Archive for the ‘Numbers’ Category

Kinda fell off the wagon

March 26, 2008

I haven’t been here lately because I’ve been increasing my debt (over $18K now) and am starting to feel guilty.  My credit score went from 720, to 630, and it’s up to 656 now.  I knew that was going to happen in order for me to not pay 21% in finance charges.   However, gave up on the blog idea (one of the reasons why I’m not writing here as frequently) and put all that energy towards learning about real estate.  I found some good books at the library.  Also I had some careless penalty fees: two parking tickets at $37 a pop; signed up for a background casting site which is useless and it charged $19 and possibly another $45.

I apologize to all the people who commented, but I didn’t approve it for a while.  Thanks for reading.

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Debt Consolidation complete for now!

January 30, 2008

Ok, I’m card hopping – not the best routine, but better than getting killed with high interest rates.  Now I the most I’m paying is 4.99% at Bofa for about 11K of debt.  The rest of my $15K debt is at zero percent.  This means that I’m paying about $525/year in interest charges down from $2100 just a few months back.  Also, I increased my credit limit on my bofa card to 16K.

FALLING BACK INTO THE DEBT PATTERN

Since my rental check didn’t come in, I have not been able to pay the bills so I had to put it on my credit card.  This is the same pattern that happens so quickly with falling into debt.  I have not at all been able to spend time focusing on film – especially my own projects which I direct and/or produce.  I have people pissed off at me, but I’m trying to make them understand that working on a non-paid project is hard to justify when I can’t pay my bills.

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG? 

A few weeks back I was studying about blogging intensely, but realized that if I put that same effort to learning about real estate my wealth will increase even more.  So I have been focused on that. I’m not going to discontinue blogging, but it will be much further back on the priority list.  I do see a passive income stream there, but a slower one.  I have one site already set up with google adsense and will maintain it.  However, I don’t think I will start anything soon.

I’m also looking to get a job with an airline or some other franchise or both.  This way,  I can visit my parents more frequently.

MY PRIORITIES

My priorities are in a state of flux.  Previously, it was in this order:

1. Film/Acting
2. Family
3. Travel

Then last month it was:
1. Family
2. Finance
3. Film
4. Travel

Now since I’ve seen my  parents recently it’s:
1. Finance
2. Family
3. Film
4. Travel

I have a pretty clear vision now of where I’m going.  A few variables are getting a job to pay the bills until the passive income kicks into a higher gear (at least $2K/mo).

Nearing the end of the Card-hopping game

January 25, 2008

NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN
I spent 10 days at home with my folks so there were no expenses.  I lectured my parents about how they can avoid their fights regarding money and marriage if they separate it.  I told them that my wife and I keep it completely separate so we don’t have to answer to each other, but we will advice one another if we think the other is doing something foolish or non-productive.  They took heed.

CARD HOPPING 

I’m trying to do the last of my high interest credit card which is the $1.3K on my BofA account.  I just transferred it to the chase card. it has cool options like:

6.99% Fixed APR until full balance paid and no fee (Respond by: 1/31/08)
0% Fixed APR until the first day of your billing cycle that includes 7/1/08 (Respond by: 1/31/08)
4.99% Fixed APR until full balance paid (Respond by: 1/31/08)

I chose the 0% and the 3% balance transfer fee will be about $40.  then I was planning on putting it all on the BofA at 4.99% for the life of the debt, but now I see that they no longer have that option.  They only have that rate til Jan 2009.  So I guess if I wait I out for a few months they might give me the ‘4.99% for the life of the debt’.  But with all the bank crisis, it might not be around.  We’ll see.

Also I was denied the second chase account which I applied for a  month ago.  They said that it was because I had just opened a previous account with them recently.

I have a Household Bank offer for a 0% APR for 12months then a go to rate of 14%.  I might get it so my wife can use it.  Another hesitation I have with putting my wife’s $3.65K debt on my account is that it will lower my fico score.   She’s currently paying about $550/yr which would lower it to $182/yr if at 5%….  I just logged into hbaccept.com and it is an hsbc account.  So I don’t think I’ll go through with it.

Financial Pressure was Mounting till I Chose for it to NOT Mount

January 12, 2008

I was feeling very stressed out yesterday about the international trip. I had been looking for jobs but nothing came my way. I made up around 3 different resumes, but something just didn’t seem right about aimlessly working to make money. I wanted to work somewhere where I could gain knowledge. It felt like my dreams were crumbling as I see so often with my friends who have to make money instead of going on audition and next thing you know, they’re a full time manager somewhere and their dreams have gone away. I do NOT want that happening to me.

My wife preaches the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” about how to break habits. (She’s really good about practicing what she preaches. She took my advice when I told her that she should be saving 10% of everything she makes and she stuck with it for the past year and has several grand in her account. Then she opened up an HSBC saving at 4.25% just yesterday.) She said that I keep going through this every time property tax rolls around. I said that I want to build up a system (blogs) and not just work minimum wage jobs which will take away from my time to build the sites. Plus, it’s not like I sit around all day and watch TV. I don’t watch it at all. She said that it didn’t look like I need money that bad because I’m not jumping at any job. This is exactly how I keep getting into debt. I’m managing it now, but the trip will be too much.

Then I went to sleep and woke up feeling almost the same way, then I realized that it’s all a choice. I am choosing to be stuck in this pattern and be miserable. Like one of my favorite quotes, ‘you can be in debt and be miserable or you can be in debt. Period. I prefer to be in debt and do something about it – which I have been.

Then it dawned on me that I wouldn’t mind owning a franchise and possibly even working somewhere first where I could gain knowledge and then later own it.

I spoke to my father as well about selling their second house which they never use and buy a 4-plex. My mother was interested when I told her about it recently. I’m heading there tomorrow to see them and will bring it up and possibly go check out the area as well.

Mysteriously $2K disappeared out of my Bofa account and it is not showing up in the transactions as well as any other of my credit cards. The wamu2 got declined because I had the wamu1.

Waiting for 0% Credit Card for Debt Consolidation is killing me

January 10, 2008

9:16 PM –  I took a deep breath and put in my passwords for mint.com.  I got a rejection notice from a blogging job I applied to, so I used that as fuel to get my finances in order and overcome the fear of putting all my financial passwords into one site.  So far, I’ve had problems establishing connections with my hsbc and chase credit cards, and hsbc savings.

I’ve been waiting and waiting for the hsbc to do a balance transfer. Currently, I’m still spending about $90/mo ($1084/yr) for the $6.7K that’s sitting in my bofa at 16%.  I’m trying transfer about $3300 of it to my usaa at 13%. Ideally I’m trying to get all of the bofa balance to zero and then put it back on at 4.99% for the life of the debt.  It’s still a little too high for me as I want my savings account to beat it, but it blows away most of the people’s interest rates. I’m not jumping on the usaa transfer as I’m hoping that the wamu card2 will be accepted and hsbc transfer will happen (initiated 1/4/08) asap so then I will reduce the number of balance transfer fees (3%).  But I’ll still need to transfer some to my usaa eventually after these two as they are only giving about $2.5K credit limit each.  I will try and call usaa cc to transfer some over now.

10:20 PM – I signed up for mint.com and it is ok. Not as great as I thought. I guess it’s because not all my accounts are in there, so I feel like I can’t “see” everything as once.

Pressure of No Income

January 9, 2008

I’ve been feeling really pressured lately as there is no new money coming in.  instead of pushing my property mgr to get a new client in. I formatted the listing of my condo to his site specific.  Sent him pictures I have of the empty condo and said that I would send this out to craigslist unless I hear otherwise – instead of asking him, ‘let me know if you want me to send it to craigslist.’  So that way, he has to respond to stop me incase I put something in my listing that he doesn’t approve of.

I hung out with a friend who mentioned mint.com.  it’s a really cool concept and basically it does everything automatically which I’m doing manually on excel.  Check out this article about mint.com on Forbes.

I spent a lot of time updating my other site and adding adsense and Amazon stuff.  I have this tendency to work really hard for something that might pay me back later – ‘might’ being the operative word.  I have such an entrepreneurial spirit, but a lot of times it doesn’t go to fruition, so all this time spent is wasted.  But I know – just the same with film – that I’ll only fail when I quit.

Coming out of Avoiding Negative to Gaining Positive mode

January 5, 2008

I was hesistant the other day to put purchases on my SWA credit card because I didn’t want to go back into a credit card debt.  So I put a few things on there (gas, groceries,etc) and immediately paid it from my checking account.  Now that I got a lot of the 16% debt down (see previous blog), I am aggressively putting all my bills on there and including my wife’s bills so I can get free airline tickets.  Basically, I gotta spend $16K/year to a free ticket.  Which is basically a 2.5% return on purchases.  I valued the ticket at $400 because of the flexibility.

This is in essense passive income because I’m spending the same amount as I would have otherwise, but now I’m getting something back.

Let me know if you find a better cash back card.

End of Debt Consolidation Tunnel Starting to Emit Light

January 4, 2008

Today was a breakthrough that gave me a little bit of piece of mind.  I was supposed to pay about $350 tomorrow for my Bofa CC which had about $9K on it.  I missed the payment last time and it knocked me back a bit mentally.  But they went from $135/mo to  nearly $400.  I paid $130 a few days back which they vollied back to me with a 5 extra day grace period, but was still insistent on the full amount.  I started my hsbc card a few days back along with my 2nd wamu and 2nd chase cards.  Then the hsbc card came in the mail approved (0% til 12/08)!  Then I logged onto the bofa acct and about $2400 was paid from my wamu 1 cc.  So the nervousness about that amount instantly vanished.  The balanced dropped down to about $6K.  Then transferred another $2.5K to my hsbc which should go through w/in a week or so.  So interest per year went from $1800 to $1400 (monthly: $156 to $121) on just the 16%.  I’ve got 2 more pending cards with 0% hopfully approving soon.  I’m assuming that together it’ll be about $5K.

So then I will transfer the remaining bofa debt to the $4.7K debt on the usaa (limit $13K) and then transfer all that back to the bofa at 5% for the life of the debt. Then that will be my highest interest rate.  Not bad eh.  It all happened within one month.  Well, not really, as I spent the whole year making sure I paid my cc’s on time which allowed my fico score to go up by 100 points.  That allowed me to get the 0%s.  My debt ratio is about 40%.  If my second wamu card comes through, then I’ll use it for my checking overdraft and not really put anything on there.

Also, I told my wife that I will transfer her 18% over to one of my 0% cards, but that doesn’t look possible right now.  I can put it on my 5% card in about a month.

I can’t believe that this is just a simple game of chess.  Not at all like playing Kasparov.

Why did I neglect this for over a decade?!?!?!?

Whew! No late fees

December 30, 2007

I just check the BofA cc and they did not charge me a late fee, but did put another payment due on 1/5 for 254.  hopefully the balance transfer will go through by then.  Also they have a 4.99% balance transfer so after the 6 months if I don’t find more 0%, I can transfer it back to that.  I have a $13.5K credit limit so all of it can go there. well, ideally most of it will be paid off by then.

Google Adsense
All day yesterday I spent time adding content to my website in hopes of getting google adsense, amazon affiliate, etc on there.  I got it up to about 20 pages which is the minimum that previous article I linked to stated that adsense was looking for.

Now, I’m going to learn about SEO, and making money from blogging.

Hiding From Debt Doesn’t Work

December 30, 2007

12/30 – 11am – I kind of pulled an ostrich with its head buried in the sand when it came time to find out about the situation with the BofA cc on the 29th. I knew it was due, I only had $130 go through as a payment when the minimum was 390.  Even though I put a balance transfer of 2500, I knew it wouldn’t go through for days even though electronically it could’ve been done in a matter of seconds, but they just want to make you sweat.

Tip: One thing I’ve been doing recently is opening every piece of mail that comes in before I set it down in my pile of ‘to do bills’.  Before I would go weeks sometimes months not opening mail, esp bills.  I guess I figured that I knew the approximate amount and also that I could pay online.  However, one time it bit me hard in the butt.

I paid off a large amount of debt at once on my Discover card about 8 years ago.  I opened the invoice once after that and saw a zero balance due.  So for several months I did not open the invoice.  Immediately after paying off the amount, I got a Discover Cashback Bonus Award check. I signed it and cashed it like I had been doing previously for several years and didn’t think anything of it.

The check actually was not a check, but looked identical to their cashback check and in essence was a switch of my phone companies without a third party verification – SLAMMING.  My friend was living with me temporarily at the and was calling his wife who lived out of the country.  With the phone plan before the slam, he was getting about 30 cent/min, after the slam, it was at $2/min!!!  So needless to say, after a few months, I got SLAMMED!  I wasted hours on the phone with discover and talk.com, but eventually refused to pay for the $2K talk.com bill.  I offered to pay the amount it would have been at the regular rate, but they refused nothing but the full amount they wanted to steal from me.  It affected my credit for a while, but (tip) I wrote a one-line ‘defense’ in my credit report using teenage txt msg lik riting 2 kep da ct dwn as they would only give me about 100 characters to explain all that.

So, moral of the story?  Open every bill before you put it down.