Wednesday, May 20, 2009

After Which I Will Be Saving For Rhinoplasty

A couple months ago, Gray came home babbling about some money management book he was going to buy, and that's when I choked on my hot dog and died.

The End.

Wait, that's right - I THOUGHT I was going to choke on my hot dog and die, but in actuality I just laughed like a lunatic and asked if he was feeling all right. Apparently one of our friends at work ordered a large quantity of these books written by this guy, and got them at a discounted price of $8 or something, and many of our other friends at work were reserving them from her. Gray reserved two. Don't ask me why we needed two. I still don't understand it. Especially because when the books arrived, I read my copy in three days and Gray read one chapter before abandoning his copy on the shelf next to his Playstation in favor of MLB The Show 2009.

Anyhow, I'm endlessly critical and suspicious of all self-help, money management "gurus" and seminars and books. My mother has, as one time or another, been sucked into every pyramid scheme known to man. (AMWAY, how I miss thine exceptional snack food.) I don't want to hear from strangers who tout one scheme or another, giving their miraculous story of recovery or financial success. I don't know you, I don't trust you, and I don't believe your bullshit story. I don't want to "Go Diamond". Thanks.

But this time, we actually know a couple of people who used the ideas in this book to pay off thousands of dollars of credit card debt over the last couple of years, and because I know them in person, I tend to believe them. I know they aren't being paid to promote this man. I know they have no reason to exaggerate or lie about what they did or did not accomplish with their money. Hell, I even know where they live.

I'm all about getting out of debt, believe me. I haven't used my credit cards since my split from the ex in 2007, but I'm still no closer to paying them off than I was two years ago. I struggle and pinch pennies. I am not too good to shop at Aldi (I love it, in fact), I went a month with no spending, I budget my money within an inch of it's germy life, I'm a faithful www.mint.com user, I listen intently to financial experts on talk radio, and I don't buy clothes. Like, ever.

But when all is said and done, to quote a highly over-used phrase from the book, "there is always more month than money."

As I was reading this book, I skipped over all the success stories because I don't trust them. They're in italics. If that's not a red flag, I don't know what is. I also skipped over the final section of the book regarding mortgages because, well, I don't have one at the moment. However, as I read through the steps of this TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER (god, so cheesy), I found myself nodding and saying, "Yeah, that makes sense."

So I did step one, which is creating an Emergency Savings fund, and now I'm working on step two, which is obnoxiously called my Debt Snowball, wherein each outstanding debt is attacked one at a time while you make minimum payments on the others, and once the first debt is gone, you add that payment onto the minimum payment for the next debt and attack that one until it's gone, so on and so forth, and why the fuck didn't I think of this before?

I've been paying more than the minimums on ALL of my debt and wondering why I never seem to make a dent in any of them.

I read this book about four weeks ago, and after payday this week my first debt will be entirely paid and my next will be 3/4 paid. In four weeks. I could actually cry, I'm so happy about that. Am I anywhere close to being finished with all of my debt? Hell no. But does it feel good to have a plan? To see myself making progress already? To finally be able to envision a life with no debt? To see that owning a home again will one day be possible? HELL YEAH.

So I thought I'd share the book with you - click on any of the links to go to the page. If you live around here and want my copy of the book, just let me know. It's all yours. I can use Gray's if I need a refresher.

I'd also like to start sharing tips I find for really kick-ass money saving deals, and I've got a rad one for you today - Landers came with a trial version of Microsoft Office, and once that ran out I didn't want to pay $150 to download the basic version, so I lost all my functionality with Word, Excel, etc. It was crippling. Anyone who has ever tried using Notepad will know what I'm talking about.

My awesome Jill sent me to www.openoffice.org yesterday and I downloaded the 100% completely free Open Office, which has all of the same types of programs as Microsoft Office, and it's compatible so that you can open your Microsoft files in the Open Office programs. I haven't spent a lot of time using the programs yet, so I can't totally vouch for their functionality, but what I've seen and done so far has been comparable to what I'm used to. And it was FREE, people. FREE.

I slept a little better knowing that I can once again create spreadsheets.