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?!?!?!?

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

January 2, 2008

I spent almost all of yesterday 6+ hours learning about blogging as well as this morning for a couple of hours.  I’m becoming slightly disheartened by the amount of time I’m spending and the potential return. I’m expecting to make $1K/mo.  I’m not looking to do this full time.  However, after watching Donald Trump on a show and seeing how if I were to put this same effort into real estate then, it might pay off much bigger.  Which is still a plan, but I have not taken any steps yet.

FOCUSING ON ABES OVER SUSANS
I keep thinking about what Robert Kiyosaki says in Rich Dad Poor Dad about how much time people spend clipping coupons to save fifty cents, but they won’t put that same amount of time into learning about finances which would bring them much bigger returns.  However, the plus side of this blog thing is that 1) I write in my journal anyway, which I’ve been doing for 5+ years, 2) I just need to set up a system (the blog site, adsense) and then it becomes just a maintainence issue of writing and analyzing and it is passive income if set properly.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but that’s why I’m spending so much time right now learning about what not to do, so I don’t waste 6mos and end up making enough to buy a pencil every week via google adsense.

I have even shied away from the financial stuff and have not really looked at the balance til this morning.

Personal Finance of My Wife FYGal

January 1, 2008

I got my wife to start blogging.  Mainly, because I always feel that every story has three sides: yours, mine, and the Truth.  (I got it from an Extreme album).  So I wanted her perspective esp since we’re so different in our thinking – almost like the odd couple – but we get along great and are best-friends and all those other mushy thing. 🙂

FYGal.wordpress.com

Coming soon to FYGUY.com

January 1, 2008

I just bought it.  I was so surprised that it was available as all 3 and 4 letter URLs were sold out by the early 2000’s – even funky combos like sczx.com.  So, I still need to find hosting.  Will keep you posted.  Financially, I was a bit hesitant on spending an extra $8 or so a year to keep the url private, but with all the detailed financial info, I thought it would be a good idea.

Oh do you like my new graphic I put up there?  I made it yesterday and then found out that you can’t make any money here.  Of course, “Sisyphus B. Anthony” will travel to the new site.

FYGUY

Can’t make any money here!!!

January 1, 2008

I just found out that you can’t put google adsense or any income streams on wordpress.com.  So I will keep writing in my journal, but will not post here and once I get a site set up, I’ll post the link here.  There are no readers here, so I’m not that concerned about it.  It’s a lesson learned from problogger.com.

Debated With My Wife Regarding Finances

December 31, 2007

I offered my wife 20% for my half of the rent $425 (which equals to about $0.24/day). I didn’t want the emotion attached as if I’m a loafer husband who’s not pulling in the dough, so that’s why I offered double of what she could get with her money anywhere else.  She currently has about $3K sitting in a bank account earning about 0.25%.

She argued that I’m always on the edge every time prop tax comes around and questioned why I didn’t get a part-time job.  I told her that I refused to get a minimum wage job which is a waste of time. Instead I would rather put that time towards building a passive income system.

She works as a waitress like almost every other actor in town, but it’s not sustainable.  She makes decent income and can save, but it’s not what she wants to do.  So I told her that we’re at the opposite ends of almost everything we do – which is an excellent opportunity to see what the other person is doing and learn from them.  She said it breaks her heart to see me not having money. I told her that it breaks my heart that she’s working til 1am and coming home in the cold dark nights alone.  But didn’t fight and just kept each other in check to make sure we’re doing the right thing with our time.  This set up is so much better than both of us being in the same boat and not seeing a different type of life.  I told her that she has to learn about passive income every single day – whether it’s real estate, stocks, google adsense, etc.

BE KNOWLEDGEFUL BEFORE A FINANCIAL WINDFALL COMES YOUR WAY
Many of our friends land commercial gigs which pay about $20K for just a day’s work.  She even landed one recently, but you don’t start learning about what to do with the money ONCE you have the money.  You have to start learning BEFORE you have that money.  Usually what happens is that you get that kind of money and then you end up trying to save it and then six months later you realized that you worked less and spent all that on bills – like it happened to one of our friends just recently.  She moved into a nicer apt instead of setting up a system.  So, now she’s worse off than BEFORE she got the $20K because she lives in a ‘nicer’ place, but doesn’t have any more of the $20K to pay for it.

WAYS TO STOP EATING OUT
Also, we don’t have a system for food.  We usually go out and get something to eat when we have nothing in the house.  We should have at least 4-5 healthy choice frozen dinners as a back up.  We don’t like eating those things, but when we have no home cooked meals, we can dig into that which costs about $2 a pop – compared to $15 for two by going to a fast food restaurant.  We’ve been buying bags of beans and rice which is really cheap and easy to make and always readily available.  Another thing that really clicked for me in terms of cooking –  not sure if I mentioned it before – is to make gourmet food at home for about $5.  Usually when you cook pasta or something, it’s cheap and tastes cheap.  However, we started making fresh fish which at a restaurant would cost you about $25/plate.  We can make that for $3 at home.

Quest for Passive Income

December 31, 2007

Yesterday I spent about 5 hours on the website adding amazon’s omakase ad links hoping to get some sort of return.  But I know this will not be an overnight return.  I’ve had this site for years, but haven’t done anything financial with it.  It’s only been about film.

Next I will add amazon ads specific to the articles.  Then I will add the google ads.  I keep documenting these to see how much time I’m putting into it and what the return will be like.

KEEPING COSTS DOWN – JONS GROCERY
Yesterday, my wife and I decided to try out Jons grocery store instead of Ralph’s.  We went there for the first time a few weeks back and found the prices of mushrooms and other veggies to be almost half if not even less than half of what Ralph’s charges.  I always avoided that store because it seemed so dingy and didn’t seem like they could buy in volume like the other local grocery by our house.  Furthermore, it seemed like a real-life spoof in the vain of McDowel’s in the movie Coming to America and how they are always competing with McDonald’s.
We walked around the cereal section and it actually cost more than Ralph’s esp when they have the ralph’s club card sale.  You could tell by the distribution of the people in the store that no one was in those isles.  When we walked to the produce section, it was buzzing like some street market in China.  Obviously that’s where the savings were.  Same goes for the frozen foods, milk, cheeses, etc – nothing was cheaper.  We found a $3 bottle of wine that tasted better than he $2 Charles Shaw at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called Forest Ville.

Accounts
Nothing has gone through in terms of balance transfers to bring down the $9K.  I think it’s because of the holidays.  I surprisingly have about $400 still in my account, but rent of $425 is due tomorrow.   And cable is due which is about $25 (we don’t have tv cable, just internet).  And gas $10.

I don’t have enough, but I might take a loan from my wife.  I know what you’re thinking, ‘you guys are weird. That’s so business-like in a relationship.’ But it’s two-part.  One, I don’t want to her to suffer financially as she’s trying not to touch her savings account. Two, I want her to get into the mindset of making money from her money – passive income.  I had to borrow some about 6 months ago (usually occurs when prop tax is due) and I gave her 20% interest.  However, I paid her back within a week, so she made about $3, but it’s still a mindset.

One of our friends makes about $200K a year, but he doesn’t have the mindset to make passive income, so he’s working his life away.  I’ve got another friend who’s much older and has a McMansion and only 3 people live in it.  He’s about 65 years old and still has to work to pay for the extra rooms in his house which he uses a couple of times a year.  I don’t understand the mentality of material possessions, esp huge houses which are not paid off.  It’s not like he loves his work.  He works to pay for the house.  Why not downsize, pay off a smaller house with the value of the current one and I’m sure he’s getting social security.  You can use that for the food and utilities, etc.

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.

Why Don’t The Schools Teach Personal Finance?

December 30, 2007

I watched a homeless news show/doc on TV last night and wondered why a mother and daughter who works would stay at a motel b/c they were homeless.  I can’t picture a motel going for any less than $30/night even in the worst neighborhoods of LA.  That totals to about $900/mo.  I live in an studio apt that’s only $850/mo in a nice part of town.  I just cheeked craigslist and found many at ranging from $400 – $600 in LA.  That’s ridiculous, as they have no stove or fridge.  It might be that they don’t have the proper credit to get an apt, but it stated that they had many relatives with whom they spent some time with.  I’m sure one of them could have co-signed for them.

One thing they keep saying is that everyone is about one paycheck away from homelessness and it can happen to anyone.  I keep thinking about that esp now when I’m not getting my regular check because the tenant will move out by tomorrow and this is the worst time to find new tenants.  My property manager said that next time he’ll do a 13-month lease so it won’t end up at this time again next year and instead will be in January – which is easier to rent.

I still can’t believe that personal finance is not taught in school and stuff that you’ll never use like Algebra is taught repeatedly – and I have been teaching and tutoring math and physics for years – I only use it in teachings, never in real life.  The first thing I’m teaching my kid is about FICO score, etc.

I think kiva.org is an awesome way which is based on the incredible Grameen bank which allows people to help themselves.  I have a hard time with charities as it’s not self-propagating.

I still can’t get over the fact that the homeless lady on the news was spending more than I was per month on rent.  I just don’t get it.