Sunday, July 26, 2009


I've been so excited about achieving my recent goal of getting the debt under 10 grand that I've shared the news with those friends who know I've been working on my debt.

I've made the decision to stop that. It's not that I don't believe my achievement should be celebrated, but I do believe that I should be more thoughtful of others' feelings. It occurred to me that perhaps my progress with my finances could be making them anxious about their (lack of) progress with theirs. Worse -- celebrating my achievement could be misread as bragging. Sometimes it's hard for others to support others in such situations. And in some cases, it can prompt them to try to sabotage you, whether consciously or subconsciously. They'll say things like, "But you only live once!" or "It's OK if you're not completely debt free by your goal date. Even if you still owe a $1,000." They believe they mean well, but in the end, what they're saying doesn't fully support your goal.

I say this because I experienced that negative energy myself when one of my good friend's started working on his debt a few years ago. I love this person very much, but sometimes his "sharing" of good news has felt more like bragging. For example, he'd ask me, "What do you owe now?" I'd tell him, believing I'd been doing a decent job on getting things on track. Only after hearing my answer would he'd giddily inform me that his balance was lower. It was like he asked only so he could brag about how much better he was doing. (He'd do the same thing about his salary, which was -- and is -- always more.)

It was very annoying. (And frankly it was unfair: His new car came courtesy his employers, he was in a two-income household, and his parents gave him $10,000 from an inheritance. Meanwhile, I've been handling everything on my own.) I don't want my friends to feel this kind of annoyance with me. Nor do I want them to think, "I wish she'd shut up about her debt already!"

My debt discussions should be reserved for here. Of course, if someone asks, I'll answer. But even then I'll keep my answers vague and to a minimum. "Things are coming along OK," for example. Or even, "I'm getting there. Thanks for asking."

Now to celebrate: I realized this afternoon that after my next credit card payment, I'll be below $9,000. I'm stoked! :-) From $21,000+ to $9,000. I've come a long way, baby!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Woman in Me Wanted Boots

Several days ago, I listed all the things I wanted to do when I'm debt free. Rounding out that list was that I wanted to buy myself flowers. I received quite a few comments telling me that I shouldn't wait -- I should buy myself flowers now.

Well, I haven't bought them yet. What the woman in me wanted instead was a pair of black boots. Yeah, yeah, they were much more expensive than flowers would be, but if you've been reading this humble blog of mine for any length of time, you know how long I've been searching for perfect black boots -- heeled, riding, and cowboy. (And if you haven't, do a search for "boots" and see what comes up. It's ridiculous how many entries there are.)

I finally found heeled boots. Maybe I shouldn't be counting my chickens before they hatch. After all, they've only been preordered and aren't due to arrive until about the second week of August. They might not even fit. Still, I have high hopes. With these boots, wearing the rest of my old crap this fall and winter won't be so bad.

And I'll still buy the flowers. :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A (Belated) Thank You

I started this debt blog a couple years ago as a way to chart my progress. I wanted to have a record of my ups and downs to look back on when I was finally debt free. I'm glad I did. Whenever I start losing hope, I come here and check out my beginning debt balance. Seeing how far I've come encourages me.

I didn't really expect anyone to read any of my posts, and I often felt pretty alone. I mean, I know there are other people out there blogging their debt payoffs. But it seems like most are two-income households, some with children. Where were the single women out there?

And then every now and then I'd get a comment, a few words of encouragement from other unmarried women out there. That has gone a long way to making me feel connected. Also, knowing that there are people who occasionally read my words -- who are following my progress -- has made me accountable. I made these goals, and by golly, I want more than ever to achieve them lest I look like a failure. :-)

So thank you. Thank you to the ladies of Cents and Sensibility and Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy for your words of encouragement over the years. Thank you to those of you who have become "followers" of my humble blog. And thank you, Angelica -- a line in your recent comment has become my mantra:
Do not neglect the woman in you; she's no Sleeping beauty, she lives now.

Here's to all of us taking care of the women inside us.

The $5 Miracle

I haven't mentioned it here, but I've been pretty stressed out the last couple months. My new lease was late. It happens every year: In April, I send in my notice that I'm staying for another year, I stress out a bit until I receive it, and then a few weeks later, the lease comes, with a $50/month increase.

This year, I sent in my notice, stressed out a bit, and then stressed out some more. My lease didn't come in May. And then it didn't come in June.

I won't go into all the details. You can find all that here. Suffice it to say that in the end, I finally got my new lease, complete with an increase.

Of five bucks.

It's really nothing short of a miracle, and I don't say that lightly. When it took them so long to send me the new agreement, I figured I'd be lucky to get away with just the usual $50/month increase. I started thinking about how I'd be able to afford a significant rent change. I even stopped my auto savings deposit to prepare for the budget change. One thing I absolutely was not going to do, though, was change my debt payment plan.

Anyway, with just a $5 increase -- to match my lack of a raise this year -- I can continue on my current savings and budget plan for the next year. Yay!

In other news, out of the blue the other day, I received a credit card offer in an e-mail from one of my credit unions: low fixed rate, no balance transfer fees, no cash advance fees. Because this offer came on the heels of the good news about my lease, I took it as a sign and made the call. It was painless and now I'll be saving about $500 in finance charges.

Here's hoping more good signs come my way. :-)

Oh -- and one last thing: I'm officially under the $10K mark. Granted, I was last month, too, but once the finance charges were calculated for this billing period, I went just over $10,000. But now? I'm under -- for good.

Wishing everyone a good week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Let the Countdown Begin!

I just found a nifty little online tool for calculating days between dates. I have 456 days until I'm debt free. Considering my first post on this blog was 817 days ago, 456 isn't bad. Nope, not bad at all.

When I'm Debt Free

Now that I can see the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I'm starting to think about what I want to do when I'm finally debt free. To stay focused, I've gotta keep my eye on the prize-- or in this case, prizes.

I've started a list:

  1. Write the Big Beast's bank and tell them just what I think about the rate increase they imposed for absolutely no reason. (I'd do it now but there's no reason to anger them and have them seek their revenge.)
  2. Plan a real vacation. While the cruise with my parents last year was nice, it isn't a vacation I'd pick for myself. I'd rather spend my days enjoying the sights than wandering around on a big boat (and getting seasick). Here are some ideas: a spa/yoga retreat; Miami/South Beach; Spain or Italy; Viejo San Juan in Puerto Rico.
  3. New bedroom furniture. First things first: a new mattress. I've mentioned before the sad state of my mattresses. I've had them for at least 20 years, and before I had them, they were my parents'. They are uncomfortable and I'd much rather have a queen-size bed. I also would like a new bureau. My current one is now 34 years old; the bottom two drawers are in bad shape.
  4. Purge my closet of crap I hate and start building a wardrobe of things I love. Not like -- love.
  5. Sign up for pottery class.
  6. Join a gym or return to yoga class.
  7. Buy myself flowers.

Needless to say, I don't plan on doing all this at once. I'd go broke! But they're certainly things I look forward to starting when I'm debt free.

I'm 15 months away from my first day of debt freedom. Let the countdown begin!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making Do

This is a rare double post. Because it deals with changes I believe are going to take place in my life (or are indeed already taking place behind the scenes, unbeknown to me) and how my financial situation is somehow involved, I'm posting this in both my Veronica's Day in the Life blog and here in my debt blog.

A few years ago, I signed up for a pottery class. I loved the class. I loved how present in the moment you have to be in order to center that ball of clay on the wheel. I loved the feel of the moist clay spinning in my hands. While I had a long way to go, one would say I had potential to be a decent potter.

I did it for a year and half. I even threw in some yoga classes here and there, too. Every weekend was filled with pursuits to nurture my spirit, and I loved every minute of it.

But then one day I realized I owed almost $24,000. There was my car note and my ever-increasing credit card debt, the latter of which was being increased every time I registered for another pottery or yoga class.

So I did the responsible thing and gave myself an adult time-out. I decided to stop all classes until after my car was paid off. And let me tell you: It hurt that first weekend I didn't have anywhere to go.

But I stuck it out and paid off my car. And that felt so good that I decided to work on my credit cards, all $20,000 worth. (Talk about a humbling experience. Realizing I owed that much on credit cards made me sick to my stomach. And when I think now about what I could've done with that money -- things like grad school tuition, down payment on a condo, trips to Europe -- well, that still makes me sick.)

The most important thing, though, was this: Every time I pondered what I should do with my life, a little voice would say, "Pay off your debt and then we'll talk." And sometimes that voice wasn't so little. Sometimes it screamed.

So that's what I've been doing: following the direction of that voice and paying off my debt. Sometimes I have to risk being thought of as The Cheap Friend. I suffer through the winter months in a drafty apartment, turning on my heat only when it physically hurts not to, to keep my costs down. I turn down invitations to go placesI can't afford to go to. A former stylista, I now make do with clothes that are several years old. Most of my furnishings are extremely old or secondhand, and the rest came from Ikea. (I'm not knocking Ikea, but I don't think anyone would classify that store as a purveyor of fine, high-quality furnishings. The assembly instructions don't even have words!)

I feel like a recent college graduate just starting out, not an adult.

I'm not unhappy per se, but I do feel stuck. I want to be able to do things that truly make me happy. Like pursue pottery and yoga. Travel. Allow myself the freedom to explore what I want to do with my life without feeling trapped by my financial circumstances. Instead, as a result of years of irresponsible financial behavior, I am forced to make do not just with my old clothes but with my life.

Change is coming, though. And though I mentioned above that it's taking place behind the scenes, one could argue that I'm manifesting it center stage in my diligence to gain control of my finances, that my sacrifices will not be for nothing, and that when all is said and done, it will have been worth it.

We shall see.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 2009 Update

This has been a better month. Here we go:

The Debt: $9,923
The Savings: $5,385

The debt has gone down nearly $550, and the savings finally swung in the right direction -- by over 700 bucks. I've still got a lot to consider, though. For one, my rent is about to go up. In the past, I've been able to offset my rent increase with my annual salary increase, but this year there are no salary increases, so ... Yeah. This may affect my savings rate, as I may have to scale back what I've been depositing. This means I may have to reconsider my $10K goal for next October. I'm not happy about that, but one thing is for certain:

I will not be scaling back my debt payments. I will be debt free come October 2010. Period.

So that's where we are for July 2009. Have a good month!