Love the Zero

Financing of major purchases at zero percent interest can save a bundle. At this time of year, there are so many offers to transfer balances, which can be a blessing. But you have to understand the game and know what you’re doing.

In November I received such an offer in one of my credit card statements. “When you transfer a credit card balance to OUR card, we’ll give you 12 months financing (with a small cash advance fee) at 0%. After that, we’ll gouge you, but it’s still a sweet deal.” I kept it. You never know.

An expensive Christmas gift was purchased in our household this year, components bought online, built by dad and son together. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but still a good deal, and a nice gift. That was supposed to be sweeter with a zero percent interest for 10 months deal, if DH got their credit card. We drank the KoolAid and signed up. But the online company broke out all the components into separate purchases, so that only two of the parts qualified for the special financing. Really? I thought I would pay it off in two or three interest-free payments, but that wasn’t going to happen now, especially with the unexpected medical bill situation. And making minimum payments at 20% APR also wasn’t going to happen.

Wait, I had that 0% balance transfer deal!  After reading everything 10 times, and knowing for certain what I was getting into, I waited for the first bill for the new online company account, and used the balance transfer check to pay it off in full. HA! Take that, you snakes! Everything posted as of this morning, and now we’re hitting your account out of the park.

Let me state emphatically that this does not adversely affect our credit rating (I checked this morning). We’re way above 800, and pay off our consumer cards in full each month (purchases are budgeted to begin with). So we’re not concerned with the credit rating, especially since we’ll be closing out the account. The consumer credit card now hosting the transfer balance, had a zero balance. I will not be using it for anything else over the duration of this process. I might even get rewards points for the balance transfer, but that wasn’t very clear, and would be a surprise bonus.

The balance transfer fee was minimal. We’ll be dividing the starting balance by 10 and paying much more than the minimum. Normally this would seem to be a shell game to me, and I would avoid this kind of thing. But given the shady practices surrounding the online company here, I’m happy to relieve them of their debt service!  And any further encumbrances of our doing business with them.

For us, this means that while I paid off early the zero interest account for the emergency washing machine purchase this month, next month we have the same amount I was paying due to this new debt. Lovely. Life goes on, though, and knowing how to play the game puts us closer to enjoying each inning. Still looking for that financial home run.



Happy Spring! New Projects

Happy spring! 82 degrees on the last day of winter…whaaatt?! A harbinger of a hot summer, I’m afraid.

It’s time to plan projects for the next few months. And we have monkey wrenches already.

We had two major goals for this year: a bucket list vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and addressing the retaining wall on the south side of the garage. Weeelll, wouldn’t you know it?

During a ROUTINE ANNUAL EXAM, a tumor was found, in my abdomen, which required major surgery to remove. I cannot stress enough the value of such exams. It had been two and a half years since I’d been to the doctor, and this thing developed during that time, with no symptoms! Sometimes we think since we’re feeling fine, our bodies are fine. But things happen when you don’t even know it, and the doctors’ jobs are to be aware and find these things while they can still be taken care of. It was ultimately benign, I thank God, but the size of a large, unripe pear. It and the obsolete organ it invaded were removed. There will be a scar, a very large scar. Which no one but my husband and me will see. I’m okay with that.

Without getting political, I have a pre-ACA health insurance policy, with excellent coverage, and my out of pocket cost will be quite manageable, although a big part of our savings. I know the dollar amount, and we are just waiting for the bills to roll in. I’m keeping track of the EOBs online. I have several weeks of recovery ahead of me, doing quite well, thank you. I am trying to learn to “be still.” I have more time to plan, less time to work, and less funds. Challenge accepted!

First of all, we’ve scratched the retaining wall project. My spidey sense is telling me it will cost much more than my marked up estimate. (I usually add 15% to what early research indicates.) While this does need to be done, there are also neighbor factors involved (they have their own issues this year), and more thoughtful planning required (electric supply lines run through the area). This is not something I want to tackle this year, especially since it would take several months from first calls to completion, and be angst-ridden the whole time.

My health issue brought to mind that our self-promised vacation should be a priority for us right now. Since we’ve already saved for it, even with the medical bills, we’re going for it. We may revise our itinerary a bit, but we’ve decided to go.

Meanwhile, the funds will grow for the retaining wall project, while this year we focus on more mundane and less costly maintenance. I will be using service professionals for most, if not all, of my projects this year. My body needs to heal, and the projects are very specific. Plus, I don’t have the equipment. Landscaping will probably not be a big thing this year, except for general cleanup. I’m still developing the list, and hope to get started implementing right after Easter. I’ll be back to share that.

What projects are you planning this year? How have financial surprises changed your list?