Saturday, September 16, 2006

Money makes my brain hurt

So, while away on a tour, you definitely want to make sure that all your finances are in order. Now, things are a lot easier than they were a few years ago. You can go online, set up direct deposit (very important, if you are on a paying tour - make sure they have direct deposit for your pay checks - or you have a really good friend, significant other who can help get cash into your account), set up bill pay. All these great things.

Before I really get into this - disclaimer - I am not a financial analyst or anything of the sort. I am just a girl going through the motions. Please do not take any of this as the end all way to do this. There, making the lawyers happy.

My husband and I were like two passing ships in the night when it came to our coming and going. I was getting back from a 3 week program in Ireland as he was leaving for the tour. He had been dealing with all the finances up to that point while I was in Grad school (and doing an amazing job - some things getting paid a little late - but this was a HUGE job and he is wonderful for doing it). All of the financial responsibility became my bundle of joy. Ah, bliss.

So, here are the problems we have been having - I hope in some way, this can give any pointers to people who may be going away and don't have someone to take care of things at home - like my man does. :)

First thing - we have some debt (well, some is an understatement, but this is a public document, so I really don't want to get into that here). The first thing, to make our lives easier, was to get all the credit cards on an electronic pay system. Granted, make sure you are having them pay at a time of the month when A.) you have money in your account or if A.) is not achievable, then B.) it is around the time of the month when the payment is due. We (hubby and I) set up a payment with one company - I won't say who - and thought - viola, done. Oh, cont-rair! The day we set it up for was going to be LATE a couple billing cycles during the year (yeah, didn't have any disclaimers like - you may want to set it up 3 days before the due date of your most recent bill, etc.). So, ended up paying a $50 late fee, even though it was an electronic payment. Like everything in life, especially in debt payment - early is on time, on time is late. Needless to say-make sure that the payment will go through before the bill is due. A lot of credit companies will actually let you pick your due date - if that is the case, use it to your advantage. Find out when you get paid from your theatre company and make that your due date for debt.

One thing on checking accounts - if you can find one that has an overdraft protection, get it. You never know when one check is coming in, the other out and then you are left with a bouncey bouncey check. And a fee and hassles. Babies, balls and silly puddy are bouncey - checks should never be.

Second thing - credit cards. If you can swing it - before you leave, acquire some credit cards that give you 0% interest for a length of time. That way, you can make smaller payments without nasty interest. Be WARNED - this is a little dangerous - you really have to be on top of things for this to work. One late payment and your interest rate could go to 29.99% APR - ouch! Do this only if you have the organization to handle it.

Any memberships to clubs, library cards, etc.? Make sure you get all those late payments and such out of the way before you leave, if you can. It will save you on a lot of mail while you are gone and late fees getting passed off to creditors, etc. Just saves some hassle. And, in our case - the library. They send notices for books that are not turned in etc. And, if you are a clueless wife like I have been, you are constantly on the phone to your husband saying - has this been turned in, did you pay this while you were here, how much do you owe, etc.

Also, if you have no friends to help out with the mail (i.e., picking it up or getting it forwarded to them while you are away), you can also talk to the post office about holding it for you. They will usually do that automatically once your box is too full - if you have a cool post office delivery person. If not, you could come home to a box stuffed full and find out that half of your mail went in the garbage - it does happen.

That's all I have to say - off the top of my head - about finances. Wish me luck!

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