It's Sunday, and we're going to talk about money. Specifically, mine. Specifically, at least today, debt.
Have you noticed that little (badly done, Mark says) line graph over in the sidebar? That's my 2008 debt pay down. Here's a bigger version, updated just this morning:
What that tells you is that as of January 1 of this year, I was a total of $11,351 in debt. Credit card debt, that is. I also have a student loan, a car loan, and a home loan. But this is just about that really bad nothing-to-show-for-it debt. Anyway, at the beginning of this year, I was pretty far in. Farther than I've ever been in before, even through student and post-student brokeness. And even though I was pretty successful at juggling it from 0% interest card to 0% interest card and making payments and never really paying much to owe, it still weighed on me. So I started actually trying to pay it down. The chart shows my progess. As of today, my credit card debt load is $4,437. This means I've paid $6,914 in 11 months, or an average of about $629/month.
That's not bad, it's really not. But it's not as good as I'd hoped. In January, my goal was to have the debt gone in 2008. Given my income constraints, that would have been really difficult, but I'm still not quite as far as I'd hoped I'd be at this point. Still, I've been making steady progress, and I have the debt nearly 2/3 paid, and down to a number that doesn't give me cold sweats, so I'm not complaining too much.
For the last few months, I've been slacking a bit. I've been making payments, but not to the degree I should be, and I've been doing something really bad--charging things to another credit card when I run out of money towards the end of the month (I make my debt payments at the first of the month). Though I have thus far paid that card off every month and not added to my debt, I know it's a dangerous and not particularly smart path, so I want it to stop. That's my #1 goal this month--no credit card charges. And that means living with a budget.
Let me pause to tell you, in case you are new here and haven't read my rantings on this subject before, I am very, very open about money. I use real numbers. I think the social phobia we have about discussing our incomes, expenses, etc. in real terms is stupid and counter-productive. However, I recognize that some people feel very differently, and that's fine. Nobody is asking you to share your digits here, and if you are uncomfortable knowing what my take-home pay is, you should probably stop reading this post. In fact, you should likely just skip Mondays.
OK, disclaimer in place, the budget for November:
Take home pay: $3,297
Joint: $2,000 (this is the amount I contribute monthly to our joint checking account)
Student loan: $227
Credit cards: $700
Gym membership: $11
Spend money/cash: $150
Pretty simple, isn't it? I just keep telling myself, all I have to do is come back to it and make sure I am following it, and everything will be fine. That shouldn't be difficult, should it?
If you are like me and having trouble keeping a handle on your money, I really recommend blogging about it. It may not make for fantastic reading material for your readers, but it provides a level of accountability that I haven't been able to get anywhere else.