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The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .

 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Finally Frugal one year anniversary!

One year ago today, I published my first blog post! My financial life was pretty different at that point. Although I had decided in November, 2007 that I needed to begin living within my means, it was a slow process. Not using my credit card was painful, and in January 2008 I still owed about $4,500 to various credit companies. I still craved new shoes and clothes every day (I continue to struggle with this), and paid little attention to the money that was leaving my life in dribs and drabs each day.

In that first blog post, I discussed the book that changed my attitude---Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I purchased that book in late 2007, and in 2008 I ended up purchasing a CD (used, on Ebay) that featured a workshop given by Joe before his death in 1997, to help jumpstart my motivation. A year later, I still believe that this book (as well as Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover) has been instrumental in helping me begin getting my financial life in order. If any of you are struggling with your finances, either of these books make great investments.

After reading many, many books about debt, financial independence, and rampant consumerism during those first months of 2008, I eventually began taking a close look at all of my 'variable' expenses, such as cable, cell phone, gym membership, and auto insurance, and either made money-saving changes or canceled those services altogether. I began tracking each penny that left my life, and started using the zero-based budget, which I still use to this day.

All of you regular readers will know that I have a long way to go. I owe over $56,000 in student loans, and I don't yet have a plan to begin repayment of this. I own a house with two mortgages, and the combined monthly mortgage payments equal about 40% of my gross monthly income--not a great percentage for someone who also wants to increase savings and investments. I work two jobs, at 50 hours a week on average, just to keep my head above water. I also go to school on a part time basis, and I am contemplating, with some trepidation, the 2009/2010 academic year in which I'll be obligated to work less than full time in order to make time for a required internship.

Many challenges and seeming obstacles lie in my way on the road to financial independence. In reading other personal finance blogs, the one thing that I keep reminding myself is that the path to meeting my financial goals is a long one---I can't expect success overnight, as much as I might wish it.

In spite of the challenges, I also remind myself of my small successes over the past year: I've paid off my credit cards; I've learned about my spending habits by keeping an eye on each expenditure; I've begun the process of getting a handle on my bad spending 'vices', such as clothing and shoes; I've learned that I'm actually a pretty good cook, and that I can be satisfied with a .10 cent cup of home brewed coffee instead of craving a daily $3.40 mocha.

Most importantly, I've 'met' so many other people who are also on their own, similar but unique financial journeys. Just knowing that there are others out there in the blogosphere who are either just beginning, are well on their way, or have met with success, helps me to stay on track and believe that I, too, can find my way to financial independence.

5 comments:

RTC said...

Happy blog anniversary! You have made great progress. It was good to see a recap. Celebrate today!

Laura @ no more spending said...

You're doing really well :)

Congrats on the one year anniversary. Blogging really does help, doesn't it?

Melanie said...

Congratulations on your blogaversary! I've been with you since early summer and really cheering you on. You've been an inspiration to me in my own journey away from consumerism and into more frugal, planned living.

Keep up the great work!

Finally Frugal said...

Yay! Sometimes I get chills when I read these comments and realize I'm really not 'alone' in trying to dig myself out of my self-constructed financial hole.

And, just for the record, LOVE the term: "blogaversary"!!!

marci357 said...

You've come a long way - not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually... WAY TO GO!!!!

I wish you every success in your new found way of life! and Happy Anniversary! You Go Girl!

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