What did you do for New Year's? We spent New Year's Eve at friends, watching fire works, playing party games and playing with their cats. It was fun, silly and stress free. And cold (I woke up this morning to a hard frost).
To me, new years are like other new beginnings: a time of optimism, promise and hope; a time of renewal. I'm the kid who always looked forward to the start of the school year, wondering what I'd achieve and who I would become during the year. And that is the way I felt when I woke up this morning. Since I've already discussed New Year's Resolutions, I'm not going to put up a long list of resolutions or goals for 2010. I've decided to keep anything more detailed private for now. However, check back occasionally and you might find a monthly Sit.Rep. making an appearance.
In the meantime, we have "a situation". During the last week, the Toy has developed a knocking noise and vibration when traveling at high speeds (60+ mph). His steering feels sloppy. If it was another car, I'd say a front wheel bearing has gone but I'm not sure the Toy has them - he doesn't have a conventional front axle. He will be due for his 200,000+ mile service in a week or so anyway, so a visit to the car-doctor was already on the cards. My priority numero-uno is to get him fixed, but I have to face the possibility that sometime in the next year or so fixing him will become uneconomic. DH and I've decided that £2k a year in repairs is the limit.
Now is the time to do the planning for when Toy becomes uneconomic to repair. Over the next few months, DH and I'll do the work to define what we want in a new car and what make/model we'll target. (My main requirements are four/five doors, reliable, a good radio, a cup holder and a fuel allergy. Oh, and I'd like air-conditioning, but not if it costs more.) And then we'll have to save for it. I don't want a car payment but if I have to have one then I want one at 0% interest, which means a large deposit.
That was one lesson I learned from buying the Toy, nine years ago: loans are commitments where you sell your future cash-flow for something you want now. It doesn't matter if it is a car loan or a shopping spree on your credit card, you are committing your future salary to buy something you want now. And you limit your future spending choices because you won't have as much money available to spend from next month's pay packet as you had from today's. What cripples many people is not their ability/inability to borrow or the amount of money they do/don't earn, it is their ability to service their loans whilst still having a life. I don't want to be caught in the dreadful situation where you have to choose whether to buy food or to fund your transport to work*.
So, my first Frugal Friday Resolution is to end 2010 with less debt than I have now and a healthy "Toy Replacement Fund".
* In my particular situation, driving is the cheapest option. Throw in a car payment of the size I had with the Toy (£183/month), and it still comes out as the cheapest option.