Sunday, January 6, 2008

Maiden posting

I have never cared much about money. So realizing I had become a slave to the dollar was a bit of a shock.

My awakening came in June. Ten percent of my colleagues decided to leave the company in exchange for generous severance packages. Yet another upheval in an industry experiencing perpetual tremors from tanking revenues. Many had worked there for decades, so they left with a year's worth of salary. As someone hired three years ago, I knew I would not be so lucky should a quake hit directly under my feet.

I looked over my finances with the worst case scenario in mind -- a most unpleasant task. I owed more than $26,000: to bank for credit card purchases, to the federal government for my graduate degree, and to my father who bailed me out of a dog-related financial emergency. Meanwhile, a meager $500 sat in my savings account.

If anything happened to my job, the most I would receive from my company would be six weeks of salary, assuming the same severance packages were offered. This would give me little time to find another position in my field. My immediate options would be either grabing a tin can and standing on the corner or taking whatever work was available to pay bills. My career could easily disappear as I struggled to meet my debt obligations and feed my two little dogs.

Fortunately, abject fear is an excellent motivator. So is anger. I had let myself become enslaved to lenders, and I was pissed.

Thankfully, my father recently had given me an excellent book -- Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. So I also had a plan. Now I am pursuing it with a vengance.

Since July 1, I have reduced my credit card balance to $2,800. I should have it paid off next month. Then, I will attack my student loans, which now stand at $11,600. Last will be the loan to my father. By the end of the year, I expect to be debt free. Next comes the goal of increasing my emergency fund from $1,000 to $10,000.

As I slog my way through debt reduction, I seem to have developed an obsession with money. I don't want to accumulate it so I can buy things. I actually have grown even less materialistic since I started this trek.

What I want is a decent mound of cash to ensure my freedom. I would like enough savings to say 'fuck you' -- to my company, should the need arise, or to my industry, should it continue to flail -- and not end up homeless. Then there are the dreams I still hope to pursue, such as motorcycling around the world. And also there is the fate I wish to avoid -- eating Alpo in my senior years because I managed my finances poorly.

Since endlessly talking about money can be a bore to friends, I decided to start a blog instead. Even if no one reads my postings, I think writing them will help me stay motivated and focused. It also can serve as fidget release for my new, non-smoking life, that I started on New Year's Day. Oh, how I wish cigarettes were free.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, sister!

You are well on your way to financial freedom and being able to save for something fun, like a trip or a new toy.

In the meantime, the cookies all love you!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the pf blog world! You've made tremendous progress so far! I hope you meet your goal of debt free by year end!

ManOnaMission said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frugal Dad said...

Welcome to the PF blogging world! And thanks for the mention on the blogroll - I'm honored. It looks like you've already made a sizable dent in your debt totals, and you will no doubt continue. Look forward to hearing more from you.

Angie said...

Congratulations on your new blog (and your financial goals!). I agree with you--no one really wants to listen to my drivel about finances either so I'm going to start my own blog, too.