Consumer Credit / Credit Cards
Tightening Belt & Getting on Board

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By Wingenit
May 21, 2003

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Many of you have read my posts about the frustrations of a partnership where one spouse is miserly & the other is . . . not. We've had some interesting developments this week.

I have been watching my husband start looking for a motorcycle. He's been doing the same things he always does before a spree: obsessive shopping, bidding online for "fun", "accidentally" buying -- except that he was only in the first phase.

At the same time, I started looking at our bills. We are finally down to insuring only one car & we were going to be paying Fate Starm (alias) around $116 per month to insure a nearly 11-year-old Buick (we've been paying $130 for two cars this age). I decided this was lunacy. Starting June 1, we are with Geico, at about $40 per month (this is how much we'll have to budget out for it). Money in pocket: $75.

This got us started. I looked at our taxes. DH's company has been pulling out way too much. We adjusted them once, but I still thought they were taking out too much. I'm meeting with the accountant tomorrow to re-verify our estimate for what we will owe (if it is the same as what we thought in January -- with mortgage & student loan interest we can write off). If it is, this means we have already overpaid our state taxes by nearly $700. It also means we only owe another $900 in federal taxes for the year, so we can stop paying state taxes & pay $100 less in federal taxes for the rest of the year. For each month, this will mean another $380 in our pockets. No more paying interest on debt while we give Uncle Sam interest free loans, and then get double-taxed for the refund on our state taxes!

The previous owner of this house left an enormous antenna on top of the house, already connected to a coax cable. With this antenna we can get 6-8 free channels, including PBS, which is most important (Sesame Street, don't you know), and I can still get national news at certain times of day (these days I mostly get it online anyway). When our contract with satellite runs out in July, we are canceling. Money back in our pocket per month: $45.

We are still paying $50 per month for DSL service that stinks (boo SBC!), so we will change providers at the very least, and look for a cheaper one -- again, when contract runs out in July. If we can find one that will work with MCI, we are considering trying the "Neighborhood Complete" plan. Right now our combined phone bills are between $100-$140 per month. The NC plan is $60 for all free local & nationwide calls. I'll poll on LBYM to see if anyone has had good luck with them. That could save us a bundle every month. We've already cut our long distance bill significantly by using a calling card to call my in-laws in Russia for 5 cents/minute.

Not counting the DSL/phone, we are already looking at a total of $500 per month back into our pockets. This is a tremendous amount of money. We will be able to put all of this towards credit card debt.

The best part is, I told my husband what I had found. He was amazed. This would mean being credit card debt free by next April. When he realized how close we are, and that this isn't a lifelong proposition, he has suddenly gotten very serious about the debt. He found the kind of the bike he wants, but says he is going to save his fun money & birthday/Christmas cash until next April, doesn't want a "raise" when we pay off debt but rather put the extra money into savings, & will try to pay cash for the bike next spring, after saving up for it. He is even for shutting off the cable. He also now sees why I'm running fans & trying to make heavy curtains, instead of running the a/c.

This all started with me going line by line through our budget & trying to figure out how to lower each entry. The first time I did this I found the necessary money to both give my husband a fun money budget & pay above minimum on our CCs. By staying on top of it, we've now found enough extra money each month to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of debt.

So things are looking up, and this afternoon while my little one sleeps I'll be shopping for a cheaper & better Internet provider.


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