Motivation

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Almost three years ago, to the day, I wrote a post with the same title as today’s post.

I stumbled across the old post by chance while trying to dig up that old chart for yesterday’s entry.

Anyway, since then, I’ve gotten out of debt and then right back into it again…but let’s ignore the second part of that statement for now.

So as I neared the end of my original debt paydown, I listed out a number of things that I wanted to do once the debt payments were no more.

This is that list:

  • Quit my extra job.
  • Start a family.
  • Take a real vacation.
  • Have the entire first floor of my house remodeled. We’re talking the works. New floors, walls, ceilings, electrical work, plumbing…
  • Buy an all new living room set with a sectional couch so we can both sleep comfortably when football is on.
  • Have some trees removed and then have other areas landscaped professionally.
  • Tear down and build a new garage.

Reading it brought a smile to my face.

I quit my extra job — a few weeks before I even wrote the list. After 18 months off, I’ve since taken it back on but with a lot less on my shoulders so it’s no longer as maddening as it once was. It *is* however like being in the dentist’s chair when it comes to being paid in a timely fashion. Yep — they’re over 90 days behind. Again.

I started a family. Duncan was born in May of 2009 and we’ve got another on the way at the end of March.

Take a real vacation? Well… We did take one hell of road trip in the summer of 2008 but I’m not sure I can classify it as a “real” vacation. By “real”, we’re talkin’ about a Wheel of Fortune prize type of vacation. We’ve yet to take one of those.

We had the first floor of the house remodeled in 2010. I still need to have the kitchen done (and the associated plumbing) but everything else was done.

And at the conclusion of the renovation project, I bought a huge sectional couch for our living room back in October!

We had trees removed in July of 2009. And while we haven’t had any professional landscaping done, I’ve had professional landscapers rake my leaves for me since April of 2008.

And we still haven’t gotten to that last “wish” but I think I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to do when I got out of debt — and getting out of debt was the only reason that I was able to accomplish as much of it as I did.

Now to start putting together a new list, you know, as something to look forward to.

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From a pseudo defensive stance, over the past week, I’ve kinda felt the need to, I dunno, further respond to EnoughWealth’s comment regarding my ridonkulous spending last month — specifically the television purchase when, from their point of view, I should have just saved up for it.

In theory, they’re right.

Obviously that’s the case.

In reality, we’d been without a living room for 6 months during the renovation. Now, the room was complete and it was time to furnish it.

In the past, I’m sure you’ve all pieced together decorations for a room one-by-one but I think everyone can admit that taking that route, regardless of your personal taste, well, it usually ends up looking disjointed and cluttered.

Here we were with a brand new living space, completely empty, with an opportunity to do it right.

All at once.

And we did.

Could we have waited? Not really.

Have you ever gone 6+ months without sitting down on a couch to watch a little television after dinner?

We just did.

And we’d had enough.

But this isn’t really about a television or a couch or even a renovation — it’s about the money.

Did we take on some debt during this extreme makeover and subsequent redecorating?

Yep, we sure did.

But we can pay for it too…

Right now the total damage is around $24k worth of debt which we financed using credit cards — $17k of which is at a 0% interest rate.

My repayment/savings plan is currenty set to $570 per week -or- an average of $2470 per month.

It’s all on auto-pilot too utilizing weekly auto-transfers from my checking account. I’m not in a position to easily “skip” a payment here or there…

Further, the plan is actually conservative.

I could do more.

I probably will do more.

I guess my defense is that I know what I’m doing.

I’ve been in deeper debt before and I got out of it.

Best of all — my expenses are far lower than the last time I had to do this *and* the things that got me into debt were totally worth it.

Big difference.

I’ll be debt free again by mid-2011.

Mark my words.

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See it over there?

That little chart right above the coffee cup all but begging you to subscribe to my feed?

Well, the last time I used a progress chart was back in 2008 — the year that I plowed through just about every single goal I’d set for myself.

Then, in 2009, having accomplished so much, I got a little fluffy and failed to accomplish much of anything.

I didn’t use a chart in 2009 and I think it might have been partially to blame for my lack of progress too…

So it’s back.

And hopefully it’ll work.

I’ve got a looooonnnnggggg way to go — roughly $26,266 — to accomplish my goals for 2010.

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You lost me at $21kWhen I first came across a personal finance blog, which happened to be Jonathan’s My Money Blog, just over two years ago, my most anticipated post was the one that comes at the beginning of each month — the net worth update.

At the time, I was in 20-something thousand dollars in credit card debt and seeing updates like his — how his finances were on the up-and-up each and every month — really inspired me not only to start Pants in a Can but to get my own finances in order and start really keeping track of not only of my finances but my progress too…

I also felt that I could relate to his situation (and many others too) as it seemed that we were all in the same boat. A decent income, a nice retirement plan already in place, and some HUGE debts.

It got to the point where I started to think, hey, if so-and-so can knock down $XXX off of their credit card balances each month, why can’t I?

Just weeks later, I was doing the exact same thing — following their lead — and it took less than two years to wipe all of my debts off of the table. It was an awesome exercise.

Another blogger’s net worth that I’ve followed pretty closely for the past couple of years is Flexo’s over at Consumerism Commentary.

He’s been doing the net worth updates since 2003 and really started from scratch with a net worth bouncing around the $20k mark for the first few months.

That has to be pretty relatable for those just starting out.

His whole journey of building wealth from that $20k mark has been really amazing — each month he just kept plugging away.

It’s also been quite motivational, giving me the feeling that, hey, I can do that too…

Until recently…

You lost me at $21k…

See, Flexo’s last two monthly updates have listed “other income” of over $21k for each month. That’s in addition to his salary.

Yes, in February and March, he brought in over $42k of “extra” cash.

Our net worths aren’t that far apart but I’m not even close to having made even half of that this entire year — including my salary.

I can’t relate.

Now I’m not knocking Flexo’s site or even his success — it’s downright amazing and I’d like to shake his hand — I’m just saying that I can’t “personally” relate to his situation anymore and I’d bet that that’s the case for a lot of readers out there.

I mean, I’ve had a few great months here and there where I’ve brought in over $10k in the span of a month but… $21k consecutively? In a down economy? (I can’t believe I just said that…)

He’s doing something right, that’s for sure.

It just doesn’t feel like it falls under “Personal” anymore. More like, “Small Business” or something…

I dunno, maybe it’s just me.

Bill ClintonIt’s almost comical now that I stated that my 401k was tanking back on March 11, 2008.

That was almost exactly a year ago. I’m not sure that I imagined that it would tank this badly or for this long.

Or maybe I did.

The line I keep hearing on the news is how the markets “haven’t been at this level since Bill Clinton was in the White House.”

It’s almost as if they expect that little tidbit of info to stir up some dismal feelings or, at the very least, get some sort of reaction, but for me, well, first, the Bill Clinton presidency doesn’t seem that long ago (so it’s hardly a “wow, that was a long time ago” tingle that I’m feeling) and my memories of the mid-to-late 1990’s, financially speaking, are actually quite bright.

Things were good.

I was making a lot of money, I was living way beyond my means, and I didn’t have to worry about the “Axis of Evil” plotting against me just around every corner.

I think that most folks can say the exact same thing.

I dunno, from where I’m sitting, the media are going about this all wrong — you know, if they’re trying to sensationalize a non-story. Like they always do.

If my memory is correct, I’m pretty certain that the NASDAQ was just starting to ramp up with all of the dot.com start-ups in 1996. Politics aside, things were on the up-and-up…

I mean, if we’re really back “there” again, as they seem to be indicating that we are — if even just as a “number”, I’m really looking forward to the next few years.

The late 1990’s were very kind to me.

And I expect the next few years to follow suit — regardless of whether we’re “there” again or not.

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My brain hurts.A simple yes or no answer will suffice.

Over at the Happy Rock, Debt Destroyer lists out his monthly expenses and every month I think to myself, “Man, that guy spends a lot…”

I’ve even left a comment a few times saying almost exactly that.

But does he really spend a lot?

Obviously, his numbers always seem high to me so I’m pretty convinced that he spends a fortune each and every month but, honestly, I’ve never really kept great track of my own spending — just my plus/minus.

In short, I’m going to give it a try.

I think I had a pretty expensive February, so these numbers might be a little bit higher than usual, but maybe not…

  • $1350.00 : Mortgage
  • $897.20 : Auto Insurance
  • $498.00 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $327.08 : Natural Gas
  • $320.00 : American Cancer Society
  • $154.72 : Electricity
  • $123.62 : Business Expenses
  • $109.26 : Cable/Internet
  • $98.67 : Water/Sewer
  • $62.00 : Clothing
  • $60.00 : Valentine’s Day
  • $59.40 : Phone
  • $38.87 : Gas
  • $20.15 : E-Filing
  • $14.97 : Finance Charges (GRRRR!!!)

That adds up to $4133.94!

Holy crap.

DD’s tally for January was $4205.68 — just a tad more than me!!!

I’m actually quite surprised that I’m right there with him… and to think people gave him a hard time, myself included, over a $180 Pearl Jam box set and here I am dropping nearly $500 on hockey jerseys.

(In reality, I dropped over $800 on hockey jerseys as the American Cancer Society donation was in fact a charitable donation for, well, a jersey…)

It’s complete madness.

The only good thing I can take from this analysis is that, as I said, this was an expensive month for me.

It’s not like I drop $897.20 on auto insurance each month. And the $818 spent on hockey jerseys, as lame an excuse as it sounds, was a much needed splurge.

Subtract those two from the picture and my expenses for the month were only $2418.74.

I say that like it’s nothing… Crazy, I tell ya…

And, technically, I could even take it a few steps further and take out the water bill (it’s quarterly), Valentine’s Day, the e-filing fee, and the finance charges.

And really, with the weather warming up, the gas and electricity bills be be cut in half (or more) in a couple of months.

So I guess it’s all good news for the months ahead.

Either way, though, my short term goal for March will be to keep my expenses under $2500…

According to Microsoft Money, I haven’t accomplished this since April of 2001 — not even close. That blows my mind.

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My Break is OverRemember that list I put together when I decided to stop my automatic savings plan?

I claimed that I was “taking a break” from saving.

Yeah, it was less than a week ago.

In short, I stopped my weekly transfer into savings because my checking account was feeling drained.

That, and I also wanted to:

  1. Pay my latest auto insurance premium in full.
  2. Erase the remaining credit card balance from the baby furniture purchase back in January.
  3. Be financially irresponsible and feed my addiction one last time before the smurfling is born.
  4. Pad my checking account balance to $5000.

So here I am, less than a week later and I’ve already accomplished the first three items.

Insurance is paid, credit card balance is zero, and there are 5 new jerseys in my collection.

The crazy part is that my checking account balance doesn’t look too bad even after all of that! (This is due in part to my State Tax Refund coming in this week.)

So maybe I won’t be off the saving wagon for as long as I’d originally thought?

I think that all I really needed to do was break from the monotonous routine for a few days…

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Custom House NumbersBack even before we had the house sided, I was contemplating having custom house numbers fabricated.

The diminutive selection offered at Home Depot or Lowe’s just wasn’t cutting it and I wanted something that looked nice. Unique. Classy.

At the time, I blamed my hesitation on wanting to wait and see what the house looked like once the siding was up before making a final decision.

That was nearly 2 years ago now.

Hesitation has become procrastination.

Our house still doesn’t have a number on it.

I’m pretty sure that we’re breaking some sort of local law there but because the mail has continued to be delivered, well, I haven’t felt any sense of urgency to get the issue resolved.

Until now — though I’m sure this feeling will soon pass…

Can You Dig It?

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