. And part of me says...why not do it to just do it and live a little dangerously ;)

Bad Money Decision Confession Time #4

I haven't done one of these in a while, and this latest one I am still struggling with correcting. It's more mental than anything else and it drives me nuts.

When I do things I like to do it BIG. My husband is the same way. Meaning, when I make a payment to my credit cards, I like to pay a huge chunk at once. Why is that bad? Because I am actually saving money in my checking account in order to make a BIG payment. So I pay one $600 payment monthly but I could be paying $300 every two weeks.

One benefit of paying every two weeks is that on a yearly basis I would make more total payments!

Paying $300 times 26 weeks = $7,800
Paying $600 times 12 months = $7,200

That's a whole extra monthly payment that I would be making if I paid my card every two weeks.

I've somewhat started doing things that way last month. I sent a few hundred to one of my credit cards one week, then a few hundred a few weeks later. I wouldn't say that I am on 2-week schedule just yet but I am working on it. When you are used to paying things a certain way (and making sure there is enough money in the bank to do so), it can be hard to change.

But I am working on it :)

Previous Confessions:

Bad Money Decision Confession Time #3
Bad Money Decision Confession Time #2
Bad Money Decision Confession Time #1

So, Who Gets My Copy of "The Millionaire Next Door?"

Today's the day to announce who will receive my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door." I received some great entries:

"Hello Tricia,

I would love to have your copy of the "Millionaire Next Door". I didn't email earlier because I am of the mind set, to let someone else have the gift. Why? I don't really know. I know, kind of strange. Anyway, I read that you received no emails and that is terrible. I am a full believer that you should read and learn anything you can. If for nothing else but the sure growth of self and respect for other opinions.

I would probably pay it forward just as you did with a listing on my blog Divorce 2 Financial Freedom. I think it does more good to send it off into the world. Maybe God will direct it to the person who needs it most.

So, hold my entry to the bottom and give to the one who needs it most. Don't worry I will obtain this book someday anyway!"

From Denise at Divorce 2 Financial Freedom

"I'd like to read the book. I believe current income has very little to do with future income, and I'd like a little inspiration. My husband and I would like to become "the millionaires next door". Blogging is part of the picture, but I'm always interested in other thoughts. By the way, we're in a similar situation with regards to credit card debt. Our blog income is helping to accelerate our payments."

From Jill at

"Hi Tricia,

Ran across your blog through here:

I would like to join you on your journey to pass this book around. I'm personally reading "Millionaire Women Next Door" and it's very interesting. I want to also read the original version."

From Flower

"Hi Tricia

I'm surprised someone hasn't already emailed you already so I thought I'd give it a try. Like you I'm in the 40k range when it comes to family salary and I have no aspirations of ever being a millionaire so I typically avoid books like these, but something you said in your review really struck a chord with me:

"Learning about yourself and the way you live and how you treat money. Learning about yourself and how you view others. Learning about how you perceive wealth. See the common denominator here? It's YOU!!"

I've been thinking a lot lately that it really is all about a person's attitudes and I think my and my boyfriends attitudes towards money need some work so that we can learn to be happy with what we've got and not want more."

From Kassy at Sparing Change

Thank you for everyone who entered. It was a tough decision. Denise, you are very much like me with wanting it to go someone else. You gave probably the answer that I would have gave - LOL. Jill, I have watched you and your husband's blogs and what you have done with them. Your ingenuity with blogging and your willingness to help others is awesome! Flower, that's great that you will be blogging about reducing your debt. When your site is set up, please let me know I'd love to link to you!

That leaves Kassy. One thing that I believe with all of my heart is that a person can accomplish so much when they have the right attitude and the willingness to improve themself. I see that sparkle in your entry and I hope that reading "The Millionaire Next Door" will open your eyes as it did mine. You will be receiving my copy and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about it and I can't wait till the giveaway on your blog. Please email me your address by July 15 and I will mail it out to you :)

If for some reason I do not hear from Kassy by then, I will choose a runner-up. Again, a thank you to everyone who entered :)

Welcome to the Carnival of Debt Reduction #42!!

Welcome to the 42nd Carnival of Debt Reduction!!

Without further ado, here are this week's articles for your reading pleasure:

Working on Your Attitude....

..."No excuses. There is a path to success for everyone. Now, get moving."

Steve Faber presents Success is at Your Doorstep posted at Debt Free.

..."if you do take charge of your debt, it will become easier to pay them off."

Pete at My Financial Awareness presents True Story on Prosperity to Get Out of Debt.

Advice on How to Get out of Debt....

..."If the reason you are in debt is because you have a hard time actually paying your bills at all, there are three things you can do"

Supermom_in_ny presents Three Ways To Conquer Debt! posted at Getting Out of Debt.

..."I'm more in
the pay off your debt, then save to invest cash crowd."

FMF at Free Money Finance presents Comments: Over One-Quarter of the Population on the Brink of Financial Disaster, Need Discipline.

Watching Your Debt...

..."If I wanted to refinance, I'd probably have a tough time finding a loan for that price..."

Mapgirl at Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge presents Calculating Your Blended Rate.

..."The current environment of rising rates can play havoc
with the average family's budget."

Julie presents Surviving Rising Interest Rates posted at Money @

..."start locking themselves in a trap where they must keep on working to pay down the mortgage."

Harrison Loke at Journey To Financial Freedom presents Something We Should know about Home Loan and Mortgage.

Saving/Earning Extra Money to Go Towards Debt

..."We are very tight on our grocery budget and I hate to waste money on any paper products..."

Amy Allen Clark at The MotherLoad presents Solution for Cheap Trash Bags.

..."For the past several months I've been on the lookout for little, simple ways I could make some extra money"

The Family CEO presents Making My Money Count posted at The Family CEO.

If You Are Already in Debt, Don't Make Things Worse...

..."Had I been an identity thief, I really could've ruined your life today"

Wenchypoo at Frugal Wisdom from Wenchypoo's Warehouse presents Ebony Hall, I saved your financial life today.

A few notes: A thank you to all who submitted articles this week. It was my pleasure to read them all and I found some great new blogs to visit regularly. Just a reminder, though, that the Carnival of Debt Reduction is for personal experiences with debt reduction and/or advice on how to reduce debt. There were a few off-topic submissions this week that I just couldn't put in a debt reduction category (but were personal finance related): Discover Card Get Set for Fall and Car Buying Tip - Money Down.

Next week, the Carnival moves on over to My Money Forest.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What a Beautiful Picture :)

I think the saying goes that a "Picture is worth a thousand words." Well, I have to say this picture is worth a million bucks!!!

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As of 6/30/06, Credit Card #2 is paid off!! To see where it was back in February, click here.

There have been a few times since I started this blog that I wondered why the heck I was doing this and I almost hit the delete button. One time was when I ended up having to use my credit card for groceries and had to fess up (which wasn't fun).

I'm glad I didn't hit that button, because seeing progress like this is why I am doing this. There will be setbacks because no one is perfect. What matters is what you do with that setback and what you learn from it. Here's a quote I'd like to share:

"When you make a mistake, don't look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power."

- Hugh White

Saturday, July 01, 2006

June Net Worth Update

June ended up being a better month than I thought, but not as great of a month as I had wanted it to be. I love seeing the Net Worth IQ graph heading upwards!

May Net Worth $-49,309
June Net Worth $ - 48,477

Difference: Increase of $832

I guess what I would like to see is our Net Worth increasing by at least $1,000 every month. With the extra income we are now making and the credit cards now at very good interest rates, that is my Net Worth goal I am shooting for.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Hospitals - Gotta Watch Them Like a Hawk

I was very fortunate that my old insurance company covered my prenatal visits 100%. Since I knew sometime in the future I would like another child, I was curious to see what the charges looked like so I asked for an itemized bill of all charges.

To my surprise, I was being billed for procedures I didn't have! What really bugged me was that there is no way I could have one of them performed or they would have killed me!!

To put it lightly, I was furious. It didn't matter that I wasn't paying any money out of my pocket - I couldn't believe the errors that I saw. I went back and I fought them and they removed the erroneous charges. No wonder health insurance is so expensive when the hospitals are constantly overcharging for things. It's not just me, there's an article over at MSN about Hospital Overcharging. I really feel sick to my stomach when I think about this subject.

Health care is a real sore spot for me because it's the one expense where you really can't shop around for the best price. I've tried asking before how much a procedure would cost and they couldn't tell me. Only after I got it and it went through billing would I know. How are they allowed to do that?

I've been fortunate and since the birth of my son and I haven't had a hospital stay. I know I will be checking the next bill over and over and I will be incorporating the following (thanks to the article at MSN) to help make sure I am not overcharged and have some control of what I am paying for:

1.) I am keeping a log of all tests and procedures done. When I receive my bill, I will compare the log with what the hospital said was done.

2.) I am going to ask if I am going to have to pay for disposable things in my room even if I don't use it. If I am forced to pay - they go with me when I leave.

3.) I am going to call ahead (if possible) and ask about items that I will be supplied with in the hospital room and will be charged for, but I don't have to have. I will tell them that I do not want them and I will bring items from home.

Yeah, I'm going pretty extreme with this but it really does get me hot under the collar how hospitals get away with this. And it makes me very sad that there are people in financial despair because of a catastrophic medical event occurring and some of it could be from overcharges.

In my opinion, credit cards may be sneaky with their tactics, but I think hospitals are lower on the scale.

Today's the Last Day if You Want My Book!!

If you haven't heard yet, I want to give my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door" to someone who really wants to read it and today is the deadline!!

There's no catch, except I'd like you to give it away to someone else when you are done reading it. Each person is invited to sign the book their own way as I will do. I'll pay for the media mail shipping so only US residents please.

To enter, all you need to do is write a very brief explanation of why you would like to read the book. I'm only looking for three or four sentences, so no novels here. Please submit your entries to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com by 11:59 ET TODAY. I will announce a winner on Monday July 3, 2006 which is the day I am hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

I'd also like to include some of the entries on my blog so if that is okay with you, please grant me permission to post it as well as your name or nickname (if you'd like) and blog address (if applicable). If you do not grant permission, I will assume that you do not want your entry posted. And please, just add one sentence saying that you will give the book away when you are done reading it. You can give it away any way you like, but I would just like your word that you will give it away and ask that that person gives it away, and so on. I may be old-fashioned, but I still value someone's word and hope that it will remain true.


1.) Three or four sentences on why you would like the book.

2.) A sentence stating that you would give away the book to another person.

3.) Your name or nickname and/or blog name if you'd like your entry posted on my blog. You can also choose to have it posted anonymously, but please state that it is okay for me to post your entry.

4.) Email it to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Today is the last day!!

I'm Hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction on Monday

Just a reminder for those who would like to participate and read the entries, I am hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction on Monday.

Feel free to send your article to my email (bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com) or fill out the handy form at Blog Carnival.

More information about the Carnival of Debt Reduction can be found at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Read the Festival of Frugality to Stretch Those Dollars

Free Money Finance did a great job hosting this week's Festival of Frugality. Make sure you head over there to check it out.

I enjoyed reading the article from Bargain Queen titled How Cheap Can Gardening Be? She gives some great tips, and is giving me a little motivation to finish digging my garden and planting seeds. I am WAY behind schedule.

Total Credit Limit $57,000 vs. Total Income $45,000

One thing I will never understand about credit card companies is why our credit limits are so high. Credit Card #2 just kept raising and raising my limit when I was near my limit (which was often). It started off in 1995 at $500. Then they kept raising it and before I knew it - my credit limit was more than I made in a year.

Out of curiosity, back in March(when I was close to the credit limit) I checked to see if I could get an instant credit line increase with Credit Card #2. They offered to give me $1,500 more, which I declined. Just the other day (since paying off such a large amount) I tried again and they wouldn't give me an instant increase.

What that confirms with me is that some credit card companies are sneaky. They see you are spending and give you more. They see that you are paying it off and they won't give you any more.

Interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Time to Share Some More Quotes that I Enjoy

"Instead of focusing on the amount of money lacking in your budget, focus on what you DO have: a willing spirit, an imagination filled with bright ideas, people who care about you and can perhaps help you in some way. These are the things that will enable you to do almost anything."

- Phil Keoghan, No Opportunity Wasted

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."

- Helen Keller

"It doesn't make any difference whether what you face is something that affects your work, your personal relationships, your sense of security, your appraisal of self-worth, or your appearance--the way you think about your situation largely determines whether you will do anything about it and what you will do."

- Dr. Arthur Freeman

Using Classes in Quicken to Further Breakdown Expenses

There is a feature in Quicken called classes that will give you the ability to create reports such as the following:

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I've posted a brief tutorial on how to use classes over at Quicken Tips, so if you are interested take a peek.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Would You Like a Million Pennies?

While talking with my son the other day (he's 4), he found a penny on the ground. I asked him, "How many pennies would you like to have?"

He said, "One hundred."

I asked, "Would you like a million pennies?"

He said, "No, that's too many. They can't fit in my pocket."

You know what, I think he's right. Here's a neat illustration of one million pennies.

Part of me feels like I missed the opportunity to talk to him about how he can put his money in a bank and they will hold it for him. Then explain how he can make money by doing that. After hearing his simple answer, I could only smile because it was just simple. But perhaps I should take opportunities like that to introduce finance related things to him. But is 4 years old too early??

Monday, June 26, 2006

More Prosper Resources & Others Blogging About Prosper

Here are a few more sites I thought would be interesting to a Lender or Borrower on Prosper:

Who's Bidding on Prosper. Updated daily, you can see all of the Lenders and what they are currently bidding on.

Credit Boards Forum about Prosper.

And here are some bloggers that I know are writing about their experiences as a Lender (L) and/or Borrower (B). If your blog is not included, please leave a comment and I'll add you :)

Dual Income No Kids (L)
It's Your Money: Money Musings (L)
Makingourway (L)
My Personal Finance Blog (L)
Plugged in Finance (L) (L)
Seattle Editor's Prosper Blog (L) & (B)
Shaun's Real Estate Adventures (L)
Spotsearch (L)
Tired but Happy (L)

And a link to my previous resources for borrowers can be found by clicking here

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

There's Still Time...Would You Like My Copy of The Millionaire Next Door?

Would you like my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door"?

At the end of my review, I announced that I would like to give my copy of the book to someone else. If you are interested, please check out the instructions at the end of my post here.

The deadline is June 30, 2006 and I will announce the winner when I host the Carnival of Debt Reduction on July 3, 2006.

Come One, Come All...To the Carnivals!!

For your reading pleasure, check out the following Carnivals this week:

Carnival of Personal Finance over at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Carnival of Debt Reduction over at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Just a note, I will be hosting the next Carnival of Debt reduction. Feel free to submit using the handy form over at Blog Carnival or feel free to just send me an email at bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tips for Using Prosper for Debt Consolidation

I've never been interested in looking into debt consolidation companies. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I like to be in control of my finances. Handing off my debt to a consolidation company just seems odd to me. It's hard to explain.

But with the onset of people to people lending via Prosper, I think it is a great way for people to take control of their debt on their own terms. With my Prosper experience, I had $3,500 sitting on a credit card at 13.99%. Thanks to Prosper, that interest rate has been reduced to 9.9%. PLUS, I am fixed into paying it in three years or less.

If my situation was different and I had multiple credit cards that I wanted to consolidate, I would have used Prosper for that purpose. The personal aspect of Prosper can possibly help you find people willing to take a chance of giving you a loan, especially if you have less than perfect credit or your debt to income ratio is high.

If you decide to use Prosper strictly for debt consolidation, here are some things to keep in mind:

1.) States have set maximum interest rates for loans, and some states have a maximum rate under 10%. If you have low credit, that can hamper the ability for your loan request to be funded.

2.) When you do create a listing, your debt to income ratio will include your current debt AND the new debt incurred with the Prosper loan. Make sure you include in your listing that the loan will be used to pay off current debt so your debt to income ratio will not actually be that high. To help ease the minds of lenders, I'd suggest adding up all of your current monthly debt payments of the balances you will be consolidating. Then, note your new monthly payment with the Prosper loan. If the Prosper loan payment is higher (which it probably will be due to having to pay it in three years) note how you can afford the extra money needed for your monthly payments.

3.) Start your loan listing with the highest rate you would feel comfortable with paying. For me, I started my listing almost 2% less than my credit card interest rate. If my loan ended with that interest rate, it may not have been a drastic reduction, but there's a sense of pride with paying off the credit card and paying interest to regular people.

4.) Do not state in your listing that you want the loan to get rid of debt. I have seen some Borrowers state this, but with getting a loan from Prosper you are not getting rid of debt. Your Prosper loan is as valid of a debt as your credit cards or other loans. You are merely shifting your debt around to make your situation better. Showing Lenders that you have a handle on your finances and have the correct attitude with paying it off can help get bids.

5.) Do not opt to have automatic funding. If you choose automatic funding, the rate that you have listed will be the rate you will receive. There is no chance for Lenders to bid your rate down because your listing ends when you are funded 100%. In my case, there was a flurry of activity near the end due to last minute bids. Let the market (and human nature) bid your rate down. For debt consolidation and debt reduction, every little bit helps!

6.) Check out my list of Tips for Listing a Loan on Prosper for some general tips.

Good luck!! If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and ask :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Improving Your Attitude (and Possibly Finances) with Feng Shui

I've been debating for a while whether to discuss this subject or not. Some people have gotten hot under the collar when I discuss Feng Shui. But I believe the little changes I have done with my home has improved my attitude and made it possible for me to improve my financial situation.

When I left my job outside of the home, it was a job where a lot of people relied on me. I knew that I would have to give at least two month's notice to ensure a smooth transition for my replacement. I knew I wanted to work at home, but at the same time I couldn't just leave my other job with a normal two week notice.

So, I gave my notice at my job even before having another one. Things ended up pretty tight and looking a little bleak because I wasn't finding work like I had hoped. You may think I am pretty upbeat now, but I wasn't back then. I took a leap of faith and I wasn't landing on my feet. If I started this blog back then, you would have been reading a very different blog. One that was very bitter in tone.

I came across Feng Shui and started reading about it. I began doing a few things around the home, like changing the arrangement of the living room and bedrooms and I started feeling better and my attitude improved. Then I started getting jobs. They were small jobs, but I was bringing in some money to help with the bills. I found myself feeling better about life and I felt hopeful again.

Now, there are things in Feng Shui that I do not do because I don't understand the reasoning behind it. But, some things, like arranging furniture so you can see an entrance makes sense to me. Much of the reasoning behind furniture placement in Feng Shui involves making yourself feel comfortable and safe in your home. Feeling better about your home then can help improve your attitude overall.

As I often say, everyone is different. That's what makes life so interesting and diverse. I have enjoyed how Feng Shui has improved the feel of my home but I know it's not for everyone. But because it has helped my attitude immensely, which I feel was instrumental in increasing my income, I decided to write about it.

You can get to know a little more about me at I started that blog in January, but it has since been retired so to speak and I only write if I find something interesting or if I try something new. I actually haven't made any new changes to my home in a while since most of the changes were done last year and the beginning of this year. There are a few things I would like to do, but they cost money so those will need to wait until a later date.

Anyways, thought I would share :)

My List of Tips for Listing a Loan on Prosper

The great thing about Prosper is that it is people-to-people lending. There is a personal aspect to the whole process. Here are some tips that I have come up with that may help you obtain a funded loan through Prosper.

1.) Post Pictures. Now, you don't have to post a picture of yourself if you don't want to, but I have heard that Lenders like to see who they are lending to. For me, I didn't want to do that. Instead, just post something that let's the borrower know a little bit more about you and why you are asking for funds.

2.) Be Specific. When you list your loan, be as specific as possible as to why you are wanting a loan and also explain how you are able to pay it back and on time. A great thing to do is include your monthly budget. If you do not have a monthly budget already established, please do so before listing. Make sure that you can afford to pay back Lenders. The more success stories from Prosper, the more likely it will flourish.

3.) Explain Bad Credit. If you have bad credit, take a few minutes to add a brief explanation in your listing. For example, if you are showing delinquencies, the Lenders will be able to see that information. You will not be able to see what the Lenders see until after your listing is posted. But, before you list you can see your credit report for free by going to Go through your credit report and explain the negatives that are showing. Explain why you have problems on your credit report and explain what you are doing to resolve them.

4.) Include a Profile Description. Every user on Prosper has the ability to enter a profile description. Use this area to let lenders know more about yourself or to add additional information to your listing. Within your listing, make sure you note that more information is included in your description.

5.) Don't Ask for More than You Need. It may be tempting, but limit your loan listing for asking for just what you need. The lower your loan request, the less of a risk you are perceived to be. You also have a lower monthly payment which Lenders will view as more manageable.

6.) Proofread Your Listing. Asking for a loan on Prosper is serious business. You want to present yourself in the best light possible, so that means creating a listing with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. If possible, have someone else review your listing for errors (create it in a word processing program first).

7.) Read...Read...Read. One of the best ways to learn about the borrowing process is to look at others' experiences. Great places to start are the Prosper Message Boards and the Credit Boards Prosper Section

8.) Advertise your listing, but not Blatantly. Nothing is as annoying to Lenders than a Borrower "bugging" them for bids. A way to advertise, but not bug is to participate on the message boards listed in #7 with constructive things to add to a conversation.

9.) Answer all Questions Quickly and Thoroughly. Use your judgment to protect yourself from fraud (don't give out social security or driver's license number for example) but try to answer all questions from Lenders. They are wanting to make sure you will stay true to your word and pay back your loan.

And, what I believe is probably the best advice I can give anyone...

10.) Be Yourself. Tell in your listing why you need the loan. Let Lenders know a little bit more about who you are and how you think. If you pay everything two weeks in advance, tell them that. If you pay things on time, but right near the due date, tell them that. If you have had problems in the past with spending money or paying things on time, bring it out in the open and explain what you are doing to resolve your past "problems." Don't try to fib a little with the information you give. Just be honest and be yourself. We are all human, and we all have made mistakes in the past. Don't be ashamed of them, as long as you have learned from them.

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying...that he is wiser today than he was yesterday."

- Alexander Pope

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How Much We Make - Update

Now that my husband is working a few more hours and one of my part-time jobs is gearing up, I feel pretty safe in updating our income. I also have a raise due from my full-time job in July, but I will count that after it is a done deal.

As of right now, it is safe to say my husband and I are making $45,000/year, an increase of $5,000. I doubt our 2006 income will reach that (because my husband will be reducing his hours and/or quitting his job at some point this year), but as of right now that is what we make.

I am excited to have some more income coming our way. That means more can go towards debt :)

Introducing - Quicken Tips

From time to time, I planned on offering tips on using Quicken to keep track of your finances. I am very much a Quickenheadus Neuroticus as you may have already discovered. I really like keeping track of where my money goes, and I like to manipulate the program to help me do that.

I've been posting tips on my blog here, but sometimes the pics are small. I'd like them bigger. So, I have set up a new blog just for Quicken Tips. I will post a complete post there, but on this blog I will give a teaser so you know if I have posted something new and see if it interests you.

As always, if you have a question, feel free to ask. I would be glad to try to help :)

Without further ado, please check out Quicken Tips and let me know that you think.

Friday, June 23, 2006

From $23,225.04 to $657.60

The balance on Credit Card #2 when I started blogging in February:

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And here's today's balance!

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A lot of it is due to shifting balances around, but it is still so nice to see that credit card almost paid off :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tracking Cash Spending Using Quicken

I like to keep track of all spending in Quicken. To me, cash can often be forgotten about when it comes time to looking at your finances. Here's a way that has helped me keep track - and it actually was a big reason why I basically now live a cash-free life. Just too much cash was spent and it added up quickly. It was an eye opener to say the least.

The first thing you need to do is create a new cash account in Quicken. I like to call mine "Cash on Hand."

There are a few ways you would obtain cash.

1.) Cashing a check outright. In this case, you would record a deposit directly in your Cash on Hand account, making sure you selected the correct income account (just like you would if you deposited the check into your checking account).

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2.) Depositing a check into your checking account and receiving some cash back. Enter your deposit as you normally would. On the very last line, select your Cash on Hand account. Enter the amount of cash you are receiving back as a negative number. Then select "Adjust Total." The total showing as a deposit in your bank account should match your deposit slip.

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3.) ATM Withdrawl and/or cashing a check to yourself from your checking account. Enter a check or withdrawal like you normally would. Select your Cash on Hand account as the category.

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All three of the examples above record money coming into your Cash on Hand account. Now how do you get it out?

All you need to do is open up your Cash on Hand account and record transactions just like you would in your checking account.

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Because it is likely that some cash will get misplaced or spent without being tracked, it is a good idea to count how much cash you have on you on a monthly basis. Then, adjust the Cash on Hand register to reflect what you really have. In the example, I actually had $70.56 left at the end of June. So I entered an adjustment to "spend" $10.44 to bring the register to the actual amount I have. For these adjustments, since you are not sure where the money went you can put it to a miscellaneous account.

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Maybe you decide that you do not want to have cash on you anymore and you put it back in the bank. All you need to do is open up your checking register and enter a deposit. For the category, select Cash on Hand. As soon as you record that deposit, you will see that your Cash on Hand has been reduced by that amount.

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It takes more work to keep track of things such as cash, but if you are really trying to get a hold of your finances I would suggest giving it a try for a little while. You do get faster at it and the information you might discover could prove invaluable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Keep Forgetting to Mention this Site

I've been checking this site out for a while now, but I keep forgetting about adding it to my blogroll and I keep forgetting to mention it to everyone!

If you haven't already, take a peek at Debtspiration. As the name implies, it is full of quotes that provide inspiration for reducing debt. As a "get out of debt" blogger, I found the about page inspirational as well.

I hope you will enjoy the site like I do.

The Brand New Debt Payoff Plan - Sort Of...

Once all of my balance transfers are complete, here's what my debt will look like (some variation will occur due to pending finance charges, etc.). I've included my "old" debt for comparison.

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CC #1 is showing at 5.9% but it actually has about $1,000 at 9.9%. The 5.9% was a balance transfer and the rate stays until the balance is paid in full (I love balance transfers like that!). Because of the low rate in general that is guaranteed, this will probably be the last of the credit cards to be paid off.

CC #2 will be ZERO!! Woohoo! Going from $23,000 to $0.00 in 5 months - I wonder what special offers they will give me. If they give a low balance transfer rate for the life of the transfer, I may end up shuffling some debt around again but I have to decide if it's worth it when or if the time comes.

CC #4 will have $8,000 at 3.9% until Nov '06. After that, the rate will go to 16.49% which doesn't please me. Since I only have 6 months before either paying the higher rate or completing another balance transfer, this card will be paid off first. There's too many "if"'s to keep a low balance on this card. I'm not sure if I can get the whole balance paid off before the nice interest rate expires, but I sure am going to try!

CC #6 is a relatively small balance that is good through March '07. I also do not need to make any payments until then. I have reviewed this card's terms because sometimes when an offer sounds too good to be true - it is. Cards that offer no interest and no payments until a certain time sometimes charge you for back interest if you do not pay it off in full before their offer is up. Luckily, this card does not have that. However, the rate will be over 23%. That's not good. Probably in February I will pay this off in full and not pay as much to one of the other cards.

CC #7 will have $7,500 until June '07. So basically a year before the interest rate goes to over 16%.

My Prosper loan is set at 9.9% with a balance of $3,465.

I know I will pay off CC #4 first. Even though it is a lower rate than other debts, it only lasts 6 months before raising the rate. It also is the only joint credit card between my husband and I. Paying it off first will help both of our credit scores (by lowering both of our credit utilization ratios). Balance transfers can be a great thing, but there is risk involved. Some cards will raise your rate to above 20% if you are a day late on a payment.

I was thinking that I would pay off the Prosper loan next, but I'm not sure. There is the other balance transfer sitting on CC #7 that expires in about a year. I could keep transferring the balance back and forth to keep a low rate, but the one card does charge a balance transfer fee of around $60 every time. I am really on the fence with this one.

So, as it stands right's the order....

1.) CC #4
2.) CC #7
2.) Prosper Loan
4.) CC #1
* CC #6 will be paid off probably in February '07 in one payment

I know I will know more once CC #4 is paid off and perhaps that will make the decision of who to pay off next easier. I just don't want to have a balance transfer offer come back and bite me.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Prosper Funds are in the Bank

I am very impressed. I looked at my account online today and I see a pending deposit for my Prosper loan. It only took 2 business days for my funds to hit my bank.

What was the first thing I did? I set up a payment for tomorrow to pay Credit Card #2 :)

It won't be paid off in full yet. My balance transfer from Credit Card #4 hasn't shown up. I am starting to get concerned, but it still hasn't been two weeks yet. I have to be patient. After that balance is completed and the Prosper payment posts, there will still be a balance on the card that I will pay from available cash. Then it will be at zero for a little bit until the next statement. Unfortunately, there will be some lingering finance charges to pay.

But after that - Credit Card #4 will be zero for the first time in a VERY long time.

What should I do with the card now?

I definitely shouldn't close it. That's $23,500 of credit right there and closing the card will probably negatively impact my credit score. I've briefly thought about the fact that I could buy a car outright with my card. But that'd be a silly thing to do considering the rates and considering that we don't need another car. And quite frankly, I've put a lot of work into getting this debt down and I want to keep it that way.

I think the best thing to do would be to lock it away and basically forget about it. I've already prepared myself and signed up for emails alerts. I get a weekly update on my balance just to make sure the balance is zero and I guess it is something I can receive weekly and smile about :)

Things are coming together quite nicely. Now, I just have to explain my debt-payoff game plan (coming soon).

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Want to Hear the Voice Behind Blogging Away Debt?

I think I sound pretty goofy, but if you are interested in hearing what I sound like, head on over to Money Blogger Podcast. Scott was a great interviewer and did a great job with a very nervous interviewee (you actually can't tell my voice was shaking in the interview - but it was).

If you listen close, you can also hear my son piping up a little bit, and you can hear my northern accent come out.

I hope you enjoy!

"Bringing It Home"

I've been sitting at the computer for quite a while today, trying to write something. I have many topics in my mind, and I have a few posts started, but I can't seem to "bring it home." Perhaps this is what is referred to as "writer's block".

Actually, I just thought of another thing to write about when I said "bring it home."

I love the movie "Walk the Line." I have been a big fan of Johnny Cash since I was a little girl and my dad would play his guitar and sing his songs. It was only natural that I watched the movie.

There is a section where Sam Phillips of Sun records is talking to Johnny Cash after he sang a sub-par audition song. Mr. Phillips told Johnny to "Bring it home" and basically told him to sing a song that would let every one know what he was about...something real. Because that is what moves people and that's what people want to hear.

You know what...that little speech moved me. If you look through the beginning of this blog, I started out trying to summarize information and my writing wasn't what I would call very personal. Slowly, it has evolved into something more personal and something real. In part that is due to hearing that speech.

I like writing this way :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day to the Dads Out There!

We are pretty light-hearted in our family. I'm the one who gravitates towards the funny card section, so I thought I would share a few funny quotes about fathers. I hope you enjoy, and I hope everyone has a great day today.

Jimmy Piersal - how to diaper a baby

"Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then, fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again."

Bill Cosby

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Currently Reading - "The Millionaire Mind"

I was fairly impressed with "The Millionaire Next Door." It made me really think about things and be reflective on my life and who I am. I like that. That means that I am "growing."

So, it was fitting that my next book to read is "The Millionaire Mind," which is another book by Thomas Stanley. This book is quite a bit longer (406 pages), so it may take me quite a while to finish it with my schedule. But, as always, I will be sharing thoughts along the way.

I'm only into the book a few pages, and already I am seeing that this is a book that I will enjoy reading. This time around they talked with more millionaires and it looks like there will be more quotes. I will enjoy the opportunity to get a little more personal with others and how they live. Learning more - that's what it's all about.

And if you haven't heard yet - I want to give my copy of "The Millioniare Next Door" to someone. To find out how to enter, the information is at the very bottom of this post.

This Week's Festival of Frugality

If you haven't yet, make sure you check out the Festival of Frugality over at Aridni. My article on a few cheap ideas to spruce up the look of an old home is included.

Thanks to Aridni for hosting this week :)

Thank You Prosper Lenders!!!

My loan ended a little bit ago with a 9.9% rate. There was a flurry of activity near the end, so if you happen to have been outbid - don't feel bad. I value each and every bid for I had 108 votes of confidence for what I am doing. It really does mean a lot.

It's getting late and I have a few things to attend to yet tonight. Thank you everyone - I am definitely smiling right now :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Friday, June 16, 2006

$3,500 at 10.69% with Less Than 5 Hours Left to Go

It's amazing how a week has almost passed us by. My loan listing now only has five hours left to go.

I hope to write more this weekend about the whole experience and I have a few more resources to list that others may be interested in. Plus, I have some calculating to do now that I will shortly know my final interest rate on my Prosper loan. Thank you to everyone who provides sites to find the calculator that I was needing.

As for right now, it's time to turn the computer off and to go have some fun at a parade with my son. Mommy's been on the computer a lot this week :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

A Note to Prosper Borrowers - Be Careful

Last night when I was writing my post on my phone call with Prosper, I all of a sudden became a little worried. What if it wasn't someone from Prosper that called me? A lot of talk is occuring of being careful of fradulent borrowers, but fraud can occur to borrowers as well.

My phone call was just asking about my phone number, but what if the caller started asking for more information trying to scam me? So borrowers, don't give out any information such as your social security number, driver's license number or bank account number without making sure it is Prosper.

Prosper understands the concern, because I actually sent an email to customer service asking if someone from there called me. In their reply that I received this morning, they even stated, "I understand your concern."

Don't be afraid to say, "May I call you right back at the number on the website?" and just explain that you are cautious. When dealing with so much personal information, they should understand which they clearly did with me.

Sorry if I sound preachy, but please just be careful.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

My Telephone Call with Prosper

As far as I can tell, the buzz going around is that Prosper calls to verify borrowers AFTER their loan has closed. That can sometimes tie up a borrower's funds a few days or even weeks. But maybe a shift is occuring.

A woman from Prosper called me today to verify my telephone number and to verify that I posted a listing on Prosper. She basically told me that they will not be asking for my paystubs and my loan will be funded to my bank account on Tuesday.

I took the opportunity to ask her about the income at Prosper since one of the things I was battling with was the fact that I listed household income. I was concerned that lenders that already bid on my loan may be upset once they found out what I calculate my total household debt to income ratio to be. This month it's 45% but Prosper doesn't include mortgage debt so that reduces our ratio to 34%. Even though I give out a lot of information about myself on my blog, I don't want to feel like I tricked people into bidding on my loan by doing something wrong (hense the reason why I thought of relisting).

What she said is that Prosper is set up to do individual income but they accept household income. A borrower must then provide paystubs for themselves as well as their spouse if their information is chosen to be verified. I mentioned that the debt to income ratio would then be incorrect and she agreed with me. I think this is an area that Prosper needs to fine-tune.

After that call and receiving a few emails, I have smile on my face again. It disappeared for a little bit, but it's back. :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Would Anyone Like My Copy of "The Millionaire Next Door"?

At the end of my review of "The Millionaire Next Door," I announced that I would like to give my copy of the book to someone else. So far, I haven't received any emails. If you are interested, please check out the instructions at the end of my post here.

The deadline is June 30, 2006.

Why the Bad Taste?

I hope I didn't scare everyone with commenting on the bad taste that Prosper is giving me. It's nothing serious - it just has to do with the way I am.

A few Lenders said a few things about me that I don't believe are true on a message board. I don't have the thickest skin and I hurt easily. I care too much about what people think about me sometimes. I'm the type of person who tries to make everyone happy, even though I know that's not possible 100% of the time.

What happened hurt my spirit a little, hense my post earlier. I was thinking about withdrawing the loan and relisting. But an email I received from a bidder on my loan made me feel a lot better about things. Then, while writing this post I received another very supportive email from another bidder. Words can hurt...words can heal...words are powerful. I think blogging and my Prosper experience has made me really realize that. A telephone call with Prosper (I'll write about it hopefully later tonight if I have time) made me feel better as well.

My loan closes tomorrow night, and as of right now the interest rate is 11% (the bidding started at 12%). Part of me wants to start plugging all the numbers, but that actually will be hard because of how I am paying my debt off. Anyone know of a debt reduction calculator that lets you choose what order you want to pay off your debts? The ones I found automatically calculate by paying the highest interest rate balances first - which I won't be doing for a little bit (more on why later). If I can't find one, I guess I'll put my Excel skills to work and share my creation here ;)

I am so thankful for every bidder on my loan and for all of my fellow personal finance bidders showing their support with their bid and/or blogging about my experience. All of the support I receive from everyone really does mean the world to me.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Brief Prosper Update

Those following my Prosper loan may be wondering why I haven't announced that the loan is 100% funded. It has been since yesterday. Well, I don't have time to go into specifics right now. But this whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm not sure what to do at this moment.

After work I will write more about it.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Sometimes You Read Something and Go "Wow"

I love it when I read something and things (as I like to call it) hit me like a brick. While surfing my blogroll, I came across a comment left over at Dual Income No Kids.

Here's an excerpt:

"I share pretty openly with my friends and often times we talk about finances and our futures together because we are the kinds of friends who share those things and support one another in those endeavors. Since we're all in the same boat to securing our financial future, no one ever complains that so-and-so picks expensive restaurants, etc. We've got the same paradigm about our career ambitions and savings. Perhaps it isn't the choice we make to have this open dialogue by blog, but the people we choose as our friends."

That comment, left by fellow personal finance blogger Mapgirl, is so amazing and so true!!

June Monthly Debt Payments

Here's our June Monthly Debt Payments:

Mortgage: $337 (going to $323 starting July 1)
Auto Loan: $258 (will be paid off in September - only 3 more payments!)
School Loans: $208
Credit Cards: $710

Total Payments: $1,513

Debt to Income Ratio: 45%

Monthly payments are going down and our ratio is going down - I can't ask for more :)

May Monthly Debt Payments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Debt Twin??

I have to smile...I came across a blog where the debt sounds all too familiar (over $100,000 - which is what my total debt was when I started but I focus on just the credit cards). And then I noticed something else, I am listed as a "Financial Inspiration." I must say that I am humbled and honored to have that status on someone else's blog.

There's some great info over there, so check out Financial Freak. Stop by and lend some support. You are already taking a great step to becoming debt-free. I think blogging about it has been the best thing I could have done. I'll be watching :)

Speaking of support, if you are in debt and are currently blogging about it, come on over to the No Credit Needed Network and sign up!

I Hope These Blogs Aren't Finished

Every blog in my blogroll I read. I may not get to them every day, but I go through them. Lately, there are two blogs that haven't been updated in a while. Each time I check, I hope there is a new post. But it has been a while since they have been updated so I will be removing them from my blogroll and bookmarking them.

Financial Train Wreck - I hope to see an update soon. I'd love to see how it is going with you quitting smoking.

The Almighty Dollar - You were one of the first ones to comment on my blog when I first started blogging. I enjoyed reading your blog, and hope to see more posts.

I hope everything is alright with the both of you and life just got a little busy. I'll keep checking on you :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Carnival of Debt Reduction #39 is Up!!

Here's a carnival that hits close to home with me. If you haven't already, make sure you check out the Carnival of Debt Reduction over at Adrini.

Thanks for hosting this week! :)

The Carnival of Personal Finance #52 is Up!

The Carnival of Personal Finance turns a year old over at Financial Fruition.

My favorite (because it hits close to home):

Can Being Happy Affect Your Finances?

I am a BIG believer that financial well-being can be attained if you have the right attitude, so I enjoyed reading this post.

A thanks for Financial Fruition for hosting! :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Prosper Loan Update - 43% Funded

There's a little over four days left with my loan listing at Prosper and it is currently 43% funded with 21 bids.

Here's something I've been thinking about today...

I did not join a group on Prosper mainly to keep my anonymity because of my blog. If you join a group at Prosper, the Group Leader is supposed to perform "vetting" on you to get to know you better. They can ask for paystubs, proof of home ownership, etc. The degree of vetting involved depends on the group you join and your group leader. I think that's a great idea to have something like this to help prevent fraud within the Prosper community.

Since I am not in a group, I figured I would receive at least a few emails from Lenders asking a few more questions. But it appears that my blog is answering most of the questions that Lenders may have? Or is it that my credit score is an "A"?

Looking further into it, the highest amount someone has bid so far is $175.00. I have seen some Lenders bid over $2,000 on a single loan. Is that because there is doubt as to who I am and what I claim to be doing? Or is it because I am asking for only 12%?

So many questions. For an analytical person like me - this is fascinating :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper