Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Deliriously bored

For the record, being financially responsible is BORING!

I'm going more than a bit stir crazy. Summer is ending, and I have a profound urge to be out doing stuff, attending festivals and fairs and celebrating the wonderful weather that is left. Instead I sit around plugging numbers into budget spreadsheets that tell me I don't have any discretionary funds.

It sucks.

It will be good once the bills are gone, I'm sure. Won't it? But for no now, and for far too many months to come, this suck and will continue to suck. Will it ever end?

I really feel the pull to go out and do my part to stimulate the economy by spending money I don't have for the benefit of others. Isn't that the message we are supposed to be getting from all those credit card commercials that seem to be on TV every break?

I may be getting delirious.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning to believe what the numbers show

I'm beginning to notice a pattern. My mood falters and my confidence seems do wane at the end of the month. I start doubting my ability to stick to the plan I've laid out for getting out of debt.

Maybe it's because the money between paychecks has to stretch the longest at this time of the month.

I was actually ready to abandon my payoff plan in favor of a different payoff plan. Fortunately, in going through this process I have actually been learning to build a budget and crunch the financial numbers. So, I crunched some numbers on a new plan that would have had me attacking my highest interest rate debt. What I discovered was that although I would pay off the highest of those two balances a few months quicker than on the original debt snowball method, I would not pay off my total debt any faster. It would just change the order of which debts got paid first.

What I'm learning is that although the debt is owed to several creditors at varying interest rates, paying off the total debt amount is still the ultimate goal, and there is only a certain amount of money I can pay to tackle that goal. I've crunched the numbers several times and in several ways, but at my current income, I will only be able to pay this off so fast. I can't make it go away this year. I can't get rid of it all next year. It's going to take about 4 years, maybe a little more, depending on what life has in store between now and then. But, it's probably not going to be less. There just isn't much more I can cut out of my basic monthly living expenses. I think I can conquer the debt at my current income. Additional income would make it easier, and perhaps faster. Maybe I can improve that income at some point, but I'm not counting on that in the current economy.

It's not great. But it's good enough for now, and getting a little better all the time. I just can't afford to panic. I can't afford to lose faith in myself of the plan. Mostly, I can't afford to spend money that for the next several years needs to go toward paying off this debt that I spent 20-plus years accumulating.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don't go away mad...

I guess I should have been listening to Dr. Laura. It might have been fun to hear her say the N-word 11 times on nationally syndicated radio and then try to apologize for it.

Maybe Dave Ramsey will be back on middays again on 1190 KEX AM, now that Dr. Laura says she won't renew her contract. (Read her blog post here and read her apology here.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Now I can carry a financial adviser clipped to my belt

Portland, Ore., radio station KEX, 1190 AM, has been promoting a smart phone application for iheartradio lately, and they finally convinced me to use it more. I had downloaded the app for my phone, but had not really used it, until today.

It was not the commercials for the app itself that led me to use it. It was the fact that KEX moved its Dave Ramsey Show broadcasts from midday to the 7 p.m. time slot. The station recently swapped time slots for Ramsey's show and Dr. Laura's show, moving Dr. Laura to evenings and Ramsey to midday.

That's when I started listening to Ramsey's show. I could usually catch at least part of the show during my lunch break. It was good reinforcement to my efforts to get out of debt and helped me formulate the strategy I am going to use to do that.

But today KEX, switched the show lineups again, to put Dr. Laura on at noon and Ramsey back in the evening.

I don't listen to the radio in the evening, so I was not happy with the change. I don't want listen to Dr. Laura's show.

So while looking for a way to get my Ramsey fix today I started trying to find out if any other radio stations on iheartradio.com broadcast his show live. It took a little searching, and trial and error, but I did find one. So, if you are looking for an iheartradio station that carries the Ramsey Show live, the one I found was WTKG 1230 AM, out of Grand Rapids, Mich. I've added that one to my favorites.

I also learned that KEX wasn't actually broadcasting Ramsey live, even it it's midday slot. The show airs live from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific time, so KEX had to be delaying the broadcast an hour. Now, I can actually listen to it live, either from Ramsey's own website, or on my smart phone. I can still get my audio reinforcement when it works best for me.

So, KEX, I may still listen to you in the morning on my way to work, but you have likely lost me for the midday lunch hour and that will mean the car radio will be on another station when I hop in the car for the drive home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Departure for debt freedom suffers a slight delay.

I had hoped to start my 48-month debt payoff plan this month. I'm going to wait, though, until I rebuild my savings account.

It looks like it will be at least next month, or perhaps the month after, before I get the savings account back where I want it and can start tackling the first account on my debt snowball.

I'm not thrilled about that, but it seems to make more sense to do that than trying to tackle the debt without much of a cushion for unplanned expenses.

It's a small set back to what I wanted to do, but I think it's a wiser, more responsible decision.

Or at least I hope it is.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Putting my wallet on a diet put me on one too

Me efforts to get out of debt have involved some lifestyle changes. The biggest one is that I rarely eat out anymore. For most people, that may not be much of an adjustment, but it was for me. I used to live on fast food and other restaurants.

At one point I was actually convinced that eating out was cheaper than eating at home. My logic was based on a couple of points. One was that fresh food, on the occasion I did buy it, tended to spoil before I could eat it all. I reasoned that buying food that went to waste was a waste of money.

What I didn't realize at the time was that a lot of that food spoiled because even when I did have food in the house I was still eating out a lot.

I did not know that one of the points that Dave Ramsey suggests for getting out of debt was to go on a rice-and-beans diet. He often tells his listeners that the only time they will see the inside of a restaurant is if they work there while trying to get out of debt.

My dining out approach was in part fostered by the fact that I could often scrape together $5 for a fast food meal, but it was much more difficult to scrape together $50 for groceries. So, I kept eating out. At the beginning of this lifestyle change, as I did start buying groceries, I was actually paying for that food with credit cards. That was not a bright idea, but it got my budget turned around so that I could begin to realized that by buying food at the grocery store and not eating out, I could eventually spend less on food.

The fast food restaurants themselves actually pushed me to make the change by raising their prices. First it was Carl's Jr., where my favorite meal used to cost less than $5. Then it cost a little more than $5. And then, it got to be closer to $6. So, I quit going to Carl's Jr.

The places I went as a replacement eventually raised their prices too.

Another factor that pushed me to change was that my work schedule pushed me to go to work early in the day, which required a need to start regularly eating breakfast for the first time in my adult life.

So, my food budget went from less than $70 a week, to about $95 a week. That was just out of control. Now, when the budget is lean, I can get a week's worth of groceries for about $35-$40 when I'm my most frugal. I can include more variety and more fresh food for about $70. For the same amount of money I used to spend I can actually get more than a week's worth of food.

It's been a big lifestyle change, but it was a key to making the change from drowning financially each month to gaining enough buoyancy so that at least my nose is above the water line. I can't take in great gulps of air yet, but I can catch a breath now and again.

It hasn't ended the cravings for those Western Bacon Cheeseburgers. But Carl's Jr. changed their french fries to a style I don't care for. So I can live without them. And my budget sure can too.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sick and tired of being broke and tired

Pay day is too far away and I'm out of everything in the house. I need to figure out how to do a budget.

There just not enough money left after paying the credit cards and the regular monthly bills to pay for things like food, household supplies and car expenses. I get the stuff paid that I get sent bills for, and then there is nothing left, but still stuff I need.

I am tired of this roller coaster. I think I have my shit under control one week, and then the next week I feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps the only real way to deal with this is to get a part-time job. But doing what?

In addition to some more income, it might be good to have something to do with my evenings and weekends. It would have to be better than sitting around staring at the four walls and the TV, afraid to move or go anywhere or do anything that might take gas to get there or cost any money at all.

It's manic. It really is. I'm financially manic.

On a side note, I added Google ads to the site. I doubt they will every actually generate much, if any, revenue. This site just doesn't draw that much traffic. But I find it quite ironic that I am writing about my battle against credit in my most recent posts, and the ads being served up around the post are enticing people with credit offers. How is that for irony? I'll let Google do there thing and I'll just do my thing and see if it all works out in the end.

The End Debt Daily paper.li