Friday, May 30, 2008

What Summer Looks Like

As much as I wish the title of this entry had more to do with the beauty of summer, this is a debt blog.

I knew earlier this year that summer was going to require some spending, but now that it's right around the corner, I'm starting to get anxious about it.

For one, because of my recent behavior, I owe the Big Beast an extra $230. And then I have these things:

The Cruise Vacation: I am taking about $300 in cash and will have to take my credit card (the cruise line will only accept a credit card for certain purchases on the ship)

Daisy's Boarding: My parents very generously paid my way for the cruise, but I'm responsible for paying for boarding our family dog for about seven days.

Daisy's Surgery: The family dog has a growth on her eye that's getting bigger. My parents and I are splitting the cost to get this done this summer.

The Haircut:
For the last several years, I've wanted to get my hair cut by one of the few people who can cut and style my hair type. I delayed because I couldn't afford both the trip to NYC and the cost of the haircut. But now that the stylist is my area for a while, I have to take advantage of the opportunity. And I really need to do something to make me feel better about myself. I've never had the healthiest self-esteem, and lately, it's been in the toilet.

So, it's going to be an expensive next couple of months. It's freaking me out, but it is what it is.

Anyway, I'll check in with the monthly update. And then I guess we'll go from there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Old Habits Die Hard

My hope when I am debt free is to be able to use one card -- to receive whatever points or cash back that's provided -- and then pay it off, in full, at the end of the month.

I don't know if I will be able to do that, though. When I spend, I lose control. I can be so good when I just cut myself off, but when I start allowing this and that purchase, it turns into a frenzy.

Case in point: There were a few things I wanted to get for the cruise in June, so I transferred a couple hundred dollars from savings with the plan to (1) buy them with my credit card (for the points) and then (2) pay off the amount spent on the card using the transferred funds.

But what happened instead is (1) I bought those items with the credit card and (2) also spent a fair amount of the transferred savings on a couple other things.

So now I've increased my balance on my credit card and have decreased my savings balance, and ... that's that.

I knew at the beginning of the year that from May through July the finances would go through some erratic changes: Mother's Day, my dad's birthday, Father's Day, and my mom's birthday all occur within a six-week period; the cruise with my parents is in the middle of June (I'm responsible for my spending money and for the boarding of the family pet); and in July I'm splurging on a much-needed haircut.

I'm disappointed in my spending behavior in May, but not all is lost. I knew there would be an increase in spending, and obsessing over every bit is just going to drive me crazy. Still, I do need to be responsible about what I spend on and not let my old habits get the better of me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sometimes You Have to Say No. Period.

Being financially responsible sometimes requires hard decisions.

One of my dearest friends is getting married in July. The wedding is cross country in a fairly swanky area. I love him very much, and I'm so very happy for him.

But the fact is that I can't afford to go. I can't afford the airfare to Malibu, and I definitely can't afford the hotel reservations.

I dreaded giving him the news. In fact, I avoided it for weeks. But it went well. He completely understood, much to my relief.

I love him, but I have to take care of myself first.

One day I'll be able to take such trips without worrying about my bottom line. Until then, though, sometimes I have to say no.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not So Grand

A quick note to announce that the Little Beast is officially under $1,000! Woohoo! Just three more payments and that baby is H-I-S-T-O-R-Y. I can't tell you how good it feels. I mean, I know that there's still quite a ways to go; after all, I have the Big Beast to deal with, and that one's gonna take a while. But it'll be great to focus all my energies on that one once the Little Beast is outta the way.

And who knows? Maybe a financial miracle will come my way that will wipe out that bill early. I'm open to that.

Oh -- and thanks "Clairvoyant One" for dropping by and for your support of my balanced strategy. Take care.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's With the All the Saving?

A couple of visitors have kindly commented on my progress and have offered their wisdom. In fact, their main suggestion is something I've debated for some time:

Why not stop the saving for a while and concentrate on paying off the debt?

One reason was mentioned in an earlier post. The other reason is more complicated to explain except to say that I'm as compelled to save as much as I'm compelled to pay off my debt.

Maybe it's that I feel I'm on the cusp of a transition in my life, but I feel I have to be ready for whatever opportunity makes itself known. I'm not trying to be vague, at least not deliberately, but I don't really know how to explain it. Already I'm considering a couple things in particular, and I don't want debt to have to enter into the picture if I decide to pursue them.

I'm not entirely nuts, though: I am considering putting the saving plan on hiatus at the end of the year and concentrating on what will then be just the one big balance. Of course, as a woman, it's my prerogative to change my mind. You know what they say about the best laid plans...

Until then, though, thanks, Maria and Jim, for stopping by and for your support and suggestions. I appreciate the feedback.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 2008 Update

Another less-than-impressive month, but I'll get to that later. Until then, here are the balances:

The Debt:

Little Beast: $1,156.01
Big Beast: $16,206.83

The savings balance is over there in its rightful place.

The change in the savings balance is OK -- it's up $262 -- but the change in debt is not that great. It's down just $303, which is almost $200 less than it should be. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that I oversaved with my last paycheck. There was a healthy dose of overtime pay in there, and I used it to pay $150 toward the Big Beast (to make up for the Anthro purchases) and then put another $200 into one of my savings accounts. But then after rent, electricity, and some general living expenses (dry cleaner, the grocery store), things were tight. So I used the credit card to cover other things, like the $170 for car maintenance, a new bathing suit for the cruise, shoe repair, and -- and I hate this one -- 15 bucks for groceries.

And then yesterday I ordered a pair of sandals from Anthro.

Using credit cards is, for me, a slippery slope. And isn't it crazy how quickly it adds up but takes so long to get rid of?

But I do plan to make up for my transgressions, starting with next week. And rather than sock away my entire economic stimulus rebate in savings, I'm using part of it -- more than $200 of it -- to pay for those purchases I made using the credit card. It's for the best, I know. Still, it's frustrating.

But at least it will make a difference for the numbers next month, huh?