Be advised of a few things:

That’s the one I have used in previous years.

from that one credit reporting site, you’ll still have the option to choose which of the three actual credit companies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) you want to work with. I seem to recall you have to do one at a time. Also, you leave the website and go to each of those individual reporting websites as you’ve chosen them. So for instance, if you check off Experian and Trans Union, you’ll first have to go to Experian’s website, finish up there, then go BACK to the website, then choose TransUnion, then go to the TransUnion website to finish up there. So don’t be shocked if you’re sent to another website.
Due to the hassles of the above, I have gotten into the habit of checking only one of those three, every four months, and thus getting three free reports per year (one from each). But be aware that they track how often you get a free credit report. So if you happen to forget who you ordered from most recently, and accidentally order from them again in a 12 month period, they’ll give you some message that you’ve already gotten your once/year credit report. I’ve done that more than once. The answer of course is to write down who you visit at any given time and then don’t lose that little slip of paper. As organized as you are, Jan, I expect that won’t be a problem. But stuff walks off my desk on a regular basis, so it’s been something of a challenge here.
Lastly, be aware that you are entitled by law to the actual report, which lists things like all your creditors, your payment history, etc. But that law does NOT entitle you to get your credit score. You have to pay extra for that. The charge is relatively low; I think my last credit score was from Trans Union for something like $15. But I was surprised the first time when I had to pay extra for that.
If you do find incorrect info on your report, each credit bureau has different reporting hoops to jump through. I seem to recall that Experian’s was a PITA while Trans Union’s was a lot easier. So I went through Trans Union to contest two different accounts on my report which were in error. Happily, when they are contested and removed on one, they SHOULD end up being removed on all of them. But you’ll need to verify that actually happens.

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So while dh is home recuperating

I am slowly trying to get everything back on track around here. One of the things I had on my to do list before the end of the year, obviously I didn’t make it due to circumstances beyond my control, is to check our credit report.

I want to make sure not only does it show all our debts paid off, except the mortgages, but that a certain sil hasn’t some how managed to use our credit rating and income to further her credit card lust.

Only you know what? I have NEVER taken advantage of the one free credit report you can get a year. So I don’t know where to go to get it. I don’t want to take a chance and just do a google search and end up getting hacked. So all you knowledgeable folks out there how can I check my credit for free on a safe site?

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This week had its ups and its downs

Down was for various reasons, dh didn’t qualify for the short term disability, too complicated to go into here, let’s just say that once all the information was properly presented to us we both understood why he didn’t qualify.
That meant that this Friday not only would he get a zero paycheck, we would need to pay between $800 and $900 to the company for his copays on our various insurances. While my emergency fund would cover it, we were hoping the short term would anyway, so I could use that emergency money on the doctor bills.
Enter the family orientated company owner. Despite the comptroller’s protests, remember the lovely lady who changed paydays and other things in the past, well the company owner over rode her on this one and we don’t have to pay the co-pays out of our pocket.
Instead he told her to advance dh 20 hours of vacation pay AND went ahead and put dh on 3 weeks annual vacation time, although dh wasn’t suppose to qualify for it until August!!! So while there will still be no pay check on Friday (a downer) there will be zero due and the 20 hours will be paid back within 6 weeks. Plus we will have enough vacation before our annual passes expire to fly back down to WDW if we should choose to.
Up, dh went back to work on Monday, it was tough on him and when he went for a recheck with our regular doctor yesterday, his boss told him to take the rest of the day off—with pay. He took advantage of it and felt better for work today as a result. He says they have been going easy on him and instead of the usual “Gary can you come to my office for a meeting” they have been bringing the meetings to his office.
Down, his urine test still shows blood cells in it, so they are running a culture. That may be why he is dragging fanny somewhat.
Up they think he has the cellulitis beat for this round, but he still has to wear a UNA boot bandage for awhile to get the leg back to its normal size. Shoes and socks are still a hassle for him, but the color is good. One internal medicine doctor told him that the leg may never return to normal size due to the severity of the case he had. We may be shoe shopping this weekend. Should prove interesting because his feet are definitely two different sizes right now.
Up is ds who says he is keeping all the utilities as part of his budget and not putting any of them back to us when the paychecks become regular and full again.
Up, none of the doctors, so far—still waiting on the urologist—think the “mass” the catscan showed in dh’s abdomen is anything to be concerned about. But the urologist wants to do some more testing on that and the one remaining kidney stone. We’ll know more about that next week. One doctor who looked at the scan says he isn’t even certain there is a mass on it. I vote for that.
We’ve been enjoying a January thaw here in OK and that has improved all our moods. That is definitely an up.
I’ve been teasing dh and telling him that after all the dust settles on this medical mess he so owes me a trip to Hawaii. He says I am insane (he hates flying). Wonder which one of us will win. LOL!

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July was a 3 pay day month for us

and since dh came down so sick just before the third pay day I held on to all of that paycheck and our ss checks instead of making a huge gazelle payment on the mortgage, so the bills will all be paid on time even with a zero paycheck this Friday. In fact, I held on to so much if nothing else comes up to whack us between now and the end of the month I will still be able to pay our snowball amount on the mortgage to keep on schedule and use this months ss on the medical bills. Jan who is thankful for DR who taught her to plan ahead for such emergencies in OK

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If that location

has the Magic Quest or whatever that wizard thing is, you can buy wands from others on Ebay. Purchasing the individual wands at Great Wolf Lodge is pretty pricey. Also, everyone brings coolers full of food. Your room should have a refrigerator (and a microwave, I’m pretty positive). Breakfast foods, milk and other beverages, minimally, should be packed to bring along.

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We have FINALLY reached the point of getting to travel

The house remodel is almost done. Woot ! Woot! I am going to Great Wolf lodge in Williamsburg on a homeschooled trip with my youngest 5 kiddos. The room is a great price at 30% off. We are staying March 9th – 15th. I have no idea what to budget for all the things you can do there. There is so much to do and it adds up quick. Not to mention the site doesn’t list all the prices ? Anyone give me some frugal pointers ? :)

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We have two backyard hens and my friend at work

had been given me the shredded paper from corporate office to use as coop bedding for them. A few days ago I was running low on cat litter and threw in some shredded paper with the last of the litter just as a temporary fix. But the cats didn’t seem to mind, so I refilled the box completely with shredded paper. It didn’t stink, and the cats just used as usual. We’re on day 4 of shredded paper only litter… which is free… and the cats are happy. It really doesn’t smell at all either! I dump it sooner than I would regular litter, just because it starts to clump together and isn’t scoopable. But it’s free, so who cares that it needs replacing more?

Some cats are more finicky about their litter, so it might not work for all. But if you work somewhere that shreds paper, its worth trying! Also, I think kinkos/fedex ends up with tons of shreds they’d probably give for free if someone needed a source idea.

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I am in Florida

– so it is probably the same bank. I used to bank with Washington Mutual until it became Chase by default (also aquired). And once they switched over to Chase, although I was promised my account would remain unchanged… boy did it change!

Beware of sneaky things being added onto the back of your bank statement. Chase apparently added changes to my account in small print on the back of my statement with some caveat that changes would go into effect by XX/XX/XXXX if they do not receive anything in writing stating otherwise.
So I quit them, and have only a credit union account at Luckily, I rarely deal with fees through them… and so this Iberia stealing my $12 for no apparent reason really rubbed me the wrong way. And I do feel it is theft… I asked for no service meriting a charge.

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I’ll admit I have found myself waivering a bit on my resolve to

live simply to pay off my debt. I have gotten lazy with the cash envelopes, and while I haven’t bounced anything in the bank I am snowballing less than I initially committed to. I think part of this stems from an unexpected source: my husbands beating cancer. Weird I know! But we seem to have entered a honey moon phase of wanting to live large… going out to eat, tackling home improvement projects, etc. It’s good to appreciate ourselves and move forward now, but we need to get back on track. We sat down and spoke about it this morning as we sipped coffee on the deck, appreciating the gorgeous weather we were gifted today. It was a free moment of beauty and connectedness, and it really hammered in that we can be happy and alive without deviating from our debt reduction goals.

So here are our Jan-April monetary goals, which we have agreed to hold one another accountable to. I feel that publishing them to the group makes them more concrete! So my subsequent posts should update you on our progress.

Here goes:
– With January 30 paychecks, pay $3,000 toward mortgage. We have fallen one payment behind last month when husband was screwed over by an out of state bondsman who didn’t pay him for the contracted work, so this will put us back on track again. Not only did we lose the promised pay, but also the reimbursement of expenses of gas, time, etc to complete the job agreed upon… awful blow! (note to ourselves, no more out of state work with unknown/unrecommended clients. Costs to fly out to sue outweigh the initial checks most time… and they know this!).

– Also with Jan 30 paycheck, pay off remaining $700 on other capitalone card and close.

– Also with Jan 30 paycheck, catch up (where applicable) and/or make minimum payments on debts: 2 student loans, Discover, Target, Paypal, Amazon, Wells Fargo auto, credit union line of credit, wells fargo line of credit, helzberg card

– Only item on shopping list: dog food! Why only dog food? We have all the basics we need, and will be taking more advantage to the biggest perk of my job catering – free food from work. Will be bringing home meals, so no human food gocery shopping needed. Also fridge and pantry are fairly stocked for now.

– Fill cash spending envelopes next. Any extra to be budgeted for snowballs, to be thrown in DR recommended fashion from smallest debt to largest debt.

– ToDo: File tax returns. Use return money to pay off target credit card in full, and close account.

– When Tanda money is received, combine these funds with paycheck bonus to pay off auto loan completely and reduce insurance to liability only.

– Calculate monthly savings on this move (usual auto payment and insurance payment minus the lower insurance payment), and spend this exact money to kill off discover debt in next 6 months.

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Don’t feel discouraged..

it’s difficult starting out to get to babystep 1. And developing a budget and staying away from credt cards is no easy task when it isnt yet habit!

If you make a mistake, just start over. Every mistake is a chance to learn how to do it better next time. I had a lot of trouble developing a budget we could stick to… it was even a few months before I could successfully fill my envelopes all the way. But once I had that EF in the bank and started paying off credit cards, I felt a lot more secure and seemed to have more money. You don’t realize that when you use credit, you spend more than you would otherwise, and everything costs more due to interest. When you use cash, you end up buying less and saving the interest payment each purchase adds up.

Keep us updated if you have any troubles or can’t seem to make ends meet. Everyone here has a lot of useful tips!

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It goes back to the NEED vs want

Another few things to consider. You KNOW the vehicle you have now, you don’t know this SUV, you don’t know what repairs have been done or need to be done on it, while you do on the vehicle you currently own.

Also, SUVs tend to be a higher insurance rate, and newer vehicles generally cost more to insure than old ones. Many companies will require you to pay the first month of insurance up front on a new vehicle, even if you are already insured with them. They will also run a credit check, do you want anyone running a credit check right now? Remember your credit rating generally goes down as you pay off debt, which equals higher insurance rates. The more credit checks ran the lower your rate goes, and they will run a credit check for the new loan as well.

Plus then you have to consider the cost of sales ads to sell your existing one, excise tax and tags for the new vehicle. If you have to replace any parts or tires on either one, which is going to be more expensive parts wise? There is a lot more to compare besides gas mileage and current loan rates.

Speaking of loan rates are you certain you can get another loan and if you do what will the interest rate be? You definitely don’t want to go up in rate.

Sorry if I am being a downer, but I am a math nerd and if you are going to run a cost comparison, you need to consider all the costs.

When I was delivering flowers I put items in the seat and floor board to level the back seat out, including a piece of plywood and it made a nice flat surface to haul the thousands of dollars worth of fragile flowers. Would doing something similar make it easier on you?

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Well, I can certainly get by without an SUV..

but working in catering I constantly have my back seat crammed with equipment. So itd be nice to be able to fit it all more nicely back there and maybe have room for people too. That’s why I have always wanted one.

I feel the same way about the loan… except it isn’t really another loan, but one that replaces the existing car loan on the car, for the same or less money. And (presumably) paid of on the same schedule I would’ve paid off the car… unless some crazy interest rate is thrown at me in which case I would scrap the idea.

So basically, I would love the SUV… but it is a hassle to go through with. Hmmm…

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My question would be

“Why do you feel the NEED for the SUV”? Even though the operating costs might be the same now, I’d expect the SUV to cost more over time. So that would put you into a negative net situation. Also, you have to worry about actually being ABLE to sell your car. If you’re thinking that the SUV is a similar deal, why wouldn’t anyone looking at buying your car have the same thoughts? And you’re talking about getting ANOTHER loan, which just doesn’t sit well with me. But then again, it isn’t my money… It just doesn’t seem enough benefit to go through all the gyrations.

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Hey everyone!

I have been pretty silent the last month and a half as I have just been busy busy with work… catering, so holidays are CRAZY for me. Anywho, its settling down now and I wanted to pop in to pose an interesting question to the group.
As an aside – I have been reading my email digest version of the board when I can and have kept you all in my thoughts and prayers. Jan, glad your husband is OK! And Kathy, aside from the fee, at least this kind of makes you hang on to the tax money. When you do get that refund, maybe you’ll have a larger snowball than you would have otherwise because you were forced not to spend it. Idk – just trying to find you a bright spot!
Now here is my quandry – I recently learned the small SUV “crossover” of my dreams can be had for approx the same value as my current car. It’s an odd phenomenon, I know, but the value of my car, which has 111k miles is about the same as a newer model, lower milage (between 50k and 80k seems average range for the monetary value) crossover of the same make. I checked out the mpg and its the same for both vehicles since my older model car is less fuel efficient! So it’s an even monetary swap, for a newer model. I still have a car loan, and was planning on paying it off fully this year anyhow. So… to keep it, or to swap out for the crossover?
And then I was trying to figure out the best way to handle the transaction.
I COULD use my tax refund to fully pay off the car loan first, then list it for sale sooner rather than later once I get the clear title. The drawback here is that my tax money I had planned to use as a snowball for credit debt which has a higher interest rate than the car loan. My worry though is that since I drive a lot for work, as my car mileage increases, I might lose this opportunity to upgrade my car without having to spend extra money. Also, since I hadn’t planned to pay off the car loan in full right away, it would probably be wise to get a loan from the credit union for the crossover, so that I would then be able to apply the cash sales money from the car to the credit card debt of higher interest. I would then pay off the car loan on the same schedule as I would have if I still had the original car. Not sure though if my interest rate will improve (Ill have to check – my current auto loan is at 10%).
I just don’t know if thats the best way to take advantage of the situation.
I do depend on reliable transportation for work, so this opportunity potential is attractive. But I also don’t want to derail my good money habits.

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I am also somewhat new to the DR program

and I am on baby step 2… working on paying off those debts.
But I have still learned A LOT (I can’t even fathom the wealth of financial knowledge inside of the group members here who are almost to step 7!).
My biggest lessons:
1.) Getting into debt was directly connected to my mental outlook that I deserved things NOW instead of having to earn them first. Had to turn that horse around quick!
2.) In addition, I had to learn to get a handle on what I really needed in the first place. When I think back and ask what I bought over the last 10 years that was so important I couldn’t wait for it, I draw a blank. Boy it sucks now to have to pay interest on items that weren’t important to begin with! Ha! Now, I have learned to better decipher what I need to buy and what I don’t need to have because it isn’t really something I need.
3.) Budgeting and pre-planning money is freeing… its work at first, but then it makes everything so much less stressful after a small initial time investment

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Our family started out on our journey in 2007

5 1/2 years later we had paid off 259,000 dollars of personal and business debt. No more personal debt. Unfortunately, our business took a big hit when we lost our biggest client and 50 percent of our income. Then the recession slowed us down. We went into business debt because we literally couldn’t make ends meet. We didn’t pay for inventory we sold and couldn’t pay payroll taxes. Our business is finally back on track! Our bills are current and we have payment plans with Dell and the government. Our home account never went back into debt because I didn’t need credit cards. Our personal take home was cut by 1/3 and we’ve kept it that way even though our business is doing better. I’m more frugal and cut costs whenever I can at home. I am happy to finally be snowballing again for the business. We are also saving up a peaks and valleys fund for the business, which gives me peace of mind that we won’t back slide again.

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