Saturday, September 4, 2010

Winning the Lottery

Isn't as fun as one would think.
Read here:
Have a good day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August rant

Lately i've been overwhelmed with work. I mean seriously. There's only three people in my department and for the last few weeks one has either been sick, on vacation or on a job trip. Which means I have to come in my regular time AND cover for their shift too, which means about a 12 hour workday. That plus my second job is overwhelming at times.
I was forgetting that I too had to take some time for a Disaster Recovery seminar, from 5pm to 10pm for two weeks. That also threw a wrench in my work plans.
Then my family wants me to come home and not work, and not watch tv (at least not what I want). On weekends I always plan on catching up on stuff from my second job. But the wife and girls want me to go out with them and that's ok. However they also want me to go with them to visit a friend of my wife and her family. the women have lots to talk about, they have 3 kids and so my daughters have a great time playing with them. So the husband and I are left with talking about sports, weather and politics. Sometimes for 5 hours. Five hours that I could've rested at home or worked or something else rather than have someone try to entertain me. To top it off they don't get cellphone signal in their house and have no internet service so even if I take my laptop I can't work there.
Yesterday and today have been specially bad at work. One of my coworkers is on a business trip opening a new regional for our processing. No more people on our payroll to do that since all is done from here. This new regional is giving us trouble in our system, which means I have to do manually what usually is done automatically. My other coworker who helps me out leaves at 4pm religiously because he's got classes to attend. So I have the whole thing to run by myself until 9pm
The cherry on top was my boss was in a home accident yesterday and after a few stitches to his forehead had to go home to rest. I thought it was reasonable. He didn't come to work today either, I suppose he is still not feeling good. However that leaves holding everything together, the administrative stuff and the technical stuff. If the secretary hadn't return from sick leave last week I might have had to do the bill collection myself too!
So I got that off my chest. The two things I did wanted to write about were my financial plans for this week and a note I got from Targus.
So as you can remember from old posts way back in May or June, this month I'm going to get a loan from my company coop. I plan to get a large amount of cash to pay down a credit card. I will still have about 40 to 50k of debt on it but that should be much easier to pay faster. A small percentage of the money I get will go to new school uniforms, eye exams and glasses, shoes, tennis shoes, books, etc for the girls. Also some minor but important repairs for both cars and home improvements. At least the home improvements will be repaid by the landlord but I need to put the money up front. I hope to get the ball rolling on all this on monday.
A few days ago I wrote a letter to Targus. They make accesories for notebook computers. I wrote to congratulate them on their great products. I've had one of their backpacks for 5 years now and it's awesome. Today they wrote back and told me that I could upgrade to new backpack and other accessories at cost price thru their local distributor. They said that they had never received such an emotional letter before. So i'm going to check their "cost" prices soon and see if it's really worth it to get a new backpack for my notebook.
On the last days of July I won a month's membership to a country club here, and two hours of golf training. I haven't used them but they intrigue me. I hope I can make the time to at least get those hours under my belt.
Well the phones are ringing so i'm off. Bye.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I love my Wii Fit Plus

So I bought a Wii Fit Plus for my Nintendo Wii console in June.
Not a money-saving action obviously. It was about 3,000lps with a good discount.
However one month and a bit more after having purchased it I still think it was a good move. Here are the reasons:
1) I thought about purchasing it since about more than a year ago. So it was a well thought purchase. Not an impulse buy.
2) The girls love it and use it almost every day. Not many games attract girls like the Wii Fit.
3) It promotes family activities, competition and mutual congratulation. When was the last time a video game told you while you were playing your game, that your daughter did a great game and you should congratulate her? Wii Fit does that.
4) It tracks all your workout activity, minutes worked (real minutes worked, not setup or warmups), weight, time of day, type of exercise,BMI, it does all the math for you.
5) It's veeeeery patient. The digital instructors never urge you and never lose temper, they always find ways to give the bad news on a positive light, usually saying "You can improve your posture if you do these exercise routinely, great work!"
6) You can exercise by simulating other activities not just gym stuff. Tight-rope walking, hula-hooping, bicycling, skate boarding, snow-ball fight, skying, flying like a chicken (yeah silly but fun).
7) you can exercise seriously too. Yoga, strength, step and other aerobic exercise are there too.
8) After many days of not using it myself, it had tips on what to do on it if I was in a hurry, really cool and a motivating event.
9) It can be set to spanish or english so anyone in the family can play.
10) Being right there in my room makes me think of using it more than if I had to drive to a gym with the right clothes,etc..etc
Any thoughts?

Monday, June 21, 2010

schedule change and money in money out

It's been a chaotic weeks since I got a schedule change. My main job now starts at 9am and ends at 5pm, my "morning" job now suffers. So what I do is do work for my morning job from 6 to 9pm from my main job's offices. But that's usually interrupted by main job stuff that happens after 5pm. Also after 5pm there are friends that wanna meet with me, errands to run, etc. Always hard to work enough and balance with life's demands.
Mostly sad news, I got my 14th month pay and my bonus pay and although I paid some debt and paid off some debt (a bed), I spent most of the money on car repairs and maintenance, clothing, furniture, etc. Sorta bringing the house and family maintenance up to date. Of course my family did a 50% effort to help me. They would say they "needed" a new tv but were happy to get a model and chip in with half of the montly pay from what I give my wife for food and house stuff every month. Also had to spend money on dresses for the girls as they are going to a "Sweet 15" party. Partly is my fault for giving up to their demands and partly it was a way to sort of reward myself for having been better with my money since my last bonus pay. Now I feel the hangover from all that spending.
I guess the only thing i'm not totally depressed about purchasing is the Wii Fit Plus video game. I had purchase a Wii box last year and this was my ultimate goal. Between then and now, the Wii Fit was upgraded to Plus. Nothing technical attracted me to it, just simple things like a way I can relate to to exercise (on my own at my own pace but with tutoring from a trainer). Also a way for my girls, now in vacation, to have something to do without having to spend more money on "summer camps", and they also stay fit. And it's a family game so at night we gather around and laugh and play against each other to sweat out bicycling, running, skating, boxing, stepping,etc. As days go on I like it more and more.
My next financial goal is to get my loan from the company coop in August or September and pay a big lump towards my debt with HSBC and then do a full effort to pay it off by end of year. We'll see how that goes.
Oh and Honduras just lost to Spain 2-0 , no biggie, it was expected.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Switching accounts

Lately i've been tapping my "Emergency fund" account very frequently, usually for repairs or to cover miscellaneous expenses like school stuff, gifts.etc. I put 2000lps every quincena on that account and I usually take out about 1000 to 1500 from it.
At the same time i've request my coop to take 600lps every quincena and put it in as "voluntary savings" which can be withdrawn at any time I wish, after filing out the necessary paperwork. THis one was supposed to be my "Freedom Account" to cover the expenses i'm paying with the account previously stated.
It seems natural that the one account which is easier to access be the one that I actually tap into the most. So even though it might seem like a setback i've decided to swap labels on them and have my bank account be the "Freedom account" for car repairs, gifts, school expenses, home repairs, etc.
At the same time I will now label my coop voluntary savings as my "Emergency Fund" since I will access that only in case of a real "Emergency" like unforseen medical expenses, accidents, etc. I would probably have to use a credit card to pay up front since taking that money out requires at least a half day of processing (even though I manage the coop too!). But this paperwork makes it harder for me to take money out in a whim and makes it easier to build up a nice amount. Some other coop members already have 20,000lps or 90,000lps in voluntary savings!!
I will increase my coop voluntary savings to 1000lps every quincena (400 more) and leave the new "Freedom Account" at 2000lps per quincena. The good thing is that both are taken deducted automatically from my pay by my employer. Although for the change I have to wait a bit since the person that does it is on vacation until June.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Surprised again

Lately i've been having emotional issues and I think that plus work on both jobs has put me on a somber mood. I've been trying to figure out how to finish paying for my girl's school and how to control my budget with a wife and two daughters that cooperate half way.
The most depressing thing has been watching my emergency fund go down rather than up. Even spending Holy Week mostly at home and just travelling to my dad's ranch on a friends car (and on his gas), and we still managed to spend more than usual. Even he complained of the same. He bought a large inflatable pool and we took turns going to each other's house, which are nearby, and we still ended up spending more money than usual. Bathing suits and extra food caused that. So with that and other little things, that add to a big thing, my my emergency fund has gone to a record low.
Then just last week my wife asked me why was I sad looking and I started to explain my money concerns about the girls' school and I got no support from her. My oldest daughter's birthday was comming and she got upset that I wouldn't give her money to buy a present for my daughter, I told her we could buy one this last weekend rather than on the actual birthday since I would have some money by then. My daugher was ok with that, she's turning 13. However that idea got a cold reception with my wife and we had one of those ugly discussions about why I owed so much money, how come I still owed so much money, who else was I paying for (implying that I probably had a mistress), etc,etc. Even though she's a business admin mayor and is studing a master's degree, the concept of interest evades her. I see the credit card bills, no charges, and the balance only goes down about 10% or 20% or my total payment, the rest is lost to interest charges. Such is the price to pay for many years of money mis-management. However she refuses at times to consider that the party is over. Eventually we did it my way. We cut her a birthday cake on wednesday and saturday we went shopping for a shirt and shorts for her and it all went fine, except I had to endure the awful discussion earlier in the week.
Well, this week I had to cover for a coworker which meant I could've leave the office for anything until 2pm. So I told her I wasn't going to be able to come home for lunch. Surprisingly she volunteered to bring me lunch to work so that I wouldn't have to buy food here. I agreed even though in my head I was already making the math of the fuel cost of her driving here versus me buying here. But like most money problems it's not all about math but also about emotions. I know if I start making the math with her she will get upset at me by not recognizing her effort to help me with the food costs.
So I was going over the tution problem over the weekend and this week and thinking about the Promerica balance and how I was going to pay it all up on August or so. I figured that I needed a little breathing room between now and August. The montly payment of Lps 8040 is the second largest payment I make after tuition. So I called Promerica just a few minutes ago.
I got a guy there, let's call him Al, and I explained that I wanted to lower my monthly payment by either lowering my interest rate or extending the term. He looked at my account and said he could make cut my payment in half by refinancing my "loan" to 48 months starting now. Good, but 48 months!!! No no. Plus the balance he had is one payment behind of the balance I have. So I told he I would go to their offices to clear the issue. It's then that he told me that if I could he would prefer I paid a little more because with a 48 month refinancing I would pay a lot in interest, I agreed totally. He said I should try a shorter term. I guess they do have a heart too.
It was then that I told him that I expected to have about 80,000 lps by August and make a "ballon" payment on the debt. He then spoke a little softly and said that once I had that amount to go to their offices and talk to his supervisor and tell her that I had x amount of money and that I could pay it all at once. He said it was probable that I could get a discount on the balance owed!! LG, you commented about this and I said it was very unlike. Well I'm glad I at least had your comment in my mind. He said I could get 10% or 15% off if I pleaded my case well. So I will try that but won't count on it, that way it will be a happy surprise and money that I would put towards another one of my debts
Unfortunately Al is going on vacation starting tomorrow and I have to get this done this week, but he was going to pass my case to his buddy "Dean" who would handle the refinancing and balance review with me tomorrow. I want to lower my monthly payments to something like 5000lps, but still have the plan to pay it all at once when I get to the sweet spot. That being the month in which the money I can take out on a coop loan (at 12%) is equal or more than the money I will owe by then on this card. From previous calculations I estimate it will be August.
So i'm a little happier today. It's probably a combination between getting paid today, having the wife in "cooperative" mode for now and Al's information about refinancing and the possible discount.
I still have to figure out how to pay for 1 and half month's of the girl's tuition to end the year. If things become desperate I know I can pay it but it would mean setting me back for the start of their school year in September. So I have to make a saving's plan to have that money available by mid June. (my 14avo bonus is already comitted to that cause to pay for 2 and a half months).
I had thought of taking the coop loan earlier and making that ballon payment and lowering my balance a lot to keep paying for a couple of months, however with Al's information I think I should do my math once again to really try to get the full amount or close so I can get the discount by making the full payment. We'll see how it goes. I can't wait to start paying up more money to my HSBC account!!
Oh, happy Columbus Day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reader Comments

Well I was away on vacation and I thought I would have more time but somehow it's like money not saved, it goes away unnoticed. I ended up hardly having time to check my email or write on my blog. It's strange that today, my first day back on my day job i'm able to write again.
I'm going to take this time to write back about some comments left by you. Thank you all for writing.
rain said:
Yea! really huge..anywyz, its good to have those numbers written. let it be a constant reminder that you have to go least there was improvement...but you can work on decreasing those numbers some more...maybe wifey could help too. I am wondering, does she read your blog?
I say:
Wife can't read my post because she only speaks spanish. If she knew I had this blog she would be upset because I was venting out my financial problems in public and showing how much it's both our faults that we are where we are.
I've tried and continue trying to get wife a job. She wants to work too. She's studying a master's degree and has some sort of promise for a teaching position once she finishes it, which should be sometime this year. Her problem is that she is in her early 40's and has no work experience related to her Business Administration degree except for a couple of months here and there. Most jobs I find required either someone young with no experience or someone older with several years experience.
La Gringa wrote back about my post "July or August, write it down". She has asked for comparison data between payments to my Promerica card, which is under an arranged payment schedule  (at lps 8020 a month) and the loan I would take out of the company coop to pay the credit card in full.
This is her answer to my comparison data:
That's huge difference in the interest rate so yes, I agree that making that co-op loan to pay off the much higher rates is a good thing to do. Just make sure that every centavo of the new loan funds goes to pay down your debt and not anything else.

Can you pay your credit card payments online? Also, be sure to keep the due dates on a calendar so you don't overlook them. If you don't already use something fancier, try google calendar. You can set up recurring events and have it send reminders to email and pop up messages. Now that you've used the emergency funds for a couple of them, I hope that gets you back on schedule so you don't run short when the payments are due.

I'm glad to hear that you're working on a budget. Do you also total it up and talk with your family about it? It's good to group the various types of expenses, such as household (rent, utilites), phone, groceries, eating out, etc. Has it revealed any excesses that need to be cut back on?

Regarding the extra financing: I thought that they took the balance that you owed on the credit card as of a certain date and turned it into a fixed term loan -- equal monthly payments over 3 years, which means that each of those payments includes interest.

So lets say you have 12 months to go and pay L.10,000 per month. Are you saying that if you pay it off early, you'll only have to pay, say L.100,000 and not the total of the payments (L.120,000)? If that's so, then, you're right, there's nothing to negotiate. Unless, of course, the bank would negotiate on your principle amount. Some banks do that in the US, too, but probably not here.

For some reason, I didn't receive your comment on this or I would have responded sooner. I was worried that you might be mad at me. I wouldn't blame you, but I'm glad that you aren't!
I say:
Yes I pay my Credomatic cards (2 and a loan) online. The other's I have to go to a branch to pay.  I have seen that most of the money in my budget goes to unexpected stuff, a book, fuel for a trip, presents for birthdays, etc. I try to keep a fund for that but it's hard to fill it faster that it's being used. With the maid we have now, who is very efficient, we don't buy so much takeout food on weekends. I used to buy lunch and dinner for saturday and sunday. Now it's usually only sunday and sometimes only sunday lunch.
The extra financing works just like you say it does, except they don't tell you what to do with the money. It's my decision to put it back as a payment on my card. Extrafinancing is just a fixed term loan, each payment including interest. Maybe I wrote too much or too little information. I have a loan calculator program that tells me how much of the money I pay on a loan is interest and how much is capital.
You are correct in your example, but to help others when she says I would only pay back 100,000 we are assuming that the interests for the rest of the payment plan are 20,000. That's a very rough number and so you don't start wondering if it means they take out the last two payments or something, no, it's not related to the monthly payment, we are just using very broad figures.
Loans or extrafinancing here can be paid back early by paying the capital balance in full. No penalties or additional interests have to be paid. As you state I doubt that they would negotiate the principle amount. I doubt it because when I called they mentioned that i've been paying on schedule every month and so i'm in sort of a good standing about that. Problem is that if i'm on schedule then they won't negotiate, I would have to get behind on my payments, have them send me threathening messages or calls, and then I might be able to negotiate terms or rate. Negotiating on the principal is done with lawyers usually.
And no, I appreciate the comments, sometimes it's tough love, sometimes it's support, etc. I haven't read a single comment that made me feel bad about having written something. Actually I wished I had more time (or be more organized) in order to write my numbers more frequently. I can't change the truth that mine is not the ideal case where everyone in the family rallies behind the goal of being debt free. I haven't read of another person going thru this. all those I read about have a wife or a husband that is supporting them and pitches in with ideas on saving money.
On the other hand I can't say wife or the girls are totally against less spending. They sometimes help and come up with ideas. What I suffer most is that they think that it's a temporary thing, that one saving tip here or there for the month is all it takes. They just haven't change the mentality on a permanent basis. So even though sometimes I feel their help, most of the times I feel alone in my quest.
La Gringa also wrote back when I posted my current numbers on how much I owe. She said:
You've made some pretty good progress on two of them...and not so much on others. Didn't you also pay off a loan to your dad?

I was surprised that the highest balances were the ones you made the most progress on. Are those the ones with extrafinancing and/or lower rates?

So you've paid off about $11,000. An interesting exercise might be to total all of your payments in that 17 months and compare that total to the $11,000. This might also be something to go over with your wife.

I know that you know that paying minimum payments doesn't give you much progress on the balances, but maybe your wife doesn't get it. If she was to get a job, even if only for a couple of years, you could get most of those balances paid off. I just don't know how long you can go on working 12-15 hours a day.

I know you've tried to cut costs in several areas, but it's really going to take something big (like another paycheck) to make an impact. I know that you don't want to live this way for another 5-10 years! I hate to see you living with so much stress.
I say:
Yes I paid off a loan to my dad and some other smaller loans. I wrote only about the active loans. The ones with the highest balances were the ones with extrafinancing too, so once the extrafinancing was paid, I was able to pay more towards the credit card balance.
I appreciate your concerns about me working two jobs for several years. I'm actually more concerned about keeping them. I know the day job is probably safe as long as I perform it well. However the job with the US company is always a toss up for me. I keep wondering when they will stop requiring my services and either hire someone on site full time or decide that someone already on staff should take over. The positive things going for me is that my hourly rate is very low for them and that so for my boss there says i've done a better job than the previous guy who was there on site full time.
About wife and a job. She is frustated about staying at home. She has lowered her job expectations. However she still can't find a job. She even went to an interview for a candy company located in a very bad part of the city, she was afraid to take the car and took a cab and stood outside while they let people in for interviews. No luck with that.  I don't scour all over the place for jobs for her but I'm suscribed to a couple of places and it's always the problem of age vrs experience that makes it difficult for her to have the qualifications required, even for jobs below what she had expected.
Well, that's all I have for now. Holy week is comming and there is another spending concern for me. However this time I think we might have already come to a compromise between me and the family.
Have a nice day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

As of 3/4/2010 Part 1

Ok I finally took the plunge and wrote down on the right side of my blog the amounts I owe as of today on each of my credit cards and the personal loan.
I'm shocked, and confused, and now embarrased but facing my problems.
First of all I know the balances I wrote now are right. I had all the documents to check them. So i'm surprised to see that Citibank and Promerica are so similar as to what they were in October 2008. So I went back to check my Promerica payment plan and it seems I was still having trouble disclosing all that I owed back then.
Now i'm better at it but probably still have to go. So to force myself. I'm going to write down what I had wrote down in 2008 and what my records say that I really owed in 2008.
This is what I had written
As of 10/05/2008
Credit Card One $6651
Credit Card Pro $6000
Credit Card Cr1 $9829
Credit Card Cr2 $1589
Credit Card HS $5485 ($300/mo)
Personal Loan $6458
This is more accurate of october 2008:
Credit Card One $6460 (about $200 less, maybe I was using the previous month's numbers)
Credit Card Pro $8890 ($2890 MORE than what I wrote before. I either just guess it or tried to fool myself and you).
Credit Card Cr1 $9829 (checks out, balance plus extrafinancing)
Credit Card Cr2 $1589 (checks out, just balance)
Credit Card HS $6930(About $1500 higher than post previously and I really don't know why I wrote that number before, it's just strange because it had no basis.)
Personal Loan $6777 (About $300 MORE, maybe I was using the previous month's numbers.
I've corrected the numbers on the right side of the blog, but I left the previous numbers here as a reminder of what I had wrote before. I was going to write about how I felt about each debt and how it had evolved but I had confirm the 2008 numbers first. I see that most of them were about right but the Promerica debt was much much higher and I really don't know why I wrote less. I either used bad numbers to start, bad math when converting to dollars or bad judgement in trying to look like I owed less than I did. Right now I can't remember now I felt back then about disclosing my finances.
I apologize if I have hidden some of the facts of my situation. I've corrected that and I hope from now on to give you the right numbers for all this.
This really hasn't been a good week for me financially yet this disclosure has helped. Thanks to all those who write in with their comments and their tough love for me. I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

July or August, write it down.

I went to pay my HSBC card today. lps 7,1000 . About 5000 went to interest. I hate that and it's all money that I will never see again but I keep telling myself this is just more and more of a reminder to me about not going so deep in debt in the future with nothing to show for.
With HSBC there is no negotiating, they want me to pay their credit card rates or pay the full amount. I can't do the second right now so I'm just paying the minimum until I can hit it with more.
So as I was driving back I was thinking about which cards I will cancel when I can. I have two cards with BacBamer, one with HSBC, one with Promerica, one with Citibank and the latest one with Ficohsa.
The BacBamer ones are the oldest ones and the ones with the most benefit to me, although lately the've become a bit tougher but I can understand given my recent payment history. I would probably keep those in my desk drawer for travel or for medical emergencies.
Ficohsa card is one i'm using for business transactions and it has an extrafinancing on it that is basically paying itself from the selling of Honduran goods to relatives in the US. So I would probably keep that in the short term but would let it go or keep paying the full balance when I get down to 0.
HSBC is going to go. I don't want to have to deal with them ever again. They aren't bad, they just don't care about me as a customer. Even a replacement card took two months and I just took it to cash my points with them.
Promerica and Citibank are the cards on arranged payment schedule. Meaning that i've talked with them and told them that I want a payment plan and then I would want to turn in the cards.
Promerica was very quick with that and I don't even get a CC statement, it's totally turned into a loan now. However the last time I was trying to see if I could extend my payment term to them they pulled a different number than I had, about 4000lps higher. I think I will come into their office with my receipts and settle the number before it's too late. This card will go too. They've been nice with customer service and everything but for some gut reason I hate them. It must be the 8000lps I have to come up with every month to pay because they gave only 36 months to pay back instead of 48 like Citibank.
Citibank cut me the same deal, however they keep sending me CC statement and actually turn my payment plan into an extrafinancing. So they seem to want to keep me as a customer. However that was probably back when it was Banco Uno. Lately I've seen them become more like HSBC. They want their money and little room for negotiation, period. I can understand that but I don't like it so they are going to go too.
So the reason for the title is that I was checking my balance on my company coop loan and the expected balances on my "loans" from Promerica and Citibank. It seems that on either July or August I can request a new loan for about 120,000lps, which wouldn't affect the take home pay amount I have right now (previous loan was 118,000). WIth that money I could pay the balance on the previous coop loan, which is a requirement, and I would have almost the exact amount to pay either Citibank or Promerica, for some reason they will both have balances of about 75 to 80k lps at about that time.
Going the completely opposite way of how I was going about two posts ago. I'm thinking I want to pay Promerica. even if they say I owe them a couple thousand lempiras more in late fees or so, I could still pull that from my emergency fund and be done with them. That would free up 8,000lps a month to:
1- Get back on schedule with Citibank (currently one month behind every month), this would take about a month and a half
2- Pay more towards HSBC and get rid of them ASAP.
3- Save more in my emergency fund and freedom accounts
I could pay Citibank back instead of being tied to them for another two years but that would only lower my outgoing cash flow by 5,000.00 , and i'm always a bit concerned as to how long I will be able to keep the morning job. Not that I'm bad at it, but since i'm on contract it would be easy for them to let me go.
I sure appreciate your comments and they definitely don't fall on deaf ears.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bad Good news and I need help with a decision

Your prayers were answered.
Remember that credit card that I was offered that gave me 10% discount on fuel and restaurants? Most of your comments were against me having taking it and were warning me to pay it in full every month.
Well worry no more! I was turned down by the credit card company, wohoo!!! Really i'm happy about this. I called customer service today because I hadn't heard from that card anymore. They told me my application was rejected. I wasn't even sad, well a little but mostly I was relieved of the temptation of having it.
So I request to be transfered to the collections department. I recently made payment #19 out of 36, meaning that I had paid more than half of the debt. It was originally 181,685.27 and according to the payment schedule I owe them now 107,673.92. As with most leveled payment types of repayment the first part of the schedule is very interest heavy so most of the payment goes down to pay just interest. It's my "punishment" for having gotten into the situation i'm trying to get out of.
Anyway, I asked the collections guy if I could refinance my payment schedule to increase the term. He checked and said that he dealt with people that were behind in their payments and I wasn't showing up on his screen, so I was probably on schedule. However he had me wait on the phone and went to talk to the ones that deal with people on schedule that want to reorganize their debt, I figure not too many. He came back a few minutes later and told me that I could in fact do that since I was more than halfway done with my current payment plan. I could probably add another 12 months to it, I just had to go to the same office when I went to do the first payment schedule and request the extension. He said I would probably need to make another payment of the current schedule as a down payment on the new one.
So, my question to you is? should I try to keep paying with my current payment schedule which is a monthly payment of L 8,020.00 (about $400) or should I try to reduce it by extending the term, thus being in debt for a longer period but improving my monthly cash flow ?
In my current state I still have 17 payments to go at L 8,020.00 to go from 107,673.93 to zero with a interest rate of 33%
If I were to refinance and if the interest rate were to stay the same I would have 28 payments to go (17 of the current plan minus one taken as down payment on the new one plus 12 months on the new one) at 33% to pay about 100,000.00. WIth my loan calculator this comes one to a monthly payment of L. 5,404.01
Honestly I have thought about this and have considered toughing it out until I really couldn't pay anymore at the current values. Mostly because right now i'm on the side of the payment that would put more money towards capital than to interest and would end this debt it about a year and a half. While if I refinance I would obviously pay more interest because I would keep paying for another two years and a half, almost back to where I started although at a lower debt amount.
The reasons i'm considering a refinance now are the hope of a lower interst rate, less pressure on me to work enough hours each month to make the payments, and more opportunities to save money now that i've learned to do that.
Right now i'm usually able to cover this payment at the current value, although sometimes it's straining because I don't have enough money in my emergency funds to comfortably cover one of those payments if my paychecks are late.
I did learn one thing, they do refinance payment schedule for people that are behind on their payment, so I could wait until I'm really behind and request a refinance until then, hopefully it won't get to that but that's one ace up my sleeve if it's still available in the future.
On other news, my Citibank card (also on a repayment plan) charged me the yearly membership of their credit card, about $70. I tried as last year to have them reverse that but this time I got a negative. They said I should pay up the full amount I owe them and then they could reverse the charges. Sure I can come up with Lps 90,047.00 by the end of this month (no not really, unless I did something very drastic!!). So with them I plan to reach a good point on my coop loan when I can take some 100,000.00 lps out and just blast my Citibank debt and close that account. They have nothing i'm interested in and they have been very tricky ever since I remember.
My HSBC debt would've been the one I would've prefered to pay first because it's at a higher interest rate but I have to take one or the other. It is one of my goals for this year to be able to pay one of those high debts. I think that would really make a different in my snowball repayment plan.
I hope to hear what you have to say about this.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pay Raise and Bonus (or is it?)

Wednesday noon I got my salary transfered to my bank account. It was strange because it was only the 24th but then I remember that this month has only 28 days.
Later in the day we got called into my boss's office. He went on to explain that we would get a salary "adjustment" to match inflation. We'll, that's usually what we get every year so no news there.
But wait! there's more. We are also going to get a Bonus pay on July, not the one required by law but something extra that is called a vacation bonus. For a normal employee it would mean that when they go on vacation they would also get a bonus payment to probably pay for whatever they are going to do while on vacation.
In my case it doesn't apply because I can't take a lot vacation time. My boss knows this and yet he complains to me that I have too much vacation time pending, I have almost 50 days of vacation time. I requested 2 weeks and then I wanted to change it to 3 weeks and he said no. Only two weeks because X person was comming over , or Z proyect needs my supervision and that later in the year I could take another two weeks. and so on. Great, in the meantime i'm accumulating another 20 days of vacation time so next year we'll be in the same spot.
Anyway. The bonus. So we are told it's 50% of our normal monthly pay. Great news right? Wrong. It's just a juggling act with the numbers. Our pay "adjustment" was already budgeted for this year for some time already. But we had complained that our sister company that doesn't actually provide any services or generates anything close to the level of income that we do, have that bonus payment.
Our boss had told us that he had been told they didn't have that benefit, but one of their employees came down one day and talking about something else we came to that subject and she disclosed in full how they get that bonus. So that was a little help for us.
Our boss had been juggling with the idea of giving us a pay adjustment or a bonus but not both. So the day before the big annoucement he had me come into the office to help him with some math and I figured out what he was going to do. I think he let me know because i'm the #2 in the company but still i'm not the one calling the shots so it felt awkward to know how the trick was pulled.
He was going to take the bonus from the already budgeted raise and have our pay adjustment be the difference. So if someone was going to get a 7% increase in their pay, now they would get only a 4% increase and the 3% (times 14, the number of montly payments we get each year) would be the "bonus" for July.
So from an administrative point I think it was a cool idea to keep the budget from increasing. And my coworkers were happy to get the adjustment AND the bonus. But for me who knew how the trick was pulled it was a bit of a letdown.
I guess the good side of this is that it's a forced saving for me, and so when I get that bonus I will be more interested in spending it wisely (probably paying bills or school for my girls).
I guess like they say, I shouldn't have watched how that sausage was made.
I think we already got the raise but i'm not exacting sure how much take-home pay I will get. I'm planning on request most of that raise be automatically sent to my emergency fund.
I already increased the savings to that account to 2000lps each quincena and i'm saving 600lps on the freedom account too. I managed to do that by taking the amount that we got deducted in january and may for municipal taxes and divert it to those accounts.
I'm totally surprised at how one can manage to live on the amount of money we get to take home. I remember when I started saving 200lps on my emergency fund and now i'm saving ten times that amount and still make it to every payday. Or well almost, sometimes I do dip into it but it's still growing.
I gotta write another post about how i'm doing with paying debt. This is already long enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feeling down

I was recently changed the schedule of my anti-anxiety meds in the process of trying to wean me out of them. Unfortunately the adjustment phase means I have some periods where I do experience anxiety, usually mornings and early evening as it's about when the effect is wearing out.
That plus the actual problems of every day life and of trying to get out of debt with a family that is 50% behind me makes it more difficult than usual to get thru the day without feeling sorry for myself and just plaining cry out of despair.
The only good thing I guess is that I know it's my brains abnormal reaction to events that otherwise I wouldn't really let them get to me. I feel the morning chill down my spine and the urge to just sit there and let time go by when I know I have a ton of stuff to do, the urge to to repeat a motion like stroking an arm or hair just because it's a natural stress releiver. All the signs of the onset of an anxiety attack. Fortunately it never materilizes either because I take my med in the following minutes or because by recognizing it I make it go away.
In any case I just felt like pointing out because I imagine that some people might not just be fighting with debt but also fighting with the feelings that come from debt. The exhaustion of thinking about saving on everything all the time. The guilt when splurging on something or paying more than expected. etc.
And it's the crappy little things of every day like a car that runs rough, heavy traffic in a place that usually has none. More user support requests than usual. Hard to solve problems from bosses, calls for help when trying to get some peaceful time, etc. It's easy to let it pile on if one is not aware tha it's a mental issue.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed by things around, it might be time to get some mental help. I know I could have all of this feelings go away by increasing my med dose, but then I wouldn't be moving forward in trying to stop taking it. I could also wait until I don't have debt or problems and stop my medication then, but I do have a plan to get rid of my debt, however problems will always be there, it's part of my job and part of life.
Darn, I have to finish this software deploy, answer phones and print reports. See you later.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Double payday!

In my last post I was writing that my morning job payments were comming in a little delayed. Well, my payment from Jan 1 to Jan 15 was VERY delayed. It arrived today, 15 days after I sent the invoice.
However it seems they also included payment for the invoice I sent YESTERDAY. I still have to add both invoices and figure it out but from the amount I got It does seem like that's what they did.
Now comes my dilema. Should I keep asking them about my payment each time or should I accept their "forced monthly" payment scheduled? I hate asking for my payment. It's not like they ask me for my work over and over. But my debt re-payment schedule is set to work with two payments per month from them and changing it would surely make it complicated for me since I would get behind payment on some of those debts.
Now I have to go off and make payments. It's not as fun as going shopping but getting that payment number crossed from the payment plan sure feels good.
Have a GREAT day!

Playing with Fire

Well today I got a call from Promerica. It's the bank with which I arranged to turn in my credit card and start a debt repayment schedule. I'm about halfway with them of the 36 months's term.
I thought it would be one of those calls reminding me that I was a few days behind my payment. I've been getting my morning job payments a bit late and so I get called on it and even threatened to be taken to legal department if I miss two payments. I really don't want to but sometimes the money is not there when it's due. Lately i've been mostly on time in keeping only 30 days late.
My surprise was even bigger when I hear someone talking to me in a happy voice from the "credits" deparment instead of the "collections" department. That was strange.
Right away they told me that due to my "good customer record with them"...I almost laughed out loud but I managed to keep it a a grin...they were offering me a credit card that would give me 5% back on fuel purchases and 10% back on restaurant purchases.
My first instinct as has been with the previous 5 or 10 calls from other companies offering me credit cards, insurance, lines of credit, etc was to say no.  However I thought about it and considered that lately i've been able to carry one or two credit cards in my wallet and actually NOT use them even when I was very short on money.
Here the two sides of my mind started playing with me. One side says "just say no, stay the course". The other side says "you spend at least 4000lps on fuel alone each month, that's 200lps back each month"..then it added "On weekends you spend between 200 and 800lps, you could get back 20 to 80 lps back".
So after asking about interest rates and other fees, of which I was told there are none, I told them to go ahead and mail the card to me.
I'm going to play it slow and request it to have a credit limit of $500 even if they give me $5500 like on the one i'm paying back now. I'm going to use an actual can I have here and put the gas money there or go to their office to deposit the money after every couple of purchases. If I find myself not paying the full amount I will stop using it and put it on my office drawer until I get the balance back to zero.
I know I'm playing with fire but I think i'm taking enough steps to make sure I don't get third degree burns today, maybe I might get something like a sunburn but I hope that it will actually help me save.
Let me hear what you think.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 goals and challenges part 2

I just got my first pay for this year on my day job and I want to let you know that I increased my savings to my emergency fund by 200lps monthly (100lps quincenal). Since i'm having problem building my freedom account I have increased my contribution to the company coop by 400 lps (200lps quincenal).
In the back of my mind I know that january meant something different paywise. I wasn't sure if it meant more or less. Actually it's less. I have to pay 850lps quincenal , deducted actually, in municipality taxes for 2 months. So that will be a punch to my finances.
I guess the good news is that I have a gig finishing up and I will be able to pick up some extra money. I'm not sure if I should use that money to pay debt, pay stuff in advance or save in my emergency fund or my freedom account. I think I will probably sprinkle it around.
Also I got a call today from relatives in the US and they are interested in restarting the selling of nostalgic honduran products in the US. for example cigarrettes, over the counter medications, snacks..etc. So I have that line of income that might start. If anyone has ideas on how to to better do this I would appreciate your comments. I'm not talking of big containers, i'm talking about small packages of 1 to 10 pounds each, shipped possibly by regular mail since it would be the cheapest. I think I could involve my wife in this since she is out of a job and have her make some income on her huge lumps of spare time and maybe make herself feel useful and rise her self esteem.
If any of you know of "honduran" or "catracho" stores in your city in the US or anywhere in the world please let them know that I could ship them honduran products or help their customers (Hondurans living there) contact their relatives here thru alternative means to phone calls. Leave comments about this too if you want to help me.
I can say that 2010 feels to me like a year of opportunity for me to pay more debt and get closer to my goals of being debt free. I owe so much money, but I think it will owe a lot less.
The one thing I continue having a problem with is actually writing down the debt numbers here in this blog. I have most of those numbers either in paper on thru my online banking. But putting them here for the same period is a bit complicated since some debts have different cut dates. However I will make an effort to put an update should be for own good too!
See you soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 new goals and challenges , part 1

I wish I could sit down and write all I want in one post. But for some reason time for this is hard to make. December is very busy time and this past week i've mostly been catching up in both jobs and the extra gig I have with the cellphone repair shop.
I have goals for 2010. Big goals as in paying down one big credit card debt, and little goals as in saving my spare change instead of losing it. I need to find something to put it in.
I have challenges in 2010 too. Like an impending devaluation of our currency that will probably increase living costs. My boss of my morning job hinted that he was a little bit concerned about my health since I was putting almost 40 hours per week for that job when he knows I have another full time job, plus he reminded me that they had budgeted me at 20 hours per week. So I'm trying to cut back my hours to 30 per week to keep him and me happy, but it does affect my payment plans.
The immediate problems I neeed to tackle is to lower my cellphone bills again because the card with the lowest balance is the one that has autopayment of my cellphones on it. So if I don't pay it in full it increases my balance on that card. I had taken out a cellphone for my daughter but after her mismagement of it by too much text and too much buying codes on it she and I agree it would be better for her to use her prepaid phone and that would help me and help her.
Next I need to get wife to control her phone usage. I think her bill will naturally go down from $65 to $50 because about $15 was spent on partipating on christmas raffles during december (sending $1 text messages to raffles for cars, trunks and other prizes). I too am guilty of that and I too hopefully will see my bill lowered.
My wife text's very little but she talks a lot. I've purchased her the $7 free nights and weekends promotion and the $5 "call 3 numbers for free" promotion too. So her base bill is $12. The rest of the bill is mostly calling. I think she forgets or plainly doesn't care that both promotions limit calls to 10 minutes. After that you should hangup and call again. I explain that to her and she gets upset at me, but when I hear her talk I don't hear her hanging up and calling again.
So another big 2010 challenge will be to try to get my debts paid when my family is only helping me 50%. My oldest daughter is with me about 70%, youngest is about 40% with me in practice but I attribute that to her young age. My wife however swings wildly, sometimes helping me save and sometimes asking me for trips and expenses that I haven't budgeted for. They are always emergencies and if I don't give her the money then I'm some inconsiderate husband that earns a ton of money and is treating her like crap. Yeah she says that.
I do look forward to a pay raise on my day job hopefully in about 20 days. Also we will now get a vacation bonus which will be a percentage of our monthly salary to be given to us on the month that we joined the company. For me it's september so that's still a long time to go.
I plan to save more, specially automatic savings. I'm having trouble funding my freedom account because asking the company to send money to a 3rd account is a bit embarrasing to me as I know my boss and the secretary would start asking questions. So i will increase my contributions to the company's cooperativa. Even though i'm the treasurer on it, I hadn't realize that it pays better rates that a bank's saving account!
I hope to elaborate some more this week. For now I have to get back to fix some bugs on that cellphone repair shop program.
Have a good 2010!