The goal is financial peace of mind. That's it. Peace of mind. That in itself is priceless. I don't know if that means a million dollars, or five million dollars, or what. It definitely means a change of attitude.
For me, financially, Peace of Mind means -
1. I will have savings set aside to fly across the country in case of emergency. I want to know I can get to my loved ones should anything happen. With family in New York, Wisconsin, Colorado and California...well, it matters.
2. I can go months without bank charges on my free account. And then I go months when nothing goes through the bank on time and I am floating in red until payday. Peace of mind would be having a free checking account, in the black, at all times.
3. I want to open bills on payday, write a check or go online, file it and it's all done. That's it. Two weeks of peace of mind. A couple years ago I was paid once a month. I loved it. I paid all my bills in full on payday. I always felt the weight of the world lift from me. I saved up all the bills until payday - brought them all out at once - and all at once they disappeared. This is the kind of peace of mind I am working for.
4. I want to be able to see a doctor or a dentist and have the ability to pay upon receipt. Right now I can't do that. These bills are hefty. Thing Two went to a doc for regular checkup type stuff and 20 minutes later I have a bill for $238. Which reminds me I need to incorporate that one into my budget.
5. I want savings for emergencies. Two months income would be a nice start, considering I have nothing right now. I would need to come up with a recommended list of appropriate times to access the money. If the situation does not fall into one of those appropriate times then it must not be an emergency. It just seems that when I have savings everything is an emergency and nothing stays in savings.
That's it. That's my definition. I need to know where I'm going. I still don't know how I'll get there. Today I am defining the destination, not the path to get there.
I'm still tracking my spending. Once everything blew up in front of me tracking my spending just seems like a total waste of time. Except...okay, it has a grounding aspect to it. It is proof that I have not thrown my hands up in disgust. No, my hands are poised and at the ready to record that sixty-nine cents I spent last Friday for a bag of microwave popcorn for lunch. Truly, it hasn't even been a week yet. I started on Friday the 13th. Today is only Wednesday.
Yesterday I did three things to bring my finances into shape:
~I reviewed my bank statement online and hard-copy. I see that I paid overdraft fees. Too many (even one is too many).
~I wrote out in long-hand on several pieces of paper all the things I pay and all the money that comes in. It took several drafts to make sure I got everything. Even as I type this I remember two things that did not get included last night. I will be re-writing this income/outgo page again.
~I opened all the bills and statements that are waiting for a "good" payday and read them. I didn't put them in any order. I just read them and put them back.
The thing I did that puts another wrench in the works is that I called family for financial assistance and it's in the mail. I have no idea how I'm going to pay this back. I don't know what else to do, but here I've taken on another debt.
Today I've done three things toward changing this money karma.
~I emailed my debt reduction service asking where the additional $110 that was freed up from paying off creditors is going. I don't see any of this "snowball" money going toward any of the remaining accounts.
~I called the debt reduction service to update the dollar amount showing on my statements. They are kind of a defensive bunch there on the phone. I want to stay in touch with these people. They need to know I'm watching now.
~I've put some thought into what I am trying to acheive here. I want to achieve some peace of mind this year. I think it's an extremely do-able goal. I just don't know what I'm doing.
Before the money arrives from family, I need to write down where it's going to go. I need to consider where it's going to do the most good. I need a plan or it will - poof - be gone before I can be smart.
I need to allow Thing One to take care of some issues for herself to make sure the bail is returned. I paid the first round of clearing her ticket back in August and it didn't work. She needs to do some karma clearing for herself. (God, grant me strength to back off for her to do it, but the vision and voice to guide her, gently or not, to get it done.) What a mess.
PS: Phones are still turned off. It no longer bothers me.