Saturday, January 1, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year this time I still owed almost $6,000 on my credit cards. This year? Zip. Zilch. Zero. Happy New Year!

I don't want to sound like I'm gloating, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. But it is a great feeling and a great way to start off a new year. If you're still struggling with your debt, please, by all means, keep at it. The sacrifices are so worth it.

The other great thing about not having debt? Being able to splurge occasionally without (too much) guilt. The other day I bought a sweater that, though 50 percent off, was still pricey -- at least in my world. But I desperately could use new clothes, and the sweater was right up my alley.

That said, I still have work to do on finding a balance between spending and being a miser. For example, I bought that sweater without giving it a second thought. But just thinking about buying furniture makes me so anxious I can hardly stand it. Today, for example, I walked into a furniture store, stood there a few feet inside the door, looked around, and walked out. I just couldn't deal with it.

So see? I've got a lot of work to do as far as my relationship with money is concerned.

I am trying an experiment this month: I am going to try to use my credit card with a high cash-back reward for my grocery purchases throughout January and pay it off at the end of the month. I will check in on my progress. The goal remains for me to not have any revolving debt, except the occasional small amount to keep the account active (and the bank fairly happy).

I meet with the financial planner in a couple of weeks. We're going to discuss opening an IRA and any tax concerns or considerations coming up. As for the tax refund -- including the home buyer credit -- it's going directly into my savings account. I will use some for a new couch this year, but I may put off any other furniture purchases until next spring. Well, that is, unless I find something I absolutely love.

For now, though, I want to concentrate on how wonderful it feels to be debt free. Here's to a prosperous 2011.