19 April 2014

It wouldn't be a challenge without some setbacks

So just as soon as I kicked off this last push to be debt free and mailed off those tax payments that were weighing so heavily on me, two doozy-sized setbacks happened- my 16 year old cat became ill and needed nearly $1000 worth of treatment, and the transmission in my 2002 minivan let go and the cost to repair it vastly exceeded what it was worth (it's got 180,000 miles on it).

Excuse my french but well, shit.

After a not-insignificant amount of worry and self-pity, I realized something- this is exactly why I'm doing this. So when my cat is sick, I CAN take her to the vet. When my car dies, I CAN go buy a new one. So setbacks don't actually set me back.

In the meanwhile, I'll be driving my sister's car (she moved abroad). I'm hoping my cat improves, but she's 16 and at least I know I did right for her. And we'll keep soldering on.

11 April 2014

Big, Huge, Mammoth Relief

Last year, I made the tough decision to withdraw the funds from an old IRA and pay off the vast majority of my credit card debt. I did this for a few reasons- I have another, much larger retirement account with my current position, I was not making progress with my debt payoff since I stopped receiving child support, and I carried a lot of emotional baggage associated with that debt that I just wanted to be rid of.

I talked to a few friends who are in finance, did a lot of research, slept on it, and talked to my mom. Then I pulled the trigger.

I knew I would have to pay taxes on those funds, and also a 10% penalty for withdrawing the money before 59 1/2. And today, I did my taxes. Thankfully, I owe just about what I thought I would owe. I can afford to pay it.

It's done. I have been chipping away at this debt for nearly 7 years, and yet today was a big victory. What a relief.

08 April 2014

Banish the to-do list

Lately I've been trying out a new habit- not using a to do list. And I'm getting more done than ever!

Let me explain.

Throughout the day, a million little tasks are thrown at you. Beyond that, there are inevitably things you need to follow up on, do something about, or otherwise review. For example, if you attend a meeting at work, you need to type minutes, take care of tasks that arose during the meeting, follow up with people you need to speak with. I used to add these tasks to my to do list- if I thought of it or had time before my next thing. They would get put in the queue, and sometimes that was it. Especially if it was something that I didn't want to do- I'd wait, then the next day I'd put it off, and so on... until the thing was so overdue or long over that I was too embarrassed to resurrect it. It was the tell-tale heart of professional tasks.

That, or I simply forgot what happened. Why did I need to call Carrie re: website? What was "list coll exp"?

Not only that, but I spent time every day rereading these to do lists, thinking about them, and not acting on them. Talk about a supreme waste of my time!

So, I got rid of my to do list.

Okay, not fully, but the habit has become to deal with it (whatever it is) immediately. Think about it once, do it once, move on. Things that can't be done immediately don't get looked at until I can, like non urgent emails. Deal with it, delete it, and move on.

I know that this is probably obvious to some, but it wasn't to me, so I thought I'd put it out there. What do you think?