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Archive for July, 2008

When I'm out of debt ...

July 31st, 2008 at 04:23 pm

When I'm out of debt ...
When I have a substantial savings account ...
...when I lose 10 pounds (ha!) ...

... I'm treating myself to a one-week vacation in Miami (Key Biscayne?).

I love Miami. I've been twice ... once in high school and once in college. Sometimes I think that's my SOUL city ... the place I was meant to live in. My dream job would be to work at the Miami Herald. Take a boat to work in the morning, do research using the WiFi at some beach-side restaurant in the afternoon and dance all night.

I would love to travel more, and being out of debt would be able to allow me to do just that. So every dollar paid is just a little sweeter than the one before ... one dollar closer to taking control back over my life.

If you're in debt, what's the one thing you can't wait to do? And it has to be FUN ... no putting money in a retirement account. We're ALL doing that ... but even the most frugal of us has at least ONE frivolous thing we want to try. So what is it? Travel? Try a new fancy restaurant? Redo the bathroom? I know some of you are saving for a wedding or to get a pet.

So what is it??? :-)

I want out!

July 30th, 2008 at 05:47 pm

I want out of credit card debt! I'm mostly positive about the whole thing, but some days (like today), I just look at the number and want to kick myself. It doesn't help that I've been watching Suze Orman's show this week.

I still feel so, SO stupid to let it get this bad. What was I thinking? I guess ... just nothing.

Obsessing over it isn't going to help. I know this. What's done is done. But I still can't help but panic at times.

Other than my obsessive ways, there's really nothing new to report. I sold another DVD on Amazon for a profit of a little over $3, so that will go to a credit card once that gets put in my account.

Have a good night, everyone!

Depressed today.

July 29th, 2008 at 03:25 pm

Not a good day for me ... I kept focusing on my mom, for some reason. I was fine this morning, but felt myself grow sadder all afternoon. It's strange how these things just creep up on you ... you think you're fine and getting over things, and then *BAM* ... it hits you all over again.

And then I get home (in a really bad thunderstorm) and receive a message from my landlords saying how there have been two break-ins in my apartment complex lately. Great, another thing to worry about.

Bad day.

$50 down, $4450 to go?

July 28th, 2008 at 05:17 pm

So, I made that extra $100 today. $50 to savings! I decided that I need at least $4,500 in an emergency fund (that would give me $1,500 a month for three months), so my goal is to reach $4,500, and THEN relax just a little (while continuing to save, of course!)

Let me tell you a secret ... I haven't deposited the $200. In fact, the bills are sitting here on my desk, staring at me. I'm tempted to see how long I can go without depositing them ... unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be long. I have a car insurance payment this month. :-/

I got an offer for a 0% balance transfer CC until Aug. 09, and I'm tempted to get it to transfer my BOA CC balance to it. I currently have 0% on my BOA card, but that will adjust in August to 23.99%, I believe. *But* there's a 3% balance transfer fee. What do y'all think I should do?

Still battling the southern heat ... whew!

Happy Monday. :-)

Too dang hot

July 27th, 2008 at 09:51 am

This southern heat is too darn oppressive. I have absolutely no motivation. I tried to take my dog for a walk earlier ... yeah, between the humidity and the smog, it just wasn't going to happen. So basically I spent this weekend sitting around, half-heartedly cleaning and looking forward to NEXT weekend when I have three days off.

I did manage to go grocery shopping this morning ... my meal plan this week includes pork chops, chili, and the left-over chicken fried rice. What was frustrating this morning was that I had my grocery list all ready to go, and in my rush to get my laundry out the door as well I picked up the wrong list (my weekly to-do list) instead. So I get to the store and have to mentally recall what I needed. Great. I actually just forgot to pick up eggs, and I decided that I can do without those this week.

Not much else. Just trying to scrounge up some motivation to write this afternoon. It ain't happening so far.

Numb eyeballs

July 26th, 2008 at 09:28 am

Had an eye appointment this morning with my new optometrist ... it's a very classy place. A big step-up from the Super Wal-Mart Vision Center! At any rate, to check for glaucoma, she put drops in my eyes that numbed them ... it was a weird sensation for a few minutes.

Anywho, insurance picked up most of it but because I needed a new contact lens fitting the total came to $40.50. Paid for from checking.

I signed up for a Web site that pays for people to take surveys and try sample products (InboxDollars ... see to the left of my blog) ... so far today I made a little over $5! Can't wait to start applying this to my CC debt.

I went out with some friends last night but am looking forward to a quiet night in tonight ... I've been really tired lately. I also need to make some progress on my novel.

I'm absolutely dying to try the new Chinese place (that delivers!), but I think I'll just be making my "fried" rice tonight. Brown rice, chicken, peas, onions, garlic, a little Worcestershire's sauce. I'll brew up some hot tea and call it a night. :-)

Does anyone have any advice on other Web sites I can sign up at to earn money?

Down debt, down!

July 25th, 2008 at 02:27 pm

So, my big news: I earned an extra $100 this week at work thanks to an incentive from my boss, and stand to earn an extra $100 this upcoming Monday.

The $100 I earned today is going to CC payments ... the $100 I will (probably) earn Monday will go to savings and just to pad out the checking account a tad.

That brings my debt total to $8,938.63!

I should have even bigger news than this soon ... stay tuned ...

Strange e-mail and fraud alert!

July 24th, 2008 at 04:24 pm

So, I received an odd e-mail a couple of days ago, from www.billinghlp.com, basically stating that my Chase CC was going to be charged $29.95 for a first of monthly recurring charges for some service I had never heard of before.

The warning bells started clanging, because I haven't used that credit card in months. I checked on the account, and saw the charge was pending but hadn't gone through yet.

The e-mail went on to say that if I wanted to unsubscribe (um, from the service I never heard of therefore could never sign up for), I could go to their Web site and put in my e-mail and (of course) my CC #. I went to their Web site and it's not a secure site.

Long story short, I called Chase to have that particular account # changed and the one charge questioned. It was simple and straight forward enough, but still irritating (and a bit scary.) I do keep tabs on my credit report, and there's nothing else suspicious popping up on either of my other cards.

So ... just beware if you get a billinghlp.com e-mail. (And if you Google them, you get some results that basically describe my above experience.)

Other than that, today was supposed to be a no-spend day, but I had to run to the drug store this morning and, erm, get some feminine hygiene products. That may be TMI, but it just served as a lesson to me ... no matter how carefully you plan, sometimes life just has the final say!

Have a good night everyone ... I made another personal pizza tonight and plan on curling up with the dog and the TV remote! Tomorrow's Friday ... yippee!

$5 down, $9038 to go

July 23rd, 2008 at 04:28 pm

I made $5.44 on an Amazon sale (bye-bye, first season of Grey's Anatomy), so paid it off to my CC debt ... bringing my total to $9,038.63.

Woohoo! The closer I get to being under $9K, the happier I will be. Should be soon ... my actual CC payments are getting to be due. (I have $150 a month allocated for CC bills, and now that I am dedicated to paying them off as quickly as possible, that number should go higher.)

I still should have big news from work ... it should be coming on Friday. Keep praying!

Other than that, not too much going on. Made a delicious pizza for dinner ... WW dough, topped with delicious tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and tons of olives ... yum!

Long day.

July 22nd, 2008 at 04:25 pm

Not much of an entry for you guys ... I'm exhausted. After spending the entire day being snowed under at work, I attempted to come home (a five min. drive), which took 45 minutes because the president's in town and he was going the exact same way I was.

Now I'm home, and it's storming really badly. :-/

I don't have much to report just yet, though. Sorry! There will be more to come this week, I promise.

But I wa-hant them!

July 21st, 2008 at 04:56 pm

Happy Monday!

Someone yesterday asked what recipe I use for my veggie Sloppy Joes ... basically I throw black beans, onions, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeno together, then mix with crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. I mash it all up just a little so it will stick, then wrap it all up. Yum ...

Today was eventful at work. I may or may not have big news relating to my career in the near future ... so stay tuned! As it is, I don't want to get ahead of myself. (The worst is when you get all excited, and then something doesn't pan out, or it's just not as good as you thought it would be!)

The entry title pertains to this gorgeous pair of red shoes that Target is selling. They're $32.99 ... yikes. I'm watching them like a hawk to go to clearance. I *think* they're for the new fall season, so they should go on true clearance sometime around or after Christmas, and usually I get Target gift cards from family members. (I have a horrible weakness for Target.)

What angers me about my debt is that it's just so STUPID. If I weren't in debt, I could be doing the obvious ... saving. Not only that, but I would have room to breathe easier, and do OTHER things that I need/want to do ... save, pay bills (I always pay my bills, but it would be nice to not have to worry about credit cards!), build a more professional wardrobe, save for a down payment on a condo in a location I want, and even do what I really, really want to do with my life ... travel.

But until I get out of the red, I'll never be able to truly control my financial life ... or never get IN to the red [shoes.] :-/

Truth is, I can't do ANY of the above (except save, of course), until I emerge from CC debt.

I'm glad I realized this at ONLY $9K (as bad as it is, I know there are so many people much worse off), but what's so mortifying is that this isn't me. My parents never carried debt. We shopped clearance bins, dollar stores. Mom literally can save HUNDREDS of dollars on grocery bills. They got me a credit card with a $500 limit when I went to college for EMERGENCIES ... they watched the statements like a hawk, and I had to pay every penny back if I used it ... I rarely did.

It was when I got out of college and got my first real taste of life outside of parental boundaries did I start getting into trouble. This is also when the whole mess with my mom and her health problems started. But none of that is an excuse, it's just that I feel so, so STUPID to let this happen. To let this get so far. Because that's the thing ... I know better, I've always known better, I was raised better than this.

*sigh* I think the real key here is not escape my responsibility, but to stop beating myself up over it. Not because I don't deserve it, but because it doesn't really help the situation, does it?

Oh, almost forgot - I should have a status update on reducing my debt soon, too. Making a few payments, selling a few things on Amazon ... that sort of thing.

Cutting back the food budget

July 20th, 2008 at 10:49 am

First of all, thanks for all of the 'welcome' responses that I received yesterday. It feels good to know that I'm not alone in this journey, and to also know that I'll be getting some good advice and encouragement!

Someone asked a question about my career, and why I have 'writer' listed on the left-hand side of the blog but explained that my FT job is in public relations. Well, PR companies need writers, too! I write press releases, magazine articles, scripts for TV commercials, etcetera. Again, that's my job that pays the bills. On the side I'm striking up a freelance writing career and am working on a novel. Is everyone clear now?

I also wanted to comment on people suggesting that overspending can be linked to an emotional problem. I completely agree, but I also want to own up to MY mistakes ... some of it was emotional, no doubt. Some of it was poor planning and not having a clear understanding of keeping a budget. And some of it was just stupid irresponsibility and frivolous spending.

Moving on to today ... it's been quiet. I did laundry this morning and cleaned. And prepared my meals for the week.

I love to eat out. I also love to cook. But there was a time when I ate out a lot more than I stayed in. It is tough to shop and cook for one without having food spoil on you, but it *is* possible ... I admittedly chose to go out.

But I seriously am really good at setting up meal plans (at least ones that work for me), coming up with a shopping list and, most importantly, sticking to it. And now that I'm taking the first steps in turning my debt into savings, I realize that cutting back on my food budget will be important ... and eating in is the first step of that.

This is how I do it: I plan lunches and dinners six to seven days in advance. Typically lunch stays the same. This week I have three days of tuna fish sandwiches and an apple, and three days of salad and a peach planned.

My dinners this week consist of vegetarian "Sloppy Joes," homemade pizza, and chicken "fried" rice.

My advice to someone trying to come up with a meal plan and grocery list is to work a week in advance, keep most of the meals something simple that you already know how to make, and throw in a new recipe to try out every so often. Once you have your grocery list, note what you already have in the pantry or fridge to use up. If you either have an item or have something that could substitute, cross the item off the list. Then check the grocery store circulars. I'm lucky to have a Publix and Kroger within five minutes from me, so I can get the best deals from both. Make a note on your list where to go for each item. Then go through your coupons and pick out what you need. Also, go online and see if you can find any that you can print out.

And, finally, you're ready to shop! I like to go first thing Saturday morning.

(Let me just mention breakfast ... my breakfast is always the same. Cereal, 1-2 scrambled eggs, and 1 slice of turkey bacon. No planning there!)

So, that's how I do it. I pay approximately $30 a week for six days worth of meals. Sometimes it's more or less depending on whether I need paper or cleaning products, or the dog needs kibble. But I eat pretty well considering my meals average out to be $5 a day, $1.67 per meal.

I'm still learning how to be one of those people who only pays a few pennies for hundreds of dollars worth of food! Who here has advice for me on what I can do additionally, or what I can change?

Why am I here?

July 19th, 2008 at 02:51 pm

I suppose I should use my first blog post as an introduction.

Let's just get the basics out of the way. I'm 22 years old, I live in Atlanta and I'm a writer. My FT job that pays the bills is in public relations, and on the side I'm working on a novel and beginning a freelance career.

My salary is quite comfortable for a single girl living on her own (well, on her own plus a schnauzer), and I pay all of my bills on time. So why am I here? Well, I graduated college with zero debt ... and in one year accumulated $9,044.07 in credit card debt with nothing in savings.

Shouldn't it be the other way around? I'm so ashamed. And what's even more embarrassing is that I can't even really tell you what I was wasting plastic on. I pay all of my bills on time out of my checking account. And I look around at my life and think "Hey, I've got it pretty good" ... but really, no I don't. As long as I have credit card debt, I'm only fooling myself. And I'm sick of allowing poor choices dictate my life. I'm ready to take control.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been mildly depressed for the past year. My mom has been very, very ill. In the interest of her privacy, I don't wish to disclose her illness, other than to say that she's doing much better now but probably will never fully recover. Life will always be a struggle. I'm really not mentioning this for compassion or even understanding, but rather just to let any readers know where I'm coming from in life. When my mom got sick, I became really ... terribly sad. My friends, one by one, became fed up with me, and eventually stopped coming 'round. I don't blame them - I really was a mess at the time. But that even made me more depressed. With help from the few people that stuck around and some medical professionals, a year later I'm finally stepping out of the cloud. It's a slow process, but I'm here. And I think conquering this debt will truly help me get even further along ... not just financially but personally. Emotionally.

So ... this led me here! I'm utilizing this blog to chronicle my journey. If anyone offers advice or if I make any friends ... or if I'm even able to help anyone by sharing my stories ... then this will be worth it. Thanks for having me!