Sunday, August 31, 2008

Week 1 update for September goals

Time to evaluate my September goals. The reason I started my September goals a week early is because I'm a teacher and I wanted to get off to a good start. My goals are:

1. Establish morning and evening routines for both home and work. Routines will help simplify and de-stress my mornings. I have some ideas for specifics which I'll write about later. Any FLYbabies out there? My morning routines have been at about 80%--bed making is the worst. Evening routines are only 60% with journaling being the most difficult. I will be more diligent in the coming week. Overall, routines do help de-stress my mornings.

2. Pay off CC1 ($925). This should be doable, if no other Murphy visits occur. There are several variables that will determine this. Will update on the 15th.

3. Investigate membership class at church. I've been thinking about this for several months. It's time to take a step forward. No progress here--will check church website for info.

4. New goal: Collect snowflakes--see previous post.

I don't know if adding new goals is allowed ;)

Snowflaking goal

I have trouble with snowflaking. If extra money comes in, I want to spend it, not put it toward debt. The trouble is, sometimes I spend it two or three times in my head, so by the time the money actually comes in, I have spent way too much. I need an attitude adjustment. Let me see if I can talk myself into it.
My new, improved view on using extra money wisely includes acknowledging that paying off debt and planning ahead is a reward for me, because these actions will reduce future stress and in the long run, greatly improve my quality of life. To implement my new snowflake view, I will concentrate on three pending flakes that I need to follow through on. They are:
1. A reimbursement from my employer for a class. I need to find my receipt and send a letter to Mr. D.
2. A reimbursement from my medical savings account. I need to find my receipts, complete the form and mail it.
3. A payment from my insurance company. I need to print the form from the website and complete it.
When these payments come in, I will put them in my emergency fund. To make myself accountable, I will post on the outcomes by September 15.

I saw on Finding Financial Peace something that I think would be useful for me. Jennifer has her goals listed on the side of blog. I think it would help me focus to see those goals everyday. Good idea, Jennifer!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Silver lining

Every cloud has a silver the saying goes. Last week I had to replace the brakes on my car for $447, so my budget was a little tight for the last week of August. Instead of invading my emergency fund, I decided to see if I could reduce my food and gas spending until Friday (payday!) I just bought the essentials at the grocery store and reduced my food spending by about 65%! I couldn't do this every week, but it was good to find out that we could get by on a lot less for a short period of time. Now the challenge will be to see if I can continue the frugal trends--multiple meals from one entree and using frozen food that I already have. For specific tips on these frugal ideas, check out Frugal Food at Notes from the Frugal Trenches. She has reduced her food budget by 75%!

Our dinner menu for the week was:

Spaghetti with tomato, basil and olive oil (ds ate out)

Cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, edamame

Soft tacos, salad

Cheeseburgers (again), french fries, salad

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Chicken wings, mac and cheese, salad

stuffed peppers, left-overs (ds had a cross-country team dinner)

Not too exciting, but not too bad, since these are foods that ds likes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NCN mini-charts

Check out my debt and savings mini-charts on the side. Aren't they cute? Thanks, ncn! If you don't have a savings and debt chart at No Credit Needed Network, I encourage you to make one. I love the visual representation. I can't wait to watch the debt shrink and the savings grow!

The Challege!

Francois, at Liberta, has issued the Liberta Financial Freedom Challenge, a challenge to become debt free and then, to also become financially free. The Challenge involves several steps, including making a plan, charting progress and sharing the journey. Check out the entire Challenge; it's pretty neat!
I decided to accept the challenge when I read Francois description of "How a Blog help me to become financially free?" His explanation fit almost exactly with my purpose for starting this blog 10 days ago. His points are clear and succinct. A blog provides: planning, accountability, anonymity, a support network and a way to help others.
I recently discovered Francois's blog and have been enjoying reading his posts. There is a lot of information there!
Think about joining the Financial Freedom Challenge!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

FLYLady Routines

I am a FLYLady fan. Her website has a lot of information and encouragement for those of us who have trouble getting organized. One of her suggestions is to establish morning and evening routines. Eventually, these routines will become automatic. She even gives examples of her routines, to help get you started. I've been trying morning and evening routines (on and off) for a few months, so I have a starting point for my September goals.

My morning routine:

  1. Shower and dress

  2. Make bed

  3. Unload dishwasher

  4. Eat and take blood pressure medicine

  5. Devotional

  6. Feed pets

  7. Straighten bathroom

My evening routine:

  1. Shine sink

  2. Plan outfit for tomorrow

  3. Brush teeth

  4. Take contacts out

I also made a routine list for work--items to start and end every day. I may make a chart to record my progress each day. This will let me see where the problems are with a little more clarity.

Goals for September

I enjoyed posting and following through with two small blog goals last week, so I decided to post monthly SMART goals. The goals will be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Thank you to deepali at Paradigm Shifted and DLD at DebtLessDuty for their suggestions! In addition, I found a helpful post "How to Achieve Your Goals with Healthy Habits" by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits (This was a guest post at PickTheBrain). Leo's six steps include:
  1. Positive changes replacing negative habits.
  2. Take a 30 day challenge.
  3. Commit yourself completely.
  4. Set up rewards.
  5. Plan to beat your urges.
  6. Track and report your progress.

This blog will help me with steps 3 and 6. Knowing that I have to follow up on my progress or lack thereof will be motivating to me. Since monthly goals fit perfectly with the 30 day mark, September will be a good start. I'm having trouble thinking of a reward that would be motivating, but not cost $. Planning to beat my urges is also problematic, because my urge is laziness! That's hard to beat. I'll try to work through these two issues as the month progresses.

My September goals are:

  1. Establish morning and evening routines for both home and work. Routines will help simplify and de-stress my mornings. I have some ideas for specifics which I'll write about later. Any FLYbabies out there?
  2. Pay off CC1 ($925). This should be doable, if no other Murphy visits occur.
  3. Investigate membership class at church. I've been thinking about this for several months. It's time to take a step forward.

The time frame for all three goals is the month of September, but I will evaluate weekly progress.

I'm excited about my goals for September. Anybody else making September goals?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Murphy strikes!

Yesterday, as I was stopping at a traffic light, I heard a horrible, metal-to-metal grinding noise from the front of my car. I made an appointment for this morning, and sure enough, my car needs new brakes on the front. Even though this is not great news, it is not the end of the world either. I will pay for the brakes with the money I was going to snowball to my credit card. I may have to use just a little of my emergency fund for food and gas expenses for the rest of the month. I'm feeling pretty good about the situation.
One interesting side I was getting ready to write the check, I was tempted to pull out my credit card and use it. I think I will have to fight this temptation for a long time. Maybe it's time to take the final credit card out of my purse and leave it home. Maybe it's time to cut up the final card...
I'm thankful that I have enough money to cover this expense and I'm also thankful for friends and family who taxied me while my car was in the shop!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SMART goals

When I brainstormed goals to motivate me in my debt-free journey I remembered reading about SMART goals in several blogs near the beginning of the year. I decided to rewrite my goals to be SMARTer. As you probably know, SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. My original goal are in blue, with additions in red.

1. Post my info on NCN network (by next Sunday) I've seen those cute pie charts on other blogs.
2. Look for other visuals to reflect my debt-free journey (by next Sunday). Suggestions, anyone?

I realize that these are just itty-bitty goals, but they were fun to do and they meet the criteria for SMART goals. I'll let you know if they were relevant--if they were motivating on my journey.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Current debts

I think that listing my current debts will help keep me accountable as well as helping me track my progress. I am a visual learner!

  • CC1 $925 (Plan to pay off in Sept)

  • CC2 $ 6050 (Plan to pay off by May '09)

I also owe $160,000 on my house, but I'll probably move when DS graduates from high school.

Looking at my listed debts is rather encouraging to me. Less than $7000 to go--single digits. I can do this.

Goals to keep me enthused:

1. Post my info on NCN network I've seen those cute pie charts on other blogs.

2. Look for other visuals to reflect my debt-free journey. Suggestions, anyone?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My generation

In reading some of my favorite pf blogs, I can't help but feel a little over the hill. It seems that most bloggers are much younger (and wiser about money) than I am. Without giving a specific age, I can tell you that I wore bell-bottom pants, tube tops and danced to the Monkees! Yes, I am a baby-boomer.

I hypothesize that we Boomers are less aware of our financial unhealthiness than the generations preceding us and following us. I'm not sure of all the reasons, but one reason might be that we had a lot of stuff growing up and we came to feel entitled to it. When many of my generation married or otherwise set up housekeeping, we did so on nearly the same par as our parents, because credit was so easy to obtain. We then kept on charging. As children came along, we tended to finance everything from boats, to vacation homes, to college educations and weddings. The general mindset was that as long as you could pay the monthly payment, you were financially healthy.
I found two articles that support my hypothesis:

What do you think? Are boomer clueless about financial health?


Change has always been difficult for me. I have had several major changes in my life over the past few years and have decided to become more proactive in managing those changes. This blog is a baby step in that endeavor.

My goal in writing this blog is to track my journey out of debt, while learning more about personal finance and investing along the way. Milestones in my debt-free journey so far:

  • June 2007 - read Total Money Makeover

  • July 2007 - made a budget and started trying to live within my income (instead of using credit cards for food and gas)

  • August 2007 - debt $13,770. (Not counting mortgage)

  • Sept.-Dec. 2007- began paying down debt

  • Jan. 2008 - discovered the world of personal finance blogs

  • Feb. - August 2008 - continue paying debt

Reading personal finance blogs has encouraged me greatly over the past eight months. (Thank you, PF bloggers : )) I'm hoping that by writing about my successes and failures, I will get a new shot of energy to keep me on track.

Thanks for walking with me!