New Beginnings

On January 5, 2014, my parents rushed me to the hospital where I was admitted into ICU with double pneumonia. While there I was diagnosed with some other chronic conditions, including depression. Ten days later I was discharged, on supplemental oxygen. Two weeks after that I went back to work part time and didn't get back to full time for a few more weeks. I got off daytime oxygen in March, I think, and night time oxygen in December.

This kind of experience makes a girl question her life, you know? This is what I realized: I was seriously incredibly unhappy. Not one single thing about my life felt like it was hopeful or good. I was miserable, dealing with severe anxiety issues, stressed out over my crazy job, not sleeping, and completely avoiding money problems. So I decided I needed to make some changes. Life is too short to be so trapped by misery.

Step one: take charge of my health. This one was kind of forced on me, to be honest. I'm making progress, I think, not as much as I would like sometimes, but most importantly, I see all my doctors regularly and am no longer living in denial about my medical issues.  Also, I changed jobs to a less stressful position. It wasn't easy to do, because I loved parts of my job, but the pressure of deadlines wasn't doing anything to help my anxiety issues and my happiness.

Step two, and this is the HUGE one: take charge of my finances.  And that is what this blog is going to help me with. Even if no one reads it, I feel the need to talk about what I'm doing, to celebrate small victories, to plan out things. Just talk, without boring my family and close friends (everyone loves to talk about budgets, right?).

So here we go!

My situation: I'm 39 and I haven't saved a single penny for retirement. I'm single, happily so, but it is hard financially to have a single income. I make under $30,000 a year and I have a poor FICO score, primarily because of my horrible debt to credit ratio. Before I started concentrating on this, I committed myself to a trip in June, which I don't entirely have the money for yet, but will. I had to buy a car in mid-2013. And I have that hospital bill (I am SO grateful for my health insurance!) to finish paying off.

I got my Master's degree in 2007, right before the economy imploded, and it took over a year to find a job (not in my field). At the time my student loan companies refused to consolidate loans, and my loan payments would be about $800/month. So I spent a year freaking out about defaulting, got several economic hardship forbearances, and finally, in desperation, starting taking 6 credit hours a semester at my local community college, paying out of pocket on a monthly payment plan. That qualified me for an in-school deferment on my student loans, and so I remained in good standing, thank goodness. I did that until this past semester, when I FINALLY faced my debt and researched my consolidation and repayment options. I received a loan consolidation and am now on an income-based repayment program, but my loan debt is almost $85,000. And, as you can imagine, I have credit card debt from my years of avoiding responsibility for this mess.

But here is the good news. I can fix this! And this is how I'm going to do it.

First, I listed ALL my debts, balances, interest rates, and minimum payments. If you research debt reduction plans, you'll find that there are two common approaches. First is a "snowball," where you pay off your smallest balance first and then tackle the next smallest, etc, so your motivation is paying off some things right away to keep you going. The second is the "avalanche" where you start with the highest interest bills first, no matter what the balance is. I also have the complication of paying for the trip in June, and I need to start an emergency fund before reducing my debt. I also have a small bill that needs to be paid off by June in order to avoid paying interest. 

That last item pretty much decided what my plan was. I'm already paying off that credit card, while saving everything I can for the trip. Once the trip is over I will spend about two months building up my emergency fund, and then will start on my hospital bill (the next smallest bill), which I can pay off in October. Then I can add another $1000 to my emergency fund before paying off the next bill.

I'm actually a little torn about the hospital bill, to be honest. It is the next smallest debt, but it is also interest free. I'm on a payment plan and if I continue on that I will pay it off in April 2016. But if I just keep with the payments and start on the highest interest credit card, then I won't finish it this year, and paying off something this year would feel really good. Still, I have a few months to decide for sure.

 If you've made it this far, thank you! I hope you follow along as I take control of my life, and I hope you find it helpful either as inspiration or a cautionary tale! Please stick around, and let me know what you think.


More than 4 years, really?

Not that anyone will read this, but holy crap, it's been four years since my last blog post here. I have to blog for a class I'm taking this semester so here I am, updating this while I'm at it.

SO much has happened in the last fours years, and my WIPs? HA. I finished that wedding afghan, a few years ago, but never gave it to its intended recipient. I never finished Dad's sweater and just this summer I unraveled it to reclaim the yarn for a future project. I never even started (much less finished) the Woodcliff afghan, but I FINALLY finished the Wool Eater afghan this last summer! It only took 6 years!

I don't have a lot of time to craft these days, but not for lack of desire. In a few weeks I will find out if I get a student loan consolidation (that includes a reduction of payment based on my income), and if so, I can stop taking classes and start having time to work on stuff! I would really like to get back into cross stitch again. I worked a little on some very old WIPs this summer, but there wasn't nearly enough time.


Another summer, another christmas.

So. not much got completed last year. For a long time I didn't do *anything* because I felt so horrible. Also, lots of personal stuff going on this year. It's been a pretty miserable year so far, actually. But now it's almost August, time to start (almost) fresh. Ready? And here we go:

1. Wedding granny afghan (due ASAP) started
2. "Sprinkler" cross stitch (due November, to have time for lacing and framing for christmas)--link to the art, not the cross stitch
3. Caroline's "woodcliff" afghan (due November, for mailing)
4. Wool Eater afghan (due December)
5. Dad's sweater (SIGH)

If there's time:

6. Jayne hat
7. HP mittens

I have vacation next week, and I plan to bust out as much of the wedding afghan as possible. It's been hot and I don't want to do anything, but as it's making squares I might be okay.


Post-christmas reevaluation

Things what must be done:

1. Jimmy (approx 15% done): due before February 4.
2. A Bevy of Bunnies: due February sometime, but must have time to lace and frame.
3. Jayne Hat: due ASAP, before April.
4. HP related something (not Hermione Hat?): due ASAP, before March.
5. Bulky yarn afghan: due ASAP.
6. Wedding afghan: due June.
7. Wool Eater afghan (now Beth's housewarming): due ASAP.
8. Handmade gift: due christmas 10 (might as well add it to the list, I have to figure out what to make.).

This list, it worries me.


Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy

So far, so good. Okay, so I'm like 8 rows into it, but so far, it's MUCH easier than all those cables. I'd take pictures, but it's midnight. Tired now, so to bed.

Feeling semi-hopeful . . .

Gryffindor Set is complete!

Pics coming later, but I just now finished weaving in the ends on sister's Gryffindor wristlets. I finished the fringe on the scarf earlier today. Yay!

There is a noticeable difference between the gloves--both in tension and all around quality of stitching. The second (red) glove is much nicer, though there's some laddering noticeable when the glove is stretched. The tension is much tighter than the first glove. I personally like the tension on the first glove, because it's a little more relaxed and comfortable, but what are you going to do? I need to work on my making my binding off looser, as well.

If I have time, I'm going to make another yellow glove. *If* I have time.


Status Update

Change of plans. Beck is no more. I just can't handle doing all those cables, they were killing me and I kept having to rip. SO. Say hello to Jimmy. Interestingly, no one in ravelry is doing Jimmy. Beck is definitely hugely popular, but there are three things that Jimmy has that Beck doesn't: 1. No Cables, 2. No half-zip, and 3. NO CABLES. Jimmy is actually a basket weave pattern, and I've done those before (okay, in crochet, but I understand the concept!). I'm gonna need some luck to finish in time.

Secondly, I've finished one of the Gryffindor Gloves for the sister. It didn't turn out too badly, for a first try. If I've got time, I'll make another one. Plans today are to knit the second one. After I finish the second one I'm going to add the fringe to the scarf, which is waiting patiently, having been stitched, woven, and blocked.


Almost done with one thing, at least!

Tonight I finished stitching the Gryffindor scarf. I've had some of the ends woven in, but halfway through stopped doing it as I went, so I'm working on weaving in ends tonight and tomorrow, and I'll add the fringe tomorrow. WOO. Pic when I finish.


Checking in

I've been knitting a storm on this stupid scarf and it's not done yet. This is a short "weekend" for me. At work I closed last night, and I open on Monday, so my weekend consists of today. But I'm going over to Laramie for the day to help my sister with her new house. I'm planning to knit in the car on the way there and back (thank goodness mom is going). Also there's a hockey game on tonight and I have to knit during that. The plan is to have the scarf finished this week. I said that last week, but I really mean it this time.

Beck is going nowhere. Crap.


Gryffindor Scarf

I haven't crocheted or knitted in *months*. It's very pathetic. That's what happens when I set deadlines, though. *headdesk*

Anyway, because it's the middle of October, I've decided to bite the bullet and get to work on a christmas project. No, not Beck (omg, I'm totally screwed with that), but the Harry Potter scarf. I've worked on it 2 days in a row, woo! I've decided that I'm going to do at least one block of color per day until the bastard is finished. Actually, I'm sort of hoping to have it done this weekend, as I'm off. Wish me luck!