Thursday, August 14, 2014

As Billy Joel said, "I'm Moving Out!"

There is no such thing as an easy move unless you are in a college dorm!  But then you may have had your parents helping you so you were not alone.

For the past two months we have been going through each room and storage area in the house and just shake our heads at how much we accumulated in almost 14 years in our home.  That is not counting the other 16 years of living in our previous home where the contents came along with us to our current one.

As I have now stated to anyone who will listen, there is no such thing as "What If?"  I will no longer say that we have to save something because what if we need it later? What if the kids want to see the cards they sent us when they were in Kindergarten?  What if I gain weight and I need to wear my old jeans?  What if I need that 40th basket or glass vase?

Out it all will go but at least we were able to donate so much to some organizations which do need those things.

Cleaning out is not only tedious and dirty, it is back breaking and neck hurting. Not to mention that I cut myself on a broken hanger.  Someone asked me why we didn't have help doing all this, and I answered that a stranger could not help us go through 30 years of memories before throwing it all out.   

Last week I was working in the last room of the basement and found a shopping bag buried under 5 cargo bags which have not been used since our daughters stopped going to camp.  I could not imagine what was in that shopping bag so I took it upstairs and started going through it.

I had to call my husband and tell him what I had found...all his "drawings" of me when we first dated and then when I was pregnant.  I laughed so hard at the captions to the drawings that tears came down and actually smudged the ink on the pages!  These are definitely a book in the making. Ok, so I was happy that I had not thrown this out. And I am going to keep these precious drawings until I can scan them and put them on a USB drive.

We think that saving all our kids' everything is great and that they will want all of it when they get older.  But the truth is, or at least in my situation, they loved seeing it all, took some photos and then said it was ok to throw away. They have no room to store any of it!  

More and more people I speak with tell me how much they save.  I tell them my story.  They say that is good to know, but I know that most of them will continue to save and save. It seems to be human nature.

Please remember that if you find yourself in a similar situation, you can always call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 1-877-399-2570 or schedule a pick up at:  They will come to your house with a truck to get your items.  Also call the Vietnam Veterans of America at 1-800-775-8337 or go online to schedule a pick up at: Both groups are wonderful and are so grateful for your donations. Just be aware of what they won't take, such as TV's and they can't take anything that 1 person can't pick up by themselves, like a big sofa.

Needless to say, we don't ever want to experience this again. If we never save a paint can again, it will be too soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

FICO SCORES: The Ups and Downs

Nothing in life is simple.

When using your credit card, if you keep to under your spending limit your FICO score likes this.

When you then charge so much that you are very close to your credit spending limit, your FICO score will go down.

Why?  Read the quote below and see why no matter what you do, it is a "catch 22" situation. But what I leaned is that your FICO score keeps changing so one month it may be better than another due to your spending activities and how you are paying for them.

So one month you charge a good deal and the next month you don't owe too much.  Your score will be revised.

If asking for a credit increase is not for you, then try making a partial payment during your billing cycle to then open up your credit availability during that billing cycle's period.

Here is the quote:

  1. Proportion of balances to crdt limits is too high on bank / revolving accts  Hide details
  2. Consumers who use a high percentage of their available credit (generally known as utilization) have a higher risk of delinquency (falling behind on payments) and charge-off (loan default) over time. Lower use of available credit allows consumers who have the need to temporarily carry higher loan balances to do so, because they have available credit on their accounts. Consumers with heavier credit usage cannot absorb changes to their financial situation as easily, which can lead to higher risk over time. Keeping credit balances lower in relation to available credit will help reduce the negative impact on a credit score over time.

Credit Card Credit Limit Ceiling...How High is Yours?

Did you ever try to have your credit limit increased on your credit card?  Were you successful?  If not, here is what you need to know about credit cards and your spending limits.

Let's say you spend, on average, an amount not too close to your limit.  Let's say the reasons you don't are either because you don't need to most of the time, or if you charge a large amount, you might use up your limit and not be able to use your card again in that billing period. If the latter applies to you call your card company to request an increase.

Your card company may have a voice prompted system for this request and you do not actually speak to anyone.  In a few days you find out you were denied the increase.  The reason:  in the past year you never needed an increase because your charges never reached close to your limit. Now you have to call to actually speak to a representative in the credit area.  So you say, "If I had a higher limit, I would be able to use the credit card more often, but since I don't, I can't use the card all the time. And the response you get is, "But because you don't get close to your limit, the bank doesn't see why you need an increase."  It is a "catch 22" situation.  You can't use something you don't have.  This has nothing to do with whether you can't afford it or your credit rating not being good enough.

Now the representative says that they will do a "manual" credit line increase request. They ask you if you have a mortage and the amount and then ask for your yearly income.  They then ask if you have a minimum amount you would accept for the increase. Done.  Next thing you know, you have the increase. Granted, this is not always the case, but this is most likely what happens when you do a manual request. (I cannot promise that every credit card company functions the same way.)

Of course I am not advocating that you should spend more than you can afford. It is good to know how to go about this and what to expect if you should need an increase. Funny thing is that if you did spend close to your limit all the time, the credit card company may increase your limit without you having to ask.

Please look for my upcoming post about how all this affects your FICO score.  It will be short and sweet.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Supply Side of Your Electric Bill

It seems we spend more and more time trying to find the best price for anything and everything. And with the internet, this is not difficult to accomplish.

Same goes for the price we pay for our electricity, at least from the supply side of the equation.

Many states allow consumers to choose which company will supply the electricity although the delivery of electricity is the responsibility of your local electric company such as Con Ed, NYSEG, PSEG to name a few.

These supply companies may offer fixed or variable rates for the year.  There are some companies offering fixed prices for 24 months. Some companies have a cancellation fee if you leave the contract before the time period stated in the contract.

So many variables to say the least.

I started my search once I received a letter from my exisiting supply company letting me know that my contract is up and what my new fixed price was going to be for the coming year.  

I then set out to see what other companies were offering.  This is easy enough. Just log on to the sites listing ESCO companies in your state.  There are lists upon lists of each company showing fixed or variable pricing, length of contracts, cancellation fees, if any, and the website or phone number you can call to get more information.

For example, in NYS try this website:

Usually the contract takes about 2 months to get in place and most likely your new company will take over after a meter read date.  Most companies can't let you start anytime you choose so beware of any cancellation fees you may have on your current contract.  Paperwork is filed with your local electric company to let them know you changed supply companies.  Then you will get a letter stating that you have changed your supply company, or that you are continuing with your current one, and the letter will give you the start date of your new service.

You will also receive a letter from your new supply company. 

All very organized.

My first action was to take care of my house and I signed up with NYSEG Heating Solutions through  Apparently Direct Energy either owns or took over NYSEG Heating Solutions. It also represents Gateway Energy. When I mentioned that I needed to also change the supplier for the barn, I was connected to the person in Commerical accounts.

I had an extremely buttoned up representative from handling Commercial accounts.  (Since the barn is unoccupied, my electric company considers it Commercial and the rates are different from Residential. Maybe I need some horses!)

There was an issue as far as when my current contract ended and when I could begin with a new company to avoid any cancellation fees and the representative, her name is Sandy, made sure that my contract started past the time my old one ended. She even checked my Residential account to assure me that I would be OK with the start date. We went over everything carefully to make sure I was clear on contract and procedure.

Sandy's professionalism surpassed almost every representative I deal with on a daily basis.  She gave me her number so that I could reach her if I had some any questions. And guess what? She was there when I called!

The next time you get your electric bill, check to see who supplies your electricity and what you are paying per KW hour and then see if you can find a better price.

And don't forget to see what your cancellation policy is before you commit to a new company. You don't want to lose money before you can start saving.