I think my camera may have finally seen its last days. I'll buy a new one when my loan check comes (yes, it's STILL not here) ... well, not a new one per se, but from ebay or ubid no doubt. I want a Canon Powershot. I really like those.
so ... money's been on my mind a lot lately, especially now that it's christmas season which i always initially get angry at because i feel like it throws a wrench into a fairly steady responsible way of managing what little money i tend to make. and i hate that it feels that way, for many reasons including that i know deep in my soul this is NOT what christmas is about. so ... this year i've tweaked it a bit, and it's amazing how brainwashed we are into consumerism because even though i've made a no-gifts-for-friends rule i still find myself wanting, wanting to buy them beautiful, fair-trade, local gifts, or making them something handmade (which also costs money, especially at the LYS or craft store!) and angry that i just can't because i must keep this promise. it's ridiculous how just the notion of not buying makes us (i'm assuming some of you also have dealt with this frustration as you shift gears into a new paradigm of living) MAD. because we just *have* to to feel better/like we're doing the right thing, don'tcha know? GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. sorry. it's just so hard to shift. i'm doing it, but it's not without its teeth-grinding feeling.
with all that said, i have done some christmas shopping for family despite an ongoing battle with my bank, which i don't want to get into here. generally, i have focused now and in the past on practical, beautiful gifts the person will really go far with. this time, i spent $100 in the local fair trade shop and that made me feel absolutely wonderful. i found a gift for almost everybody in there. i am also handmaking three scarves for cousins this year. my goal is to use up whatever holiday paper i have lurking in my spare closet and get creative with whatever i need new (the scarves, for example, will be folded neatly in some spare tissue or wrapped with maybe some vintage paper or something else pretty close to hand, and placed into a wicker basket from some second hand or other shop, tied with a pretty ribbon around the handle, and paired with a bar of locally-made soap enclosed in a tiny flour-sack type bag made by fair trade artisans).
back to the money thing ...
i have a good plan, coming up, when both loan installments arrive (one now, one in january). i'm excited about it. but i still don't like the undeniably giddy feeling i get about still having "lots of money left over once the consumer debt's all paid" (some of which i've struggled with/been hampered by/angry about for years). I HATE THAT IT MAKES ME HAPPY TO THINK I HAVE ALL THIS MONEY TO SPEND, YAY, YIPPEE, EVEN THOUGH IT NEEDS TO BE PAID BACK and i know i won't spend it frivolously. still, that GD temptation is there!! i hate it!! do you all feel this way, at times, when money is sometimes presented to you?
here are some of my goals/plans:
pay off ALL consumer debt and bills i haven't been able to fully pay in months, like utility, car insurance, and cell phone (i'm also getting a new cell phone plan so my monthly bill will be $40 instead of $75). that's all about $5,000.
THEN, with the leftover money which will only be about $2000, I will keep that in checking to get me through being home for the holidays and taking mini-trips and backing up my next few monthly paychecks (though without the consumer debt and horrible cell phone bill i'll have about $700 left each month from my paycheck rather than the usual $200-300).
When my second loan installment refund comes (probably about $8000), I'll invest some of it in a high interest money market checking account so I can use to interest i gain toward a down payment on a house (and maybe some of the loan money, though the majority of it I get in 2010 and 2011 i will just return, i'm hoping to God).
I will also begin saving at least $100/month and putting it into a CD for a down payment on a house. I want to put 10 PERCENT down on a house, i'm assuming by the time I'm ready to buy a $100,000 house will be what I can reasonably afford, and I think that's about what starter homes here in KY go for, if not less (assuming i'm still here when i'm ready to buy). the reason for such a high payment is both due to the fact that my credit is not golden (though will at least be on the low end of GOOD at that point), and also because i think it will make monthly mortgage payments easier. it also makes me look good in lenders' eyes.
When next school year rolls around, I will try to contribute $100/month toward my retirement account. The first year, I gave $30; this year, I give $50. When I work my first year as head teacher, I want $200/month at least to go toward a house down payment. More hoping .... er ... $400. i'm serious about buying a house, as you can see!
I'm also going to start selling candles through a home party business, with all profit going toward my $10,000 house down payment goal.
The other thing I worry about saving for is a wedding, though every day I think of drastic and creative ways to not go into debt for a one-day ceremony. This is not a huge priority for me right now, especially as I'm not even in a relationship, but it is a reasonable thing still to expect and at least be thinking about. Some of my ideas to save include asking a friend with large rural yard to lend his property for a ceremony and reception ... having friends make centerpieces from a small stipend to a craft store ... asking fiance for conflict-free or estate diamond in a vintage setting .... making my own wedding dress. ... having all the food be vegetarian (which of course jives with my personal goals anyway, but it's also a lot cheaper) ... etc. etc.
hopefully you've made it through this far ... my goal was not only to show you my loose plans, but to maybe inspire you to something similar regarding finances in your own life. i didn't discuss those nagging temptations to be loose with such large amounts of money outside of these noble, practical goals ... for those don't really have practical solutions other than training the brain to think in a whole new paradigm. it's one of the hardest things i've ever done. my aspirations are in the right place, but the temptations to SPENDspendSPEND are ridiculous and often overwhelming. i'd take some advice on how to handle them here ... and don't say knit, cause i do that to calm myself already. i've also been trying to funnel some of that itch to consume and spend with getting more civic-minded and trying to find a good outlet for my passions (such as nutrition education/the beyond organic movement).
to lighten things up a bit, i have taken a fun memo from The Frugal Trenches. I'm sure she won't mind me filling it out.
happy weekend, everyone, and thanks for still reading despite my lack of coherent sentences and cache of cute digital pictures.
love and peace,
A is for Aprons - ideally, yes. i'd love to make my own when i learn how to use the sewing machine i'm getting soon from a friend. The more cooking and baking I do, the more i realize why they're necessary! I like the idea of sewing a towel onto the apron, too. so it's just there whenever you need to wipe off.
B is for Baking - lately, rhonda jean's cranberry walnut scones. they are just absolutely fabulous!
C is for Clothesline - no, unfortunately it's not that kind of apartment. i should get a drying rack, though. sheer laziness. i make up for dryer usage by only doing laundry once a month or so. yes, i own tons of underwear!
D is for Donuts -ever make your own? - no
E is for Every Day - one homemaking task you do every day.
sweep. i HATE walking through crumbs and cat litter on the kitchen floor.
F is for Freezer - do you have a separate deep freeze?
-- no but i sooooooooooo wish i did!
G is for Garbage Disposal Unit - do you have one?
No, wish i did. my apartment is too small to keep compost. or maybe that's just me in denial. yeah, that's probably it. now that i think of it, don't those use electricity? forget it ... i don't want one.
H is for Handbook - what’s your favourite homemaking resource?
all the simple life blogs i link to.
I is for Ironing - love or hate it?
Hate is not a strong enough word ... but maybe someday i'll come around to it. i just don't see the need to have ironed things ... however this is because i use a high heat dryer at the laundromat. this may change with my own home and line-dried clothes, of course! let's hope!
J is for Junk Drawer - yes/no? If yes, where is it?
yes, it's in a dresser in my bedroom closet. i hate it... but i just really think it's one of those things that's hard to live without, despite all the decluttering one can do.
K is for Kitchen - colour and decorating scheme?
pale, sunshiny yellow. i adore it.
L is for Love - what’s your favourite part of homemaking?
feeling like THIS is happiness, the joy of the everyday ... not something possible from hanging out at a bar or in the godforsaken mall.
M is for Mop - do you have one?
not yet ... i want a Swiffer! (vinyl floor. ..ick)
N is for Nylons - machine or hand wash?
never wash. i don't wear them nearly often enough. and they usually rip when i do, so i just toss them.
O is for Oven - do you use a window or open the oven door to check?
no window ... so it's open the door for me!
P is for Pizza - what do you put on yours?
i love mushrooms and any kind of pesto. and goat cheese. and spinanch. and tomatoes.
Q is for quiet - what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
R is for Recipe Card Box - yes/no? If yes, what does it look like?
no, but good future project idea!
S is Style of House - what style is your house?
haha ... it's an old carriage house which sounds more romantic than it is, but when it's clean it is pretty cozy. You walk into a tiny living room with fireplace, then into the kitchen, which is eat-in with two big windows, then into a very cute little bathroom. A flight of stairs up from the living room leads to a huge living space/bedroom loft. perfect for one. ... and not for one and three cats. oh, well. oops!
T is for Tableclothes - do you use them?
U is for Under The Kitchen Sink - organised or toxic wasteland?
mostly organic ... mainly switched over completely except for some ant killer... i couldn't help myself there!
V is for Vacuum - how many times a week?
at least once. i HATE having carpet in the apartment.
W is for Wash - how many loads of washing do you do each week?
none ... i try to do one or two loads about once every 4 to 6 weeks. again i hope this justifies my use of one large, high-heat dryer.
X’s - Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
not to cross off, just to get out of my head.
Y is for Yard - who does what?
god ... i wish for a yard and garden. someday ...
Zzzz’s - what’s the last homemaking task you do before bed in the evening?
knit ... does that count? ; )