Well, I guess it's time to pay the piper and check on those goals I set last year. Here they are:
1. Build and sustain an Emergency Fund of $1,000. Current balance: $200
2. Aggressively pay down Discover.
3. Reduce grocery spending.
4. NO new debt.
I guess it's a good thing that I don't run screaming when I look at these four goals. That must mean there has been some progress. And some adjustments along the way.
1. The Emergency Fund is still sitting at $200, not the $1,000 I wanted it to be. But there is an EF, so that's something.
2. Discover has not been paid down. In fact, it's increased. Priorities shifted and it is what it is.
3. Grocery spending has been a huge success. On average, I've reduced spending here by $100 a month. At the very least, I'm way more aware of every purchase and I try to think through its necessity, rather than just tossing it in the cart as in days of yore.
4. No new debt. There are two ways to look at this. We did have to pull out the credit card on occasion this year. And some individual totals have climbed a bit (i.e. Discover). But overall, we are ending the year owing less than when we started it. In fact, we owe more than $11,000 less. I'm going to call that one a win.
All in all, I feel good. This time last year, I had quit paying two credit cards and was wondering how I was going to get through the next month. We absolutely still live day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck, but I feel more in control. I spent the early part of 2011 making those dreaded calls to the credit card companies. While they were emotionally painful, they really weren't that bad. Each time, I hung up with my dignity intact and often with a payment plan in place. Those payment plans have been the single best thing to happen to our financial picture. With them, there is an end in sight. Granted it's not for four more years, but it's there. A five-year payment plan ends in five years with the debt paid in full. We're almost 20% done with those plans!
The year took its toll emotionally, physically and every other way, but we survived. (Ironically, when I crunched the numbers I found that our out-of-pocket medical expenses this year equalled our debt repayment, almost to the penny. We're praying we get a little relief on that end this year, though it's not likely.)
So I'm bidding 2011 farewell feeling as good about things as I can. 2012 will not likely be much different, but I am going to think about the goals and update them here soon. Maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow :)
Thanks to all my new PF friends for sticking with me through this journey. I'm very happy not to do it alone.
Happy New Year!