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It's done... all done...

June 2nd, 2015 at 06:08 pm

The day has arrived - WE ARE DEBT FREE!!!!!

And I still don't believe it, cant believe it and don't know how to really process it. My whole life I have had DEBT, never in all my working life have I been debt free.

Its taken over 9 years of challenge, dealing with a gambling addiction, closing a business, selling my home and going back to the full-time employment AND here I am, still ok.

If someone had told me it would be possible, I would never have believed them. Now that it is done, I don't know how I did it.

Could it have happened quicker? Absolutely, but I was learning life lessons along the way and re-establishing values.

Could I have done it on my own? Never! So many people have given me encouragement, assistance and courage when times were really tough, celebrated the successes and cheered for the progress.

And now... it feels so strange.

But I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to celebrate this day and that the experience has made me a better person.

So once again, I live my life "one day at a time"....
and think about setting new goals.

Updated and getting there...

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:05 am

Have been watching everyone's progress and just couldn't resist today. Finally I am nearly there - 8 years later!!!

And I love my life now!

Compared to the stress and pressure that I used to be faced with everyday and every night, my journey has had so many lessons (and I am still learning every day).

On the 1 May 2014, I will have been back in full time employment for 5 years, as an ORN. And here's the first lesson:
- It's not what you earn that gets you where you want to be but how you manage what you earn.
My income dropped by 30% but in return I got subsidized retirement contributions, medical insurance, overtime pay, specialization allowance, uniform allowance and a guaranteed 13th cheque every December.

Second lesson:
The simpler you can make you life, the lower your cost of living will be. When I was a sales exec I needed an extensive wardrobe, hairdresser every 6 weeks, larger car for the high mileage, help at home to look after my daughter and so the list goes on...
Now that I wear a uniform and work shifts, I am able to keep my clothing to a minimum, fetch my daughter from school, do my own housework (unusual in S Africa), low car expenses, lower car insurance etc

Third lesson:
Paying off debt is a journey not a project. If you don't change your habits then the debt will come back again because your behavior hasn't changed.

Fourth lesson:
Gratitude gets you through the worst days - there is always someone worse off than you, so being grateful for what you have and where you are gives you the courage to do one more day.

Fifth lesson:
Enjoy today for today and always look for one more thing to do which will save you a $1 - its the singles that make up the hundreds Smile

Finally listed and defined my goals for 2013

April 16th, 2013 at 09:16 pm

Better late than never Smile

Am really trying hard to stay focused and making sure that I tell my money where to go!!

Goals for 2013:
Computer Savings: $780 now $76
EMF: $1405 Now $426
Reduce debt by: $4815 paid $0
(extra payments)
College Fees: $525 now $0
College Books: $110 now $0
DD Savings: $835 now $584

Now that I have them up here I am hoping that I will be able to make more regular payments towards each of them and "see my progress".
The extra debt payment is my snowball amount which I want to start applying once the EMF in funded to $1405 - can't be worrying about the Murphy again. (he had his turn with the car tires last week - enough already!)

Take care everyone - sad to hear about and see the results of the Bomb blasts in Boston...

Haven't been here a while...

March 30th, 2013 at 08:21 pm

Have had to finish 7 assignments- all due by the end of April but decided that was too close to exams so just got stuck in and got them done and out the way by the 26 Mar. Finished the last one on Tuesday (26 Mar) and then realised that exams start in 5 weeks time and I haven't even finished reviewing my course materials - yikes !!!
Managed to put in 9 hours today on one of my subjects and catchup some of it and tomorrow I will try for another marathon day...
On the money side, we had a really tight March because I settled that outstanding tax bill - but still managed to meet all our commitments.
We got an increase at work – 7.2% . I was ecstatic – in these economic times it was very generous. Already allocated part of the increase to my pension fund, some to debt reduction and some for pleasure i.e. plan to transfer to a gym around the corner so that DD and I can swim/train all year round.
I love my job as well so the increase has made it even better – how cool is that.
We are into the beginning of autumn here and can already see the days are shortening and the evening/morning temperatures are dropping.  I really don’t enjoy winter here – we are just not equipped for the winter but then I guess we must be one of the few countries in the world who can have a -3°C with bright sunny days and a wind chill factor of a further -5°C. But it is really is not so long and spring starts again early September, with a few left over cold spells.
Hope you have a Happy and Blessed Easter tomorrow (if you celebrate Easter) – will pop back again soon
See ya…

Taxes are paid up … at last…

February 25th, 2013 at 07:16 pm

$4294 paid in full since April last year – just can’t believe that this outstanding tax is finally paid! It has been outstanding since April 2009 but I was just not able to pay and then finally last year I called them and made the necessary arrangements.

I actually had another 2 months to pay off the remaining $1000 but decided to just go for it and clear it – so that’s what I did.

My reasoning whilst I was setting my budget for March 2013 was I looked at my situation:
now that I have the new car (yes I got it on Tuesday last week!! Smile) and it has a 5 year warrantee and maintenance plan and...
I have medical insurance with enough in the savings portion for acute/emergency events and... there is enough money to cover all our regular monthly expenses so...
I decided to use most of our EMF to get rid of this monthly budget item – so there is a grand total of $100 left in the EMF!!!

At the end of March, I will get the EMF back to where it should be and then start snowballing the rest of my debts – roll-on December 2013.

We got paid today, so for the salary period for February we managed a total of 12 NSD – a record for us. It definitely made a huge difference to the way that I had to plan our meals and make sure that we used what we had – it reduced number of errands & saved mileage/gas.

For the month of March we are going to try for 14 NSD and hopefully as we get more organized we will get better at achieving them.

I found February to be especially challenging and am really pleased that it is now nearly over – I don’t know why I felt so pressured most of the time, tired and just somewhat unsettled. Maybe the car story, maybe because we have been so busy at work, DD just starting high school, I’ve just started studying again – who knows?

The past few days have been better, we seem to be working out a routine that works better for DD and myself – things are starting to feel more manageable and DD has been helping more around the house.

Even small daily improvements over time make a big difference - this is what I tell myself Smile

Will update the side panel next time… take care…

Signed the docs for my car...

February 16th, 2013 at 09:10 pm

So the saga of the car ends today!!

My friends decided that they didn’t want to sell the car I have been using since December, so my search was speeded up and…

My aunt and my cousin found me a car - 2011 model, marked down because the new shape and model was launched last year and they had excess stock; we ended up paying $12995 for a car with 14,000 miles, 5 year warrantee and 5 year service/maintenance plan.

And how did I finance it?

(Blush) I gave my $4000 and my aunt gave me $4000 and the rest was loaned by the family.

So I have incurred more debt and there are no excuses!
So now I add $4995 to my outstanding debt and increase my monthly debt payments by $100 per month.

Although I am conflicted about the debt I feel like it was the right decision for me at this time. To have a car finally that is not going to cost me a fortune like my past 2 cars did, is going to give me more peace than the extra debt.

If things get really tight then I will need to do an extra shift a month and that will cover the payment.
At least I don’t have to worry about breaking down or not being able to get to work because my car is in the workshop or how am I going to pay for repairs etc etc....

Had to have a tooth removed on Friday and this time I went to Maxilla Facial Surgeon instead of letting the dentist do it – what a difference. No pain, no swelling, no nothing – it was well worth the extra cost which I believe is going to be covered by medical insurance anyway.

Had another NSD today – not counting the car!!!! Ha Ha Ha!!!

Need to get back to studying tomorrow and the weekend routine – haven’t been at all organized the past week. So need to:

- Finish the laundry
- Ironing
- Clean the apartment
- Study for at least 5 hours
- Help DD with a school project
- Tidy up
- Menu plan for the week (pay day is only on the 25th so we have eat what we have!)

That’s it for today … see you tomorrow…

PS Will do the update of the side panel tomorrow!!!!

Well another year has passed...

February 7th, 2013 at 08:04 pm

I am going to be 51 yrs YOUNG tomorrow Smile Smile It's really funny to think that I am doing stuff now that I should have done when I was 31 - but hey who's counting not me (well not with any meaning!)

Took DD to the store so she could buy my gift and I ended buying Washing Powder that was on special - saved about $3 not much but I'll take it.

And then I bought myself a present for $5 - lotto tickets for the draw tomorrow night - jeez you never know?????

Work was good but didn't feel like studying tonight so I have been reading the entries and catching up on all your news.

You are all so organised and focused - it is amazing and so motivating. Promise to get my numbers and specific goals up this weekend - that way I will focus better and make my entries more interesting and specific.

We are due for salary increases at the end of March, and I am dying to see what the % will be - considering the state of the economy both locally and globally. We have been getting about 7% over the past 3 years and if this is maintained I think we will be doing well.

BTW someone asked about our retirement funding in SA - we have 2 options: through our employers or private investment/insurance companies.

Retirement through the employer is a great option because they pay a compulsory 7.5% of your salary value and then we are allowed to contribute up to 12% (I am contributing 10%)on pre-tax salary amount. On top of that we are allowed to contribute to other options outside of the employers offering - one of my goals is to get to 30% contribution but only once we have purchased our new home. (So a while to go still!)

We are also allowed to stagger our retirement payout ages for example, a woman can start retirement payouts from the age of 55 yrs and continue to 65 yrs (complusory payout) - I have 2 maturing in 4 years which I am going to use to settle the mortgage of our "still to be purchased" home.

Then I still have others maturing at 60 and of course, my current employers retirement kicks in a 65 so we should be okay. Plus as we know, nurses never ever stop working Smile

Feedback on 3 Bills I forgot to include in my budget for January:
Swimming training for DD $40 Paid
Balance of College fees for me $175.55 Paid
Utilities $49.33 (high for us) Paid
have had to use the savings to pay them - stupid and careless but at least we had the money to pay them

So the new balance on our EMF is: $4,714

BTW sold my big freezer at the end of December - it was costing too much in electricity to run and I wasn't able to keep it fully stocked anyway. So I am waiting for $75 for that and will put it back into the EMF.

Still looking for other ways to keep my money in my wallet and in the EMF account Smile

Take care....

Hello hello hello... I missed you all so much!!!

February 3rd, 2013 at 11:16 am

For the first time since the end of 2009, I have internet access at home again - had to stop it to save myself - had to stop the access to online casinos!!!
Now I have it again but no longer have banking facilities which allow me to transfer money to the casinos AND online gambling is now illegal in South Africa.
Jeez I can't believe I just said all that without hesitation to people I don't even know - oh well it's the truth.
My life has changed so much - going back to nursing was a great challenge but now I love it and have even gone as far as registering to upgrade my qualification to a Degree Status in Nursing Science.
This will take about 4 years and lots of $$$ but worth it in the end (part-time).
On the financial front, have made progress but not as much as I would have liked but I have to remind myself that dealing with an addiction AND getting used to working in a structured environment again is no easy task but I did it.
Really want this year to be the year when I say "I AM DEBT FREE!"
And the only way it is going to happen is by using this blog and your support and encouragement to get there.
We are still in a rented apartment, so as soon as the debt is settled we can start saving for the deposit on a new home.
Unfortunately, we had a challenge at the end of 2012, our 15year old car died on us - was only worth $2,265 but required $2,831 worth of repairs AND it wasn't even economical to run - a real gas guzzler. We managed to sell it for $2,800 even though it was not running to the mechanic who was looking after it - I was relieved to see it go - there were more repairs on the horizon and on a nurses salary, no way was I going to pay more on that car!!!
So now we are borrowing a car from a friend of mine and hoping that they will sell it to us - that will solve another challenge. Here's hoping.
Other than that we are happy and content, life has been good to us the past 4 years and DD and I have settled nicely into a normal life (vs my old life of addictive behaviour).

So what are my goals for 2013:
1. Purchase a car - cash only
2. Pass all the courses/modules I have registered for (6) with 70%
3. Finish paying off debt by the 20 December 2013
4. Be happy and full of gratitude for the journey I have taken in my life even with the ups and downs.

Speak to you tomorrow!!!!!

Yeah - I got booked for overtime...

August 21st, 2009 at 02:36 pm

The only way I get to save now, is by working overtime and I just heard today that I can get 3 extra shifts over the next 2 weekends. Whoopee - it means that I get to save $560 at the end of September. (We get paid overtime worked at the end of the following month).

Now that I am back on a salary, I find that every penny is budgeted for unless there is overtime pay. With the economy the way it is though, we only get overtime when there is someone off sick or on vacation - so I take it whenever I can get it.

Spent today:
Gas $20
Headache meds: $4.40
Chronic Meds: Nil (there was no co-pay)

What I am seeing that is if I am disciplined everyday and avoid the "little incidental expenses" I just don't spend as much money.

For the first in ages, I still have some money left in my bank account at the end of the month - $28 - not much I know, but psychologically it is a huge achievement for me AND pay day is Tuesday 25 August. Will move this balance into my savings/EMF fund then.

My savings/EMF has a whole $87.50 in it but again it's a start.

In May after securing my full-time nursing position, I decided (after lots of soul searching) to look at Debt Management because my creditors were bugging me so much and their demands were getting more and more unreasonable.
After the debt assessment, I decided to do it and now I pay $330 per month to the Debt Management attorney and they distribute it to each of my debts.

I no longer get harrassing phone calls AND am not allowed to live on or apply for any credit - which suits me just fine. I am so much more relaxed and every month just pay the money and I can live on the balance.

So all in all a good day - who would have thought that I could get excited about working extra shifts... just goes to show how things have changed Smile

Have a good day...

Updated Debt Balances...

June 27th, 2007 at 11:46 am

We got paid on the 25 June and I have just finished paying all bills for the end of June and the debt balances are:

Start Debt:
7/12/06: $236 978
5/29/07: $29 150 + $55 600 = $84750
6/27/07: $26 859 + $32 894 = $59853

Car Loan: $11073 Now $ 6748
CC2: $ 13716 Now $ 6832
CC3: $ 15918 Now 13279
Tax Liability: $55600 Now $32 894

Reduced by $2611 since 5/30/07

I am battling with the Tax Liability - I just don't know how I am going to get enough money together to pay this by the 28 Feb 2008.

Every time I look at what I need to save to pay this, I go straight into "overwhelm" - I think it is a good thing that I only look at the totals once a month and not everyday.

This month I have drawn cash (only $300) to carry us through until next pay day - a real challenge on it's own.

Thank goodness my employer pays for my gas (I commute about 60 miles per day) otherwise it would be even tougher.

I really make a concerted effort to focus on what we have and how Blessed we are - it is the only way to keep things in perspective.

BTW It snowed in Johannesburg last night - the first time in 25 years!!!!! Hmm wonder if this Global warming is starting to really impact us.

The funny side though - South Africans have no clue what to do in the snow - we have never had to clear snow off cars, drive on iced roads and snow tires - what are those????

Even the airplanes are not equipped to deal with de-icing - all our flights were delayed 2 - 3 hours this morning.

Have managed to get my $20 Challenge account up to $338 by adding change and getting paid for sewing. Am so tempted to add this to a debt payment but then I remind myself that I may need a washer soon - so the money is lying in a separate wallet in my drawer.

Well back to work...

Have a good day

Just a quick update...

June 18th, 2007 at 06:41 pm

to make up for the lack of entries the last couple of days.

Got quite a lot of sewing done this weekend:
Finished my sweatpants: saved $15
Finished DD's sweatpants: saved $7
Altered DD's school slacks: no savings
Total Saved: $22 (to come off sewing machine cost).

Had another 3 no spend days: Total for June = 9 Goal is 20 (Hmmm don't know if I will manage this but will keep going)

Decided to pay something more towards my CC debt - need to feel like I am making progress towards debt reduction:
Car Loan: $11073 Now $ 7103
CC2: $ 13716 5/30/07: $ 8608 Now $7294
CC3: $ 15918 Now 13439
Tax Liability: $55 600 Now $33314 6/15/2007: Paid an extra $420 = $32894
TOTAL DEBT: Start 4/1/2006: $236 978 Now: $60730

This is so exciting, I just know that I am going to be able to achieve my debt free status.

$20 Challenge: Added lose change from wallet and bottle = $17.61
New Total: $301.56
Yeah - reached the $300 dollar mark.
New goal - $400 by 31 July 2007.

Sewing Machine cost: Start: $3425
6/10/2007: $3236.29
6/18/2007: less $22 = $3214.29

Holiday Fund:
DD added her allowance and I got an unexpected refund of 28.57 so our new total is: $185.71

Making progress mid-month is great - I only get paid monthly so this is an extra bonus.

Cooked all the chicken that I bought on special tonight and will use it to make:
Chicken pies
Chicken al la king
Chicken lasagna
and then freeze it in portions so that we have home pre-cooked, convenience meals.

Am really tired at the moment, think it is the short winter days and wanting to hibernate in the cold.

Well I am off to bed now after a long hot bath

Speak to you tomorrow...

One day at a time...

May 30th, 2007 at 12:47 pm

is the only way I am going to get on top of this latest challenge.

Have had some time now to think about my plan of action and my thoughts so far are:

The funds in EMF - I am going to allocate $8000 to the tax liability.

I got a final payment on the sale of my house the other day from the bank of $ 14 286

So already I have $22 286 towards the $55 600

There are other amounts outstanding still from my house sale:
The closing attorneys still owe me $5714
The utilities company owe me a refund of $1158
Total outstanding $6872

Company expenses refund $347

NOW if I add $22286 plus $7219 = $29505 I would have been debt free without this additional tax liability - HOW DISAPPOINTING!!!!!!!!!

Oh well, as I said one day at a time.

I needed to go to the store today and only had $15.70 in my wallet (remember I took the ATM cards out and don't have CC)
Bought laundry detergent, bread, tuna, gum = $12.84 (bought large sizes and bread for the week to freeze).

Ha got that spot on and I still have a couple of dollars in my purse. Smile Smile

Okay so not a No Spend Day but great economy.

BTW I have managed 7 out 10 No Spend Days and will get tomorrow down as a no spend day too. 8/10 not too bad.

I have a huge headache today (not really surprised) and fortunately have finished my client calls for the day so I am going to have a nap before I fetch my DD and start supper.

Need to get into my sewing room tonight - when I am feeling so stressed and pressured (one of my triggers to gamble) I have to be especially careful. Sewing and getting busy making something out of nothing, helps me to reduce my stress and makes me feel like I have accomplished something.

Also, this weekend I need to rework our monthly budget and look for ways to cut our expenses again so that I can increase the savings amount to the Tax Fund. Don't really know how much more I can cut but will try anyway OR time to start taking in mending, sewing etc again to boost the income.

Wow another long long entry - but it helps so

Enjoy your day and see ya tomorrow Smile