December 22, 2010

Oh December, why do you cost so much?

Filed under: family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 12:23 pm
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December, December. It’s so busy and stressful, I can’t think straight. I have no progress to report this month except for rolling my home equity lines together for a lower rate — it’s done, we’re happy & hooray.

Is my money perspective all screwed up because of my family? Here’s the basics:

1) My dad made good money but didn’t talk about it and accumulated painful credit card debt and is terrible at managing money and has nothing.

2) My mom never made that much and now they’re apart manages her money much better, but I didn’t grow up with this example.

3) My older sister is a surgeon with a couple of multi-million dollar homes.

4) My younger sister is semi-sane thus far (and better with money, partly I think because her husband is seriously debt-averse other than medical school loans). But next year his salary plus bonus & signing bonus will be more than I’ve made in my life.

We’re not poor, me and my husband. But my goodness, you’d think we were! My older sister had a gift shipped here for her husband for Christmas. It’s a $6,000 Rolex. Yes. That one gift cost more than four times my entire Christmas budget. Crazy!

I hope to have lots of lovely news in the new year though. Happy Holidays!!!


January 13, 2010

And a New Year

Filed under: budgets,debt,money — by elysianconfusion @ 4:36 pm
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Well, a quick update to keep us on track…
April 20, 2009: $403,438.14
January 13, 2010: $381,107.27
That’s down $22,330.87 and down $2,184.04 since last month. I can see the numbers slowly creeping down… Christmas was hard though. I had to up my savings for Christmas next year — starting this month! I think we’ll be in good shape for next year.
We did also have our snow blower break. Usually my husband can fix things, but this one was a tough call for us — to fix it would cost at least $190 and it’s an old machine, maybe about 15 years, and very heavy. We also bought it used and have had it 7 or 8 years. To buy the new Best Buy from Consumer Reports in the medium snow blower (recommended for Massachusetts and the size of our driveway) would be $600 + tax. Ugh. I hate stuff like this — which one makes more sense? I have the emergency fund, I can pay for it, and I can pay back the fund pretty quickly, I think, because my husband’s annual bonus is coming up.

Which is another topic for debate… with the bonus, what do you do? Add it all to your emergency fund? Add it to the debt snowball? Split it? Use some of it to buy wants that we’ve been putting off? I’m sure everyone has a different position on this… I’d love to hear suggestions. I’m leaning towards a little for wants, and then split the remainder between a little extra emergency fund money and a bigger snowball payment. (Sadly or maybe not, we’re not in the banking industry and do not get 5 or 6 figure bonuses.) Of course it’s my husband’s bonus, so it’s really up to him.

December 16, 2009

Gives Me Hope

Filed under: budgets,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 7:36 pm
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I think the best website I’ve seen this week is http://www.givesmehope.com/. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me it can be hard to remember to be hopeful. All those little daily struggles and frustrations can really bring me down. And certainly the news and friends, they don’t often share these little hopeful stories. (Except Gimundo — they had a great story yesterday about restaurant diners paying it forward all day.)

Today, the little thing in my life that I’m focusing on that GMH is that I finally paid off one credit card. My American Express Optima, which many years ago I’d used to consolidate debt at a lower interest rate (3.9), is finally paid off. I only wish I’d managed to have that be the last time I consolidated debt thinking I’d never do it again! Still, it’s something. Lowest interest rate but the lowest balance, and it’s done. And I can see my other debts going slowly down as well, and I hope it’s going to go down ever faster.

This month has certainly had a strong learning curve on budgets, though. I underestimated how much we’d need to spend for Christmas, even though we’ve severely limited how much we’re spending and who we’re buying for. I think because this is the first year I’ve had a real budget, I really hadn’t paid attention to all the costs (cards, stamps, school and teacher gifts, cookie tins to share our homemade cookies in lieu of gifts). I’m not charging anything… but I’d hoped to have a little left over to push at debt.

So, the wrap up for the month… $383,291.31, down $2,673.94 since last month and $20,146.83 since April when I started this quest. I think I did figure out why it was so high in November, I did the calculation before (vile) credit cards had added finance charges. My fault for having them!!!

Anyway, this give *me* hope. And I’m happy to be hopeful. And I hope that part of my budget in the new year can be a secular tithe. As a truly non-religious person, I’m unlikely to give to a church, but there are certainly causes that I believe in and would like to do a better job supporting… Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity and my local NPR station to name just a few.

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