I know many of you aren't in the debt-battling phase of your finance journey, but I am. And for a long long time, I had my head stuck in the sand about my obligations/issues. Not dealing with my debt and racking up more debt was exacerbated by a battle with depression, the origin of which had NOTHING to do with finances but by the time I figured out I wasn't just having normal issues (ie, there was a problem and it was medical and it was clinical depression), a lot of bad avoidance behaviors had become habit - not opening the mail for one. How can you pay your bills if you don't get them from the mailbox and open the dang envelops? If any of you have been depressed, you probably know this behavior - and also, if you know someone who is exhibiting this behavior - please know that it is a sign that something is NOT RIGHT. Please talk to them about it?
(end of Public Service Announcement, onto SUCCESS STORY!)
So all that being said, I finally got help with my broken head & treated the depression (this was 3 years ago, by the way), and as a family, we have been dealing with the finances. And I've been to my mailbox consistently for at least 2 years! BUT knowing how much you owe and what your monthly budget will be are not the same as looking at the whole picture. So I finally sat down and did a net worth. I know - this seems so simply/silly, but it was one thing I had been avoiding, because I was afraid it would be negative! I'm of the school that doesn't track appreciation on the house, since you don't / can't realize it until you sell - and this is our one major asset and we're not moving. I got all my records out and laid out the numbers this weekend and went backwards to January 2008 and did quarterly snapshots. And...wait, what? We're in the black!? Even with only recording the purchase price of our house and the 'poor' condition of our beater cars! The turning point was the last quarter of 2008 - my DH had been working for a few months after a long layoff and we had been scrimping/snowballing down our debts and here we are! In the BLACK. Awesome-sauce!
Paying off that loan in March did something weird to our percentage growth for 1Q09 - since it had been a liability and now is a free/clear asset on the 401K line, it is double-counting or something, but even so - HURRAY! And the other part of this post - about the depression? I realize that this one shred of avoidance is gone and I'm feeling VERY FREE from those old behaviors.