One common thread among the debt-buster bloggers I've started to read is that they come clean on their blogs not just about being in debt, but about exactly how much debt they are in, when they make what payments, etc. I've thought a bit about whether I wanted to do that here, and felt very uncomfortable with the idea. Thinking about it further, I realized that the reason I felt so uncomfortable about it was (a) because I am embarrassed by my financial picture and have been lying about it to myself and others for a long time and (b) because I was brought up, like most people in this country, to think that talking about money was crass, particularly if you actually use numbers.
Well, fuck both those reasons. This is about accountability and changing my behavior, and the first step is definitely coming clean. As far as it being crass to talk about money, that seems almost laughable given the level of conspicuous consumption surrounding me and perpetuated by me every day. So I'm going to publish the numbers.
As of today, my financial picture is as follows:
Total credit card debt: $8,093.16
Total student loan debt: $33,674.75
Total savings: $163.77
Checking account balance: $11.69
My current post-tax income is approximately $2,868.97 per month, but should be going up slightly in the near future. I contribute $1,700 to our joint account each month. My personal monthly bills are as follows:
Audible subscription: $22.95
Cell phone bill: $48.57
Student loan payment: $257.03
That leave me with approximately $840 per month that is currently unaccounted for. That money has to go towards that ridiculous credit card debt and low savings balance. My plan, as I conceptualize it today, is to put $600 per month towards these goals--$500 to the credit card, $100 to the savings account (after I build up a month of extra money in my checking account from my no-spending Lent so that my checking account balance will stop going down to near zero every month). That will leave me with about $240 per month to spend. Part of this will certainly go to non-regular but necessary expenses, such as prescriptions and doctor's visits. The rest will be my spending money.
Finally, I am expecting a tax refund of about $1,800 in mid-March. That money will go to pay down the credit cards, period. No taking some out for fun money--I've already had too much fun. Also, if/when I get my expected raise, any difference between my current salary and my future one will go directly to the credit card debt.
'So that's what I'm working with. It feels good to have written it out, for some reason. More manageable. I've always been a person who has to write things down in order for them to be true, so I guess that's not surprising. I have a lot of work ahead of me.