red_trillium: cartoon cat that says "I love cats but can't eat a whole one" (Default)
[personal profile] red_trillium
It's been awhile since I've checked into this comm and my life has taken a roller coaster ride since then.

Besides a couple deaths in 2011, I had a very very stressful year at work from about March to July/August. It isn't completely over (not that I ever expect to be stress-free at work) but it isn't at the level of impacting my mental and physical health like it was. This had led to a lot of impulse buying, often in the name of "pamper myself" in trying to find ways to de-stress. While I was supposed to be saving for a trip back to the US next year, I'd also slip and spend $ where I should have been saving it.

I got through that and started making in-roads to pay my cards down a bit in preparation of the trip, but knew I was no where near where I should have been. I figured we'd have to get a personal loan to pay for the majority of the trip and planned to use my bonus from work towards the trip.

In mid-November my wife got the shocking news that her area at work was being restructured & after 31 years, she was made redundant. They were only given a 2 week redeployment period so didn't have enough time to find another role in the company.

As hard as that has been on us both emotionally, it's allowed us to seriously look at our financial situation. We started looking at what bills we had, our household situation & finances & what she'd get paid out (the pay-out capped at 25 years).

We've paid our debts off. We traded our old car in for a slightly newer used one that won't need major repairs the old one was due for. We've set money aside for the trip next year. I am in the process of transferring the rest of the funds to our savings and may look at options for putting funds on a small deposit to earn a bit of interest.

It is odd. I am debt-free for the first time since I graduated from high school (and that was in the late 1980s). The circumstances are sad but it does feel liberating. And odd. That is an interesting (and slightly sad) comment on me and the mentality in the US (where I lived most of my life).

We are both serious about staying debt-free. We just can't afford it. Her health issues mean we won't be able to have the same income again. It won't be easy to survive on a much-reduced income but I think we can do it if we try. We will keep our cards; we need them to book flights, hotels and car rentals (even if we pay cash for the hotels & car they still insist on a card they can 'hold' money on for damages) but will reduce the limits after our holiday.

We've also used some of the funds to set up a booth at a local craft business. December brought a little bit of money in from that and we can build on it. Every little bit extra will help.

It's a new world, one I have no clue how to navigate in. We still have bills, the daily things we can't just get rid of like rent, electricity, the internet/phone bill and stuff like that. I'll keep a small payment to the savings and a token amount to our respective discretionary accounts so we aren't tempted to just blow the budget. I'm scared, worried my income won't be enough or I'll loose my job through a mistake or a restructure (constant at my company the past few years it seems). But it's made for an interesting start to 2012.
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
So, how did your tasks for finding out your debt go?

I've been thinking. For me, the process of getting myself into financial shape has been mostly one of organisation. Everything seems so insurmountable when you start.

It's one of those saccharine sweet truisms that the hardest part of a journey is the first step. But it's not the whole story, and I think I've worked out what's true for me:

The hardest part of a journey is the first step that you haven't taken before.

Take today, for instance. Yesterday I was rummaging through my filing cabinet when I came across some old receipts from last year for occupational therapy I received. Now, she'd mentioned at the time that I could claim from my health fund for this but it was something I'd never done before and I stuck them in my filing cabinet and forgot about it. I did briefly investigate claiming online but it didn't appear to list my provider as one that I could claim for.

So I hop onto the website today. Turns out that I can't claim online as the receipts are more than 2 months old. So I download a claim form and fill it out and stick it in the post today. I have no idea when it will be processed but that's $120 for five minute's work and 60c for a stamp. And I could have avoided the stamp if I'd gotten onto it at the time.

Another task that I swore I would see to is the transfer of my previous superannuation (401K, to Americans) funds to my new fund. There were multiple forms to fill out, I didn't remember what all of my funds were and I stuck it in the too hard basket. Then I received a note from Choice (Australian consumer testing, very good, the only magazine I subscribe to) about a site that finds super funds where they've lost contact with you.

So I went and filled out my details for a laugh. Turns out there's two super funds that have lost track of me. So I filled out the forms and then I got to the part which needed some numbers (business number and product identification number). I had no idea. But instead of giving up, I actually did something (for me) revolutionary.

I asked for help. I rang the fund and said "I want to transfer funds. I have my old fund details here, but I need to fill in these fields. What do I put in them?"

She told me and I filled it out. Then I went and got a pharmacist to certify some copies of my license and I posted it. So my super can now all be together and incur fewer fees.

The point is with both of these tasks is that at the time, I was so tired and stressed that I just couldn't cope with even thinking about starting the steps I needed to take to achieve them. Now, if it happens again, it'll be a doddle. If I ever have to claim something again, I absolutely know what I need to do. The known holds no terrors for me. It's the unknown that makes me panic and throw up mental blocks.

So: This week's challenge, should you choose to accept it.

What administrivia do you have to do to get yourself in position for the new financial year? Do you need to file a tax return? Set up an automatic payment? Review your position. Break it down into small steps and if you don't know, ask!
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Hello everyone! How did your weeks go? Did you succeed in not eating out?

I didn't. I got sick (again. Or still. Stupid ears) and that led to me just being too damn tired to make the right choices. I did have dinner at home every night but that was mostly cooked for me and sometimes consisted of canned soup.

Lunch was where I really fell over. I am craving take-away food like there's no tomorrow. High fat, high salt, high in chilli. I bought lunch probably six times over the past two weeks.

But, it happens. With the ferocity I was craving stuff, I decided to go with it. It's not the best decision in the world, but it's not the worst either. Stuff happens and you deal the best you can.

I really debated whether to make this a separate post or not, but I guess I'll stick it under a cut tag at the end so as not to spam your reading lists.

cut for talk of my personal finances )
jamethiel: A common kingfisher sits on a branch with a background of green foliage. (Default)
[personal profile] jamethiel
Take-away and eating out costs a lot more. We've all got busy lives and finding the time and energy to prepare every meal is really difficult.

For a month, I'm going to make an effort to cook every single night. I have flatmates and we share the cooking so it's easier for me than for some. Still, it's going to require some planning and preparation. Who's with me? Comment if you want to take the challenge!

Needless to say, your commitment to this can absolutely vary. I am giving myself a pass for nights I have gigs and can't eat dinner beforehand. I can't really take a boxed meal to a gig! Also, it doesn't apply when I'm out on a date. You may decide that there is one night a week where friends come over and you have takeaway. It's all good!

What this challenge is aiming to prevent are those times when it's been a day from hell and you come home and look at the ingredients you have and you go "... stuff it. I'm getting take-away."

It'll require a bit of prep. You'll need to do your shopping a week in advance, which means planning your menu. I'll do a post on that on Friday and we'll be starting the actual challenge on Monday.

Of course, if your pay cycle doesn't synch with the challenge, feel free to pick it up at a later date.


actyourwage: (Default)
Acting Your Wage

September 2017

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