February 5th, 2002

self portrait

Financial meandering

Yesterday, I received my copies of TurboTax and a new version of Quicken. So I've been working on finances the last couple of days. The good news is that I should, once again, be getting a substantial return on my taxes. On top of being a home-owner with a mortgage and a home-equity line of credit for deductions, I made a substantial charitable contribution this year in order to get the van for Ericka.

On the down side, I'm putting together my budget. It's a bit depressing to see how much money is going out in black and white. I'll receive my first "real" paycheck from my new job this Friday (I think) so that'll lighten it up some; seeing some income will balance out the outflow.

I got pretty lazy with money the last year or so. My job at ADC paid pretty darn well and I didn't have to worry about whether or not I'd have enough to pay the basic bills and such. I didn't even give thought to splurging every other month or so on completely frivolous things: computer games, nights out, toys, trips, there was plenty. I think I'll get there again, it's just going to take some time to get used to the new way of things.

I went through a period of learning about money while I was in college. Bounced a lot of checks and had a checking account closed. Was the best thing that happened to me. It's amazing what not being able to make impulse purchases will do for your sense of money management. Without a checkbook, I simply couldn't buy things. I didn't habitually carry cash (largely because I would spend it if I did) so if I saw something I wanted, be it a cup of coffee, a book, a CD or a new computer, I couldn't have it. At least not right there. I had to plan to get every little thing.

The benefit of that hard year or so was that I can now carry cash, checks, credit cards and still not make impulse purchases. (Carrying cash I also attribute to poker; that's not money, that's poker stakes.) So I'm a lot better at handling what comes in and making sure it goes to necessaries. And also making sure that "necessaries" include things that are important to me, like entertainment and fun with friends.
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