Sunday, February 28, 2010

March 2010 Update

Let's get this party started:

The Debt: $4,566.35
The Savings: $4,737.14

Notice anything about those numbers up there? You got it: I finally have more in savings than I owe on debt.

How freakin' sweet is that? I am so proud of myself! I thought I'd never see the day. But it hasn't been easy. In fact, when I started -- staring down $20K in debt and scant savings -- it was damn hard. But it's gotten easier: The more I've paid off, the less interest I've had to pay and the quicker I see results. So If you're still struggling with the enormity of your debt balance, hang in there. Stick with the plan and you will see results. It may take some time, but you will get there.

I also received money from my parents for my birthday. I don't want to add that amount to the balance up there because it's to help me with any fees related to the condo purchase. But what they gave me will allow me to continue my debt payment plan without deviation. I'd been thinking about scaling back the payment amount in order to build some extra savings. But now I don't have to do that.

I am grateful.

The How and Why of Things

I was thinking this morning about the how and why behind my relationship with money. You know: How the hell have I found myself deep in debt not once but twice in the last 20-odd years? And why am I, in my mid-40s, anxious about doing things that people half my age seem to be able to do with barely a second thought?

Well, not to point fingers, but it has everything to do with how I grew up. My parents taught me absolutely nothing about ... well, anything. They didn't exactly have a great relationship, and they spent more time arguing about random crap (one night was spent on whether there was pulp in the orange juice) than paying much attention to my upbringing. As long as I was fed, dressed, and healthy, it was assumed I was OK. (This also explains why they had no idea that I suffered from problems with anxiety or depression.) My job was to help around the house and to go to school and bring home a good report card. What subjects I was taking, whether I had friends, or even whether I was happy were never asked.

No one stopped and explained to me the importance of saving. No one said, "This is the responsible way to use a credit card." I got no instruction on any of that. Everything I have learned about basic living I've had to figure out on my own. (Even the sex talk with my mother was a no-show.) But how could they teach me? No one taught them.

So it's no surprise that I feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time. I actually don't know what I'm doing. It's not an act.

I recently posted over on Day in the Life that it seems to be my lot to do stuff on my own. And the companion of that is to learn to ask for help when necessary. (I hate asking for help. I hate looking like an idiot. It's an issue, I know.) Of course, the flip side of this is the sense of accomplishment I feel when I handle these things on my own.

I'm sure this time will be no different. It's going to be a big year for me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Full Steam Ahead!

I met with the real estate agent today. I had butterflies before going, but as soon as I went in and started talking to her, I felt better. It's going to be very different from the last time I tried to buy. Then, she had only about three things to show me, and one was worse than the other. Now? There were enough that we could make three stacks: places I may love, places I may like, and places that aren't for me. Given the timing of my lease, however, she thinks it's a little too soon to be checking out any places, but she did suggest I go to some open houses, maybe check some neighborhoods to get a feel for things.

In the end, she said, "I'm not worried -- and I'm a worrier. So if I can say that, we're in good shape."

That went a long way to soothing my anxiety.

This will also give me some extra time to save a little more money. And who knows -- I could get some kind of windfall between now and then! (I'm open to miracles.) I'll continue with the debt payment schedule. By the end of the year -- really, by the end of October -- the only debt I want to worry about is a mortgage payment.

Anyway, that's where we are. I'll check in with you next Sunday with the March monthly update. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Don't Have a Decent Title for This Post

... but I do have news to report: I officially owe less than $5,000.

Yep, you read it correctly. I now owe less than a quarter of what I originally owed. Yay! Pardon me while I take a moment to do a little happy dance.


OK, I'm back. This milestone feels good. But what has tempered my excitement is my anxiety on this next step I'm attempting to take: homeownership. Because of my anxiety, I've been procrastinating on moving full steam ahead. I just want to wake up and have it done, ya know? Alas, life does not work out like that. (Well, mine doesn't.) And it's time I act like an adult and get my act in gear -- at least as far as this particular thing is concerned. (Yes, I know I need to get my act in gear in other areas, but let me handle this one first, OK?)

So, that's where things stand for now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


In addition to blogging about the debt, I've been keeping a paper journal as well. I've also graphed the balances over the last couple years. Last night when I was plotting the balances for February 2010, I noticed how close the two points are. Only about $660 separate the balances. With my federal tax refund and freelance check coming (hopefully soon), my savings will -- drumroll, please -- soon exceed my debt balance!

Can you believe that?! It is so encouraging. That visual on the graph really struck me.

Any PF bloggers out there who are feeling frustrated by their progress, I implore you to hang in there. Believe me, if I can get as far as I have, I know you can. I can't tell you how frustrated I've gotten over the years -- how often I thought to myself, "This will never end." Heck, I still get frustrated. But do not waver in your determination. You'll get there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 2010 Update

Hello. It's that time again. Let's get to it, shall we?

The Savings: $4,533.13
The Debt: $5,192.94

The change in savings is a healthy $783. In the debt? $562. Not a bad month, if I do say so myself.

Just think: After the next payment, I will owe less than $5,000. Can you believe that?! Me, the chick who owed nearly $20,000 on credit cards not three years ago will, in less than a month, owe less than five grand.

Which brings me to this: I'm thinking about suspending the debt payment plan. Wait -- hear me out. I want to buy a condominium this year. But I need some extra cash. I would suspend the plan only for two or three months. It will throw me off my original 10/10/10 schedule, but ... well, the trade-off is a home of my own. Still, I would hate to deviate from my plan. It's served me well the last couple years. We'll see.

In other news, I recently submitted my invoice for my regular freelance job and I've completed my tax return, so there's some money coming my way. And remember that extra freelance gig I picked up at the end of last year? Well, a different department of the same company e-mailed me today with another offer. The job will eat up a weekend, but it'll be well worth the sacrifice. For one, it's a great company and I hope to continue our relationship. Second? Well, duh! The extra money!

So, that's where we are right now. Not in too bad a place. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.