Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thanks, mom and dad

After my parents got wind that my evil private student loan lender (S&M, in no uncertain terms) had jacked rates up to 8.75%, they offered to pay off the 16k (there's still another 80k apart from this, but it's at a much better interest rate) and have me pay them back interest free. I really feel uncomfortable with the parents-doing-nice-things-for-me thing, I think we're all trying to be independent adults, etc. but this kind offer will cut about 4 years off of my previous 10-year payoff, so I graciously accepted. And if I ramp the payments up a little higher (I'd almost rather owe Visa or whoever else money, rather than my family), that payoff date will be even closer. I did the financially correct thing, I think, but whether parents holding a promissary note is a good thing or not, well, I think is a flip of the coin. I am lucky, very lucky, I know--and I'm not complaining--but I still feel guilty somehow.

Making almost $100 out of nothing, and questions about best credit card deals...

Thanks to Family CEO, My Money Forest (was that you?) and others for the tips on making money while I'm here cutting my fingernails, ha! From the various recommendations that I've read this week, I've made about $90-100 for doing nothing, and saved a couple bucks with very lucrative coupons. Here's the quick lowdown:

$5+ 20+ 50= $75 for that "entertain50" Sharebuilder and Ebates scheme. Did that, and am trying to get Spouse and friends in on that referral action to try to push that total even higher. Want a referral? Email me!!

$20 on the "bid on Ebay from your phone" scheme that I've read on more than one blog. I got a "you will get this money on Paypal in a day or two" email late last week, but no Paypal dough yet as of today (Sunday). Hey, I'm just excited that I'm about to get paid even though I bid on something and was quickly outbid, so it's $20 pure profit.

Bought at $3 lottery ticket in a neighboring state today. Won $3, decided not to push my luck by letting it ride. Cashed out.

Went to Home Depot today, and used a "$10 off $25" coupon that I had from Lowe's. The coupon was expired. After about 3 seconds of confusion and talking to managers, the cashier had $10 deducted from my bill. I guess HD is desperate to match Lowe's bargains, and vice versa. I didn't expect them to take the coupon. It's just one of those "ask, and you shall receive" kinds of deals. Hooray!

A question for all: My 0% credit card will expire next month. Where should I go next for the best combination of low APR, free goodies, and all the rest? Any recommendations would be great.


Anyone there? Hellooo?

I have been blogging not very regularly since Februrary. I have left comments with other bloggers but have only received ONE comment--ever--on this blog. I don't know what I'm doing wrong,or what I should change. It's kind of disheartening, writing for nobody. I do want to keep writing (and I meant to write something much longer this weekend, but for who?), but I feel like I'm doing the "tree falls in the forest" thing. Anyone there?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Transferring student loan debt to credit cards?

I have a mountain of student loan debt. Most of it is locked up at about 3%, consolidated at the perfect alignment of the stars and planets a few years ago. But about 16k is through an evil private lender whose rates keep increasing along with the Fed. They're now at about 8.75%.

I receive many great credit card offers, most of which only offer a low rate for a year or so. But I also have one from Discover, offering a fixed 3.99% through something like 2010. The minimum payment will likely be more than the monthly loan payment, yes, but is there any reason why I wouldn't do this? What are the credit ramifications of doing this--any experience, anyone?

Did we spend a lot or save a lot? Maybe a little of both.

I'm sure the similie has been made before: Debt reduction is a lot like dieting. You know you need to cut calories to reach your desired goal and day after day, you kind of chip away at it. Then the weekend comes, and you gorge yourself and end up weighing more than you did before. That's sorta what happened this weekend. We took some money out of a MMA that was earning low interest and paid off our two small-balance credit cards. Now we only have the one big one between the two of us. Then I put $700 on the big one on payday and felt really good about it.

And then the weekend happened and we spent about $1200, and up the Amex balance goes again. Guilt. Frustration. And all that. But how do I reconcile this? Actually we had a really, really productive weekend, and spent that money on things that we really needed for the house. We bought desks for the office that we've just renovated, and we can't set up the room and move crap out of the other storage holding areas without them--we picked them up from the store, even, to save on shipping. We bought shelves (at an outlet store) that I've been wanting for two years, again picking them up to save on shipping. (I think they were at the outlet because they might be discontinued, hence the need for us to move quickly on them.) The tax was also lower because we bought them in a neighboring state. We bought $100 worth of plants and mulch that completely changes the way the front yard looks--big bang for the buck, which potentially increases the value of our home. And we also bought a tall ladder, so that we can start painting some of our home's interior ourselves and not have to pay someone else to do it (the ladder was $200, and we had gotten an estimate for $1100 for a pro to paint one big room!). Yes, we spent a lot but we feel really good to have met so many of our goals for attaining things that we needed as cheaply (without skimping on quality) as we could.

So I guess the plan is to go back to "dieting" for the next month or so, making improvements to the house that won't cost much but just require a lot of elbow grease. We got rid of two credit cards, now it's time to slay the big one.