Friday, October 31, 2008

Milestone

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

Surprise!

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

ZOMG!

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."

Progress!

[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

Dragging

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!