Looking Back at Our Financial Selves in 2013, And Christmas Traditions

Mike: Logan! Can you believe that this year is nearly over and that Christmas is next week and the New Year is just around the corner? It really felt like this year flew by. So starting next week, and through the New Year, we’ll be on our holiday schedule, which means we’ll be publishing on a limited basis. But we have some great stuff lined up from some of our regular contributors, which we’re both excited about. And we’ll be resurfacing some of our most popular stories in case some readers missed them.

How do you think this year went for you money-wise? During our last monthly check-in you paid off a credit card! So, things moved in the right direction?

Logan: Yes well, I was talking to Meaghan about this yesterday — I paid off two credit cards in 2013. Very exciting. I doubt I will pay any off in 2014 as the ones I have left are the Big Ones. I’m trying to figure out how many cards I paid off. Was it really only two? God. Ugh. J.Crew card and Barclays card. That’s it. Still kicking: Bank of America, Citicard, and The Extremely Large One, my credit union credit card. Oh, and also IRS stuff LOL LLS HAHAHA ROTFL. So next year will be just tiny little incremental payments and no big payoffs, I don’t think. Unless something amazing happens, KNOCK WOOD. At one point I was positive I’d be debt-free by 30. I turn 30 in May, so, that little bit of wistful thinking was wrong as usual. Amazing how we can’t really foresee our future based entirely on desire and not action.

Mike: I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit! I mean, you had this period in your life when that debt was going up and not down, and this is a new period where it’s a reasonable slog toward becoming debt-free. I mean, so when we do our next check-in, I will have finally paid off one of my Sallie Mae student loans. And then I have two more Sallie Mae student loans (they were originally gov. loans that got transferred there), a private student loan, and an ACS student loan. The ACS student loan is also almost paid off too, and the private loan is what I’ll be focusing on next.

And like you, this is just a long, gradual pay-off that’s happening—though I have desires, like you, that this will be paid off before I am 35? Maybe 40. I’d be cool with 40. Plus it gets easier towards the end. It’ll happen! So money-wise, things went sort of how I thought they would go in 2013. I expect 2014 to be somewhat smooth.

Logan: IT WAS THREE. I forgot about an AmEx. Peace out, AmEx.

Mike: See! That’s not nothing!

Logan: Mike, do you see any vast amounts of money coming your way in 2014? I don’t have a specific vision necessarily, but I would like to imagine good things. I have a vague sense of impending cashflow. Based on nothing but desire. Deeeeeeessiiiiiiiirreeeee.

Mike: No, I don’t think that way. The only money I see is the money I earn, but I did just pick up another freelance assignment for January, so that will be extra money to go in my pocket or throw at my loans (or more likely, set aside for taxes). But we’ll see! If I get the same amount of stuff to work on next year as I did this past year, I’d feel good about that.

Logan: Yes, I guess the realistic way to will money into your life is to will work into your life. How true. Quite true. WORK. (Work.) I’m not ready to stop talking about Christmas yet, though! Can we talk about Christmas for five more seconds. Do you have any Christmas traditions you are looking forward to?

Mike: Hah. Okay so the way Christmas works for me is that my family goes to church in the morning. And then we come home and exchange gifts, which is mostly me handing over money to my parents, and then letting my siblings open whatever they asked for this year (and it’s no surprise, because the week I’m in town I say, “Okay, I’m taking you shopping, just pick something and I will buy it,” which I do, and then wrap). And then some extended family members get together and we cook a lot of food. And then after everyone is full and sleepy we go to the movies. Last year we watched Django Unchained. How about you?

Logan: Wait does anyone give you anything???????

Mike: Hah, yes. But I don’t really want anything. And really my siblings are in no financial state to be buying me gifts. My younger brother is still like a child to me even though he’s in his twenties, so it feels funny to me if he buys me something. Hmm. Last year… I’m trying to recall. Okay, last year my brothers threw in money to buy me a pair of Jacks to replace the pair that I normally wear. This year, I guess if I wanted something, I’d ask for a new set of sheets. I like practical gifts that I will use regularly.

Logan: I don’t buy my parents presents anymore because once they figured out I was buying them with fake money on credit cards they were like, stop. No seriously, stop. My brother and I are repairing each other’s iPhones for Christmas. He knows a guy who can do the glass suction replacement thing, so we’re getting that done for each other and calling it even. We are both broke. I’m mostly excited about Christmas for my nephew though. He was still kind of a baby last year, but this year he’s more like a kid and we can do stuff like decorate cookies which is my favorite tradition. And all I want to go is go shopping and buy him stuff but I’ve been slowing my roll and haven’t even been in one toy store, which is great. I’m going to go to one Saturday afternoon and go wild though. Not wild. I’m going to take only $20 in cash so that I can’t go wild.

Mike: That’s kind of the best—Christmas is fun with children around because of how excited they are. They really get you in the spirit.

So, I guess that’s it from us for now. Thanks to everyone for such a fun year!

Logan: [waves as camera pans out]



10 Comments / Post A Comment

echolikebells (#3,272)

The number one thing I’m looking forward to is the homemade hot cocoa and plate of toast that my mom (previously a grandma-owned tradition) makes on Christmas Eve, which we consume only once we are both in our PJs and everything is quiet.

My financial self in 2013 got a full-time job! And benefits! And a second credit card! And a line of credit for some health nonsense! And a car! And applied to grad school! So win some, lose more. 2014 is going to be all about quietly and steadily slogging through the debt I’ve accumulated, and trying to generate an emergency fund (no matter how small any one contribution is), so that I don’t have to use credit as an emergency fund anymore.

Financial Goal: Pay off credit card, and student loan by 2015. Not impossible. Car loan is at nice interest rate, thanks to a very generous loan by a family friend, so that can simmer in the background with regular payments. Start building savings.

Traditions: Eggnog, and hoarding eggnog to cushion the immediate disappearance of said product right after Christmas day. Whose bright idea was it to send eggnog junkies into the New Year jonesing for one more sweet, sweet dairy hit? Capitalism is cruel. Setting up luminarias at my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve. A relatively new tradition is me forcing everyone to listen to Sufjan’s Christmas music. And the weird and wonderful tradition of bagels and lox, and pecan pie for breakfast.

Dancercise (#94)

Since my extended family moved to different states, my growing-up Christmas traditions aren’t really done anymore, so that makes me a bit sad. But I do have a New Year’s tradition of going to my best friend’s parents’ house for the best Greek food in the world and Greek dancing at midnight. I can’t wait.

snackcarts (#3,300)

My biggest financial accomplishment of 2013 was becoming entirely debt-free, which I’m still kind of in awe of, especially as I started 2013 $15K in the hole. So no debt and about $800/month extra in my pocket from here on in, plus getting my first credit card this year (like a real girl!) was an achievement I guess? I also got my Christmas bonus today so things are looking rosy for 2014!

chic noir (#713)

Well in 2013 I paid the two credit cards(Neimans and Cap1) I mentioned this time last year. I closed both accounts. If I have some type of emergency, I will figure it out.

chic noir (#713)

Without credit hopefully.

Allison (#4,509)

My financial self bought a condo in 2013! I’m weirdly excited/terrified to file my taxes this year. I changed my withholding some because of the mortgage interest deduction, but I’m secretly paranoid that I fucked it up and will owe a pile of money. But maybe I will have a surprise pile coming at me??? WE CAN ONLY HOPE.

For 2014, I want to bulk up my savings some more and maybe start paying down my student loans a bit more aggressively.

Christmas traditions: Christmas Eve we will eat delicious food, drink an obscene amount of wine while playing cards and watching Die Hard. I love it. Then presents in the morning and then off to my aunt’s house for the big family to-do.

jennknee (#3,899)

My biggest accomplishment was paying off my student loans. I think I started around 4-6k at the beginning of the year. (I don’t even remember, since I don’t have to think about it anymore!)

I also found a better paying job! My emergency fund grew a little bit (I think I had 5k at the beginning of the year to 8k). Next year I hope to be completely debt free (about 800 left on a 0% interest credit card) and start to care more about experiences then debt!

glow bug (#1,606)

I’m really impressed by both of you guys. Especially you Logan. You’ve come a long way. Three cards!!! That’s some hard work.

My husband & I paid off three debts too this year! A car, hearing aids & a student loan. Two left, the big student loan & a medical debt, which we were totally on track to pay off in 2014 but my husband just got news of a drastic paycut, so that’s not happening with our current income.

But I really liked what you said Logan about desire & not action so we’re meeting with some financial planning person on NYE & going into 2014 with an action plan. I’m also spending some time trying to figure out what to do for work now that my son is a year old I feel comfortable going back to work, hopefully part-time.

Enjoy your holidays :)

scn231 (#1,705)

Mike, I have questions about this parental money giving thing! I’d like to start helping my dad out, because I’m actually making significantly more money than he is now, and he obviously made me and raised me and sacrificed a lot to get me where I am. But I’m torn between that impulse and the concern that if I start, I’ll be opening a door to dependence that could become problematic (he is extremely hard working, but somewhat unrealistic about taking on projects that he can’t afford sometimes). I need a guide to developing a supportive but healthy monetary relationship with one’s parent. Can you write that??

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