Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Price Sanity?

I'm happy to report that I kept my spending in check during the visit of my cousin and her girls. To be honest, more of my sanity was spent than was cash. I'm not sure that's a better deal, but at least I didn't incur any new debt and I didn't overspend.

But I must confess that I felt like spending some dough after they left as retail therapy -- and as a reward for being patient with two girls who for 3.5 days and four nights stayed in my home and never said a word to me unless forced. It was maddening! I actually considered buying a new iPod. But I am going to try to suppress that desire to spend. In the end, I'll be happier to pay off the Little Beast sooner rather than later.

I did enjoy catching up with my cousin. It's been a long time since we hung out. She seemed to have a good time, and that's the important thing, especially given her unhappiness with her marriage. And it definitely gave me a greater appreciation for my life. I tend to think my life is pretty boring -- and to many, I'm sure it is -- but although I'm hopelessly single, I am, overall, content.

Another good thing about the visit is that it kept me from obsessively checking the financials. And guess what? The world didn't come to an end.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weekend Watch

I'm having company this weekend. My cousin and her two daughters -- ages 12 and 13 -- are coming up for a long weekend, tomorrow night through Tuesday morning.

I don't have any big plans, but we do plan to visit the Spy Museum. I bought the tickets a couple weeks ago, and yes, I charged them. She will be paying me back for their portion, so it's not too bad. My plan is to set up a payment to my charge card as soon as she pays me.

Otherwise, I'm hoping to keep spending at a minimum. I'm not the kind of person who feels the need to pay for everyone's meals, souvenirs, and the like, so no worries about that. I realize it may sound selfish or cheap, but I have to watch my bottom line. Spending money I don't have and incurring more debt just to impress people isn't on the agenda. If I didn't have debt, things might be different. But I do, so here we are. I mean, I may pay for the pizza one evening, but that's where I draw the line.

There will be some opportunities to spend, and that does concern me a little. For one, we're going to the flea market on Sunday and I'm a sucker in those situations. I'm going to have to think twice -- heck, three times -- before I buy anything.

The fact is that I've been very good and I want to keep up my good work. I'm still saving, and I'm working so hard on paying down the debt. I don't want to hit the slippery slope.

One other thing, I've decided to cash out all overtime pay from my paycheck. I'm putting it away in an envelope. The plan is to save it as a clothing allowance for now and maybe a regular allowance down the line. I plan to do it at least until July. That's at least six more paychecks. And if I get a raise in April, I plan to use the current salary base amount and put any raise and overtime income in the allowance. Let's see how much I can save.

OK, that's it. I'll check in next week and let you know how well I did over the weekend. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Absolute Minimum

The bank that holds the card for the Big Beast is at it again: Despite the enormity of my balance, my minimum due for this period is $15.

This is how people get in trouble. They get these outrageously low minimum amounts due without realizing (or caring) that the interest is still accruing on their large balances.

Needless to say, I didn't take the bait. I've scheduled my payment and believe me, it's several times the "minimum" due amount.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Love New York!

I went up to NYC yesterday for the day. I am happy to report that I did not charge anything. Though I did use my credit card to charge my train ticket (to accumulate points), I immediately paid it off.

It was a fun day -- quite a lot done in a short amount of time: shopped at Century 21 (didn't spend a dime!), walked to the Brooklyn Bridge, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (and saw actor Mike Myers!), strolled up Broadway for several blocks, and then caught the train to Times Square and hung out there before walking back to Penn Station.

Lots of walking, but not lots of spending. I got a few things -- small things -- at the M&M store. One item was a gift and the other was a little package of M&Ms purchased mostly for the container, which will be perfect for sewing notions. I had a $16 burger at a diner I've visited before and yes, it's a great burger. And I spent about 10 bucks at Borders, where we hung out while waiting for the train. The only other expenses were my Metro fare card for the subway and the parking fee at Union Station, which I split with my friend.

A fairly cheap day for NYC.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 2008 Update

As I mentioned before, I delayed the update a few days to try to get a handle on my obsession with checking the numbers. (And yes, I do realize that I did it a day early. Cut me some slack, will ya?)

Little Beast: $1,780.17
Big Beast: $16,226.61
Grand Total: $18,006.78

Still quite a way to go, but every little bit counts. I'm getting there. I'm especially encouraged to see the Little Beast well under the $2,000 mark.

The savings total is listed over there under "The Good Balance." Thanks to my tax refund and a couple freelance checks, this balance had a healthy jump. There are a couple things I will have to use the savings for -- for example, spending money for the cruise vacation in June -- but I'm still encouraged. And I still have the federal rebate of $600 to look forward to.

And while we're talking about the savings balance, I should mention that the savings balance does not include the $995 rent deposit being held by the property management company handling my property. All to the good.

So, that's where we are on this fine March evening.