Paying Down (My Sanity)

Last week I wrote about how instead of driving myself crazy by only saving for my “shoulds,” I’m contributing to a fun savings fund for my wants as well.  I thought of that fun wanderlust fund when I saw this Sunday’s PostSecret, which including this exciting card:

(The front says,”I’ve booked and paid for a vacation 8 months from now that I won’t be able to take unless I quit my job.”)

I love it.

Moving on, today, I wanted to mention something else I do with my money simply for the psychological benefits. 

Once a month, I withdraw everything from my bank, in small bills so it looks like more and I do the whole throw it in the air, roll around in it thing.

Just kidding.  That would be weird, right?  Thought so.  Yeah, I definitely don’t do that.

What I meant to say is that I know it makes sense to pay off higher interest debt first.

HOWEVER…

My only debt currently is student loans.  Ugh.  I have two loans I’m repaying, both with relatively low interest rates, but the one with the higher interest rate is a larger balance, so for the sake of my sanity, I’m focusing my extra payments on the smaller loan with the smaller interest rate.

Even as I type it out, I realize it doesn’t make sense. 

There is much debate in the personal finance world over paying off smaller balances first v. paying off higher interest first (and which is truly the “snowball method”).  You’re more likely to stick with a plan when you see the progress, but in the long run, you’ll pay more if you go with the small balance theory.

For me, the psychological benefits outweigh the minimal difference in interest I’m paying on the larger debt.  I really want to cross that sucker off and, because I’m overpaying, I will be able to by the end of this year. 

Should I find myself with credit card debt again, I would definitely focus on getting that paid off because credit card companies are the devil and I refuse to give them any more of my money than necessary, but for now, my plan to pay down my sanity works for me.

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You’re Outta Here

Reverb 10, Day 11 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1.  Toxic exes.  

2.  Other relationships from the past that aren’t working for me

3.  Men who treat me like an option, not a priority

4.  A balance on my credit card

5.  Doubting internal dialogue

6.  Overeating

7.  Ripped up cuticles and dark circles under my eyes

8.  Regrets over things I didn’t do

9.  Time wasted on bad TV and too much internet

10.  Indecision and second guessing

11.  Fake meals

No one’s perfect and it’s very difficult to go 100%, which is why diets and new year’s resolutions typically fail.  It will be  a constant effort to remind myself of my priorities and this list will help me remember!  Purging these things and people will give me time and space to fill my life with things I DO want in it and allow room for positive forces and new experiences.

December Budget Update – Week 1ish

So far, I have spent $977.26.  Yep, almost half of my budget in a week-ish!  But it included a lot of my big expenses that come at the beginning of the month (plus my school loan payment that usually comes at the end, but I made early).

So far, I have really wanted to stop at Taco Bell and get froyo and buy candy at the checkout counter  (restricting my budget apparently brings out my inner fat kid).  But, I haven’t.  I don’t need or “deserve” these things.  I don’t even like Taco Bell.  I need, want and deserve to SAVE money (and prove to myself I can) and SPEND it on things that are actually important to me. 

I have been frugal with my gas usage because even though I drive a compact car, I’m always surprised at how often I fill up!  Walking to the grocery store also really helps you stick to a list!  I made my own black beans, buying a dry bag for less than the cost of one can, which makes a lot.  How much?  I don’t know.  A LOT.  In other news, I’ve been eating A LOT of black beans. 

I got the personal shopping bug out of my system, using a gift card (a Thanksgiving gift from my company, which my coworkers mocked, but I was thrilled about!) to scoop up some cozy lounge wear – and still have $11 left on it, yay H&M and Target!  Now I can focus on my Christmas shopping for others, which is where a good chunk of my budget is allocated. 

Other “free” items I plan on cashing in on this month:  taking my empty bag of Starbucks ground coffee in to the store for a free tall drip coffee ( it’s how I rationalize buying it over a less-expensive bag), a register-generated coupon for a free grande anything at SB (free coffee gets my panties in a twist in a good way, obviously), my monthly extra rental from BB and a free medium pizza from Papa John’s for donating blood.  I have been craving pizza!

Keeping Up With the Joneses

 I’ve always been a saver. My sister used to make fun of me (reaching for anything she could think of to me mean as sisters do) for having a large (for a 10-year-old) savings account and, at times, rubberband banks y’all.

Apparently saving money made you lame.

As an adult, this is still a catch-22. Yes, saving money means “lame” brown bag lunches, having to say no to happy hours and going to the movies, but in a world where saving is lame, does that mean credit card debt is cool?  Eek.

Blame it on elementary school, no one wants to be the adult equivalent of the kid who eats paste. 

Anyway, why bother with thinking about what personal choices are best for us when we can just let advertising companies, marketing execs and groupthink tell us?

In a society that talks so freely about things that would make your grandmother blush, we still won’t own up to our financial issues.  Yes, it’s crass to talk about money, that is a social taboo that has actually stuck, but everyone would benefit if they could at least be honest with themselves.  And if it were okay to speak up to your friends and tell them that you actually don’t think they’re fat and have bad personalities, but that you can’t hang out when hanging out mostly just means spending money.

I’m definitely getting better at that.  Practice makes perfect.