Let me just say here that clean is the man and should get some of the thanks on this thread!
I am stopping in to report some happy steps forward:
Hallelujah! I needed some good news today since those two sets of finals I graded had none...
(1) paid off my car loan a couple months ago and now. . . I own my car! That makes me weirdly happy. It also means I have another $130 a month to hurl at one of the credit cards.
Awesome! Keep, er... hurling...
(2) for the past 4 months I have reduced my overall debt by *more* than my target amount, and by $300 more than my monthly average last year. This, too, is very satisfying.
You are awesome!
(3) every month I have been putting away at least $150 into savings, including a special portion for a bike fund -- which I really hope I can reward myself with by using it to buy a better used bike at the end of the summer, but it's also good to know that that cushion is there.
A bike is a great investment in your health and eco- and pocket-friendly transportation and no CO2 emissions (which are something like 1 pound per mile on average for a car). It's all good!
(4) because of item #3, for the first time maybe ever I paid for my yearly car repair / registration with a check instead of putting it on the evil BofA card. And actually, because I told Mechanic Chick I simply could *not* pay more than $250 this month for repairs, she ended up making $100 of those repairs "optional" and gave me my inspection sticker anyhow.
Oh, welike Mechanic Chick (and we are jealous you have her!).
(5) next month, the now-inactive Amex card will drop below $2K.
Yea! It won't be long until it's history!
Lots of thanks to octo and others here for their advice and support. This is a much better way to live on many levels, psychologically not least. I do have this calendar of future estimated payments worked out for the next 2 years before I finally pay off everything and two years actually doesn't seem so very far away. I confess, this calendar is color-coded in eight different ways, and I rather obsessively recalculate stuff about twice a month. And I am just determined not to put anything at all ever again on the BofA card outside of emergencies, so I calculated exactly how much I will need for gas / food until my next paycheck. This, too, is a new habit which I'm glad to discover that I enjoy.
You are brilliant! Color-coding... calculating nine ways to Sunday... whatever works. Now, you know what your money is doing. You are telling it where to go rather than it telling you where it went.
This will allow me to use my summer pay to pay down debt, meaning that I should be totally debt-free in August (I think, I still have to run the new numbers). Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't a train.
In other news, we sold that house back in Old State couple of weeks ago. We now owe exactly $2500. We borrowed $5,000 to make sure we had the $55,000 to give away at closing. We paid half off on the first payment and will pay the other half off on June 1. We could probably pay it now, but then this month would have to be a very careful one and we don't like to live that close to the edge. So, on June 1 we will be completely debt free
, and will stay that way until we close on the house here (that we are renting but have a contract to buy), probably in the Fall.
This is the first month in nearly two years we haven't been paying for two homes. Man, it feels good!