Ah, little thrifting blog, I have severely neglected you. My very bad. With the return of my summer (non)-schedule, however, I thought I'd try to get back to posting here every once in a while.
Although I haven't been posting, I have been continuing my quest to live a more financially stable, debt-free life. The biggest change I've made, honestly, is to just spend within my income. Stopping the habit of pulling out my credit card, and switching to using my debit card, has made a huge impact on my life and sanity level. This has so much to do with making a decent salary (for those just tuning in, I worked a series of jobs that paid me less than $32,000 for the first 10 years out of college), because now I have the scope to spend more wisely. Back then, it was simple to put expenses on a credit card, because there was no conceivable way for me to live the kind of life I wanted (decent clothes, traveling, going out occasionally) without using a credit card. Not in New York City, anyway. I'm not justifying -- I am certainly paying for it, literally, now. I can't say I recommend this lifestyle choice, but I did make it, and here I am. And now I'm making another lifestyle choice -- to live within my means.
A resource that I have found helpful is CreditKarma. At this site you can, for free, check your credit report and get your credit score. There are quite a few sites that will let you check your credit score for free, although they always seem to need to try to sell you a bazillion sides with your "free" report. This site doesn't do that, at least that I saw, and they also provide the credit score, that mystical number that reveals how well you'll qualify for things like mortgages and whatnot. I was super relieved to see that mine is very high. I guess my many years of always making my payments on time (and, I'm sure, the last six months of paying debt down) has really helped.
Another thing I've done, which has helped, is to set up an online savings account. I have a savings account tied to my regular bank account, as well as some savings in investments, stocks and bonds (nothing spectacular, please, no thieves try a Panic Room-esque attack on me to get to said monies). The online account, which I set up last fall, takes a small sum out of my checking and is labeled "Travel/Christmas." It is getting bigger, slowly but surely, and it's really relieving to know I'm saving to buy the 8 million Christmas gifts I give every year (my family is too small to do that "Choose the name of a person" thing; we like gifts too much not to give them at all; and I have two Godchildren and one fairy to buy for). I've also used this money for emergency-ish purchases. For example, I decided in April that I simply could not spend another year sweltering in my living room or huddled in front of my bedroom air-conditioner. (A very wise decision, as it has been a hundred million degrees in New York this summer, so far). I used the money in this account to buy an A/C and I regret it not one bit. There's nothing like paying, in full, for an expensive piece of electronics.
More soon. I promise. I have a treastise on dishtowels I must share.