Author Archive

No Whining Wednesday

May 22, 2008

Yes, I did whine a bit over the weekend. It’s hard when you feel like you’re making an effort and being mindful of every move and then and the unexpected event occurs (home repair or auto repair) and blows you and your money off the board. Go back to Jail. Anyways, it’s a process. Eventually we’ll have enough money earned and saved to account for the unexpected events.

On a positive note:
— I finally returned my overdue library book.
— I got a free lunch (if I eat 10 times at the company-subsidized restaurant I get my 11th meal free).
— I filled my DCRA claim for a couple months and expect to receive a check back for $1000.00

Saturday Night Blues

May 18, 2008

I just went through Liquid Ledger and realized that we have over $2200 worth of uncashed checks. It drives me crazy that people take such a long time to cash checks. Our Liquid Ledger appears to be a bit off. Once these checks clear we will only have a small amount of money ($1100 or so) until I get paid at the end of the month.

I hate being in this situation. Our expenses are much too high for our income. We’ve been trying to pack lunch this week but that seems almost like a quaint attempt to solve a collosal problem. Kind of like the dutch boy and his frickin’ thumb.

We’ve had some unexpected expenses in the last month:

— over $2000 in car repair

–over $1200 in house repairs (have to fix a retaining wall)

My husband’s car is about to die. Today it did peter out and he had to have it towed. This means another expense (1) repair and (2) rental car.

One step forward and about four steps back. Should I feel good about even noticing the steps back and forth?

Coming Clean: How did we do with our finances this week?

May 17, 2008

Ok, so I have to come clean. I still have an overdue library book in my car.
But what did we do right?

#1. We paid our bills on time.
If you’re like me and work full time, have 2 kids then you are exhausted at the end of the day and probably find it hard to find the time to stay on top of the bills. A few weeks ago I made a note in my calendar at work to pay bills on 15-May. I get paid on this day so I knew I would have the money. I noted which bills to pay and how much. I was easily able to do this from my desk at work thanks to online bill pay.

#2. I didn’t pay for any coffee. (Did Noma?)

Now that I’ve said “stop the madness” I get a sick satisfaction from walking by Starbucks. That little voice inside says “Nope, don’t want to be a sucker. I’ll keep my $3.50, thank you very much.”

#3. I packed lunch for my husband and I two days this week.

So, it isn’t every day but it’s better than nothing. Together this saved anywhere from $25 to $35. That adds up.
#4. I went to the gym 2 days this week.
Ok, so it may not be directly related to reducing debt. But as Tricia from Blogging Away Debt knows there’s a correlation to trying to get rid of debt and get rid of excess weight. Also, as many others have noted there’s a cost to poor health.

#5. I got my husband to close a bank account that had a negative balance.
My husband opened a checking account and was slowly letting it die on the vine. I let him know that he needed to revive it with a cash infusion or close it out. Getting a statement with a negative balance just won’t do. He closed it!

#6. We snowflaked some money.
I have an automatic deposit for health care reimbursements. I received a $100 deposit for a dr. visit. My husband snowflaked this towards our CC debt.

#7. I taught my kids a lesson about spending money.
My daughter LOVES money and she doesn’t like to spend it. She has it neatly organized in a little box in her bedroom. She recently received about $60 from various relatives for her 7th birthday. My daughter and son were at the drugstore with me asking for toys. I normally just say “nope.” But this week I told her that if she wanted to buy them she would have to use her birthday money. She asked me how much items cost and made a decision about how much she would be willing to give up to have an item. When we got home I showed her the receipt and took the money from her box. While I don’t need that extra $15.00 I do feel that she needs to understand that things cost money and that every decision has a consequence. I was happy to have the opportunity to show her this. She seemed to appreciate it as well.

#8. I blogged.
Blogging about the challenges we face as well as our goals has really helped me stay focused on what we need to achieve.

#9. I shopped at the cheaper Grocery Store.

I really like shopping at Gelson’s. It’s a pleasant experience all around. However, as one my friends put it their motto should be “why pay less.” I’m trying to retrain myself….Instead of driving East I’m forcing myself to go West to Albertson’s which offers much cheaper prices. With my Albertson’s card I supposedly had a $10.43 savings today. Who knows? I should take my receipt to Gelson’s and calculate the costs of what the items would have been. If I did that then I would reinforce the need to shop at less pleasant but much cheaper store.

10. I entered our expenses in Liquid Ledger
This helps us know how much money we really have.

The Good Life — America Yearns for Stability and Simplicity

May 17, 2008

Everywhere I see signs that most Americans are yearning for a change. Politically, yes but also we yearn for personal change as well as financial change.

We only get the Sunday newspaper delivered. Otherwise I read all my papers online. One feature I particularly like is the New York Times’ “Most Emailed Articles List.”

I would argue that atleast half of these articles cover financial issues and that the topics covered include a desire to rein in spending and focus on what our core values are as individuals, families and citizens.

A sampling of what I’m seeing:

#1 most emailed article — Five Basics for Building a Solid Financial Future
I like this mantra “Index (mostly). Save a ton. Reallocate infrequently.”

#3 most emailed article — “Chasing Utopia, A Family Imagines No Possessions
While this family’s dream seems a bit unrealistic to me (do they have homesteading skills?) I understand the desire to get rid of possessions. Almost everyone I know wants to stop accumulating things. It’s a burden and it drains our energy.

#7 most emailed article “Hard Roads Ahead
I think this quotation says it all “The role of the federal government in improving secondary education should be one of the major issues in the presidential campaign, but it’s not. The U.S. has stopped dealing honestly with difficult and complex problems. Politicians (and not just John McCain, by any means) spin fantasies of a wondrous, cost-free future. No investment and no sacrifice necessary.”

Assessing Our Financial IQ

May 15, 2008

Just read a great piece on Get Rich Slowly about Robert Kiyosaki’s book called “Increase Your Financial I.Q.”.

In the posting here’s what GRS says:

Kiyosaki divides financial intelligence into five “Financial IQs”:

  1. Making more money. This is measured by how much money you earn. If you make $100,000 a year, you have a higher Financial IQ than someone earning $30,000 a year.
  2. Protecting your money. Once you earn your money, you need to hold onto it. Protecting your money, especially from taxes, is the second Financial IQ.
  3. Budgeting your money. “Being able to live well and still invest no matter how much you make requires a high level of financial intelligence,” Kiyosaki writes. This Financial IQ is measured by how much money you have left after expenses.
  4. Leveraging your money. This Financial IQ is measured by return on investment. How well do you make your budget surplus generate more money?
  5. Improving your financial information. Financial information doesn’t just mean knowledge of basic financial concepts — it also means detailed knowledge of the investments you make.

So, what’ is our Financial IQ? This is scary to contemplate…I may need to sleep on this…

Bada bing, bada boom

May 15, 2008

One definition is “this “expression” can be used like the word “voila” —-> something is finished or completed…”

I’m not quite up to snowflaking yet….but I’m back on track ready to make things happen.

What can I commit to today? Here’s my list for Thursday:

1.) Pack my lunch
— I bought turkey and cheese and will pack a sandwich, an apple and a granola bar. I will try to enjoy it. No promises there.

2.) Drink free coffee
— No fancy lattes for me. The institutional free coffee or the good stuff at home. That’s it.

3.) Pay my bills tomorrow (payday)
— Some of the bills may not be due until the end of the month but I’ll aim to pay as many tomorrow to avoid late fees which I’ve been stung for due to the LONG period of time in which it takes epayments to clear (Don’t get me started on that one!). Another benefit of paying bills on payday is to keep up my financial awareness. Don’t want to think I have more money than I do…

4.) Return my library books!

That’s it for Thursday. If I do more, great. If not, this is enough.

Financial Amnesia: Who Will Tell the People?

May 15, 2008

I’ve been thinking about Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed piece a lot this week. For those who haven’t read the piece, I encourage you to read it here. It is an extremely well written and thoughtful piece about the state of affairs in the U.S. — politicially as well as financially.

The choices our government has made directly parallel our the poor choices we’ve made as consumers. I don’t know one American who feels proud of the decisions our government has made in the last 8 years. I don’t know one person who voted for President Bush (or admits to it). And yet we have him leading our country. It’s an embarassment at best. I also don’t know many people who think it wise to defer their gratification to live below their means. So many people live at the edge of their means or well above it. We suffer from political and financial amnesia and it threatens us as individuals as well as Americans. How can we let our governments spend so little money on education and healthcare? How can we allow ourselves to become victims of our own greed and take on more than we can afford? Here’s a great quotation from the article:

We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents’ generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: “You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years.”

I also appreciated the sentiment expressed in the last paragraph of the piece:

Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is “toughening up” Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Amen. I really want to be hopeful again.

Truth or Consequences

May 15, 2008

I’ve been quiet. We took a break from the blog and guess what? Yes, our debt went up again. The husband and I were marvelling at how close we got to kicking the debt back in September. When I think back to the months between September and May I can’t easily explain how our debt shot up by 13K. I want to be shocked and yet I am not. *Sigh* Who would read the blog of two people who came so close to their goal and then lost sight of what they were doing? Is this delusional blogging? Don’t answer that. For now I can only hope that the blog serves as a way to help the husband and I focus on our debt elimination again. For now this is our tool to jumpstart our financial awareness.

I could spend a bunch of time trying to account for why we lost track of our goal and how we racked up more debt. But I’m guessing that’s a bit boring. And yet, I wonder from a psychological standpoint, is it helpful to review the past in great detail? Will this truly help us or prevent us from moving forward? Hmmmm….I suppose there’s not a straightforward answer to that question. Shrink husband, what say you?

To tackle our debts we clearly need to look back to understand how we have spent our money and what our pitfalls were. In looking for patterns we can identify areas for improvement. But what does it take to move beyond the past and really take control of our financial decisions? Here are some suggestions:

1.) Look at past spending — If you have been using Quicken or Liquid Ledger run some reports to see how you’ve spent your money for the past 12 months. You may be surprised at what you find.

2.) Identify areas for improvement — Be realistic. Don’t go from eating lunch out everyday to packing a lunch every day and never eating out. Being absolute is a surefire recipe for failure.

3.) Remember that every decision you make about how to spend your money is a choice. — Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need something or that you are entitled to it. Remember that you are in charge of financial choices and every choice has options and consequences.

To Lunch or not to Lunch

May 9, 2008

I’ve been out to lunch for a long time. And now it’s time to get back to work.

By the end of this weekend I will update our debt watch stats. The good news is that we’re still down a lot from when we first started. The bad news is that we’re up a lot from where we last left off…the problem is good ole fashioned cash flow. We said goodbye to the single digit debt numbers quite some months ago.

I’m thinking about my day tomorrow and wondering if I should cancel my lunch with a colleague. It may cost me $15. Lunch out is lovely but is it necessary? I’m thinking that instead I’ll force myself to go to the gym (which I pay for and seldom use) and instead ask my colleague to have coffee with me. A healthier decision for my heart as well as my pocketbook.

Hitting the Financial Reset Button

September 27, 2007

I’ve been Missing in Action. It’s been a busy summer. First we had to deal with fumigating our house. Then I was away for a few weeks on a vacation and then work-related trip. Upon our return we were scrambling to unpack and get ready for the beginning of a new school year. During all of this our blogging feel by the wayside. This doesn’t mean we haven’t been thinking about our finances and ways to run a tighter ship. Still, I must say that it was really therapeutic to get away from the day-to-day grind.

When we got back from vacation I found a big check waiting for me. This check was the result of our decision to sell a mutual fund. We decided to sell this asset so that we could pay off our credit card debt. We were sure to put a good chunk of the money aside in a high-yield CD so that we have the money available to us when it comes time to pay taxes. We used the rest to help wipe out most of our debt. I have no doubt that we did the right thing as the level of stress we were living with trying to pay down our debts was really not healthy.

Our challenge now will be to keep on top of our bills and really build our emergency fund so that when big expenses arise (and they always do!) that we don’t have to use a credit card to pay for it.

Tonight when I was updating our debt/assets and paying bills online I noticed that the one credit card I had paid off in August was showing a $242 finance charge. I was enraged and called the cc company to ask them to get rid of it. Amazingly enough they did! So, I am now back to a $0 balance with that.

I’m still hoping the Bizarros will rise from the dead.

Vacations and the value of perspective

September 6, 2007

Our posts have been erratic and our stats have been plummetting. And I haven’t even cared. Frankly I haven’t been in a blogging state of mind. And that’s OK.

I’ve been on the beach, literally and figuratively.

We went on vacation back at the beginning of August and then I was on a business trip. Going away has so many amazing benefits. It’s wonderful to get out of the grind of daily life and all the work and worry. I also find that leaving the daily grind allows me to relax and really reconnect with family and what it is I enjoy (going for walks, reading books, cooking good meals, time to daydream, etc…)

I got back from my voyages a couple of weeks ago. Another benefit of travelling is that I always feel so happy to come home. I notice things I really like about my life while I’m away and it feels good to get back.

That said, I’ve found that for every week away it takes 2-3 weeks to get back into a routine.

As Noma mentioned we need to updated our debts and net worth information. The good news is that we decided to sell some stock to get rid of most of our credit card debt. I feel so happy about that decision. Now we need to get aggressive about managing our money so that we don’t rack up the debt again.

Prepping for Vacation

August 8, 2007

As Noma mentioned we’re getting ready to board a plane tonight. I’ve learned my lesson and decided to take today as a vacation day to take care of all those miscellaneous things I need to do before a big trip.

In the past I would have worked at least a half day. Not anymore. There’s just too much to do to prepare for the trip. This includes taking the cat to the kennel, cleaning the house (who wants to come home to a dirty house?), finishing packing and reviewing of our finances. I’ll check Quicken, Wells Fargo, etc and make sure we have enough cash for our trip and make a trip to the ATM. Once we’re back East we won’t be near a Wells Fargo and if we withdraw cash we’ll get those pesky bank fees. 

In addition I’ve leveraged today’s vacation day to have some contractors out today.  The extermination company just left — they came to inspect post fumigation and clean up the frass (termite poop — great new scrabble word) and an electrician coming to replace our broken (for 6 months) porch light.

I’ve already stopped the mail, the papers and bought small gifts for my nieces who we will be staying with….Getting closer.

Our friend will be driving us to the airport which will save us money on parking. We’re also fortunate enough to have family who donated their miles to us…so our airfare was free!!! Yipee! So, financially speaking the biggest cost for us will be the cat kennel fees, entertainment and dining charges, the car rental and money we spent on small gifts.

I feel very saavy about the car rental. We’re flying into one airport and out of another. When I looked into one-way car rental costs for it was going to be like $500 for 5 days! I then played around and found that if we rented a car in the first city for the first 4 days and then returned that car and got another one from a second company just to drive down to the second city that I was able to get the car for about $250. Saving $250 is worth a extra trip to the airport.

Yes, indeed. I can almost taste the sweet New England air.

We’re excited!

July Grocery Spend

August 4, 2007

I just went through Quicken and looked at our bank statement and calculated how much we spent on groceries in July. We spent $704.92 on groceries in July. This seems like a lot but it works out to $176 a week or $25 a day which is $6 a day for each member in our household (not including our cat).

This is less than what we had spent in June and May. I think we were closer to $1000. Eee gads.

I think part of the reason the spend has gone down is that we’re trying to avoid the fancy grocery store and just go to Trader Joe’s, Ralphs and farmers markets.

The amount may have also gone down because we were out of our house for several days for fumigation. This meant we spent a bit more than usual dining out. Probably $150 in dining out for the four of us.

I don’ feel like we’ve made real progress. I supposed though that being more aware of our spend is a step in the right direction.

Friends with iPhones

August 3, 2007

Do you have a friend with an iPhone? Do you find yourself judging this person for spending so much money on a gadget? Read more here.

As we set our own financial goals and struggle to meet them how can we let go of how our friends choose to spend their money?

Blogging for Debt Reduction and Psychological Well-Being

August 3, 2007

I stumbled upon an article in Psychology Today called “The Decline and Fall of the Private Self.”

The article is all about how blogging and online communities like my space have changed our culture’s sense of privacy.

While I am sometimes shocked and embarassed by the amount of information people can share about themselves online I find blogging anonymously to be immensely therapeutic and helpful.

A few quotations from the article that I enjoyed:

  • Telling secrets has been shown to have a positive effect on the person who’s doing the confessing, because keeping them requires a lot of mental work.
  • Sharing the secret, though, “unprimes” the information, freeing the mind to focus on other things and breaking the cycle of worry.
  • Recording concerns in a journal or similar medium can be particularly effective. “When people write about secrets, they report feeling better; they acknowledge the events and can organize them,” says Jamie Pennebaker, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. In one study, he asked subjects to write for 15 minutes a day for several days. They showed positive changes in immune function and psychological well-being. Other research shows that when couples are asked to keep reflective diaries in which they write about their relationship, they stay together longer.

I would agree that blogging about our financial stress has helped us stop avoiding it. I also feel that by sharing the blog with Noma it has strengthened our financial relationship as well as our overall relationship. We’re addressing issues and working on them together.

A Second Chance with Money

August 3, 2007

For years Noma and I were excellent about managing our money. When we met we were both making under 25K and living in NYC (this was a while ago). Noma worked an extra job to make enough money to invest in Microsoft stock, which he later cashed in to help with the down payment on our home. He also ate rice and beans so that he could save 2K so that we could go to Europe together.

We didn’t have any credit card debt until the last year or two when it seemed to have sprouted up from no where. It was like we grew extra heads overnight. How did this happen?

The problem was that we were living on one salary with very high expenses and such hectic schedules that I don’t think either one of us even knew that we were carrying so much debt. I knew that we had put some expenses on the cards but I hadn’t been watching it build up. We have only ourselves to blame and yet I do think the credit card companies make it very difficult for a person to see their debt. For instance, I recently had to call American Express to understand what my minimum payment should be…this wasn’t listed on my bill.

Anyways, my series of revelations this week about our financial situation has spurred us on to action.

As Noma mentioned I don’t know why we didn’t think of this before…I think the biggest reason we didn’t think about it before is that being mindful about one’s financial situation takes a lot of time and attention. We’ve been neglecting our financial health for too long.

We’re lucky enough to have invested in some mutual funds a while ago. In looking at our situation we’ve decided to sell these and take the money to pay off our debts. We’ll then be at zero debt.

I will feel incredibly relieved when we can do this. We will have to save about 3K to pay for the capital gains taxes but even so we’ll be able to pay off our debts and have a bit to put into the emergency fund. Do I feel great? Yes and yet I also do not want to rest on these laurels. From the moment we hit zero debt I want to make sure that we are managing our finances better. I’m hoping this experience will have scared us straight. I can’t say I have 100% confidence because of all of our expenses. We may need to make some childcare changes. We need to make some difficult decisions.

Once emancipated I want to stay that way.

10 Tips for How to Survive Birthdays

August 2, 2007

Our son is the youngest in his class. All of his preschool buddies are turning four over the summer months. And so birthday season is in full swing.

Many parents I know (myself included) have overdone it for their kids’ birthdays. I think there are many reasons for this including the fact that so many of us work so much that we want to make the birthday a big deal. Also many parents use their kids’ birthdays as an excuse to have a party for themselves. Even those with the best intentions can end up feeling exhausted and broke once all the guests have gone.

Every year I seem to do less and less for our kids’ birthdays and the kids are just as happy and my husband and I always feel like much better about the whole thing.

Here are some tips for how to have a reasonable, affordable birthday party:

1. Determine your budget — Before you come up with a spiderman theme and invite the whole preschool class figure out how much you want to spend. Once you know how much you have to work with decisions about what to do become easier. If you have $100 perhaps you want to just invite a few kids to the park to have a picnic and blow bubbles. $100 may sound like a lot for a picnic and bubbles but buying groceries and drinks does add up!
2. Pick your audience — You can’t please all of the people all of the time. My feeling is that when kids are young you need to be sensitive about who you invite. I feel that if you invite a lot of kids from your child’s class that you should invite all of them. However, if your budget is tight perhaps you could ask your child to just have one or two friends over for a special dinner. Or you could have a family only party. Just try to avoid inviting the entire class, neighborhood friends and family. Pick one audience to minimize costs and chaos.
3. Have Junior Make the Invitations — Why buy invitations when you have an artist in house? If your child doesn’t want to make them then you could make a collage and then use a color copier or printer to make copies. Getting a homemade invitation sets the tone and feels much warmer than a store bought one.
4. Make Your Own Food — Why order pizza when you can save money and provide something tastier? I’ve found making pasta and a salad satisifies adults while sandwiches, grapes and/or pirate booty does it for the kids. You can use a cookie cutter and cut out interesting sandwich shapes for the kids too.
5. Buy Drinks in Bulk — Juice boxes are expensive and create a lot of trash. By the time kids are four they like to drink from real cups. Get some dixie cups and big bottles of juice at costco.
6. Let the Kids Provide their Own Entertainment — Between seeing their friends outside of school and the promise of getting cake the kids will be very excited. There is no need to provide a Snow White impersonator, a reptile guy or even a bouncer. This stuff gets expensive. If you want to provide activities consider old fashioned games like pin the tail in the donkey or setting up a simple arts and crafts table.
7. Presence not Presents — This one is tough for a lot of people. As your kids get older they start to accumulate so much junk that they really don’t need more stuff. Consider letting parents know that gifts are not needed. Some parents ask guests to bring canned goods for their child to take to a homeless shelter. This can actually be a great thing for a kid to be part of — in our consumer focused world parents need to look for opportunities to teach kids to think of others.
8. Limit on Gift Giving — If you don’t feel comfortable showing up empty handed or with a can of pinto beans then at least set a cap on how much you spend on a kid’s gift ($5-15). Or consider having your child make a coupon for a sleepover or a movie and dinner at your house. 
9. Ditch the Goodie Bags — Goodie bags create a lot of waste. Parents spend money on them and the trinkets of crap end up wedged in the backseats of cars or in the depths of a closet. Why create more waste? Kids shouldn’t expect to get a present when they attend a party.
10. Don’t Buy Your Own Kid a Gift — Explain to your child that the gift from you and your spouse is the party. This presents a good opportunity for a child to learn abou how a family chooses to spend their money. If your kid starts to whine for a particular toy then perhaps you give your kid a choice about getting a party or a present.  

For more about birthdays check out these great web sites:

There’s many more but now I need to work.

It’s Open Season — Birthday Party Season, that is

August 2, 2007

I just wrote a very lengthy post on how to survive being a parent during birthday party season. Unfortunately my 10 tips to creating a simple birthday celebration seems to have been eaten by wordpress. I’ll have to try again tomorrow…it’s midnight and I’m zonked.

Cashing In to Pay off Debt

August 1, 2007

I’ve had a series of revelations this week:

  • Our current income is not great enough to make any significant progress on our debt
    –Noma and I have been trying to cut back but when our income includes only one regular paycheck and our expenses include $1500 mortgage and $1600 in childcare it starts to feel like an exercise in trying to turn water into wine. Seeing others reveal their budgets was actually helpful in letting me see why we are having trouble staying on top of things.
  • We have three credit cards and we’re having a hard time staying on top of the bill pay. Our lives are hectic and our cashflow is tight…We know when the bills are due but when doing online pay we sometimes miss the cut off time.
  • We have paid our credit card late twice and had our APR rise as high as the moon.

All of this has made me realize that perhaps selling some stock would make the most sense. That stock is a nice asset but wouldn’t it be nicer to get rid of this debt and start working on positive financial goals such as sticking to a budget, building up our emergency fund and saving for some home repairs?

I wrote to Trent at Simple Dollar to ask his advice and he agreed it would probably make sense to sell the stock to pay off the debt.

Any other opinions? Keep in mind that I still have over 230K in 401K, IRA and other stocks…and a lot of equity in our house.

Credit Card and Evil Introductory Rate APRs

August 1, 2007

One step forward and three steps back. I was just reading an article on Yahoo Finance called “Five Steps for Ditching Credit Card Debt“in which the David Bach outlines a strategy for determining which credit cards to pay off first. I decided to update my spreadsheet and follow his exercise which involves taking balance and dividing it by the minimum payment due. In doing this I noticed two things (1) my credit card statements don’t list a minimum due and (2) an extremely HIGH finance charge on my Amex Blue account. Geez. Credit card companies are evil.

I am now on hold with American Express. I just learned that I must have paid one or two of my payments late and our interest rate has shot up from 4% to 30.25%. I can’t believe this. Noma is going to have a coronary. We’ve been trying to stay on top of things and yet it seems that our payments must have been marked late and that the interest rate shot up insanely based on this.

I feel like I’ve been raped by American Express. I tried to ask them to let me rectify this but they’ve said that I need to wait 1 year of paying ontime before they will reduce the rate again. Did I mention that I hate credit card companies?

The woman on the phone just came back and gave me secret information. My minimum payment due each month is $317.79. I need to set this up for automatic payment NOW.

I feel like an idiot. So much for having transferred our balance. Now I need to look into whether or not we can transfer it again to another card w/out damaging our credit.