Vanquishing My Debt

I'm 29 and trying to get a handle on my finances so that, one day, I can buy a home of my own. I've been reading personal finance blogs recently and decided to start one chronicling my own struggles and success (hopefully). I am lucky, considering the amounts of debt and tales of tragedy I've read about... but I am making some positive changes and moving in the right direction.

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where to find free financial planning

I just found this short article on about how and where to find free financial planning - definitely give it a look if this is something you're interested in. Personally, I'm filing it away to use later.

There's also another article that's useful, Free financial planning with no strings attached, also on

I'm sure you can find more information if you do a web search, but this is a good beginning step for most of us.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Has Anyone Ever Been to See a Career Counselor?

I was watching a rerun of "Big Spender" on Saturday afternoon, in which the host sent a young woman (about $50,000 in debt at the age of 23!) to see a career counselor. The young woman was a college graduate (which was about half of the debt) and was working a job that paid slightly over minimum wage. The career counselor apparently advised her in such issues as changing jobs and utilizing her degree to her advantage.

I had heard of career counselors before this, but I didn't really know what they did. R and I are both in agreement that I should look into finding one for myself, since I seem to be at a crossroads right now - I am very good at what I do, which is a very small field, and I'm finding that I don't have a lot of transferrable skills... so I'm at a loss of what to do with myself. There is always the option of going into business for myself (doing what I do now from home), but that's a risk that I don't know if I should be taking right now.

I did some webbing this morning and found an informative site about how to research and choose a career counselor, but I'm still curious since I don't know anyone who's actually visited a counselor like this.

Has anyone done this before? What did you expect versus what the experience was like? And did it help you on your path?

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Sent my tax refund straight to my credit card

R and I are snowballing like mad to pay off several credit cards we have - and it's finally starting to feel like it's working! I feel like Rocky when he ran up those steps and raised his arms in victory!

Last month we paid off the smallest balance card, which was about $1,200 from my dental work as well as an expensive visit from a professional plumber to conceal the fact that we have a cat in our apartment when we're not supposed to. Our next smallest balance card is about $2,500 - and I just sent an electronic payment of $1,500 which I got in the form of a tax refund. So we owe about $1,000 on this card, which we'll be paying off by the end of the month. Woohoo! After this we have another credit card with a balance of about $4,400 as well as a chiropractor bill to deal with (more about that later). Then we'll conquer paying off the car and R's student loans.

I am so grateful that R is supportive of all this, even though he is not very good with money on his own. But we're both learning, and it's even more exciting because it's something we're doing together.

How sickeningly sweet was that? :-P

Friday, March 02, 2007

"Be a bargain-shopping champ" article

I was thrilled to read an article on MSN that summed up a lot of the tricks that I've used ever since I found - read ads carefully to look for discounts and money back offers, take advantage of rebates, combine coupons and sales, and look for gifts year-round, especially seasonal items marked down after the holiday is over.

Reading deal websites like and make a lot of these actions much easier, let me tell you! You find out about deals you didn't know about as well as reading other people's tips and strategies. Definitely give it a try if you're interested in saving money.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What I want for for Valentine's Day... our emergency fund back in place. It now has the whopping amount of $0 in it, which is what I've been used to for most of my adult life - but I had gotten very comfortable and satisfied that we had that money just in case. Not having it anymore feels like a giant step backwards.

We took $1,000 from our profits at the convention back in November and named that as our emergency fund, which neither one of us has ever had before. We congratulated ourselves on our entrance into the world of financial planning and fiscal responsibility. Last month, R decided to take out an advertisement in a comic book that was closely related to his business. But of course, the problem of living paycheck to paycheck arose and he wouldn't be getting another paycheck before the advertisement fee was due... so we decided to debit our emergency fund for the amount of about $400 for the advertisement.

Okay, so it now had about $600 in it. Not a problem. Not as much as I'd like, but still a decent cushion for us. And hey, anything is better than nothing.

I asked him about it the other day when I noticed that he had been receiving a lot of mail from the bank where his checking account is. He reluctantly told me that he had forgotten to deposit enough money to cover the automatic payments for the business (like website hosting, etc.) and that the account was in the red. I mentioned that it couldn't be because we still had the remainder of the emergency fund in that account. Well, the emergency fund has been dribbled away... on some business things and some personal things, under the idea that he'd replenish it when he could. So it stands at $0, after he deposited enough money to get the account back into the black.

I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me when he told me about this. I've worked hard at organizing and paying back our debts, coming up with a payment plan, and taking on some freelance work for extra money (which I'll blog about in another post). We've both been on the same page and have been excited to track our progress. So it feels like we're back at square one, even though I know that's not the case. I tried to think of an accurate word for how I'm feeling and the best I can come up with is "deflated."

Recreating the emergency fund will take money away from our debt repayment plan and slow us down. This isn't the end of the world, but it's very disheartening.

I love R dearly and I knew his terrible history with money management when we got together, so I am getting over this as quickly as I can. I trust him completely... however, the new emergency fund will certainly not be in his checking account. Is that still trust?

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I rented the film "Millions" this weekend

I love this movie and couldn't recommend it more to families who want to start some discussions about money with their kids! Hey, I'm 29 and I thought it rocked, but I can see the potential for lots of family talking points inspired by this film.

In a nutshell, a young European boy finds a bag of money that seemingly fell from the sky. He and his brother count it, revealing an astronomical amount of cash. They decide to keep it and not tell their father. The youngest brother wants to donate it to the poor, while the oldest brother wants to invest in real estate (difficult to do when you're still in grade school) and buy expensive toys. Drama ensues when they find out that it's actually money that was stolen while en route to be incinerated since the country will be switching to Euros in a matter of days. Should they tell their dad? Should they keep it or return it to the government, who will burn it? Can stolen money be redeemed if it's donated to a charitable cause? What happens when one of the thieves who stole it realizes who has the money?

Several subplots also stress the idea of telling your parents when you're in trouble, which is always a good lesson to hammer home, and the importance of donating something, even if it's just a little, to charity.

I thought this was a fabulous film... thought-provoking and interesting for adults, but especially so for children. Plus it's made by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting fame), so it's visually interesting and attention-grabbing. I couldn't suggest renting this movie enough.

Who knew? Thought-provoking money issues in a family film. :)

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Being broke = simple taxes

I almost have to laugh when I read other blog posts about the minutae of doing taxes. For me, it's very simple since I don't have kids, a husband, property, retirement funds (yet) or anything else that makes taxes complicated. It took me about a half hour this year to do my federal and state taxes sitting on my couch with my high school calculator... very basic by-the-book calculations. No itemizing, no providing paperwork, no frantic calls to my financial planner to double check facts and figures. No tearing apart the filing cabinet to find statements.

I think this is a very overlooked benefit of being asset-less. Why save and make investments when it means more headaches at tax time? Plus, I'm actually saving money because I can do my taxes myself, instead of hiring an accountant. So I'm really saving time, money and stress by staying broke. :)

Boy, do I wish I had some of those tax time headaches. This time next year I'll be all stocked up on Excederin and ready to go... I plan on having some assets.

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