My Master's Degree hopefully will allow me to do other things that I have been wanting to do for a while.
For example, I think I'm ready to buy a house, at least by the end of the calendar year. For a long time, I didn't feel like my financial situation was ever right enough. It's still not perfect, far from it, but I see light at the end of the tunnel of debt that I've been in pretty much since I ended college. I current have about $3200 in credit card debt, which feels manageable. I'd like to pay it off all the way (tuition reimbursement will help... I literally used credit cards to pay for my Towson University classes, and since I got at least a B in them, I get 75% reimbursement) before I start applying for mortgages and stuff like that, and I think I can do it by the end of the school year - or close to it. I also have about $4000 in savings. It's pretty much designated as summer money, but it's not like I'm going to be taking the summer off; I'll be working and bringing in enough to survive on. It's pretty cool that I have more savings than debt (at least non-student loan debt, but I've decided not to count that... I am current, though) for the first time in my life.
My credit rating has jumped about 20 points this year, depending on which credit agency you're looking at. It's in the low to mid 600s, and I think I can get all of them in the mid 600s or higher in the next few months, especially if the aforementioned credit card balance becomes zero.
The two or three hitches are as follows:
1. I will almost certainly need to buy a new car sometime in 2008. My 8-year old car has 130,000 hard city miles on it, but that's not the real reason. The rack and pinion and power steering are shot. I have to add power steering fluid every week or so, or else the steering wheel groans like an old man. It's never hard to turn the wheel, but feel like it would be if I ever let the power steering fluid thing go. The estimate to fix this was $2400. My car also has long-deployed airbags (a $2500 expense to fix), no car horn, no side mirror (just plumb fell off this past summer), and a crack through the middle of the windshield (just appeared overnight), it's probably a bit of a death trap. But it runs really well, so well that the last dealer I brought it to asked if I had had the motor rebuilt. Still, it's certainly not worth the $5500 in repairs or so that I'd have to put into it to really save it. So I've decided to run it into the ground, which will probably be whenever my power steering becomes totally shot (I'm trying to figure out if this is dangerous or not... the last dealer that it was not, but the Car Talk always seem to have a kiniption when anyone calls about power steering). Anyhow, long story short, I'll probably have to buy a new car this year.
2. For my Folger Shakespeare Institute this summer, they highly recommend a laptop computer. I'm thinking I might have to break down and buy one. I kind of hate laptops - think they're too breakable - but have been thinking about one for a while. It might be kind of fun to get one. I haven't yet paid off this desk computer from November, though (that's about $400 of the $3200 in credit card debt, although that one is my Dell Preferred Account, which I'm not sure counts as credit card debt), and it's certainly not money I want to spend heading into the two months of the summer without a real paycheck. Nahmean?
I sort of wish I had a financial advisor right now to help me figure out what to do. I feel like most people's advice of "You've got to buy a house!" is knee-jerk, because they don't/didn't know my credit situation (it's been real bad in the past, and I'm talking 5-digit credit card debt bad). But now I'm ready to hear it more.