Sunday, January 10, 2010

J-Money and her Special Sauce

I know a lot of people are probably REALLY tired of hearing me say "I can't afford to... [insert ANYTHING here]." I also know I'm not the only one who's had a rough year (I didn't get laid off; thank GOD, but I did take a pay cut, have benefits revoked, and been on two mandatory unpaid furloughs). I ALSO know that being in debt is my own fault, I'm not even close to being alone in my mess, and a whole slew of other facts that can simultaneously make me feel guily and hopeful.

Here's something more concrete though. I have just made myself a nice, orderly little budget to be debt-free-- COMPLETELY-- by the end of 2011. I know that's 2 years from now. I wanted to make a goal I could keep. This budget actually gives me a month of jiggle room, because I think I'll be done in November of 2011. In fact, this budget is assuming I will make exactly what I make now for the next 24 months, meaning any extra money I come into can make it even sooner.

I have 4 outstanding balances. I actually had 5 in 2009 and paid off one in November (the one that included my college loans). Best feeling EVER. I can't wait to feel it again in April '10, June '10, August '11, and November '11-- in each instance "the best feeling ever" going up exponentially. Everything is laid out in a nice little grid, aptly entitled "My Spreadsheet of Doooooom".

Luckily two of my creditors are family and thus have been very flexible with pay-back schedules and interest rates. The other two, not so much. I will be finished (hopefully) with one family in April, and the other in June. Each time I pay off a debt I will reallot my money to pay the maximum amount to the remaining debts.

I have two non-work trips to take in 2010-- one to Dallas in March for Amy's birthday, and one to Tulsa in April for Emily & Justin's wedding. Both flights will be purchased with miles, and both trips' "spending money" will have to be saved up and carefully doled out.

Other than those two-- nothing. No more eating out*. No more taxis**. No more new clothing***. I've already basically been doing this since August so it shouldn't be too terrible. I've changed my shampoo from Lush to Fructise. (My hair hates me.) I got rid of the fancy cable. I put out some feelers for some catering work for when I'm in town. I changed my Netflix to the sad, one-at-a-time, 2-max-per-month option. I WILL do this.

*at home. Obviously, I travel for work and I still have to eat when I'm on the road. If my hotel has a kitchen I will get groceries and eat in the hotel; if it doesn't I will stay within the confines of my per diem.
**also, obviously, at home.
***if I really REALLY need something (ie: a dress for the wedding) I will get it at the thrift store or on a major MAJOR sale.

I know I have friends who read this blog (or maybe they don't anymore; I actually have no idea) who will roll their eyes, shake their heads, think to themselves (or tell me to my face) that I've been here before, and dudes. Don't you think I know that? This post is not for them. This post is for me. When I can lay out something so concrete and can SEE my finish line, it helps me. It gives me hope. It pumps me up. It reminds me that I have a plan. It urges me to make my deadline. I don't need any negativity in this pursuit. I need to know that it can be done, that I can do it, that I have the support of my friends who won't get mad when I have to cut Sunday Funday out of my week or go to the first matinee of the day because it's $6 instead of $8.

All this means, in effect, that I can start grad school in 2012. Meaning I'll have my Masters by the time I'm 38, which is a rather respectable age to start a career, n'est ce pas? By the time I'm 40 I'll be working half the hours and making twice the money that I do now.

And honestly, that doesn't seem all that far away.

Monday, January 04, 2010

back to life; back to reality

Creeping up on 21 days here at Casa Lewelling and it has be OH-so-much-fun. However, now that the calendar holidays are over and I don't have another one in a week to look forward to, I'm starting to think about home. Not in a wistful way; I love it here, but in an "oh yeah, bills," "oh yeah, work," and "oh, yeah I wonder how much mail/dust is at my house." *sigh* Real life is for the birds.

Been contemplating a lot this week-- blogging, even though Tom says it's "SO 2008," reading, and whether struggling through a book is ever worth it, facebooking- to update or not to update under their stupid new privacy settings, dieting, dating, whether dieting will help with the dating, whether the dating is worth it when I am a perfectly happy single person, my job, my budget, my money- or extreme lack thereof, why I am generally a raspy self-confident sass-pot, but certain people in my life can make me feel bad about myself in a single moment, whether that's my stuff or their stuff, moving to France, why I never get the good Scrabble words agains Uncle Al when I play just fine with everyone else, and why flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.

Apparently this is what happens when I have a lot of time on your hands!!

New Year's Resolutions: the usual-- budget, diet, be outside more, de-clutter, floss, read, cook, love, live. I know a lot of people thing resolutions are stupid (and boy, do they say so) but I don't see any reason why they should judge me for taking an opportunity to be a better person. Sure, it's just another day, but I like fresh starts and I'll take one any chance I can get.

So, so long, 2009, and thanks for the memories and all you taught me, but I'm done with you now. 2010 is a clean slate, a tabula rasa, a new leaf, another chance to turn it all around. New year, new attitude, new Doctor, new self.