Louise and Dave's Blog

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07/14/2014

Refinancing the van: Taking Dave’s high credit rating out to play

When we started Project Money, our coach Sherry delivered the surprising news that Dave’s credit rating was maybe the highest she’d ever seen at 838.  How Dave acquired such a high rating, is a bit mysterious to me.  As the designated bill payer of the family, I have to admit that I was a bit miffed that his rating was higher than mine (788).  Oh well, I got over it this month when it helped us qualify for the best rate on a new car loan.

This week we refinanced our 14K loan on the van through Summit.  We cut our interest rate from 4.59% to 2.29%.  If we took the full 3 years to repay the loan our finance costs would be $530.95 plus $26 in filing fees.  Hopefully, we will pay it off much sooner than that.  

Check out how our Project Money friends have used low interest car loans to re-finance higher interest debts:

Healthy eating

We’ve gotten a surprising amount of concern about our decision to cut our food budget to $120/week.  We want to reassure people that no one is going hungry, and we are eating healthier foods.  We did run out of ketchup though.  And I must also admit that I came down to breakfast the morning after our vacation to find that Dave had given Celine a breakfast of strawberry jam, 2 rice cakes and a glass of soy milk.  We’ll blog later about the challenges of feeding multi-allergy kids on a budget.  

We do get help from our family and the community, as many families with cancer do.  Dave’s mom watches the kids two days a week and feeds them well.  She also sends us home with lots of yummy leftovers.  We eat supper one night a week at Gilda’s Club, a free cancer support community located in Middleton.  

Today Celine and I went to the Monona Farmer’s Market.  We bought organic zucchini, patty pan squash, beets, and leeks.  We also got arugula, kale, broccoli, and a tomato.  We spent about $9.40, enjoyed the fiddlers, and we got to play on the playground.  I’m looking forward to making a leek arugula pizza later this week using Trader Joes’ pizza dough that is $1.50/pack (one pack makes 4 10-12” pizzas depending on your skill with the dough).  

To see more about our shopping and food choices check our facebook post on the Summit Credit Union page (scroll down and click on the “posts to page” link on the left). 

Takeaway for the week

What is more important than we realized and easier than we thought:  If you are one of our friends who is crazy sick with cancer and treatment, or you know someone in this condition, this may be our most important takeaway for the entire project. If you have lost income and can’t meet your current monthly payments on your debt, talk to someone at a credit union and see if you can refinance the debt.

Combining credit card debt into a low interest car loan is easy, and will lower your monthly payment and the total finance cost. In fact, everything you need is probably already in your wallet or car:

1.  Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)-- check your wallet insurance card

2.  Make model and year

3.  Mileage

4.  Signatures of everyone on the loan

5.  Title— if you have a paper title, you may need to bring it in later

You're a phone call, an on-line app, or a car ride from getting some help.  Check into the options for  a “borrower security contract.”  We opted for coverage of the loan if one of us dies.  There are other more expensive options that would cover disability or involuntary unemployment or family leave.  

 

Comments

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It's so interesting think about how different people can react to reading something on these blogs. When I heard that your food costs were cut so low, I just assumed that your family may be focusing on vegetarian/vegan meals (beans are just as good as meat) and locating groceries someplace cheaper than the Willy Street Co-op! Looks like the Monona farmer's market is even cheaper than the square. Congrats on the find!

I'd love to hear how you cut your grocery bill to $120 a week. What are your other tips and advice? We are at $200 per week for our family of 4. Now, that also includes making enough for Troyer and I to have lunch the next day for most work days but would love to hear more! And way to go on re-fi your van! In one of our blogs, we wrote on how we had (ok it was really me...) had to "re-buy" our truck to re-fi my credit card debt. I'm happy to report I'll have that thing paid off 1 year less than the term of the loan!

I absolutely LOVE Trader Joe's! They have so many great, economical food choices. And Kudos to Dan for that AWESOME credit score :)

Nicky - thank you for the support and encouragement. I loved reading your blog, and it's so exciting to hear about the progress your family continues to make.
We shop in bulk for meat/fish at Costco (this can throw the budget off, as it did last week by about $15 when I got a large salmon fillet and 4# of ground beef. But, it will even out because we eat and freeze the beef and use it other weeks). We buy mostly organic veggies and fruits at Costco, the farmer's market, Trader Joes, and the Co-op. We've had to cut apples which makes me sad, but they are just too expensive right now. Celine is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, treenuts and peanuts. So, we don't buy many processed foods - just cheerios, chex cereal, bread, tortillas, and dry pasta. I have to watch for sales on Celine's special foods like quinoa pasta. We are still winging it on a meal plan. How did you guys do the amazing coupon thing?
Connie, I agree that Trader Joes can have some really good prices. We can get organic 2% and skim milk there for the same price as Woodmans. We switched Celine to TJ's organic soymilk. And their organic bananas are great.

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