Tag Archives: debt snowball

A Toast to Payday!

About a year ago I had almost $3800 in debt.  Of course it was in my line of credit – which has a lower interest rate than a credit card.  None the less, it was a debt and I owed it.   Mom, if you are reading this – no comments.  I know that’s hard to do because I have a daughter too, and I make too many comments to her.  Just saying that I know what’s on the tip of your tongue.

To be honest, I’ve been working on the debt issue for several years – especially motivated by Dave Ramsey and his Debt Snowball and the blog, Get Rich Slowly – and I finally managed to get rid of the whole kit and kaboodle this summer.  I’d been steadily whittling away at the sum, paying a chunk every pay cheque, observing the total diminishing, as did the amount of interest I was paying on the debt.  It felt good.  Finally, this summer I had to make another work adjustment at Co-op and they paid out my vacation pay!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was a huge chunk of change and enough to bring the figure under $400.  By September it was done.

Now in theory the amount of money I was no longer feeding to my debt account should have gone into a savings account.  I mean, after all, the next savings step is 3 – 6 months of expenses, right?  Well, let me tell you that it didn’t and probably for many people doesn’t go quite as planned.  There’s a sense of freedom and release when everything is in the black – and somehow saving gets forgotten – or at least it did by me.   And then this picture started making the rounds on Facebook:

52-week-savings-planIt’s pretty basic and it’s been shared by several blogs, but I got this image from Survival Mom.  Several of my friends posted it, and I sure hope they follow through.  There is a lot less stress when you have savings – even when you are in debt.  However, I wanted to crank up my savings rate just a little, so about two weeks ago I opened another savings account.  (I bank with President’s Choice so this is pretty easy to set up online).  And because I am fortunate not to have any debts at the moment, no young children at home, and no major expenses in the future, I am starting at the top of the chart and staying there.  $52 per paycheque gets transferred to my “pay yourself first” fund and because I usually have a payday every Friday, I can do this every week.

I am sure that many people want to save more money than they are currently saving.  Starting small and working your way up is a great way to start.  Maybe I should even start adding a dollar a week in the new year.  Just thinking of saving $100 per week is a little scary for me at the moment- I need to think about that.  On the other hand we could just keep increasing that dollar a week or paycheque until it was just too hard and stay at that number for a while.

I’ve set a goal of saving $5000 this year – and flying to Toronto twice.  I’ll keep  you posted.

I wonder if I could add a savings thermometer to this blog!

Have a wonderful day!  And a Happy New Year!

Marcia

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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter.

Happy Birthday #54!

Birthday Greeting 1910http://treasures-n-textures.blogspot.ca/2010/04/vintage-birthday-wishes.html

This is the site where I found this lovely card and it quite suits the mood I’m in at the moment.  It’s been a lovely day for the most part, although I did a  lot more walking than I had intended.  But that’s a story for another day.  Thankfully, it was a sunny day, and I had time to do some thinking.

I turned 54 today.  I had to think about that a bit – I guess part of the aging process is that you forget how old you are!  I just seem to forget that I’m getting older.  The days go by, most of them fairly similar in tone.  Work gets done, bills get paid, a few books get read, something gets knitted on…. and so it goes, all in all a fairly mundane kind of life!  With a cruise thrown in for the fun of it – and I guess lychee martinis aren’t that mundane either!  Delicious though, one at a time.

As I was walking, I reflected a bit on the progress I was making in my life, dividing it into the 5 colours that I’ve chosen to represent it – and that’s what I thought I’d share while the last minutes of this delightful day wind down.  I also have to finish this lovely glass of wine!

WHITE:  I always feel that my relationship with my God is not all it could be.  I’m not consistent in so many of the things I want to do – reading, studying, praying, contemplating, meditating.  Something always seems to get in the way of that.  Mostly Facebook, I suppose, but I love the community I share there – and sometimes someone shares something that speaks to my soul and makes me think about my own relationships with people and creation.  I guess I’m just wishing it would be more than it is – and that comes with time – not just time as it passes, but time being active and aware – mindful time.  Something to strive for in the coming years.

BLUE:  My creative pursuits are not the priority they once were.  I find I can go for a few days without yarn in my hands, but I do enjoy the glass jars full of yarn.  I still haven’t written a  pattern for something, but I have been playing with dishclothes and making those “easy squares” more interesting.  And I finished the shawl that I’d been working on for 5 years.  My goal over the next while is to finish more projects than I start – and that will be tought!

GREEN:  Green is my money management – both earning and saving/spending.  Most of the last year and a half was spent saving for a cruise.  I’ve written a bit about that – but the reality was that I came away with no debt – and wonderful memories that I was able to share with my mom, aunts and cousins.  I still have one smallish kind of debt – my line of credit.  This was sitting at around $5000 last year, and even with the cruise, that’s diminished to just over $3000.  I’m planning to be debt free by age 55!  And earning more money!

Which brings me to YELLOW:  I’ve spent the last 5 years busily becoming qualified to teach ESL.  Last year I completed the CERTSEL program at the University of Saskatchewan.  I volunteered at the YMCA, subbed at the Y and this week I started teaching a regular class at the Y.  I am so excited.  While I had planned to be teaching overseas somewhere in September, family keeps me in Calgary for a while longer!  But it is exciting to be moving forward and gaining experience.  (And I have to start preparing for a Masters in TESL in a few years – money and experience)

Finally there is the RED.  Most of my ramblings on my blogs have been about the RED side of life – my health.  I’m still taking the blood pressure medications.  I still weigh over 200 pounds. I still struggle with eating late at night.  And…believe it or not…I still struggle with going to the gym.  It’s even worse lately, and the only positive thing is my commitment to moving at least 5 minutes every day.  That I can do – even if I can’t make it across the street to the gym!

So there you have it!  A bit of a review and a bit of goal setting for the future.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all facets of life moved forward at the same pace?

But it is bedtime, and my wineglass is almost empty.  If it’s your birthday when you read this – have a good one and I hope it inspires you to make some plans for the next year.  If it’s not – have a happy un-birthday kind of day and make some plans anyways!

Goodnight, rest well, and may God bless and keep you!

Marcia

 

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Filed under BLUE: did I do that?, GREEN: Money matters that matter., RED: Losing weight, gaining fitness, strength and new cooking ideas, WHITE: Thoughts, mostly of a spiritual nature, YELLOW: Moving into my Life's Calling

Where does all the money go?

Today was payday, and of course all my bills are now paid up and I’ve got a little bit for groceries.  Actually, compared to some others in Calgary I’ve got a lot. It just amazes me how fast it all goes!

So here’s a bit of a breakdown.

$200 a paycheque goes to paying down the debt.  Praise God, there’s only one left and thanks to the debt snowball, it’s being brought down nicely.  If all goes according to plan we should be done with that in 21 paychecks.  I do want to have this paid for before my cruise!

$550 a paycheque  goes to short term savings.  That includes half of my rent and money for next week’s groceries.  This is probably my best money strategy.  Unless there is some major emergency in my life, I am rarely broke.

I have three savings accounts that get fed $20 each as well.  These are the Christmas fund, the vacation fund and the Long Term Fund.  I’m not exactly sure what that is for just now – just recently it paid my course tuition. Maybe it will go towards grandbaby needs.

My biggest challenge this week is to save on groceries while increasing the purity levels of the foods I eat – made from scratch with as much organic food as possible.  Here’s a blog post from Get Rich Slowly that I’m going to be following.  I also intend to check out this vendor at the Kingsland Farmers Market.  Probably next weekend, when I’m off!  Looking forward to that!

This isn’t a “detailed, itemized” spending report.  It’s probably a way for me to focus on the realities of my own finances in the hope that it helps someone else!

Have a great day!

Marcia

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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter.

Motivate and Live…

First of all I’m going to post a picture.  Clicking the picture will send you to one of the blogs I try to read every day.

  I think this post summarizes quite nicely what I’d like to say about what I’ve been reading in my Napoleon Hill this week and last.

There was first of all the call to control my mind.  I need to be more aware of my choices and also my control over them.  Take last night’s peanut butter “binge” for example.  Sure I was tired, I was coldish, I was for lack of a better word, “blah”.  I could have made different choices.  I just didn’t bother to make them.   However, now that I’ve made those “less than stellar” choices, it’s time to move forward.

This weeks chapter talks about having a burning desire to achieve something.  Apparently it’s something I can create.  But how?

Dave Ramsey talks about “gazelle intensity” when working the debt snowball.  I don’t have that either.  I just keep plodding along, eliminating credit card after credit card until they will be all gone!  (Two left, one of which is almost done!)

In this third chapter, Hill mentions Henry Ford and John Wanamaker and he concludes it with a quote from Mr. Wanamaker

I acquired the education I needed the same way a locomotive takes on water – I scooped it up as I ran!

So here are the three steps I need to take in order to change:

  1. Start where you stand – knowing what I know, being who I am, looking as I look…
  2. Make the best of what I do have – employments, physical health, and all the many gifts God has blessed me with!
  3. Trust that what I need will be available when I need it.

Now I need to jump in and get going!

I do hope this is helpful to you.  I know I need to sit down and make some plans for the next week, based on this!

Have a great day, stay warm if you’re in Alberta and wherever it’s still frigid out!

Marcia

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Looking Back – and some Oopsies!

Last payday I accidently sent a payment to a wrong account – all because I didn’t delete the company from my list of bills.  I’ve learnt my lesson from that and today I got to delete another bill.  This is important, as I usually pay bills while drinking my first cup of coffee, not after!

Today I made a different mistake – and again I’ll blame the coffee.  I paid a bill twice.  Fortunately it was a credit card, but it temporarily deprived me of downsizing another debt – one of the last ones!

I solved the problem by using the credit card to purchase a gift card at Co-op, which I have used for buying my bus tickets and will use for groceries on Monday.

What I failed to do was plan my “bill paying” which I usually do before pay-day.  If I had looked back, I would have realized that I did cover the transaction I used the card for.  Then I would have paid the right bill.

What I learned:  There’s always a way to solve the problem.  My first mistake cost me $10 to fix.  This mistake actually gives me some rewards points.

However, as the year comes to a close, I am pleased with my results.  Back in April I paid off my oldest debt.  Take one bill off the list.  Paying off this debt was counter-intuitive – it had the lowest interest rate and the lowest balance.  But PSYCHOLOGICALLY it was the most burdensome.  I’m glad it’s gone.  In August I paid off my riskiest debt – one of those “No interest for 2 years” kind of deals.  Now I’ve paid off my other credit card and I’m working soley on the Line of Credit.

The nice thing about being at this phase in the process is that the bites are getting bigger – about $200 per pay check.  I’m hoping to be finished this process by the end of the year – and paying off my cruise as well.

I’ll continue to keep you posted, mostly on Fridays, but I can tell you this – Debt Snowballing, in whatever order you chose to do it, is very exciting!

So, don’t give up.  Keep working at it.  There will be a light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don’t see it just yet!

I will probably write some kind of reflective post – it’s kind of the thing to do, but in case I spend more time quietly reflecting than I plan, I do  want to wish you all a wonderful New Year, full of grace, blessing and growth.  God has been very, very good and I am grateful.

Marcia

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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter.

Gift Cards and the Emergency Fund

(A Financial Friday kind of post)

‘Tis the season to give and recieve gift cards.  From a corporate perspective this makes a lot of sense. Rather than buying “stuff” that may not be necessary, your employees can use the card to get the things they need or want. 

My Gift Card Collection

My Gift Card Collection

And I don’t think these are it for the year.  But it doesn’t matter.  They are money that I can spend that I didn’t earn.

The SportChek card will go towards a new pair of running shoes, as I sign up for another year at the gym.  The extra $50 will help me buy a better quality shoe or take part in their 50% off deal (Check your flyers!)

The Calgary Co-op cards will, however,  be spent on food.  Originally I had intended to keep them at home but the “what if’s” started running through my head:

  • What if they melted in a fire?
  • What if they expired?
  • What if I lost them?
  • What if I forgot they were there?

You get the picture. Silly worries, but they led me to a different solution.  Yesterday I transferred the value of the Co-op cards to my ING account.  That’s where my emergency/cruise money is sitting.

On Monday morning I’m going to shop until I drop.  I’m thinking that my groceries will come to about $100 with the turkey.  We’ll check that out next week!  In addition to my gift cards I have some coupons which should save me about $20.

So here’s the main idea:  What if you took the cash value of your new gift cards and coupons and transferred it to your emergency fund, or your cruise fund, or whatever other project you have on tap?  If you’re having trouble building the fund, this may be a part of the solution.  People who are giving you these cards can be giving  you an emergency fund instead.  How nice of them!

I hope this  is as helpful to you as it is to me.  Except in my case, they’re giving me part of my cruise!

In the meantime, here’s the next adventure in the continuing saga of the silver star!  “Muddlers”
[Originally broadcast 15 December 1937 — 2.83mb, 12:22]
Judy and Jimmy use their one wish, given by the Wishing Well, to get rescue Cinnamon Bear, and now they can’t fix their Silver Star with the Wishing Well’s magic. While trying to get out of the Wishing Woods, they encounter the Muddlers and the River of Mud.

Have a great day!

Marcia

PS: TOPS weigh-in and I was down a pound.  Now I’m focusing on the next one! Had a good work-out at the gym!

PPS:  This post was inspired by Get Rich Slowly’s posting earlier this week.

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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter.

Debt Avoidance…and the Debt Snowball

Yesterday’s post was supposed to be more financial in nature because it was payday, and well, it was a money day!

In addition to my pay cheque I also recieved my annual staff discount – $228, based on my spending at Calgary Co-op, where I also work!  What to do with that windfall?

As you probably know – I have debt, debt that ties up $200 of each paycheck as I pay it down.  That’s about one fifth of my earnings – not fun, but it’s nice to see the size diminish!  So, putting all of that to my debt would mean paying it off two weeks earlier!  A thought – a “gazelle intensity” thought.  Possible.

I also have a life – a life that could be long.  It could also be short.  I want to enjoy it.  In October I flew to Ontario to visit family and attend the wedding of close friends.  It was good.  My determination was to keep my credit card in my wallet.  If it needed to escape, which it did on one occassion, I paid that amount ASAP – like before I even arrived home!  Sure I could have put all that money on my debt, but then I would have missed finding the rubber chicken with my nieces!  And the wedding.

In January I start the final course towards ESL certification.  This costs $550.  I’ve been saving here and there, and today with the “staff discount” I was able to put “paid” on the account.  I will pay the bill on January 4th, when the course starts!  Yahoo! No additional debt.

I also did something else that is kind of wild and crazy!  Last weekend, with full approval from my dad, I booked my mom and myself on a Caribbean cruise for a week.  Part of me says – “What are you thinking?”  Another part of me says – “Start saving!”  The cruise ship doesn’t leave until March 31, 2013, so I have some time – but I do have to come up with $250 by December 27th of this year.  While I can and will put it on my credit card, I must also be able to pay that amount at the time that I charge it.  That’s the new game rule for the credit card!

These are the 99 steps (although I’ve read that it’s really 103 – I’ll have to check when I get there) that I hope to climb with my mom and whoever wants to join us!

There was some extra money available after I “paid” for my tuition.  That has been moved into the vacation fund.  I’ve also squirreled away some change and extra savings if I need to.  In a sense the money is already in the bank.

Whether you are trying to lose weight or lose debt (and I’m trying to do both) it’s important to remember that life goes on.  We just have to be prepared for new adventures and unfortunately tragedies as well.  That’s why I’m not touching my emergency fund!  But I’m looking forward to finding a pleasant place to sit and think – in San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas!

This blog is a place for me to share my journey – towards health, towards fulfilling my life’s work, towards financial peace and to give birth to the ideas my creativity brings me.  This is part of the journey – as crazy as it seems!

Oh, and before I forget – the next part of the adventure:  “The Inkaboos” and thanks again to JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly for posting the links.

Have a great day!

Marcia

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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter., RED: Losing weight, gaining fitness, strength and new cooking ideas