Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Year. Show all posts

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Year Recap

It hasn't been quite the start to the year that I expected, but things are OK. Mostly. ;-)

That said, there's a lot of room for improvement. I haven't done a financial fast, though it's still something I'm thinking about for down the road. I had a guest last weekend, and I like being a good host. So I bought a few things for brunch Sunday. And we went shopping that Saturday and I found a cute pair of cropped pants at the Neiman's outlet that fit off the rack. And a couple weeks ago I ordered a tuxedo shirt online that, unfortunately, had to be returned. (Sometimes being tall sucks. Everything is always cut too short.) I ended up ordering a plain fitted oxford from JCrew, which carries some items in tall sizes.

Which brings me to this: I'm starting to accept that I have a custom-fit body. Sadly, I have an off-the-rack budget. What I will have to do is buy quality things and, if necessary, have them altered to fit. But because I have an off-the-rack budget, everything I buy that needs to be altered has to be something I love.

In other news, I've called an agent to help with the condo search. I'm not sure I'm going to use her, though, because her reaction to my salary was ... awkward. I know I'm not in the market for a perfect place, but I can't believe there isn't something out there in my price range. Oh well. Anyway, next up is a call to the bank to get preapproved and see what I'm working with. Send good wishes.

See you Feb. 1 for the monthly update. :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

January 2010 Update

Happy New Year! It's always special when the monthly update is also January 1, the start of a new year. This year's January 1 update is even more special, as it is the beginning of the last year of blogging about my credit card debt.

Which brings me to this: What will become of this debt blog after the debt is paid off? I won't take it down. (I could use the reminder of where I've been.) But will I continue to post? By then, I'll be in my new place; maybe I could post about how things are going with that. We'll see.

But let's stop thinking about the future and get to the point of today's post:

The Savings: $3,749.28
The Debt: $5,755.60

The savings is up by $204.26. Historically, I'm doing better than I was in 2008 ($3,643) but not better than I was when 2009 started ($4,811).

The debt is another story altogether. It's down $1,530.69! What a difference a three-paycheck month makes. Obviously, this January 1 balance is much better than those in the past. After all, that's the point of this blog, right? Two years ago, in January 2008, I owed $19,022.04 in credit card debt. Wow -- just typing that figure ... it boggles the mind. It makes me sad to know I got myself that deeply into debt. What the heck was I doing?! But then I'm elated at the progress I've made. In two years, I've paid off more than $13,000. Whoa. Let's focus on that good part, shall we?

Christmas was a good one. My parents gave me gift cards, two of which are bank cards. Those can be used anywhere. I tend to save gift cards until a rainy day. I have to use the bank cards by June or else there's a $2.50 monthly fee, but I'm sure I'll find something to use them on between now and then. But for now? I haven't a clue. More on that later.

Other money matters: I received my paycheck for the freelance job I did back in December. I have some grocery items to buy this weekend at the organic market, so some of the check will go to that, but I also plan to sock some of it away into savings. And then there's the unexpected financial blessing that's due to come later this month. I don't know what I want to use that for, either.

Which brings me to this. I've noticed something about myself and my financial habits over the last 20 years: When I'm doing pretty good with my savings and can afford to spend a little, I get stingy. I question every purchase -- Do I really need this? What if you see something better later? I end up talking myself out of the purchase.

I think it's also because I know how easy it is for me to fall back into my old spending habits. This is not my first rodeo. Back when I was in college, I racked up about $6,000 in credit card debt. A lot of money for a student. It took quite a few years to pay that off, but I did. I still remember the first thing I charged after that. I told myself, "Go ahead. You'll pay it off next month." But then there was something else, and then something else. And now here we are, all these years later.

So that extra $700 or so I'll be getting later this month will likely go into savings. Ditto any IRS refund I get. I've been wanting to build up my savings, especially since I'm going to be shopping for a place this summer. It will be good to have that extra amount in there for incidentals when I move. I will have to pay to get my carpets cleaned when I move later this year. I have to budget for that and for the movers. Plus, I'd really like to get a nice couch and a new mattress set. Neither of those are cheap items. My rent deposit for this place would help toward all that, but deposits are not guaranteed. Even though all my semiannual inspections with the property management company have gone well, I still hesitate to rely on my full $995 being returned. (But believe me: I've saved every copy of my inspection report in case I need backup!)

So that's January 2010. It's going to be a great year. :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 2009 Update

Happy New Year! I hadn't planned to update until tomorrow, believing that because of the holiday, the banks wouldn't have updated the balances. I was wrong. So without further ado:

The Debt: $12,897.44
The Savings: $4,811.90

The debt balance is a difference of $708.12 since last month. Not too shabby! The savings picture, however, blows. It's down by $185 and some change. I know a big part of it has to do with yoga -- I paid for the next semester -- as well as the extra I paid toward The Beast. Still. Ouch. I don't like seeing it going in the wrong direction.

I'm also terribly broke. We got paid this week, but the bulk of that check went to rent. There were a couple items that weren't in the budget, as well as some groceries. I now have all of 22 bucks. I suppose it's a good thing that I woke up with a cold this morning and have zero interest in going anywhere or doing anything. (Talk about finding a silver lining!)

Speaking of silver linings, let's reflect on the debt: The difference from last January 2008, when I embarked on this journey, is a respectable $6,125, and I'm more than $200 ahead on my payment schedule. So while my savings balance isn't where I want it to be (or thought it would be), I think I make up for it with the change in debt.

Also on the horizon is my next freelance check and my IRS refund. I don't know how I'm going to divvy up those checks between my savings and debt. I'd really like to get my savings back up so that I'm closer to my October 2010 goal. We'll see.

Here's to a 2009 as progressive as 2008 -- and then some.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, it's 2008, the official start of the great debt payoff. Everything before now has been practice and prologue. Now the real work begins.

I've updated the balances for the Bad and Good and plan to update them on the first of every month. Of course, they're never going to be entirely accurate: The first of the month comes in the middle of the credit card billing cycles, so interest hasn't been added yet, and in some cases, payments haven't been credited. But I figure that after a few months, progress will become evident by the changes in the balances.

I have to say, though, that I'm not impressed with my progress over the last couple months. I'm trying to remind myself that the unimpressive savings balance is the result of responsible financial behavior. That is, some of the things I've paid for with the credit card -- namely, the class and the car maintenance -- I've repaid out of savings so that the debt balances don't increase. Frankly, if I were being really responsible, the savings balance would be even lower, since I charged the cowboy boots and should repay that amount with my savings.

And of course, there was Christmas. Since I had to buy gifts, I couldn't pay down the debt or increase the savings.

But now it's January, and so far, it looks like things will start off right. I'm encouraged. The credit card payments are planned for and there's still a reasonable cushion, thanks to the overtime a few weeks ago. The way the payday schedule falls, we get three checks instead of two this month (that always helps, though it usually takes a few months to show). I've got freelance work coming and invoices to mail, so that's money that'll come in. And it's tax season. Yes, yes, I know it's supposed to be better to structure exemptions so that you don't owe or get a big refund, but I really like getting that refund.

So, January is starting on a good financial foot. I'm trusting that this a sign of things to come this year.

Here's to a happy and prosperous 2008.