I had some ambitious goals for 2010. My first payday for the year was yesterday. How am I doing?
First of all, I took one fairly big step backwards at the end of December when we were going away to our rural house. I bought discontinued bedframes at IKEA for $170.98 and charged it on my MasterCard. Yes, the card I've barely used in over a year, the same card that just increased my credit limit by $3,000. I'm really glad I bought them though. We've been sleeping on mattresses on the floor at the house and it's not that comfy. Having the bedframes will really help. We got them to the house in our car by putting down half the back seat and running them up between the front seats. There wasn't time while we were there to put them together but I hope to do them on the next trip.
Then we were at the house for the weekend and I charged groceries and birthday presents for Dear Child to the tune of $159.14. I did have money left in my chequing account but I thought that a cheque I'd written for $162 hadn't cleared yet. I didn't want to end up bouncing a cheque, so I charged it all. Turns out, luckily, that the cheque had cleared and I just hadn't noticed.
So, the net result was that my card balance went up from $5,868.52 to (gulp) $6,198.64, almost $200 over my old limit and $330.12 higher in total. And it will be worse in a couple of days when the interest hits my account.
However, there is also good news on the horizon. First of all, I got a raise! Okay, it's not huge, just 2% but there were no raises last year so this is good. I've paid the $159.14, plus paid the water and made a payment to Home Depot. Oh! Oh, oh, oh!!!! I almost forgot! I paid off the first Home Depot payment plan on December 31st! That's one of my goals for the year (because it was due January 1st).
I also took a big step toward another one of my goals today. I had to go in to the credit union to activate my new, permanent debit card (the temporary card they gave me when my card was skimmed was only good for 30 days) so I opened my Tax Free Savings Account at the same time and put $50 into it. My goal this year is to get it up to $1,300 by the end of the year. Yes, I know that you can put in $5,000 per year (and that my eligible amount for this year is $10,000 because unused amounts carry forward from year to year) but let's be realistic. It'll be a stretch to make my goal. There's no way I'd ever be able to put $416.66 away each month, unless I did it at the expense of paying down debt. How dumb would that be? Ooh, I'll earn maybe 2% on $5,000 of savings while paying 17% on $6,000 worth of debt. Don't think so. On the other hand, having an extra grand or so in an account that can be accessed if I need it is a good add-on to the ever-underfunded Emergency Fund.
While I was at the credit union I deposited cash to my rural credit union account (via the ATM). Why cash? Well, I pay to order cheques and they take a minimum of 5 business days to clear from the one credit union to the other. Cash should clear once the amount of the deposit is verified the next business day. The cash was for all the rural set-asides I've created. That includes the electric bill, property tax, garbage pickup and fuel oil. When next December rolls around and I need another tank of fuel oil the money will all be there. How grown up and responsible is that?
So, all in all, I'm doing fairly well in the financial area. And I've been walking for half an hour 5 days out of the past 7 (yet another goal).