Monday, January 26, 2009

The mini-rate

Hello there folks.
It's been busy these weeks with a foreign consultant finally getting our upgrades installed after a 2-year delay. So i'm having to go to my day job from 9am to 9pm , leaving little room to work my morning job. Yeah it sucks. Just when I'm getting up to speed something always happens. Oh well, I'll just work more nights.
Today I wanted to share with you something. I talked a little bit about it before. It's the mini-rate that Tigo offers to plan-based customers. Basically by paying $5 a month you can call up to 5 Tigo cellphone numbers and the rate for those numbers is only two cents per minute any time all the time.
So I went to Tigo's website and pulled the last three months call detail records for my cell and my wife's. It's nice that one can download an excel spreadsheet for each month. So after sorting by number and grouping by number and doing some formula magic I was able to calculate the top 5 numbers she and I call the most each month. Actually I only had 3 but she had 6. So I registered my 3 numbers and added my boss's number just in case. I registered my wife's top five numbers hoping she doesn't start calling new ones now.
I'm expecting at least a reduction in $20 in my bill and $30 in her's. Today monday is the first day of the billing cycle so I won't be able to measure the full effect of the mini-rate until feb 25. But I saw the latest call detail records and they do show a 2c/min rate for the numbers I registered for me and her.
Don't think I haven't ask her to call less, and she agrees but then she turns around and for some reason every call she makes on the phone is a life-or-death call that had to be made. I've heard that story so much before that I just don't care.
What I did not do was to tell her that I got lower rates for those numbers. If I tell her i'm sure she will make up for it by calling them more! So I just did it quietly. Unfortunately everytime the bill is paid a message is sent to the phone stating how much was paid so when the next billing cycle comes she will know her bill was lower than this one. At least she won't know why and I don't plan on telling her.
Had a few unplanned expenses this quincena, like a new tire for her car and vitamins and de-parasiting meds for my daughters (which I eventually will get rembursed on by our medical insurance, but still).
I'm up to date on my bills but not making much headway in paying one in full. I saw an ad for Corporacion Financiera about getting a loan by putting my car as a colateral. I will take a look at that today or tomorrow. Hopefully they will be able to help me.
The mini-rate for this blog is "free".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Looking forward to 2009

I'm feeling a little down because last quincena's payment hasn't been credited in my account yet. I know from previous payments that sometimes it can take a week but last time it only took 3 days and it was in December!
Anyway. I'm trying to write down things to look forward just to feel a bit more positive this weekend. For some reason I feel the weigh of my debt during weekends more than during weekdays. I guess it's an unconcious feeling of guilt of not working that haunts me, or maybe just that I have more time to thing about things.
So let's see some things that will happen that are positive:
1) There's been a change in the income tax law, so I will have to pay 300 lps less every quincena in taxes. that's about 15 dollars less every 15 days.
2) At my main job we all expect a 7% or so raise during january or at least february. I've been advice by friends not to let my wife know about this extra money I will get but she has a sixth sense about this things, at least this time around I have some more control about my money and won't give her more just because i'm getting more.
3) Some little things: I cancelled caller id and international call blocking on my two landlines. That means $5 a month in savings. On this area caller id doesn't work as it did on my previous house and my wife doesn't have anyone to call the US now and talk for hours like she used to do in the past.
4) I got a high cellphone bill (about $70 on mine) and I noticed that I called about 4 numbers a lot. And these numbers are not in my corporate plan. I can call numbers in my corporate plan for free on calls of up to 10 minutes each. So I took a special service. I get charged $5 per month to register 5 cellphone numbers that I can call for 2 US cents per minute. Regular rate for that in my plan is 10 cents per minute. To not increase my bill I cancelled the insurance on my cellphone which is also $5 per month. I expect to cut my bill about 40%.
5) The government has stated that the electric bill will have a discount of about 10%. They had a fuel surcharge fee which was about half or more of what I pay each month. They will no longer have that. Don't get confused, they will not have that as a separate fee but they will still charge it and the total will get a 10% discount. I used up 90 kilowatts in my last bill which was very surprising to me for all the cooking that went on during the holidays. It was almost half of what I usually use monthly. So this last bill instead of being 240lps (about 14lps) it was only 86 lps (about $5). An added bonus is that if I keep my consumption lower than 150 kilowatts I will get no bill. Water bill is another story!
6) My wife got called for a job interview next monday. I hope very much that she gets it.
That all I can think of right now. But there might be more and I write about it when I remember them. Next week I will write the starting balances on January for all the money I owe. That way you and can track how I am lowering my debt.
I hope you will keep reading my blog this year.
At least this blog is free, and hopefully my electricity will be too!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 , the year of repayment

Happy New Year. This is going to be a blitz of thoughts that have accumulated over the past days. I'm just releasing the pressure valve now.
2008 was a year of awakening for me. of realizing that I was well well over my head in debt and the strong desire to be debt free. The start of changes in my way of looking at life in order to spend less but live more.
A saving in transportation for my daughters has brought me closer to them as we now talk more while I drive them to school.
A reduced spending in fuel meant better user of my car to make all of it last longer.
My friend saying no to loaning me money turned out to be him being part in getting the second job i'm working now. I would've liked the money but I prefer to earn it and owe money to no one. He's one of my saving angels. I wouldn't have known it back when were were college classmates programming together and giving him a ride back home every day in the car I still drive today.
Less christmas spending attempts were damaged by my wife. The spending records show that she's the mayor contributor to the money going out the door. Cold hard facts I have to face and that she refuses to face. She wants to help me as long as she can keep doing the same things she has done all this time. At least I know where the problems areas are and who is helping and who is not.  
No christmas gifts this year. I bought the girls a game of UNO thanks to tips from the readers. Unfortunately it has become the passion of my youngest daughter and she want to play it incesantly. An average game of uno with her lasts about 30 minutes! At least some days we all do play together.
I bought shoes, jeans and shirts for the girls. One pair of shoes for my wife ($15) and a pair of pants for me ($6) and I enjoyed teaching my family by example. I gave gifts to no one but my secret santa friend at work. I received some gifts from companies we work with in my job. Some of those I turned around and gave to my mom and to some friends. Some , like the pork leg given to me by the company I gave to the maid for her to enjoy with her family. She's going to leave soon but we want to stay in friendly terms.
I didn't get many material things but today January 2nd I feel better than those years when I bought stuff with money I didn't have. No buyer's remorse this year.
I had to say "no" several times when my daughters wanted to buy something more, usually coaxed by their mother. It broke my heart to say it but each time I did I learned that they can hear no and still love me. They just kissed me good night and hugged me and didn't do it different just because they didn't get toys or more clothes. It's not easier to say no, but I know their world won't end if I say no.
Wife now calls me cheap, and I say "thank you!". I've learned to enjoy not buying something and doing something else to reach the same goal. I'm starting to be more creative and remember places , and prices!
2009 is here now. I hope this second job I have will last long enough to help me pay all the money I owe or at least a big chunk of it. It if wasn't for the interest rates I would be able to pay it all in 12 to 18 months but it's not so it will take longer.
I sent my bill for the last "quincena" of December. $1052 was the total. I worked christmas' eve, christmas, new year's eve and new year's day. The day I worked the most was new year's eve , a total of 9.25 hours that day and I didn't work in the morning because I took my wife's car to get the brakes fixed. I love that job. It's like they are paying me for stuff I would do for free just to play with so many computers. The only problem is that my girls and wife obviously want me to spend time with them. That's a balance act i'm still trying to learn to do well.
From this payment, money will go to getting me back on schedule of my scheduled payments, about $450 for one and $250 for the other, it's actually a little less. Will take $100 to replace money that I spent on car repairs from my emergerncy fund. The rest will go to pay debt on the card with the lowest balance.
If you are debt free, please stay that way! Send me your tips and suggestions. I've taken many and they've been helpful.
If you have debt, don't get more! Use your credit cards wisely. The simplest way to use them wisely is not to use them at all. Debit cards are much better. If you can't afford it, you probably can live without it. Write to me about your struggle, let me know about it. It helps to write. It really does.
If you are worried about debt, join the club! You are not alone. There are several of us trying get from under the pile of debt. It's easier for those with no family to care for or to spend time with but it's not my situation. If you are in debt and want to get out of it, then start by writing about it. I know it has helped me a lot to face the facts and stop kidding myself or at least know that sometimes I am kidding myself and no one else.
I wish you all a good 2009. Economically it doesn't look good either here or in the US but let's just hang in there. It's going to be an interesting ride.
Well, at least this blog is free, I hope it stays free in 2009.