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Try this one more time...a ramble

January 2nd, 2006 at 05:49 pm

Its the new year. I havent written out specific goals, rather have been doing lots of math to see the various options for how things could go in the coming year. The option I'm going with presents the best case scenario, of course.

I feel like I've really botched the past year regarding my financial situation. In other words, I have no significant progress to report in this entry. Overall, the numbers are honestly where they were last year at this time.

That is depressing considering all the effort I feel I've put forth. But, I do need to consider that I did have major health issues to deal with ($$$ mucho, mucho unplanned spending $$$)) and tremendous stress in all major areas of life. So in that light, staying in the same place is better than having things swinging out of control. In a more positive light, I could say that the past year was a trial run for success this year?? I'm not going to make any concrete promises here because I'm not sure what the new year has in store and I dont want to set myself up to promise what I cannot deliver.

So rather than details, I'm going to re-examine my motivations and create a lifestyle that will support those intentions for success. The goal is to set things up so that when all the rest of life goes to h*ll, the first impulse is to do something other than spend or undermine acheivements made up to that point.

I've restyled/redesinged the master spreadsheet to give me more feedback on paying off debt in the quickest way possible. Its set up to show me 1) how quickly I can pay off the total with the avalanche method and 2) how much progress I am making every month; sort of an immediate satisfaction/reward sort of thing. Think motivation.

Regardless of how I arrange the numbers, I want to stay motivated this year and get this taken care of. Should I stick to the plan this time, it will take about a year and a half to pay everything off, except the house, at a comfortable rate. (That is already on an accelerated payment plan. We are paying what we did for rent $660 when our mortgage is only *500. Also made a huge downpayment and got a 15 year with an amazingly low rate. So we are set up on this one.)

I get sidetracked when I am stressed. So over the holiday vacation I have been cultivating inexpensive, slower paced hobbies that I have let languish. I knitted myself a scarf and have started reading the many books that have been collecting in the bookcase for "someday when I have more time". I've started writing again to sort my thoughts and slow down. I've been cleaning the house and organizing stuff. We've been in our house for two years now and with the remodelling we are now finally able to hang some of our painintgs and wall decor.

We are sorting through our meager music collection, putting it all on the computer and selling the CD's to the local used bookstore. More boxes are unpacked and more stuff going out the door. I feel like I repeat myself by always bringing this up again and again, but we are still in the process of unpacking. When we moved in we unpacked the barest of neccessities and stored all the rest of it in the back room. The house is functional, but the walls are bare, bare, bare. We've been getting to it 1) when we arent remodeling and 2) when we need something specific. Now I have time to enjoy what we have and actually use it to decorate the house rather than daydreaming about the ideal home we could have. Putting plans into action is so much less stressful than sitting still and daydreaming about it. The challenge is to make the old stuff fit into the new places and spaces in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

The funny thing is that we are not packrats. Rather I am in a minimalist frame of mind and DH is sympatico. We have a large house for two people. The rooms are sort of funky, but they are huge. Our goal is to keep the spaces open rather than fill them with furniture. So when we come across something that we havent missed or yearned for in two years, we donate it to someone else who may really need it. And since we moved EVERYTHING from the midwest, we have a reasonable amount of stuff to unpack and sort out. And the second part of unpacking is organizing all of it to make sure you have what you need when you need it. This is also another way to prevent wasting what you already have by not overlooking resources.

And over the break, I've had time to clean!! What a difference that can make. Finding things that got put in the back of the cupboards is a cheap thrill that is way underrated. But the best part is finding new uses for old things. I should have kept track, but I've found lots of ways to use old things around here for purposes that I would normally need to purchase a specific device for. Sounds vague...sorry no examples. But in the end it means less clutter and no spending.

I've recently started writing to a niece on my side of the family that I've not had much contact with. She's about ten. So I will be reviving the long lost art of letter writing on my end. And looking for neat little things to send her through the mail that will inform and educate her about this part of the country. I'm looking forward to this.

DH and I have agreed to take the fifteen walk downtown every month to pay our water and electric bills this year. Not much of a savings on the postage, but the walk will do us good. (Took us two years to come to this conclusion Wink)

Today was a no spend day as I had no reason to leave the house. Smile Tomorrow the cats go to the vet. Read MONEY!! Wednesday I am going for a massage. This was budgeted and I am going to enjoy every bleedin' minute of it. Thursday we may go to El Paso for some shopping. Definately for some looking. We need furniture and want to see what is available and what the prices are. (We are still enjoying our "college days/family hand me down" furniture. And actually are in no hurry to replace it now that I think of it.) We are going to go out to dinner b/c the restaurants there are generally nicer than the ones available to us locally. We keep a list on the fridge of all the things we want to do and then map it out so we aren't running all over the place. Saves on gas and sanity.

Hopefully the rest of the week around these things will be quiet. No shopping trips are planned. All the on-line shopping has been done and I want to focus on things that can be done here at home. I'm avoiding any websites that might be tempting. All catalogs go in the garbage immediately to prevent temptation. And haven't bitten any "after Christmas sale" leads. We soooo dont need anything. The plan is to continue with the clean up/ sort out/ un-stuffing of the boxes and the house in general.

To summarize this meandering tirade...I think the theme for this year is to slow down and want what I already have. When I'm in mega-hyper-overdrive, which had become the norm for the past six months, there is no time to appreciate what one has already done. It also puts one off center and, I believe, more susceptible to the sirens of our consumeristc culture. I want to step back this year and let the rush go by as I reassemble the sanity I know I can rediscover and re-establish.

(Cross fingers here)

p.s. Dinner is out of the freezer tonight - something I soooo look forward to doing again on a regular basis. Shrimp scampi and sweet potato fries, oven fried with herbs de provence and sea salt.

p.p.s. On the 30th I opened up a savings account with $100 here in town. My checking account is still in the midwest. I have two boxes of checks to use and then will give serious consideration to moving all accounts here. This will make it easierr to deposit small amounts that come in randomly, i.e. rebates, reimbursements. Up until now I've been mailing them in. My paycheck is directly deposited, so the need hasnt been very urgent to make the transition. Money and banking have always been "out there somewhere" and rather nebulous. I hope that having an account here in town where I can walk fifteen minutes to the nearest bank, will also be another factor in motivating me to add regularly to my savings.

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