Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Debt Roundup – December 2010

My debt is now at $12,712 down $ 248 from $12,960 a  month ago. At the rate based on the status quo, it will take me until March of 2015 to pay off my current debt - assuming I don't incur any more debts, have similar living expenses, and have stagnant income level. Earlier, my rosy estimates projected myself being debt free by February 2011, which definitely looks impossible, baring any minor miracle. In last few months, I have not been able to pay off my debt as I anticipated. However, my resolution is strong and I will do whatever I can to pay off   this burden ASAP. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why shouldn’t you get a store credit card?

I always restrained myself from signing up a store card to save 10% off or get a lower interest rate on financing. However recently, I signed up for a store credit card, which is not store-brand visa or mastercard.  I signed up because it saved me few dollars on a big purchase.  Now, I am stuck with that store credit card because I can’t use it anywhere except that store -- also the APR is too high to use it on other regular purchases.
This new store credit card has single handedly knocked off dozens of points from my credit scores.
This is how your store credit card hurts your finances.
  • Even before signing up, a new credit inquiry is added to your credit report, lowering your credit scores.
  • After account is open, this new account lowers the average age of your credit accounts further lowering your credit scores.
  • If you make a big purchase (since you got discount), the ratio for used credit increases, increasing your credit utilization and again lowering your credit score.
  • Your interest increases after an introductory period. So, a purchase with future interest could cost you even more.
  • Normally, people tend to overbuy when given a discounted purchase. You end up paying more for things you don’t really want and definitely don’t need. 
Image based on photo by stevendepolo

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Debt Roundup – November 2010

This month I reduced my debt by $42 to 12,960. I still don’t have roommate for some personal reason that I don’t want to discuss here. Besides that, my main unexpected expense this month was related to healthcare. I have a decent health insurance provided to me by my employer. Still, I had to pay $700 out my pocket for something because my insurance company decided it should go under my deductible for this year.

I don’t want to get into current healthcare debate. However, I don’t understand why costs of healthcare are not transparent at the beginning or prior to receiving the care. Normally, you go to health professionals and get treated for ailments without having any idea for what is going to cost you. Even you get estimated cost, you have no idea how much you will be ultimately responsible. For non-emergency ailments, knowing the accurate cost prior to any procedure would help you decide to treat, wait, or shop around.

In this age of iphones/blackberries and 1-800 numbers, can’t we legislate (or?) for health insurance providers to give us an estimated cost (with margin of error) for requested procedure as well as comparative prices. This will not only save money for patients but also save millions for insurance companies. People may decide that they will go with a relatively new Dr. Smith for $500 rather than going with Dr. Jones for $2,000, who happens to be recommended by their friend. If we decide to treat (certain) healthcare products as an economic commodities then why not really treat them like one?

Image based on photo by CarbonNYC

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Debt Roundup – October 2010

69 dollars! This month my debt decreased just by just $69 to $-13,002. It's sort of depressing that the money I make from work is just sustainable income - enough to pay my rent, eat, and buy minor knick knacks. This month, I didn't buy any new gadgets or had any major expense. Only difference these last few months was the lack of a roommate. Living by myself is nice but I realize that dividing my rent and utilities with someone will be helpful towards paying off my debt.

Image based on photo by fdecomite

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to split check at a restaurant?

Many restaurants in the United States wouldn't split check according to the chair/person but instead, bill the entire table. How to split the check then?

Easiest option is to do evenly. However, people ordering less would have to bear the cost of people ordering more. With this model, people also tend to over order because the cost is shared by everyone.

Another way is to make everyone responsible for their own share and pay what they owe voluntarily. However, this voluntary method needs a slight improvement. For example, I asked guests in my cousin's birthday party to pay the check voluntarily but still got stuck with one thirds of the bill when all I ordered was a drink. How?

People tend to underpay. It's not because they want to cheat but they simply "forget" to add that extra drink, something else they had, appetizer they shared and/or tax/tip they owe.
So here's my "cross-out method" for paying check in a restaurant. this should work well for a large group. Here's how.
  1. Find the shared items and evenly divide the cost. Cross out shared items while doing so. Examples are shared appetizers, shared costs such as birthday boy/girl's dinner & drinks. Write down the "individual shared cost" with tax and tip and divide by number of people. Ask everyone to add the cost to their payment, even though they didn't have anything. Always highlight percentage of automatically added tip (gratuity). Often tips of 18%-20% are automatically added in check for a large group. This avoids paying the tip twice and importantly, people can't tip less than what's automatically added in the check.
  2. Ask everyone to go over the check and cross out items they consumed and paying for. Ask them to pay "individual shared cost" plus their individual share with tax/tip.
  3. If there are any remaining uncrossed items, ask people to see if they forget to add any items. If nobody ordered those items and you are certain that the extra items are error, go and talk to the server and get it removed. People make mistakes. The crossing out items is essential to isolate those extra items people forget or to isolate unintentional error (hopefully) by your server.
  4. Splitting the cost after a wonderful meal is awkward. However, for your own financial health and to maintain a fair relationship, it's necessary.  Even after following these steps, if you are the organizer, be prepared to chip a few extra bucks.
Image based on Avlxyz

My Debt Roundup – September 2010

My debt is now $13, 071. This is reduction of just  $910. Like the last month, I had another big purchase, lens for the camera. The lens was desirable (can't say absolutely needed) for my new project. I am focused on the new project, but I have not earned a single penny from it. Hopefully soon, but realistically not for at least few months to a year. My additional big expenses is mainly due to lack of a roommate. Financially, it make sense for me to get a roommate, but I am not sure if I desire one right now. I am enjoying having the apartment to myself (most of the time).

PS. I know that I need to get back to updating this blog more often. Only because I see a big correlation between me being active in this blog and my expenditure. 

Image adapted from Alancleaver

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Debt Roundup – August 2010

The debt stands at $ 13, 991, which is reduction of just $810. This month, I had the big purchase. I bought the camera that I wanted for a long time . Even at 0% interest, I feel the burden of the debt. However, I thought about buying the camera for long and hard. I take it as investment and don’t regret buying it. My roommate also moved out this month increasing the financial burden. I am having difficulty in trusting someone else to be roommate as of now. So, I am doing what I normally do this in situation, which is procrastinate. Everything seems negative here, but I am focusing on a new project and hopefully it will get me some income soon in future.

Image adapted from Quazie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Debt Roundup – July 2010

This is a late, a very late update indeed. My debt stands at $ 14, 801. I finally paid off my Amex credit card which at one point had more than 15K on it. Okay I have to admit that I balance transferred about 5K to another credit card with a lower interest. However, I still feel good seeing $0 balance on my Amex. I feel like I have achieved something when as the matter of fact I just put my finances to order. Now, I have 2 credit cards remaining with around 10K and 4K in balance. I am going to go payoff 10K first because it has higher interest than the other. If everything goes as planned, I should be debtfree by February/March of next year. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Save and buy or get 0% financing and buy?

I have been wanting to buy a Nikon D90 DSLR for nearly a year. I know that when we want something, we convince ourselves with bunch of excuses on why we want to buy. I thought about it a lot and came to a decision that I will eventually buy it. However, I didn’t want to get in more debt by buying another expensive item. So, my family suggested that I start a saving account for the camera? They even gave me some gift money to jumpstart the saving. Since I have already cut most of unnecessary expenses from budget to pay off my debt, I don’t have any major places for saving. At best, I can hope to save enough money by end of the year. However, recently I saw that Amazon has 0% one year financing for Nikon D90 DSLR. Should make sense I get it with financing (which means more debt) or should I wait (which means not being able to use it for 1 year)? Rationally, if I am going to buy something after a year, it makes sense to buy it interest free now. It also make sense to pay my debt off with money I will be using to buy the camera (since I'm paying interest). On the other side, we humans are not completely rational and I believe that if I buy now I would not save later. I also think that not buying this camera is some sort of test of my self control. I am still undecided. For time being, it’s out-of-stock in Amazon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Debt Settlement 101

I have been advised by a quite few well wishers about reducing my (then) $30,000 debt through a debt settlement firms. Most of the debt settlement firms suggest stopping payment to credit card bills for about four months and instead divert a monthly payment to another account. After 120 days of non-payment, banks are required by the federal law to write-off the debt (so that it can’t inflate their assets). For a fee, a debt settlement firm will negotiate a settlement with your creditors using your deposited money for lower amount than you owe.

The process of negotiating with creditors for a payment schedule at a lower interest rate and/or settled debt with (lump sum) with lower amount than the total balance is known as “debt settlement” or “debt negotiation” or “debt resolution”.
Sounds too good to be true! Indeed, since this will lower your credit scores because;
  • The creditor will mark the account delinquent due to non-payment.
  • Even after debt is settled, the credit report will show "settled for less than full balance" or "legally settled for less than full balance". This will remain on your credit report for 7½ years and further lower your credit scores.
Additional reasons for not taking debt settlement route are;
  • You will also be put on the creditor’s internal black list for life.
  • There is also no 100% guarantee of a settlement. Creditor can get a legal judgment against you or sell/assign the debt to a collection agent. In that case, the creditor/agent has the right to collect the entire balance with interest.
Debt settlement sounds like a nice idea before I got the facts. Even if the debt settlement is successful, I will still end up paying the price with a lower credit score. So, unless you want to ruin your credit, I don’t suggest you to take this route of “debt settlement” or “debt negotiation” or “debt resolution” or whatever they call it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Disciplined debt payment and blogging

I have noticed that since I stopped regularly writing about my debt or issue concerning debt on my blog, my spending went up gradually. I have blogged very less about money and debt last three months. In the same time period, I got more over-budget notification from (see review here) than entire last year. I believe blogging about my debt and related financial issues has served me as a reminder to be cautious about my financial decision.

Indeed, one of the most popular and oldest therapeutic self-help is keeping a daily journal/diary. The act of writing gives an individual benefit of organizing and channeling out their thoughts, and over time reach some sort of resolution. Blog are evolution in that type of writing where we can share our words with (potentially) worldwide audience (all amateur therapists) and get instantaneous feedback.

I should definitely be more disciplined about my blogging if being a regular blogger could help me be more careful about my finances. Additional perk is an expressive therapy without paying a dime.

My Debt Roundup – June 2010

Apologize for late reporting on my side. My current debt as of this month is -16,211. Since my new job, I am seeing on average of $1,500 in debt reduction. Being a geeky debtor, I couldn't help but plug in my debt payment for last year and get estimate on how long it would take to pay off. According to the trend line (adjusted after taking my new job), I will be debt free somewhere around April 2011. Indeed this is all contingent upon my current income level and my financial discipline. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No-Vacation Nation = United States

The United States is the only economy in the world that DOES NOT guarantee its workers paid vacation. I guess there is no concept of work-life balance here, unless work is your entire life.

Statutory minimum Vacation by Country (Wiki) (Even China has 11 days of minimum leave)
Center for Economic and Policy Research's No-Vacation Nation (PDF)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Higher education - a financial mistake?

Now, a college degree is similar to a high school degree a generation ago.  Despite that, many college grads are not getting good jobs to offset earnings lost while attending the college and also typically graduate with a student debt. The average debt range from $ 20,000 in a public university to $33,000 in a private one according to Project student loan, which is about $2 500 to $4 000 a semester. College gives education, first taste of independence as well as responsibilities. It is sort of transition to the adulthood from the childhood. It also gives us the basic educational credential to get into most careers. So, even college is expensive, there is no doubt in my mind that it's necessary. My question is what about higher education after college?

Some of my friends decided to work right after graduating from college. While others, such as me, opted out for full-time graduate degrees. We rationalized that a graduate degree will translate into better jobs and more money. Some friends in the workforce even teased us that we are still in school to avoid real life responsibilities or couldn't find good enough jobs. After a full time graduate school for years, I am making same money as my cousin, who graduated from a college a year ago. Most of my friends who are working already have saved up money to put down-payment for a house, have paid off their student and car loans. Most of them also went back to grad school part time and will be finishing up their graduate degrees. Right now, I have a graduate degree but no work experience or savings. In contrast, my friends have work experience, some savings and partially completed graduate work (if they wanted). I understand that not everything is about money. My graduate education gave me knowledge and additional credentials in form of a degree. However, this extra education seems like a bad financial decision on my part. With the graduate degree, I will probably make similar money as my friends eventually, but it seems that I have I lost significant income during that period. However, another side of argument is that an advanced degree will lead to quicker rise to the top. Hence, a graduate degree in theory should make up for lost income (and more) over time. Let’s see, time will tell. 

My Debt Roundup – May 2010

My debt is at $17,784, a reduction of $1, 448 from last month. Compared to last few months, my debt repayment has slightly reduced. I know I am spending more money than before but really don’t know on what exact items. At this rate of repayment, I still need more than ONE year to be completely debt free (that’s summer of next year). I really wanted to be debt free by end of 2010. Help me! Any ideas?    

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Debt Roundup - April 2010

This month my debt moved to the teens for the first time, and stands at $19, 232. Compared to last month when I reduced my debt by $2, 456, this month my debt reduction is considerably lower at $ 1, 618. I spent considerably more money on groceries and eating/drinking out this month. Looking at my account, which tracks my credit and debit cards spending, I spent about $250 more on eating/drinking out and $100 more on groceries than what I did last few months. I must have spent a few more dollars of cash here and there as well which have not been accounted. This shows how easy it is for me to go over budget and spend more than what I planned. It just takes a few dollars at a time.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Debt Roundup - March 2010

This month my debt was reduced by $ 2, 456 to $20, 850. A few posts earlier, I wrote about changing jobs. It happened this month and finally I got my first paycheck after 2 months. The pay looked better in the offer letter but translated into just a couple of hundred dollars more in the actual paycheck. It shows we (maybe just I) generally anticipate higher future income. The expectations are not necessarily bad but racking up credit card debts on an anticipation of higher income isn’t a smart move. My debt payments look still farther after getting a new job. Even if I just spend money on rent and eat PBJ sandwiches every meal, it would still take me more than a year to pay off my debts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How much does it cost to live?

Last week a friend and I had a spirited discussion on how much money we need to live comfortably (without any extravagance). Our back of the envelop calculation on cost to living in any decent neighborhoods in the world for a family of four is shared here. 
Rent or Mortgage = $1500 to $2500
Rent or mortgage in any decent neighborhoods in the world cost at least grand or more for a three to four bedroom apartment or house. The rents are considerably cheaper in some parts of developing world but the neighborhood may not be desirable. Similarly, a rural location in the United States maybe cheap but may lack certain amenities or employment opportunities.

Health = $600 to $1200 for 4 people ($150 to $300 per person)
If you are lucky to be born as a citizen of a country that provides you with a free decent health care, congratulations! However, a lot of places, such as the united States need you to buy a health insurance. Some places, there may not be have a good alternative but to save up for rainy sick days.

Education = $2000 to 3000 for two kids ($1000 to $ 1500 per kid)
Some places such as the United States have a free education till the high school. However, you are partially paying for it through a local tax. Everyone needs to save up for collosal future college bills. Even if college education is free in your country may not influence your kid who wants to study in a private American or other world-class foreign student. Beside that, education generally also include cost for extra lessons, supplies and more,

Food = $600 to $1000 
Food cost somewhat depends on what kind of meal you eat. The cost may get considerably high if you eat high quality local/organic ingredients or eat out regularly.  

Transportation = $600 to $1000 ($300 to $500 per adult)
Driving a car (car payment, insurance, maintenance, gas) or take train, bus or cab (fare) for family adds up.

Household & miscellaneous = $500 to $ 1000
All household and miscellaneous needs such as furniture (upgrades and maintenance), household maintenance, gadgets, gifts, unexpected fees and items, movies, entertainment are bundled up here.

Pocket change = $400 to $ $800 ($100 to $200 per person)
Everyone needs a couple of dollars of pocket change every day.

Vacation = $400 to $800 
A week worth of vacation every year for a family of four will at least cost $4000 to $5000 with airfare, car, hotel, restaurant, activities etc. If you do it twice, then double the cost. 

Lower estimate = $ 5, 600 per month or 67,200 per year*
Upper estimate = $11,300 per month or 135,600 per year*

*Sadly, these incomes needed are after tax income, which means it needs to be 30% or more than what’s given here.

Indeed as someone said, “balancing the act between the cost of living and the cost of earning - is the art of surviving!”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Credit cards and asterisk

I haven’t applied for new credit cards in nearly 3 years. While talking to one of my cousin about my debt, he suggested to apply for a new credit card with 0% APR since I have an excellent credit history. According to him, every penny saved on interest is worth.

After looking around for a few months, I finally found a credit card with 0% APR for 12 month and 12% APR thereof, Citi Platinum Select. I thought I can save on interest if I transfer balance from my 11% APR card, even after transfer fees. I applied and got approved. During my card activation, I wanted to transfer my balance. I was told that my 0% APR is upto 7 months and my interest thereafter 17%. I protested and informed about the offer I saw. The Citi representative informed me that probably there is word “upto 12 months” for balance transfer offer and “as low as 12% APR” on the offer. He continued, if it is not right there, there must be an asterisk.

I don’t demand banks to give me a low APR. They are business and can charge as much as it’s legal. My problem is this type of offer is a deceptive marketing and a bad business practice. Imagine you see an ad for all you can eat buffet* for 10 cents. You go and eat. While getting the bill, you are told that it is all you can eat for first 2 minutes (hence the asterisk), thereafter you are charged $10 a minute. If a person like me who is nearly obsessed with paying their credit card debt is duped, think about all the people Citi bank (and others) is cheating on. Citi and other credit card companies, please start being honest to us. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Debt Roundup - February 2010

I started my journey to pay off my debt more than eight months ago. I paid off merely $4, 313. Getting rid of debt is more difficult than I thought. I took on roommate, virtually stopped eating out, haven't bought anything new or old, sold unnecessary items, got a part time gig. Still I am - 23, 306 in debt. Often, I feel like giving up paying off my debt. How long can I hang on edge like this? Maybe I should accept that I need debt to survive. Yet, some part of me just can't give up. Not giving up on my grad school got me a doctoral degree, while not being able to give up also made me vulnerable during relationship breakup. I hope my "not giving up" nature will help me and let me prevail through these tough times.

Monday, February 1, 2010

3 simple reasons why ipad will fail

Generally, I tend to stay on topic, i.e., my debt and finances. After hearing all this fuss about ipad, I decided to put my 2 cents. I was one of very early adopters of iphone. I got it the second day of its release (and I also own a Mac). Iphone, over time, has cost me around $2500 (plus any incurred interest on my plastic) and yet I still don't consider it among my worst financial decisions. Here are my 3 simple reasons why ipad will fail

1/ No pedestal/stand to keep the monitor at 90 degrees. Do you really think people will hold up 1.5 lb monitor for even 22 minutes to watch a sitcom? Putting ipad on lap will just give you a neck a strain.
2/ It is not a reading device like Kindle or Que. Monitors use light to display the character while e-readers use actual particles to display. The difference is that light strain your eyes but particles do not strain as much. Think about it, books are printed particles on a flat surface. In a nutshell, ipad won’t replace any e-readers. PS., see how e-ink work by displaying a partical depending on polarity of current.
3/ No webcam or USB. Ipad, at best, is glorified netbook (in tablet form) and one of things people use netbook is to video chat and connect different devices/media using USB.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Debt Peonage

I believe that any form of debt makes us a slave. Having a debt means that we need an income to pay installments on those debts. Without a debt all we need is a sustainable income or savings to survive. Without a debt we can take a break from our jobs, without a mortgage we can move our life to a new city. Debt imprisons us in our mediocrity and prevents us from taking risks. Debt seems to help us by not having to put our life on hold until we have money. However, are we holding ourselves back in future by not willing to put our life on hold at present? Some debts, such a student loan (leading to high paying jobs), mortgage (within means), business loan (for well thought out ventures), may bring us more prosperity later. However, until debt is paid off we are slave to our debts. Thus, we should take on to this peonage only after acknowledging its true demands.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Selling off unused items

I decided to follow one of my own advices listed in my earlier post, 7 debtly sins. The advice was not to waste anything, where I defined even not using bought items as a type of wastage. Many unused items in my apartment were collecting dust, while credit cards used for their purchase are collecting interests. As described in earlier post (see Declutter Your Way Out of Debt), I just sold some of my barely used videogames, PS3 and Wii. For mailing them, I used my old first class stamps (37 and 39 cents stamps). After all, I shouldn't waste anything, including old unused stamps.  

PS. Also before buying a box to mail your things, check local stores for free throw-away boxes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finances - Easy to advice but difficult to follow

My last entry, 7 debtly sins, doled out seven advices on bad financial practices. After writing that blog entry, I couldn't help but to think that it is so easy to give advice and extremely hard to follow them. This is universally true for any life changing decisions; be it on financial matter, weight loss or smoking.

While giving advices, we think in a rational and reasonable way like Vulcan Spock. However, being somewhat of an irrational being, our actions are results of both rational and emotional thoughts. I am not saying being emotional is wrong. However, being emotional now about finances will effect our emotional state in the future. So, my advice is when you are faced with a next financial decision, think rationally and emotionally (about both present and future emotional state). Again, it is easy to be a Dutch uncle since nothing is given so freely as advice!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

7 Debtly Sins

Thou shalt not eat what one cannot swallow. Do not get things that you can't afford. It can be either a daily $5 dollar mocha fix or once in 10 years splurge on an unaffordable luxury car.

Thou shalt not stray away from disciplined path. It is necessary to be financially disciplined. Being disciplined is not just paying bills on time. Staying on disciplined path requires you to stick onto your financial plan unless a better financial deal emerges. For example, you researched and settled on a car model that you can afford. Being disciplined is not adding that $3,000 fancy sound system later during the purchase. Same goes for setting up the budget for a night out on town and sticking to it (even when you are drunk).

Thou shalt not keep up with the Joneses. Keeping up the appearances with the Jones, Garcia, or Chens is a recipe for financial disaster. They may have higher income than you or are more financially irresponsible than you. If your neighbor gets a Beemer, do you really need to get one?

Thou shalt not procrastinate. Procrastination is not just putting up paying the bills tomorrow or forgetting to cancel subscriptions to unread magazines. Majority of the big expenses can be avoided by being proactive today. For example, you know that you need to change oil in your car. However, procrastinating a $30 oil change might lead to an engine failure with expensive proposition of replacing the entire engine for a few thousand dollars. Same goes to "I will call tomorrow to get lower interest rate on my credit card". Isn't it better to earn money (by saving) today than tomorrow?

Thou shalt not give in to instant gratification. Wanting everything now is gluttony. For example, you can buy a bottle of soda in a vending machine for $1.50 or get 12 packs for the same price in a supermarket.

Thou shalt not count eggs before they hatch. Never justify future earnings to pay present extravagance by credit. Excuses such as I can afford it with my next paycheck or when I get promotion or with a new job are delusional. Interest always increases your real cost. Buying a $10 widget now may cost you $20 with the interest. Thus, before buying, think if you are willing to pay $20 for that widget? Factor in the interest when you factor in the future earnings.

Thou shalt not waste. One of the common examples of wastage is wasting perishable food items.However, more unnoticeable waste is buying items and not using them to their fullest potential. For instance, you buy an expensive DSLR camera. After initial burst of enthusiasm, you end up exclusively using your old point and shoot camera due to convenience. This is a bigger waste and it is often overlooked by many of us.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Obama Shop

Recently, I discovered "My Obama Shop" located in the Washington DC Union Station. This shop is full of unauthorized Obama memorabilia. Here tourists (as well as local) Obama supporters shell out few dollars on an impulse purchase. This is an excellent example of impulse shopping by buyers. However, it also reminded me as a excellent example entrepreneurial venture by the seller. Guess every coin has two sides and it's up to you which side you choose.

I would recommend you visit the store if you can control your frivolous shopping habit. If you are a big Obama supporter, just as precaution, don't take your credit card or more than a few dollars. It was indeed a delight to window shop and discover superhero costume for "O"man.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saying no can save

Whenever friends ask me to go out for dinner or go out to drink, I usually don't say "no". Instead, I propose meeting up for just one or two drinks or just dessert or appetizers. It's hard to say "no" for me not because of peer pressure but because I  regret  missing out good times and simply can't give up the lure of fried food and alcoholic beverages. At times, I was able to keep myself disciplined while other times, I ended up spending more money. I used to convince myself  that this financial and emotional compromise is necessary  to catch up with people. However, am I really doing the justice to "catching up" when I have ulterior motives (usually in form of deep fried treat and/or with a head of foam)?

Last night, I did not go out to meet a few friends who are staying at my place. Going out then would have meant just eating out some fried calamari and drinking beer. I am glad that I didn't miss anything as well as saved few bucks and few hundred extra calories.

Image: Fried Calamari at Cafe Asia. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Debt Roundup - January 2010

I started the new year by reducing debt by $1,100 to $22,539. My monthly debt reduction had fell from $1,751 in the October to $251 last month. This decline in debt repayment discouraged me even though I knew that I spent extra few hundred dollars on essential items. It reminded me that getting rid of my debt needs long and disciplined path. It is so easy to get discouraged and leave the healthy financial choices.

On a side note, cash flow next month will be tight for me because my new job will pay me at the end of the month in contrast  to my current position, which pays me in the beginning of the month. So, in practice, it will be feel like not getting payed for a month. Hopefully, after my job transition, I will get some more time (energy and discipline really) to blog on my path to debt freeness.