Small Financial Updates

In list format:

  • I got a letter from my USAA military insurance, that due to having such a great year, they are giving me a $47 credit on my auto policy, which means that’s an extra $47 for me when my policy comes up for renewal in February. Considering I save up my renewal in advance with $50 extra for leeway already, I’ll have $100 extra to put towards debt. I love this company, it has to be one of my favorite companies.
  • Work is changing their payment schedule next month by a few days. Being as OCD as I am about my finances, this is going to throw me off a little while I re-adjust everything to the new schedule. I don’t think any of my bills due dates will be affected, since I -mostly- pay everything early.
  • I got the rest of my freelance money in and already put it on the last interest debt that I am paying off. I am still trying to look for another freelance project or two to help get this paid off ASAP. I’ve been looking on guru.com, but don’t see many projects in my skill-set there. I catch a few now and then, but winning the bid for the project is a whole other story.
  • Dad went out and got a log splitter on credit, which I am not all too happy about, but it was something he needed for his health, so there it is. I am not taking on anymore of his debt right now because I have some things I need to take care of on my own first.
  • I have to say though, dad has done a lot better with his monthly budget lately. He hasn’t had any overdrafts, and while he does still spend a good chunk on my credit card, we did talk about ways we could reduce that and I’m hoping to see that change taking place in this months report.
  • I did give my dad a $200 budget for holiday shopping. I told him he didn’t need to spend it all on me, but I have no doubt that’s what he intends to do. I know it seems silly to give him a holiday budget (especially when it’s just spent on me anyway), but that is something that is special to him (opening gifts Christmas morning), so it’s really worth the expense.
  • While going to the doctors yesterday and the radiologist today, my total expenses so far has only been the $20 co-pay to the doctor. And even that is paid out of my HSA, not out of my pocket. I’ll see what other charges I may need to pay for in a month or so, whenever the insurance company decides to bill me. But considering I have a couple thousand in my HSA for medical expenses, I am not worried.
  • I discovered that Microsoft Money has a “Tax Report” section that will actually display every tax related expense and income I’ve had in the last year. Technically I could just print that report out, and so long as I have categorized everything correctly throughout the year, it will show all my charitable contributions, my gross wages that have yet to be taxed, all my interest, etc. How cool is that? I am auto-prepared for tax season.
  • I am doing as much work from home as possible while I’m laid up cause of this knee injury. I get paid time off, but the less of it I use the better. Not that I really use my time off for anything…I guess camping and festivals are about it. My goal is to make it into work Thursday or Friday, even if I’m using a cane or something 😛

Taking Advantage of Incentives

I’m not one that actively seeks out incentives just to have them. I don’t have a cash rewards credit card because I don’t want anymore credit cards and am fine with the one I have because I don’t like using them anyway. My USAA card gives cash rewards on occasion, but generally nothing significant.

Right now they are doing 2 programs that I am taking advantage of however.

1. 0% APR on all balance transfers for a year. I immediately switched the remaining balance of my dad’s Tractor Supply over, because 0% is way better than his 29.99%.

2. 3% back on all gas purchases up to $150 each month (you don’t receive the entire balance of what you save until May 2010, but hey it’s free money). So I’ll be using the card for all of my gas purchases now, and probably getting my dad to do the same since I don’t spend $150 on gas every month. Naturally I pay these off every month so I don’t have any lingering balances.

In addition to these two incentives, our local grocery store does one all year long where for every $100 you spend in groceries (and use your uber special Giant savings card, which is not a credit card it just lets you get their special discounts at checkout), you get 10 cents off per gallon of gas on your next gas purchase. You usually have a month or two to use it. Right now I can get 30 cents off per gallon at my next fill-up. But we don’t really buy that many groceries, at most $300 a month so I expect 30 cents off per gallon is the max I’ll get. With rising gas prices, 30 cents off per gallon is just fine with me.

Insurance Premium $200 less

My 6 month car insurance premium is due in February. In August I paid $546.44 which was supposed to be the 6-month premium for August to February, but it’s looking like I paid $70 extra, so I had a $70 credit on my account.

I just got my statement for February to pay the next 6 months, and they are only asking $341.16 which is $205 -less- because they also give an Auto Dividend which knocked an additional $30 off as well.

Now I put $48 a paycheck away into my account just for my 6 month car insurance premium. That allows me to save up $615 for every 6 month premium (so I’ll have a little excess). That means I’ll have an extra $273.84 in there in January, which I’ll probably put towards my dad’s loan. I’m still trying to decide whether to lower my $48/paycheck payment to myself to account for this new 6 month premium, or leave it as is in case it ever goes up.

Balance Transfer’s and HSBC, Plus my new 1 year financial plan

So part of my financial plan for the next year is to pay off my dads loan, which is currently at $5000 with 24% interest rate (ridiculous!). I’ve come up with a plan that will allow me to have it paid off by September of next year. Though I did run into a snag this morning when trying to transfer the balance to my credit card.

HSBC (or technically a subsidiary of theirs) apparently only accepts checks or cash as a payment method, which I don’t have since I’ll be using my credit card. So I called up USAA and they said they could provide convenience checks which would allow me to send off a check to place the balance on my credit card. Normally this would cost me 3% transfer fee and use my normal rate of 16%, but they have a “promotion” that will waive the transfer fee and bring my APR to 4.4% for 12 months.

I’ve decided to go ahead and take this in order to get the loan paid off, but then next month or the month after I’m going to get a 0% APR for 12 months card to transfer the balance again.

Then the amount my father was paying on the loan will then be paid to me, and once my car is paid off in February, I will have put $1300 down on his loan, bringing it down to $3700. Then I will start adding my car payment to his payment, bringing it to around $500/month we are paying towards the remaining balance.

$3700 – $500/month payment means it will be paid off in about 7 months, which should be around September of next year.

I’ll probably continue to put the $500/month away for an extra 3 months and pay off his medical bills balance of $1300, assuming he doesn’t rack up anymore hefty medical expenses.

Then my father will be debt free, and I’ll just have the remaining balance on what my friends have loaned me for the house, if I haven’t paid them off by then. Plus the house, naturally, but since that’s a long term investment, I don’t really consider that immediate debt at this time.

Technically the first time home buyers tax credit needs to be paid back as well, but you have 15 years of interest free to do that. So that’s about $500/year, which equals out to about $42/month with no interest. So that’s easy peasy.