I recently started blogging to bring some accountability to my efforts to reform my financial problems. I moved to Ohio two years ago with a plan to eliminate my credit card debt as I started my life as a “grown up.” For nine years, I had been in graduate school or teaching part-time. I had finally landed the dreamed-of tenure-track position and figured my money worries were over. When I moved, I cashed out my one-year-old 401(k) with plans to get settled and pay off my remaining credit cards.
Flash-forward sixteen months. I’m engaged, planning for a wedding that we’re mostly paying for, and have $8700 in debt spread over three credit cards. How did that happen?? I can’t even point to one major purchase on those cards! I knew I was in some trouble and didn’t want to drag my consumer debt into my upcoming marriage. A short stint on Wesabe helped me see that my spending on my credit cards counted just as much as my spending in my checking account. From there, I stumbled into the wonderful realm of personal finance blogs. I’ve Already Paid for This Twice Already’s concept of snowflaking really hit home. I saw how lots of little bits of money could pay down debt, and conversely, how all those little bits of money had snowballed into my current problems. Now, six months later, I’ve paid $7810 down on my cards, paid for our wedding, and plan to be debt-free by October 2008. Well, I’ll be debt-free except for my pile of student loans. As I explain in “A Tale of Two Budgets”, that steady diet of loans helped form the behaviors that led to my current debt.
With this blog, you can see all that I’m making, spending, and saving. I’ve found that it really does keep me focused on my financial goals. Just knowing that I have to post here makes me think twice about dumb purchases. It’s also a huge weight off my shoulders to know that I’m not hiding all that debt anymore. If you’re stressed by debt, there’s hope! Keep reading around all these great personal finance blogs, and you’re bound to hit on a metaphor, or a plan, or a story that changes your thinking about money. I try to link to stories and blogs that help me. I hope you can use this blog as a jumping off point or a small signpost on your own journey to a healthy relationship with money.
My Finances in a Nutshell
Starting Credit Card Debt: $8,770
Monthly Budget: $2,770
Wedding Budget: $4,050
Fun Account: $202.33
Emergency Account: $700
Consolidated Student Loans (gulp!): $114,342.01 @ 3.0%