Happy New Year, everyone!
I'm not sure I've ever looked forward to a new year with quite so much excitement and enthusiasm as I have 2009. I started this blog in August last year, and didn't really have any goals to set & meet as I stumbled and fumbled my way along through December, but now that I have a better idea of what I want & need to do, I've definitely got some to meet for this year.
First, though, I want to say a huge "Thank You" to you all for your support. It means so much knowing I'm in such great company as we meet - and in many cases, exceed - our challenges and goals, strive to take control of our spending and clutter and lives. It's been so motivating reading about how you all tackle debt reduction (and increase savings). There've been so many tips, hints, tricks, ideas, etc. and I've come away with a lot of determination to see the end of 50% of my debt load by the end of this year, if not more because it's not large compared to some of the scary numbers I've seen here. No doubt I probably could have done better last year with reducing some of that, but I didn't, so this year is it.
I've been working a lot the past while, and not posted for a few days, but I took all my "junk" with me to the hotel today to spend some time plotting and planning and thinking. In between check-outs and messing up several usually straightforward transactions (!), I managed to get a few things written out for 2009 plans.
1) Cash only for three months - I figure this is a great way to get into a routine and start actually THINKING about where my money goes and to make sure I keep more of it for myself. I'm not brave enough to try a whole year right off the bat like BecomingDebtFree, but I did want to challenge myself enough to make it relatively difficult. If the first three months goes well, then I can try it again...
2) Continue to track my spending - I've been doing well with this the past couple of months and find that it clears up a lot of questions if you started out with, say, $100 in your wallet on Monday and have 35 cents left on Wednesday!
3) No un-necessary spending - I'm using the Gail Planner "wish list" to make a note of what I want and what I need and will keep track of my success that way. As Gail says, if it's not on the list, it's not necessary!!
4) Pay off my Visa card and incur no new CC debt! - I was a bit surprised to discover the current interest rate on my credit card is only 1.9% (from 14.9%)! When did that happen? Regardless, while it's low I want to get rid of the balance. This should be easy to do, as I'm still awaiting the overtime cheque from the liquor store hours.
5) Keep saving and rolling my change. This will go into my gift fund.
6) No Spend Days. I am going to start small and go for two a week for the first three months. We'll see how it goes from there.
7) No buying books or DVD box sets! These are my biggest addiction by far (okay, and Tim Horton's) and I honestly spent a huge amount of money in the past several months on both of these items.
8) Donate $25 to a different charity each month. I am also considering fostering a child. I had two a number of years ago, but unfortunately just couldn't maintain my donation. I can now.
9) Pay off my student loan and my LOC - a total of $8140.
10) Move my RSP to somewhere it will actually make some interest!
1) Cancel the cable - this I'm going to do when I move in Feb. I've tried just watching less and it's not working. I need to go cold turkey.
2) Write more: letters, emails, bad romances. Whatever it is, I just want to sit down and do it.
3) Use the phone more to talk to people instead of email/MSN.
4) Stay on the Humane Society Board.
5) Walk dogs at the shelter. I love dogs, but can't have them where I live, so this can be my dog fix, while socializing and exercising myself and the dogs. I'm aiming to start just once a week right now.
6) Get much needed funding for the shelter through grants.
7) Use the car less. This will be easy now that I'm moving closer to town! I'll be walking mostly and riding my bike in summer.
8) Start tae-kwon-do in September. I've wanted to do this for years, but one thing or another has prevented me (mostly lack of funds and motivation). There's a community group up here that is extremely well-priced and meets 3x's a week.
9) Start a class. I'm going to call Yukon College next week once they open and find out what level English class I can get into. I'm also going to contact Athabasca U in Alberta and see if my test is valid there, as there's a Comparative Religion course that I'm interested in doing. Athabasca is way more expensive, however.
10) Eat mindfully. I do not really think about what I eat. I will start meal planning and shopping accordingly, cut down on my grocery bills and the amount of food I waste and actually c-o-o-k. Our lone organic food store seems to have morphed somehow into a vitamins and supplements store, so organic things will be bought elsewhere!
It's a bigger list than I thought it would be! :P
I spent time today on ING to halve the auto-save amounts I had set up. I was putting $600 a month into savings and while I think that's a pretty decent amount, I've cut it back to $300, so the other $300 can go towards my debt reduction. This also means that I have to cut back on the amount I contribute to my RSP for the moment, from 18% to 10%, but it's better than nothing and I have to remember it's only temporary. The point is that I'm reluctant to stop saving entirely in order to pay off my debt faster.
I also printed off a few pages about how to use vinegar as a cleaner (to go along with my ones on lemons and baking soda) and a chart for weekly menu planning and put them all into a binder so that I can get on track with that.
Anyhow, I'm so looking forward to following everyone's blogs again this year! I know there are going to be success stories all over the board :)