• Like a bad penny, debt always turns up…

    unless we change how we interact with money, of course!

    The Bad Penny is dedicated to two pursuits: getting out of debt and staying out of debt! It recognizes that frugality and caring for our planet go hand in hand, and that our unsatiated need for stuff is hurting us in so many ways.

    Easier said than done!


    I am not a finance professional. I write about the world as I know it, and my advice may not be the best course of action for you! Please seek qualified advice for your particular situation.

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Victory! (Well, a little one, anyway!)

So a lot has happened financially in the last couple of days. Several are victories, so I wanted to share!

The bad pennies:

1.During the title transfer of our house, among several glaring mistakes our title company made, they filled out paperwork stating that we didn’t want to continue to farm the property and receive an agricultural tax credit, despite our telling them the opposite. I’ve been talking to the County Tax Office, and it doesn’t appear that we will be able to continue to receive the tax credit unless the property has an income of $2500 (3 acres of feed corn? I don’t think it will make that much!) The savings per year is about $130. The worst part for us is that if you quit farming and thus quit receiving the tax credit, you also have to pay back taxes for the past three years – so we have to pay $368 extra on our taxes for 2007 – the amount the previous owners saved. So I’ve been whining a bit around the house about the fact we have to pay other people’s taxes because of the local laws. 🙂

My husband is going to call the title company about it, though I refuse to deal with them anymore after spending three months straightening out all their other major mistakes. I’d rather pay the money! (But that is a story in itself!)

2. Our electrical bill was much higher than expected – $255 – $55 over budget. It used to be that we would be disappointed at this amount, but we’d just pay it. Since we actually started paying more attention to staying in our budget, I feel more stressed out about this, because I know how much we can’t or can’t afford. But we’ll use the money normally for the home improvement budget this month.

Now, since I sound like a whiner…

Lots of big and little good things have happened, too!

1. I received two checks today from Pinecone Research for surveys I completed – $10 total.

2. I also should receive a $20 check from MySurvey soon, as well as one from Moola. I’m going to snowflake the MySurvey check and cash the one from Moola for some fun money.

3. We were absolutely blessed for Christmas – family and friends who knew we really wanted to fix up our house – bring it out of the 1960s – were very generous in Home Depot gift cards. My mom and dad also gave us a large sum of money on a Visa Gift card (beware the fees!) so we could get one of several larger items we need. Because of this, we’ve eliminated our “home improvement” portion of the budget and that money will be going to food, savings, or something else – we haven’t decided yet. This month it’ll be our electric bill.

4. We just found out today that my husband will be getting a pay increase of 3-5%. That’s an additional $60 to $100 a month, which will really help.

5.My husband and I decided to transfer the entire balance of our Suntrust credit card to our business Citibank card. This started because the payment is due in the beginning of the month, with all of our mortgage and utility bills, and it was difficult to figure out how to pay it every month, because of all the other bills.

We called to ask if we could have the date moved or the minimum payment reduced and they refused to budge. On top of that, this afternoon, after three years of being an authorized user on the account, I was told that I was not an authorized user, and never was. (And this isn’t the first time between this card and a SunTrust checking account.)

Now I’m blabbering, so long story short, what SunTrust refused to do, Citibank did. They were willing to transfer the entire balance onto our business Citibank for a 4.99% promotional rate that will last until we pay it off. We still have to pay the 3% transfer fee (though I did try to get them to waive it) but it will still be cheaper in the long run than paying 14.29% and trying to come up with it at the same time as all our housing bills. Thank you, Rich, for your help!

This is a relief for me, because I don’t have to deal with finding money for an extra minimum payment. It doesn’t change the time it will take to pay off our debts according to the Snowball Debt Calculator, but it actually reduced the interest we’d earn by just a little. 🙂

6. After my previous success with Citibank, I decided to call them again tonight about our personal card’s higher interest rate. I wanted to ask them to match my other Citibank rate – 9.9% The Customer Service Representative told me she couldn’t match the rate, but she could give us 4.9% for the next 9 billing cycles. Hey, I’ll take it! It’ll be paid off in a couple of months anyway.

She also reminded us that we had Cash Back rewards in our account to the tune of $78. She said she’d have a check sent out to us!

So not bad, over all. We’re making progress.