Actually, the money hasn't hit my Irish bank account yet so it's still showing a minus but it'll get there soon enough. When debt-free day was still far off, I often imagined the exhilaration I would feel and how ecstatic I would be to finally have done it. And now that it's here, I have to admit, I don't really feel much of anything. In all honesty I even feel a bit down. I think it'll take a while for the relief to truly kick in. And, it won't really kick in until I've had a month or two to save and won't be on tenterhooks waiting for the next emergency that'll send me reaching for the credit card again.
I could have split the remaining debt over the next two months but I just wanted it gone. I was down to 2.53 in my current account and 110 spread over my two savings accounts (annual expenses and travel) when I got paid this morning. I've topped those two accounts back up to 100 each and once my rent and all the other bills are paid, I will have just about 100 euro left for the month. That's 20 per week, which is not much less than I've been living on for the last few weeks, in order to make it possible for me to clear my overdraft this month. In a couple of weeks, I'll get my lunch vouchers from work. We get one voucher worth 3.07 for every day that we spend in work. They can be used at some restaurants and cafes, supermarkets, some bakeries and that kind of thing. So long as nothing happens next week, I will have worked the full 20 days in April and so that's another 60 odd euro I can use. I do still have a couple of vouchers left from last month as well.
My budget each week will be more or less 10 euro cash for the market, 10 euro cash for table quiz (optional obviously, but the social contact and fun is great at the moment so I'm choosing to make it a priority - also, since it's on a Sunday evening, it's a nice reward for getting to the end of the week) and then around 10 euro of vouchers to get some bits and pieces from the supermarket as needed.
For the one or two other things that I know are going to come up I can use my credit card and then, like a normal person, pay it off in full at the end of the month. But I want to really keep that to a minimum as I don't want to end up in another situation where I'm chasing my tail. I'm glad that Germany is still a country where cash is in common use and it is not unusual for many shops and most restaurants to not accept credit cards. So if it's something I can only pay cash for, I'll pull it from savings. For example, I have an appointment at the gynaecologist in a few weeks, which I had forgotten about. In addition to the standard smear test I'm having ultrasounds done and that isn't covered by the Krankenkasse (health insurance) so I'll take the 70 euro for that out of my annual expenses account. That's what it's for after all, annual expenses.
Another examples, I'm invited to a birthday party tomorrow so will buy something small for that. Of course, I was thinking I might get a nice plant for my friend's apartment and flower shops are another place that don't take credit cards. I do have a gift card for a bookshop with 20 euro still on it so I might take a look in there tomorrow first and see if anything catches my eye. It's a friend from choir and I know him just well enough to know that I don't know him well enough to choose something he'd really like, which is why I thought a plant might be nice - generic but he just moved into a new place last year so doesn't have much like that yet. And then later in the month I'll have book club - we're going out for Indian food and I'm really looking forward to that.
I'm flying to Ireland for a friend's wedding in June and want to book a hotel and car for then. I could wait until June itself but I'd like to get that booked and sorted rather than run the risk of prices going up closer to the time. So I will wait until my credit card billing period is up, around the 10th of the month, and book then. Flight is already booked and paid for.
And so it continues and the journey of learning how to deal properly with money begins in earnest. By August I'd like to be at the stage of saving as close to 50% of my salary as possible. That's the only way I'm going to have enough to fund a potential move, not to mention a potential pay-cut (in order to get a job I can love) next year. But first, let's all have a great weekend!