Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Goals

DO YOU OR HAVE YOU CREATED A LIST OF GOALS FOR YOURSELF FOR THE COMING YEAR? 

HERE ARE MINE, IN NO ORDER OF IMPORTANCE:

Loan payment to Mom and Ed ($2000/YEAR)
Net worth up to $105,000 by end of year
Car debt down to $15,000 by 12/31/14 (OR FURTHER) 
Cash savings up to $3,500 BY 12/31/14

Happy New Year!

Wow! Another year come and gone! Where did it go?  It's so true what they say, the older you get, the faster the years go.  This is one year I'm happy to see go.  2014 has to be better then 2013 was. My finances aren't as bad as I was afraid they were going to be, but they aren't as pretty as I'd hoped.  I guess "hoping" isn't going to get the debts paid down.  I've made some good, some bad financial decisions over the past 12 months and the bad, well, there's nothing I can do about them now.  But, I can learn from them, move forward and not make the same mistakes again.  As always, I pulled my credit report on this last week of the year and it looks good.  I have always paid my bills on time, so I'm happy that at least my credit rating is good.  Now if I could just stop using so much credit.  I'm working on that.  Hoping to develop some new, healthier, less costly habits this next year.  Have you checked your credit recently?  You can do that here.  Remember, you can check your credit once a year free of charge.  No excuses, just do it! 

Tonight I'll be going to the annual New Year's Eve bash at my brother's house and will spend the night so as not to drink and drive, which can be horrific to your finances if caught, or worse yet, deadly!  It's always a fun party with lots of good friends.  I'll need to bring an appetizer and what ever I want to drink.  Easy enough. 

I've been house sitting for a friend since Christmas and will be done with that on the 2nd.  While it's been nice to be somewhere else, I'm ready to go home.  My utility bill should look better this month, I was able to turn my heat off and unplugged a lot of things that use a small amount of electricity just being plugged in. 

I'm looking at reducing as many "fixed" expenses as possible in the coming year.  I have enhanced cable and a DVR, both of which I really don't need.  I cut out my Internet at home last January and although I've made it a year without it, I think I'd rather have that back instead of having all the TV channels and the DVR.  I only watch TV a couple times a week, so maybe it's time to look at that and readjust.  Besides, if I have Internet at home, I can work on listing more items for sale on eBay.  Looking in to that again.  In the past I've made a good amount of money selling unused, unneeded items, plus it feels so great to clean out the clutter. 

While my debt total didn't go down as much as I was hoping, I did bring my net-worth up to what I was hoping for it to be by the end of the year. 

That car loan is what is costing me so much right now.  I'm throwing every penny at it that I can and will continue to do so until it's gone. 

Happy New Year friends!  I hope you have a happy, healthy and safe new year!  Enjoy! 

Cheers!

Current debt:  $232,900.01  (let's see where this ends up on 12/31/14)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 weeks until Christmas...

and I've not done much in the past week except add to my list of things that need to be done.  I've not actually crossed a single thing off that list.  This upcoming weekend I don't have too much going on, so I think I will I will probably try to tackle some of the things on that list.  I may even begin decorating.  I will wrap the 2 gifts that I have purchased so far and address my Christmas cards.  Are you getting things done yet for the holidays?  Or are you still thinking that you couldn't possibly begin thinking about Christmas? I've been getting better year after year at making and sticking to lists, not to mention sticking to my budget.  Yay! 

Work has been crazy busy again lately, so I've been working more overtime, which always comes in handy, especially at this time of year.  If I do well sticking to my holiday budget, maybe I'll even be able to put some extra to my credit card debt. 

I've also been working really hard at cutting out a bad habit that costs me quite a bit of money over an entire year.  I  had been up to drinking at least 6 diet Cokes a day and now I'm down to one and drinking much more water.  Not only do I feel better, I sleep better, my skin looks better and my wallet is noticing a difference too.  I'm sure this will also help my overall health which can only help my financial situation in the long run. 

That's about all from the land of change for now...I hope you all have a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy! 

Current debt:  $233,856.12

Monday, November 11, 2013

Only 6 weeks to go until Christmas???

What the heck?  How did that happen and where did this year go?  It seems like it was just New Year's Day and I was looking at my total debt and anticipating where it would be by the end of the year.  With only 7 weeks left in the year, I'm not thinking there will be much more reduction than the usual $1000 or so, possibly closer to $1500, but that's about it.  I'm disappointed in this, but I have to remember that I made some big leaps and bounds in other areas of my life that were expensive.  And I am ending the year with less debt than I started, so I have to look at that as progress.  Besides, slow and steady wins the race, correct?  I've been a little lax on watching my spending lately too and I must reign that in if I want to make greater progress this next year!  My goal is to have my car paid off by Jan. 1, 2016 and remaining credit card debt free.  I'd also like to have the personal loan to my parents paid off by then, that would be 2 years early and would make me really happy.  They aren't in any hurry for the money, but I'd feel better knowing that I've paid them in full.  With all of these items paid, my only debt would be my mortgage and I could really amp up the repayment of that and fully funding my emergency fund retirement each year.  I'm currently all about getting rid of debt and hoping to simplify my life, getting rid of material things and downsizing.  I'd love to have the opportunity to do whatever I wanted without regard to debt and having to stay working for the man to pay my bills.  With less material things, my life can be simpler.  What are your thoughts on this?

Current debt:  $233,883.08  (darn I wish this were further down at this point!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boost to the retirement account..

I noticed this morning when logging in to my retirement accounts that there was a significant increase in the balance.  Hmmm....that's strange, the market has been decreasing a little bit, how do I have more money?  Ah, the 2012 company match was deposited in the last few days.  Oh how I love to see that increase!  Woohoo!  It's seeing that which makes me so glad I work for a company that cares about my future, even when I'm no longer working here.  While it's only a 3% match, it's 3% more than I had before and who can balk at free money?!  Certainly not me! 

I'm hoping in the next couple years that as I continue to put the 3% in to my company sponsored retirement plan, I can also start to max out my Roth IRA account annually as well.  I'm also fortunate to have worked in the past for a company that earned me a small pension when I'm ready to retire.  Hey, every bit helps I say.  I only have a few more years of loan payments to my parents and that will free up an extra $2,000 annually to add to retirement and/or investments and I'm diligently making extra payments to my car loan to obliterate that as quickly as possible as well as staying credit card debt free.  If I continue to do these same things, in a couple years, the only debt I will have will be mortgage debt and then I will really have money to throw at my future. 

Current debt:  $235,215.08  (looking forward to this going down this coming Friday when many payments hit!) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall...

Whew! It's hard to believe that summer has come and gone so quickly.  I love fall, all the leaves changing color before falling.  Football every weekend then watching my niece play soccer and my nephew run cross country.  Such fun!  Life slows down a little from the busy days of summer and more time is spent with family.  I also find that my spending has "fall"en as well.  I spend a lot more time at home, watching movies, reading, baking, etc.  While I'm still working on reducing my debt, I feel more relaxed about it, probably because life has slowed down some and I'm not stressing about how much money I will have to put toward the debt.  And for me, I seem to have more money to put toward debt reduction when I'm stressing less about it.  All in all, a win from all angles. 

I've had my foot surgery recently and am almost fully healed, thankfully!  This has also slowed me down somewhat, not going out and spending money I could be putting toward my debt.  I'm focusing on reducing the car debt as quickly as possible and hoping to have the new card paid off by Jan. 1, 2015.  That's going to require some serious discipline on my part, but the great feeling of not having that debt hanging over my head should motivate me. 

Holiday shopping is going to be right around the corner too and to ease the pain of this, I've been putting away $5 bills every time I come across one.  I'm surprised at how quickly this money has added up.  I started this in July and I already have $125 built up.  I'm thinking next year I will start this on January 1 and save all $10 bills.  That should surely give me MORE than enough money for my holiday spending.  I don't really have that many people to shop for each year and I've started making a lot of the gifts for friends, which is very cost effective and who doesn't love homemade treats?!  I make candy and cookies and box them up real cute.  (Hint: buy the boxes at the end of the season for the next year!)  And now that it's getting closer to the holidays, I've been watching the sales at the grocery store and stocking up on baking supplies whenever possible. 

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and are enjoying the changing of the seasons...

Current debt:  $235,175.08

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer's flying by...

I'm not sure where the time goes, but I swear every year the summer goes quicker and quicker.  Is tomorrow really the last day of July already?  Only 5 more months left in the year!!  Since I've bought the new car this year, my debt isn't going to look near as great as I was hoping, but I'm making progress on it regardless.  And I'm saving big on fuel, so that extra savings is going to reducing my debt as well.  I've been taking advantage of the nice weather here and hanging out at the pool at my condo, it's been great to enjoy that and not have to pay anything for the entertainment.  I am going out of town next weekend, but I'll be staying with a friend and we'll probably be hanging out at her pool most of the time as well as relaxing and BBQing.  I've been working a lot of overtime, so it'll be nice to have a fun, relaxing weekend with friends. 

I'm having foot surgery in September as well.  Thankfully I've met my deductible this year and I've been putting off this surgery until I'd done so.  I've had 8 foot surgeries in the past and this will hopefully be my LAST one.  I have to have my 2nd toe amputated to the 2nd knuckle.  :(  Due to previous surgeries my big toe is much shorter than my 2nd toe and that poor 2nd toe is taking a beating when I'm out running.  Two years ago I lost the toenail and I've never been able to grow one back, so I don't think looks wise, I'll notice much difference after the surgery.  And thankfully I will only have to be off work for 3 days, so not too bad, and I have paid sick time that will cover my wages for that. 

This coming weekend I will be helping my sister in law list several items on eBay that she wants to sell, but doesn't know how to do.  I've helped many people in the past list items, and really enjoy it.  My brother doesn't think anyone will buy the stuff and she wants to prove him wrong.  :) 

Other than that, not too much going on around here.  Hope summer is treating you all well.

Current debt:  $236,954.79 (will be going down a bit more by the end of the week, but as for July, all payments are posted!) 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Been gone too long....


Lots going on lately….while I’ve been working really hard, putting in a lot of hours and paying down my debt, I’m disappointed to say that the debt load has increased significantly over the last couple of weeks.  I had been aggressively paying down my car loan, when I found out that I had a rather large repair bill coming for the car.  UGH!  So, I traded it in and bought a new (to me) 2011 Volvo S40 with 9300 miles on it.  While it was a somewhat difficult decision to trade in the SUV, it was more emotional than practical.  The new car will be such a better fit for me.  I’m a single woman with no kids, what do I need an SUV for?  Truth be told, I don’t.  The new car will be save me a TON of money on fuel and insurance and if I’m going to admit it, it’s a lot of fun to drive!!  Plus, being almost 3 years old and having such low miles, it will most likely be quite a while before it will need major repairs, knock on wood.  So, nose to the grindstone again and work on reducing this debt now.  This decision will have an impact on my meeting some of my 2013 goals, but I know in the long run it will put me in a better financial position.  Do I sound like I’m trying to convince you or convince myself?  J 

On another note, I’ve been working hard to stay within my budget on lots of other things and so far so good.  I had gotten in to the habit of stopping at Starbucks every morning on my way to work, starting out with a tall latte and now working my way up to a grande every day.  This is now costing me $4.33/day!!  Yikes, that hurts!  Ok, time to reign in that habit and work on getting back to my frugal ways.  And if I’m honest with myself, the latte doesn’t taste like the treat it used to.  If I saved the money I was spending every day at Starbucks and instead bought myself an espresso machine and made my drinks at home, I’d save a ton of money.  Hmmm, might have to think on that one. 

Last week I took some vacation time around the 4th of July and stayed close to home, just relaxing and unwinding.  It was GREAT!!  Did the family gathering thing and we had a blast! (pun intended!)  I think I may just need to do that again in August, I have so much vacation time to use and don’t want to spend the money to go anywhere, but it would be nice to enjoy the pool at my condo and relax.  Before we know it, it’s going to be the holidays again and then all the craziness begins again. 

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for so long, life has just been so busy.  I hope all is well with y’all!

 

Current debt:  $237,435.61  (YIKES!!!)  Must work on reducing that!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April already???

Where did the first quarter of 2013 go? Wow! It’s been a good year so far and I’m seeing some good progress in my debt reduction and staying credit card debt free while slowly building up the savings account as well. I’ve been working a lot of overtime and I was paid for some other non work time that I wasn’t expecting, so that was a nice bonus added to the financial picture. Always nice to receive about $400 that you weren’t expecting. I’ve been working really hard and thinking about purchases before I make them and continually asking myself if it’s a need or a want. Often times I find things are wants and I put them back. The only wants I should be indulging are adding to my retirement account so that I can be financially solvent in my retirement years.  I have more than enough “stuff” so I really shouldn’t be needing anything. I rarely go shopping anymore, usually because all I do is indulge in wants, not anything I really need. Also, I find clothes I like at thrift stores for a fraction of the price of the stuff I see at the mall. My wallet really likes the thrift store prices better too. I’ve made it through my most expensive time of year and now that the big expenses of birthdays and ticket renewal for football have been met along with having the money for my annual loan payment to my parents, I’m feeling REALLY good about my financial life. I’m 4 months ahead on my car payment, but that doesn’t mean that I have been continuing to make that monthly payment. I’m working on getting that debt taken care of next. I’m hoping to have this one completely knocked out by June 30, 2014. That would be 3 ½ years early! Then it’s on to FULLY funding my Roth IRA each year. I’ve continued to contribute the match to my Simple IRA through work and it’s great to see that continuing to grow year after year. All in all, I’m feeling really good about where my money is going and the improving look of my financial future. I hope you are all seeing the same trend as me. Happy Spring!




Current debt: $227,390.55

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Progress is being made…woohoo!!

OK, so I’ve made it through one family birthday already and one more to go this month (next week). Then I have a break from birthdays until the end of March. I’ve gotten my tax refund and it’s sitting in my savings waiting for my loan payment due to my parents in April and I have my football season ticket renewal coming up, but I have the money for that in my checking account. All bills are paid until March 1, so I’m feeling pretty good about things at the moment. I’ve been being really good about not overspending on my groceries and keeping tabs on my gas expenditures, trying to make smart decisions when running errands. So far this year I’ve only spent $65 on gas for my car. I cut out my Internet connection at home, I have access on my iPhone and the library is very close if I ever need more access. I’ve also cut down my cable to basic, I watch about 4 hours of TV/week, so it’s not like I’m missing out on anything. I read A LOT!! Thankfully, again the library is just down the street.  We’ve had a warmer than usual winter this year and it shows in my utility bill, it was surprisingly smaller this time than I think it has ever been at this time of year since I moved in 6 years ago.




Every year I try to give something up for lent and I’ve been giving it some thought lately as to what I will give up this year. I’ve decided that I’m going to give up alcohol. I’m not a huge drinker, but I do like a glass of wine every evening and on the weekends a couple of glasses. It’s not a big thing, but the 6+ weeks of lent will save me quite a bit of money in my grocery bill, not to mention the health benefit of not imbibing.



Other than that, not too much going on here, just waiting for spring to come…I love it when the flowers start sprouting and the days are starting to get longer.



Current debt: $230,364.87 (that’s quickly going to be under $230,000!!!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Will I ever be able to retire???

Last week I met with my financial planner and while it was good to hear what he had to say, it was also somewhat depressing. I will be turning 41 in about a month and that is making me think how much I am looking forward to retiring someday. I’m not an extravagant person and don’t anticipate being so in retirement either, but as things look right now, even without having a lot of wants for my retirement years, I will be lucky if I can retire by the time I’m 70! UGH! I really don’t want to think about working for another 29 years! It was good for me to hear this as hopefully it will be the kick in the butt that I need to buckle down and not only contribute to my 401K, but also to get back on track to fully funding my Roth IRA each year. I haven’t added anything to that since 2008. For shame! Now that I have my credit card paid of completely and am working on the car loan, I will continue to put most of my money toward that, but my goal is to also fully fund the Roth IRA this year, that’s adding $5,500for the year. This might be a little over aggressive, but I’ll give it a try! Nothing ventured nothing gained! How are you doing on your retirement goals?




Current debt: $231,114.94 ($500 car payment hitting this Friday will put this under $231,000)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Extra money???

Is there such a thing? J What do you do with extra cash, bonus money, found money…whatever you call it? I used mine to pay down my credit card and now that I no longer have credit card debt, I thought about applying it to my car loan as that’s my next target, but I recently earned a little extra money from some surveys I did and instead of putting it toward my car loan I decided to reward myself a little and put it on my Starbucks gift card so that I can enjoy a few treats. I earn quite a bit throughout the year on surveys and I seem to have a knack for finding money while out running errands, so for a little bit at least I’m going to treat myself to a few indulgences that I had denied myself while paying off the credit card. I earned Starbucks gift cards from both Swagbucks and Bing. I’m going to allow myself to treats with these bonuses at least through April while I have less discretionary income due to making my annual loan payment to my parents and paying for my football season tickets as well as all the family birthdays that come up this time of year. After that, once May starts, I don’t anticipate the big expenses that I usually have in the first part of the year. I’ll re-evaluate what to do with found/bonus money at that point.
I hope you are all having a great start to 2013!
Current debt: $231,230.18

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Credit card debt is ..........

GONE!!  I just set up my final payment on my credit card! Woohoo!  Payment will go through tomorrow and I will officially have the credit card debt gone.  My pay increase has taken affect and it's made a real difference in my paycheck.  So far, I've only spent $10 in 2013 with no plans to spend any money until Saturday.  Then I will be running all of my errands and hoping to have a quiet evening.  I'm working on planning my menu for January and will try to do the bulk of my grocery shopping then for the entire month and then make do with what I have on hand for the rest.  January is going to be my month of spending as little as possible on unnecessary items. 


The first 4 months of each year are always expensive for me as I have my football ticket renewal and the annual loan payment to my parents as well as 4 birthdays in my family by April 30.  I'm going to have to be creative about the things I come up with for those occasions, but I don't think that will be much of a problem. 

Now that the credit card debt is gone, I'm moving on to saving for the annual loan payment and knocking out the car loan.  I am working on setting up a graph to chart my progress and keep me motivated.  Does anyone know if there is an IPhone app that will help me track this? 

Woohoo!  Super excited that the credit card debt is FINALLY gone, that was the end of the debt from my divorce and it's nice to begin the year putting closure to that part of my life.  :) 

Current debt:  $231,520.74 (look at that balance going down!!!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013...

I hope you all had a safe and happy start to 2013.  I had a great time at a house party where I spent the night and didn't have to worry about driving after celebrating or risk being on the road with others who'd also indulged. 

Have you made any resolutions?  I'm still thinking on mine, but I'm hoping to have them pinned down in the next couple of days, by the end of the upcoming weekend at the latest.  I didn't quite reach my goal of having my credit card paid off completely by New Year's Eve, but I'm close, only $810.24 to go.  Should be completely gone by the end of the month, then it's on to the car loan and building up the savings. 

I'm working on myself a little bit more this year, doing things I want to do, not what others want me to do.  I need to do the things that will make me happy, regardless of what others might think of my decisions.  For too long, I've been doing things to please others, sometimes to my own detriment and that's not right. 

That's all for now, I have much thinking to do on what my goals and resolutions will be this year.  I'll be back soon with more.

Current debt:  $232,330.98  (I can't wait to see where this number is at at the end of this year)