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Financial Health, too

Friday, January 28, 2011

Last January, I decided to start on a journey of physical health and I'm quite happy with the results. By the end of the year, even with detour, I had lost 20% of my starting body weight (I need to lose almost 60% of the start weight of 348 pounds to reach a healthy BMI). This year, I decided to start on a journey of financial health.

For the past 5 years I've been self employed. I was making about what I made back when I had a salary, but stability was sorely lacking. My husband has been in startup mode for a few years, and a home reno went very bad and wiped out our savings and put us into debt. So it was getting increasingly stressful. Then a client I gave a big chunk of my year to went out of business and defaulted on a large portion of what he owed me. Ouch. No back up and no recourse except the overdraft.

So, just as I did with Spark a year ago, I took some small action steps. Last November I started applying for jobs (but only jobs that interested me). I decided that if I was going to take a high stress job (and my field of expertise is high stress) then it had to fit my value system. My backup plan was to take a job as a barrista or in retail, otherwise, so that I could home at the end of the day and let go of the work day easily. Right before Christmas I got a great job (not great pay, but it really fits my ethics) AND we negotiated to make it 2/3 time so that I could keep some of my more profitable contracts with clients I like working with. Stable income achieved.

Next step--get rid of high income debt. Emotionally, I hated to do it, but I took out a line of credit against my home equity. The interest rate was a quarter of the interest on my consumer debt and, even with the hefty fees, will save me almost $15,000 in interest over the 3.5 years of the term. It also reduces my monthly payments by about $900, half of which I will put back on the line of credit and half of which I will put into savings so that I get my emergency fund back.

I should point out that we had taken care of the other part of the equation, budget and reduced spending almost 3 years ago. But it's hard to stick to a budget when you have no idea of monthly income. Our spending is very minimal (no latte factor), we only use cash to shop with, and there is no impulse buys allowed, unless we have saved up for it out of our small weekly allowance (yep, we have allowances for our individual disposable incomes--that way I can buy my pricey face moisturizer without feeling guilty, although I have to plan well in advance and save for it). Budgeting HAS taught me that every purchase is a choice and that making the choice to buy a particular thing means that I have taken that purchasing power away for the next thing I want/need.

I've got way less shoes or groovy hair ornaments, but I've also got way less stress. No more keeping up with the imaginary Joneses...

And, I've had a good week on the physical health side, too. Ate mostly healthy food in healthy amounts (with one small fudge escapade), got some walking in despite my hacking cough, and went down another 2 pounds this week. 74 pounds of fat is gone. I like it!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ISHIIGIRL 1/31/2011 4:56PM

    It is just so amazing how you can start getting one area of your life under control and the other areas follow. If you haven't checked out Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, I highly recommend it. It sounds likeyou could be a fan!

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46SHADOW 1/31/2011 4:18PM

    way to go!

Comment edited on: 1/31/2011 4:18:48 PM

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LORIENABANANA 1/30/2011 2:37PM

    Such a great post! I like that you've been mature enough to face your situation and take realistic steps to make it better. Yay you!! I'm still working through the denial. You're right, though, who really cares about groovy hair ornaments, anyway! Being able to give yourself what you really want is WAY more important. Congratulations!

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ANNE7X7 1/30/2011 12:50PM

    Ah! Financial stress! One of the worst kinds! I made a goal this year to be debt-free by the end of 2011, and it's very fulfilling to work towards it! I like the way you put it: "making the choice to buy a particular thing means that I have taken that purchasing power away for the next thing I want/need. " I`m gonna keep that in mind!!

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LAURIETAIT 1/30/2011 12:02AM

    Good job on the financial and physical health fronts. i need to re-evaluate my financial situation too. Retirement is looming and I don't want to spend it in a cardboard box behind a safeway somewhere. I think we all have way more stuff than we need. We could all do some downsizing and live quite comfortably. good for you.

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ATREAT4ME 1/29/2011 5:06PM

    You are very impressive. What a great recap of the healthy financial and physical ground you've covered. Very nice!

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LISED58 1/29/2011 12:37PM

    Hi. Isn't it amazing whst we can do when we put our mind to it! BRAVO! Financially and Weight Loss Too!
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DAVEW175 1/29/2011 6:37AM

    Sounds like you're on the right track. emoticon

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WESTCOASTGIRL2 1/28/2011 8:39PM

    I love how you are creating a new you; a new life. Not everyone can identify their shortcomings and figure out how to fix them. You are definitely a star! A SUPER STAR! emoticon

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FORMYDARLINGS 1/28/2011 8:29PM

    I think I may vote for you as primo lifestyle changeo for the year!!! Go girl, Go!!!

I am glad to hear that all is going well and you are thriving.

Gini

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CHEVYGALPAULA 1/28/2011 8:04PM

    You constantly amaze me. You are such a strong beautiful person. I need to take a page from your book now that I am well into my weight loss journey and make financial security a priority. I've gotten better about controling my emotional eating, now to reign in that emotional spending.

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MRDPOLING 1/28/2011 7:30PM

    I am with you on that... I got to get a handle on my credit cards and loans. I've gone bonkers or something and have got them all filled again. Amazing how easy it is to fall into that habit. And oh so hard to break it.

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JEANNETTE59 1/28/2011 6:28PM

  emoticon you're in control and you're emoticon

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MEADSBAY 1/28/2011 6:17PM

    You are wickit smaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart, as we say in RI!
Way to take control of your life in so many good ways, my friend.

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