Monday, November 30, 2009

December 2009 Update

The last update for 2009. Let's get this party started, shall we?

The Savings: $3,545.02
The Debt: $7,286.29

Yeah, I know. The savings went down -- again. But I have a good reason: I had a car repair. And it was better to take the money out of savings than to charge it. I also finally broke down and bought a wireless router. That's just how it works for me now. Still, considering the cost of the auto repair and the router, the decrease isn't all that bad. Certainly not as bad as it could be.

The debt, however, is still enjoying a steady decline. And that was the point of this whole thing, wasn't it? This month it went down over $625. Not too shabby.

This is a loose analogy, but paying off my debt is like playing Sudoku. When you first start the puzzle, it's pretty slow going for a while. You figure out a number here, a number there. You hit a wall occasionally and sometimes you think to yourself that you'll never finish. But eventually you figure out another number. And then, suddenly, as more numbers find their place, it gets easier. Before you know it, everything starts falling into place...

When I first started this journey to pay off my debt, it felt like I would never finish. I owed $21,000 when I started this blog. And that's not even the most I've owed. For a while there, not long after I bought my Honda, I owed almost $30,000.

I have come a long way.

Another noteworthy thing is that my net worth is finally in the black. Of course, you have to factor in my 401(k), but for a long time, even factoring that in, I was in the red because of my debt.

I do have to work on my savings, though. This month finds my savings the lowest it's been since I started this blog. That is not good given what will be on my plate next year.

Still, I am grateful.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

December is a three-paycheck month. As is the case during months when there are only two paydays, one check will be dedicated to most bills, the other, to rent and my electric bill. When there's a third paycheck, I try to decide what to do with it. How much to put in savings, how much to pay toward debt ... whether to buy myself a treat.

But this time, so eager am I to get this debt paid off that I am paying an extra $1,000 in December. (Which reminds me, I have to do the monthly update tomorrow. I almost forgot!) This will be in addition to my usual monthly payment. The considerable decrease in the debt balance won't be reflected until the January 1 update, but what a difference there will be.

In other news, I've had some freelance work, which is always welcome. And I have a freelance job for a different company coming up in a couple weeks -- a job that I hope will lead to more things for that company. At the least, it will be a decent paying gig. Between my usual freelance work and the new gig, I'll have a healthy influx of income coming my way at the beginning of the year. A great way to start 2010. :-)

Next up? The monthly update. See ya tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Posting From Bed

I'm wireless again! I'd missed the ease and convenience of using my laptop from my bedroom or living room, so I finally broke down and bought a new router last weekend. I've been unable to use my computer away from my desk for almost a year. I won't go into the details of my computer saga, but feel free to read here and here.

Well, it finally dawned on me (very late, I know) that I didn't need to upload the software; it's still uploaded from the last router. So I broke down and spent the 100 bucks for it. Besides, I'm not going to be buying a new computer next year; I have other priorities. $100 definitely beats $1,500, that's for sure.

Also, I plan to make a hefty extra payment on the debt next month. Doing so will enable to me meet my goal by October. (The previous plan was structured for my original deadline date of December 2010.) It's going to hurt a bit, but it'll pay off in the long run.

As for now, though, I've gotta back. I'm visiting the 'rents for Turkey Day. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ciao!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

324 Days to Go

This week was the week our human resources department sent out information regarding next year's benefits options. This year, I'm adding vision insurance and I'm also increasing my flexible spending allowance by a few bucks. (Considering how many doctors appointments I had last year, I feel the need to prepare for 2010 just in case.) But before I finalized my selections, I checked with our payroll person to get an estimate of my paycheck with my choices. Within five minutes, she'd given me a figure. I had no idea that she would be able to do it, much less so quickly!

Remember that credit that was enacted as part of the stimulus package earlier this year? The one that increased our pay either $400 or $800 depending on our filing status? Well, it expires at the end of this year, which means our pay will feel like it's decreasing starting in 2010.

Things are going to be supertight. For example, I'd planned to pay an extra $45 toward the debt. I might not be able to do that; I'll have to see how that goes. I've also set up my electricity bill so that it's on the "budget bill" system. I'll be paying an amount that's the average of the last 12 months. While this will suck come May, June, and July (since I'll be paying roughly $35 more than I would normally pay during those months), it will be very helpful this winter, when I'd normally pay about $35 more than the budget bill amount. Finally, I think I am also going to revise my W-4 exemptions amount so that I'll get more back in my paycheck.

It's the last year. I've gotta do what I can to wipe out this debt. But right now, I've gotta get some sleep. ;-)

Monday, November 9, 2009


Well, I gotta say, I didn't see that coming. My microwave just went kaput. (Is Mercury in retrograde?) I pressed "cook" and I heard that weird sound you hear when electrical things give up the ghost.

The funny thing is that I'd been wondering what I would do with it if my next place already has a microwave. And I've hated how much counter space it takes. Still, I loved the convenience of it, so it's going to be an adjustment.

I don't want to spend the money on a new one -- just in case the new place does indeed already have one. It's only for what? seven more months? I can handle that. Can't I?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

336 and Counting

I love this post from Broke-Ass Student. Absolutely love it. It gives me so much hope. I can't wait for my turn.

Cheap? No -- Smart!

I've been lamenting the state of my wardrobe so much that a friend has been advising that I just go for it and go shopping. Buy myself some new stuff that will make me happy.

I've tried. I really have. But because I've been so conscientious about spending the last couple years (OK, I'll admit it: I've been cheap), I have grown picky, picky, picky! It used to be that I would buy stuff without really thinking about it. Not now. Now I think about it. Does it fit properly? If it doesn't, is it something worth spending the money to have altered? And is it perfect -- that is, are there any stains? Rips? Loose threads? Just because something is new doesn't mean it's in perfect condition. (You'd be surprised.) Finally, is it exactly what I want?

Lately, since I've been having a hard time buying new stuff, I've decided to take care of what I already have. For example, I have a pair of black boots that I bought probably 20 years ago. They're still in good shape, and the woven-leather style is fashionable again. But the heels were a little too flat, which made them look dated. So I took them to the cobbler and he's going to add a quarter-inch to the heels. The boots I've been salivating over cost $300. The cost to update my old ones? 30 bucks. With the face lift -- ahem, heel lift -- the old boots will be pretty spiffy. (Mind you, the other boots are amazing, but paying $300 would be ridiculous. If they ever go on sale, though, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.)

The cobbler is also going to freshen up a black handbag that I bought several years ago. It's one of those great basic shapes that stays in style. I'd been looking for a nice black handbag when it dawned on me: Why not fix up the one I already have? For $30 he's going to clean and condition it, and he's even going to freshen up the color on the edges where the leather has worn. $30 certainly beats the $100-$500 for a new bag.

Next up are the alterations for a skirt and a pair of dress pants.

Working so hard to pay down thousands of dollars of debt incurred for things I didn't love -- things I don't even still have! -- has finally taught me the importance of being thoughtful about what I spend my money on. If it's not worth the cash, it's not worth the credit.