Washington, District of Columbia, USA
September 12
Chief of Cheap
i blog about money and culture, and i have very little of both.


Cheapbohemian's Links
MAY 18, 2012 3:37PM

An Impolite Conversation

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I've been having fun with charts again.

It's good that the charting is fun, because the information isn't so fun.

I believe this is what my friend Nancy refers to as "the horizon always receding":

(Click the chart for a better view.)

This chart represents the changes--both subtle and, ultimately, virtually nonexistent--in my debt load since May 2011. The top bar is last year, and the bottom is now. So to speak.

You see, I've reduced my overall debt by about $7,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. But in real terms, I've made neither net gains nor losses overall. The biggest chunk paid down was on my house mortgage, owing to this helpful scheme. My student loans have shrunk, too, by another $2,500 during the past year.

The big growth is in credit consumer debt, but the picture is not as dire as you may imagine. More than 75 percent of my current credit card debt is actually sitting on balance transfer cards, not accruing further interest. My credit is costing me less than it ever has.

I've finally paid the last of my $5,000 loan to The Lending Club this month, and I am refinancing my house at a lower interest rate, which will help me pay a little more toward credit cards. I have managed to incur no additional debt during the past six months in spite of several major expenses, including a big 13th birthday party for my daughter and travel expenses associated with a couple of professional conferences, plus some major repairs to car and home.

Yes, delightful. But at the end of the day, I am frustrated, my fellow CheapBohemians. Because basically all this means that I am just winning at running in place.

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Yes, you are "winning at running in place". (actually moving a tiny bit forward).

That's not just good, that's GREAT!

As a CPA (I really am one - shocking, huh?), the only thing I would add is a contingency savings plan. Even if it is only $10 / week EVERY DAMN WEEK *ahem* it will quickly be enough to keep you from tipping into financial catastrophe if something happens. (like paying for that over due oil change vs. replacing an entire engine later on).

P.S. Congrats. GREAT job. Wish some of my clients would think like you do.
aw, you are too kind! One of the BIG lessons i am learning is that, as long as it takes to change one's habits, it will take about as long to see any result...and the result will be (as this has been) subtle. So, as with dieting, exercise, or any other self-improvement, it's easy to lose patience and give up entire;y.

so thank you--you really think so? I'm doing okay?

This chart doesn't reveal my current savings picture. I do have a liquid fund of about 4 months' worth of accessible savings, and I do have a small habit to put in some every month (I don't always make the each-week goal).

Thank you. I really was feeling a bit discouraged tonight.