Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lookback: 11/8/2012 - Getting Back In Control With A Regular Update

I found this post recently and I thought it was quite interesting to look back and see how reasonable and accurate it was since about 2 years have passed since it was written. So, I leave the full post here for you to read and my ideas/comments are at the end.

To say that this month has been difficult with the spending would be a huge understatement. Just this past weekend I went overboard on the spending with clothes and christmas shopping. What's more, the car needed new brakes this weekend--420 dollars! Yikes! Yes, Christmas shopping. I know that it is early, but I still intend to be prepared and get it out of the way. That said, there are huge cutbacks this year. I'm hoping this update with help me get some perspective.

First off, in our own families, we are keeping the gifts much smaller. Even though I normally give bonds to my nephews and neices I have decided to not do that this year. The bonds are normally quite small and we need to make sure we're being more careful with our money in this economy. No one knows what the future holds.

While the stock market has bounced back, it certainly seems like we cannot feel certain about anything. Volitility seems to be quite high over the past few years, so who knows what will happen in the future. And as for personal finances, I continue to be conservative to a point. I continue to maintain a large sum parked in non-interest bearing accounts just for safe keeping. Besides this, some money is in a relatively safe mutual fund geared toward income.

A recent check of my budget showed that I was dramatically out of whack with what my expenses and my income was and that makes me really strongly want to rethink some of the purchasing that I was planning on doing in the near future. When the home was first purchased, I was told that you should expect to put in about two percent of your home's value each year as upkeep in addition to the costs of your mortgage, insurance, taxes and fees. Even with the home prices having declined as they did recently, this seems pretty steep. I don't know. I certainly wish that I had the money to both continue to improve the house and also aggressively pay off debt.

While debt is continuing to be paid off, it has been difficult to get excited about the progress. And opportunities to make a little extra money like I did a few years back seem to be fewer and fewer so that I don't feel as confident about my ability to pickup a few hundred extra dollars to pay down a bill. But then again, it seems like this is the case with everyone.

All of those things said, I am doing the following to get back in control:

1. Bring lunch from home.
2. Attempt to eat out of the office no more than once a day.
3. Track the paydowns of loans aggressively to stay motivated.
4. Continue to stay active/positive at work and life because the implications are far-reaching.

So, I think it is interesting to note that I am actually quite lucky and the things have been going quite well. For #1, I frequently bring breakfast and lunch from home. Probably about 2 days per week for breakfast and 1 day per week for lunch on average.

For #2, see one.

For #3, all items have been paid off except the mortgage which was recently refinanced! Woohoo!

For #4, I've recently been working on a new way of approaching life and it has really been working for me for the past 6-7 weeks so I am really looking to keep it up.

What about you? How have you done on your goals? Do you make good progress? One of the classic tips to achieving goals is to write them down, and honestly, until very recently, I had forgotten that I wrote this. So, that is pretty good advice--it seems to have worked for me!

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