Remember me? I used to post here with some regularity. This has been a really busy week, so less time has been available for you, dear reader (yes, I assume at this point I'm talking to a singular entity), and for that, I apologize. So, to recap my life this week -
I figure that I've written somewhere in excess of 20,000 words on various events at the Aussie Millions this week, without ever leaving the country. I've also spent 10 hours driving, not counting my normal morning commute (which is 20 minutes each way, so I don't really even consider myself having a commute), 27 hours in the office, 3 hours at a mini-trade show that our Sales Manager threw this weekend (quite successful, I might add), 7 hours on site at three different site visits (one of which included several trips to a catwalk 60+ feet in over the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum), and managed to squeeze in four workouts, a date night with Suzy (we went to see I Am Legend, not bad) and some sofa time this afternoon watching Dark City (never seen it before, total headfuck). So if I seem a little disjointed, it's because I am.
I'm not bitching, mind you, it's been a pretty good week all told. I've been busy, and am getting more engaged in my day job again, which is a nice feeling. I'm not sure why I became disengaged, but since I felt like a light switch was thrown a month or so ago I'm trying to focus on keeping it in the "on" position.
On that note, I really don't know what caused me to be disengaged, disenchanted, uninterested, whatever you wanna call it, with my job. I've been through it before, but this period of disengagement had gone on for a long time. Like nearly two years. I've suffered from depression off and on since I was in high school, and maybe that was it. I never felt any of the crushing darkness that I did when I was younger, just a general malaise where my job was concerned. I continued to perform, and my numbers were good, but that only really affects half my job. I'm not just a salesperson, I'm a manager as well, and my management kinda sucked for the last while. I'm lucky that the people on my team are pretty capable of self-motivating because I haven't provided great leadership for a while now.
I'm not saying that I'm going to turn things around 180 degrees overnight, and I'm not saying that I've instantly become a dynamo sales manager, but I'm trying to pay more attention to what's going on around me, and to consciously focus on doing things rather than letting things happen. Hopefully I can hold on to this improved focus, but it's probably worth talking to a doctor about some little happy pills rather than taking chances on the malaise coming back and me losing my job.
I've spent a lot of time this week playing with money, and working on our family finances as well. I've been readig Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, and while I'm not totally read to drink his Kool-Aid and sell the car I just bought for Suzy to focus 100% on paying off all our debt, I am taking a harder look at our finances and our debt load, and trying to make our money work for us better. I opened an internet savings account with HSBC last year, and it gives me 4.25% interest, which is some ridiculous amount better than my Wachovia savings account, so I've moved our savings into that account, and I'm pouring as much money as I can into paying off our two credit cards. We only owe about $5,000 on the both of them, so I think I'll be able to pay them off within the next month if I try hard and pour all my writing income into those cards.
Then it's time to focus on paying off a couple of other small debts (a tiny medical deductible from last year and a few other things like that), then work very hard on paying off the new car early. If we send all the money we've poured into credit cards and savings over the past year into making extra payments on the car, we can pay it off in 2 years instead of 5. That would save us over $1,000 in interest on the car! I also want to refinance my house this spring or summer. Because our credit sucked when we bought the house, we got stuck with a stupid high interest rate. Between improved credit and equity that's built up in the house, I should be able to refinance into a 15-year note and keep my payment the same. Then if I make my payments weekly instead of monthly like I've done for the last several years, I can pay off my house in 12 years!
That's something I highly recommend for anyone who's not already doing it - make more mortgage payments. Obviously if you rent it's irrelevant, but if you own your home, splitting your mortgage into four weekly payments not only takes less work in your budgeting (as long as you get paid weekly) because you send a small amount to the mortgage folks each week rather than a BIG check each month, you also end up making an extra payment each year, which gets applied to principal.
Weekly payments = 52 payments/year. 52 payments/year = 13 payments. 13 payments = 1 payment going directly to principal.
Making one extra payment each year on a 30-year mortgage reduces the life of the mortgage by years. For example, on a $200,000 mortgage with a 7% interest rate, making one extra payment each year reduces the interest paid over the life of the loan by $68,000! That's a nice car, with enough left over for a nice vacation. Depending of course, on your opinion of a really nice car and nice vacation.With my personal values on cars, it's enough for a really nice car and a couple of nice vacations!
But you don't come here to read my financial advice. But that's what I've been paying attention to this week, in addition to redistributing my 401(k) money and making sure that I have a good method in place for making the money to pay off all these debts. It might be a pipe dream, but it would certainly be nice to be 100% debt free by age 50. Like I said, I'm not totally ready to drink Dave Ramsey's Kool-Aid, but I'm taking the ideas that he has that I like and incorporating them into my life. Ditto Suze Orman, who also has some good ideas.
Keep checking back, at some point I may even play poker again. I'm donking around with $25 NLHE on Stars right now, and will likely continue to play for half an hour or so each night. Now it's off to eBay to sell off some of the shit I found while cleaning my office tonight.