Sunday, May 24, 2009

If I'm not around much

If I'm not around much posting its because life has taken a turn and it requires my attention.

My mother is having health issues, last night it required me to call her an ambulance and rush over there.

My daughter is at the end of the school year and just began softball season with our community as well. So it has us pretty busy. Every night last week and every night this week she has someplace she has to be. Being mom, I am the taxi driver. All of this and still there is homework, and practicing her instrument and softball.

With all of that said I'm going to at least try to get one or two posts up a week until things calm down. I'm not going anywhere I need this for me and to stay on track.

Any ideas for frugal and quick dinner ideas are welcomed, also ideas for things for the car that we can make and run with would be great.

Sorry I will be scarce hopefully things ease up a bit and I can come back here and post a lot more and participate much more too very soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WWYD Wednesday: Buyouts

Around here many face taking a buyout or face possible layoff, as a matter of fact many have already chosen one over the other.

I have many friends who have made one decision over the other. Some have had success with leaving the state after taking a buyout, those that have stayed have not fared well. Others have stayed only to be laid off later without the option of the buyout but have unemployment. Some have opted not to take a buyout and have done well doing so but may still be in danger now.

I work at the airport and I am seeing many taking buyouts from Delta and Northwest and some who are staying as well. My company is contracted and I do not have that option but we face possible layoff as our contract is up for bid now.

I read an article at on this very subject. Many families are facing the decision on what to do.

WWYD if you were faced with the possible fate of the Auto workers here?

If you took a buyout how would you plan so that you don't fall to the fate that others have?

If you would ride it out what would you do to protect yourself financially?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It Pays to Review Your Bills

In the past reviewing a bill was never something I did, I either paid it or couldn't and that was how it worked out.

I've been getting better at it but not 100%. Today I opened my cell phone bill and to my surprise it was almost $415. I know shocker huh? I thought I know I spoke to my best friend in Canada a couple of times OMG what did I do? I decided to review my bill. I had thought I had it caught up so I didn't understand. It turns out that last month some how it their system says I cancelled my account and started a new one and they charged me lots of fees for that including new deposit fees. In their system it says it was cancelled at my request. Ummm no it wasn't.

I called my cell provider and talked to them all of 10 minuets at most before they decided to fix it all. They are not sure what happened and neither am I but my bill is MUCH lower now (thankfully). I also made an arrangement to pay it late it is due now but I had those pesky unexpected expenses. There will be a late fee but that is less than $5 I can handle that and I am working to have that emergency account funded so one day those things don't come out of my bill money.

This is a huge lesson though, I wonder how often these types of things have happened that have gone unnoticed by me. I will be checking every bill from here on out to see what is going on with it and if my charges and balance is correct. I need to set up a system to compare the charges (a filing system).

So review your bills (I'm sure most of you do this because most of you are PF bloggers to begin with), we can all learn from each other here.

I'm going to get off of here, still thinking on what to post for WWYD Wednesday. I had my dental work done today and they couldn't get me numb all the way so it wasn't all that pleasant that is for sure. What was supposed to be 1 1/2 hour procedure turned into 3 1/2 hours and I had a difficult tooth to deal with there was a lot more in there than the x-rays showed. I slept for a bit but I do have to go back to work tomorrow, wish me luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mad dash for cash.

Since the economy started taking a nose dive I've noticed more and more incentive for using cash. Or rather businesses want your cash not your debit card not your credit card, this is because it cost them to run those darn things plus cash in hand especially for a small business just makes sense.

I first noticed this happening at the gas stations, one by one they all jumped on board the other day it was $2.31 for cash and $2.37 for pay at the pump service. I suspect other businesses have other incentives for doing this too (other than it cost money to run those cards through), see if you pay at the pump you don't go inside and buy that coffee or bag of chips they (the gas station) loses out. If you pay cash you must go inside and that increases your chances of a purchase (either planned or impulse). The gas station is one of the few places I'd rather not pay cash but I think I'm going to start doing so. See I'm kind of lazy and in a hurry when I get gas, going in and giving them a $50 bill then pumping and going back to get my change is really just a pain when I'm most likely on my way somewhere.

I read an article at The Wall Street Journal, Paying with Cash Could Soon Payoff it talked about something I wasn't aware of: There are restrictions imposed that make it difficult for some retailers to let the consumer know the fees paid to the credit card companies for credit/debit transactions. This results in cash paying customers paying higher prices so that other customers may use credit cards. The article goes on to state; "Retailers generally pay credit-card companies 1.5% to 2% of the purchase price -- more for credit cards that offer rewards or other benefits. Debit cards generally cost retailers up to 1%."

Now at first I wasn't all that miffed, until I got to the above comment. Why you ask? Well, I don't carry a credit card and I don't make purchases with one either. I do use my debit card though but only so I don't have to carry the cash, I get nothing in return for doing so and if I process as a debit (using my PIN) instead of a credit card purchase (signing for the purchase) I get a fee by my bank. Anyway, back to why I got upset this portion of the quote in the above paragraph "more for credit cards that offer rewards or other benefits." Am I really paying for the rewards someone else gets for using their credit card? Whoa boy! Nothing like getting my blood going now. Personally, I don't want to pay for that.

These are things I never thought about before, in fact I would have never read about before.

Is this a sign of things to come? I wonder, if more knowledge about this will put us back into a mostly cash only society. Where things weren't purchased on credit and debit cards were not even in existence. Certainly if you are getting rewarded for using cash (a retail discount) then unless your card is giving you a better benefit most people are going to use cash right? My mind starts going in a million directions really when I start thinking of things like this. For instance it just popped into my mind that if we go from mostly an electronic transaction society to a cash society then perhaps some of the swipe, sign and its mine troubles people get in might decline. Hmmmm... thoughts to ponder that is for sure.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More money OUT the door!

I really should take stock up in Dentistry, if they had such a thing. Maybe some company that makes Dental items such as the parts to make a filing or other some such thing.

I've been in pain, excruciating pain. I have to admit I'm a big ole baby when it comes to tooth pain. I just am. I have wretched teeth, they are soft and they don't like me I think, I'm sure the dentist pocket book love me though and his wife of course!

I've been going to his office since I was a wee child. I trust him completely and he works with me. In fact he is working with me and giving me some of the procedure for FREE!!! He also saw me at no charge when I was in pain! He really does care about his patients and his main concern is that they get the treatment he needs.

Here is the kicker he is doing his portion at no charge but the main portion I have to see a specialist. The specialist comes into his office twice a week he is an endodontist that will be doing the main portions to the tune of $920 YIKES!! Thankfully I have enough on my insurance still that my portion is only $184 (whew!!!).

It is important I get this done now, the cap is waiting until January when my insurance kicks in again because after this (and some other work I had done this year) I will have used all but $88 of my insurance for the year. He thinks there might be some infection in there and I am in pain that won't go away with just some antibiotics (although I AM on them). I also have a heart condition that makes it dangerous for me to have a dental infection that will keep coming back. So it isn't an option to wait you see.

The remainder of the balance (the $184) will go on my flex spending (whew again!!).

The root canal due to the tooth it is on and the difficulty of what is there will have to be an outpatient surgery. I don't have to go completely under though and that is a good thing. I am a bit scared.

I now have to figure in the cap and what insurance pays (only about half my half will be about $450) into my flex spending for next year. I like to look at my flex spending as a sort of emergency fund because that is what it is there for, yet in a way you have to be careful not to put too much money into it. I'll have to do up a post all about flex spending in case there are some out there that don't know all the ins and outs of these accounts.

Now the other option is I could have the tooth pulled, however pulling teeth sometimes leads to bone depletion in the jaw. Since I am still young I'd like to avoid that if I can. The best option is to have the root canal even though it does cost quite a bit more. Even if I did have it pulled because of the nerves that have to be removed along with it and the location and difficulty of the tooth I'd still have to see the specialist.

Too bad the tooth fairy doesn't visit me anymore huh?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WWYD Wedensday: Retirement Investments vs. Debt

In light of most people who had significant investments for retirement losing a good portion of them this year, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss this week.

I read a short article at Comcast Finance about borrowing from your 401k or 403b to pay off debt. I once did this since it was considered a hardship and I lost the job where I was contributing to it I didn't have to pay it back. However it didn't come without steep tax penalties and I only took about something to the tune of $1200 at the time.

Currently, I have no retirement investments (yes, I know I need to). So it really isn't an option for me but it is for many out there who may have enough left after losing portions of it during the credit crisis etc...

But should you? Should you borrow against your retirement to pay off debt? Should you borrow from your future to save the present?

Personally, I say no, at least not in most situations.

What do you think? Would you borrow from your retirement if you were in hot water financially? How much is too much borrowing if you would use retirement to do so? What would be the circumstances you would borrow from retirement?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Even when you change your past will still haunt you for some time.

So I shouldn't have posted in more than one place that I haven't overdrawn my account since starting to make healthier financial decisions because I did it in two separate accounts now. Well the first one is my fault the second one is sort of but sort of not too.

The first one I overdrew because I accidentally used the wrong card. I have since wrote on the back the 'name' of the account so I don't do that again. I have two checking accounts at one bank and one is for bills the other is for 'spending' right now it is for groceries, entertainment, gas for the car....

So I used the bill one and there was not enough money in there, they took from my savings to cover it but there wasn't enough money there either so I over drafted plus there is a $10 fee if the bank transfers your money and an overdraft fee as well as a daily fee for the overdraft UGH!!

So far $133 overdrawn YIKES!! Just in that account. I need to sit down and talk to them and see what can be waived, I'm going to explain the situation and hope that I get someone nice to help me out a bit. I'm also going to point out that when you get your card(s) in the mail it doesn't include even the name of the account (primary, secondary, student, free checking... nothing) so it is a bit confusing. It can't hurt to ask and try.

The next one is I must have had my checks somewhere in my old checking account, where I'm still getting my direct deposit, and then distributing the money myself until I know I have what is needed where figured out to a science, because someone stole two checks. Now that account is overdrawn, I'm still waiting on the copy of the check so I can make a dispute and a police report. In the mean time my account is overdrawn and I have no money. For the first time in ages I had to borrow some money from my mom (which makes me feel like total crap) for gas in my car. She had $20. If push comes to shove I may have to figure out a way to work on Thursday as I'm not sure I have enough gas.

I will be closing this bank account because they are being total jerks. For instance there is a $28 fee to stop payment on any checks. If you do an investigation and see my checks were indeed stolen I think it would be good customer service to waive this fee but not so. I will give them another chance to waive this fee but I find it absurd to pay and I have spoken to other bank employees for other banks and they all say their banks would waive that fee in this case.

There are other consequences here as well... I have major tooth pain and a slight fever, which likely means infection. I have no cash to go to the dentist. I'm not borrowing the money for that, I do get paid Friday after all. My flex spending is frozen right now because they are disputing something or another that has me quite confused. I can submit a bill I've paid but not use my flex spending card (I get a debit type card so it can come right out of there right away and I don't have to wait for reimbursement).

See I have no money because I got paid on Friday and by Friday evening this is what happened I hadn't had a chance to transfer any of the money. I have stopped my direct deposit for now, I'll just have to cash my check the old fashioned way. I also saw I had other overdraft/bounced fees in the account from a few days before when the check tried to clear the first time. So they've tried this check twice now. I looked in my check book and sure enough the check trying to clear and the next check are missing. I had mandatory inspection and repairs recently by the city (not my complex) that I wasn't home for not sure if it could have happened then or what. There is no one really in my home but my checkbook has been coming to work with me the past 2 weeks since I needed the routing number and it has been in my work bag so I guess there is a slight possibility there too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Looking for suggestions?

I would like to use the name Fiscal Fussbudget around the net and not just in blog land.

I have realized though it is usually 1 character too long without spaces to fit as a user name in most places.

I would love to get suggestions on name abbreviations or whatever you have. I would love to tie in my blog to my user name at these places. On twitter I just used fiscalfussbudge but that kind of stinks don't you think? I'd like to change it there too, when the time comes I'll have to find out how to do that.

What suggestions do you have?

Should I just stick with fiscalfussbudge?

Ha, I guess this is another Wednesday WWYD huh?

WWYD Wedensday: Discretionary Income

I was reading online and stumbled upon a WWYD link. I thought it might be fun to answer the question.

Being in the situation I am in now, I would choose option B. I know what having no emergency fund can do to a person. Not only what no e-fund does financially but your health too the stress is pretty high. I'd rather take a extra time in paying off debt and have the cushion there. It never seemed an option for me so I'm working on that right now.

Chances are you'll run into some unexpected expense in the 12 months you are paying off the card, or at least that is my experience. Car repairs, home repairs, unexpected medical bills... the list can go on and on.

So WWYD? Please explain... especially if you'd pick option A. I want to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Biggest Financial Decision of My Life

So I promised an update, to be honest I've been avoiding it. I feel shame, I feel lots of things.

I spoke with a lawyer, a financial advisor and a credit counselor. All agree that I am in no position to pay off all of this debt, further I keep receiving summons for various creditors and at this point I'm in too deep.

I must file bankruptcy. I've researched, I've agonized, cried, thrown a fit, and felt relief a bit.

The thing is I don't have a whole heck of a lot of consumer debt, I won't get into numbers here but suffice it to say that I'm not here because of credit cards and overextending myself. I'm here because of not ever saving maybe and huge amounts of other types of debt.

I'm at a point where I want to evaluate how I can keep this from happening and I can't say that I can. I can create an e-fund but in order to cover the expenses that are causing this I'd have to have such a sum in there that I'd be hard pressed to save that much in 5 years or less. This is definitely something I need to ponder quite a bit more.

For now... I'm feeling encouraged by this actually and quite a bit of relief. I'm still scared to answer my phone and tell them what the attorney told me to tell them (them being the creditors/collectors).

I can't pay for this attorney up front... I put down a small sum and will pay him off over 10 months and then he will file. In the mean time if I receive any summons for court he told me different things I can file so I'm not garnished and they realize I'm in the middle of all getting a bankruptcy started.

I'm hoping that since school will be out for a bit I'll have some time to earn some extra money to go towards the lawyer. I plan on a garage sale hopefully by the end of June. It won't yield much but its something. I plan on the more expensive items to go up on e-bay. I don't know what else I plan quite yet but I'm hoping that I can earn the cash quickly and just be done with the whole thing.

I did get some good news out of all of this too, but I'm still processing it and how it will all work out.