Friday, January 30, 2009

January- 2009 Round- Up

It’s been a busy month at work with new implementations going on. However, I cannot make that an excuse for not blogging regularly (Does someone care? LOL). So, I took look at my financial progress and realized things have been taking a slow turn. Until December I was able to knock off 2000 dollars off my CC balances that has been slowing down. I have my reasons (well we all do). I have registered for Employee Stock Purchase Plan at work and maxed out my contribution, so that’s taking 1000 dollars off my pay check every month. On top that, I have registered for MS-150 last October and I see some expenses coming my way. I have been researching online to find some good bargains for the stuff that I need. Keeping that aside, this is where I stand at the end of January

Credit Cards
Bank of America CC-1 = $7875
Bank of America CC-2 = $845
Balance as of January: = $8720

Auto Loan
Jan Beginning Balance: = $23420
Jan Ending Balance: = $22760

Emergency Savings: = $60
Long Term Savings: = $605
Parents Health Fund: = $40
House DP Fund: = $40

I would have to set aside around 150 dollars for MS-150. Still need to get the shoes, gloves, tubes and pump. phew. I am going on my first training ride with a group of people from my company tomorrow. Hopefully, I keep up the pace and am ready for my 150 mile ride on April 15th.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How to Pay it Down?

Last year has been great for me, most importantly because I realized the value of money. I never had my money organized; it’s ironic that I have my masters in Finance. I came across couple of PF bloggers that have really motivated me to gain control of finances. I started blogging in June-2008 with a debt of around $ 20,000, today I have $ 8000 remaining. I am proud of myself that I have come a long way. For anybody out there who is starting your “Pay it down” journey right now here are a few tips to get going.

Start with a plan: I know this is what many PF bloggers say and they say it for a reason- because it works. I did not plan anything fancy. I just used Excel on my computer. I listed all the debt I had, the target pay off date and how much I paid down as I progressed. I had it color coded to keep it interesting. I had red in the debt column and green in the ones I paid off. I was always curious to see how my excel page would like if everything was green, and I have only one column in “RED” left now. Having a plan gives you a purpose and acting with a purpose in mind will always yield results.

Start paying your debt by paying yourself first: I am a big fan of Ramit This was the tip from him. I opened ING Savings account and automated 50 dollars bi-weekly to it,when I decided to get control of my finances,even before paying my CC’s ,I slowly increased that amount 200 now. This way you will be saving money for unforeseen expenses instead of digging into your CC again.

Don’t Nickel n Dime: When I started paying off my debt, I was trying to save every cent which really did not make me feel good. I wrote a post about how I saved 10 dollars a month by making breakfast at home but I realized its just waste of time and resources. If having breakfast is something that you look forward to, go and get it from your cafeteria at work. It’s the big items that save you money not the small ones and that’s my next tip.

Save on big ticketed items: The reason I was able to pay off 12,000 in 6 months was because I kept myself away from making big purchases. I loved to shop so I kept myself away from the mall. I enrolled in 24hr fitness with a friend for 30 dollars month and started going to GYM after work. This way I got my workout and I had to go home to freshen up instead of going out elsewhere. I haven’t been to the mall for more than 4 months until last Dec-2008.

Keep yourself busy: You end up spending more money if you have too much free time. Pick up a book and start reading or learn something that will enhance your career. This way by the time your have paid off your debt you would have learnt something new that might lead to an increase in your income.

Follow the snowball method of paying down debt: Seeing results sooner will keep us motivated than having to wait for longer periods. I followed the snowball method to pay down mine. You simply have to arrange your debt from the lowest amount owed to the highest and keep paying if off in that order that way mentally it keeps you motivated to clear off the remaining debt. I followed this method, however, I called up my CC Company and transferred the high balances on to a zero interest card that way I won’t be accumulating too much interest when I am knocking off smaller balances.

I hope these tips will help you pay off your debt as they helped me. Let me know if you have any more tips. All the best and remember that;

" You cannot go back and have a new beginning but you can always start NOW and have a new ending."

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year Resolutions?

I have been thinking about coming up with a list of resolutions for this New Year- 2009 and to my surprise I couldn’t think of any and yes that raised an alarm. I think one should be able to think of something that they want to take up or give in at any point in their life, which is a true symbol of progress to me. So this morning when a colleague that sits across me asked me what my New Year’s resolution is/are, I replied saying “I haven’t thought about it and that I would really like to think about the resolution that I want to take up and stick to this year”. As I pondered through the day I came up with a lot of things but then I decided to cut it down 3 that encompass personal , social and professional aspects of life.

Personal - Just relax, be happy and take one day at a time. (Just take action)
Social - Become part of a voluntary organization:
Professional - Get Six Sigma certification by the end of the year

I think these resolutions are attainable with the right attitude; as a matter of fact anything can be achieved with the “right” attitude. Lets see how I do this year.
BTW, here is a video that I took while vacationing in Vegas. Its called the "Living Garden" and is performed at the Palazzo. ENJOY