It’s going to be quiet for the next two weeks, since I will be traveling in Costa Rica. It’s been a long time since I left the country (2 years, 4 months!) and a long time since I took a real vacation. So it will be great. And I budgeted enough to where we won’t need to use credit cards, which feels even better. I think we won’t need to use credit. Probably. I’ll let you know.
But when I get back, things are going to get SERIOUS. Not just for the blog, although I will get back into posting more often and finally getting some of my friends to post, but for my life financial goals. Let’s go over them now!
1) Write more book reviews on financial topics, crime/corruption and human behavior books. I have a wide range of interests when it comes to non-fiction and there are some books covering these topics that are not to be missed. I’ll try to get to those and warn you which ones not to waste your time on.
2) Start taking my own pictures for use on posts. Requires a camera. Sigh. I want a camera so badly I get physically worked up about it. But I don’t have the money to buy one and can’t afford new debt. Conundrums.
3) Learn and connect with other bloggers, without being too creepy/pushy. There’s basically a solid debt/personal finance community out there, and they even had their first conference not too long ago. I am slowly getting to know some of them (and they are very friendly and open!), but there is already a circle there. It feels like high school and I’m desperately trying to push my way into the cheerleaders’ conversation. Even though I LOVE their blogs, I will just let connections happen naturally. On the same note, I’ve given up on trying to get Twitter followers. That’s besides the point and also feels desperate. And since I refuse to put my smug face out there, my followers will probably stay low. The whole point of this blog was not to get followers in bulk quantities, but to reach out and hopefully have a few people read this blog regularly. It also forces me to talk about my finances and debt which has really kept me on track. In the past, my finances were my number one concern, but I still would not talk about it or take any action on it. Now, I create monthly updates of how I’m doing which forces me to be honest and do a regular self-assessment. Like a breast exam for my wallet.
4) Put together a guide of getting out of debt without reinventing the wheel. Everything you need to know is already out there thanks to some great bloggers. I’m going to create a reference guide of posts and people who have really helped me in my process. A good portion of getting out of debt is changing your mindset and attitude, and 95% of my change came from getting amazing guidance from strangers on the internet. (Update: DONE! Check out my Top Ten Blog Posts About Debt, Money and Life)
5) Give you more news/trend analysis. I think I do my best work when I look at situations and then sum them up, wildly overgeneralizing and ranting in the process. That is, I think I do my best work when I try to figure out why we do the things we do, why the media presents the things in the manner it does, and why we feed ourselves with so many lies and distractions instead of living for ourselves and being with those we love. Those posts take longer but I think they are way more interesting.
And here are my personal goals in my finances and my life through the end of 2011:
1) Pay off my smallest debt (it’s down to $980). That would bring me to 4 debt accounts (car, student loan, two credit cards).
2) Pay whatever additional amount to bring my debt to $34,500.
3) Begin the preapproval process to buy my first place. More on this exciting news in 2012!
4) Have savings of $300. I know that sounds small and I’m supposed to have $1,000 in my emergency fund, but you’re talking about a reformed violent spender. I am more focused on paying off that small debt, which will be important for improving my credit. But savings will play a bigger role in 2012 so it will be good to have a foundation.
5) Work out 4-5 days a week. Right now I am doing pretty good, as I work out 3 days a week. But that’s definitely not enough to stay in shape and keep the “late 20s” pounds from creeping on. So I have to push myself and get back on the wagon, or just right myself on the wagon, as I would say I am probably half-on, half-off the wagon at the moment.
6) Submit 1 article to Thought Catalog. This will be my personal challenge for the end of 2011. I love the site because it is like mastering the art of the personal essay. And since bloggers are the most personal of essayists, I want to give it a shot.
We’ll check on how I did on all of these goals with the January debt update.
American Debt Project will be 6 months old when I write my next post. I’ve learned a lot already and even though I was surprised to find out that writing about my debt wasn’t as groundbreaking as I thought it would be (There are over 774 Personal Finance blogs on WiseBread’s list!), it’s been one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I get excited by the idea that I am connecting with people, both strangers and friends, and we can talk about ideas and possibilities and not celebrity gossip or some tired debate on politics that I could care less about. Those harbingers of distraction could distract me to the end of my life. I could plod along in my life with my head down, feeling envious of what I don’t have and frustrated at the spectacle of what an average life has become. Or I can try to become a better writer, and use my blog as a way to stay accountable to my goal of becoming debt free, and educate myself and readers about what’s really changing the world.
See you real soon, I’ll be where I am happiest (in the tropics):