Cleaning house

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

VERY personal finance.

**Edit: This is NOT a complaint or a whingeing post--it's merely a State of the Union address. I appreciate the kind thoughts, but don't cry for me, Argentina! I'm doing just fine! :) **

I used to hate the Dashboard. But I've come to understand that I need the Dashboard.

I also need to write some shit down and sort out my head. Boy oh boy, do I need to sort out my head.

I've started no less than a billion posts in my head this week, and none of them have made the transition to text. So much of my life is carried out in text, that it seems odd for me to not be able to make the translation of my thoughts easily and quickly. But I can't.

I am stepping away from my Bloglines for a bit. I can't promise myself a complete break from it, as, quite frankly, you folks are all far too interesting. But I have over 200 blogs on my daily reads list, and I'm wasting too much of my life reading about other people having one.

I am in need of a serious mental purge. Emotional, psychological, and even physical. Not necessarily in that order.

I've been living too much inside my own head. Which is the whole reason I started this blog in the first place, to let some of the jetsam out.

I find though, that the blog is now something that binds my thoughts, and hinders my clarity. The more people I meet and know through the blog, the less free I feel I can be. Not that any of my blog-meets have put that pressure onto me, I've done it myself. And to be honest, it's likely not even the semi-anonymous blog-friends that hinder me. It's the people that I know in real life...and the expectations that I believe they may have for me, and my thoughts, and my actions.

Don't we all do that, really? We live each day in a way we think others expect us to. We claim that we don't give a rat's ass what people think about us, yet we refrain from cursing in public, we wear the right clothes, we don't offer up unsolicited opinions and advice (to their face, anyway). And yet, we judge. We judge the way people dress, the way people act, how well they tip, the length of their hair, the manner of their speech. We judge their shoes, their teeth, their intelligence. We judge EVERYTHING. Except that we don't. We judge what people allow us to see. We judge our perception of their self.

Yes...it's a circular phenomenon. We are all so busy judging each other, and worrying about what to present to other people for their judgement, that we forget what we have going on inside us in the first place.

This isn't a 24-7 process. I mean, we're doing it, but for the most part we're doing it without thinking. It's like breathing, really.

So I've made a decision today..I've made lots of decisions today. I can't take back my outside...but I can take back my blog.

This blog was called Cleaning House because that's what I intended to do. I've taken steps to do it, but I'm no where near close to done. I started the blog intending to do a clean sweep of all my cobwebs and all my dark, secret corners. I don't know if I'm prepared to go that far just yet, but we shall see.

One of the things I wanted to clean out, was my financial house. I needed to get that fucker in order.

I've been reading a lot of personal finance blogs lately. I go through phases with this, actually. I've come a long way, out from under a huge burden of personal debt. I've still got a long way to go, but I feel much better about it. Most times. Every once in a while though, when I feel that my pennies are too tight, and that my life is quite dull, I get into a financial funk. I'm there now. And when I get there, that's when I delve into the world of Personal Finance (PF) blogs.

There's a ton of them out there, but the ones I prefer are the anecdotal ones. Sure, I love getting advice on how to diversify my RRSP and my mutual fund portfolio...but my REAL issues is that I have no cash. So while I muddle along trying to figure out how to pay my power bill this month, I am quite content to let the professionals manage my mutual funds and plan out my retirement savings for me.

I love the stories of how people got out of debt. I love reading how they got into it, and I love reading about their struggles to get out of it. It gives me hope to see people who are way in over their heads just take the bull by the horns, dig in their heels, and drive down their debt load.

It gives me hope.

People are far more willing to talk about sex in public than they are about money. I'm certainly no exception. I'll talk abstractly about sex with pretty much anyone...and the more bizarre and deviant the behaviour? The more fascinating I find it. Not necessarily willing to participate, but I'm less likely to judge you for your shoe-fetish than I am to judge you for wearing white socks with black pants.

I am going to let things all hang out, and share my current position with you.

**This is in lieu of the post about my current personal emotional state(awful, thanks for asking)--because, much as talking about money is taboo, talking about my 'feeeeelings' makes me want to hurl from embarassment and abject terror.**

My car loan is in good shape: $8233.43. They keep taking out my payments at random, and not on the timely basis that they are supposed to, but it's consistently random, and I've called the bank a few times about it--so I guess it's fine.

My LOC (student loans/rest of the car/other) is the only balance that I'm not 100% sure of right now. It is in my parents' name, and the bill goes to them. I just pay it every two weeks and count that the balance is going down nicely. It is quite likely far less (like $3000 less), but I assume that it's around $13,000.00 and it gives me even more incentive to drop it like it's hot.

My Visa is currently sitting at $6600. Yes, gasp away..it's ridiculous. Consumer debt is craaazeee...and I'm the mayor of CrazyTown. The rate is high, too, at 19.5%. I'm driving the pennies to it as fast as I can. Well, not quite, actually. Because of this one...

My MC, which is currently closed but still carries a balance, has a rate of 23.5%. Yeah, almost as bad as a store card. It's NUTS. And it's got a balance of $1200. Long story about this, for another time. But be pleased that I've closed it, and move on for now.

I also have a personal debt of $4000 that I want to pay off as quickly as possible. This loan has no timeline, and no interest rate, so it has moved to the bottom of the priority list. This is not good, as it's the one that bothers me most to owe. Anyway.

So there you have it, boys and girls...my financial snapshot. If you add up all the damage, it's about $7800 in high interest credit card debt and $21,000 in personal loans. I have no mortgage, so that's something, at least.

I drive over $600 a month to debt servicing. A lot of this goes to principal, as I pay bi-weekly. This will, in the long term, reduce my interest paid dramatically. However, I will be paying on this debt for a LONG time to come.

My original debt load when I left university was over $45,000. That was nothing but tuition, books, living expenses and credit card debt. One day I'll tell you the story of climbing out from under that mountain.

Today, my total debt snapshot is just less than $29,500. This includes almost $14,000 in car debt. But my credit card debt is a scary, scary burden. I'm working at digging my way out.

This is why I'm constantly poor. I pay too much rent. I can TECHNICALLY afford it, but if I had a roomie, I could afford both to have a life, and to toss another $250 a month to servicing my debt and be out from under it that much sooner. Domenic did one thing for me by being here, he allowed me to live a really fun life last summer while still pounding down the bills. It would have been so much easier though, if he'd just paid his damned rent on time!

Which brings me to this week...I've started actively looking for a new roomie. I have issues with this, as it's going to have to be a total stranger. All the people I meet at work, are people that I could not live with. It would not be politically kosher. And everyone else that I know? Paired up or own homes of their own.

I even went so far as to ask Bill if he wanted to take the other room. It would be better for him for any number of reasons, and theoretically we should be able to do that *twitch*. We have (theoretically) gotten the dating issues out of our respective systems (another loooooooong post about that coming up some day soon, I'm thinking *twitch*) and I need the cash.

But who knows. It was a stupid thing. I did give it a ton of thought, and it would be a rockin' good time to live with someone that I actually enjoy again. That hasn't happened since I lived with Heather...and I really miss that. (Technically Luke, but that was only 6 weeks, and I think that the fun was negated over the long term by his becoming an unmitigated bastard...but we had a GREAT 6 weeks in the apartment before all that crap took place so...you decide!)

Anyway...I'm working on another, very different post in the other window...and you may get it tonight or not. But at least you have a glimpse of some of what's been on my mind lately. The rest is all emotional *twitch* and gut-kickingly personal *TWITCH* and I just don't want to deal with it at the moment...so we'll see what you get to read and what you don't.

G'night folks!

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10 Comments:

  • Oh girl! You get a big hug back! So much to be going through at one time. I hope you will find a GREAT roomie this time. One that STAYS and pays rent on time! I am proud of the wise decisions that you are making in wanting to relieve your financial burden and I believe you will be rewarded for that!

    By Blogger Bookingirl, At Wed Jun 13, 11:41:00 pm  

  • First, pat yourself on the back for already cutting your debt by 40% or so. That's a big deal so you should be proud!

    I know how much I love unsolicted advice so I'll keep this short - if you haven't already, call you credit card company and get those rates decreased! And ask what rates they offer for balance transfers. Even if you have to pay a transfer fee, it's usually cheaper in the long run if you've lowered the percentage rate. Getting all the credit card stuff on one bill feels good.(Believe me. I've been there. My X and I had $12,000 on the credit cards at one point. Now, I have $0! And it feels very good.) The worse they can do is say no. And if they won't budge, shop around for another card to move everything to. New cards would love to take on your debt at lower rates (just watch out for deadlines and rate changes).

    Ok, I lied about keeping it short. It sounds like the student loans weigh on your mind. I owe about $12,000 myself. For your peace of mind, get the bills to come to you directly instead of your parents so you can take charge of them. Check into whether automatic payment deduction decreases the percentage rate. Sallie Mae did that for me once - about.5%. Every point counts.

    Good luck and don't despair. It will take awhile and there will be moments when you want to curl into the fetal position but you sound like you're off to a good start.

    By Blogger Sassy Pants, At Thu Jun 14, 02:29:00 pm  

  • no advice.

    just a hug.

    &hugs&

    By Blogger chRistine, At Thu Jun 14, 09:57:00 pm  

  • I like hearing financial anecdotes over statistics as well :)
    Congratulations on how much debt you've paid back so far. And I wish you luck on the roommate issue...Darling and I could save so much money by sharing our two-bedroom apartment (long, stupid story) but we've been spoiled by years of privacy.

    By Blogger Tread Softly, At Fri Jun 15, 03:49:00 am  

  • its been awhile!!
    I miss you!
    keep in touch...

    Lena

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At Fri Jun 15, 01:36:00 pm  

  • Hey you're doing the right thing to attack the high interest stuff first. I cut my debt by going to sea for a year so I had no rent to pay. I was dropping about $1000 US a month on my student loans when the loonie was at $0.64 cents so I was fortunate in that respect. Going to sea isn't for everyone, but it was a good career and financial choice for me.

    By Blogger Sean, At Fri Jun 15, 04:41:00 pm  

  • You planning on going to sea anytime soon!? LOL!
    All I can say is that you know where you stand. You know where you money is going. It take a lot to take an honest look at it. People who are financially irresponsible prefer to ignore the facts. Do what you can and fond a nice balance with being frugal and living a full life.

    Then Buy a lotto ticket Like I do!LOL!

    By Blogger -LGirl-, At Fri Jun 15, 10:58:00 pm  

  • OK, if you plan on going to sea- make sure you find a ship with internet access. I want to hear about all thecute sailors you're meeting! (The pirate king?)

    By Blogger Princess of the Universe, At Sat Jun 16, 10:13:00 am  

  • Sorry, I didn't mean to start a "going to sea" rumour! That was my experience I was recounting in my comment. Sadie's not going anywhere yet to my knowledge lol

    By Blogger Sean, At Sun Jun 17, 09:16:00 pm  

  • You know what? That all sounds pretty fucking positive to me.

    By Blogger badgerdaddy, At Thu Jun 21, 08:41:00 am  

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