Friday, July 29, 2011

Back to Square One

Guess who finally received her home buyer credit? Yep, this lady right here! I checked my bank balance this morning and there it was in my account. With interest. I literally jumped for joy.

The buzz didn't last long, however. Before I did anything else, I paid off what was due on my mattresses. And then I paid off my AmEx, which was creeping up, thanks to the fine offerings by G*lt Group. And I splurged on a dress -- a hot dress -- from Anthro. If you saw this dress, you'd understand why it had to be purchased.

I'm still paying for health stuff. I owed a pretty penny on my epidural injections to cover what remained on my insurance deductible. There wasn't enough in the HSA to cover it, so it had to come out of pocket last week. And then there are the copayments for my chiropractic visits. Again, I know I'll get reimbursed for the health expenses at the end of the year, but right now it's frustrating.

And I had to write a check for something else -- something I'm not ready to mention here. It's a good thing, if anxiety producing, but it cost $200 that I hadn't planned on spending.

So why the title "Back to Square One"? Because I'm back to being debt free, baby! How phenomenal is this? Here's some perspective for you:

On August 1, 2009, I owed $9,659.49. I had savings (about $5,100), but I owed $9,600. And now? About 50 bucks. And about $9,800 in savings. What a difference two years make.

I do still have to buy a couch, so that savings balance won't stay that high. Otherwise, I'm going to work to keep my spending to a minimum. I'm in good shape and it feels good.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 2011 Update

Hello there!

I just realized that I hadn't written since May. Whoa -- sorry about that. June was a pretty busy month. I'll try to get back on schedule here.

So ... the update. I've been kind of "spendy" lately, but I think I'm finally finding some kind of balance. I recently went over the numbers in preparation for a meeting with the financial planner. After adding things up, I realized things are actually OK. Not great, but certainly not bad. Still, I have to scale back my spending a bit.

One major expense has been health care. I switched to a high-deductible plan with a health savings account this year. There were a couple of reasons for doing so, including its lower cost and the employer contribution to the HSA. There are also tax benefits. However, one problem with the HSA is that unlike a flexible spending account, you can't use your HSA until the account is funded with enough money to cover reimbursement. While I was able to use the HSA for some minor expenses, things like injections and the MRI required some considerable outlays from me in order to meet my deductible. (Thankfully, my deductible was recently met. My copay for the rest of the year will be significantly more bearable. This is welcome news, as I need another epidural for my back pain.) The good thing is that I will be reimbursed at the end of the year for the larger expenses; by then there will be enough funds in the HSA.

I've also had to make two grown-up decisions. The first was that I do not need a smartphone. I've been rockin' the same flip phone (yeah, that's right -- a flip phone). I had finally decided on upgrading to an iPhone when I realized that my iTunes version is too old. And then I realized that my Mac OS is too old to update my iTunes. And then I realized that before I get a smartphone -- iPhone or otherwise -- I have to take care of other priorities first. Not getting a smartphone was a minor decision; prioritizing future purchases, however, required being an adult.

The second was the painful decision not to attend yet another friend's wedding. It's just like the last time: I would've had to pay for airfare and accommodations. Oh -- and this time a ferry.

After doing the math, I realized that it just didn't make sense financially. Though it would've been great to be there, I have other things that require attention. I'd warned my friend that I might not be able to go, and he seemed to understand, but returning that RSVP still sucked.

I still have a credit card balance for the mattresses. I'm paying well above the minimum every month, and more importantly, I'm not incurring any additional debt. And I'm maintaining my regular savings as well as my retirement savings.

Overall, things are pretty good. It ain't always easy, though. It requires diligence and sometimes some tough decisions.