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August 16th, 2008 at 10:43 am

$64.80 to CC debt today.

Just trying to have a quiet Saturday. I went grocery shopping this morning and spent $50, partially due to needing to stock up on paper towels, TP and some other basic kitchen supplies.

Happy Friday!

August 15th, 2008 at 04:16 pm

I am soooo ready for the weekend.

Most of you have figured out by now that I love to go grocery shopping and cook good meals at home. We also have all noticed, in one way or another, how food prices are generally rising. How have you been dealing? Coupons? Store specials and preferred shopper cards? Do you plan your meals in advance? Have you cut out anything completely or nearly so (like milk)? Or is everything still the same?

As it's just me, I've found that I can pretty much spend as much or as little as I want. Some weeks are more expensive because I'll be stocking up on paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, etcetera. But other weeks I can spend as little as $15-$20 (as I usually can be satisfied with simple soups and salads.) However, I understand this is just me ... I really admire women who are shopping for their families!

So what's your strategy in the grocery store?

ETA: I forgot to say THANK YOU to everyone who offered me well wishes yesterday. I'm feeling somewhat better today, and truly appreciate all of your comments. Hopefully I'll get a conclusive diagnosis soon, and I'll keep everyone posted. THANKS AGAIN!!!


August 14th, 2008 at 04:46 pm

Just FYI before I delve into this whole story ... I'm no longer not eating meat. I gave that up a few days ago when asked if I wanted grilled chicken on my salad. I'm still aiming to cut DOWN on meat ... but for right now, I don't think I can cut it completely OUT.

That being said ...

So, last night, I began to feel a little lightheaded. No biggie. Drink some water, eat a little something. Next thing I know ...


I hit the floor. Totally blacked out for a few seconds. I sat there, stunned, seeing little birdies flying around my head.

A wave of nausea swept over me suddenly ... then heartburn. BAD heartburn. Painful heartburn. I began coughing, gripping onto the floor trying to make the room stop spinning.

After a couple of minutes, everything subsided, just a little bit of lightheadedness. I drove (bad idea #1) to the nearest emergency clinic.

"Anything like this, we send straight to the emergency room," I was told. I began to panic. I hate emergency rooms. Plus, I've had these types of "episodes" before. My blood pressure and pulse checked out fine, so I knew I should be OK. Instead, I drove back to my apartment and called my mother.

"See how you feel, if you get worse again go to the E.R., if you feel OK, go to bed, and if you still feel the same in the morning, call the doctor."

"Can I come home?" I said, pleadingly.

"Of course!"

So I threw the schnauzer in the car and drove 1.5 hours home. (Bad idea, again.) Luckily, I got home just fine, still lightheaded. It got worse once I went to bed, but I managed to fall asleep around midnight.

Long story short, I ended up going to the doctor this morning. They jabbed me with needles, listened to my heart. See, I had something very similar happen in March, and they did an EKG and ECG back then, so they pretty much knew my heart is OK. "Maybe your thyroid, maybe hypoglycemia," I was told today.

I have an appointment first thing next Friday for a two-hour blood test for hypoglycemia. "If this doesn't show anything, we'll make you wear a heart monitor," the nurse practitioner said.

I'm back at my apartment, feeling better but still a bit shaky.

Thank goodness for health insurance, huh?


August 13th, 2008 at 01:28 pm

A couple of you have mentioned my seeming lack of a 'budget' on some of my previous posts, most notably the ones where I'm feeling a bit down and 'hopeless' about my debt. "If you have a budget, those feelings of hopelessness would go away," they suggest.

Let me make it clear ... of course I have a budget. Just because I don't post every little detail of my personal financial life on an open blog (which, if you do, is perfectly fine - it's just not for me), that doesn't mean I'm just running around blind. I know what comes in, I know what goes out, and I have it down in writing.

Suggesting that a budget should completely take care of any anxiety is a bit extreme. Sorry, but while that may work for some of you, it's not the only factor for me. I still get very depressed over my amount of debt. Not all the time. But yes, some days I do. There's no magical cure for this, methinks. It's a battle, just like weight loss is a battle. Some days will be better than others. As I immerse myself into this new lifestyle, I know it will get easier and easier. But here, at the beginning of this journey, it's still not easy.

If this seems curt or rude, I'm sorry. I don't mean it to be so. I appreciate ALL comments. But I wanted to address that particular suggestion of 'getting a budget.' Right now, it's just not that simple for me.

Just FYI - I don't post my budget because there are a few, um, "frenemies" out there of mine who, by now, probably have some notice of this blog of mine. It's bad enough they know of my debt ... they don't need to know how much I make. Not their business. So it's not a slight to anyone here, or to suggest that anyone here is less than supportive. It's just me being careful, maybe a little paranoid, but probably with good reason.

OK. Again, I hope I didn't offend anyone. I'm not trying to be curt or rude ... I'm just trying to explain. So ... let me have it!

It can be overwhelming

August 12th, 2008 at 04:35 pm

Some days when I don't have an extra dollar (or one hundred dollars), and there's really no news to report, I sometimes look over at my debt and feel really overwhelmed.

Will it ever be gone? Of course, the answer is a resounding 'YES.' But it's easier to say that when it's going down than when it remains stagnant, like it's been for the past couple of days.

Oh, well. I guess it's best to just keep on keepin' on, huh?

Other than that, I'm doing pretty well! It's a rainy night here in GA, so I'm just staying in and watching the Olympics.

(Oh, and thanks to everyone who responded yesterday! Some great ideas there, so thanks!)

Any suggestions?

August 11th, 2008 at 04:35 pm

I'm currently reading "Smart Women Finish Rich" by David Bach. It's actually fairly decent ... I like it a lot (again, so far!)

I like Suze Orman's show, but I can't stand her books ... she comes across as incredibly condescending.

Of course I know of Dave Ramsey ...

Do any of you know of books/reading materials you would recommend to an entry-level money guru?

Not feeling well ...

August 10th, 2008 at 10:05 am

I don't feel so hot today ... just really tired. My right hand feels all numb and tingly and weird. I think I slept on it funny. And I think I feel poorly because I made coffee this morning (I hardly ever drink the stuff.) Dang coffee.

Anywho, I went grocery shopping this morning. $26 for a week's worth of food ... not too shabby! I even spent some at Whole Foods. (Authentic hummus and homemade pasta, yum!) Kroger also had my dog's fave treats on sale, and I had a $1 off coupon from this morning's paper, so I got a BIG bag of treats for him for $1.50. Niiiice.

Other than that ... just trying to relax and gear up for the week. I have this Friday off and a happy hour scheduled for Thursday, so I'm really ready for the early weekend already! LOL! And I should probably clean ... I'm feeling so lazy today, though. I haven't even gone out for my run yet. L-A-Z-Y!

Oh no! My shuuuuuuuuues!

August 9th, 2008 at 09:15 am

I went to Target this morning to pick up a few things:
- a multivitamin (actually, a bottle of 100)
- hair color (I'm 22 and already am covering up gray ... no kidding)
- a screwdriver (99 cents! I thought it would be a couple of dollars at least)
- a sports bra (2 for $8)

On my way to the cash register, I decided to stop by the shoe section to drool over the much mentioned red pair of shoes that I am desperately needing to go on sale at some point in the not too distant future.

... the shoes? They were GONE.

I quite literally said out loud, "OH NO! My shuuuuuuuuuuues!" as I stared forlornly at the black ruffle boots that had taken the place of those beautiful Isaac Mizrahi red high heels.

I wandered aimlessly down the aisle, trying to ignore the strange looks other customers were throwing my way after my admittedly weird outburst, and - sigh of relief - saw my shoes. Same price, just in a different location. Moved for the sake of fall fashion. *sigh*

This sounds stupid, but those shoes are a symbol to me. A symbol that I don't need instant gratification. I can save my money. I can wait for the sale that I'm just positive is coming up at some point. I don't NEED those shoes. I definitely WANT them ... but those high heels are my proof that my wants are different from my needs, and that if I want to give into my, um, wants, then I need to make sure that I've taken care of my needs FIRST.

Anywho, I almost very nearly snatched those shoes and bought them. But I didn't. I did a weird half-run/half-skip through the handbag department (another bad idea), and straight to the check-out lanes.

On my way home, I stopped at Moe's for lunch. $4.97 (For anyone who loves Moe's as I desperately do, get the Moo Moo Mr. Cow kids meal ... a slightly smaller burrito, chips, drink AND a cookie for way cheaper than the same meal for an adult.)

And, in keeping with my new vegetarian ways, I had it sans meat, cheese and sour cream. :-)

Now I'm home for the day, watching the Olympics and trying to discipline myself to get some writing done.

Have a great Saturday, everyone!


August 8th, 2008 at 05:23 pm

Haha, that pretty much sums it up.

The weather is cooling off ... we've probably not seen the last of the heat down here in the south, but today was GORGEOUS, and this weekend is supposed to be amazing. Good running weather! :-)

Happy Friday!

Another $3.74 to CC debt!

August 7th, 2008 at 04:27 pm

Which brings my total to $8,826.13. (I sold a book on Amazon.) I also made another sale today, a DVD, so when that is deposited into my account (I think it's also a little over $3) that'll go to the CC balance. Not too shabby, hmm?

Permission to spend ... granted?

August 6th, 2008 at 04:36 pm

One of the realizations that I've been struggling with lately is that I love to shop. I'm a spender, not a saver. I love clothes. I love shoes. I love books. I love eating out. I love going to concerts. I just love using my money to get me things that I want.

I'm at that point when I'm realizing that enjoying my money doesn't mean that I can't save, and it should never mean that I go into debt. If I were responsible with my money to begin with, I'd probably be able to feel a lot more relaxed NOW. I would have a comfortable amount in savings. I wouldn't be in debt. I would get rid of any guilt I feel when spending money now, even if it's for a true necessity like toilet paper. I might even feel comfortable enough to spring for that red pair of shoes I talked about so long ago. (I really, really want them!)

And even though I am in debt, I don't think I should feel guilty for spending money. Now, if I were going on wild, crazy shopping sprees and continuing to use my credit cards, THEN I think I should be feeling guilty. But if I have an extra $5 ... it could go to pay off the debt faster. And usually, now, it does. But it could also go to a cheap bottle of wine ($2.99, Trader Joes!) and a DVD rental. It could go to buy fresh mozzarella. Some new eyeshadow.

My point is that I'm feeling incredibly guilty with every dollar I spend ... even if the money is going to debt payment! I want to hoard, hoard, hoard ... dollars. Every penny out is becoming an endless source of guilt ... whether it's a $5 lunch out with my co-workers or $65 for an electric bill.

But, even with my excessive debt, that doesn't make me a bad person. And that doesn't mean I should feel guilty that not absolutely every single penny is either going to credit cards or savings. I mean, come on. I have rent to make. I have to eat. On a more superficial note, I have to look somewhat professional in my career.

So ... my latest struggle is learning to not only accept but embrace the fact that yes, I do like to shop and that I am going to spend money in the future ... but I have to do it while managing my budget and savings at the same time. I cannot allow myself to get into credit card debt again. But I can allow myself to allow my money to let me do things I enjoy.

So what about you? Spender or saver? A bit of both?

Pay raise!

August 5th, 2008 at 04:48 pm

I've been at my current place of employment for approximately three months now, and was informed that I am receiving a pay raise today. It's not significant, but is a little something extra every month that will be able to go to savings or debt payback.

Other than that ... I'm really tired this week. Like, overly tired. I'm not sure why ... nothing in my usual pattern of sleep, work, hang out, sleep has changed. I guess I could just really use some extra ZZZs!


August 4th, 2008 at 04:01 pm

There's nothing to blog, really. Like I've said, all of my bills are paid up until my next pay day.

So ... this is just me, checking in. :-)

$24.69 for one week of food

August 3rd, 2008 at 09:58 am

... or approximately $1.18 per meal.

Actually, the final tally includes $6.12 spent for dog kibble, so the food bill for ME is a little bit lower. I actually ran out of his favorite treats Saturday morning, but my mom stopped by to have lunch with me and brought the dog a whole new stash of treats and bones. He should be fine for a couple of weeks now!

Anywho, back to the grocery store. Each and every week I browse the meat department, my stomach turns just a bit more. I've decided to slowly but surely transition into a vegetarian lifestyle. The more I learn about the American food industry, the more uncomfortable I become. I'm not going to quit meat cold turkey, but by slowly eliminating it from my diet I hope to be entirely meat-free by the holiday season. (Tofurkey and faux-ham!)

This decision comes from both an ethical viewpoint and for health reasons. I've had problems maintaining proper hormonal balance since high school, and the more I understand about what JUNK is pumped into our meat supply, the more sense it makes that taking meat out of my diet could really make a difference.

In other news ... well, not much else is new. I've been trying to fit running in, but the smog is so bad in Atlanta. I would hate to be an athlete in Beijing right now! The air quality there is worse than we could probably imagine. (If you haven't noticed, there's a ticker set up in my 'About Me' section, counting down until next year's Peachtree Road Race ... one of my goals, people.)

I still have that "extra" $200 in a safe place ... I think I might actually make it without using it just yet. It is going to be a tight month ... I have car insurance, a doctor's visit and a vet visit for the dog to look forward to. But if I can get through until mid-September without using it, I will be extremely happy. Then, I'll put half in saving, half to CC payments.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Have a great week.

Too many books!

August 2nd, 2008 at 01:54 pm

I moved to my apartment a little over two months ago, and I still had not set up my sunroom ... until this morning, that is. I have a beautiful white wicker settee set up on one side with tons of pillows piled on top to make it comfy.

On the other side of the room, I have my bookcase, and as I lovingly unpacked my books, I realized - I have a LOT of them! As I identify myself as a writer, it probably does make sense that I would read a lot, but I still couldn't help but feel a tad bit guilty that I can find money to feed my book fetish but not my savings account.

At any rate, my sunroom is all cleaned up now and looks truly beautiful! It looks like it could be found in a beach house instead of a downtown Atlanta apartment. And, as much as it hurt, I did pick out a few books to put up for sale on Amazon.

Have a good Saturday, everyone!

Bills, bills, bills

August 1st, 2008 at 10:10 am

I paid a total of $108.76 in credit card payments today, bringing my grand total of debt to $8,829.87.

Rent was due today, and I paid all of my bills up until the next payday.

I'm home from work today, and went to put gas in the car. Can I just say how good it was to pay $3.85 per gallon? MUCH better than $4.11!

Other than that, it's just a quiet day.

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!

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