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Financial makeovers in 2009 - who's on board?


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Is anyone else excited about the start of a new year and the opportunity to change ways and make large or even small steps toward a better financial situation?

I already mentioned my newfound deep understanding of and appreciation for financial stability, and that includes the access to credit in my case, when I was able to get in to the dentist for an emergency root canal. I keep almost no cash on hand (checking, savings) and my credit availability was getting slim but I squeaked in. Despite heavy debt I don't even want to detail here (maybe at the end of the year I will) I do have some investments - too modest to want to detail here, either, at this point - and my mention of being possibly unable to pay for dental care without access to credit wasn't completely accurate. I could have liquidated investments but I didn't want to do that because it wasn't a good day to sell investments and I don't want to sell them at all, anyway. They are what could help rebuild my future. They're the goose that should, in time, lay the golden egg, so I don't want to go ransacking the stock account, no matter what else is going on, financially.

My rambling point is that so far in the few days of this year, my poor, battered investments have made great strides toward recovering, and that's a great feeling. Even if it does not continue, I can live with it now, because we did put ourselves out on a limb with margin loan and as of today have essentially brought those loans down to nominal amounts that could be paid off on very short notice (thus "securing" my accounts from possible disaster at the whims of the market). And the husband and I have taken on a new attitude of "snowflaking" (I read somewhere that the classic snowballing approach to paying off debt can be broken down further into snowflaking, because snowflakes are what make up a snowball, right?)

We just started "finding" money every day (I know it will be hard to keep this up) and using it to make payments or even pay off small debts. Each of us got the $25 checks we requested (by cashing in points) from our Hooters cards and there those went immediately to paying bills. A rebate check from insurance for $18 and an unexpected refund for $15 and the sale of some knick knack or other on Ebay and there's another $15 - you get the picture. It adds up, and all of this makes payment. Several combined pay off a small balance so the card can be sock-drawered.

He even sold some pretty expensive music equipment yesterday and that sort of hurt but the trade-off of being free of bills is worth it to him. He can always buy an amp that does not weight 110 lbs. (!) later. I bought it for him without really thinking of the cost, wanting to make him happy, but he finally admitted it was too heavy, even if it was his dream amp, and even though we only got 2/3 the money out of it (that's what happens in the resale market) there's a bill or two we can knock out. So instead of looking back at what we paid and what we "should" have gotten out of it, we look at right now and what we can do to better ourselves at this exact moment in time.

We could cry and feel sorry for ourselves about how the market has crushed us and we piled up debt simultaneously, but we're going on a financial "diet" instead, to scrape everything together that we can, cut out all unnecessary spending (I was shocked to find how fast it added up when I stopped buying things for $12.99 here and there that we don't actually, truly "need." I think both of us have had a nickel-and-dime shopping addiction that fools you into thinking you're not really spending too much - but we've suspended all that) and we feel like we're on our way to climbing out and finding ourselves in a better spot this time next year. At least I'm trying to keep up hope and keep a good attitude - not a "feel sorry for myself" helpless attitude, but rather an "I can do it, or at least I can try" attitude. I could use a little support group here.

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Your post is very encouraging to me, and I'm on the right road with you and your husband. It's great to hear about people FINALLY climbing out of the debt hole. Myself: I'm almost there, and by July, I will no longer be in credit card debt! I will only have my car and student loans.

This past weekend, I decided to make a few excel spreadsheets to seperate the purchasing of items on my credit cards. I set up the spreadsheets for CC's in which I only use for auto-charges each month (those are in the sock drawer). Then, I only have ONE CC (Hooters) which I only use for everyday purchases. I don't keep (at all) cash on hand, b/c I use my checking account as a little "payp-off-credit-cards" account. The money sets in there until I need to make any payments on my credit cards. It helps me out a lot, and I only use cash (withdraw) if I need to pay tips; everything else - Hooters.

After I pay off my last CC, I plan on putting that money towards to maxing out my Roth account for the rest of the year. I started working on Saturdays for 3 hours which will get me an extra $250; can't be that! Plus, the company pays for all my expenses as well...so that extra money will go towards paying this card off as well.

I'm exciting about the further of this year to start really investing, so yes, I'll become part of your support group b/c I will need it as well. I honestly want to watch my spending, and buy items I only need, or small reward purchasing from accomplishing a goal! 2009 is all mine! :)

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This is a great idea...I have been living without buying for awhile...and fear of losing my job, has tightened my financial goals....I need to pay every dime I can on my cards, not too many I can't handle, just a lot of little ones here and there..

I agree on putting each extra penny to good use...feel great to be debt free..

heres my question? Does this wallet full of cards make my butt look fat? :rolleyes:

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Thanks for the support, Esquire! And also to Whocares!

No, it only makes your purse look fat. :lol:

Speaking of fat, the hub is also pledging to finally lose the 30-40 lbs. he needs to. I know that should go in a separate section but it's like a total makeover to him. Financial and physical.

He needs to for health reasons. He has already lost lots but stalled out for years now. He may be able to get off meds he is on if he loses weight. Think he can do it? I think by spring/summer he may meet his goal. Give him some encouragement. I'm going to tell him to log on and check this thread.

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My rambling point is that so far in the few days of this year, my poor, battered investments have made great strides toward recovering, and that's a great feeling.
Yes, MOS has improved cosiderably! ;) Not sure if you'll get much more mileage out of it in the first half of '09 though. Oil is crumbling today after one of the most bearish weekly inventory #s I've seen in a while- and commodities usually correlate with oil. Besides, MOS stated that they're seeing at least one Q of negative cash flow before turning a profit again. Great company long term- just wouldn't be surprised if we see 30 before we see 50. In five years, it'll be 200 so who cares, right?

I am very happy to hear you dumped the margin. Man, that's a tricky game. Look at hedge funds going belly up around the globe. If the pros can't get it right, I don't know how any individual investor has even a prayer when a margin call is always one bad trade away.

Good luck in '09. I think you have a great plan. Cut expense to the bone and invest the delta between your income and your severely reduced expenses. Five years from now, you will be loving yourself for making what amounts to small and temporary sacrifices.

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