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Laziness as a frugal tactic, and other musings

November 17th, 2019 at 06:27 pm

It was a truly lazy Sunday, which was lovely after an extremely long (not bad, just long) week. I worked every day and had early early meetings the last three days, so being able to wake up without an alarm and not have to leave the house was fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that it kept me from going out and spending any money.

I had plenty of stuff to snack on, and put together a nice soup for dinner in the crock pot. Caught up on the book I'm reading. Watched some Dr. Who and a movie on Amazon Prime. I got rid of Netflix last month after a few months of having it back. I find I run out of things I'm really interested in watching after a while, so I jump between the services. Given that I pay for Amazon Prime regardless, seems good to use that primarily.

Because there are three paydays this month and the second hit on Friday, I applied another $1,000 toward my student loans. I also booked our hotel room for next week when BF and I go back to Ohio for Thanksgiving (we're only doing the one night to treat ourselves, the other two will be spent with friends/family). He went in half on that, so about $66 for me.

I'm a little torn about the whole trip, as the holidays and spending time with family gets me very stressed, but I'm excited to introduce BF to a few close friends and my mom, and it will be far less stressful having him there with me regardless. And I'm not going home for xmas, so at least once it's over, I don't have much to be stressed about at all.

Spending this week was really under control. Did mostly eating at home - both here at in Lou. I'm not even close to being over budget for anything at this point in the month, which is great. We did take the kids out for lunch yesterday - but at the restaurant I work for, so we got half off. And BF treated me because of a (retrospectively) hilarious series of unfortunate events involving a motorized scooter...

I'm finding more and more that I'm missing him and (surprisingly) the boys after just a day or two. I typically love my solitude and the quiet, but I've found my last few stints at home have felt a bit too quiet, and far lonelier than I expected. Never would have imagined missing the chaos, but then again much of my life right now includes things I wouldn't have imagined. We decorated the xmas tree with the kiddos yesterday and exhausted BF and I flopped onto the couch and he asked what I thought (mostly poking at my OCD tendencies), and I said, "Messy, and imperfect, and just the most wonderful." He added, "Kind of like this life." And I couldn't agree more.

It's gotten my wheels turning about when I may be making the move back. There are so many reasons (financial included) that it would make sense to do so. And at this point, I'm not sure I feel prepared to wait another year and a half. That being said, I've got another 6 months until my lease is up. We have time to make that decision.

At any rate, time to get a few things written before heading off to bed! Hope y'all had a great week!

Looking at some progress

November 10th, 2019 at 09:47 am

Trying to use this Sunday at home to get caught up on some things that didn't go as planned over the course of the week. I felt like I was in a weird brain fog since last weekend. I suppose those weeks happen, but I'm also hoping it wont continue through.

Was in Lou Tuesday until yesterday afternoon. Had a lot of time with the kiddos. Still trying to ease into family life. It's been an easier transition than expected, but I'm still learning the rhythm of structured routines with the boys. Yesterday was my first weekend morning with them, which was really nice. It was super adorable having us all cozied up on the couch together watching a movie. BF made breakfast. Then we did some cleaning and went on a hike.

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Spending this week was pretty minimal. I did coffee out twice: I met with a friend to catch up at a coffee shop on Monday and then grabbed Starbucks on my 3-hour drive home yesterday. BF and I cooked every night and I either ate at work or at his place for lunch every day. Last night I caught up with another dear friend. He cooked, I hit up Trader Joe's to grab a salad mix, dessert, and a bottle of wine. Then we did head out after dinner to have a drink and shared some fries to snack on.

All in all, not too spendy.

BF bought me new wipers for my car, which was a really sweet gesture and sorely needed.

---

Been making progress on my minimalism challenge, and did manage to get about 6 pages of my screenplay written this week. Hoping to add more later today.

As I was digging around in some old notebooks looking for things to get rid of for my minimalism challenge (I'm already living very simply, so I need to get creative at this point. haha), I found some financial breakdowns that I had laid out last year around the time that DXH and I were going through the split.

At that time, I was making $809 per month in minimum payments between my car and student loans, over 4 companies. I had a total of $41,395 in outstanding debt, which means that I've paid off $13,766 since then. My minimum payments now rest at $262, which just feels like so much breathing room. I'd been paying over $600/month in student loans for so long (for a long time without making even a tiny dent).

So even though I haven't quite made it as far as I would have liked, I feel like I've made so much progress. It feels great to be down to just one debt payment, and making a salary that allows me to make meaningful progress on that goal. When I look back at my 2006 archives, I was talking about how putting $160 into a savings account over a few months was going to be a struggle. I did not come from money - or a family who was adept at handling it, at all - so taking a look at these numbers gives me so much gratitude. I feel very lucky and also proud of how hard I've worked over the last 10+ years.

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The week ahead should also be pretty low-key. I'll be here in Nashville through Thursday, take a couple of days in Lou, then be back Saturday in time for a friend's film premiere. My plan is to focus on cooking while I'm here, and cooking healthy - as well as working out, while I have the fitness center at my disposal. No major purchases are anticipated, and I get paid on Friday. There are 3 paydays this month, so this one will probably include another $1k payment toward that pesky student loan. I would love to apply the whole paycheck, but I also realize that I need to start planning ahead for xmas, so I may just leave the rest in my bank account to pad it for the coming holiday.

I'll talk to my mom today about gift plans. I'll be making the trip back for Thanksgiving this year, but not xmas (for many reasons), so I'm anticipating just having to send a few things via Amazon like I have for the last couple of years. I'll need to discuss gifts with BF, too - both for us, and the kids. I'll of course want to get them both something, and their birthdays both fall in December as well. So we shall see.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday, and has a great start to the new week tomorrow!

Hello Again!

November 6th, 2019 at 06:31 am

Wow, has it been a while. The last time I posted, I had just split with DXH and was moving into a new apartment in Lou. Life was so different a year and a half ago, it turns out!

So quick update, I suppose.

I did move into a new apartment in Lou. I got my promotion and had a very difficult handful of months at work as I transitioned into that role, while dealing with the divorce. DXH and I finalized all of the paperwork for our divorce in January of this year. It went as well as it could have, and we are on good terms. Get together for coffee every few months. He's been seeing someone since last October.

After splitting, DXH and I decided to split our joint finances down the middle. I used that cash to pay off my car and one of my student loans. I consolidated my high-interest loans right before the divorce, so I got those interest rates down. I paid off another loan later in the year, so I'm down to one company and one bill per month for my student debt. I made a large payment this month and my sum is now to $27,628.63. Still MUCH higher than I would like it to be, but at least I'm at a point where I can start paying it aggressively.

I spent a year after the divorce in Louisville, working and trying to heal and figure out who I was as a person not with her partner. It was a very difficult 2018 for me, for many reasons. But I grew a lot, and regained a lot of myself and so much independence. It was the right call.

In May I found a new job that could move me back to Nashville. I'm the Marketing Director for a hospitality group and do all the marketing for our two (soon to be three) restaurants. It's rewarding, and it was exciting to move away from nonprofit for a while. I was making $50k with my promotion in Louisville. I got a $10k bump in pay when I took this new job. Which is good, because Nashville is insanely expensive. haha.

I found an apartment that I love, that I pay too much for, but can afford, and life is really incredible. I'm back to doing more writing and filmmaking, which is lovely and fulfilling.

My job brings me back and forth between Nashville and Louisville (our restaurants are in both cities), which means I travel a LOT between the two. Which would be less than ideal... if my boyfriend didn't live in Louisville Smile We met in March, a couple of months before I was supposed to move. It wasn't supposed to be a permanent thing, but it ended up being too good to let go of. He's incredible, a great fit for me, and 8 months in to our relationship living 3 hours apart, we're still doing great.

I spend about 1/3 of my time in Louisville for work and spending time with him - and his kiddos! He has two little ones, soon to be 5 and 10 years old. We waited about 6 months for me to meet them, to be sure that it's the right move. I'm glad we did. He and his ex's split is even more recent than mine, so we wanted to make sure we weren't rushing into anything. The kids are transitioning swimmingly, and we get along great, and it's been really lovely having my first taste of family life. It's not at all what I expected or would have planned, but it's a life that so far I am absolutely in love with, and I couldn't be happier.

At this point, now that things are settling into a groove and I'm not in the midst of several different serious transitions, I'm looking at how to best reorient my spending and get my finances where I want them to be.

The last few months have been really spendy - on both things that I probably didn't need and also buying a plane ticket to Portugal in March (SO excited and ready for a vacation). But now that my big purchases are over with (thank goodness), I'm refocusing on getting rid of this student loan debt once and for all. My minimum is $262 per month. I'm hoping to add a $1k payment to that for the remaining months I've got it and throw as much as I can toward it otherwise.

I would love to be debt free in 2021, if possible.

My expenses are high where I'm living, but I made good money and still do photography and commissioned writing on the side, so I do have some side income as well. It's far from impossible.

I've got $5k in my emergency fund (I have an emergency fund!). Was going to fund that to $7500, but I think those funds are better directed toward my debt at this point. Once I've got the debt gone, I can work toward funding retirement. I do have about $11k between my Roth and a 403(b) from my previous job. I have a TSP from my military days that also has a few thousand in it, though I need to work on getting access to that and rolling it over. It's just sitting hopefully gaining interest at this point, so I'm not too concerned about it.

I'm taking November as a month of challenges: 500 words written per day, no-spend, and a minimalism challenge (I already live a really simple life, but I want to take it further because ya girl has a bit of a clothing addiction).

It'll be good to get a hold on things prior to the holidays coming around, so here we are.

I think this novel is sufficient for now! I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove of the SA community again. I've found so much inspiration in the past, and can't wait to see how everyone is doing

July Recap

July 29th, 2018 at 04:51 pm

I can't believe that the month is almost over. It never stops amazing me how fast the time flies.

I've been in my new position for two weeks now and it's been more than a little stressful - to the point where I managed to get myself sick. heh. Thankfully that has calmed down and I'm trying to cut some other things out of my life to give myself some breathing room.

Went to Nashville both this weekend and last for events and doing headshots - $750 in extra income for the month, so not bad. That being said, I'm looking forward to staying in town for the next few weeks. It was a lot of fun nonetheless. I judged a film competition this weekend, and got to see so many of my friends from my creative community. It definitely reaffirmed and reenergized my desire to move back in a year, so that's really nice. Need to stay focused and financially prepare.

Got home and took a look at my financial picture right now. I'm not looking too bad. Once a payment and a transfer clear, I'm going to pay off the student loan balance at one of the companies I have debts with - roughly $2,500. That'll eliminate another $100 minimum payment and begin the process of snowballing this debt away. All the debt I'll have after that are two other student loan balances. And the credit card, which I'll be paying off in full every month (I just like getting the Amazon points).

Canceled MoviePass today (I haven't been using it) and Simplisafe (now that I'm living in a less intimidating part of town, I don't feel the need for a security system). So that will be some money saved.

Tomorrow DXH and I will be back at the old place doing the final cleaning and purging. It'll be nice to have that chapter closed - and hopefully all of our security deposit coming back. We were in there on Thursday getting a jump on it, and there were a few issues starting with leaking and water damage. It seems like we're moving out at a really good time.

Given that July was a turbulent month for me, and I moved, it was definitely a spendy one - but it feels good that things are separated now, that I made some long overdue progress on my debt, got a raise, and some freelance work that really makes me comfortable in approaching this new phase of my life successfully.

I'll be getting paid this Friday, and I'm excited to see what that paycheck looks like with the bump in my pay. Also excited to start August completely separate from DXH - no double rent or any residual stuff. Theoretically it'll all be my "normal" expenses moving forward.

There's nothing really left to buy for the apartment, I've got my washer/dryer in and functional (after having to swap out the cord for a 3-prong), and so I'm shooting for a very low-spend August. I want to really focus on my writing this month and get back into a solid creative roll again. Particularly coming off the energy I experienced over the weekend. I'm going to take a break from a couple of other activities and make sure I'm giving what's important it's due diligence.

That's about all I've got for now in this long-winded ramble. I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend!

Raise and Car Paid Off

July 14th, 2018 at 09:59 am

This was my boss' last week at work, and I've been talking with our CEO about how things are going to progress moving forward (as well as learning a whole new job in just a hand full of days). Needless to say, it was an exhausting week - but of course there's good to come of all of it. One was the conversation I had about my pay increase.

I had given them a number last week that I would have been comfortable with. I'm currently making $35k, and asked for $42k as a base salary for my current job, not the interim department head. They came back with $39k for now - explaining that we can revisit after the transition time. They don't know how much they'll be paying the new hires, and there's a good chance that the department will be restructured a bit, so I can live with it. But during the interim while I'm taking over my boss' job, I'll also be making a bonus of $200/week - which would work out to more than he was paid monthly all things considered.

It's not quite what I wanted, but I didn't expect them to get there anyway. Our entire staff is grossly underpaid. Nonprofit or not, but I like my job and this raise certainly sets me up better on one income than I was before. For now, it's workable.

My boss that left, too, mentioned that they're going to need to hire someone new in his department coming up and would love to poach me. haha. So at least I know I'll have some options if things go terribly wrong. I wouldn't want to do that to the organization, so I likely wont. But again, it's good to have options.

For now, I'm just trying to stay sane and wrap my head around doing 3 peoples' jobs and enjoy my weekend. Things were overwhelming this past week, but they will be even more so without my boss around to answer questions and walk me through things. Trial by fire indeed.

***

Now that DXH and I split our finances and I have a decent handle on what my financial situation is going to look like, I decided to pay off my CC (I had racked up quite a few charges while replacing many of my belongings) and then made a $4k payment on my car, wiping that balance entirely. That's going to eliminate a $182 monthly payment, which I'm super happy about. Regardless of this raise, I'd love to have as much of my income freed up to use as I need to.

My account is going to have a surplus of about $3k at that point, which I'd like to move to a savings account and at minimum not touch, but hopefully add to. That's a nice little emergency fund. My only debt left at that point are student loans - shiny and refinanced. I'd like to start snowballing those babies ASAP. Right now I've got:

$2,570 AES Loan
$3,126 Great Lakes Loan
$31,146 Firstmark Loan
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$36,844 Total

That total is still overwhelming but given it was over $50k at one point and largely rocking a 10% interest rate, I'm feeling okay about it. Just need to get aggressive. I'm hoping to eliminate the AES Loan entirely by the end of the year, and I think that's entirely doable given that I'm freeing up $182/month in car payment and getting a substantial raise, at least in the short term.

I'm also taking on more freelance work. Which may not be smart for my sanity, but is certainly a good financial move. That being said, I might have to step away from a couple of other extracurriculars. I'm already feeling the pressure on my time and energy. Something's gotta give. And because my goal here is to set myself up financially to possibly move out of state again in a year, the revenue-generating aspects of my life are probably not the ones to skirt.

I need to do some real soul searching here soon to determine where that energy is going to be best spent.

***

The rest of my to-do list right now is centered around getting the last of my things from the last place, getting it all cleaned up. Should be getting my $600 half of our security deposit back, so that'll help in paying off that loan as well.

Still need to start the divorce paperwork. That's a task for this weekend. As well as filling out my beneficiary changes on my insurance and adjusting my HSA - I'm planning to schedule a whole battery of medical appointments I've been putting off for a while now. Guess I should start adulting properly. I have nobody else to lean on anymore, after all.

***

At any rate, that's a lengthy update. I hope you all are enjoying your weekends and making progress on those goals! Have a good one!

Work Craziness and Progress Made

July 7th, 2018 at 03:53 pm

So D(X?)H and I got our bank account situation squared away this past week. He had a previously existing account still open from before we got married, so we just split our joint balance down the middle and transferred half to his account, then took his name off of it. Closed the joint CC. We're getting there.

Still haven't moved my washer/dryer. Between the hassle of hiring a truck, the weather not cooperating with my dear sweet volunteers, and the whirlwind of my life, I think I'm just going to hire someone to do it and save myself some headache.

The last two weeks have been rough to say the least. Had a really really bad (emotional) day at the end of last week, and it happened to coincide with my boss' announcement that he put in his two weeks. We were still trying to fill *his* boss' position, so currently I'm the most qualified person in the building to step up. Which I'm now doing, at least temporarily. While there are so many good things to this (will look good on my resume, is good experience, will come with a bonus), it's going to add a mountain-load of stress on my plate at a time where I was trying to eliminate as much change as possible. I really loved my management team when I was hired on, and now both are going to be leaving or gone. I met the top candidate for the senior position and wasn't even remotely impressed, so this could be really terrible in the end. I'm trying to stay optimistic, but it's hard to not be ridden with anxiety about the whole thing.

But hey, rolling with the punches is just what I've got to do right now. So do it I will.

The good news in all of this is that the raise I was already going to fight for has a lot more leverage behind it. I had the opportunity to give them a number, and we'll see what they come back with. Depending on how all of the transition goes, I may end up looking for another job. Not ideal given I'm not sure I'll even be in this city for longer than a year, but we'll see. If I can manage to stay put while making enough money and not wanting to rip my hair out, that's definitely my preference. haha.

***

Now that our finances are split, I have a much more accurate picture of what I have to work with and my budget. I'm really curious to see my first utility bill - that's still kind of a question mark. But hopefully once that bill comes in and I figure out how big of a bump I'm going to see in my salary, I can be on more solid ground for planning. Until then, just trying to keep expenses low and my mental health stable.

Hope everyone had a great holiday week. Enjoy the rest of your weekends!

New Apartment

June 28th, 2018 at 07:59 pm

I'm officially in the new place. Washer/dryer are going to be moved tomorrow with the help of a couple of friends. Still have some other odds and ends to get back over and grab, but for the most part that's it. All of the big furniture was hauled one carload at a time. No U-Haul. Just a lot of sweat. haha. I guess that means I don't have to feel as bad that I've been slacking on my workouts.

DH and I split the phone today, so that's that. When the guy told me my new rate would be $75/month I verified that I'm not on contract - I'll definitely be shopping around. I've never really liked T-Mobile anyway. Sprint may be the first one I look at... Got the internet up and running today, which is excellent. I'm back in action and fully functional here now.

We scheduled a meeting with the bank next week to split the bank account. We're going to wait for our last shared apartment payment to clear, pay off the CC, then split what's left. It's looking like $8,500-9k each. So a little less than what we expected, but we've been spending a lot these last couple of months. Eating out too much, replacing belongings. It adds up. I'm looking forward to getting back to normalcy and cooking consistently.

We still need to start filing the paperwork. Today he mentioned he was "waiting on me." I'm not sure whatever for. I guess he wants to sit down and do it together? I'm not sure, but now that the living situations are all worked out, it's probably come time to start that process. I think we're both avoiding it a little. It's more than a little sad. And this week has been particularly emotional because it was my last week in the house. We went out to dinner tonight and had a nice time, but it was definitely a sad note I left on. I guess it just comes with the territory. When I move one of our cats over I think it's going to be even worse. But it's all temporary. Time heals and all that.

On a happy note, I'm really loving my new place and it's starting to come together. Looking forward to getting some things up on the walls and it feeling a bit more lived-in, but I think I'm going to be really happy here, and I think it's a great space in which to weather this transition.

New couch is just LOVELY. It's the exact mustard yellow beauty I wanted it to be. Did have a little manufacturer's defect in one of the legs and a weird situation with the pricing when I ordered - but the customer service was amazing. I've got a replacement leg and a $100 refund already in the works.

In *other* good news, my two best friends from back home are coming to visit for the weekend, and I'm thrilled to see them. It's going to be a lovely distraction. We don't have too much in the way of concrete plans, which I kind of like. Very low key and up to our whims.

I'll be updating more regularly once the finances have been split and I have a more accurate picture of where I'm at, but for now I'm just enjoying the fact that I'm starting to get out of the purgatory phase and onto the new chapter. There'll be some more interaction with DH and I for a bit, which I'm actually grateful for. It's a real weaning process. I'm going to miss him a whole lot. Some steps are hard and some are not so hard, but I feel like they're going to get harder as things become more final. I'm glad we're not rushing it.

At any rate, this is already a novel. I hope everyone has a great weekend and is making progress on their goals!

And so it begins

June 16th, 2018 at 02:22 pm

With the keys in hand and an idea of what my new place will look like, I've begun the process of very seriously planning it and figuring out what things need replacing, given that we're splitting all of our belongings. I made some purchases today - couch, kitchen table, lamp (my new place has limited overhead lighting), a litterbox. I realized I had quite a bit of Swagbucks accumulated a few days ago, so I used $75 in giftcards from that ($50 in Target, which went toward the lamp, the remaining $25 in amazon for the litterbox).

It's really important to me that my space be really welcoming and calming - both for the sake of the transition, and because I plan to be spending a whole lot of time at home to save money in the long run. So I'm poking around and trying to make sure I'm being responsible with my spending, but also splurging a bit here and there for pieces I really love and reflect the kind of mood and tone I want to embrace in this new chapter of my life without DH in it.

I loaded up my car and will be running it over as soon as my bedding is done in the dryer. It'll be the first real collection of things moved in (outside of a single chair and my yoga mat, which made their way earlier this week). I'm also making plans to go out tonight, and might shower and get ready over there so I don't have to run back home. So things are moving along in some fashion.

Went over a lot of our belongings today with DH to figure out who is taking what and what each of us will need to replace. I'm making an IKEA run tomorrow - mostly for little things, but I'm looking forward to a little trip. Also picking up a vase from the Facebook marketplace on my way up. Been looking for a tall tall one for a while now, and it's only $15. So I figured while I'm up there I may as well pick it up.

My Navient loans are officially gone, and I got access to my servicing account for the refinanced loan. I can't explain how good it feels to have gotten rid of that 11% interest rate. It's like a huge weight has been lifted. I definitely feel better about my financial situation in the separation because of it. Looking forward to making more positive changes there - paying off my car, another student loan.

Once I get in the new place and get settled in, I'm going to look to booking more freelance work. I've been getting a bit here and there just because I'm involved in the performance community here, but I haven't actively been promoting myself at all. That will change soon, so I can divert even more funds toward that debt.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to getting to the point where things calm down and aren't quite so emotionally exhausting. I know I've got at least another month or so, but at least it's something to look forward to.

At any rate, time to get some moving done. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.