Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Organizing Money

Justin has been receiving actual, full-time employment paychecks for two months now.  Those first paychecks went to filling up the kitchen cabinets and paying off some of our bills so we could breathe.  Then, we bought summer--you know what I mean by that; summer is expensive!  Now that we are into September, we are ready to really take a look at how we are spending those well-earned dollars.

When we first started school, one of our big adjustments was living four to five months on one check (student loan payout).  We divided the check into months, then the months into categories.  X amount for food, X amount for gas and so on.  We had each month's cash in labeled envelopes.  If we spent all of the grocery money for the month on the first day of that month, I had to be VERY creative toward the end of the month.  I never (well almost never) borrowed money from the next month's envelopes because there was no way to recover.  We also never (or almost never) used the credit card because there was no money to pay it back.  We had to be disciplined and crazy frugal.  

Now that we are back to bi-monthly paychecks, we are having another big adjustment.  That is, we're going back to the way we did things seven years ago.  It's weird.

Also, we're changing banks.  We want to re-establish ourselves with the account I've had since I was a teenager, but that means changing all of our automatic withdrawals.  I worked on that a couple of weeks ago.  Some of the changes were super easy and I made them.  Some of them require that I send in a voided check.  Some require a fresh form.  Now, I'm stuck with my foot half in and half out of two bank accounts.  It is confusing!  The added burden of trying to remember which is where is not helping me get my grass watered.  

Today, my job is to do whatever I have to do to fully switch all of our bills to withdraw from one account.

It sounds simple and silly all at once, but is indicative of my crazy disorganization.

In addition to organizing the actual payment procedure, we needed to make some changes to what bills are paid.  For instance, we'll need to buy a new car sooner than later.  We needed to budget in a car savings fund (that will eventually become a car payment).  That way, we can save up as much as possible before our good ol' van finally bites the dust.  We are also starting new health insurance plans that have a large deductible.  First, I have to get a firm number on the monthly premium.  Then, we'll need to fill up that health savings account to prepare for the rainy day.

Justin and I sat down and estimated all of the "new" bills and added them to the list of our existing bills.  We then looked at due dates for those bills and tried to make a plan.  All was going smoothly until we got the printout from the student loan people.

6.8% for the student loans?  At a time when the 15 year mortgage rate is well below 3%, why is our student loan interest rate 6.8%?

My other job for today is to call the government loan people and to go to our credit union and see if they can't beat that interest rate.

I went online to check our credit reports and to find out our credit rating.  I discovered that every semester's student loan is on our credit report as a separate account.  All of those student loans look like a long list of fully maxed out debt accounts.  That can't be good for our credit rating.

I will also be asking to combine all those student loan accounts into one.

After I have firm numbers on some of those things, I will force myself to sit down and make the spread sheet.  It will have two sections; one for each paycheck of the month.  It will be color coded and clean.  It will be so simple to follow that if I died the day after I made it, any ol' stranger would know how to keep up on the bills.

Is that enough for one day?  One other minor goal is that I would like to put my change into rolls and deposit them in the travel account.  I want to go back to Hawaii.


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