Ashes to Ashes

Feb 27, 09 Ashes to Ashes
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Ash WednesdayI have spent many an Ash Wednesday recovering from the debauchery that is Mardi Gras.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately to some), I have been posted up in Virginia for the past 4…just as sober as the Fat Tuesday before.  And although I would like to believe that my vote is what swung my current state’s support of a Democratic candidate (which hadn’t happened in 44 years…no applause necessary), there is no place like home.  Even as I’ve had my fair share of king cake this season, like the saying goes, “I know what it’s like to miss New Orleans.”

My move here was easy.   Everything that my son and I had (left after THE storm) fit into my Corolla.  As we rebuilt our lives, graduating from my cousin’s house to a cute apartment with a gorgeous view of the pool and summer American Idol karaoke, I dreamed of financial security.  To some, I am known as the “closet millionaire”; however, I have yet to emerge from said closet.  But oh, believe that I’m coming out…not as quickly as some have come out of “other” closets, but indistinguishable in vengeance.

Somewhere along the way, I devised a five-year plan with the help of my bible, Smart Women Finish Rich by financial advisor David Bach.  This book changed my whole view on money and broadened my responsibility as a mother.  With it in hand, I figured that 5 years would be enough for me to increase my net worth and support my move to the next city of my choosing.  At this moment (and perhaps subject to change), I choose home but I’m uncertain of how many more sober Fat Tuesdays I’ll endure up here, since the economy spiraled out of control.  I am cautiously optimistic, but STILL optimistic that I may reach my goals.

I believe that it was my pastor who once said that a goal without action is just a dream.  Since my move, I have acquired a hefty life insurance policy outside of my employment, invested in 2 mutual funds (one for my son’s education), saved a little over 3 months worth of expenses in my emergency fund, diverted 8% of my income to my 401K as soon as eligible, paid off my car note, paid down the balances of my student loans by 45%, and bought a house. In my oh-so-humble opinion, I would say that I have laid the foundation for a thriving future despite the “odds” and denigration of single mothers.  Not bad for someone who had 5 outfits and an insufficient unemployment check a-coming 3 and a half years ago.  Pats on the back are welcomed.

Again, I am still optimistic. I agree that we shouldn’t “own” the recession, as noted by a previous author on STR.  Frankly, I’m just trying to take advantage of it and use the downturn as a springboard.  The economy has already forced me to tighten up my spending.  And as much as I would love to go out there and stimulate the hell out of it on me and my son’s behalf, I have to put every dollar where it counts.  I have not moved my money around because I can smell a rebound in my lifetime and choose not to lock in my losses. I still continue to buy shares at low rates because I am stocking up for the upswing. And as for my house, I will continue to “live in it”.

There is a difference between being panicked, being prepared, and being patient. I’m no economist so forgive me if I ignore what Dow and NASDAQ have to say today, this closet millionaire is on the rise.  I have my foot in place to kick open the door and with the help of the downturn, that may be a bust down heard all around New Orleans, preceding a toast on Fat Tuesday.


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