Hi, I am new here (letter from Esther)

DH and I are *finally* committing ourselves (ha! that could be taken two ways!) to reducing our debt and saving money. I’ve read the TMMO and we’re ready to hit it hard. We have a lump sum payment coming to us in the next 7-10 days. We are paying off two credit cards with part of it and making principal payments on two other debts. The remaining amount is going into our savings, which should be about $1400. So, I guess we have our $1000 emergency fund with that. Next is our snowball, which I like to call our RDR (rapid debt reduction)– I just like abbreviations. We have two remaining installment debts; we’ll pay one off in 5 months and the other one off in 13 months. In 13 months my car will also pay off. This will leave us our mortgage and no other debts — woohoo!

I know that different things work for different people. Here is what we’re proposing as far as the tools for how to accomplish our goals:

1. Three-ring binder with January-December dividers. Each month we’ll print off our proposed budget and put it in the notebook. At the end of the month we’ll print off our report from:
2. Quicken. I have purchased Quicken Basic 2007 and we’ll use it to put in our income & expenses and track how close to budget we are running. I can download our bank info from their online banking website directly into Quicken.
3. Online banking/automatic payment options – our credit union offers free online banking & we take advantage of that. I am setting up all payments to be paid through online banking. In addition, all static payments (car payment, house payment, credit card payments, school tuition payment) will be set up as an automatic payment every 4 weeks. Since DH gets paid every two weeks, this will ensure that the payment is made the day AFTER his direct deposit goes into the bank.
4. Automatic transfer every two weeks to our savings account (a portion) and DD’s savings account (a smaller portion).

I know that it’s not necessarily recommended to put $$$ into savings until the installment debt is paid off, but we have some pretty big repairs we are going to have to make before that time comes or we’ll have some major problems with our house. So, we feel it is important to save up each month toward those goals.

Also, one thing I didn’t mention is that our three ring binder (green, for money!) will also have our written-out goals and a calendar page for each month of the year.

I am wondering 1. if anyone has any suggestions regarding the above and 2. what system do you use to keep up with your bills (i.e., should I put a plastic pocket in my three ring binder to put unpaid bills, get one of those desktop organizers with the 31 day slots?)

Thanks to any and all advice!