Another Year, Coming Right Up

September 11th, 2008

Just doing a little housekeeping here and letting everyone know that I’m getting organized again and plan on doing regular postings and updates soon.  Next week will be a quick series on what I’ve been up to the last five months as well as where we’re at financially now-a-days.  Here’s my first journal post of the 2nd year, exactly 366 days after the very first one.  :)

Look forward to getting into the routine again!

Rough Couple Weeks

April 30th, 2008

I’ve had a very hard time getting sleep lately and have been burning the candle at both ends for quite some time.  Things finally had to give this last couple weeks when having to put in far more hours in at the office than usual along with the upstart of sports seasons and Spring cleaning activities.  So, all side projects got postponed for awhile including this site.  In fact, I haven’t even been reading much either other than skimming a few sites.  I suppose everyone has this happen eventually when they’re taking on way too much.

As I realized it was the end of the month already, I figured I better hop on and get caught up with things, or everything will end up slipping yet another month.  Luckily, I’ll be taking some time away from work the next week and will be able to do some writing and get caught up with paperwork.  Both are things I’ll find relaxing compared to the scatter-brained chaos I’ve been going through the last month.  There’s been an awful lot of things that have come up that I can’t wait to write about though.  From an awesome garage sale, to the run-away trampoline…things have been crazy.  Stay tuned and we’ll get caught up this next week.  :)

Getting My Hopes Up on a Refinance

April 15th, 2008

When I went to go open up my new checking account to get the $50 bonus for doing so, the gal behind the desk started asking me some questions about my mortgage.  Of course I knew where she was going with this.  Why else would a bank want to know more about your financial situation when you open an account with them?  They wanted to see if they could get me to refinance with them of course!

After asking me my monthly mortgage payment and the value of my home I stopped her right in her tracks with a challenge.  "Listen, ma’am.  I’d love to refinance if that’s where you’re going with this, but I’m willing to bet you can’t do it."  I know it was a risky move, but I’ve already talked to two banks who said they won’t touch me for a refinance until I get rid of my 2nd mortgage.  (over 34K, yeah right)

mortgage
Photo by Josh Michtom

So throwing this challenge out there seemed to peak her interest based on her facial expression.  She wanted more info because NOW she wanted to prove me wrong.  :)  So I gave her the nice 85K/yr income, the estimated credit score in the low-mid 700s, (which is a semi-educated guess) and the fact that we’ve been on a plan to reduce debt for about six months now.  I gave her a list of all the things we’ve done to the house since we bought it to try to justify as much value as possible.  I just let her have the facts as I knew them, 2nd mortgage and all.

She looked at me and said it still might work.  I couldn’t believe it.  Of course, she would have to get a review from some people upstairs before giving me a call back on it, but I think she had genuine interest in trying.  Probably some little bonus for her or something if it did work out I’m guessing.

Regardless, I got excited over the idea that someone may actually consider taking me up on a re-fi.  Here I am early in the next week without a phone call though…even though she said she’d call regardless of what she hears from them.  It’s still possible I could get a call, but I’m not banking on it.  (neat, an unintended pun!)

I hate getting my hopes up on this kinda stuff.  Especially with the way the housing market and loan situation is right now in the economy.  If people wouldn’t touch me a year ago…why on earth would they want to right now?  (aside from the fact that my income keeps increasing and the housing market where I’m at is actually pretty stable)

Anyone else think I’m just getting false hope here?  I’m not in danger of not being able to pay my payments, and I’m pretty sure I could survive a rate hike too.  I just wouldn’t be able to make any progress when that happens.  Only 15 months left to go before that happens.  *sigh*

No Short Supply of People Wanting Credit

April 14th, 2008
stack of credit cards
Photo by kalleboo

I was talking with the wife a few days ago, and the subject of performance reviews at work came up.  One criteria for her is how many store credit cards she opens for customers for the year.  This is usually the most difficult metric for her to meet, and she’s not aggressive with it at all because of our hatred for credit cards.  However, she’s already got 40 this year and she only works PART TIME. 

Why?  Because there’s just tons of people out there that still want to open up a credit card to get that measly little 10% discount!

My reaction?  I was dumbfounded.

Don’t people read the news?  People should be learning from the mistakes of the rest of us in this whole credit mess.  But NOOOOO.  They’d rather save $15 on a couple things they can’t even afford to buy in the first place!

It just never ceases to amaze me how some people just can’t wait to get their hands on another chunk of borrowed money.  The store cards are the worst.  They’ll give anyone credit.  As little as $500 for a credit limit, and they’ll toss in an automatic 25% interest rate right from the start.

It just goes to show that there’s no short supply of people wanting more credit.

Analyzing My Bank Account List - Switching Local Account for $50 Bonus

April 10th, 2008

I recently got an offer in the mail from Wells Fargo for a free $50 bonus for opening a checking account with them.  Normally, I don’t even read all the ads I get in my mailbox because there’s so much fine print that it’s hardly worth the effort to follow through with any of them.  This one, however just hit me at the right time.  I’m fed up with my current local bank and was just looking for an excuse to switch.

 

Account Review

Bank Account
Photo by thinkpanama

I have a number of accounts with USAA Federal Savings Bank.  This is my primary bank that I’ve used for just about everything from insurance to credit cards since I was in college.  With a military requirement to get membership, I’ve just yet to see a comparison in quality of service and value combined.  I use this for direct deposit for our jobs.  This bank is based out of Texas though, with no local branches.

I have a secondary account with USAA that I use for all web income and PayPal transactions.  I keep this account pretty low for the most part, and it’s the only account I’ll hook up to any outside organizations.  I never let any company have direct ties to my primary checking account because I want to be in complete control of my money.

I also have a local bank account wherever I live as well.  This account I use to hold my emergency fund, and I cash/deposit checks here as well.  I can transfer whatever balance I have over my $2000 emergency fund to my USAA account that I use to pay bills via the bank website very easily.

Then I have the ING account, which I primarily opened for the $25 bonus.  Though I’ll also start using it for saving toward big-ticket items once I have my debts lowered.

Any other accounts I have will be short term at best.  I’ve closed all of my unused accounts to simplify my life.

So, here’s my bank accounts:

  1. USAA - Primary Checking:  Both jobs direct deposits, used to pay bills
  2. USAA - Secondary Checking:  Web income sources linked here, PayPal, etc.
  3. Local account - Checking:  Keep emergency fund here, cash checks, etc.
  4. ING account - Savings:  Free bonus, referral income, sub-accounts for saving toward goals.

 

Why I’m Fed Up With My Current Local Account

Fees.

I’m sick to death of the little $1/month fee for just using a check card.  I hate the fact that if I go below $0 for a day, the "overdraft protection" system they have still charges me $25 for every single transaction that happens during that day no matter the amount.  (so if I write a $100 check, and have four $1 debits for whatever reason in a single day, when my account balance is $90…they’ll take the $100 first, triggering a $25 charge followed by four MORE $25 charges for the little dollar transactions.

Bank Fees
Photo by Double Down

I have to fight them tooth and nail to take the charges off when this happens even though my deposit was SUPPOSED to be there already.  (They keep pending deposits a number of days before they let you actually use the funds.)  I get them to take off the monthly check card fees, but every year they start SHOWING BACK UP!

Enough already!  *pulls hair*

 

The Wells Fargo Deal

The deal is pretty basic.  If I open an account with at least $100, I’ll get $50 added to my account after 30-45 days.  It’s only for a basic checking account, and it can’t be used for any existing accounts.  Only one per household…and that’s the gist of it.

No monthly/annual fees.  There’s Wells Fargo ATMs EVERYWHERE in this country that I know of.  I don’t plan on using this for much more than cashing checks and housing my emergency fund anyhow.  So why not?

 

The deal is only good until April 15th, so I’m gonna just do it this week.  Once that’s done I’ll transition all of my money over to the new account and finally be done with the local bank.

I’m ready for the frustrations to end!

Anyone else have the urge to move accounts?  What put you over the edge and made you want to switch?

Week in Carnivals - Second Week in April

April 9th, 2008

I just submitted to one carnival this week.  Mostly because of my lack of worthy articles, and I’m not going to just submit any old post to a carnival.  I’m only going to submit the ones I think are legitimate submissions.  So here’s my summary and favorites:

Carnival of Personal Finance #147 - hosted by MoneyNing

My Post: 3 Surefire Methods to Paying Your Bills On Time - Something we still struggle with from time to time just because we don’t DO it.  We’ve had far more success when we actually pick a system and stick to it though.
Others I liked: No Credit Needed - Getting The Entire Family Involved With Managing Our Finances - We don’t involve the kids with the specific numbers, but they are aware of our short term goals and the process we go through to achieve them.
  The Penny Mine - How to Get Great Credit in 2008 - Good list of things to consider with the change in how credit scores are affected by your actions.  I didn’t even realize some of these.
  Squawkfox - Top 10 80s Songs About Money - This was a fun read.  The scary thing is that I know most of those songs word for word.  I can totally feel the mixed-tape flashbacks…(nightmares?)  Good times!

Until next week!