Saturday, March 22, 2008

Every Bit Helps

I picked up three hours of work tonight, which unfortunately is a lot less than I thought I was going to work. Oh well, at least its something. I was also able to pick up some bakery product at a discount so my Easter baskets are finished, I picked up the rolls for Sunday's dinner, and I picked up a poppy seed loaf for a fundraiser where I am providing the refreshments. So I'm still ahead.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do Over!

Paying off debt is a lot like weight loss. It takes years to put it on and its going to take time to get rid of it. Knowing that fact doesn't make it any easier. Instead, I tend to get frustrated, do something really stupid, beat myself up about it, and then get back on the wagon. Its a vicious cycle, but when I'm done, I know I'm good for awhile.

To readjust my thinking, I officially published my full debt load and replaced my previous pie chart from No Credit Needed. (For the record, I really appreciate NCN for everything he does, but I felt I needed to be brutally honest with myself.) I pulled all of my hidden cash and made an extra payment on a credit card to get a jump start. The hidden cash came in the form of:
  • $5.50 from returning pop cans for their deposit - I also return the cans from work
  • $28.67 from my loose change jar - I save all of my loose change in a glass which I turn in when it reaches a certain point
  • $20.00 from my dollar coin stash - When I have a few extra dollars and find myself making a deposit at the bank, I swap them for dollar coins and save them as an emergency fund for end of the month gas in the tank or other surprise expense

The next step in my "recovery" is to look for ways to make extra money. This week I am putting up Easter orders at a bakery I used to work at. That will be an extra $50 for the evening. Next week, I'm participating in a taste test which will earn me an $20. Its a start for the snowflakes.

Finally, I get to have an honest look at my spending habits. I was lucky enough to have a very nice gentleman buy me lunch today, which was a complete shock because I didn't know him. He apparently won on Keno and appreciated the fact that I talked to him. I still feel guilty about it. My kitchen is not set up for cooking right now. I somehow have lost my can opener. Don't ask me how. I have NO idea. The fridge is looking like a bad bachelor commercial. Its time to get real and time to put the plan together.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And In One Moment Everything Can Change...

In the last few weeks there have been some pretty heavy issues that I've been dealing with. First, my grandmother passed away. While we become more accepting of death as we get older, it can still take us by surprise. I can thank my grandma for being one of the people that taught me the value of being frugal. She didn't have much money to raise a family with 5 kids and things were tough. After the funeral I heard many stories of my grandma taking care of not only her family, but others that were struggling as well. She was known to stretch a frugal meal to feed an extra family. The most important thing to her was family.

On the flip side, this morning I found out that my brokerage closed its doors Monday at 5:00pm. The first thing that springs to mind is the Bear Sterns fiasco and the investors that have lost millions. Luckily (or unfortunately,) my savings is no where near that. I did a bit of research and have been assured that my money is in safekeeping with the brokerage's backer. I can transfer it to a new brokerage at any time.

Tomorrow is inevitable and there is no excuse for poor planning today. The things I've learned from both of these events are:
  • Make sure retirement accounts are protected with reputable companies.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions when the market is getting weird.
  • Diversify! If all the eggs are in one basket there is a ton more risk. Ask the investors in Enron, PanAm, and Bear Sterns.
  • Start early, but its never too late to start.
  • You can always stretch a meal help someone in need.
  • Resourcefulness is the basis of frugality.