Saturday, January 22, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Part II

I don't know why I still get so worked up about money. Seriously. Everything works out, and I know this, and I've seen it happen again and again and

again, and


You'd think that after the first several dozens of times, I'd start to learn.  But nope.  I still stress out.  Then when things do ultimately work out - as they always eventually do - I vow to remember it.  I promise myself that next time will be the time that I'll go with the flow.  

And this is me, saying it again:  NEXT TIME, I won't stress out.  Next time, I'll go with the flow.

We found a camera on Craigslist, which we paid cash for.  It is an almost new Canol Rebel XS, which is an even better camera than our Nikon.  We found a nice lens for it (also on Craigslist), so we were able to sell the lens that came with it.  That along with our barely used Nikon zoom lens was enough to recoup more than half the cost of the camera itself.  We then listed our broken camera and dead laptop as-is on Ebay, and the bids on those are currently over $100 combined.

We had $75 in Amazon rewards from our credit card, and we also took advantage of a half-price gift card offer from Living Social. We combined that with some Christmas money, and some babysitting money, and last night we ordered a new laptop.  

Our vacation is still on, though we've had to move the dates around.  Since it moved from August to July, I couldn't take this session of yoga training anyway, so I'm at peace with postponing it.  I can however, take the session starting in November, and because it's that much later in the year, we'll have that much more time to save for it.

It all works out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

My brain is spinning with numbers, and I don't like it. My brain's been spinning with numbers for the past few weeks now, and I finally decided to blog about it. If for no other reason, in the hopes of making the spinning stop.

Just before Christmas, our sleeper couch (an old, worn leather couch that we got for a steal on Craigslist) broke. After some careful thought and planning - as much planning as you can do in the span of a couple of days - we bought another, brand new set. We had a pressing deadline, nothing was coming up on Craigslist, and what did come up was snatched up within hours. So we took ourselves to our favorite discount furniture store to take advantage of their 20% store wide sale, and plunked down $1000 that we'd not been planning on spending any time soon.

A couple of weeks ago, my beloved camera fell off the counter and broke. Broke the lens, broke the body. Just BROKE. The following morning, my beloved laptop (which, if I'm being honest was already on very borrowed time) chose that moment to give up its ghost and finally die as well. Dead. Fried. Finished. In less than 12 hours span of time, we were in the hole for over another $1000.

Not the most auspicious way to start the new year.

And now, I'm in a financial dilemma. Neither the laptop nor the camera are NEEDS, per se, but very strong wants. We are very fortunate in that we could take a month or two, just pay minimums on our credit cards, and replace them both. But it hurts... literally pains me to take even a month off of aggressively paying our debt. Especially since we already did it in December. I already declined a birthday present (a new tattoo :( ) because I just couldn't, in good conscience, spend $150+ when we have a camera and a computer to replace.

And, if that's not enough, I was going to take a yoga teacher training this year... something I was very, very excited about. We were going to pay for most of it with our tax return, but as it turns out, we greatly overestimated what our tax return would be. We could come up with the money without it, but it would mean a good 4 or 5 months of barely above minimum payments on the credit cards. And again, I just don't know if I could do it.

And just to add to the equation, we decided to take a long-in-coming trip east this summer, for which we recently set up an automatic monthly savings. We're excited, we're ready, and yet that voice is there. Should we really be doing it when we still have all this credit card debt? Is it really the best time to take such an expensive trip? Nothing is set in stone, and I think the only reason I was able to save for it in the first place was because I knew it wasn't for sure; I knew we could still back out if we needed to.

Oh, how much SIMPLER life was when we didn't care; when we wanted something and we put it on a credit card without a thought. How much simpler it was when we just let our debt rack up, and worried about it later. Or someday. Or never.

I don't have the answers yet, but I will. I'm convinced that there has to be a way, has to be some happy middle ground that I haven't yet found. Something that allows us to have what we want and still be responsible and mindful about the goals that we've set.

And maybe then my head will stop spinning.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Roundup and 2011 Goals

2010 is over, and so are our financial goals for the year.  Did we meet them?  Some.  Not all.  Not most.  December saw us with a few setbacks as well, as we were met with unexpected expenses (emergency fund anyone?)  And while we generally do well staying within a budget for our Christmas gift shopping, we usually grossly underestimate what we'll end up spending on "extras" like food, carpet cleaning, and entertainment.  This year we also made an extremely last minute purchase of a new sleeper couch, something we hadn't planned on replacing anytime soon.

Still, it has not been an unsuccessful year.  There is much to be thankful for for sure, and lots of reasons to be positive about heading into the New Year.

Total debt for December:  
Down by $877.22

Total debt for 2010:
Down by $6562.54

In 2011, we'd like that reduction to at least double.  We also plan to:

1.  Pay off two targeted credit cards, leaving just one with a balance
2.  Bring our credit card debt down to 4 figures. (!)
3.  Increase Mike's 401K contributions

and otherwise,

4.  Just keep doing what we're doing.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.