Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

I have fallen off the wagon. Hard.

The last two weekends have seen me spend, baby, spend. It's like I can't leave the apartment without shopping somewhere. Just a few things at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Ooo! Flip-flops are on sale at Old Navy ... while I'm here, I'll check the clearance rack! Gotta swing by Wal-Mart for a few odds and ends.

As a result, I've spent a significant portion of the money I'd set aside for my trip next month. Apparently I didn't set it aside far enough. Thankfully, I haven't charged a lot. I'm still ahead on my debt payment plan, even with the one charge I've made, so that's good. Still, I've got to get a handle on things, and soon, before things get too out of control.

On the plus side, I've been working hard to get our national economy back on track.

The monthly update for May is coming in a few days. It won't be tragic, but it won't be great. See you then.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something Good

I'm still a couple hundred bucks ahead on my debt repayment. Because of this, I will be under the $10K mark in June, not July. I think that's some pretty sweet news! In April 2007, I owed over $21,000. After tomorrow's scheduled payment, the debt balance will be just over $10,800. I've paid over $10,000 in debt in two years, most of which was on my credit cards. That's some progress.

In other, less stellar news, I heard today that my company is doing some "belt tightening." To that end, raises for this quarter have been suspended. My raise usually falls in this quarter, so, um, yeah. I had expected as much, so I'm not surprised. Considering the way things are, I'm just thankful to still have a job. When raises are able to be budgeted again -- whether it's next quarter or next year or the year after -- I hope to be rewarded for my work. But for now? My paycheck is reward enough.

In the meantime, I'm just gonna keep chugging along, working on my savings and getting that debt balance down. It will be done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Countdown to the Cape: Part I

I bought my plane and ferry tickets today. The total cost: $320. Not bad for a four-day trip. I was a bit hesitant when my friend asked me to come along; I was so focused on the financial aspects of it all -- how it would affect the savings picture. But you know what? Sometimes I've gotta be more concerned about my mental and emotional picture. I'm excited!

I'm going to work hard not to spend a lot after I get up there, but I will allow myself some room to indulge if I find something I love. Vacations are about having fun, and after the year I've had -- what with all the health drama -- I owe it to myself.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Girl's Gotta Have Fun Sometime

I've been invited to go to the Cape with a friend. I'm so totally going! I've gone before, a couple years ago, and I had a great time. It's been a while since I've gone on any kind of vacation, so I'm excited for the opportunity to get away.

What does this mean for the debt? Well, nothing. It does, however, affect the savings outlook. After all, there will be airfare and other transportation costs, as well as costs for food and a little shopping. I hadn't necessarily planned for the trip, but that's why I have worked so hard on my savings -- so that when opportunities like this arise, I have the money to take advantage of them without incurring more debt.

The trip will be sometime in May; we haven't nailed down the dates yet. But I'm really looking forward to it. My friend has a charming second-floor condo up there, complete with a large deck with a great view of the town. Not so long ago, I mentioned in my other blog:

I’m daydreaming about an enormous financial blessing that would allow me to escape somewhere warm and lie on its beach with a good book until the sun sets. Meander anonymously through its streets with a camera in hand. Linger on a balcony with a cup of tea.

Looks like I'm going to get my wish about the escape. Here's hoping the "enormous financial blessing" comes along soon, too.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nothing Lasts Forever

For the last several years, I've enjoyed the benefit of a low fixed rate on my primary credit card, affectionately referred to here as The Beast.

Come May 1, though, that all changes. Alas, I was notified today that my low fixed rate will become a higher variable rate -- a rate that's almost double what I've been paying.

I am not happy about it, but I'm not surprised. Given the state of the economy and banks' need for cash, they're raising rates. It's just a fact of doing business. Lucky for me, the rate will apply to balance transfers (which I won't make), cash advances (which I never use), and new purchases. I had been using it for purchases, buying stuff with the card for the points and then paying it off immediately. But not anymore.

I'm disappointed, but this gives me incentive not to use that card. Rather, I'll just concentrate on paying it off. Like I said in my last post: If I'm not willing to pay cash for something, I don't need to buy it.

And so ends what's been a great relationship with that bank. It's time to break up.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Latest Obsession

I want to think of myself as a crafter. I knit a little, I sew a little. I have these grand ideas of making beautiful things to decorate my home with, give as gifts, maybe even sell someday, when my skills are better. Problem is, I'm intimidated easily and often have a hard time working up the courage to conquer my fear of royally screwing up.

But that doesn't stop me from buying supplies.

My latest obsession is beautiful fabric. I have a small trunk full of it. Some pieces are remnants, but much of it is not. In fact, a significant amount is the result of my seeing fabric in the store, gasping at how pretty it is, imagining all the things I could do with it, and buying a few yards -- you know, just in case I decide to do something grand and will need more than a tiny piece. Better get a couple yards, I tell myself.

Why am I mentioning all this? Well, because in the last seven days, I've spent almost 100 bucks on fabric. It's all gorgeous, of course, but ... I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with it. So far, all I've managed to do is spread it out on the floor and stroke it, marveling at the colors of all the different designs.

100 bucks. On fabric. Fabric that I don't know I'm going to do with.

And I charged it, too.

Which brings me to this: I'm ahead of my debt payment schedule. Well, I was until I went on this fabric bender. That's how I justified my purchase. Even with this charge, I said, I'm still a little ahead.

But then last night I started feeling like a fraud. I mean, everything I've done the last 16 months has been done to get out of debt. What the heck am I doing charging $100 on fabric? So last night, I did the hard thing -- but the right thing: I transferred money from savings and set up a credit card payment. And next week, after I get paid, I'm going to reimburse my savings for the amount.

I mean, if I wouldn't be willing to pay cash for it, there's no reason to buy it, right?