Between my tax refund and puppy money

I have a decent chunk of change to work with.

So what I’m wondering is this – so long as I have enough for an emergency fund, which would be the smart decision to make?

1. Pay off my credit cards; OR
2. Pay for a reliable used vehicle.

I’m currently driving a 95 Geo Prizm with 230,000 on the clock. I’ve already put in approx $1,000 in repairs in the last few months, and the engine is leaking oil and chewing up spark plugs so I HAVE to replace this.

I added up what I pay for the CCs and if I pay those off, I will still have enough for a decent deposit and be able to afford a car payment so long as its not more than $245 a month.

I’m just not sure which is the smartest move to make?

Setting up a budget isn’t as difficult as it sounds

I love the peace of mind I have knowing what money we have and where it’s going (instead of wondering where it went). Once you set one up and stick to it for a few months, you’ll never want to go back. :)

I agree Amber with the PEACE OF MIND. Especially if funds are Tight. It’s really helped me to sleep better after I’ve figured things out…even if there’s not enough money for everything…at least I’ve tried!

I also have to adjust my budget 1/2 way through the month and each month because of irregular income. You may have to adjust yours month by month as you go. It’s a working budget not one budget set in stone for the whole year.

Friends, thanks for your assistance!

What an awesome amount of great information you all have. I think I will solve my Walmart problem by splitting up the order and paying separately out of envelopes. I really don’t budget much money for clothing since I make most of my clothes (as I mentioned earlier). Still, I was thinking that maybe I can take some of my “fabric” money and convert that to “clothing” money since for me it’s pretty much the same. also, that way i would not feel so bad about spending so much fabric money and zero on clothing.
Great idea, isn’t it!

A lot of times, a cashier can print a subtotal on the receipt,

too, so you wouldn’t even have to total them up yourself. That doesn’t take nearly as long as ringing up the different categories separately (it simply takes a press of one button), but still saves you the trouble of figuring out how much you spent on each.

Personally, I go with what it was *mostly* for, and I lump TP, Kleenex, cleaners, soap, shampoo, etc. with my grocery budget. If I buy something significant (say, some clothes) at Costco or Wal-Mart when most of the purchase was for groceries, I’ll separate it when I enter the receipt at home. If I buy something insignificant (say a roll of tape or a bottle of glue: office supplies), I’ll just leave it with the rest of the groceries.

I don’t actually use cash in envelopes, though.

I also believe in keeping things very simple

I separate my envelope money into envelopes and then when I am at the checkout I estimate how much in in each category. If I am buying groceries and laundry detergent, then I’ll add approximately the cost of laundry detergent. I don’t worry too much if I’m off a bit.

If I go to someplace like Walmart or SuperTarget, I may buy things that are budgeted in several categories.. groceries, clothing, school supplies and household supplies. If I estimate that the clothing costs $20 and it actually costs $18 or $21, I’m not going to get picky over it as long as I am paying cash and am close.

Those are great suggestions :)

What I do, is keep it simple. I remember Salivan saying that we can get too complicated. For us, I have an envelope that has groceries (it includes paper products, personal (hair, soap etc) & household cleaners) and then one for pets. Try it a couple of different ways to see what works best for you. Just tweak it to your personal taste.

Hey, i used the envelope system!

and it is great! you see exactly what you have to spend for each budget. there is no guess work, because you can physically see what money is left. once the money is gone, you are done with that part of the budget until the next paycheck. Since you are paid once a month, you budget should be easy to get started with guaranteed payday loans online, yes it is very overwhelming at first, but keep it up and it gets alot easier pretty quick. First thing you want to do is before spending a penny, is get all your bills together, and the budget form, or even just a plain piece of paper. the budget from might help you from forgetting something though. at the top, put in the ammount of your check, and just go down the list entering in all your household and car bills. subtracting as you go, so you have a running total of what is left. put in what you need for food, entertainment, and any other categories you need to fill in. the last thing being your unsecured debt. put in the min payment sof all those debts. and once all is filled in, what you have left you want to put in your bef., once bef is at $1000, then you move that money to your lowest debt on the sheet, and you work the debt snowball that way.

By the third or forth month, you will have a good feel of how it will go. every month may change, but it should be pretty close for you by this point, month to month.

One person suggested ringing up each category separately

and paying with cash from each envelope separately…groceries, personal products, pet items, etc. (Gosh I hope you’re never in line before me! :)

Someone suggested using a recipt spreadsheet of some type when they got home. Yet someone else said that was too much trouble.

Here’s a suggestion. Group your category items together on the conveyor belt. Say all the groceries first – then paper products – then personal products. Pay with cash from one envelope. When you get home you can move the cash from envelope to envelope. The receipt will have the products grouped together…just add each category up. If necessary ask the checkout person to ‘move the receipt up’ a bit before starting the next category.

Just an idea…I don’t use any of these ideas! LOL

I have groceries

paper products and pet stuff all together in my grocery envelope. I put all of those things on the check out thing and pay for that out of my grocery envelope. I put a little divider down and put down any clothing and she rings that up separately, and I pay for that out of my clothing envelope,then another divider and then the housing/household stuff etc. I figure it’s easier to let Walmart do the divvying up. Takes a few more minutes, but at least I am keeping track of where it’s all coming from, and I don’t have to mess with figuring it all out at home. I am NOT a number nerd, LOL…and just could NOT face sitting down and figuring that all out later.

Julie, congratulations on getting started on the budget!

I had the same Wal-Mart dilemma, and here is what helped me (disclaimer: I am the nerd in our house):

I have separate envelopes for groceries, household, personal/toiletries, and dog. At the register, I pay for everything out of the grocery envelope. When I get home, I use the receipt splitter spreadsheet to figure out how to reimburse the other envelopes (I am pretty sure that spreadsheet is in the files).

I check out the deals at www.moneysavingmom.com, www.couponmom.com, and www.hotcouponworld.com before I go shopping to get the best deals on everything by combining coupons and sales. I am getting most of our toiletries, OTC meds, and household products for literally pennies on the dollar using the CVS Extra Care program – it is well worth trying.

This is what has worked for me – hope it’s helpful for you too. Hang in there, and good luck!

Hey, i used the envelope system!

and it is great! you see exactly what you have to spend for each budget. there is no guess work, because you can physically see what money is left. once the money is gone, you are done with that part of the budget until the next paycheck.

since you are paid once a month, you budget should be easy to get started with. yes, it is very overwhelming at first, but keep it up and it gets alot easier pretty quick.

first thing you want to do is before spending a penny, is get all your bills together, and the budget form, or even just a plain piece of paper. the budget from might help you from forgetting something though. at the top, put in the ammount of your check, and just go down the list entering in all your household and car bills. subtracting as you go, so you have a running total of what is left. put in what you need for food, entertainment, and any other categories you need to fill in. the last thing being your unsecured debt. put in the min payment sof all those debts. and once all is filled in, what you have left you want to put in your bef., once bef is at $1000, then you move that money to your lowest debt on the sheet, and you work the debt snowball that way.

by the third or forth month, you will have a good feel of how it will go. every month may change, but it should be pretty close for you by this point, month to month.

It’s overwhelming and scary in the beginning

but it does get easier when you figure things out especially when it comes to making a budget. Your fixed bills are like your rent/mortgage, insurance, car payments that sort of thing and your variables are your utilities and other things. I don’t have a lot of payments so I can’t list mine to give you a good example and I don’t know your situation that well.
THe BEF is there to protect you if Murphy comes along, i’m glad you had it in place. Have you replaced it? You do that before you start the snowball. I’m trying to get current on everything before I even start my BEF and sometimes feel like a failure but i’m learning more and more as I go. A budget is never perfect either. Seems like when you finally get it figured out something always comes along to throw a wrench in there and yuo have to work it out again. Hang in there.

The difference is probably a matter of pennies in most cases

But as Chuck and I mentioned earlier, you might as well pay earlier and have some padding to help insure against late fees. My old school of thought was that those b*s aren’t getting a dime until it’s due, but when I realized I was cheating them out of a little interest, no matter how small, my attitude changed a little.

One time where this is critical is when you are trying to pay an account off. If the account closes on the 15th with a balance of $200 and you pay them $200 on the 16th, you’re pretty much done. If you wait until the 30th of the month, they will charge interest on $100 (half a month at $200, half a month at $0, average balance is $100).

Here, you think you’ve paid the account off, and there’s a finance charge for a couple of bucks the next month. If you overlook this, next thing you know you’re paying a late fee as well. The lesson I’ve learned is, after you pay an account off, wait until the statement closing date and make sure you see a zero balance. If not, pay it off again and repeat.

Recently, I’ve seen them reverse that last few dollars of finance charge. I guess they figure it’s just going to generate more hassle and badfeelings and you’ll end up fighting them over the charges anyway. But I have been burned in the past (as you probably guessed).

“Stan” wrote:

Most charge based on the average balance for the month, so the earlier you pay, the less interest you are charged.”

I talked to a bank employee and found out it is ‘average daily balance’. She agreed that paying as much as possible as early as possible in the billing cycle would be less in interest.

The example we used was owing $1000 with a due date of the 30th and a minimum due of $50. If I paid $200 when I got my bill (and beginning of the billing cycle) on the 5th, my daily balance would be averaging around $800 +/-. If I waited until the due date of the 30th, my daily average balance would be closer to $1000…no matter what amount I paid on the due date.

What would the actual interest dollar amount be?…I have no clue! LOL but it has to be less paying it earlier than later.

The bank employee even told me her friend ‘accidently’ took money out of the ATM with the card and it was processed as a Cash Advance. She had to pay off her purchase balance before they started applying money to the cash advance. The amount grew larger due to interest being added to the original amount. That’s just the way this bank processes payments…purchases first…cash advances second.
Interest or amounts didn’t play into the picture.

Looking at it again, I guess it really doesn’t matter to US which balance they apply the payments to because the interest is the same on both. I could understand where someone else pointed out the large difference in their interest rates for purchases and cash advances and it would make a big difference.

I want to thank everyone again for helping me LEARN about this credit card stuff. I know everyone’s CC are not the same…but at least we’re talking about it and learning. Now…to teach the kids! (I think that’s going to be my new tag line!)

Most charge based on the average balance for the month

so the earlier you pay, the less interest you are charged.
Because most of my snowball payments don’t change from month to month, but the due date varies by as much as several days, I have scheduled automatic payments 10-14 days before the date the payments are due.
It used to be that I would pay them on the last day possible, but this way, they don’t “get me” by moving the due date around, and paying on the early side is only a good thing.

Thanks for all the advice about the seminar

I have tried to do the Baby steps. First, I put the $1000 in a savings — but then I needed it right away and it was gone. I downloaded the great spreadsheet that will show you how to snowball and got that all set up. Now all I need is the money. lol
One problem is that I only get paid once a month on the first. By the 5th, I’ve paid all the bills and I’m broke until the first of the next month. I haven’t yet tried the envelope system and using cash only — do people really do that? To tell the truth, I haven’t had a dollar in my wallet for several years… I either paid with debt card or credit card. It’s going to seem strange now to pay with money.

Oh Lord I need this program so badly! lol. I suppose I should try to make some kind of budget, shouldn’t I. What do I do, list all my fixed expenses and estimate my variables? It will take me all month to figure out which are my fixed and which are variable… no wonder I’m freaking out. It’s overwhelming.