First post on these forums, but it will be nice to have a place to review my goals and reflect over time. Comments always welcome of course.
First, some past history. Reading other stories here, I dont feel nearly as bad as I used to. Nevertheless, I've made a few dumb mistakes and had some bad luck too. Graduating from college in 2001(a great year to graduate, btw), I had a terrible time finding a decent job. Ended up working part time jobs, or a full time and part time job making $10 if I was lucky. I have never been a spender, but times were tough and I racked up about $1800 of credit card debt in addition to my $20,000 of student loan debt. Then in 2005 I managed to land a semi-decent job making $30K a year. After living like a pauper for four years, this seemed like a ridiculous amount of money. I rejoice and immediately leased a brand new car(dumb mistake #1). This was dumb, but not the worst thing in the world. I could afford the car payment, if barely. However, shortly after that, during the summer, I got mixed up in a pretty bad situation, the details of which shall remain anonymous. Long story short, I racked up ~$5000 in debt in a matter of 3 months, burned completely through my savings, and was begging my parents for rent money. It was the mother of all meltdowns, financially and otherwise.
That was then.
$0 in credit card debt.
$7500 in student loan debt(1 year forebearance 2006-2007)
1 year left on my car lease(yes, a 5 yr lease and I winced typing that out) plus I am currently 13,000 mile over the limit at $0.25 a mile.
Just bought a house with my fiance, well within our means(thanks housing crisis!).
Fiance has some credit card debt, but nothing major. Has student loan debt as well.
She has virtually no savings other than some stock and a gov't pension plan.
Last year I had an AGI of almost $70,000, which was kind of a shock and kind of cool at the same time.
I have canceled and cut up all but one card, and it carried a $0 balance.
I have ~$5100 in an investment account. ~$5000 in a checking account. ~$1000 in my emergency fund.
I'd be doing even better, but my dad lost his job and ran into trouble with the IRS, and I had to help my parents out(I had to considering the help they gave me). So that ate up probably around $5000 in potential savings but it was worth it.
This took alot of work. I'm no stranger to hard work, learned from my hardships post-graduation. First thing I did was to find a better paying job. I also have done some freelance work as well. I sold a bunch of excess stuff. I canceled my cable TV altogether. I had no cell phone until very recently, and since getting the cell I canceled my home phone service. I only eat out twice a week(fri and sat nights), and have taken frugality to an extreme. At one point I was renting out a bedroom for $400/month and all utilities paid. When you are making over $50K a year, it was kind of ridiculous to rent out bedroom, but drastic times call for drastic measures.
Anyway, things are much better now.
Will be redoing the budget after getting married to accomodate my spouse's income and expenses, but for the next 4 and a half weeks I am putting $800/month into retirement, $200/month into the emergency fund, $280 a month extra in the checking account to cover monthly extras not in the budget but considered a need. I am also expecting an ~$8000 tax refund check sometime in the next month. $5000 will go into retirement, the rest I am still undecided on. If nothing changes, $4500 overage payment will be due when my car lease ends ~5/2011, plus I will be carless. My car lease is the last lingering sign of my financial irresponsibility. If I traded it in, I could probably get about $2000 less than currently owed on it, which seems like the logical thing to do. Use $3000 for a down payment on a used car, trade in this car, and walk away with ~$12,000 car loan that I could then pay off over the next three years. Or I could run out the lease, pay the $4500 and then buy a used car with a $7,000 car loan. Neither is a really appealing option, but unless someone knows of a hot tub time machine I could use, those are really the only two. Oh, or I could get a ~$9000 loan to buy my current car. Which might be the way to go but I dont really like it. Its a symbol of past mistakes. Like a beacon of my past stupidity.
Anyway, my goals for 2010:
1) Create a new joint budget.
2) Create a plan to solve looming car "crisis".
3) Get emergency fund up to ~$9,000.
4) Open and fully fund Roth IRA for 2010 @ $5,000.
5) Get investment account total to $10,000.
6) Get Student loan debt to $3,000 by Jan 1, 2010.
Hmm... that is all. Will report as things progress.