October Check-in: A Frightful Month

Haunted by my bad decisions, I carry on in the dark.

My black cat Huginn sitting on my long, colorful paper chain of debt.
My black cat Huginn sitting on my long, colorful paper chain of debt.
I hope my cat Huginn is good luck; he’s sitting on my debt.

As a month that was not supposed to suck, but then did, I guess October was okay. My bouyant relief in September notwithstanding, we were hit hard by two expenses: a surgery for someone in our family, and the replacement of tires and realignment for our car. All of it went on credit cards; couldn’t be helped. For while we are far better off this time this year than last, we have economized as far as we can.

The rest of the problem, sadly, is with our income. Each month, we have only enough for the baseline expenses, a considerable amount of which is service to debt. Anything out of the ordinary, if it costs more than a hundred bucks, bowls us over.

Some good news:

I wish I had a magic bullet for this. I wish I could see into the next six months and predict with my customary optimism that we will beat back the debt again, but I frankly do not know. I’m feeling discouraged. Even after the costumes and fangs and fog machines have been put away for another year, I’m scared to death.

The numbers.

Total debt: $496,788, compared with $498,014 at the end of September. Could be worse.

Credit card & consumer debt, including our car loan is $13,364, compared with $11,867 in September, climbing upward for the second month in a row, and this time by quite a lot. I am thinking of rolling the car loan into our HELOC, which would free up $166/month for the HELOC payment and result in a faster pay-down.

Net worth: $82,244, compared with $81,692 in September and $80,431 in August. Despite everything, it is cheering to see that this number, at least, is getting stronger, bit by bit.

Life and Budget Goals: A Candle in the Dark.

I think my biggest victory this money is in the big picture: overall, we’ve gained net worth and slightly reduced our debt. I hate that we are back in credit card debt, large enough that it won’t be addressed in even six months. It’s an important reminder, I suppose, that bootstrapping alone won’t get any of us very far: we need systems and supports in place to either help us stretch our meager dollars, or help us find the means to earn more.

Say, drop me a line and tell me how your plans are going. I’d love to hear your goals. Keep going — and don’t lose your nerve!

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I’m a 50-something bohemian with a mountain of debt and regrets. Can I dig out before it’s all over? I brake for poets.

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