Unexpected financial emeregncy

One of the major challenges  that we faced  last year was when we found out that we have a very low chance of conceiving naturally and that ‘s our most likely chance of starting a family is through IVF. Of course, this has put us in a huge financial distress, especially as we decided to opt for the “shared-risk option” which gives us six IVF rounds for a hefty flat fee of $22,000 that is not covered by our insurance. When we decided that we want to do this , we didn’t have this amount of money available in cash for us to use. We also decided against using any of our emergency fund, which was created solely to prevent us from losing our house if any one of us lost their job.

It took us around six months, but we managed to save $10,000 for the shared-risk option. As for the remaining $12,000, ah well, we don’t have any choice but to put it on credit cards and work diligently to pay the debt as soon as possible. We decided to do this because this might be our only chance of starting a family. We are planning to sign the IVF contract today and mail it tomorrow, which means further belt-tightening starts now, hence I’m back to blogging.  This is a very private and sensitive subject that is so hard for me to share with people I know. I’m opting for this anonymous blogging to give myself an outlet and also to keep myself motivated while me and my husband take on this huge financial stress that will eventually pay off.

Frugal Newbie is back, and this time for a while.

Using a spreadsheet

I started using a spreadsheet this month to balance our house budget. In addition to that we always use mint.com to monitor our day-to-day spending. In my experience, you need both. The Excel sheet gives you an overall idea if you are living beyond your means. Surprisingly, my Excel sheet is showing me that we will have some extra money this month that I will use to pay off some debt. It is very easy to find an spreadsheet on the web. I just did some google search and I found one that I have already customized for our house. So far, I’m happy with the result and I encourage everyone to use both.

Thankful

I have many things to be thankful for this holiday. Just one day before Thanksgiving I became a US citizen. I’m very proud to be a citizen for this great nation.

After more than three years of living here, this country accepted me as one of their own. What a great time to be an American.

Since we live in the Washington, DC area my next plan is to find a job with the government. I have always wanted to do this but I couldn’t because I was not a citizen. Now I can and I’m elated. I’m planning to stay at my current job for a year or so then start my transition.

Another reason to be thankful for is my husband’s raise and bonus last week. Yes, in spite of the horrible economy, my husband got a nice boost in his income. We are very grateful. Our plan is to use his raise to increase the direct deposit amount that goes to our emergency fund. We will increase it by $30, which means that every month we will put $100 dollars in our “rainy day” fund. I know this is not much, but this is what we can afford now while we are paying off debt.

I also managed to get some small translation gigs last week that will help us breathe a little.

Yes, the past week has been good to us. We are grateful. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Next target: Pier 1 Card

I had a financial meeting yesterday with my husband and we decided that the next card that we need to attack is Pier 1 credit card. Yes, I know it is the horror of all horrors to have a department store card but we haven’t paid any interest on it so far because there was a special 0% promotion going on when we got the card. We will be charged interest in March of 2009, so it is better to act now before it is too late.

The total amount on this card is $1726. So it is not too, too bad. We should be able to pay it off before March. How? Translation gigs. I was born outside of the US and hence, my native language is not English. As a result, I picked up translation as my side job. Every once in a while, translation companies contact me to do some work for them. I haven’t done any work for the past month or so but I’m hoping something new will come up soon. I will use this blog to document my progress in paying off Pier 1. As for now, I need to get ready for my day job. Ta Ta.

Capitol One card no more!

I woke up early this morning and logged in Mint first thing. I really wanted to see the number “0″ next to my Capitol One card that I had for over three years. Yes. I made it. Capitol One card is now paid off completely. Just last week, I moved $165 from my short-term savings account and paid off the last remainder of Capitol One. Yes. I’m happy! All of these side gigs finally paid off. I remember this card at one point had over $3000. Not anymore. It is done! It is finished! Finito!

Skype anyone?

My parents, my siblings and almost all of my family members live overseas, in a far, far away land. Every Sunday we talk on the phone. Sometimes they call, other times I do.

Before embracing my frugal lifestyle, I used to buy calling cards online and then use them to call overseas. Although they were pretty affordable, they were not free. Now, I only use Skype. My parents and I usually agree on a certain time, most of the time it is 10:00 am on Sunday, and then we both log on to Skype, hook our microphones and start talking. We also have webcams, which makes chatting over Skype eve more fun. Sometimes we talk for over an hour uninterrupted. All of this is of course, for free!.

Last year, I considered Skype but then I dismissed it as being a hassle and opted instead for phone cards. Not any more. Hassle or not, Skype is the way to go.

Frugal and practical gift

My husband ‘s birthday was last week. Since we are slowly embracing a frugal lifestyle, I struggled for months about what to get him. Six months ago I was thinking about Nintendo Wii. I scrapped the idea after I realized that $300+ for a gift should be the last thing on my mind if I really want to achieve my goal.

Eventually, I decided to buy him $75 dollars worth of stocks. While the market is still down, I thought the best thing to do is simply not buy a toy that might end up gathering dust in the basement, but get something that might actually make profit.
I told my in-laws about my idea and they loved it so much that they copied me and gave him a $100 specially to invest in stocks. My husband loved his gift! He has already bought his stocks and is enjoying watching the market seesaw.
The fascinating and most satisfying thing for me is that I would have never thought of this idea last year. I would have bought that Wii and charged it on my credit card. Long gone the days of irresponsibility.