Category Archives: Small Victories

Small Victories: Mortgage Shenanigans

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Today I paid my mortgage payment with the start of my new mortgage payment book.  Yes, I know I can do it online.  I get a certain charge out of ripping the payment out of a book and mailing it in.  Anyway, I noticed that my payment was now about $20 cheaper per month than last year.  I think this is the result of two things, and I think it’s a small money victory!

First, my escrow was set too high.  I got a small check back for that last month.  Second, I always pay a tad bit extra on the mortgage payment.  Now, it’s only a tiny bit at this point because I cannot afford to do more, what with my other bills and savings goals.  But it’s something.  And between the two things, I suddenly find myself with an extra $20 in the mortgage to put towards it.  Whoo hoo!

I passed on a program to have my mortgage put into bimonthly payments, even though that meant it shaved about 5 years off the mortgage.  I discovered that I could essentially do the same thing by paying an extra mortgage payment each year and avoid the “one time” fee they charge to get it set up and the “small” monthly fee to debit it out of my account automatically.  When other debt is gone, I can easily ramp up this payment and meet my goal eventually of paying off the mortgage for my 50th birthday.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my small victory where money just “happened” and continue to try to apply that measly $20 toward the mortgage instead of trusting myself to move it into some other account for debt.  For one thing, I’m used to the payment.  It’s a good payment, much cheaper than my first one (even more with an extra $20 thrown on top of it lol).  For another, I’m not sure I’d remember to add an extra $20 every four weeks or so.  I’m kind of money-daft.  Better for me to let the money compound on the payment, even if it’s a little bit at a time.

But hey, even if that $20 is like throwing a little snowball in the face of debt, it’s one extra snowball I have to lob!  I’ll drink my cup of tea to that!

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All or Nothing? A Compromise

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I find myself getting locked into unholy combat with the dilemma over saving money or saving time.  As I read many of my favorite PF blogs, they seem to struggle with the same issue from time to time.  I tend to drive myself nuts with it, and it is because of my all or nothing outlook toward saving in some category or other.  This ultimately stresses me out, doesn’t work or save money.  Sometimes, as I just discovered, a compromise is just as good.  At least for people like me.

I don’t have a lot of wiggle room in my budget, but even a glamorous little shoestring budget like mine has SOME places it can be, nay MUST be, cut back.

Case in point:  parking fees.   Parking costs vary for me, but they average around $135 a month.  Just to park in the garage for work five times a week.  I’ve often come down very hard on myself for not riding the bus to and from work.  Not only would it save gas, but with my I.D. it’s FREE to me.  That’s right, f-r-e-e-e-e-e.  So every week that I chose not to take the bus, I’d get busy being mean to myself over it.  I’m not that bad with a budget; but I’m not nearly as frugal as some people on the internet seem to be.  I don’t wear all black clothing and then dye it when it starts to fade just so I have a few extra bucks.  I don’t brown bag constantly or eat rice and beans constantly.  So sometimes I feel like I have no right to bitch about saving money or needing it.  After all, I’m not doing EVERYTHING I possibly could to save a dime.

The trouble is, will power is a finite resource.  You do not have an endless supply of it to draw down on whenever you want.  This is why so many people’s New Year’s resolutions don’t even make it to the end of the month.  If you pick one thing, you’re drawing down on that supply.  Pick three more things, and you won’t find you have the energy for everything.  You have less to work with, so less determination can be spared to get the job done.  I’m a single mama, I work full time and I have a house to run and a teenage boy to understand and guide.  Oh, and savings goals.  Nothing ever gets done 100% perfectly all the time.  Most times it’s a compromise:  80% work efficiency, housework has dropped to 40% lol, teenager took 115% this week…etc.  And so my compromise might be an extra cup of coffee at work or a sandwich out for lunch.  I just can’t do it all.

Further, I don’t *want* to do it all.  I get tired or demoralized sometimes and I need a pick-me-up.  Or it’s just too much effort.  This is not a big city, so the bus routes are on fixed times.  They don’t go everywhere I need, and it costs me an extra hour minimum to take the bus to and from my house, just in waiting on it, routes taken, etc.  If I have an extra errand to run, switching buses to get it done sometimes means I’d wait quite a while to get back home.  So, I just took the car and bitched about the cost to park in the garage.  Then, I had a minor brainwave.  If the parking garage offered student passes, maybe they offered us working stiffs a pass as well.  Turns out, they sure do!

So, $45 a month later, I’m the proud owner of a new parking pass.  Am I saving $135 a month?  No.  But I am saving $90 a month.  And my time is not constricted by the available bus services.  Sure, I still want that extra $45.  But that is apparently the value of my driving time per month.  There is also the added sweetness of just waving a card in front of a scanner instead of digging for change and misplacing garage tickets, which I like quite a bit.

I can settle for that.  Now I just have to remember to move that same amount of money straight to savings instead of spending it on something stupid!

More Small Victories…and Griping

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Well, in a flurry of paying for taxes, buying the boy new track shoes (a bargain, but still!!), getting the car re-inspected and roadworthy after discovering the sticker was three months expired (!!), making an installment payment on the boy’s trip to the hospital back in August when he face-planted on the basement floor, etc….. I’m very thankful for my new little deep freezer!!  Because I set aside money to purchase it and then rode in like a general on the Shop and Slave, I stocked my little freezer to the point where I don’t have to worry too desperately about groceries for the coming week.

Which is good, because there isn’t that much damn money to go around this pay period.  When budgets are low, what gets cut first?  In my case and for many others like me, it’s FOOD.  It’s one of the few places I can control spending.  I have no control over the mortgage payment once I’ve worked hard to let my credit establish my payment for the next 30 years.  But I can control whether we eat ramen or steak.  Seems a shame somehow that food would be the place where the hard decisions are made.

In other small victories, I got a refund back from the advanced dentist who took out my wisdom teeth.  He did a superior job and my experience was nothing like the horror stories I had been told.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my mail last week and saw a check for slightly over $100 as a refund for that procedure.  Whoo-hoo, straight to savings!  Seems I’d overpaid.  Thing is…I overpaid in May, 2010.

So yeah, the office has just now issued me a refund nearly two years later.  This is infuriating on some level.  I recognize how lucky I am to even have insurance in the first place, so I’m tempering my irritation with that knowledge.  But come on, people.  That amount of money puts groceries in my house for a good week.  A lot of groceries!  It pays my gas bill!  Why in the flying feck does it take an office or an insurance company nearly two years to figure out they’ve overcharged me?!  Would they accept the same behavior from me by not allowing me to pay them $100 I owed for two years?  I think not.

Gah!   **Walks away muttering “small victories” under her breath…