Friday, March 10, 2006

Critique Groups & Retired Visa Cards

I've been talking to a friend of mine about getting together a critique group. Just a small cluster of 3 to 4 people who write historical romance. I have an on-line critique group and they've been a fabulous help so far, but I find I'm moving at a clip now that a group that size isn't really set up to keep pace with, so I need to find a smaller group in addition to my on-line group. I also like the idea of getting together every couple of weeks face to face and talking about the stories we're creating, brainstorming and helping each other out. I think it will definitely help me stay focused and generate a lot of new ideas. So hopefully I'll be able to find a 3rd and/or 4th member and we'll be off, armed with a good load of enthusiasm and chai lattes.

Okay, anyone who's read this blog for any length of time has probably heard me bitch and moan about the sad state of my financial affairs. I know some people get hinky about talking about money, but I've never been that shy about it.
All in all, things could definitely be worse. I can still pay by bills each month and I have a decent roof over my head and equity in my home. So it's not like I’m about to retire into bag lady land. But I'd also like to make sure I never get to that point. And quite frankly, I hate carrying debt.

I know, I know, everyone does it, so they say. Well maybe so, but that's only because the past couple of generations have made it so. Before that, my grandparents generation, it was a cash or nothing existence. They seemed to have the right perspective - if we can't pay for it now, we can't have it. These days, with our instant gratification personas, we've thrown that mindset out the window and now most of us are mired in debt and working just to stay afloat, one or two paycheques away from being out on the streets. I'd prefer to avoid that scenario.

So I've retired my Visa card. I've taken it out of my wallet and stuck it somewhere that I'll hopefully forget about it for a long while. My new motto - no cash, no go. Now granted, this may prove a little dicey with a maid of honor dress I need to pay half down on next month...but hopefully with some creative accounting and cut backs I can come up with something.

As for my planned shopping spree once I knocked off the weight, the one I had planned for March 18th? Well, the weight loss is on track, but the budget, not so much. So I might hold off until the first of May for that and just buy a couple of things instead. I took a second look at my wardrobe and figured out what I absolutely needed and it wasn't as long a list as I had originally thought. And again, if I can't pay cash on hand, that list may get shorter yet. But I'll sleep a lot easier knowing the debt load is shrinking, because the less debt I have to pay, the more money I can sock away into savings, and the more money I have in savings, the better chance I have of taking a trip each year--something that has been on hold for the last few years (with the exception of Reno which wasn't really a vacation type trip).

I've lost track of how long I've wanted to go to Europe, and to be honest, I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of so many things getting put on hold because I don't have the cash to do it because it's always going to pay off my debt, which I then wrack up again on stupid things that I don't really, truly need. Like that stupid notebook I bought last week. Another notebook. To go with the over 20 I already have.

I think I need to call Staples and have them bar me from their store.

8 comments:

Tess said...

Hope you find people for that new critique group :-) In the local chapter there aren't a lot of people writing HR. It sounds like a great idea!

Good idea on the whole credit card thing. I'm bad for whipping mine out when I shouldn't. Especially at Staples. When I've been down the pens and notebooks aisles. Maybe I should enquire about a "Don't sell to this person unless she's buying printer toner" sign for the cashiers *g*.

Kelly said...

That sounds way better than my thought of having an electronic bracelet around my ankle that gave me a shock every time I tried to pass thru the doors...

Peggy said...

I think a small critique group would be nice. Unfortunately, where I live I'm not even close to the nearest chapter. I found a small writing group (3) but they were writing mostly memoirs or poems. It wouldn't have mattered if they didn't write historicals, but romances at least would have been nice!

Re the whole debt problem, the only thing I splurge on is books. Honest too goodness. There was a time I did spent money like there was a money tree growing in my backyard, but years of living in debt put a curb on that bad habit. But, for some reason, we still live paycheque to paycheque. I suppose being a family of five with only the one income probably has something to do with that! :-P

Kelly said...

I was gathering up my receipts for taxes this year and was staggered by what I spent on books. It just floored me. But in the past few months I've started getting everything but my favorites from the library and that seems to have eased my spending habits drastically in that dept. Wish I'd thought of it before...

Melissa Marsh said...

I no longer have any credit cards and I have no intention of ever getting one again. They are just dangerous for me. Even though money is tight right now, it's so nice to know that the only debt I have is my student loans (which is enough in itself!). There are times when a credit card would certainly come in handy - I need a washer and dryer right now and I'd love to buy a nice, new pair. But alas, I don't have $400 to blow.

I hear ya about going to Europe. It's been ten years since I've been to England and I've wanted to return ever since.

Michelle said...

Good luck with the critique group!

I use my credit card the way I do checks...only buy what I can pay off. I think you have a great attitude about debt. Maybe start a loose change jar and see where you are in December. You might be surprised how much you save.

Anne M said...

I really like the small critique group we set up. I would advise keeping it small - we spend about 3 hours with the three of us.

As for the credit card thing. One tip - Stay out of stores. Try it. It'll work.

Nikki said...

I do that kind of stuff all the time -- buying things 'cause I want them and not cause I really need 'em.

It's my dream to have my credit cards paid off before I'm forty. But it'll never happen. :)