Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things Are Moving Along

Hey ladies and gents, I had a meeting with a potential client two weeks ago. I'm now into the final phase, they've asked me to submit a written proposal. Unfortunately I can't go into many details but I promise I'll tell you all about it when I'm able to do so. Just know that I'm working toward my desired goal ... a career change.

I read this quote yesterday and I've been sharing it with anyone who would listen. Here goes, hopefully you find it as inspiring as I do:

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it, I say! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

~Pope Paul VI

Caveat - in the spirit of the quote, I don't think Pope Paul VI is suggesting that one embarks on a life of reckless abandonment and careless decision making. Quite the contrary. I believe he was encouraging us to live life on purpose. No longer passively living and merely existing. It's been said that most people's favorite day is "someday" and "one day," neither of which are real days of the week. How about changing someday to today and one day to Thursday ...

Okay, off to writing my proposal now! You guys are so supportive so I'm thanking you in advance for your encouragement.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Goal

I officially have a new short-term goal to accomplish. If you haven't noticed, there's a new ticker on my blog, 100 miles by August 31. For the record, I'm no runner so I'm not sure how realistic or unrealistic achieving this goal will be for me. Since the GA heat is out of control, I'm giving myself some grace to complete the miles on the treadmill or outside. I really want to push myself to complete this goal and since weight loss is not an end result that motivates me, I need something else. Something tangible, something desirable. Hmm. Any suggestions? Should I treat myself to a day at the spa? What about a mini shopping spree? Dang it, is this the best that I can do?! Help .....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Updates

Aah, nothing like a little time off to recharge. Although it was only a few days, the time off was desperately needed. A friend and I met up in Philly and can I just say that Philly gets 2 thumbs up from me. The food was absolutely delicious and there was so much to see and do. I'm certain we'll visit again soon.

My budget, or shall I say non budget, is taking on a life of its own right now. I've basically blown it and honestly, I don't care. I'm thinking that I'll just consider this my little hiatus from frugality for the summer months. What does this mean? This means that once all of the necessities are taken care of (i.e. savings, bills, etc), the rest is fair game...to be spent on whatsoever my little heart desires...budgeted or not. Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

New years resolutions. Remember them? Well I typically don't create any because my follow through is terrible. I wouldn't call it a new years resolution but I did have a goal to read one book a month this year. How many have I read, uhm, 2 I think. I've since started 2 more and just purchased another one today that I plan on starting July 1. Hmm, I'll see how this goes. If my interest level is any indication, I will surely finish the new book.

Friends. I love them, they are great. Females who say that they don't get along with other females are missing out. My friends are awesome, just awesome. Everyone should have at least one friend, don't you think?

Gym (rolling my eyes). Okay, I must get back to it. At some point I'd gotten a little over zealous on the treadmill, which resulted in a painful toe injury ... including the removal of my entire toe nail! For several months I couldn't wear my running shoes but now I can. No more excuses, these buns of potato chips, Mexican food, Cuban bread, and hibachi fried rice must find themselves back on the treadmill and back to light weight lifting.

All of this random posting is making me feel a little A.D.Dish so I'll end here;-). How is your summer going?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Yippee!! I'm heading out of town with great expectations of getting a little r&r, rest and relaxation. I'll touch bases when I return on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Love, No Buy

Can someone please tell me what happens to your clothes from one season to the next. Maybe it's just me, but every season I ask myself the same question "where are the clothes that I wore last winter" or summer, or whatever the season is. So true to tradition, I've been looking in my closet, wondering where in the heck are my summer clothes from last year. Since I have yet to locate them, I decided to do a little shopping this past weekend.

I went to several shopping centers within a 12 mile radius - crowded, crowded, crowded. So crowded that I just couldn't move around the way I wanted to. Every other second it was "excuse me, pardon me, oh I'm sorry ... " geez, what recession? Well it just so happened that I saw several decent things and once I saw the prices on some of them, they became even cuter. Has this ever happened to you? You see something, it's decent, but then the price is right so suddenly it becomes much nicer to you?

Okay, so I'm at Banana Republic and I have an arm full of clothes. Happy as a butterfly because I actually found some clothes, I proceed to the dressing room and try on the items, they fit, maybe not perfect, but they fit. The color is not necessarily one that flatters me, but geez louise, the price is right. These pants are not very flattering on my buttocks, but do you see the price? Oh, the skirt and shirt are not really my style but I can't beat this price. Fifteen minutes later and 5 steps away from the register, I did an about face and returned every single piece of clothing back to their racks. I realized that I didn't love anything, I loved the prices.

It suddenly occurred to me that the clothes I couldn't "find" are really still in my closet. I mean I have a closet full of clothing but I'm always lamenting over what to wear because I'm not really in love with most of them. I'd venture to say that one thing I lost in my quest for a more responsible financial life is purchasing clothing that I actually want. This is why I don't "have" any clothes even though I have a closet full. I have clothes, just none that I want to wear. I have clothes that I bought because the price was right, not because I wanted them. This chapter ends here and now. Beginning immediately, if I don't love it, I won't buy it. No love, no buy.

I know it's possible to purchase fabulous clothes at fabulous prices (fabulous being relative here ... based on each individuals personal style). Honestly, I've never been the kind of shopper who stalks sales and price compares. If I like it, I buy it. Although I love clothes, I dislike shopping, very much. Maybe I have to enjoy the process a little more and take my time finding the clothes that create a win/win ... a win for my personal style and a win for my purse. A few of my bestest girlfriends (yep, I said bestest on purpose) are great shoppers, perhaps I'll get with them for a little tutorial.

Can anyone relate to this? Do you have a tendency to purchase things primarily because the price is right?

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Kick In The Butt

Blogpal MoneyFunk (see her blog listed in my blogroll) wrote a post yesterday asking how we all kicked the credit card habit. I'm always interested to hear other people tell their financial story, regardless of where they are in the process. Personal finances are just that, personal, and in my opinion, the personal aspect trumps everything else. What I'm saying is this ... it doesn't matter how much you know, it's your personal habits and motivators that will ultimately push you to achieving your goals.

As you've read in my posts this week, I used to be in an endless cycle of debt payoff. I just couldn't seem to make any progress. I began the journey in the late 90's and didn't accomplish my goal until April 2006. How did I end the cycle? What changed? I'll tell you what changed, I got a good kicking in the the butt! It was sometime between 2001 and 2002 that I attended a real estate investment class. This one was different, it wasn't like one of those late night infomercials that promise big rewards with little work; nor was it one of those hotel seminars that pretty much promise you $100,000 in your sleep. This one was real. The instructor was real, she was a real estate investor in our city, she was practical, unassuming and very transparent. She told us about the good, the bad, and the ugly as she had experienced the full range of real estate investing. She would always give homework, homework like get a copy of your credit report, practice calculating your rate of returns on specific properties, learn what a 1031 exchange is, so on and so forth, again, very practical stuff. Well one homework assignment was to go home and list all of our non-mortgage debt. Simple right? Here's the twist. We were to list all of our debt in one column and list the amount of interest we paid each month in a separate column. Hmm, never quite looked at it like that before. When we returned to class the next week, she asked us to take out our homework and then proceeded to say something like this, "look at the column with the interest and look at the total. That's how much money you're throwing away each month."

Let it sink in ...

Yep, that was my kick in the butt! Finally I had gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. From that day forward, I maintained that list of debts, rearranged it from smallest to largest, and commenced to kicking debt in it's butt. That was my catalyst for change. What is or was yours?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Much and How Long?

Monday's post was a trip down financial memory lane and boy did I get a lot of great feedback (hello to everyone who chooses to e-mail rather than leave a comment;-). My blogpal JP Kittie left this comment, "wow - that sounds like what I have just thought about --- but now working towards paying off --- if you don't mind me asking - how much did you pay off total & how long did it take you?"

Well Mrs. Kittie, the truth is this, I really don't know. That's the one thing I wish I had done differently; I wish I had written down all of the debt at a point in time and tracked the entire payoff. Have you ever heard of the sayings "the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time," or "Rome wasn't built in a day?" Well those are two adages that I live by. When I wrote my goals, I focused on one debt at a time. I didn't learn about the snowball method until 2002, that's when I put all of the debts down on paper. With that, I'll try to answer JPK's questions to the best of my ability.

How Much?
When it was all said and done, I paid the following:
  • Car loan $15,000
  • Visa $10,000
  • Student loan $7,000
  • Store credit cards $2,000
  • MasterCard $5,000
  • Discover $2,500
  • American Express $2,500
  • 401K loans (approx) $4,000
  • I'm certain that I'm forgetting something ....
How Long?
I got my first credit card in 1994 and my first debt consolidation loan was sometime around 1997 or 1998. This was the loan from my local bank. I can't quite remember the payoff but the loan payments were $193.93 per month. My final debt payoff was in April 2006. Based on those dates it looks like I was in the debt circle for at least 10 years. It wasn't until I stopped trying the debt consolidation stuff and really just got my buttocks in gear and paid off the debt slow and steady, which happened around 2003. If I had to guess how much debt I had at that time, I'd say approximately $25,000. I went backwards for so long.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Remember When ...

1. I thought it was a great idea to borrow money from your house to purchase a car, after all, you get a tax deduction for the interest ...

2. I used to have 6 maxed out credit cards in rotation simultaneously ...

3. I got my first payday loan, at 18 years old ...

4. I put my first semester of college on a Discover card ...

5. I took out my first debt consolidation loan from my local bank ...

6. I borrowed from my 401K, this was my second debt consolidation loan ...

7. I joined my first network marketing gig to pay off debt. The problem here is I began to use the credit cards again, after all, these were business expenses and business expenses are what, say it with me, tax deductible ...

8. I took out a second loan from my 401K, debt consolidation #3.

9. I would watch eagerly for the next pay day like a lion waits for his prey. Hoping and praying that certain transactions would not clear before the deposit was available ...

10. I wanted my financial situation to change but refused to (or just didn't) change my habits.

11. I couldn't imagine life without a car payment. I thought having a car note was inevitable and therefore I would always have one ...

12. I thought $1,000 was a lot of money and almost impossible to save ...

13. I picked up Rich Dad, Poor Dad and couldn't put it down. This was the beginning of my personal financial revolution ...

14. I wrote my first financial goals, put up a big poster on my bedroom wall, and looked at them everyday ...

15. I looked at my poster one October and realized that everything on there had been achieved, even though December was the target month ...

16. I discovered the power of written goals, so I wrote some more ...

17. I realized that less debt = more choices ...

18. I learned the difference between needs and wants and subsequently learned the beauty of delayed gratification ...

19. I exited the rat race in my mind first, then watched as my circumstances caught up ...

20. I was in bondage and how much I hated it. Now that the financial chains are loose, I'm never going back ...

Lastly, I remember when ...

I acknowledged that my financial situation was no one's problem or responsibility but mine and mine alone. I couldn't blame my situation on what my parents did or didn't teach me, what I didn't learn in school or the mean ole credit card companies who continuously prey on my inability to just say no. I am the sole determinant of where I land financially.

What are your remember whens?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Life After Debt

Geez, it's been an entire week since my last post. I never intend for so much time to pass in-between posts. My weeks are running together so much that sometimes when I say yesterday, I really mean last week. When will it slow down? Hmph.

Okay, life after debt.

So, last week I was chatting with some friends/co-workers. During our conversation one of them mentioned something about it being payday. Lifting my head and raising my eyebrows, I said "payday? when, today?" What do you know, it was payday and I didn't even realize it. What a blessing that I can go almost the entire day and not even realize that my wages have been paid. Honestly, since I paid off all of consumer, car and student loan debts, life after debt has been kind of ... uh ... boring. My finances are pretty much on auto pilot. I don't even balance my checkbook anymore. The same expenses go out every month at the same time, not much changes from month to month.

When I was in the trenches of paying off debt there was always something exciting on the horizon. It seemed like every couple of months brought about a new accomplishment - the Visa, the MasterCard, the store credit card, the car loan, the student loan, the 1 month e-fund, the 3 month e-fund, the 6 month e-fund, etc. Now that I've done all of that, it takes much longer to get to an accomplishment. The next item on my list is to pay off the mortgage. If my aggressive target is met, I'll do so in 3 years. If I get close, 5 years, and worst case 7 - 10 years. Trust me, I'm not whining or complaining at all. I'm very thankful for what I've learned and how I was able to apply it to my life. It's just that I spent so much time getting out of debt that now I'm kind of bored, I need some new goals, a new focus. Does that make any sense at all? Although I've never been in this situation I think it's probably similar to what some parents feel when they initially become empty nesters. You put all of your energy and time into something (i.e. the kids) and now that they're gone, you have to reinvent or rediscover who you are and what you want to do.

Some of the things I thought I wanted to do when I no longer had debt, I don't want to do anymore. Funny how much I wanted certain things when I couldn't afford them and now that I can I have no desire to obtain them. So that I don't mislead you, I do have some things that I'm working towards (i.e, basically switching careers) so I'm not totally without any focus. However, it's not the same. I'm goal oriented by nature so it's only a matter of time before I come up with something. Maybe I should train for a 1/2 marathon. Naa, it's too hot in G.A. right now! Okay, I'll find something. Any suggestions?