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2012 Goals

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Lacking all of the fanfare of the last time that I did this, I am proud to announce that I have paid off all of my credit card debt.



Today was a pay day and my latest paycheck allowed me to make a $450 payment to the fine folks at Chase Bank.

It worked out quite well too as today was my due date so the statement that will come out in a few days will be a totally clean slate.

So, let’s see, the first time around I paid off $28555 in credit card debt in 17 months.

This time, I paid down $28165 in 11 months.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, you can mark that financial goal for 2012 as completed.

Now to build up some savings…

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True, it’s not the right time of year to use a football reference but, of late, most of the news I’ve heard is about Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning — two football players.

So, with that, I’d like to announce that I’ve officially entered the red zone where I step up my debt repayment pace tenfold.

Simply put, I’ll be debt free (besides the mortgage) again in a matter of weeks.

Yes, weeks.

Total combined balance is now just under $2500.

Flashback to May of 2011, less than one year ago, and it was $28k.

I’m so thankful that I never get down on myself regarding my finances for very long even when things are clearly bleak.

Can you say $30k in high interest debt?

Ouch. That might be worthy of a stronger adjective than “bleak”.

Anyway, and I realize this is a couple thousand dollars premature, having endured it all over the past year and a half or so, I’m pretty comfortable in proclaiming that I’ve mastered yo-yo debt levels while keeping a level head.

Is there a merit badge for that?

I’m not saying that that’s a good thing but, really, having done it now twice in a relatively short time period (all within the time period that this blog covers), I’m super confident that I can pretty much dig myself out of anything.

Kitchen renovation… you’re officially on the radar screen.

Hopefully this time, though, I won’t dig myself so deep!

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Having done this a few times now, I’ve learned that it’s not so much about how large a balance you’re carrying but how able you are to make constant and consistent payments while keeping the credit cards in your wallet.

Here are the three puzzle pieces that determine success or failure: Payments Made, Interest Charged, and Purchases Made.

The total balance doesn’t matter one bit. $20 in the hole or $200k in the red, it doesn’t matter.

In hockey terms, it’s a lot like a player’s plus/minus rating.

For those that don’t follow ice hockey, the +/- is a statistic that doesn’t take into account how many goals a player has scored. If you’re on the ice when your team scores a goal, whether or not you’ve influenced the play at all, you get a plus one. If you happen to be on the ice when the opponent scores a goal, you get a minus one. Pretty simple, huh?

Well, sometimes the most valuable player on a team is the guy with the fewest points. Some players are just “good luck charms” for those around them and the +/- rating is what showcases an otherwise un-noticed talent.

Brad McCrimmon, who sadly died in that hockey team plane crash a few months ago, has always been the “stud” of this statistic.

He was a defenseman who never once scored more than 13 goals in an entire season. Thirteen goals isn’t very many.

Casual fans thought of him as a, well, just a generic and totally replaceable player. I know I was never “excited” to see him on the ice — really, just a boring player among the likes of an offensive lineman in football or the guy who bats eighth in baseball.

Simply put, no one was chanting his name.

But when you took into account the +/- statistic, well, he was second to none. It became crystal clear that his team scored often and the opponent pretty much never scored while he was on the ice.

So, even though he wasn’t on the score sheet very often, he was, in a technical sort of way, the best player on the team. By far.

Back to finances…

So, first and foremost, my payments for the month (goals for) must exceed the sum of my expenses and the finance charges (goals against).

It’s really that easy.

I don’t even need to address the total balance — as long as the above holds true, I’ll always be headed in the right direction.


I know, this isn’t rocket science but so many people somehow manage to lose track of how simple it all is…

So far, in January, I’ve charged $399.06 and I’ve submitted $1473.95 worth of payments. There have been no finance charges as of yet.

That means that my plus/minus rating is plus $1074.89.
And we’re less than halfway through the month…


(I know, I know, I’m 6 months late with the Charlie Sheen references…)

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I’ve been farting around without any “real” financial goals for two years now.

As a result, my finances have been, well, farting around. They’re okay, sure, but I’m not moving in any kind of direction. Just kinda treading water.

In 2007 and 2008, I was on a mission to eliminate my thousands upon thousands of dollars of car and credit card debt and I did it…quickly. Total success. Cheers all around.

In 2009, though, I got sloppy and set goals having to do with imaginary numbers from dream land. Save for “this” and “that” which don’t have pricetags attached to them. There wasn’t anything concrete.

It’s like the, “I’m saving for college” line you hear so often. I always want to follow-up and ask, “Any idea how much you need to save?” knowing full well that what they’re saving will barely put a dent in what they’ll actually need to spend.

Sorry, a few hundred dollars tossed into a 529 plan each year won’t add up to anything.

In 2010, I started to paydown all of my new found debt resulting from “this” and “that” which I didn’t save enough for in the previous year but I never really got serious about it.

Sure, the balances were falling all year long but it was a lot like a 529 plan — my payments weren’t getting me very far.

I could have done better. I should have done better.

I should be debt free again already…but I’m not.

I’ve been like a broken record player for two years now. It’s time to replace the needle.

(Where would one but a new needle in 2012?)

My goal for 2012 is simpleto be debt free and able to realisitically convince my wife that we *need* and can afford a third smurfling.

Here’s how I’m going to do it:

  • Weekly $300 Auto-Payments – I’ve been doing this for months now and it’s what’s always driven all of my debt paydown efforts in the past. This is nothing new.
  • End-of-Month Lump Sum Payments – This is what went by the wayside after I first cleared all of my debt. On the last business day of each month, I used to make as large a payment as I could afford so as to “pad” the numbers reported each month in my net worth updates.

The second bullet point is key to the success of the plan — I must-must-must start doing this again.

This site (the net worth updates) held me accountable to myself and even motivated me as I saw progress, real progress, each and every month.

Once I achieved my original goal of becoming debt free, well, that kinda stopped.

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As for the third smurfling side of things, having kids has certainly forced me to cut my out-of-wallet spur of the moment spending drastically.

Before we had kids I used to hear people talk about how much formula costs, and doctor visits, and clothing, and this-and-that relating to having kids.

I haven’t found those things to be terribly hampering — it’s the daycare costs that kill you financially.

Did you know that we pay four times our mortgage payment for daycare?

That’s the crippling part. And it’s also the part that has us on the fence about a third.

Can we afford it?

Right now, the answer is no.

But when you take out the $1300 I’m autopaying to the credit cards to get out of debt each month, the answer leans more towards yes.

Can we get a new kitchen too?

Well, I wish but that puts us back to no.

And while I’d really like a new kitchen to match the rest of the renovation, when I look at my two angry birds, I know without a doubt that they’re the best thing I’ve ever done and they’re the best thing I’ll ever have.

So much more rewarding than a new kitchen.

So I’m getting greedy — I want another.

I just have to get my finances in order pronto.

And then we’ll start “saving” for that kitchen without a “pricetag”.

Can You Dig It?


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