Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sometimes I'm too caught up in what I don't have...

...and forgetting to realize what I do have.

I have a lot of financial goals for myself. If you are a regular reader you will know that lately I have been thinking about trying to buy a house in the next few years, and am trying to save up money while paying down debt to do this. I also want to build up my emergency fund to at least $2,000. And I'm really concerned about my retirement savings, too; I'd like to have at least $75,000 strictly in retirement money by the time I'm 30 (in 7.5 years) to get a good head start.

So I'm getting stressed out from all these Tickle reversals (the rounds of denials seem to be over; I'm down at least $1000 by now) and getting depressed about how much money I won't be getting because of this stupid thing. Right now it looks like I'll be able to pay off my small credit card, but since I put a lot of charges on it in the last several days ($225 guinea pig bill, $125 in wedding weekend costs, etc) there isn't going to be enough left over to get my emergency fund up to $2,000 like I thought there would be. It'll basically just cover paying off the card. And I'm frustrated because I thought that I would be making some quick progress on this fund that I've been plugging away at these last few months.

As far as the house downpayment goes, this is a big setback because the sooner I get that emergency fund saved, the sooner I can divert the money to the house fund and to paying down the big credit card. So I probably won't be able to start on the house fund for another three months at least. At this point I'm considering stopping my Roth IRA contributions and putting that into the house fund instead, since I'll know if we're moving before April 2007, and if we don't buy a house I can just write a big check and redistribute. But what if something happens and I end up using some of the IRA money, which wouldn't have happened if it were safely away from me?

Yeah, so I think about all these things and I get more and more stressed out, because I've set all these goals for myself, and I always want to do things NOW NOW NOW, so I want to start putting money towards all these goals right now, and I had really hoped I could finish off the emergency fund and the small credit card with this money so I could get on to bigger things..

But I really need to stop and take a freaking breath. I get way too caught up in thinking how things are good, but they could be better.

I am already pretty well ahead of where most people my age are. (I know that we are in general terrible savers and this isn't a good comparison, but I am ahead.) I've at least got my $875 in the emergency fund, and I'm sending more money to it every month. I've got $8700 in my retirement fund right now, and if I really wanted to, I could pull out the $1,000 I have in the Roth to use for a downpayment if it's that important to me in the future.

But even more importantly, all of this saving is really pretty optional in my budget. And we still have lots of nice things even with all the saving and debt repayment - despite sending at least $500 a month to debt and savings, I can buy pretty much whatever the hell I want to, and a $225 guinea pig vet bill doesn't force me to raid my emergency stash, or heaven forbid, simply not treat my guinea pig.

I have a nice apartment, which could be bigger, but also could be a lot smaller. My guinea pig seems fine and isn't in any pain, the cat is fine, Boyfriend is fine, I am fine, we have plenty of food in the fridge and at least a month's worth of meat in the freezer. I even have clean clothes. The apartment could be cleaner but we don't have any ants or roaches or mice or anything like that. Things could be better, but I need to remember sometimes that things could also be a lot worse, and that I am lucky to have everything that I have - and the luxury of worrying about those extras that I don't, instead of worrying about how I'm going to get what I need to live.


Then Things said...

I feel like I could have written this entry.
The problem with being really into personal finance is that you spend so much time planning its hard to be patient, and hard when everything doesn't go according to plan.
Every month something comes up that forces me to put less in my savings than I would like- this month it was $100 to host my website for the next two years. This was a business expense that I feel confidant will pay off but its frustrating. However like you I have to remember that this just means I have $100 less to save, not that I am freaking out over where the money will come from or how I'm going to pay off the card I charged it to. We have to remember that we are actually doing really really well!

Dad said...

Don't let the EXCELLENT be the enemy of the GOOD. Your goals are clear... the path to them is unknown to everyone.

Erik said...

Don't worry, you are not alone with stressing about that kind of stuff. I was just in the process of paying down debt, and then I got a great opportunity to buy a fixer-upper condo for a good price and then set me back some money, because I had to put the appliances on credit. You just have to stay focused and not think about it in the macro sense. Try to set smaller goals and reward yourself for accomplishing each little goal. That is what I try to do

Ms. MiniDucky said...

I like to think of this as my Reverse Hedonic Treadmill.

As economists explain the normal hedonic treadmill, the thrill of acquisition has to be repeated once the thrill wears off. And the consumerism escalates because we need bigger and better to top the thrill we got from that new book or CD. Soon we need a new CD player, a new computer, new furniture, etc.

Conversely, we're so into our savings and personal finance that the thrill of the deposit must be repeated, and with bigger amounts so we can see our savings meter inch up just a liiiittle closer to the goal. As TT says, we have to be more patient than spenders because you have to wait for the next paycheck or the payout to be able to make that next move, but I think it's only natural that we get impatient with where we are now, and want to take the next TEN steps right-this-very-second.
My cure for this is to find another site that I can make some money on, or to get back to work ;)

freedumb said...

MsMiniDucky, That's a cool theory.

Kira, I think we all go through this...We want to finish everything at once, but we just can't...It sucks being human sometimes.

Chris said...


I think you said it best yourself when you stated your ahead of most people our age. You will be fine. Unless your a celeb in LA, your not supposed to have tons of money in your early 20's. You have goals and are working toward them. Don't worry, be happy.

calgirlfinance said...

Kira, It sounds like you're doing a great job. I have a lot of financial goals too and it's hard to accomplish all of them - especially when you're impatient like I am. =)

The Divine Miss M said...

I think you're doing great, especially since you're so young - just living a lifestyle you can actually afford is something to be proud of these days. Keep on trucking, girl!