Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weird World

Check out this article.

I know that Honduran banks don't do this but they do start motivating one to start spending. One of my credit cards on an arranged payment schedule recently called me to tell me of my points available and if I wanted an additional credit card for my wife (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO). I thought they had cancelled my card but what they did was move my debt to an extrafinancing loan, and so my credit card is basically active with them, except that I cut it up.

Short post, short post! Free blog!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frugal Trip

I am writing this as i'm flying high somewhere between Houston and Phoenix. I'm sleepy, tired, and a bit cold but happy to be able to travel and get paid for it!
Now even when the company i'm working for as a contractor is going to pay my airline ticket, hotel and probably my meals, there's still some expenses, hidden ones, that come up to bite you when you are not looking.
Not totally related but a bit so is the fact that my youngest daughter's birthday was on the 22nd, so my whole schedule was set up so I would travel on the 23rd to be with her on her birthday. Her birthday was a good attempt at saving money. She wanted a shirt, shoes, cake, a trip to the movies with her sister and two friends and a table game called Mall Madness.
I got her the shirt and shoes with points on the credit card I had cut up and had replaced again just for this trip (emergency and hotel checking in use only). I had just enough points to get her the clothes basically for free. The cake was 200 lps at Pricesmart, not much savings there except I got the smallest one since it wasn't going to be an actually party anyway. The movie trip cost was cut in 50% because I had a couple of two for one coupons from some gas station hot dog purchases done earlier. I only had to buy three tickets to get us five into the movies (my two daughers, two friends of hers, and myself). Unfortunately snacks were full price and I didn't fall for the popcorn refill trick that required purchase of a more expensive combo than what we finally got.
The interesting thing about the board game is that when we came out of the movies, the store was closed so I couldn't buy it for her. She was sad and upset for a couple of minutes but eventually she forgot about it. For the day that is. She has the memory of an elephant so i'm sure she will ask for it some time later when I get back.
Ok, on to my travel. I had to pay for my airport taxes which is $32. I had lunch before going to the airport so I didn't have to buy anything there. Besides I got a nice hot sandwich on the flight to Houston. During my wait in Houston I have to confess that I was tempted to buy at this or that store but I stood my ground and bought nothing. I had my free priotity pass club card that was given to me with my platinum card (the one of two that I still don't have on a arranged payment schedule.
With that card I was able to get into Continental's President's Club near my next flight's gate. I got there and used their free internet to call home and work using my magicjack and a local honduran IP phone I have. The other options would've been to use a payphone while calling everyone or buying time from the airport's internet service at $15 per day , when I used it only for one hour or so. Another treat at the Club was the free drinks and snacks which I happily enjoyed after walking miles from one terminal, waiting in line with hundreds of people at immigration and customs and then another couple of miles to the other terminal. Ok so I only took ice water and some potato chips but that was enough for me.
After that I got onboard this flight and i'm heading to Phoenix. My friend from MO is flying there to and he will pick me up at the airport in his rental car, so I won't have to pay a cab fare to the hotel. Right now I still have intact the $500 and my credit card, both of which I had to bring with me to pass immigration without problems. I just had a nice cold turkey sandwich, a chocolate and some Ginger Ale which im sure could hold me up until morning. However i'm sure my friend has other plans.
This is it for now. I'm trying to may these post short but they come up long anyway. Will have to improve on this.
At least this blog, and the beautiful night sky i'm looking at thru the window, is free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What happened to the extrafinancing?

I know some of you would wonder what happened to that money.  
Well, I got the 66,000 lps or so. right off the bat I paid about 42,000 to my Alianza-Bac-Unitec credit card. That's the one that gives me my good cellphone plan. I also paid 9000 and 5000 on the two pay arrangements I had. I did that so as to not fall behind on my payments because this quincena I earned a lot less on my morning job because I spent most of that quincena's mornings on my day job with the consultant that was over here doing work and required my presence.
I wish I could say that ALL the rest I went ahead and put it on my credit card debt. It would be easy to write this. However it's not true. Between lempira and dollar balance I know I paid about 9000 lps to my Bac Platinum card. I did this because since both card are issued by BAC if I miss a payment on one they will block both and I need to have at least one available for my trip to Phoenix next week. I don't plan to use it but in a foreign land, in a place i've never been before it's a safety rope I case I need something urgent. More on that trip soon.
The rest, 3000 lps or so. I spent it. Yes I spent it. Not proud about it. My wife's car had a tire that needed replacement and some fixing to the steering. The rest was spend on mundane stuff that was "necesary" at the moment, things like school supplies or money for activities, medicines (which my wife seems to always need plus my own that I bought extra for my trip), etc. I know I should track those small purchases but they all seemed required at the moment. There was maybe a couple of fast food purchases, but the rest all was "urgent". Maybe I do need to track it just to make sure it was actually required spending.
My daughter got robbed near my house and he cellphone was stolen. This would've been a shock in itself, but it was more of a shock to know that she had racked up $200 in calls up to the day her phone was stolen!!! I had a serious sit down with her and she told me she called several friends a lot and just didn't keep track of time. I'm still waiting for that invoice to show up, but right there I told her that I was cutting her from our post-paid plan. I got her a simple 200lps phone (actually got two cause it was a 2 for one promo) with Digicel. It came out well because all her friends use Digicel now and for 10lps a day they can talk for four hours every day. Putting her on the plan was a mistake. I also took my wife's and my own phone's credit limit down to $60 both, and that's still high with the mini rate we are both enrolled in but I can lower it more if I want.
Well I'm trying to keep it short, and I hope blogspot keeps this blog free.  

Pay Raise and other help

Deploying a new software version of an application to many banks, rolling out a new antivirus solution and doing odd works during the night leaves little time for blog writing. I feel a great relief when I write and so not writing makes me my financial emotions swell painfully. I'm thinking of writing shorter posts more frequently rather than longer ones less frequently.
Last week I was handed my pay raise by my main-job boss. Every year on this ocassion he talks with me for five minutes about the things I did right and for thirty minutes about the things I did wrong. Strangely this year he only mentioned that we should be on the look out for cost cutting measures. No complaints about me. Even my raise was higher than other years in lempira amount although lower in percentage to my base salary.
In any case I guess by now you must know I will not tell my wife about it and if she asks I will tell her there were no raises this year or state a much lower figure. It's sad but if I were to tell her about my raise she would know immediately about "URGENT" stuff that we need to buy or spend the money on. My dad and my boss and other men have told me that they never tell their wives how much they earn. Guess i'm not alone in this problem.
My raise was of 3500 lps more each month, After taxes and deductions it comes to 2400 lps a month, 1200 lps every quincena. That plus the 400lps or so extra that I get from the rise on the initial income tax bracket will help. I've already instructed the payroll lady to transfer 800 lps each quincena to my "emergency fund" account. my previous instruction was 800 lps each month (only on the 30th), now i'm doubling that and will probably go to 1000 lps each quincena after my trip (more on that on another post).
I still can't pay much of my debt with that raise but I can put it on savings to have something to fall back on. I've read everywhere that one has to save even when paying debt.
I know I worked hard for my raise, but this blog is free

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

calls that make me smile

Well, to all those thousands of people that commented and sent me private emails telling me not to refinance my car, i'm happy to say that I'm not going to do it. The interest rate is 60% on such a loan. One card I want to pay has a interest rate of 54% and the other two are at 59% and 52% so it just doesn't make financial sense.
I remember that I read on LG's blog that some credit cards charged 70% or more. I have platinum and gold cards so maybe the lower, more common cards charge more. Honestly I was surprised that my rates weren't up there in the 70's cause it sure feels like a lot of money in interest.  
So here I was yesterday wondering how was I going to get a jumpstart to start reducing the money I owe. In other words, paying my debt. I have two jobs now. the main job pays for my monthly expenses and a company loan. The other job now is my main source to pay my minimum payments on three credit cards and the payment plans on the other two. So even tough I'm making headway on two cards the other three are killing me and I couldn't earn enough to just pay a lot on one and snowball it from there.
The phone rang and there's this lady calling me to tell me that they have approved me a line of extrafinancing (from one of my active credit cards) of L66,000.00 that I can take now. Being now more cautious than before I ask for the rate and it's 42%. Argh, not the 25% i'm used to on extrafinancing from past times but better than the credit card rates stated above.
Anyway, I took for a term of 36 months. I could've gone up to 48 but I thought that it might be extending it too much into the future.
With that I plan to pay my Alianza-Bac-Unitec cellphone card. It will still get charged with our cellphone bills but I will make sure to pay them in full every month. I will still have about 26,000.00 left to pay on my Bac Visa Platinum card which has a bigger balance. I think that's best to pay this card because if I miss a payment on either of them the bank blocks both and if there's a real emergency I can't use either of them. By emergency I mean something medical!
Of course i've learned to keep all of this a secret from my wife. And I feel it is right to do so because I still owe money, I just have lower payments.
What do you think about this ?
On a side story i'm installing debt tickers at the bottom of the blog's main page. I was wondering how to set it up because the way they work doesn't fit me precisely. So in the end I thought I will one debt ticker per debt instead of a single one for all the money I owe. I have a test ticker right now. Tell me what you think.
Well at the ticker was free and so is this blog.