Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is Credit Card a bill ?

After I got married my dad tried to help me put up a budget for our house expenses hoping to help me raise money for a down payment on the house.
I was already a bit in debt with my credit cards but I was able to manage it then. Actually I think the ship was already sinking but I just didn't notice the water comming in yet.
Anyway, my dad starts asking me about what things I have to pay every month and I'm telling him, water, electricity, fuel, food. He adds clothing and car repairs as montly items, probably to be saved up for when the real need comes up.
Then I had to tell him that I had to pay my credit card, and he said, "why"? I said it was one of my bills. And he said again "why"?. He calmly went on to ask me why was I paying credit card debt. He was under the assumtion that if I was using my credit card it was to pay for something that I could pay in full when I got my paycheck. He couldn't figure out why I would buy something with my credit card that I could pay at the most in two payments.
As you can imagine, his good help didn't sink into my brain soon enough.
Today I do realize that when I see people listing their bills, and they say "I have to pay the house, and utilities, and food, car, fuel, and the credit cards...." I ask the same  question, why is your credit card a bill. It should be just a payment type not an actual bill. I know that as most of us who are deep in debt and who owe so much money, the credit card was our tiny loan office. It allowed us to live beyond our means and not face the difficult task of having to put off purchases for when we really could afford such things.
Now years later I can't remember much what did I buy with my credit cards that was significant. I know that a couple of airplane tickets, a lot of groceries and utilities and cellphone bills, etc were put on those cards but back then I should've taken a look at that and stopped myself when I was starting on this downhill path.
I wish young couples or single individuals could read about our stories and look at their credit card statements. If you are only able to pay mininum balance, even if you are still not that much in debt, it's a sign you need to cut back on some expenses. It's a real nag to do so. To not be able to buy those nice clothes or shoes for you, your spouse or your kids. To not be able to have that meal out, that nice vacation that we THINK we deserve.
Well, it's is a horrible nightmare to do those things and them be left with the burden of debt long after the pleasure of whatever you bought is long gone. About the only thing I have to show for all my expenses on my credit cards is my kids education and my car. Everything else is just memories that I could've made sometime later, maybe a year or so, but without the burden of debt that I now carry. Without having to work two jobs and having all of that money go towards paying so much debt. Without having to think that I if I had all my income available to me today to pay the actual bills, with the money left over I could probably take all of my family to Disneyland every three months! IT SUCKS to owe this much money.
At least on a mortage you have a house to show for. it's the place you live in and it's eventually going to be yours. But credit card debt is like paying for sins of the past.
So, I'm working on paying up my credit card debt. I'm down to the last payment on my extrafinancing that I used to pay my car. The rest will go to paying my credit card debt. I hope that as I have to live frugally for several years, this new way of life will set into me and hopefully my wife. However I hope that most of all my girls get a good lesson on how to manage their money better than their dad did.
So, what do you think, is "credit card" a bill ?
I needed to post this, i've had it on my mind for a loooong time. Thanks dad for trying to steer me away from the dangerous waters, sorry that I didn't listen back then. I am listening now..
As usual, advice like this comes to us for free, and I guess because of that we don't appreciate as much...and yet we should. Have a good night.. my twitter updates in between my blog updates so you have a feel for how my days go by.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Don't Beat Yourself up, Redone.

You probably received a strange post from this blog. It was my bad. It was just a thought on which now I'm going to elaborate on. Sorry for that one, it slipped out before it was ready.

Amazingly, my twitter user is getting followed by several other twitter users that have similar blogs. So I got this message from Sam in Australia (still amazes me how small the world is on the internet).

She writes to me: "moneypennyme: and don't forget how essential it is to stay focused! just don't beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. it's okay to make mistakes. (Sam Robinson (Australia) via Twitter. )"

You can look at more of her tweets on

Her comment to me hit me on the spot. I haven't been 100% frugal and not overspent since I started narrating my story here. When I saw myself spending more that appropiate, or when my daughter or wife made me buy them clothes they would wear only once, or when food gets spoiled because it wasn't stored properly, I feel I let myself down.

Her words about not beating myself up and knowing that it's ok to make mistakes was kind of soothing. I now accept that I could make mistakes and overspend, but that will be the exception rather than the norm. Very different from the way things were in the past.

I have used my emergency fund twice recently. I've felt bad about dipping into it but I was totally out of money and with the credit cards cut up I couldn't take the easy road out and credit card my way to my next paycheck (actually it's a bank transfer but you understand).

I felt like I had failed myself when using my emergency fund. The person that holds my debit card to that account was more understanding about it than myself.

What I did to repair the damage was to repay my fund as much as I could. Also on Monday I signed a new authorization for my day job to transfer 1000 lps to my emergency fund account. That's 200 lps more than before. I did that new authorization just in time as on Tuesday the payroll was processed using my new authorization.

I had used my emergency fund on monday too and had taken out 780 lps for gas, food and my blood pressure medication. With the added 200 lps I was only 580 down on that account. So today I actually walked to the bank and deposited 500 lps on my emergency fund account. In net terms I dipped only 80lps from it. I hope to manage my money better every month.

Without a maid, food and other stuff seems to last longer around the house. We do buy takeout more but usually one family pack lasts for 3 or four meals. For example I bought Popeyes chicken yesterday for lunch. It was 12 pieces of chicken plus a bonus piece for using the Foodcard, plus family-sized mashed potatoes with gravy and salad. We had lunch and dinner yesterday and lunch today with that.

We have a new maid comming friday but this time I'm not letting my wife be solely responsible for setting the limits. This is going to be a work place and I'm not going to accept friends or family of the maid to come "visit" her while we are not here.

I've seen the difference in little things like the "semitas" I buy for breakfast. I used to buy a dozen semitas every morning at 20lps. I had two, my daughters had none and wife probably had other two. That means there were EIGHT left. Yet the next day I had to buy another dozen. Were did the other eight go? my girls could probably eat two in the afternoon, that's six. If the maid was eating two, that leaves four for the next day...but nope, there were just none. That's just an example on something that I know I had some tracking on.

Oh well, thanks Sam for the kind words. Honestly I had forgotten I CAN fall off the wagon AND get back on it again. I was sulking too much on my past mistakes.

Sam's words, although totally free, are priceless.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Look, he's Maxed Out!

I was left thinking about the comment left on my Maxed out post and went on to search the whole documentary and sure enough the video is online. You can watch it there:
It's posted in 9 sections, but it's easy to watch it all because at the bottom of the video is the link to the next section. If you have a slow connection you can click on a video and pause it until the download progress bar has completed and then watch the section without interruptions.
I'm watching it again because I feel that I need to remember again and again that credit cards are generally bad. I'm starting to dig myself out of the hole I put myself into, but I want to have very good reminders that help me not to dig a hole again.
The documentary is also available for purchase on DVD or on demand video there:
At least watch it on You Tube. It's very hard to watch it all without having some emotions inside of you get stirred up. I wouldn't advice to watch it with kids.
Please watch it and give me some comments on what you think about it.
Watch it while it's free!

Twitter flu

As usual it's been crazy at both works. I had my boss from my morning job come for a week. Then this week I had a consultant at my day job training us on new software. So I haven't been able to post the new numbers on the other credit card statements that have been delivered to my desk. I have them and I'll try to post the today later.

Currently i'm waiting for my payment from my morning job, it usually takes about a week or so and now i'm emailing my boss there after I send the invoice so that he doesn't forget to process it.

One big thing. I've caught the twitter flu! I like twitter a lot. I like it because I can write my thoughts in a very concise way (160 characters or less). I don't have to worry about layouts and colors and things because it's all text!

I'm able to send tweets (twitter posts) from my cellphone using software for windows mobile which is the operating system for some smartphones like mine.

I'm also able to send tweets via email thanks to

Finally I'm able to go right to my web page and tweet from there!

I like it because when I read tweets from others it's like reading headline news. You get the gist of what's going on without much dabble about it.

I'm thinking of starting some service about traffic information in Tegus. So i've been testing that. There is a way for twitter users to send money to each other and there's a way to have tweets be private and visible only to those approved.

So i'm thinking of having users register to receive traffic updates. And for that information they would pay a small fee per month. It's all mostly in my head right now, although i've done some tests already.

The difficult thing right now would be get the correct traffic information, and also to get enough local users to follow this on twitter. hmm yesterday it seemed much easier. I guess by writing it, it forces me to come back to earth and think about it.

Anyway, I have my twitter posts send to this blog so you can see them on the right side. It's a way for me to put down stuff that otherwise I would forget and wouldn't blog about it ever. I hope you like those tweets in between my posts here.

I'll start writing that other credit card balances hopefully today.

Thanks to Alita for her comment on "Maxed Out".

Voy a buscar el video en metromedia o en mastervideo pero no creo que lo renten. De todas formas lo he visto un par de veces asi que espero alguna ves poderlo ver todo desde el principio. Talves en alguna pagina online o en YouTube o algo similar. Gracias por tu comentario.

Well. back to work. See you soon. Enjoy the free things in life.