Monday, July 28, 2008

One Big Milestone: One Credit Card PAID OFF!

I just paid off one of my credit cards. Wheeeeeeeeee!

What allowed me to pay it off was most of my snowflake money from the last month or so. (The snowflake money leftover went to the student loan.)

Now, it's just the second credit card and the student loan.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shopping and A Potential New Client

So, today I went on my long-awaited shopping spree, and for once, I actually found things I wanted when I had cash (literally) in my pocket. It felt great. I finally bought a new pair of black shoes (hurrah!), and several other things I've been wanting/needing.

Also, I went to exchange the shirt I bought on vacation last week (it had a snag), and when I took it back to the store and exchanged it, I got over $7 back. Apparently, it had gone on sale and I was entitled to the partial refund. Hurrah, again!

I still have cash leftover, though I haven't counted it out. I may do some thrift shopping tomorrow, so I'm going to keep it on hand. Just in case. Otherwise, I'm going to put it in the Closet Stash, and save it for a rainy day. Though, that closet stash is fairly healthy and not tapped very often, so I may just snowflake the money, instead.

How does going shopping relate to a potential new client, you ask? Well. While I was trying on a shirt, my mother started talking with a sales clerk at the store. I come out and join the conversation, and it comes out that I'm a freelance Technical Writer. Apparently the clerk's husband is a software developer or programmer, and has some documentation that he "thinks" he can write well, but it sounds like he knows he needs a Tech Writer. After explaining some of my experience, I gave the clerk my contact information and she's supposed to pass it on to her husband. It would be incredible if it actually turned into a contract -- especially since it's just the type of contract I like: get in, do the work, get out, pre-determined fee and timeline.

This so perfectly goes back to my post on the value of being chatty. You never know when you might meet someone that is looking for what you do.

This meeting also drove home my need for business cards and a better business presence. I hated to admit to my lack of business cards and then having to write my contact information down on the back of an envelope for the clerk...

All in all, it was a good day (though my mother got tired out from all the walking we did). I got to spend some of the bounty of my earnings from last month and from my tax rebate check, and I potentially have a new client.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back In the Blink of An Eye

Whew. It doesn't seem so long since I was packing my bag...and now I'm unpacking it.


One week really isn't a proper vacation. Though, it was quiet, sunny, and I didn't come across any rattlesnakes, so it was quite nice. I'm fairly relaxed and somewhat recharged now, and that's the important thing. I have a ton of work to do this week, and my attitude is "OK, what's most urgent, and let's just start there and get it done."

I'm already thinking about another small trip, perhaps around my birthday (about a month from now). I'd love to go to New York or San Francisco. I love New York and would love to shop there and see some friends there. I've never been to San Francisco, and each friend whose jaw drops open at that tells me I'd LOVE it there.

Financially, I didn't spend much money at all on my vacation. Through random events, I never really got to go shopping, so that will wait until this weekend (because my day-to-day black shoes...well, the sole is so worn it's about to split...and the shoes aren't nice enough to even consider re-soling).

Finally, I had an article in last week's Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted over at Budgeting Babe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

T-14 to Vacation

In about 14 hours, I will be in the airport, waiting to hop the mini-jet for my 35 minute flight. It seems ridiculous and posh and decadent to fly to where I'm going, but like I've said, I'm allowing myself some splurging.

This past week, I've felt like I've suddenly lost a massive amount of brain cells, and I've been second-guessing some of the work I've done. Thankfully, nothing big has happened, and nothing that wasn't caught in review by someone else. It was sheer pleasure to finish today what I needed to have finished, and then to send an email reminding people of the vacation, adding "I will not be checking email." I may check email, but I certainly won't be opening anything work-related.

Really, I might try to go the whole time without checking email.

So now, I've packed my bag, done my banking and made sure the bills are paid, and tried to tidy my room (a failing activity at the best of times...I'm so not domestic(ated)...).

While I'm not planning on checking my email, I do have some posts partially-mostly written, and I will do my best to get a couple of them up next week. If I don't, please forgive me, and know that I'll be back next Sunday.

Have a great week everyone!

This week's carnival

My article Peak Oil and Retirement was included in this week's carnival of personal finance, hosted over at Mighty Bargain Hunter. He compiled an interesting theme revolving around the evolution of the American flag.

Go carnivals!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Economic Stimulus Check, and Why I'm Spending It

Recently, I posted a rant about how it was seeming like paying off my debt is a never-ending thing, how last month was my highest-earning month ever and how I wished I could just blow some of the largesse on frivolity.

It's money I won't miss. Yes, I know some people use the same argument for putting it towards debt or savings, but come on... It's also a matter of using the money for what it's meant for, instead of giving it to banks for them to make more money.

Instead, I've decided I'm going to spend most/all of my economic stimulus check. Next week, I'm going to visit a friend for a week (vacation...YAY!) and instead of taking nasty Greyhound, I'm splurging the extra $100 to fly. Even with dealing with the airport in Seattle it will still take less time.

Aside from the trip, I'm going to spend the money as I desire, with a time limit of the next two weeks or so. I figure I'll give myself that amount of time to have some fun and frivolity, and then I'll sock anything leftover into the savings accounts.

I'm not planning some blowout shopping spree (though there will be shopping), but I'm just going to give myself some freedom to not deny myself. After I decided this was to be my plan, I started to realize just how much I've denied myself since I started my debt eradication plan. I've bought very little in the way of brand new clothes (I love thrift shopping, don't get me wrong), I've not bought any art, and I've so frequently been a slave to my crack finance spreadsheet that I've forgotten about the little luxuries of life (Aveda shampoo and conditioner...sigh, real French cheese (the chevre at Trader Joe's...c'est mal)). Sometimes, it's just nice to pay full price and not worry about if I could've found a better deal.

While I drafted this post a while ago, I just found an interesting Wall Street Journal article on Yahoo. It postulates that the occasional splurge makes people happy in the long run. It seems like a fluff piece (especially since it's so brief), though I fully agree with it. What the commenters I read, and what everyone else, too, needs to remember is this: a splurge is an occasional thing. When you live life on a continual splurge, that's when the problems start. I've read about people complaining they couldn't go to lunch/drinks/whatever with new co-workers because of their budget, and then they say they feel isolated from other people. Isn't the occasional splurge then worth it? Besides, for an example like that, you're building rapport with co-workers, which is always a very useful thing. This goes back to something I've believed for a long time: it's better to regret something you've done than to regret something you haven't done -- obviously, within moderation. It all goes back to the balance I talk about.

Life costs money. It's just a matter of choosing what and how to spend the money. For me, I'm giving myself a little splurge time, and having made this decision, already I feel happier.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Carnival of Personal Finance

Last week I was nicely included in the Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted at Greener Pastures. The theme was The First Zero-Emissions City (a real project currently underway), and my article When is it Enough? was included.