Friday, October 28, 2011

Read the fine print

In my efforts to cut household costs I’m going to be making a concentrated attempt at utilizing coupons and watching for sales on regularly used items.  My first opportunity to try out my new thrifty attitude came last night when I walked into CVS get some Halloween candy and saw that the laundry detergent we use was on sale for cheaper than I’d ever seen it.  This was followed by noticing a sign that said something along the lines of spend $30 and get a $10 gift card.  What luck!  I loaded up my basket with all sorts of “on sale” items that we always need at the house including some first aid items that were advertised as buy one, get one 50% off.

Upon leaving the store with all of my great buys, I started scanning my receipt to see what my total savings were and realized in my quest for great savings I may have missed some of the finer details of the sale!  Firstly, my first aid items were all full showing as full price, apparently there was no mix and match on the 50% deal.  As if that wasn't enough, when I got home I realized my boyfriend must have bought some first aid stuff recently so we now have way more than we need!  Lastly, only $7 of my $40 purchase applied to the gift card deal!  I suppose I could have gone in and returned most of it but I was too embarrassed by my blunder.  This morning I stopped in again (it’s right across from my job) and picked up the store circular for an explanation of where I went wrong…  I had to comb through it a bit but all of my mistakes could have been avoided had I read the ad first.  At least I had earned a few extra care bucks on the purchase so it wasn’t a complete wash!

Although my first attempt at leading a more money-savvy lifestyle was not a success per se.  I did learn some valuable lessons.  One, a little advance planning would probably be a better approach to sale shopping to figure out what we really do need. Two, I need to stop and read the fine print!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Funny how ingrained spending is

The thing about this decision to pay off my debt and blog about the experience is that I have no idea what I am doing.   I’m new to blogging, both writing one and reading other peoples’ blogs, and I’m obviously incompetent at money management so I’m not really sure what I need to do to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  I’ve been searching the web for tips and came across some great blogs like: and but what I think I really need is a step by step guide to starting the process.
A memory of a past co-worker of mine came to mind as inspiration.  He and his wife had some 165k in debt and following some kind of program, I think by Dave Ramsey, were able to cut their spending and pay off all their debt in the matter of a few years.  This may be a little bit of an exaggeration but I do clearly remember him eating mac and cheese for lunch almost every day for a year and thinking “if that’s what it takes to pay off debt, count me out”.  Anyways, back to the point… I have a lead to follow.  So what do I do?  I fire up Amazon and start piling financial help books, particularly the ones by Dave Ramsey, into my cart.  I even find “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting out of Debt”.  The irony of my actions don’t hit me until I go to check-out utilizing one touch purchasing linked to my high interest credit card.  Do I really need to go further into debt to learn how to get out of debt?  I quickly cleared my basket and will be hitting up the local library on my way home from work…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Owning up to what I owe

To be truly honest, it wasn't until I finished graduate school in 2006 that I even took a real look at the debt I had accumulated through my seven years of higher education.  At that time, I was carrying $55k in student loans and credit card debt but I brushed it off... of course I had debt, everyone had debt, who could get through college and grad school without it!  When I graduated it was the height of the market and I had landed a fantastic job so I felt confident that my debt would pretty much take care of itself.  Fast forward to today: $65k debt in school loans, credit cards, a car loan and, most recently and most shamefully, a loan from the Bank of Mom and Dad. 

Coming to realize that in the five years since graduation I have actually increased my debt load is a painful pill to swallow.  I would love to sit here and blame this on the economy or any number of other things that have occurred over the past five years but the economy didn’t take out a car loan or whip out the credit card every time the going gets tough.  It’s time to own up to what I owe and the habits that keep me in debt.

 I guess with that said it’s time to lay out what I owe for the world to see *gulp*:

Student Loan: $38,339 @ 2.5%
Car Loan: $11,684 @ 3.9%
Credit Card 1: $10,577 @ 0% until January when my balance transfer reverts to 16.99%
Credit Card 2: $3,635 @ 15.4%
Parents: $600

Total: $64,835

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I have a confession to make…

I am hopelessly, shamefully, desperately in debt.  There, I said it.  There’s no taking it back and there’s no hiding from the fact anymore.  I've had this growing uneasy feeling for the last several years about the mountain of debt I’ve buried myself under.  What started as a small, nagging concern that was easily pacified (mostly through retail therapy) or ignored altogether has manifested into continuous guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression as well as the physical ailments that go hand in hand with stress and tension.  I am struggling to pay my bills, ashamed when my friends and family members find out any of the facts about my personal finances, and guilt stricken over every dollar I spend on something “non-essential”. 

Something has got to give and I can guarantee that it won’t be my creditors.  So that leaves it up to me to figure out how I got here and how I can get back out.  That’s where this blog comes in.  My hopes are that through this forum I can keep myself honest and accountable as well as document what will hopefully be a journey to becoming debt free.  Let the road to recovery begin…