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My net worth generally goes up about $1000 each month. Between investment deposits and debt repayment I make a sizable gain in just 30 days. It feels great! Except for lately, as investments drop faster than my paycheck puts money in my 401K, the money seems to just disappear. In my May 16th post, “In the green,” I reported that I had a positive net worth of $250. Just over a month later, after my monthly $1000 in debt repayment and investment deposits, I’m back down to negative $750. I have managed to completely curb my shopping habits and yet down and down I go through no fault of my own. Stupid recession! I know I shouldn’t be looking at my long term investments because the balance does not matter with retirement some 20+ years out. But I can’t help it!


Total Net Worth $252.89

For the first time in over 15 years, I am in the green! This takes into account my almost $50K in student loan debt, which I’ve managed to offset in retirement savings. I figure the student loans will be gone at about the same time I’m eligible to use the retirement money. Heh. I honestly can’t believe how fast it’s happened, as I can remember it being -$20K in the not so distant past. I got a sizable graduation award from my employer when I finished my masters degree 2 years ago, but it didn’t even account for half of that.

This has totally made my day. I’ll be even more excited when my credit card debt is paid off. I’m aiming for year end.

As I try to make up for my cruise indulgences on my revolving VISA, it has begun to pain me that I have no emergency savings. Repaying that balance is my priority, but how can I prevent it from getting out of control against my will if I’m always trying to make up for what’s already happened?

I manage my finances from paycheck to paycheck. My “budget” consists of a list of my bills by paycheck on a sticky note. Come payday (today), I immediately pay all of my bills with the remainder going to credit cards. When calculating how much I have left to pay on credit cards, I round each bill up to the nearest $5. I also allot $100 per bimonthly paycheck for cash. Since I withdraw in $40 increments, usually I have $20 of that 100 left at the end of the pay-cycle. Add in spare change due to rounding. On this particular payday, I had $25 left in my checking account. Usually this $25 would get rolled into the next paycheck’s credit card payment.

But what if it was more like change in my pocket that got emptied at the end of the day? This was a highly encouraging way for me to look at it, I’ve heard how fast pocket change accumulates. I say heard since it seems you need to be a guy to take advantage of the actual pocket change savings method, as women’s pockets are designed not to carry anything at all.

Thus, I renamed one of my (empty) ING savings accounts to “emergency fund” and transfered that $25 into it. With this new account name, I’m reminding myself that it is only available for use on Unplanned Necessary Expenditures. Not for when I’ve overshopped or when my VISA “just gets too high” for me to payoff that month. That would be through my will not against. I’m hoping that the knowledge that the remainder is now going toward savings will keep me from getting that bagel in the morning just because I have cash. That if f I don’t spend it, maybe I’ll end up with more to save. And that’s good for my savings and my waistline.

I spent way too much money on the cruise. I had a couple of spa treatments that were essentially a complete waste of money. Partially because it was just a means for them to try to sell me additional products. Don’t take my money and then ask for more. I expect things like that locally, but on a cruise ship I just want to relax without being hassled to buy things after an already overpriced treatment. It’ll take me a few months to climb out of that hole on my revolving credit card just to get back to where I was. When I got back I immediately purchased my sleeping back for backpacking. That was a known upcoming expense though and completely acceptable. Plus I found it for 25% off + free shipping. Now when the REI anniversary sale gets here I can use that coupon to purchase our water filter.

In positive financial news, I have started depositing $100/mo into my Vanguard IRA. Which I’m really happy about. It’s a tough time to decide to invest but waiting is an even less appealing option. I may as well be building wealth while I climb out of debt.