It's been a while since I've written an update to this, so here we go.
Things have been going well for my financial makeover. I'm saving more than I ever have been before, and I haven't been touching that money because, well, it's very difficult to get it out of where I put it. I have that high-yield savings account through ING Direct, and it takes three days to get the money back out. So, my savings are almost inaccessible to me, which is good. If I had regular access to it, I'm sure I would have burned through it already.
A little while ago, I got what's called "a wild hair up my ass" (read: sudden and strong urge) to purchase a new laptop. I bought my current laptop just this past summer, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, it was the cheapest laptop with the specs that I wanted that I could find. I bought an HP G62-234DX, which was a Best Buy exclusive, for $530, including a very nice laptop case. The very next week, the price on this laptop jumped to $700. Dodged a bullet there.
But I still wanted a new laptop for some reason. When you want to do something, the ways that you try to convince yourself to do it can get ridiculous; I tried to justify getting a new laptop by telling myself that I wanted to play games on it. Looking back now, I'm glad my wonderful girlfriend stopped me from doing that. One disapproving look from her was all it took to get me back on the path.
This past week, I took a couple more steps to getting my finances in order. We had an insurance meeting at work, and after examining my paychecks, I discovered that I will have paid out over $2800 in insurance premiums this year. I'm generally healthy; the only problems I've had with my health was a bout with kidneystones in March of this year. After doing the math and consulting our health insurance guy (don't know what else to call him), I moved down from the expensive coverage and went to a Health Savings Account (HSA). The initial premium cost is much smaller than the expensive coverage, and I elected to make contributions from every paycheck pre-tax to the HSA that can be used to any medical expense that I need. There's a deductible involved, but if I do "get hit by the bus" as our insurance guy put it, I will still be covered. I have family who can help me out with the deductible if need be. The savings should be substantial, about $30-$40 per paycheck that goes to me instead of the insurance company. Over the course of a year, that should be about $800-$1000 in savings.
The other step I took is to automate the deposits in my savings account. Before, I was just squirreling money into that account when I remembered to do it. Now, my dealership will take a percentage of my check (about equal to my 401(k) contribution) and put it in that account. If that account grows like the 401(k) has, then I should have quite a bit in that account after a while. The best thing? I don't have to think about it. Every time I get paid, BOOM, done. The money doesn't even hit my checking account for me to spend, which is nice, considering I budget off of what's in that account.
But there's still work to do. I have one more credit card to pay off, and a couple miscellaneous bills to take care of. I'm making progress, though, and for that, I'm proud of myself.