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I AM A WINNER!!

14 Dec

A couple of weeks ago I discovered the blog Mel’s Goin’ Goin’ Gone… whose goal is to provide encouragement to women from a Christian perspective.  So I saw she was doing a giveaway for Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace’ Personal Finance Software. I never win anything, but decided to give it a shot.  I entered the giveaway, then forgot about it. Today I log into my Twitter account (@thechicfo) and lo and behold she has sent me a DM indicating I won!!

but I couldn’t DM her back. So I log into my email. She had been contacting me for a week. She had given me 24 hours to claim the prize, which expired yesterday.
myspace comments

I’ve been working on quieting my negative thoughts so I decided to thank her for the opportunity to win even though I didn’t claim the prize in time. Doing so helped me to focus on the positive things about the situation rather than mentally berating myself for failing to check my email and missing out. Melinda was gracious enough to reply AND she indicated she had an extra copy of the software she was willing to send to me anyway.


GIFSoup

Thanks a bunch to Mel! Check out and subscribe to Mel’s Goin’ Goin’ Gone…

Online Bill Pay and Principal Reduction Payments

2 Dec

The fastest way to reduce debt is by having additional payments applied to directly reduce the principal amount owed. Previously I mailed in payments for my loans. For my Citibank loan I could easily check a box to have the additional money be applied to the principal rather than to advance the payments. Now that I have somewhat automated my finances, I don’t have this option. Seems like I am not the only person who has encountered such an issue with a loan. Check out an excerpt from a post on The Consumerist:

“This wouldn’t be a huge deal if the online bill-pay options allowed you to choose between early payment or principal reduction (although why anyone would choose early payment is beyond me), but instead special checks have to be mailed to Chase Auto Finance for any principal reduction to occur. ”
Several readers in the comments have the same issue as well.

I find it rather interesting Citibank, as do most student loan servicers, has an interest rate reduction incentive to induce its borrowers to sign up for automatic debit, but does not have an option on the website to have additional payments apply to principal reduction rather than early payment. Additionally when I view my statements online, there is a box that I could check to apply extra towards principal if I were mailing in my payment. I guess going green and getting out of debt quickly aren’t compatible.

I was told both by Citibank and Direct Loans, I could either mail in a separate payment for principal reduction or continue with electronic payments, but call every month to have the payment applied according to my instructions. The extra work to do this is why it has taken so long for me to reduce the balance of my loan. I have been merely making early payments every month.

In the Internet Age, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than the banks want you to incur as much interest as possible. While I understand it is a business, we as consumers should at least have the option of online principal payment reduction.

Are you having a similar issue with any of your debt obligations? How have you chosen to deal with it?

To Forbear Or Not Forbear? That Is The Question….

2 Dec

The plan to relocate to New York is shaping up nicely. As I expected, reality has set in regarding just how much this is going to cost. Taking the Bar Exam is an expensive endeavor even with Mr. Terrific’s valued assistance.

He suggested a student loan forbearance a few weeks ago. He has used it in the past to save more money in case of a lay-off and has already applied for another.
I, Miss-Hurry-Up-And-Pay-That-Shit-Off, was a bit more apprehensive about it. I have finally started making headway on my Citibank Student Loan (read: I finally owe less than what I borrowed after THREE years of mostly more than the minimum payments). I mean, I am going to have to pay it back eventually why delay the inevitable?

Here’s where the EMOTIONAL side of money management is creeping in for me. I decided to stop being so cautious and spendthrift and actually had a LOT of fun this summer. So much so, I blew through most of my savings. My basic e-fund of $1,000 remained largely in tact. Then, I was blessed to begin a dreamy (did I just say that?) long distance relationship with Mr. Terrific, which DEMOLISHED my budget. LDRs and budget aren’t generally in the same conversation, although they should be. Now I’m relocating.

I would love to have enough money to save for emergencies, retirement, relocation and pay for my bar expenses, but there’s just not that much money to go around.

As a contingency planner, I usually start from a worse-case scenario point of view. For me that would be passing the New York bar, but being unable to secure employment there prior to my move in or around June 2011. In the meantime, I need to have a sizeable emergency and savings fund.

Currently I make payments totaling $441.61, which includes a debt snowball payment for $53.67 on my Citibank loan. I paid off one student loan with a monthly payment of $53.67 and rolled the payment amount to my next lowest balance loan for those unfamiliar with the snowball concept.

Obtaining a forbearance on my Direct Loans will free up $330.11 per month for saving. The potential saving for my Citibank loan is unclear because I believe I will still be required to make interest payments during that time. The minimum monthly obligation is only $57.83. In reviewing a past statement, it appears on a $57.83 payment, $16.99 is applied to interest. If this is indeed the case, a forbearance will free up $94.51 per month for saving (the difference b/w what I’m currently paying $111.50 and the interest of $16.99).

I am looking at saving $424.62 per month. I applied on 11/22. I’m not sure how long it will take to process, but I should know something for certain by January. If approved, I can project $2547.72 of savings from a forbearance alone.

What Is The Difference Between a Deferment and a Forbearance?

29 Nov

With the rising costs of higher education, many people turn to student loans to finance their degree(s). Generally there is a 6 month grace period after graduation before repayment begins. But there are two other options of repayment postponement:

Forbearance and Deferment. What exactly are the differences?

Deferment options vary depending on what type of loan you have and your specific circumstances. You may qualify for a deferment if, for example, you are enrolled in school, serving on active duty in the military, unemployed, or experiencing economic hardship. During periods of deferment, the federal government will make interest payments on any subsidized loan. Interest on unsubsidized loans will accrue during periods of deferment and forbearance.

Forbearance options also vary depending on what type of loan you have and your specific circumstances. They offer a temporary suspension of your student loan payments if you don’t qualify for a student loan deferment, your deferment options have been exhausted, or you are experiencing financial difficulties. You are responsible for all interest that accrues regardless of the type of loan you have.

The best source of information concerning each option is the lender. Your options can vary greatly with the type of loan(s) you have. Don’t be afraid to contact your servicer(s) to ask any and all questions.

Have you ditched the dish AND cut the cable?

5 Nov

The economy took a turn for the worse some time ago. People have started couponing, budgeting, thrifting and adopting minimalist habits like no time I’ve ever seen before. (<— that’s shit old ppl say, right? I’m apparently getting there.>  One thing most in my circle will not part with is the television. Seriously, the TV. The reason you are probably spending way too much, eating the wrong things AND gaining weight.

Television viewing has changed drastically over time. It was once a luxury. My mother’s house had the only television in their entire neighborhood when she was a child. Can you imagine? When I was a child we only had one television in the house. Surprisingly it was not in the living room. My parents entertained a lot and had no need for the t.v. in the common area.

Now it seems like a requirement to have a television in every room. I’m a single woman with two televisions.  My mother lives alone and has two televisions.  My father lives alone and has four! televisions.  How did this happen?

 

My first foray into the world of no cable was the Fall of 2004, my first year of law school.  Just starting out I didn’t even have any dvds. I quit television cold turkey. No hulu, no netflix, no internet access at all and initially no dvds. I easily survived that year using my radio and dvds. I watched Swat, The Color Purple and The Shawshank Redemption enough times to know all the lines. The next year I got a roommate and cable was included our rent. The joys of student living!

After graduation I moved home for 6 months, where my mother has a satellite dish.  After I moved out, I was able to get a one year cable only special for $24.99. The next year I had two roommates. (SN: Never live with someone you know you don’t love to try to convince yourself you do. It will end badly. Thank goodness this isn’t a relationship blog. ~Management) We had Comcast triple play. My portion was $33 although I didn’t use the internet at all. After this dreaded one year was over, I moved to an apartment alone. The year of turmoil had me longing for solitude. I wanted more than anything to have peace. To not give a fuck about anyone else and just do me. I decided to not subscribe to cable.

I had many more hours in the day. I suddenly wasn’t so bad about returning phone calls or reaching out to my friends. The more plugged-in I am, the less interaction I have with my friends.  So I’ve been living without cable since January. Unlike the first time, I do have Clear mobile internet access. I watch shows on hulu and Mr. T — my love, my best friend, the best person I know, the guy I hope asks me to marry him, you can read about us here: http://myheartlivesinbrooklyn.wordpress.com/ — allows me use of his netflix subscription. He only requests dvds when he’s coming to visit me. Somehow we never quite get around to finishing the movies though.

Since Mr. T lives in New York, Brooklyn to be specific, I was tuned into the Cablevision/Fox debacle.   How angry would I have been as a cable subscriber to lose channels during this negotiation?  Particularly since the World Series was being played AND the outcome of the negotiations would most certainly mean my bill would increase.

So have you ditched the dish or cut the cable? How are you faring?

Check out this article for more information on Internet TV services and their possible influence on people to forgo cable:

http://www.ajc.com/business/cable-subscribers-flee-but-720614.html