2011 Year in Review

People say time goes by faster as you grow older, and I’m thinking they’re right. Maybe it’s because my life has been so full of chaos in 2011, but it seems wrong to be summing up the year so soon after it began. Oh well, I guess that makes me an old lady. Get off my lawn, turn that music down, etc.

2011 hasn’t been my favorite year ever, but it’s definitely been one of the most interesting in awhile. Here are just a few of the experiences I’ll never forget.

The Awesome

Starting a blog. Early in January, I started a Twitter account so I could follow my bank. Nerdy, I know. Then I got the brilliant idea to start a blog - nothing special, just a place to ramble about my newfound financial transformation. So on Single Awareness Day (Valentine’s Day for those of you who aren’t forever alone), I wrote my first post. I never imagined people would actually read my writing or that my blog would turn into anything more than a hobby.

Joining the Yakezie Network. I don’t know what in the world made me brave enough to enter the Yakezie challenge a month after I started my blog, but I’m so glad I did. I get to pick the brains of the PF world’s rockstars, learning all kinds of things that have helped my site grow into something that (hopefully) helps other people, namely single moms struggling with finances and debt.

Paying off my credit card debt. In July, I made my final credit card payment. I’ve used the cards since then, but I’ve been smart enough to pay them off each month (except in November when my financial situation was pretty bleak). The balances are at zero again heading into 2012 and I intend for them to stay that way.

Attending the Financial Blogger Conference. I had only been blogging for a minute when I bought my ticket to FINCON11 back in April. I assumed that a few people might know me by the time October rolled around, and if not I’d sell the ticket. I proceeded to drive to Chicago and spend one of the most educational and entertaining weekends of my life. I came home closer to my fellow bloggers and ready for world domination. Okay, not really, but it WAS a great experience, and I can’t wait for FINCON12!

Declaring myself a spendaholic in remission. You guys know I’m not trying to live a frugal or minimalist lifestyle. I just wanted to quit spending money that needed to go toward other things. And after a whole year of paying no late charges, overdraft fees, or bank fees of any kind, I feel like I’ve made it. I still have to watch myself, but I can go into a mall for one thing and come out with just that one thing. Which is a miracle.

The Not-So-Awesome

Changing to a job that didn’t pay anything. Who knew that one job could have so many dramatic twists and turns? I took a risk that I thought was a smart one, only to find that it was one of the dumbest things I’ve done in a long time. Honestly, though, I learned more from that experience than any other job I’ve ever held. Like the fact that offer letters don’t always match up with reality because sometimes even HR has no clue what’s going on.

Dealing with my son’s school. I don’t know if every parent of a special needs child has to fight tooth and nail or if it’s just a privilege reserved for me, but this year has been full of drama where school is concerned. I’ve watched my child, who has a near-genius IQ, make Ds and Fs in his classes because he doesn’t have the proper accommodations he needs to learn. It’s exhausting to explain to people that a very smart child can still struggle in certain areas. And it’s heartbreaking to listen to Jayden say he’ll never be able to go to college because his best effort isn’t enough. This battle will continue into 2012, though I think we’re making progress.

Being sued for an old medical debt. This one is still ongoing but it’s weighing on my mind the most. The whole situation just pisses me off because I didn’t know about it until it was critical. All I can do now is make arrangements to deal with it. And keep better track of my credit reports to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Slacking off on debt repayment. Between all the uncertainty with my paychecks and the fact that my car loan balance seems so huge, I kind of stopped the mad dash to pay off my debt. And while it’s great that I’m not taking on any new debt, I need to get serious again when it comes to paying off what I already have. When I get an idea of what my income for 2012 will look like, I fully intend to get back on the payoff bandwagon.

Looking Ahead

I already mentioned my reluctance to set goals for 2012 because my situation is up in the air right now. So I just want 2012 to be a continuation of 2011, but better. I’m shooting for better relationships with my friends and family (especially my blogger friends!), more earning, less spending, and the ability to step over life’s hurdles without freaking out so much.

You might notice that I didn’t mention anything about quitting my job to write full-time. Honestly, that’s because I’m not sure if that was the smartest choice I ever made or the dumbest. We’ll see what 2012 has in store for me!

Thanks to All of You

I appreciate every single person who takes the time to visit my little blip on the blogosphere. I’m no finance guru, but the fact that people read here tells me that I’m not alone in wanting to hear from REAL people who are struggling with the same things I’m going through. Some people want the opposite, which is fine; I’m just glad for all of you and I hope you’ll stick around to see how the new year plays out.

I hope 2012 is a fantastic year for all of you, and one full of great financial decisions. Just do the opposite of what I’ve usually done and you’ll be fine.

  • http://www.moneytrail.net Pam at MoneyTrail

    Unfortunately, I have seen many people have to fight to get the appropriate services for their child in the school system. Keep up the good fight and be a strong advocate for your son. You know him best and know what the most appropriate services are for him. Hopefully, 2012 will bring teachers and administrators for you that are able to provide the best setting and care for his educational needs.

  • Anonymous

    Fellow struggler here But with all the changes I am going to make 2012 the best year I can.

  • Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog

    Sounds like you’ve had your ups and downs like everyone this year! Keep working and you’ll keep moving forward.

  • http://twitter.com/IAmDebtProject AmericanDebtProject

    I learn a lot from your blog. Plus you are so active and responsive that I think the bloggers all like to turn to you as a “go to guy” for opinions, advice and rants. Being “the guy” is the best! (even when you’re a girl). I have heard the same criticism about schools and kids with IEPs. It does seem that the kids with active parents like you still get better attention and services from the school. Just keep writing about it and keeping people aware of it, so that we know it’s no small issue. I am PUMPED for 2012!

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Thanks so much for the compliment! I appreciate you and I’m glad to have you as a friend!!

  • Cfrederick

    I hope you have a very Happy New Year! May you exceed all of your financial goals and continue growing your success as a blogger.

  • http://www.moneyspruce.com/ Jeffrey Trull

    Great year, and hopefully the next one is even better! I know you hit a few bumps in the road, but, for what it’s worth, they’ve been interesting to read about on here and I’ve definitely learned from reading your posts.

    I remember when we both started blogging about the same time. Amazing how far you’ve come in under a year!

  • Mackenzie@therandompath

    2012 will be a better year for you I am so glad I found your blog; you are highly entertaining! Many a time I’ve almost woken my daughter up from her nap from bursting out loud laughing from your posts!

  • http://www.worldoffinance.biz/ World of Finance

    You are doing awesome Andrea! Keep it up

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  • http://buckinspire.com/ Buck Inspire

    That’s a great list of AWESOME! I hope your not so awesome list turns around in 2012. May your little blip turn into a bigger one. Happy New Year!

  • http://grandpermonth.com/ Cash Flow Mantra

    Congratulations on the blogging success this year. I am looking forward to working with you in the 30K Challenge and really hope that happens for you. See you next year.

  • http://twitter.com/bfinance Barbara Friedberg

    Your article titles are so clever and your success is remarkable.Good luck with your future goals. And fyi, time never slows down:)

    • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Thanks for stopping by, Barb! I appreciate your thoughts. I can only hope to be as cool as you someday!