Since I was in a rotten mood anyway, I decided to assess my finances again. The last time I did bills, I got so depressed, that I haven't paid them for a month, and some of them got rather late. Even with the raise, things are still pretty bad, but thankfully they are currently "post trauma" as opposed to "current fiasco." Last month was bad, mostly due to car taxes. But it marked the first month since March that none of my bills have remained unpaid, praying that I'll have the money next month.
There's an old stereotype about married couples and their bills. When I took over the bills in 1996, I had kind of hoped Christine was spending them on foolish crap because that would have been easy to solve. But she wasn't. A majority of the problems were spending money with no plan, something I started right away, and I still have a spreadsheet that summarizes where all our money went starting from 1998. To this day, Christine still does not spend money on foolish crap. I say this because I know couples who spend money on foolish crap all the time, and when one gets mad about it, they spend MORE on THEIR crap out of spite. Sometimes, I want to dope-slap people who whine about how poor they are, but they just shelled out $379 for the latest video card. Or got a new car. Or have more than 5 credit cards, most maxxed out.
I have four major credit cards, and a few store-brand ones. The major credit cards are American Express, two Visas, and a Mastercard. The Amex I have mainly for the benefits. The low interest rate on our PPH Mortgage alone was worth the $55/year I pay for the card, plus we get discounts and so on. It usually only has a $7.99/mo charge on it for a Credit Reporting service they offer (and it's worth it). One Visa has a low limit for online purchasing, and the other is an "emergency card," which, sadly, is maxxed out because of all the emergencies this year. The Mastercard is our main card which we use for all our normal spending. We do this for the low interest and airline miles. We've had the card for 4 years, and have enough miles to send two people round trip first class to anywhere in the world the airline goes. It's not supposed to have a balance; it's supposed to be paid off every month, but that hasn't happened since people started dying off in Spring.
None of our store cards have balances. I have the Sears one for emergencies like major appliance breakdowns, and the one for the Room Store... well, it came free when we got our living room set. The interest on it is horrible (26.99%), and the only thing I thought I needed it for was a new bed, but the bed frames they had were crap. In fact, the Room Store is only slightly better than Marlo's, which is like Ikea as far as quality, only without the good looks. Today, Christine found a unique deal on eBay where a guy makes bed frames from old railroad ties. So soon, providing his eBay rating is not false (doubtful), we'll have a bed frame again. Stronger than the last, and only $78/incl shipping.
Still, if nothing bad happens, we might be out of debt (except for the house) by mid 2005. There's a chance this might happen even sooner, because last year, we got a lot of taxes back. If that happens again, it might be as early as Spring. One good thing is that for the next few months, providing the weather doesn't suddenly drop to freezing, our electricity bill might come down a few hundred bucks as we stop using the AC, and before we rely on our gas heat (remember when gas was a cheaper alternative?). That's why I am hoping for a mild winter.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000640.html