Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New job

I'm officially bound for new employment in Ann Arbor.  I've been busy crunching numbers in regards to car insurance (for the new to us Saturn Vue we purchased last week), gas, car maintenance and employment benefits (life insurance/long term disability insurance).  The major factor is a significant decrease in my salary.  Starting in November my contribution to the household will be $36,000 per year.  I'm planning to sign up for term life insurance that is 6 times my salary for $4.95/month plus they chip in for an additional $30,000.  I'm also going to buy into a long term disability insurance policy for the first time.  I'll be covered for 65% of my salary for 2 years for approximately $18/month.  I feel pretty good about these additions to our insurance.  I have some life insurance through GJS's employer but not enough to feel comfortable going forward without my own policy.

The more difficult to predict part of the new commute to Ann Arbor is how our automotive expenses will change.  For now I'm planning on driving 30 miles to a park and ride lot and take a free commuter bus to central campus.  I predict I'll need about $200/month for this arrangement in gas.  Our car insurance will go up about $60/month, I think.  I need to see if my understanding of our new policy meshes with the reality of dollars taken out of our account next month.  Plus my great plan may be a flop.  I may not be able to get to work on time due to traffic or no room in the lot or slow running buses.  If that happens, I'm back to the drawing board with what makes the most sense to get to my desk by 7:45 a.m., five days a week.

The biggest plus to the new job is the blank slate feeling.  I've been in the same position for over 11 years.  I worry about the same people and the same situations that I faced when I was 22.  I'm happy to be moving forward and facing new challenges.  I'm hoping the new environment is as positive in reality as it seemed the two times I interviewed at the office.  Good vibes and low stress (comparatively) were two reasons I took this job so I'll be bummed if that doesn't pan out.

 And finally, I'm stoked to not have to pay Detroit city taxes anymore.  It took me several years to stop feeling affronted in having to pay taxes to a government that afforded me with zero representation in governing decisions.  But that's a rant for another time...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weighing my options

I currently live outside of Detroit, Michigan and commute into the city.  I am required to pay out of city resident income taxes.  My commute time is approximately 22 minutes.  Now I am looking at possibly working in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  There is no city income tax; however, my commute time would be 42 minutes.  I don't currently pay for parking in Detroit but would likely have to pay for parking in Ann Arbor. 

I am terrible with math. I honestly don't know if working in Detroit or Ann Arbor is ultimately more expensive.  I'd love for someone to confidently tell me that I'm better off, monetarily, working in Ann Arbor despite having to pay more in gas and parking fees.  These are the mind battles I have as I'm seeking a new job. 

If you have the answer, do tell.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Double trouble

Unemployment.  Debt.  Two of life's most stressful events.  These two ugly galoots are quite a gruesome twosome when coupled together.  I have faced them before when my husband was laid off for three months.  We weathered that storm just fine thanks to his unemployment insurance keeping our budget afloat.  Now I'm the one facing a job loss and I have no possibility of recall.

Of course I have been looking for job opportunities, sending out resumes and even had one phone interview.  I have a little time and I haven't broadened my search to the extent I could.  I have found myself fixated on ensuring that our family will be able to maintain our budget even after my unemployment insurance elapses.  Luckily we'd be able to live paycheck to paycheck with a no frills lifestyle.  Our other financial goals such as traveling, retirement and college savings would go out the window.  Expeditious debt reduction would a luxury we could not afford.

That reality makes my skin crawl.  All I want from money is to not owe anyone money anymore.  Or ever again.  If I become one of the many long-term unemployed my dream of financial freedom will be shattered.  So, I have to hitch up my big-girl pants and make sure my dream doesn't die with my current job.  If you're looking for a highly organized, efficient, positive person to do honest work helping others, you know where to find me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Where the debt stands

$57,820.61 stands between the Shireman family and debt freedom. 

$22,552.54 - Sallie Mae Student Loan
$18,279.67 - Home Equity Line of Credit
$16,988.40 - American Education Services (AES) Student Loan

While we have made huge strides toward our goal, we are so far away from where we want to be.  After 3 years of budgeting, sacrificing and worrying I have totally thrown in the towel....at least this month (or this whole summer).  I'm yearning for October and the feeling of a fresh start.  Hopefully we will not have to deal with unexpected car repairs and life's endless stream of miscellaneous expenses.  More importantly, my attitude is key for how well our family stays on budget.  Garrett will occasionally throw a monkey wrench in the works but honestly I'm more likely to feel entitled to a dinner out, an activity with friends or a little shopping spree for my baby girl.  Starting October 1st we're going to redouble our efforts to save as much money as we can to prepare for my possible upcoming unemployment (January 2, 2015).  If we can amass $10,000 in our emergency fund then we'll start throwing any extra income towards the smaller of 2 AES loans. 

Happy fall to all!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling off the wagon

In spite of my good intentions with this blog, I have totally fallen off the wagon of posting regularly.  I could give you an arm's length list of excuses but instead I shall simply apologize for my absence and move along.  In addition to falling off the wagon in regards to my blog postings I have also fallen off the wagon of staying on a budget. 

My husband and I recently crossed our 3 year mark of proceeding through our Total Money Makeover.  We're still so far away from baby step 3, let alone becoming one of the ultra fiscally fit people we both long to be.  Again, I could provide the reasons why but it can mainly be summed up in one word we all understand, LIFE.

On the positive side, we looked into selling our condo in order to avoid the balloon payment on our mortgage next September, when I may or may not be unemployed and desperate. We went so far as putting it on the market and receiving an offer.  Luckily I spoke to my cousin and he encouraged me to look for other options with another financial provider.  I thought all financial institutions basically provide the same types of loans but I learned otherwise after a couple of phone calls.  My husband and I completed the paperwork for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) last week.  We lowered our interest rate from 5.625% to 3.37% fixed.  Once it all goes through we'll have a HELOC payment of less than $200 a month and the piece of mind that we now have a fixed rate 10 year mortgage.  I'll have to take out my own property taxes but that's a small price to pay for this feeling of freedom from that balloon mortgage.  The closing costs were also only $250 which was the main reason we didn't refinance our mortgage before as we were quoted almost $5000 with our current mortgage provider. 

We were also clobbered with two huge car repairs this summer so our France vacation is becoming more and more like a pipe dream instead of a dream come true. We're determined we need to save up for a replacement vehicle if we come across one more bad car repair scenario (+$1000).  If we can avoid another huge repair we might yet get there although I'm not going to hope too hard for it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1 year away

My last post was 364 days ago.  I have no good excuse for my absence other than I got pregnant and had a beautiful baby on January 12, 2014.  My brain is a little more fuzzy but my passion for getting out of debt is still going strong.

Unfortunately, by saving a significant amount of money during my pregnancy, just in case, we got far behind on our debt payoff schedule.  We're back to putting extra money toward the mortgage each month but with daycare and other life expenses we're not able to do this as aggressively as before.  Still, we've made progress. 

Thankfully, Cindel Mae was born healthy and the extra savings we amassed was quickly put to pay down the mortgage. May 2013 we were at $45,340.56 and currently we owe $22,851.51.  This month we were only able to put a little over $300 extra towards our goal which was disappointing but not unexpected.

I'm dreaming of the day when we get jobs in Lansing and put our condo up for sale.  I have a Pinterest board going with all the projects I want to tackle on our property before listing it for sale.  I would love to sell it instead of sending all our extra money towards the mortgage.  I torture myself by looking up apartment listings and homes for rent in Lansing.  I'll be losing my job at the end of the year and can only count on 20 weeks of unemployment benefits.  We won't have to pay for daycare if I can't find work but we will have to endure a lot more financial stress.  We'll be able to cover our bills with my husband's salary and luckily since the last time I wrote, he was transferred into a permanent position with the State of Michigan.

If I strike out in my job search, I will be sad that I'm not contributing to our goals of becoming debt free and going to France next year but I'll have a wonderful consolation prize in being able to stay at home with my sweet daughter.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Long time no post

I must apologize for my lack of blogging commitment lately.  I won't bother you with excuses, please extend me some forgiveness and lets pretend this didn't happen, okay? 

On to the financial dish.  I'm pretty annoyed with Sallie Mae and her lame excuse for a staff.  GJS and I sent in an extra payment due to a message on Sallie Mae's website that said we were over due, despite the fact we have automatic payments.  So we later get the word that it was a technical error and we can have our second payment refunded, aww, gee thanks.  GJS has been told twice before that the payment will be returned electronically, as it was submitted and one he was even given a transaction number and told to call our credit union to track the payment.  The website even stated the payment was returned on April 10th.  Yesterday GJS calls again because we were assured we would have the refund in our account by last Friday and he finds out that we will be receiving a paper check, and the earliest we'll see it is this Friday.  So our April budget was never rectified and I was not able to send a second mortgage payment.

Today I set up the April extra mortgage payment and it is set to hit next week, after I get my paycheck on Friday so I can cover the whole expense (since the $294.33 from Sallie Mae will probably still not be accessible).  I also planned out our budget for May and was happy to see I was able to fit everything into our budget by raiding our baby emergency fund and decreasing our grocery budget to $450.  May has been the month to dread financially due to two weddings, my Mom's 60th birthday party and camping Memorial weekend all rolled into one month.  Mainly the birthday and camping will be extra gas money, nothing more, but it adds up.  All fun things to actually experience though, so that does ease the pain.

Another exciting part of this month is that I'm getting my hair trimmed tonight, get to buy makeup and if I'm really frugal, hopefully shoes too.  Plus I get to buy a bachelorette present for my best friend.  Hooray for a shopping high!

AES Student Loan
Sallie Mae Student Loan