Budget & Finance

A Balance Transfer to Hit Pause on Interest

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I’m a little torn about which card to use next month.

I love the cash back card we have from Chase (the Amazon Visa) but that’s about to get cleared off the books because, well, I did a thing.

We bought a car last Saturday and the finance guy went nuts over my credit score. Turns out it was 721. One whole point above some mythical line in the sand that gives you excellent credit.

I remember from getting a mortgage you can have a grouping of credit pulls in a short period of time and they all lump together and don’t hurt you like it would if you submitted applications for cars or houses or credit cards once a month.

So, armed with my credit score and Mr. Brickie’s I decided to improve his credit to the same level as mine since he’s the one with the income and having him with the income and me with the excellent credit isn’t going to get us as far as both of us having excellent credit.

So I came home and went on what they call an app spree. You apply for all the damn cards over a couple day period. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. You don’t apply for ALL the cards. You apply for the best ones you qualify for. I did a balance transfer onto a Discover card for both my current credit cards so I’ll get 0% interest while I pay those off. I left the Macy’s store card we bought the mattress with alone because it’s $1,300 and I should be able to pay that off by the end of March.

I could pay it off now but our lovely (not new) car needs a new axle and an oil change so we’re looking at a $700-$1000 repair depending on the labor. That eats quite a tidy hole in the “pay off Macy’s” fund but I feel very good knowing I can pay for a large car repair in cash.

I will be adding Mr. Brickie as an authorized user on all the cards I receive and I also signed him up for his own credit card based on his credit level. It has an annual fee ($39) but I credit the last card I got with an annual fee for improving my credit the way it has and that can save us thousands on a mortgage down the road.

I think it’s worth the cost.

Now that the app spree is over it’s time to “garden” where you pay off debt and keep very low balances on your cards (between 1% – 3%) so you are seen by your magic FICO number as a super-responsible user of credit.

I’m considering putting the bills that currently go on the Chase Visa on different cards and then have those cards autodraft their totals on the due date from our second checking account. Then I can just deposit money at the beginning of the month into the second checking account and those payments will come out through the month. Mostly hassle-free and all the bills get paid and all the cards get used.

It might be too complicated to do it that way. We’ll see once the dust settles on all the crazy stuff we’ve done in February.

New car, new direction with money, new credit cards. We could be positively “normal” if I’m not careful. Lucky for me, careful comes very naturally after 13 years of practice and habit. I see a $5,000 credit limit (or $6,000, or $8,500) and it’s just a number that is part of my credit utilization score. I don’t think of these numbers as money or opportunity. I don’t think about what I deserve or what I wish I had.

It’s a puzzle to be solved to save money.

I can’t figure out Kohl’s cash for the life of me but credit scores? I think I get how this works.

Funny sidenote: I had a friend over last week and she was telling me she thought her credit was terrible. I had her download Credit KarmaSesameWhatever and it was a 736 (or 763, I can’t remember) so her credit is even better than mine.

I was super happy for her!

So for 2016, I’m hoping we can get the credit cards paid off for good and do Christmas with cash. It’s more possible than it’s ever been before.

I’ll start showing how we spent it again next month when things are back to normal. Even my budget doesn’t make sense anymore this month. It’s all a jumbled mess of numbers. I know a lot got done and a lot got paid and some got wasted but overall it was a good month packed with payoffs and good choices.

I don’t think it will ever get old paying my rent through November. It feels good.

Oh, the car! We bought a 2016 Nissan Versa. The cheapest new car in America. $14k out the door with bluetooth, manual locks, and manual windows. Yep. Manual windows. Mr. Brickie loves it.

nissan versa 2016

Isn’t it lovely and boring and just….a car. Which is all we needed or wanted. This isn’t our exact car, it’s the same color but ours doesn’t have the sweet chrome trim because that costs extra. He gets to commute in it because it gets 40mpg and even with his local driving he’s averaging 37.5 right now. So gas is much less expensive than when he was driving my minivan to work.

We are probably going to come out ahead between gas savings and the additional $110/6mos. of car insurance. We’ll see.

I’ll tackle paying this off as soon as the credit card debt is gone. We financed it at 5.04% which isn’t perfect but finance said get his credit where mine is and we’ll qualify for any 0% offer we want in a year.

I don’t plan on buying a car next year but that’s GOOD information to have. We could be those people, the ones who qualify for offers on the TV, in a year. Things feel closer than I thought.

Don’t worry, I won’t go buy a pony and fly it to Disney to celebrate. I don’t even like Disney. Ponies, on the other hand…

2 thoughts on “A Balance Transfer to Hit Pause on Interest

  1. Congrats on the 721 score. Likely, it was one decision you made at some point that tipped the scales from 719 to 721 and now you have a cheaper payment! Honestly, that’s nothing to gloss over and is a big positive for your finances now and moving forward!

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