Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne ... again!

I can't believe 2008 is coming to a close. What a huge year this has been. I finished my procert, I started my 4th year at fartless school (and the first time I stayed more than one year at a campus), my BFF moved here after 11 years of my trying to get her to, the economy went down the shitter (while my personal 'economy,' oddly, improved tremendously), Airbear & I celebrated 4 years (and got matching BFF rings), and my crazy old Boss Lady made it through another year. I made some new friends and lost some old relatives, some people had some drama but I avoided it pretty well, and I even started singing at Rock Band. Oh and of course the happiest election day of my life[1]. All in all I am feeling very strong. And hopeful! That's a change. I'm pleased with how 2008 has gone, and certain that 2009 is going to be even better. I'm going to become a saver this year, I'm going to get off my butt, and I'm going to do amazing things. I'm going to turn 30 too, but let's not talk about that one for right now ;)

So now because it's New Year's Eve:

Top 5 Things To Do In 2009
5. Send more letters (real life letters) to some of my "chronologically gifted" relatives (This was a goal last year too and I didn't do so hot at it.. going to get better this year - have even bought some birthday cards ahead of time and am prepared!)
4. Get off my butt. Seriously. Since I will be becoming debt free in 2009, I will have some leftover willpower for other things, like walking my ass around the block a few times. Or getting a Wii Fit!
3. Try to be more patient with the people I love
2. Become a saver and start making my money do positive things (this actually comes after goal #1 chronologically, but I think #1 is most important so I saved it for the end of the countdown)
1. Pay off the Bank of Mom and become finally debt free!

Top 5 Things To Avoid In 2008
5. Being bored (and grouchy) at work. It may be boring at the moment, but I need to try and stay positive, make lots of calls, and keep busy!
4. Getting worked up over stupid people (or determinedly irritating students) (again, also a 2008 goal, but this one will probably stay a goal for the rest of my life!)
3. Careless spending!
2. Clutter - The condo is looking pretty good, but I'd like to keep it that way, as well as cleaning out some of the junk in the storage space at some point in 2009!
1. My Crazy Boss Lady. Ha ha, couldn't resist keeping this one.

I spent a bunch of time today getting groceries, running errands, cleaning up the house etc. so that I can start 2009 on a really solid footing. I love New Year's... I'm feeling really positive as I look back on 2008 (even with all its hiccups) and I am so excited and optimistic about 2009. I'm ready to celebrate! :D

[1] except for those a-holes in California. But time shall ultimately tell.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowpocalypse 2008

Most places, when it snows you wait for the plow, or put on your snow tires, you scrape the snow & ice off your car and you get on with your life. In Seattle, you don't have snow tires (or plows). You might not even have an ice scraper. So what you do is just leave your car parked wherever it was parked 4 days ago, your work gets canceled, and you walk around everywhere. If you live on one of the city's big hills like I do, the roads all get shut down and you buy out all of the food at your neighboring grocery store and hope you survive.

But the best part about living on the one of Seattle's big hills that is filled with young people is that the hill gets shut down and what most people would consider an inconvenience turns into play. We walked down to the pub (in a snowstorm, ha ha), fell down on the ice a few thousand times, and then when we got down to the busiest intersection on the hill we found... a neighborhood sledding party! People in condos neighboring the main arterial had their windows open and fun music playing as about fifty people gathered in the street to sled down the main street. I saw a few snowboards (they usually stuck to the sidewalks), some skateboards with the gear removed, a surfboard (yes!), flattened cardboard boxes, tarps, trash can lids, and even a few sleds. Apparently someone even rode down on an ironing board.

It didn't match the thousands of people that poured into all the roads on the hills when Obama won the election (and there wasn't anybody playing a tuba this time), but the sense of community joy was the same. Say what you will about Seattle-ites being incompetent drivers in the snow (and they are... this is as much snow as they usually see in 8 years put together and no one is prepared), but I don't think there are many places where six inches of snow creates an impromptu midnight party with you and several dozen of your neighbors. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


So a lady in my book club just ended up ... sort of emergency adopting her six nieces/nephews, all at once, into her tiny little house. The kids need clothes, food, everything, four of them have lice, etc. It's a huge mess. The woman that runs the book club sent around an email, and people are giving clothes or toys if they had kids that age, or money for gift cards if they have it. However, my BFF just lost her job (that she moved to my city for, about 3 months ago) and so I am trying to hold onto my poor little pennies in case she needs help. She doesn't have credit cards to fall back on, which is brilliant of her in the long run (although she probably doesn't feel like that right now) but it is more stressful and she's in a panic and feels like a failure etc. So I am going to be her Emergency Fund. I know, I know, I can hear the groans and foreheads being slapped all the way from here. This is not a fiscally wise thing to do. But she's family, and she needs me, and I had to have Chase/Citi/whoever pay *my* rent for a few months once upon a time, and if it comes down to it I'd like to be able to buy her a little time. I know she won't rest until she finds a job, because it makes her insane to not have one.

In any case, I am kind of holding my breath at the moment because of that, and trying not to spend just in case it is needed. Of course this will work out beautifully if she gets a job fast and doesn't need a dime - great saving motivation! But then it means I'm already stretched, and I had to tell the book club leader that. Of course I don't like admitting that either. I also just don't like saying no when someone needs help. Or, well, ever. But I said I'd ask my mom, who might have the right size diapers or something, extra stuff from daycare kids.

Mom got on the horn through the Mom Network, and apparently is collecting a whole slew of coats, clothes, and stuff to be mailed over for kids of all ages (since the emergency adoptees run from 7 weeks to junior high age). She's also giving a $100 (!!) gift card. I wanted to make sure I hadn't guilted her into it or anything, and of course that was not the case. She said that she feels lucky to be able to help. Once when I was a kid, a friend of hers and her son were down on their luck, and Mom took them grocery shopping. The friend never forgot it, and neither did Mom. I think if she had millions of dollars, she'd just make a job out of going around and doing things like that.

The best part of the story, though, was when Mom told me to send an email to the book club friend and tell her what a wonderful thing she was doing by taking in all those kids. "She's earning her wings!" Mom said.

My Mom must have so many wings :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Spirit

I called around to local businesses to say that I was a campus manager for a small private school and I was putting together gift packs for my teachers for the holidays, and were they offering any deals/discounts/etc.? (at the suggestion of one of the WIR ladies). Most said no, but one local coffee shop owner gave me six $15 gift cards for only $10 each! I thanked her profusely, and she said they loved to help out teachers, because we "fight the good fight." Thanks for noticin'! And for saving me some $$ :) That'll pay for the supplies for making them friendship bread. Yay!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holly, Jolly

So I have a hard time with spending this time of year.

Like, spending a lot.

It's even worse this year because I don't have huge extravagant ideas. Last year, I bought a Wii for Mom & Dad, which is expensive, but once I bought that I knew for sure I was done shopping. When I get important people little presents, I keep buying more and more and more little presents. And I can't seem to stop.

I did something good today, though. I had ordered something for Airbear, but when it came I didn't like it so I returned it to the store. I really wanted to buy him something else to replace the gift, but I didn't. And then when I got home and looked at the list of things I am still getting him, I know that I made the right choice.

So why is my trigger finger twitching?!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nodding off

Payday did arrive, which is always nice, but so did a lot of other exhausting things. I'll update later (although maybe not until the next payday when I can make a substantial debt payment). Just too tired right now. Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, and were able to spend some time appreciating the people that love & take care of you. *Hugs&Smoochies*

Thursday, November 20, 2008


OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG Seriously this pay period is lasting forrreeevvvveeerrrr. I was really excited to make a much-bigger-than-normal payment to The Bank of Mom, but now that I have I am so absolutely impatient for the next payday to get here. I've been looking at my 2009 savings goals (woo hoo, so excited!), and reading forum posts over at the Savers thread to get inspired. Well, and really just to have something to do so that I'm not actually counting minutes or something like that. But it's getting out of hand. I can refrain from spending, but I can't make time pass any faster and gosh darnit I want to! I am getting so close now, and there's only one little row left in the spreadsheet with a debt number in it.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time is the justice that examines all offenders...

You know how it sometimes seem that a-holes can just keep on being a-holes and they never get what's coming to them, and some people that are good people and try hard and do what's right just get screwed? And then everybody starts to get real cynical, and ya think that there's no force in the universe that's going to do anything about it--that "the right thing" only happens in cheesy summer blockbusters, or that bad guys only get their just deserts in cartoons?

Well this time is not that time, ladies and gentlemen!

And there was much rejoicing.. (*yay*)

Friday, November 14, 2008


I also thought I would note that the number below represents 58.1% of my annual income from last year. That seems like a lot!

For Auld Lang Syne

I know, New Years is still quite a ways off. But this is even more exciting than New Years, and without the champagne headache to boot. Today[1] marks the one-year anniversary of my Debt Resolution! It's hard to believe, but one year ago I sat down, wrote out all my debts, had a major freak out, and then started making serious strides toward financial security.

I've worked really hard during the last twelve months, and have pinched every penny and watched every dime. I was never really a big shopper, but I stopped doing all the little self-indulgent things like going out for Mexican food when I was having a bad day at work, or frittering money away at the pub when I didn't really need to drink. I even tried to be rational about presents, which is really hard for me, and for which I got a lot of support from my loved ones. Most importantly, I started blogging it where I knew a couple people (hi Mom!) would read it. I need to have accountability[2].

In the last 12 months, I have had some "minor" accomplishments:
* contributed just shy of $2500 to retirement funds
* paid my car insurance (twice) and tuition in cash with money I had saved ahead of time
* drastically reduced the number of times per month we go out to eat

...and some major ones:
* canceled all but four credit cards, the best ones
* doubtlessly improved my credit ratio[4]

Unfortunately I did not pay off all of my debt entirely - that would have been a really awesome accomplishment to list. But at this point, I only have my loan from my mom (which is now more than half paid off!) and my school loan, which I am not going to bother racing down. Its interest rate is so low I actually make more money paying the minimum and keeping money in my savings account. Crazy.

Anyway, down to one debt payment a month, which is at 0% and should be pretty easy to snowball from here on out. I'm feeling really excited about the progress I've made, although I am of course anxious to finish paying off mom. Imagine, no debt... all money toward savings... wow! Only $3,200 stands in between me and total debt freedom (except the school loan, see above). Just a little bit further!

Wanna know the total? I know you do! *drumroll*



[1] Well technically that comes in two days. But I got paid today so I did the whole bill paying thing, and I do my updates after the mid-month pay check. It's close enough.
[2] Or more likely I just get a big enough kick out of bragging about my accomplishments that I knew that would drive me to succeed ;)
[3] Sorry about the overly exuberant text emphasis ... I get a little carried away ;)
[4] I'll have to check this one when I get my scores in January. But my debt-to-limit ratio has most certainly improved!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Ok, now I usually try to avoid politics on this blog because politics piss people off (or pisses people off? Hmm...) but anyway I just have one thing to say.

According to the fundamental principles of my country as I have been taught them, the majority are not supposed to be able to legistlate (i.e., vote on) the rights of the minority.

That is all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dilemmas in Paying and Spending (TM)

So when I set my goals for this month, I included paying goals (snowball the Bank of Mom debt as much as possible - particularly because my debtiversary is in 6 short days) but also spending goals (like get some of the Christmas gifts out of the way). I really like to achieve goals, so I want to do both, but obviously they are contradictory! So I suppose my choices are:

a) pay as much toward the mom debt with this check as possible, since that will make for a bigger one-year total, and wait til the end of November check for presents

2) buy some presents this weekend and a bigger (but not all-the-way big) snowball payment

iii) normal mom payment, finish Christmas shopping, then snowball until the end of the year. After all, end of 2008 is a great goal too, right?

Not like I'm going to be able to pay off all the mom debt by the end of 2008, although that would certainly be nice and give the entire new year a savings feel. But unless I get a big fat holiday present from my Big Bad Boss Lady (in the form of a hefty check), it is unlikely to happen. Boo!

Funny how I'm spending so much time wondering how to spend money I don't have yet. I guess that's not all that uncommon. But at least I'm not picking out shoes or something!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, the Internet finally learned to cooperate and I got to make sure that yes, my paycheck did indeed get deposited into my bank account. Then I did what people everywhere do in this situation, I began blowing the money immediately. BUT, as people everywhere do NOT do, I specifically and methodically targeted the money hemorrhaging from my only-recently-not-empty account. I paid my 1-15th of the month bills, as usual; I checked my already-paid-off credit cards to make sure they were still at $0, as usual; but then I got to do something absolutely "wicked sick"[1].

I paid off my very last credit card.

In fact, I did it on the phone, so that I could get the complete payoff figure (in case there were any random cents of incremental interest) and so that I could immediately close the card. When I mentioned that infamous "C-word"[2] to the customer service rep, she asked if I had any other high-rate balances I could transfer over to this card, because she would give me a super-sweet deal. And it actually was a super-sweet deal, I'll have to give her that - 2.99% for the life of the balance transfer - but you know what I got to say?

"Actually, no... I don't have any other credit card balances. This was my last one."

She sounded surprised, and genuinely excited for me. "What an accomplishment!" she said. "You must feel very proud of yourself. Well, then I'll close this card right away and send you a confirmation letter [etc., etc.]."

I smiled, thanked her graciously, and hung up. Then I called two other card companies and canceled my cards with them, as well. Those were cards I'd paid off a few months ago, but since I still had balances on other ones I wanted to keep them open so my debt-to-limit ratio was still good. But now, since my debt (well, my cc debt) is zero, that ratio's as good as it can be. I canceled three cards I would never use - highest rates, customer service I don't really like, etc. - and kept four: one Visa (my oldest card), one MC (with rewards), one Amex (because it worked in Japan and nothing else did; besides it's my lowest rate and has a cool blue holographic thingie), and another Visa because... why did I keep that one - oh, right. I can check it with the same log-in as the MC so it's easy to keep an eye on, and it has a good rate. Doesn't hurt to have some available credit options, just in case.

But nobody needs 7 credit cards, so I cleaned house. I'll get confirmation letters in the mail that the accounts are closed, and I'll shred the cards. As for the cards I kept, I put one in my purse for emergencies[3] and filed the rest away. My purse is thinner, my Monthly Payments Checklist has shrunk by like half (and will be a much smaller checklist when I make a new one for 2009), and I am officially NO LONGER PAYING INTEREST TO ANY CREDIT CARD COMPANY WHATSOEVER.

Sorry about the bold caps... I'd say it's because "I'm just so excited" - and I suppose I should be, and probably am - but at the moment it's hard to describe how I feel. I'm looking at this chart and seeing the little checks I made each month: bill paid, bill paid, bill paid... and now it just says zero, zero, zero... zero, zero, ZERO!

And somehow I can't stop crying. Or laughing. Yep, both at the same time. Nope, I don't have a clue.

Total Amount Paid Since November 2007: $23,405.46

I'm not totally out of consumer debt yet - still have a loan from The Bank of Mom for $4,000. But with no credit card payments anymore, I'll be able to pay that down a lot faster. I won't be completely debt free by November 16, 2008 (my one-year anniversary for my Debt Elimination Resolution(TM)), but I will be credit card free by then... and I think that's a pretty good accomplishment for one year.

Now I better go get some Kleenex. And maybe some ice cream ;)

[1] This is a positive term.
[2] I mean "close," you sickos!
[3] And I mean real emergencies, like I get kidnapped and end up in Bozeman, MT and need to get on a plane ASAP. Not like "I'm-currently-out-of-ice-cream-and-there's-14-more-days-til-payday" emergencies. The 0's just feel way too good to ever go back!

Oh, and P.S.

So remember how I was tracking my "no spend" days over at that Women in Red blog? My goals for October were pretty steep: 24 (out of 31, obviously) no spend days and 28 no eating out (NEO) days. The results?

25 no spend days (that's $0, bitchez!)
29 NEO days

That's RIGHT! I didn't just meet those goalz, I destroyed them! Rawr!

The bonus side effect was even better, though. Keeping that tight of a reign on my spending was pretty tough, but at the end of the month I had a total of 17 transactions out of my bank account in October. That includes all groceries, all gas, all bills (even the auto-pay ones), the one check I wrote, and the credit card payments. 17 transactions in one month! It didn't even fill up one page on the online account register!

It's so amazing to me that I can't stop using exclamation points!

I better go to bed.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The tubes are clogged!

So I'm bubbling over with impatience right now.

Bubble, bubble, bubble, pop!

I get paid at midnight (in 3 minutes), and I think I will have enough money to pay off my very last credit card, which has $500 left on it. Even though it seems silly and ridiculous to do so, I wanted to stay up until midnight, make sure the money was in the bank, and log onto the cc website and make that payment the very soonest instant I could. I know, I know, it's not going to post until tomorrow morning anyway, right, so who cares?

I care. Because I'm anal retentive and neurotic and because I am sofreakingclose!!!

Oh, but no. No, that's not going to happen. And you know why?

Because some asshat broke the Internet.

Not the whole Internet, just part of it. My bank's part of it. And it's actually not even broken fer'rill, as the kids would say[1], but "undergoing routine maintenance from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m." Now I think staying up until 2 a.m. to see if the site is back up so that I can satiate my insane impatience level is just a little too much. But that means I have to wait til tomorrow morning after all. !$%@%^@@!!!!

[1] "For real," and no, I don't know how the kids actually spell it. Because, as everybody knows, the kidz kant spL.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ta da!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oh come on now...

I find myself once again going crazy waiting for payday to come. Not because I'm paranoid and weary of being broke this time - most of my cushion is still intact and I've done fabulously at not spending money this month. But because I am itching to make that last credit card payment.

Come on!!

Friday, October 17, 2008


It's been less than a month since my last update! I know you're amazed and excited.

I've actually just been lazy because I had updated my mom in an email and she's usually the only person who reads my blog (although some of my WIR friends might come read it now - hi, friends!). But I suppose I should be thorough. Plus it gives me another excuse to brag and I love doing that.

Payday finally arrived *angelic choir* and I was able to resume breathing. I knew I wasn't spending money and my little meager balance was sitting safely in the bank but ... I don't know, it was still just stressful. I suppose I'm just paranoid that some random charge I forgot about will be pulled out and the little tiny balance won't be able to survive on its own. But ya know just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you.

Anyway, the balance is up in a safer area now, and I was still able to make a nice chunk payment on that last cc (as well as the monthly payment to mom). I've got a bit of a cushion, but I'm going to try and hang onto it and throw whatever's left at the cc when I get paid again at the end of the month. Hopefully that will let me pay off the credit card completely on my very next paycheck, which is in only T-14 days...and counting!

It's hard for me to believe. I don't think I'll be able to pay off ALL my debt (including the Mom account) by November 16, the 1-year anniversary of my Debt Resolution (or maybe it should be reVolution!), but all my consumer debt will be gone, and then I get to start snowballing huge debt payments to my mom. As I've said before the idea of doing that doesn't bother me too much...the interest rate can't be beat, and she's a nice lady, so writing her big fat checks will actually be kind of fun. :)

I can't actually think about it too much (that upcoming(!!) debt-freedom) or I start getting all over-emotional. I can't wait til the day I make my last payment and I can just sit down somewhere quiet and let it hit me that I have finally dug myself out of the hole. I'll probably cry my idiot head off. My monthly obligations will be down to less than one paycheck, which makes things possible that never would have been possible before. I could go down to half time. I could work somewhere for half what I make. I could actually quit entirely and live off Airbear (ha ha). While I don't plan on doing any of those things (although the last one sounds like a winner), it is incredibly empowering to know that my actions and hard work have opened up these doors for me. They're also safeguards, too. If I lost my job, we'd survive. We'd have to eat dinner at home, but that's about the only change we'd need to make. And in uncertain times that's an amazing thing to know.

Instead, my plan is to keep working and apply that entire second paycheck (and whatever's left of the first) to a series of savings funds. I have already spent time thinking about what these goals will be, since I was so broke that I couldn't afford to go out and do anything and had to entertain myself with excel spreadsheets. Ha ha. Anyway, check out the results, because the exercise was super fun. Once I am debt free, (imagine three thousand !'s) my goals are:

Savings Funds:
Little Emergency Fund/Short Term Savings - $1,000
Big Emergency Fund (Job loss, etc.) - $5,000 [1]
Car Replacement Fund (for "eventually") - $5,000
Laptop Replacement Fund (ditto) - $1,500
"Special Occasion" Fund - $3,000[2]
Laser Eye Surgery Fund - $2,000[3]
House Fund - $10,000[4]

Annual Contribution Goals:
Roth Contributions for 2009 - $5,000
Gift Money for 2009 - $800 (*blush* shut up, it's my money!)
Vacation Fund for 2009 - $1,500[5]
Tuition Account Contributions for 3 nephews for 2009- $180 ($5/month/kid)

I've looked ahead to what my budget/bill breakdown will be as well, and while I obviously cannot fund these accounts all immediately at the start of 2009, I could do monthly payments which will meet the tuition, gift, vacation, and Roth goals (yes, completely funding my Roth!) with the money that used to go to credit card debt payments. I will have to pick a few of the savings funds to focus on at a time so that I can snowball them and get them filled up fast and feel rewarded. Plus once they're full they just get to sit around and make interest and make me feel rich. The annual funds I'll have to keep replenishing all the time, because they'll get used, but still... do you know how amazing it is going to feel to be able to be saving ahead for those kinds of things? To know that I have the power to grow money to buy presents? To be able to snowball toward GOOD things instead of toward debt?

I can't imagine how you could feel any richer than that :)

[1] Believe it or not, this is more than six months worth of expenses for me. I'm making Airbear start one too. His should obviously be bigger, since he farts money.
[2] I'm not going to tell you what the occasion is, for jinx purposes. I think you can probably get creative and guess. It might take more than this, if a trip to Rio is involved. But this is a good start.
[3] Actually, (aaaaactually), Airbear can contribute to a pre-tax health account that we can use to spend on my eyeball surgery, once I figure out all the details, and that will help him out on taxes a bit and I can pay him back. Best part is he said he would like to pay for half of it :O :O :O !
[4] This one is kind of weird, I know. But nitza, you say, you already have a house! Well, I don't, Airbear does. And since we are not yet teh married, it's better this way. But I'd like to start tucking some money away for later. This fund takes a backseat to the others, but it's just been at the back of my mind. I might be able to contribute it to a down payment when we buy house #2 together, or something. Anyway, like I said... it's about options, now :)
[5] It probably won't get up that high during 2009, but then we'll just do the standard little vacations to mom's house, etc. one year, and leftovers can roll over each year so that we can do a Big, Fabulous Vacation from time to time. WITHOUT CREDIT CARDS!! (See how serious I was about that?) ;)

Monday, October 13, 2008


Only two blessedly short days til payday. Doing really well on the non-spending, though... so far have made it 11/13 days spending $0 (yes I really mean $0)!!! Obviously I think this is a very big deal as I put several exclamation points at the end of it, which I usually detest. Plus I've gone out to eat exactly one time this month, which I'm pretty proud of. Airbear ordered take-out one other time, but a) he paid for it so I'm not counting it amongst the list of my No Eating Out (NEO) days over at the WIR thread. I'm also pretty amazed that Airbear was able to only want take-out once so far this month. Of course I haven't really been giving him that choice when I list the options for dinner.

Formerly: "What do you want to do for dinner?"
Answers: "(insert list of places to waste money eating out at)"

Now: "Do you want sloppy joes for dinner, or quesadillas?"
Answers: Surprisingly[1], "Sloppy joes." or "Quesadillas."


[1] I say "surprisingly," because Airbear actually is smart enough to answer with an option that is not among a list of pre-determined choices. This means that he is smarter than an elementary school child, because this is a tactic recommended amongst classroom management experts for getting kids to do what you want while still allowing them to live under the illusion that they have power and independence. So I am surprised that Airbear has not[2] said, "Both", "Neither", and/or "Porkandbeans" just to be a pain in the rear.
[2] Well, he did one time say just "Yes." Men. They never change.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Tired of waiting for payday.

Tired of hearing about the "bailout" and the "looming depression" and the terrible economy.

Tired of thinking about people who are irresponsible with money getting away with it.

Hate hate hate hate.

But it's Thursday, hooray!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Le Sigh....

So I got myself down to only $1000 left on the last credit card as of my last paycheck. I felt really great about that, and even though it meant that finances would be really tight until the next payday (today), I just tightened my belt and behaved really well financially and finally - finally - the glorious day arrived. Payday, phew.

Except my paycheck is pitifully, pitifully small. I received my annual bonus two weeks ago, and the way they do it here is to just give you the bonus check and then take the taxed for it out of your next paycheck. I have no idea why they don't just take it out of the bonus check immediately. Maybe they want the bonus to look bigger and more impressive, I don't know. But in any case, even though the bonus wasn't nearly as big as it was last year, all of the taxes on it came out of the check I just got today. So this paycheck is several hundred dollars smaller than usual.

Note that I am not being ungrateful for the bonus (I appreciate any extra money I get!); and it's not that I made a colossal financial mistake and will now be in trouble: the bills I have to pay during the first half of the month will still all be covered. But it *does* mean that I'll still be flat broke until next payday. No additional debt payments, no fun money, no going out to eat. Kinda took the wind out of my sails (Ha ha, when I first typed that I wrote "sales"). Because that's another long 17 days away. Ugh.

But hey, I've made it through that long without spending money before, I can do it again! And at least I'm "only" broke - even having zero dollars is much better than having to go into the red to pay for things. I won't have to make any late payments, I have a pantry full of food at home, it's at least not Christmas or something, and if something catastrophic were to happen I do have the cc's to fall back on. Of course I don't want to fall back on them, though. So I'll be doing all I can to not spend anything except for absolutely must-pay bills until my next payday. Maybe I'll even come online here and post the days that I can manage to spend $0.

Wish me luck, and try to help me not spend! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


So like I said I was reading through the Women in Red message boards again yesterday.. it's a nice way to stay motivated when I've made payments and am just stuck waiting around until the next payday. Some highlights (lowlights? surprises?):

* A thread entitled "29 years old and 74,532.84 in debt"

* Someone 475k in debt (including house debt - although the one above doesn't)

* People out of jobs

*People who got blasted by unexpected expenses

* Financial websites/suggestions

* Awarding little smiley emoticons for progress paying off debts

* Easy cheap dinner suggestions

* Dealing with identity theft

* Monthly/weekly/etc. financial "challenges" like spending less than x dollars on groceries, or going more than 7 days without spending any money, etc.

* A student who is $24k in debt but makes $719 a month

* A husband of 17 years who won't work on eliminating their family's debt

But my favorites are the groups. There is one called the "Women in Red Racers" - all women who are 'racing' (against themselves, but they do post the 'rankings' as well) to pay down their debt. Some people only have like $500, some have $500k - some from houses, some from cars, some all on credit cards, some their fault, some not. But they all post (all the time!) and support each other, push each other, are accountable to each other. I only have about $5k left but I up and joined and so I'll be able to post and encourage other people and share advice for what's worked for me so far. It's really amazing what good things the internet can do, you know? These women are all so supportive of each other, and are really giving each other a good kick in the butt when needed too. It's awesome. And, as a whole group, the "Women in Red Racers" (WIRR) have paid off a combined five million dollars in debt in two years.

Isn't that unbelievable?!?!?

The "Women in Red Savers" is another group - I'm sure you can guess the purpose. I plan on joining them after I "win" and "graduate" from the WIRR. Then I can start working on becoming a millionaire!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bonus post

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention. Our school has not done their annual September "salary adjustments" yet, because the economy has been so poor and enrollments were down in July/August. They have also not given out bonuses. Now, it doesn't say anywhere that they have to give out bonuses, but they usually do, out of the annual profits from the company. My bonus last year was almost $5k. I was expecting about $50. I almost had a heart attack.

This year, though, no bonus so far...

...I am hoping that is not a permanent decision :[ Not that I was counting on one (or, certainly, one that big!), but if it happened once....

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wax and wane

I feel like my motivation is waning. Doesn't that seem wrong, that it should be tapering off right now when I've finally got my balances so low and am so close to my goals? It's irritating, but it's still true. I can feel the difference. I'm wanting to be lazy and go out to eat, and it's been awhile since I had one of those "$0" days. I am not out wasting money on useless crap or anything, but I'm definitely not feeling as fanatically devoted as I was. Or maybe I am when I think about it, but I'm just not thinking about it all the time.

I am not surprised that this is happening, really... I can be dedicated to something over the long term, in a rational way, or I can be insanely devoted to something for a short amount of time, but then get bored. This is why, early on, I told everyone I had to be so good. "You're doing great," some people said, "it's okay to reward yourself with a little splurge." Or "well you have to have some fun in the meantime, or you'll go crazy!" But really, I had to have NO fun and NO splurges and be REALLY good in order to get it down as fast as possible. That way I wouldn't run out of steam while the balances were still high enough to keep me in trouble.

Because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, however, I know that I will be able to persevere! (I also started reading the
Women in Red threads again on MSN, and even joined one called the "Women in Red Racers" where everyone is racing to pay down chunks of debt. I think it will be really motivating to get me through this last little bit! But more about that in a later post.)

So back to the update:

I am now down to one credit card (locked at 2.99% for life) and a debt I owe to my mom. That's it for consumer debt, which is my focus at the moment. We'll worry about school loans later (especially since I have to find out if there is a pre-payment penalty on them anyway).

Last cc: $1000
Mom: $4200

Total paid off since November 16, 2007: $22,085.52

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's been a long time... shouldn't'a left you...

...without a dope beat to step to *word*

It's from a song. Timbaland is on it. That makes it awesome.


Budget update for this month is not super-impressive... the overall debt total went down about $200, and the overall savings/retirement went up about $100. But at least both of those things moved in the right direction during a month when I had to pay nearly five hundred dollars for car insurance.

The awesome part is that the car insurance is paid in full, out of the bank and not on a credit card and I still managed to make positive progress on the debt. Maybe it's only a little bit of progress, but it's still progress and I'm happy about it!

You'll get another update next month, and hopefully I'll get a big fat back-to-school bonus and be able to have a bigger, more exciting update next time. Speaking of back to school, make sure and be nice to some teachers you know this month! :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Update figure - finally!

So I finally remembered to fill in my budget and here's the big number....and here's the big update!



!!!! Or, if you include how much I've paid down my school loans, the total amount of debt paid since November 2007 is....


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another thing to be proud of...

I meant to p0ast this earlier but I forgot.

In June, for the first time in my life, I made a donation the campaign of a political candidate. I'm not going to tell you who, or what office they're running for, but it's someone I really believe in and would like to see succeed. So I made a pretty sizable (for me) donation, and it was matched by a former donor. That was part of the reason I chose to donate when I did - I was inspired by the commitment that a former donor was showing to continue being part of the campaign if he/she was willing to match donations (which could be up to $2300, potentially, although mine of course was much smaller than that). But I figured if other people are willing to make continuing commitments to this cause, then that confirms my feeling that there is something special going on here. I really want to see this person elected, and because I feel passionately about what I think should happen, I decided to "put my money where my mouth is," as the saying goes, even though I am otherwise being so tight-fisted with the rest of that money.

So my update figure could have been a little higher, but I'm glad that I was secure enough to be able to do this and I'm proud of my active participation in the democratic process. Yay!

Oh and I swear I really will update my budget doc later and give you a real update figure ;) I think it will be a good one. I just keep forgetting!

P.S. Make sure you get informed and VOTE this year! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back ... with a bang!

So I *meant* to update my blog on June 16, as I usually do, with my Debt Reduction Resolution Update (TM), but that was right in the middle of the last week of school and I was losing my mind. After that, I spent a couple of weeks being exceptionally lazy and as mindless as possible :)

But it's mid-month again, and I just got paaaaaaaid, so I decided to go online and make a few payments. Now I don't have my fancy budget database file with me (I'm not p0asting from home), so I can't give you the tremendous update figure you are so anxiously waiting for. That will have to be p0asted later. There are a couple of big things I *can* point out now, however!

1) I paid off my second-to-last credit card completely. Now there is only ONE left with a balance on it!

b) My only remaining credit card is locked in at a rate of 2.99%.

III) The amount on that card is less than I make in one month. That doesn't necessarily mean that I'll be able to pay it all off in one month (I will be paying my 6-month car insurance *IN CASH* next month after all), but still. That is a very reasonable target balance to have in my sights.

4) After that card is paid off, I will only owe money to my mom. And a) it's at 0% interest (currently! ha ha!) and 2) I really don't mind paying money to my mom. She's a nice lady.

So can you believe it? Only one credit card left to go...

Friday, May 16, 2008


I decided to do a little math (yay for math!), and I figured out that if I paid $1606 a month, I could get rid of all of my consumer debt (including that part I owe my mom) by November. If I work hard, I just might be able to do it, and then I'd be able to say I elminated all my consumer debt in one year!

Wish me luck :)


Well I made my mid-month extra payment, and the urge to hold on to some money and blow it on stuff was really strong. I don't know why - it's not like there are holidays coming up or plans or anything. Maybe just an urge to spoil myself. But I shook it off, and made a big big payment instead. And it worked out really awesomely! Because when I filled in all the updated information for this month (balances, savings, retirement, etc.), my total net worth (less school loans) was actually POSITIVE!

I know it seems like it should have been positive all along, and of course it should have, but it wasn't. And now it is :)

Total debt paid update: $12,429.24

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pay your bills, pay your bills...

So the little automated reminder went off today, time to pay my bills. I get out my handy, dandy bill-payin' chart and do one of my favorite things which is check all the card accounts I recently paid off to make sure they are still at zero[1]. Well anyway after I did that, I only had two bills to pay! Isn't that exciting?! That's not to say I only have two bills, i.e., total - there are a couple things like my school loans that come out after the next paycheck - but only two credit card bills to pay. Hooray! I paid the minimum on the one that's locked at 2.99% for life (the lowest one), and dumped all my bill-payin' money onto the other one. Not a big huge payment, but every little bit helps, and I left enough in my account to cover my school loan payment (just in case it goes through before payday) so when I get the bigger check on the 15th I'll get to make another (and hopefully bigger) dent in Next Goal Credit Card(TM). I must say it feels pretty cool to be down to just two little numbers between me and the absence of consumer debt![3]

[1] This might sound kind of anal retentive. And it is. But it's also just paranoia that I had some minuscule balance left during part of the last billing cycle and they'll have charged me like three cents interest for it and I won't notice and end up with late fees, bad credit, and the assault of several credit card company employees on my hands[2].

[2] This is just a joke, officer.

[3] Or do school loans count as consumer debt? Oh well, I'm not counting them!

Monday, April 28, 2008


I can't believe that last p0ast got no comments. You people sure are hard to impress! I'll work on it ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Okay, so I know you've all been waiting breathlessly (well, I have!), and it's finally time for the big update I've been going on and on about. I took nearly all of my savings[1], dumped it into my checking account and paid off my 0% interest card (two weeks before the interest rate would have kicked in, in May). Because I knew I was going to p0ast an update and I wanted the update figure to be even bigger, I even paid an extra $300 (what was left of the saving surplus after the 0% card) onto the next card in line[2]. So you see, the very fact that you are reading this blog motivates me to chip away at my debt when I could be holding onto those "little cushions" and frittering them away on bullshit! Don't you feel helpful now? :) You should!

So anyway, I am down to only two credit cards left to pay off now, and a pretty hefty-size chunk I owe my mom. But there's progress, and do you want to see it? In all it's numerical-form glory?!?!!?!?

Total Debt Paid Off Since November, 2007: $10,337.99


[1] Aside from $900, because you get a special higher interest rate on everything up to $800 in both savings and checking, and I've made it a point to be above that in both accounts for some time now, in order to milk as much interest as possible out of the system. I like the interest, oh yes I do.
[2] ..which is now my highest interest rate card, at a whopping 4.99% locked for life. Whoo!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In the meantime..

...sorry, no big financial update here :) Still waiting for payday and just trying to curb spending in the meantime. Airbear's been recovering from dental surgery the last few days so I bought a bunch of soft/liquid food but otherwise it's been pretty quiet around here. A little boring, but boring is cheap, so there's that :) He's being a trooper, too. Just eating his pudding and soup without complaint. He also thanked me for taking care of him, and said, "I'm glad I have a partner... someone I can rely on. I don't know what I would have done back in (the place he used to live before he met me)."

Awww. He's a good one.

Sticking around the house to keep an eye on him while he's doped up has also had the positive side effect of some forced work time, and guess what - I finished the portfolio!! Everything is submitted to my teacher for approval, and as soon as she okay's it (which I think she will, without changes, if the past is any indication) I will get to print out the remaining five entries, stick them in the binder, and call it done. I don't think I've really realized that it's finished yet, because I keep thinking "Oh, I should work on ...." ha! I don't have to anymore, take that! I'm always confused for awhile when a big project ends and I don't have something to stress out over ;)

Anyway, that's the news from here. Will post later this week when I pay off the 0% card and have a big exciting update figure!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hey, check it out!

Morningstar offers free online classes about investing, apparently. They cover the basics and get into the "nitty gritty" according to some financial blog I was reading. And no, I don't think it's the morningstar that makes the fake meat. I think it's some big investing company or mutual index or some f'ing thing[1]. I'm just too lazy to look it up right now, but I know I've read the name several times in my financial blog-trolling. Anyway, I'm going to look into it! Right now I've got an investment broker (!canyoubelieveit!) who also happens to be the investment broker for my disgustingly rich employer, so I figure he's doing pretty well and the fees are low. But I want to understand this whole thing much better than I do (which is, currently, not at all).

I am going to be a financial genius.

[1] I think it's a pine tree in China. Actually.[2]

[2] My mom will get that joke.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Did I already post this?

This is a big long list full of inspirational money blog stories. I particularly like the "getting rid of debt" section, obviously. I like reading this stuff. It's motivating.

I'm trying to use it to motivate me into not spending a bo-jillion dollars on Airbear's birthday. Don't tell him ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Closer (not that kind)

Well I'm not sure if anyone will be reading it, since the two people that I think read my blog with any regularity are both on spring break right now, but I'm up and it's sunny in the living room and I've got a few peaceful moments to p0ast an update.

For one thing, I'm getting closer and closer to finally being done with This Stupid Portfolio. I've got exactly 6 little evidence pieces to finalize (3 of which I can easily finish tomorrow but have to be at work to do it, 1 LaRue is going to help me with when she gets back, and 2 will take a little work - but not too much). I've also got a "summary reflection" paper to write - absolute BS, but it can say whatever I want it to say and really only has to be like a page long. And then all that's left is getting everything in order, printed, and in the binder! I think I will probably be able to finish it all by the next mandatory class, which is May 1. I wonder if I'll have to go to the June class, then :) Man I'm such an overachiever. Well, actually, in this case I just want to stop the pain sooner.

In Resolution news, we are almost to the end of March. If you remember way back to my saving vs. debt payoff conundrum, I had to choose between paying off a chunk of debt on a 0% card immediately or keeping that money in savings until the end of April to get interest and paying the card off before its interest restarted in May. Well, I chose the latter, and so the money's been sitting around in my savings account and the end of March represents the 1st quarter .... thingie where they give you your interest. This is the first time I've ever had a substantial amount of money in a savings account before (where "substantial" is greater than $50), and I am excited to see my interest reward. After I get it, I'm going to splurge a little bit next week and get my hurrr did, as Missy Elliot would say. For those of you who are not "hood," that means to get my hair done. With a cut and some color it's a pretty expensive proposition, but I could really use a cuteness treatment and I haven't done it since October. Ha ha. Oops. Anyway I get paid next week and will be getting several bonus checks for doing awesome at work this month, so it'll all be taken care of without representing a setback to my goals.

Now just two more paychecks left to stockpile before the big payoff day! Between the pr0tfolio, the resolution goals, and Airbear's birthday, April should be an exciting month. Oh, yeah, Airbear's birthday. If anyone has any stellar gift ideas, pass them along!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Second-most important blog p0ast of the year!!!11!

Ok, so this is not going to be as exciting as the Big May 1 Update (TM) - you know the one where I am going to take all the money in my savings account and pay off that 0% card before the interest rate starts on it - but it is almost as big. Ready, sports fans? Here come the highlights:

1) Because I have enough in my savings account already to pay off the 0% card, I've been able to pay down some on the remaining cards. Remember, at this point the only cards I have left were locked at 5.99%, 3.99%, and 2.99% respectively. So I focused on the highest of those, because its rate is higher than my savings account interest rate and so it's still better to pay it off fast.

2) I just paid that card off today :)

3) That card was held with a card-provider that I hate and the only reason I had opened it or kept it was the fixed-rate-for-life balance transfer offer. Everyone I've ever talked to at that company has been a giant a-hole, including transgressions like repeatedly spamming my email account with offers to "go paperless" but then not letting me sign up for it because "my particular account was not eligible," insisting upon sending me those blank balance transfer checks in the mail even though I requested on like four occasions that they not do that (I hate having that kind of shit floating around in the mail), and not lowering my rate or increasing my limit when I asked them to. The only time they've ever tried to be even slightly accommodating was when I was closing the card (I had a different card with them a long time ago and they did the same thing). They tried that again today, and I told them to eat me. Just kidding. I was actually very nice to the lady on the phone, but it did feel GREAT to enumerate the problems I had had with the card/company and close the card. The lady even congratulated me on paying off one of my credit cards, and said she was working on doing the same thing herself. It was really nice. :)

3) Speaking of paying things off, it's been awhile since I p0asted a total update figure, since I have been mostly saving and not making huge payments and the update figure hasn't seemed to grow very much. I was going to wait til May and just p0ast one huge update figure, but then I calculated what it actually was at this point and it looked so awesome I wanted to share it. Are you ready? *drumroll*

.... total debt paid since November 16, 2007: $7418.21


Plus there's still the big chunk left in the savings to pay off that %0 card by May, so look for another huge update in April! I'm feeling pretty proud of myself at the moment, and I'm going to go eat a celebratory quesadilla. Thanks for all the encouragement so far, and keep it up! There's still a ways to go :)

Friday, March 7, 2008


The exciting updates of course occur after the mid-month paycheck, so there's not really much to report yet. But since I don't have to pay any giant bills this month, I am excited that my mid-month paycheck will actually get to go toward my debt and not toward dumb stuff I don't want to pay for.

One nice thing I noticed is that when I was jotting down my totals after paying bills at the beginning of the month I accidentally subtracted something wrong and I just discovered that my credit card balance is actually $100 less than I thought. Yay :)

Keep your fingers crossed for a big mid-month bonus check so that I can make huge leaps of progress on my resolution!! Just imagine, after I get this crap paid off, you will finally get to read about something else on my blog :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tired, tired, tired

I have had like 6 enrollment meetings already this week and have four more tomorrow (and an assessment). In other words, busy, busy, busy. Hopefully that will make for a nice mid-March paycheck, but we'll see. Lots of enrollments, but most of them are pretty small, and February seemed like a quiet month. So who knows.

In the meantime, I found another blog about money, which has some motivational tips for keeping one inspired on one's journey toward financial independence. Thought I'd share it, since I am too tired to write anything clever and inspiring of my own :)

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I found my last quote! It's just one small step, really, but it means that the really irritating quote-searching process is at least now over and I can focus on my last 4 entries. Hooray!

Friday, February 22, 2008


So I think I am driving Airbear crazy by updating him on the progress of my portfolio every time I get one tiny aspect of it done. But it's hard not to, because it is stupid and excruciating, and every little step is one step closer to Blessed Freedom (TM).

So I will update all of you instead. Since I am not technologically capable enough to make some sort of fancy graphic thermometer that would visually demonstrate my progress, I will just do it like this:

There are 12 entry essays.
7 are totally done
1 is done but needs a quote [1].
4 still need to be written but do have a quote

So that's actually a lot of progress! I did 4 entries last weekend, but it was a long weekend. So we'll see how many I can get done this weekend, but having almost all of the quotes done takes a lot of the irritation out of it. Imagine having to find a quote to prove why a goal is a good goal when the only reason you're pursuing the goal is because some group of legislative douchebags decided you should. Anyway, all of those are done but one so I can focus on just writing four articles worth of bs, gathering and organizing my little evidence pieces, and finding that last quote. Or paying someone to do it for me.

[1] By the way, if you want to find me a quote about why it is important to "remain current in your teaching subject areas, theories, research, and best practices" that would be awesome. Anything from any kind of book or educational journal article would work. Thank you!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Quick update

So I'm trying to go with that "save all the money and pay off at the end" option, and most of my hard-earned cash is still sitting in my savings account. But I did pay off another $850 of debt in the last 30 days, so yay to that :)

But that's all for now, folks, as I have to get back to trying to work on my stupidporftolio. Ugh. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And also, besides that furthermore...

1) I did actually pay both the car insurance and the stupidclass tuition out of my honest-to-god bank account, with no credit cards involved. $1077 of payment above and beyond regular bills. I physically need to bask in that achievement before I return to being filled with rage at the stupidity of the charges themselves.

B) What the hell was B? There was another thing I was going to say. God damn memory problems. It's a good thing I'm planning so well for my retirement, because I am not going to be able to remember shit when I am old.

Oh and furthermore...

After the Retirement-Calculator-Extravaganza featured in the p0ast below (read that one first), I had the brilliant idea to consider early retirement. If I can live off around $30,000 a year and don't have to worry about leaving money to my kids:

If I contribute 6%, I'd have to work until I was 67. (There's a little surplus, so actually 66.6)
If I put in 10%, I'd have to work til 61.6. Getting better.
If I can bump it up to 15%, it's down to 57.6. Not too shabby!
And at that crazy 20%, it cuts it down to 54.7. Not as many years as I figured it would shave off, considering how much of your salary would be going into your retirement account. Then again it's an extra 11 years of not working.

Eleven years.

And when I am old....

This is a really long p0ast, so you better go grab a cup of tea.[2]

Since it's still a few days before payday and I can't do anything productive about my financial resolutions, I was rereading some msn money articles to psych (sp?) myself up and came across this. It's a little interactive thingie where you enter in various values like your current age, savings, age at retirement, life expectancy, blah blah, and it calculates all this info about what your retirement will be like. Curious to see if I would be in the "old people that live in the Bahamas and flash their flabby old-people-bods at tourists" category or the "old people that eat cat food" category, I decided to give it a try. Things that I noticed:

A) Life expectancy? Ha ha. I have no idea. It had 85 as a default value. I like to be optimistic, so I upped it to 90.
B) There was a box you could change for "retirement age," but I left it at 65 for now. Just for kicks.
C) With my employer's 3% matching, I am currently contributing (my) 3% + (their) 3% = 6% of my little salary. At least that does include bonuses, so I just used the salary it showed on the W2 I just recently got, which included some bonuses but less than I will be getting at Big Campus, where I moved to in September. But you know, estimate small.
D) Under "amount currently saved for retirement," I got to put $700. That is very small, but it is much bigger than $0, so I am pretty excited about it!
E) There is a box asking how many dollarz you feel you will need per year to live on when you retire. As if I have any idea about this! But I was reading a different financial article yesterday that was this funny program to calculate how much you would need to invest/find/WIN IN THE LOTTERY (you can tell my personal preference) in order to quit your job (another thing which from time to time sounds like exactly what I need to do), and anyway that article suggested a "reasonable" $30,000 a year. Since I until recently was not making $30,000 a year, I feel that this is indeed a reasonable amount and I went with it.
F) The default value for "current age" was 40. I stopped for awhile to feel good about myself that I am looking at (and playing around with) this website when I am only 28. Sure it would have been even better if I had started when I first started having gainful employment (more or less 6 years ago), but whatever!

So the results, with my current contribution level were:
"Your savings today: $700
Your savings at retirement: $348,984
Age when your savings runs out: 91 (very impressive, since I die at 90!)
What's left for your heirs: $35,200"

Holy shit. I leave money for my heirs. I am going to have to make some adjustments to this. Like upping that "how much you will need to live on after you retire" until my heirs get nothin, and have to earn their own damn way in the world. Let's see what happens.

*plunk, plunk, plunk* (typing noise)

Ok, I can up my annual spending to $30,947 and leave the kids $3. Well, they can buy themselves an ice cream.[1]

And you know, $30,947 a year is not bad. Much, much more than I expected it would be.

But wait, there's more. In all my reading yesterday, I also read an article that had some quick "money tricks" to use when estimating what you need for things like life insurance, what you can spend on a down payment, etc. etc. Anyway, that article suggested re: retirement that you should save "10% for basics, 15% for comfort, and 20% to get away." (It also said the percentage can include your employer's contribution and that it's affected by how old you are when you're making the estimate, i.e., starting 20 years later it's more like 15% for basics and 20% for comfort, etc.). So let's play around with the numbers. (I love this, can you tell?)

Assuming my salary stays current (which it better not), and adjusting my monthly percent contribution:

to 10% (including employer's 3%):
"Your savings today: $700
Your savings at retirement: $577,367
Age when your savings runs out: 147 (holy shit, I'm like the bionic woman!)
What's left for your heirs: $518,235"

What, are you actually kidding me? A half a million dollars?! If I adjust it so I blow all the money myself before age 90, that would give me $43,943 per year. Per retired year. Note that is more than I make now and I would not actually have to be working.

to 15% (including employer's 3%) - let's see what "comfort" looks like:
"Your savings today: $700
Your savings at retirement: $862,846
Age when your savings runs out: Never (that's what it actually says!)
What's left for your heirs: $1,122,029"

Ha ha ha ha. WTF? And spending it all personally: $60,188 per year. Yes, please.

And now, I don't think any rational person can actually save %20 of their income per year for retirement, even if you do include %3 matching. Maybe that's for people with better matching plans. But just because this is getting ridiculous, let's give it a shot and see what 20% (or a "get away" retirement plan) would look like:
"Your savings today: $700
Your savings at retirement: $1,148,325 (ZOMG I AM TEH MILLIONAIREZ!)

Age when your savings runs out: Never
What's left for your heirs: $1,725,822"

I have so much money in this scenario my money actually continues to grow after retirement. Actually, it did in the last scenario too only I didn't notice. How can you not notice that? Anyway, this theoretical 20% situation would give me $76,433 to live on per year and still leave $32 to the kids.

Now all of those calculations assumed that Social Security still exists and I get $11K per year as a benefit from that. I have no idea what my "estimated Social Security benefit" will be - I get that little statement every five years just like you do, but like most members of my generation (I think), I just laugh at it and disregard it completely. With as gloom-and-doom as the grownups always sound about Social Security, I don't count on it much. But even if I take any Social Security benefit out of the picture completely (this really is a snazzy calculator, after all):

10% yields $577,367 at retirement ($106,124 for the kids or $32,856/year for me)
15% yields $862,846 at retirement ($709,917 for the kids or $49,100/year for me)
20% (yeah, right) yields $1,148,325 at retirement (STILL A MILLIONAIREZ!!) ($1,313,711 for the kids or $65,345/year for me)

If I were to only continue contributing my current measly little %6, however, without Social Security I run out of money at 79. So I guess I better up it a bit. A few more plunks showed that 9.2% is enough to last me til 90 with about ten grand left in the bank.

I'm going to call our bookkeeper tomorrow and have her tell me what those different contribution levels would look like in actual paycheck terms. I may decide to increase my retirement percentage sooner, rather than later. I'm likin' the look of my old age. ;)

[1] Yes, I really did enter in like fifty-seven values to calculate the highest possible amount I could spend and leave my heirs as little as possible. I'm serious, kids. Learn how to handle your own money, because I am blowin' mine.
[2] This p0ast was so long, blogger's spellchecker couldn't even handle it. Ha!