snowed in.

21 01 2010

as evidenced by the 2 feet of snow currently carpeting the streets of portland, january is usually a pretty tough month here in maine. january is also traditionally a tough month for me. stupid clean slate/new year expectations!! it’s so easy for me to make that list, to fantasize out loud about how at this time next year i’m going to be somebody way better than i am right now…  but it’s so hard to get it started. and if by the end of january i haven’t quite gotten things moving, i have a hard time not giving up completely and writing my goals off for yet another year… no wonder i’ve had $16,000 worth of unchanging revolving debt for the last 5 years.

the punch line here is that my credit score is in the high 700s. i pay my bills! on time! i have a decent job, and had i been more disciplined, my debt probably could have been long gone right now.  but the high hopes and the bad habits are always at battle, and right now, the bad habits are winning.

why such a bummer today? well, yesterday i decided to take a look at my debt tickers and make sure they were all sufficiently updated. here is what i learned:

in the 3 months since i tallied and posted my total debt, i have only paid off $1,395.57.

actually, one of my two credit cards went up in balance by $190.

oh, and despite throwing over $1000 at my other (highest balance & highest interest rate) credit card, my total went down by a mere $369.87.

depressing. depressing. depressing. what went wrong?

1. well, thanks in good part to xmas and the burlesque, i spent more money than i had. i was stressed out and wasn’t careful about my spending. i ate out instead of cooking, and bought stuff to masque my stress.

2. research shows that people who write down their food intake lose more weight. it stands to reason that i gained more debt when i stopped balancing my checkbook.

3. i’ve only been paying the minimums on my credit cards, and according to my favorite financial calculator at free-financial-advice.net, at the rate i’m going, it will take over 4 years for me to pay off my high-interest (20%) card (you know, the one with the $10,000 balance). i could SHAVE OFF A WHOLE YEAR OF PAYMENTS if i gave them $100 more per month.

but anyway,  as much as i’m good at ruminating about what’s wrong, i’m less good at formulating plans of action, and even less good at implementing them. regardless,  i think that the goal is still to never stop trying. so here’s my plan:

1. call up credit card companies and beg them to lower my interest rates. i haven’t asked in a while, this could be my year!

2. make an effort to pay at least $50 more per month on my higher interest card. $100 would be better.

3. balance that checkbook!

i’m sure there are many more things that i could do (any brilliant suggestions out there?), but a small start could be just do-able enough to keep me motivated until the snow melts.

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3 responses

22 01 2010
Stephanie Green

Have you thought about a home equity line? Check and see what equity you might have in your homeand if you borrow against it, would be enough to pay off all your debt? You would still have all the debt but sometimes one payment is easier than 6 or 7. THEN don’t put more credit on your cards-freeze them in ice or put them away so if you had to have them you could but they are handy when going out for the night. Just an idea to think about.

23 01 2010
bessmarvin

it’s funny you say that! my cards are actually currently in a block of ice in my freezer right now- and have been for a few years. unfortunately, i was having a little crisis this winter, and i did thaw one of them out. but they’re both back in for good now! i have strongly considered a home equity line, but it’s tough. we just bought our house last year, and we don’t have much equity yet! i also have a lot of guilt about asking to borrow against a shared home for purposes of paying my debt (my boyfriend is annoyingly debt free). even if it would make it easier and get me a lower interest rate. although for the record, i do only have 2 cards. (well, 3 if you count the gap card i have with a zero balance). i know, kind of messed up. but thank you for the wise and practical advice!

22 01 2010
Stephanie Green

aren’t handy when going out!

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