Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October 2009 Update

Away we go:

The Savings: $3,972.49
The Debt: $8,387.82

When the year first started, I had a goal of having $7,500 in savings by December 31. That just isn't going to happen. But at least the debt is steadily going down.

Speaking of the debt, don't be too impressed by the change since September. The amount posted for September wasn't entirely correct -- $400 hadn't yet been credited. But as I have done since I started the monthly updates, I used the number that was posted at the time of the update.

Sadly, the nearly $375 decrease in the savings is correct. In addition to taking out money for my staycation week with my mom, I also used my savings as a supplement to my paycheck when things got tight. While I am grateful to have savings so that I can do that when necessary, I don't want it to become a habit, and that's what has been happening lately. That must stop.

October is officially a no-spend challenge month. No clothes, books, or music. Any money spent will be on bills, gas, groceries, and rent. I've gotta let the dust settle. The only way to do it will be to take it one day at a time. I may post more this month to vent, but that's what this is all about -- posting during the good and bad times.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Playtime Is Over

When I started blogging my debt in April 2007, I did it to give the monster a face. I figured that exposing myself would force me to be accountable. And it's worked. However, this year has found me basically on autopilot. Sure, I've been paying the required amount to be debt free by my original goal of December 2010, but since then, I've decided on October 10, 2010, to be The Big Day. Unfortunately, I haven't put forth the extra effort to make that revised date happen.

Added to that, my savings has taken one hit after another. Sometimes it's been for necessities like auto repair, personal property taxes, medical care, and the like. But I've also used savings for things like a new TV and some spiffy black boots.

Also, I just had my mother up for a week. We had fun, and she helped with a lot of stuff while she was here. But I still withdrew about $250 before she arrived to pay for a variety of things, including groceries in preparation of her arrival. (She eats very Southern, while I tend toward lighter fare when I'm alone. But it was vacation, so...) I'm sure that when I do the monthly update for October I'll fall out my chair from shock.

It's going to take a miracle for me to reach my $10K savings goal by 10/10/10. (Really -- a miracle.) At the rate I'm going, I'll be lucky to meet my debt freedom goal by then.

I have to get serious about this whole thing again. To get back on track, I'm declaring October a no-spend month. My goal is to go through October without spending any money on anything frivolous (for me, that usually includes clothes and books). I haven't done that in a while, and I think I've suffered for it. And what better time to do it than a year before my declared debt-free date?

I'm not saying it's going to be easy. I know it won't be. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Really, It's About Control

I'm going on another art tour. It's not even $200 and it includes transportation, lunch, and a three-course dinner. Oh -- and admittance to what looks like a beautiful museum of post-Impressionist art and a 14-acre arboretum. It's mid-October, right in the middle of autumn. I'm sure it'll be glorious.

"Don't these tours cost money?" "Aren't you supposed to be saving your money?" "Didn't you set a $10,000 savings goal for next October 10 -- a mere 13 months from now?"

Yes, yes, and yes. I know all that. Still, I also want to -- indeed, must -- take care of myself. The fact is that I've been feeling terribly burned out. Frustrated, even. I'm fast approaching my next birthday and it feels like everyone else my age has achieved things most adults usually hope to achieve: decent career, a happy (or at least contented) marriage, maybe even children to dote on. Those who haven't, well, it seems they at least know what they want and are striving for it.

And then there's me. I still haven't a clue as to what the hell I'm doing, where I'm going, or even what I want. To avoid addressing all those issues, I've focused on only one thing: My debt. I've allowed it to consume me. Anything to keep me from thinking of all the things I lack in my life. At least I can control my debt.

So I'm going to try to stop obsessing so much about the money thing. No, I'm not deviating from my goal to be debt free by next October. But if my savings goal has to take a hit so that I can maintain some quality of life from time to time, well, so be it. If come October 10, 2010, I'm short of my $10K goal but am a happy, well-adjusted person, I'll still consider it a win.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I'd forgotten that when our payday falls near a Monday holiday, our checks get deposited early. Talk about a pleasant surprise when I checked my account this morning. Whew! I had 23 cents in my wallet and about 13 bucks in my checking account. To say that things were tight is an understatement.

I went grocery shopping and I bought a few things from DHC that I've needed. (I have sensitivity issues so I have to be very careful with bath soaps. DHC's white soap and body shampoo are both on my Top 10 list of body products.) I've got food in the fridge for dinner and lunch, so I'm set for a while. I have a haircut later this month. Granted, while it won't be as outrageously expensive as last year's haircut was, it's not going to be free, either, so I've gotta keep some money set aside for that since it's outside the usual monthly expenses. And of course there's the visit with my mom coming up. It's going to be a busy month, financially speaking. I've gotta get through it the best way I can.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2009 Update -- Part II

Last night after I posted the monthly update for September, I finally did the math and realized that my savings went down over $800. I freaked. I knew I had the recent car repair, but that was "only" $400. Where was the other $450?

Once I calmed down a little, the fog lifted and I remembered the other things: I treated myself to boots ($208), I paid my personal property tax ($108), I took out $50 in quarters for laundry, and I transferred $30 to cover our bus fare to NYC. With the car repair, that's $796. The rest was to cover a few things here and there, including a few grocery items. (This pay period was pretty tight; most of my check went to my rent).

While I was making this transfer and that transfer, it didn't seem like a lot. But it really added up.

Hopefully I've got things somewhat caught up and can stop doing the savings transfer dance. Even if I haven't, though, I've got to do a better job with budgeting.

Also, the payment on my credit card to cover the car repair has finally been posted. I scheduled the payment from HSBC last Thursday (August 27); the payment wasn't posted on my credit card until yesterday (September 1). But since it takes a day before you can see the completed transaction, it wasn't until today that the credit appeared.

Which brings me to this: I really hate how long it takes HSBC to credit money you deposit into its accounts and how long it takes for them to send money for bills or to transfer to another account. But they very quickly subtract the money coming out the HSBC account. I much prefer ING's Web interface and timing, but HSBC has a slightly higher rate. (Though, really, as pathetic as the savings rates are these days, the difference is negligible.)

Sigh. Payday can't come fast enough.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 2009 Update

Oy. It ain't pretty.

The Debt: $9,314.57
The Savings: $4,345.41

Those numbers aren't correct, but they reflect what has been posted/paid as of this morning, so they have to go in. What's missing is the $400 I moved from savings to pay for my unexpected car repair last week. Technically, the debt is $8,914.57.

As for the savings ... well, what can I say? I may have to dial back my goal to have $10K in savings by next October. I'm not sure how that will possible. It's disappointing but at least I'm still on track with the debt.

September may be iffy. My mother is coming for a visit in a few weeks. We're going to do a day in NYC, so I'll need money for food and to shop with. The ticket has already been taken care of. We're taking the bus and because I reserved a few weeks in advance, we got an excellent deal: $23 -- for the two of us. Round trip. Gotta love these new bus lines!

Anyway, my mother is a shopper, which means a lot of the activities I have planned for her involve shopping. I am usually good and tend not to overspend in these situations, but it will be hard, especially in NYC.

So that's where we are. Hopefully, the October update will be much improved. By then the $400 will have been credited, and I'll also have paid my monthly payment toward the debt. Also, I have some freelance work. I'm going to try to mail the invoice early enough that I'll get paid by then. In the meantime, I'll check in on my progress as I can.

Happy September, all!