Monday, December 7, 2009

setting goals

November and December are hectic. November was hectic because if you watched news for a few minutes you probably found out that we elected a new president amidst a political crisis that we've had since june 28th. So there was a lot of tension in the air about election day. Was there going to be bombs, riots and clashes with police or was it going to be peaceful? was there going to be a great turnout of people voting or would most stay home fearing the violence. Well, it was definitely the most peaceful day in recent months and turnout was great. So that was kind a sigh of relief.
 
Now that things are more calm people are focusing on normal things. Here in Honduras we get what is called "aguinaldo". That is basically an extra month's pay. Imagine getting one full month of pay on Dec 5, and then your regular paycheks on the day you usually get paid. That and other things make for December a very hectic month. People run around with money trying to spend it all on gifts, food etc.
 
I already spent 50% of mine by paying september and october of my girls school. The rest of it I have to use to pay for November and December AND buy them clothes and guy supplies for meals on Christmas eve and New Years eve. It's a tradition that there is a lot of food cooked those days so that the next days the cooks can rest and eat with the family.
 
I tried as much as I could to hold on to the rest of my Aguinaldo, but I found myself paying for a few extras, like chicken from Popeyes, which is about 80lps more expensive than chicken from Pollo Campero. Little things that after a while my mind said stop! Then my wife got sick, again, with migranes, again. I had to buy her some medication and now I have to submit a ton of insurance paperwork with the hopes that some of tha that money will be reimbursed, I hope a stamp or a signature won't make them reject my claim.
 
The topic of this post came to be because in December, due to that money in the account plus the regular paychecks from my both jobs and other small incomes (coop profit distribution, overtime pay etc), I find myself with money that has no budget, with many things to do urgently and little time to go to banks. That is the recipe for disarter as I try to buy my way out of problems, like gifts or foods and being unable to take the time to go to the bank that always has long lines so I could deposit my money in my emergency fund and freedom accounts. Sure I could do it online but it's 20lps per transfer and for some reason those 20lps seem more real than the 15 lps I have to pay at the "convenient" ATM across the street, rather than the "free" ATM about a mile away after a busy intersection with traffic lights.
 
I guess these are hard decisions to make for something that is about $1 worth. Do I drive up there and spend time and fuel to get a free withdrawl? or pay 15 lps just walking across the street?
 
So I figure it would help me focus if I have goals. I mean being debt free is a goal, or is it not? I don't have a mortage because I don't have a house of my own so eventually I could owe nothing if I continue my plan. However I worry that once i'm debt free all that extra money will find a way out of my hands if I don't have goals for it. But what goals should I have? to free up my June and December bonuses by paying for my girls' school with my freed up salary? replacing my old car that goes in the shop frequently with a newer more reliable, comfortable, safer car? buying a house? doing all? doing something else? I haven't had a chance to think about it.
 
And what trigger it all? well the extra money this month was part of it, but the other was that i'm less that $100 away from paying up my dollar debt to my platinum credit card. That money in my budget will move to the next smallest amount, which is my cellphone credit card. that should take a few months , hopefully 10 or less and then on to the next one..and so on. As you can remember I have two credit cards on a payment schedule so I can't pay more to them than what is already set. So those will end in 18 and 24 months regardless, if I stick to the payment plan. I can see myself saying "ok i'm done paying, please cancel this credit card". It's easy to do that here, there is no negative aspect of canceling a credit card on your credit record (or so I think, I haven't ask for a loan in a while). I can see myself living with two cards instead of six that I have right now. Are those goals too?
 
Anyway. I feel I have too much money in my regular account, and even though I will pay 20lps for the transfer i'm going to transfer it right now and avoid the temptation of having them within easy reach.
 
Let me know what you think.
 
 

2 comments:

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