Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's Been a Year Already?

Apparently it has! I blogged my very first post exactly 365 days ago.

I was hoping that I could report a great debt reduction over that time, or some significant increase in pay, or, at least, some noble thoughts on the subject of retirement.

It is not to be.

Mostly, this year has been a learning experience about the ups and downs of real life impacting my financial life. While that situation has been brewing for years, this is the first time I've actually paid attention. My conclusion is that there is something to be said for the maxim "Ignorance is Bliss." Knowing the exact state of my finances has not made for a happier Grace.

Apparently that is true of some bloggers as well. Everyone blogs and gives advice when things are moving in the right financial direction. It is harder to keep posting when we're making mistakes or life has hit us with financial challenges our $1000 baby-step one emergency fund doesn't begin to cover. I miss the King and Queen of Debt whose blog, We're In Debt seems to have gone south. Some of my other favorites, listed in my blogroll, have not posted in months, which I interpret (perhaps incorrectly) as meaning that they are not on target with their financial goals.

Right now, I'm in the middle of a number of financial mistakes. My emergency fund was depleted in April, and now has less than $100 in it. I increased my debt by borrowing on my HELOCC in May. I am locked in for a vacation to Japan in October that I desperately want to take but isn't the brightest financial move. I am convinced that things will get better for me in the next few months, but the waiting is killing me.

Still, there are bright spots.

When I started this blog, I committed to making regular contributions to my 401K, and I have not wavered during the past year. I started out putting in $1000 a month. In January, though I did not receive a pay raise, I increased my contribution to $1025 a month. In spite of the stomach-churning stock market, I am sticking with the plan.

I have also reduced my dependence on credit cards. I got hit with a number of high-cost needs during the past year, including repairs to my rental house, college tuition for my granddaughter (I should have budgeted for that one since I knew it was coming), and my daughter's graduation (ditto). These expenses would have happened whether I was trying to reduce my debts or not. But by being more attentive to my everyday expenses (meals eaten out, gas, utilities, etc.), I am positive the damage to my budget was less than it would have been in past years when, if I wanted anything, I just pulled out the nearest VISA card.

I am reading and thinking more about retirement, and exploring things like long-term care insurance, housing needs and costs, and inheritances for my children.

I feel like this past year has been preparation for the actual work of reducing debt and saving for retirment. I finally have a handle on where I am. Now I need to move forward.

12 comments:

Mrs. Micah said...

That is really impressive, Grace! Especially upping your 401(k) contributions w/o a raise. Congrats on your 1 year blogaversary. :)

Living Almost Large said...

Congrats on 1 year!

Cinzea said...

It takes 3 to 5 years to get out of debt completely and fully change your life around. It is NOT an easy thing to do. This is the part that people don't seem to understand, thus the drop out rate.
Think about how long you have been using credit cards and loans? Do we really think that we can erase a lifetime of habits easily?

Grace, you are doing a superb job. Life will always throw us curves. Keep doing what you are doing. Things will get better and better.

Sharon said...

Grace!
Congrats on a year of blogging! I love reading blogs that are "real", the ups and the downs. It makes me feel better that there is someone who understands what I'm going through. Any progress you have made is a step in the right direction....As long as the steps forward beat the steps backwards, you'll be fine! I'm sad when people stop blogging too...you get "attached" in a way. I hope you stay for a while!!! I'll be here to support you!!

louise said...

Grace congratulations on a year of blogging! I know what you mean about continuing to blog when things go wrong and times get tough, it's easy to stop writing.

I think the trip to Japan is a great idea, it's a wonderful opportunity! and the 401 contributions have gone really well. Here's to another year of good blogging!

Bouncing Back said...

Congratulations on your one year anniversary!. I think you have made great progress.

I second what cinzea said. It takes time to get out of debt completley and to fully change your life around. Lets face it, how could you have budgeted for your daughter and her family moving in with you?

I really enjoy reading your blog and the fact you share the good and the bad parts of your life. You are real and you are honest.

And yes, I agree with you, some folks whose blogs I really enjoyed reading seemed to have dissapeared from the blogsphere for what ever reason.

Keep up the good work and keep writing.

Grace. said...

Thanks for the support, Ladies. I do appreciate it.

Bob McD said...

Add one GUY who appreciates your honesty about the ups and downs, and who is rooting for you.

By the way, I did a little searching and found that at least according to http://brokeasaspoke.com/?p=172, "We're in Debt" actually went NORTH, by which I mean that they closed up shop because they accomplished their goal.

I hope you find that encouraging.

Bob McD

Grace. said...

Thanks for the info, Bob. But the King and Queen of debt kept posting beyond June of 2007. And then, they just disappeared. I think if folks get tired of blogging, for whatever reason, they owe it to their readers to at least explain. I hope I remember that if I give this blog up.

Fabulously Broke said...

That is definitely impressive that you made such progress in such a short amount of time.

Cinzea is right - 3 years seems 'short' to people, but not when you're slogging away and actually doing it, day after day, for 3 years.

Mr. Pedantic said...

Methinks it would have been 366 days, being a leap year, not 365.

Anyway, congrats on sticking with it. And best wishes on meeting your financial goals.

Grace. said...

Hmm--math and calendars are obviously not my strong suit! And it IS a leap year, so, right, 366 days!