I already posted on facebook but I thought I’d log it here on my blog for posterity and all that. Today, Friday, September 2, 2011, I am completely debt FREE. PRAISE GOD! I’ve spent the last 3 years focusing on paying off debt and starting a savings account at the same time.

Though I’ve always been pretty responsible and kept track of my spending (via my checkbook register…no I’m not kidding), when I went back to work at DreamWorks Animation two and a half years ago I started tracking my spending in categories on an excel spreadsheet (again, not kidding)—so that I could track any additional waste or unnecessary spending that I wanted to curb.

During this time I also met with a financial planner who encouraged me to start saving WHILE I pay off debt. Even if it’s just $100 or even $20 a month, being able to look at your savings grow while you also see your debt get smaller is a fantastic motivator!

After meeting with the planner, I also became more aware of how I save and plan. I save smarter. Before this meeting I didn’t know my growth percentage on my savings account (it’s a whopping 6% on the first $500!). Normally savings accounts are between .25% and MAYBE .5%. Not too impressive. So I started researching online savings accounts per the planner’s recommendations. I found an online plan that was endorsed by CNN, Forbes, etc, called Smartypig. The only downside on this is that it’s a variable interest rate and I thought it was fixed. So that kinda sucks. When I first started with them the annual return was 2.15% and now it’s only 1.10%. Still that’s about .75% more than a traditional savings account! And every little bit helps.

I also began regularly contributing to my 401k at work, opened a mutual fund account AND a Roth IRA. So on top of being debt free, I have a few nickles in the bank. And that feels GREAT!

Yup. It’s official, I’m a grown up with (at least) a fledgling retirement fund. And a vacation fund too!

What are YOU going to do today to start saving smarter?!