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Archive for November, 2012

Amazon Gift Card- what to purchase?

November 20th, 2012 at 12:50 am

So I got a $25 Amazon gift card with my PNC points-- trying to decide what I want to use it for. I've been eyeing this crazy elliptical thing, it's not a full machine, just the pedals really. Only $85 and then I would have a means of doing some cardio at home outside of videos and such. Can't say it's a need, though.

The other option is to hold on to it until textbook time comes around. I can always use gift cards then.

Mom asked me what I wanted for xmas on Saturday night and I couldn't really think of anything- so perhaps I'll just tell her to get me that. I told her I would take her to IKEA for her gift. She's never been, and she loves having new stuff for her apt. It'll be nice to make a day of it.

Didn't spend any money today. Stayed at home because I'm not feeling terribly well. Had a flu shot over the weekend and I'm hoping it's not making me sick. Just my luck...

At any rate, hope you all are having a great day!

Goal Achieved!

November 18th, 2012 at 12:20 am

I can happily say that I have paid off my very first loan!!! I know it's the smallest one, and the one with the lowest interest rate, but it feels good to cross one off the list Smile I've also simultaneously reached a goal an entire month and a half early. Paid the final $399.72 today because I got paid yesterday. I feel the progress indeed.

I'm still under budget total for the month. I over-budgeted for the vet, but that savings funded a new set of gloves, a hat, and a scarf for me. Considering I've treated myself very little in the past few months, I feel okay about the purchase despite the fact that they weren't necessarily a *need*.

I still feel that I'll come out of November under budget. I can't say I'll have much extra income... mostly because I've been strapped for time recently and not devoting as much to my freelance work. I still need to squeeze in at least 8 more hours this month just to make what I budgeted for. With the holiday coming up this week I'm hoping that's possible. I'm looking forward to xmas break. I feel like I'm going to really bank with the extra time I'll have. My client has another project he'd like me on as well. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

I've been eating at restaurants a bit too much as of this week, though I'm still under budget. Just have to watch it in the coming weeks and stop with all the Dunkin Donuts coffee and wraps... Paid my internet bill today, and got all caught up on tracking. Feels good.

So the next goal... Paying off my highest interest loan by the end of next year. That's $12,802.56 in 13 months, or $884.81 every month-- or really more than that, because that doesn't include the tax. We're looking at close to $1,000/month-- so we'll see if I can reach the goal. I have faith (and more importantly, determination). I'll have a leg-up in January because I have a $1,000 in scholarship money coming my way. In April I'll be using any tax return money to put toward my debt, so that will also help.

Regardless, that is my mission and I hope to accomplish!!

Time for me to get to work. I hope you all have a fantastic rest of your weekend.

ReadyForZero and Sallie Mae Payment

November 9th, 2012 at 09:11 pm

So I signed up for this online app called ReadyForZero. I generally shy away from these sites that link your accounts, but I figured it was no harm with just my student loan account. It's a nice looking app, and much better to work with than the one I downloaded to my phone for debt reduction, and I don't have to put the info in. That's always nice.

I think it'll help keep me on track, and at least be able to visualize my situation. As it stands, if I use the debt avalanche method (tackling the highest interest rates first), I'll pay off all of my debt in 9 years and 3 months. That doesn't include the loans I have from two other companies, but that's the biggest chunk of my debt for sure. I'm really hoping to do better than that and have all of my debt paid off in 6 or so years. We'll see if that happens. I have faith.

Of course, I'm starting with the Ramsey method, and tackling my smallest loan first. Then I think I'll go for the one that is my biggest interest rate - which happens to be my biggest loan at $12,586. I think my next short(ish) term goal will be to pay that loan off by the end of 2013. It seems rather lofty, but I have a feeling I can make it work one way or another. The only downside is that I'll have to pay minimums on the others once I get out of deferment upon graduating in May. So I really have to pay as much as I can before May. Hopefully it'll be a good tax season for me! That will certainly help. As well as the $1,000 in scholarship money I have coming my way January. Just have to keep working hard and spending as little as I can.

I put a $300 payment toward the current goal, knocking my balance to $399.72. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be able to clear that balance this month-- meaning that I'll have met my goal a whole month early. Very exciting for me Smile Then it's on to that $12k beauty.

Feeling the progress!

Credit Score and Family Stuff

November 8th, 2012 at 06:31 pm

So I know you're supposed to look at your credit score once a year and all that, but it's been a while for me... I decided to see what was up, and was very happy with it at a 773.

It makes me relieved and happy that I'm in a place where I can keep up with my payments and not get into a rut. I talked to my mom today, and it always reminds me of where I could be. She filed bankruptcy last year and struggles to keep a job. I feel like every time I talk to her she's either got a new one or is looking for another. I understand the limitations a person has when they don't have a college degree, and she may hate her job, but I can't see how jumping around like that would do her any favors in finding a good job. It's really unfortunate.

She struggles to keep up with her bills, too, because she moved into an apartment with my sister which is nice, but in my opinion far above her budget with the level of debt she's been wrestling with. It doesn't help that my brother moved in over a year ago, and is a deadbeat that is no longer receiving unemployment and for whatever reason cant seem to tear himself away from his videogames long enough to find a job- though apparently he "submits five applications a day." Please. Still kicks up a fuss when mom asks him to clean anything while she's the only person in the house with any amount of income and covers his cost of living.

It floors me that he feels so entitled to act like that. I really think she needs to kick him out. As much as I love my brother, he's one of those people that just wont do anything with his life unless life kicks him in the ass. He needs some sort of existential crisis here soon, or he's going to be a loser the rest of his days.

I hate to be a downer, but my family is something I constantly struggle with. I've managed (unintentionally) to distance myself from them for a while now. I hate going to family get togethers. I love my mom, but can generally only withstand the same narrative three times in a row-- which means I can only spend about an hour and a half with her at a time before I start getting stir crazy.

I've found it important to surround myself with the people that inspire me. While my mom has been an incredibly strong person, with all odds stacked against her, I've found the patterns she still clings to these days to be mildly depressing and the same patterns I've managed to break away from. How do you balance the need to be off in an environment where you can actually flourish with the guilt of wanting to be there for your family and the anger you feel because you just want to do well for yourself?

It saddens me that I'm not terribly close with my family. During the holidays it always gets worse, and mom makes me feel increasingly guilty as I attempt to spend less time with them and more time with the BF and his family. The fact is, I just don't really relate with the people I grew up around much these days... and it makes it painful and awkward to be around at times.

I guess this is one of those issues you run into as a maturing adult who is really coming into being the person their going to be, but it certainly isn't an easy place to be in emotionally. It's strange being in a family where you don't necessarily feel like you belong. It leaves you kind of placeless and unrooted.

My mom loves and misses me terribly, but I have no idea how or if to communicate any of that, or how to remedy the problem. I try to just be there for her and help her along, but after hearing the same excuses day in and day out it's exhausting at times. After a while it's seems to do more hurt than good on my psyche if I try to help-- and I'm a girl that lives for helping people.

At any rate, apologies for the rant or whatever you'd like to call it. I know we don't get to pick our families, and mine just happened to be riddled with a host of problems so deeply rooted that cycles persist and some people just never change. It's not like me to be pessimistic or give up, but how do you connect with people and motivate them to change after they've seen their behavior is counterproductive over and again?

Hoping to be able to solve this riddle at some point. Ah well.

After all of that depressing nonsense, I hope you all are having a great day. haha.

Car is Fixed

November 8th, 2012 at 02:01 am

So I dropped off my car last night and picked it up today. $291. Not too bad. I had saved up $130 last month for the repairs and budgeted $200 for this month, so I'm actually under in my projections. Fantastic. I've realized, however, that while my brakes are fixed, my e-brake is absolutely shot. I'll have to fix that very soon (as I drive a manual).

Also need to schedule that vet visit for my little Maeby.

Trying to make it a low-spend week, though it seems I'm going to restaurants much more than I'd like. Last night BF bought. I offered to cook, but I think he wanted to get out of the house and watch some election coverage, so we got burritos (how terribly American. ha). Tonight I went out to grab a drink and appetizers with friends. Still only spent $11 though. Not bad!

Tomorrow I'll be going to this fancy dinner to hear my prof speak and get extra credit. It'll be fun to dress up, and though I had to pay $35 to attend, it's worth the 3% of my grade (after writing a paper on it, of course). I tend to skip out on this class pretty often because it's terrible and I rarely if ever actually learn anything from the lecture... and he's one of the few profs that actually keep us the full 4 hours every week. It's painful. The extra credit more or less makes up for the points I'd lose for attendance. ha. I'm getting As on all of the assignments, so it's worth it. Besides, there's a cocktail hour Smile

This weekend will be fun. Going to see a friend's show Friday night, and have date night Saturday. We'll be seeing the new Bond movie and I'm incredibly psyched for that. Other than that, it looks like I'm doing homework and freelance work.

On a completely different note, I had my orientation this morning for a volunteering gig I picked up teaching Junior Achievement-- I'm basically teaching 3rd graders about financial literacy and economics. The program for this grade also includes a city planning element, so it's right up my alley. I'm incredibly excited to get started Big Grin It's been a while since I've worked with kids in any capacity, and it truly energizes me. Besides, I've been wanting to do more volunteering lately. This is the perfect opportunity.

Hope you're all having a great week!

End of Month Recap and Looking Toward November

November 1st, 2012 at 03:58 pm

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful October, and are managing to stay warm and dry. I've been without power since Monday night, but nonetheless am doing well. My thoughts are with all of those (severely) effected by the storm.

It's the first of November, which means it's time for my recap. This is the first month I'll be analyzing after deciding to do a serious financial makeover... and I'm happy to say that it's done well for me.

Here's how I panned out with the budget:



I ended up being in total $34.38 under budget for the month. This is pretty pivotal for me. I don't think I've ever created a budget for myself that I was able to stick to-- and that was including a $530 contribution to my emergency fund.

I don't think that's the best part, though. I ended up making way more money this month than I anticipated. Because of my raise at work, selling off over $200 worth of books on Amazon, returning items to IKEA, having a longer drill weekend than usual, taking on a big freelance project, and that little bit I got from doing a friend's laundry... I made $951.76 over my budget. Needless to say, I'm pretty pumped about that!!!

And every little bit of it is going toward student loans.

BOO-YAH.

It feels great to be making progress. I've budgeted $850 toward debt for November, which will have me reaching my goal to pay off the SM7 Loan a month earlier than I had hoped. I feel great about that. I applied a $650 payment this morning, which put me under $1k. Once I get my GI Bill payment I'll add the balance from October, and start paying toward my budgeted amount for November.

Then it's on to the next loan!

I struggle a bit with Dave Ramsey's logic. I went with the smallest loan for this first time around, and it happens to be the one with the lowest interest rate. I know I should be tackling the ones with the higher interest rates, but I agree with his logic that making progress is energizing. I'm thinking the next goal will be one of the mid-range total pricetags and interest rates, that way I get a bit of both worlds.



I adjusted my budget a bit this month, and it's a bit bigger-- to account for a larger debt payment and a couple of big items I need to address. My car, of course, is the big one there. My brakes are getting even worse, and I need an oil change. I also need to take my little fuzzball to the vet for some shots. In both cases I'm hoping the charges are not outrageous, but it feels good to know I have money available to me if something crazy happens nonetheless.

I think the real challenge will be keeping up with the workload that is supporting this progress. School is certainly gearing up and will be over before I know it. There's really only a little over a month left, after all.

I have a feeling I'll be able to make it work, though. And winter break I'll have even more time to pare away at this debt! Very exciting thoughts Smile

So here's to a successful October, and looking to an equally successful November!