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Girl tackles student debt while attempting to live a rich, balanced life. Just Keep Swimming.
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December Damage

January 7th, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Haven't updated in a couple weeks because life has been so nuts around the holidays. Christmas was good, fairly low key aside from the tiny one having the flu. Thankfully he and his brother are both feeling better after a week or two of flu and cough medicine. And he was in good form by his birthday party on the 29th - which was good, as it was in a ninja warrior-esque trampoline park (that was my workout for the day, and boy was it a good one).

We went to Chicago with the kiddos on New Year's Day, and stayed through this past Sunday. It was a great trip, and my first with kids, so things were very different from the travel that I'm used to, but we all settled in well and there were only a few minor challenges. Step-momming has been overwhelmingly a positive experience thus far, and the little one even took a break from testing boundaries and picking on me for the length of the trip. He actually was super sweet, and it felt really nice to have what BF and I are both referring to as our "first family vacation."

I'm thrilled that the holidays and all of the travel are over, though. I love my routine, and with the new restaurant opening in less than a month (a terrifying thought), work is insanely busy.

Not to mention, December was an *insane* spending month. I think I underestimated how much I would spoil both BF and the kids for xmas - and it was both boys' birthdays that month as well. Add in a trip to Chicago right after the new year and... well, let's just say things are going to be tight the rest of January. Thankfully BF covered all of the hotel, etc. But I tried to cover a good share of meals and entrance fees to attractions to contribute for sure. I did surprisingly little shopping despite staying right on Mag Mile, though I did hit a couple of stores. Opted out of the less practical but fun to grab a few work staples. My auto insurance also hit this month (I pay every 6 months), so there's that.

So. The rest of the month will be lean. Both in terms of spending and my lifestyle choices. New Year or no, my diet and lack of exercise has been catching up to me. BF is also feeling inspired to get back on track, so it'll be good having each other for accountability.

All that being said, I'm feeling good about the start of the year and what 2020 will bring. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Happy New Year!

Priorities in the New Year

December 20th, 2019 at 01:48 pm

It's been a busy month, with the restaurant opening soon. It'll get even busier as it gets closer to the beginning of February. Sheesh.

With Christmas this month, I ended up spending more than I intended, but I'm not in trouble by any means, and I finished all of my shopping and wrapping last weekend. The only thing I have left to do is purchase a white elephant gift under $5.

Other than that, my spending has been pretty decent. A few purchases here and there, but nothing major. I did sign up for a gym membership where I used to work. I have a fitness center in my apartment building, but I spend so much time in Lou that I haven't been able to get into a routine. So it made sense to make the investment.

Made an extra payment on my student loan, about $500. I'm always motivated when I can see the number in the thousands drop. I'm down to $25,995.73. Just barely under $26k, but under nonetheless! I'm determined to get rid of it all by the end of 2021. I think particularly once I make the move and my expenses are lower it'll be absolutely doable.

Took some time last week to prioritize and set goals for the new year. Feels good to have it all organized and on paper. I didn't do much goal planning in 2019. It was supposed to be focused on letting the chips fall where they will and exploring who I am in this new chapter post-divorce. It's absolute insanity to think of how much has changed and happened in the course of a year. The chips certainly fell, and I'm so happy for it. But this coming year I want to bring more intention to my days, weeks, and months and start working toward some more concrete objectives.

Among some of the priorities:

- Deepening my relationship with BF and the kids
- Getting the house in order
- Getting 2 months ahead at work
- Finishing and filming a feature
- Making time for my friends and family
- Debt reduction
- Self care
- Travel (I have one big trip in March and a few smaller planned)
- Health
- Potentially teaching a writing workshop

My plan is to pick 5 of these per month to really focus on, understanding that not everything can be a priority if any thing is to be. Not to say that everything else goes completely by the wayside when others are a priority. They just wont be the main focus.

So that's what I've got so far. Tonight we don't have the kids, which we are both looking forward to. Going for a movie date night. Then I'll head home tomorrow and it will be work work work through the weekend.

Hope you all are enjoying the season, and having a great week!

Holiday Travel is Over and Done

December 1st, 2019 at 03:09 am

I'm back at home in Nashville after a whirlwind of a week. Left for Louisville on Monday, for a meeting and then to get on the road right after we got the boys off to school on Tuesday. Drove to Ohio - spent the evening showing BF my old grad school stomping grounds and then had drinks/dinner/drinks. Really, too much to drink it turns out. We both felt pretty rough on Wednesday. But nonetheless, had a wonderful time.

We did some bouncing around on Wednesday. Breakfast with a friend of mine, then holed up in a tea shop for a few hours to work. Then hit the art museum (it's free, and wonderful) before heading 45 minutes south to spend the night in my hometown with a friend.

Thursday we woke up and shot over the 40 or so minutes to my mom's house, and spent the day with her, her BF's family, and it was a nice time. I tend to struggle through family stuff, and it was a little overwhelming to be in a house full of strangers for 5 hours, but I made it through and it was fine. Having BF there made things about 1000x better, and I was very thankful he came with. He said he enjoyed himself and meeting my family, though he got some context for some of my struggle. Which was good. I wish it wasn't so much so, but it is what it is.

We got up super early on Friday and drove back to Lou so that we could grab the kids, get ready, then head to his parents' house for their Thanksgiving celebration with his sister and her kids. It was a really lovely time, and apparently BF's mom pulled him aside to let him know that she likes me (I had met her on several occasions at this point, so it was nice to have that passed on).

Had some time this morning with BF and the boys. It was hard to pull myself away to make the drive home, but the cat has been at home all by herself for several days. I had someone stopping in to feed and check on her, but she gets lonely. She was very happy to see me, and I missed her, so I'm happy to get some time to spend with her tonight. I've been absolutely exhausted since getting home, and had grand plans to be productive. But instead I just watched a movie on Prime video and called it a night.

Looked over the damage from the week, and it's not as bad as I would have expected! I just barely went over my monthly budget for both bars and restaurants. I'm a bit over for my misc spending, but I also started buying some xmas gifts that I hadn't accounted for. It's one of the kids' birthdays this weekend, and I got him a gift for that as well as xmas (his brother's birthday is at the end of the month as well). I have a friend's baby shower this Saturday, so I'll be grabbing a gift for that as well. And hosting a few ladies from my apartment building at my place on Friday night for a little get-together. So it will be a bit of a spendy week. But at least November was a success.

This will be an exceptionally busy week, and with all the travel this week, I have a lot of work to get caught up on tomorrow. I'm very much looking forward to the holidays being over with and life getting back to a sort of normal. That being said, once they're over, we'll be opening the new restaurant. Then I'll have a vacation, then it'll be on to prepping for the move so... I'm not sure there's ever a sort of normal. haha.

At any rate, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Some Big News

November 24th, 2019 at 11:07 pm

Spending this week was totally on track, which was great. BF and I did have an impromptu date night. He paid for dinner, I grabbed drinks after - but given that I've hardly touched my restaurant/bar budget for the month, I'm still tracking. Which is good, as we'll be going out a couple of times when we're in Ohio this week.

***

The big news isn't all that surprising, but definitely has a serious bearing on my life. My boss is selling our Nashville restaurant. It's been struggling for quite some time now, and all of the success we're seeing with our Louisville brand is basically being pumped into it to save it, so it makes sense to offload and consolidate our focus on that one, and the expansion we're opening in a couple of months, rather than spreading across 3 different restaurants.

That being said, once it sells (really any day now), I don't have much reason to be in Nashville anymore. ha.

I had already been toying around with the idea of moving back once my lease is up in May - I told BF that I wanted to spend 2 years in Nashville before heading back, but now that things have been getting more serious and I've been settling into family life, it's been on my mind. This makes the decision a no-brainer. I love my job and it pays well. Moving will eliminate all of my travel, and my expenses will absolutely go down.

BF and I have talked a lot about whether I would move in or find my own place. Barring anything crazy happening, we agreed that it makes sense for me to just move in. I live there a third of the time already, and we'r both excited about the prospect. He mentioned he was also thinking about (or rather hoping for) me moving back one year in rather than two, but didn't want to rush my timeline. So we're both on the same page.

So that's exciting!

From a financial standpoint, it's going to be really fantastic. My rent has been astronomical since moving back to Nashville - I'll free up even more funds to work on debt repayment, which is an exciting prospect. So good things all around!

I'm a little sad to be leaving Nashville so soon, but I keep reminding myself that I still wont be far, and can still pursue my passions - I just have to be intentional about it. But that's no different than it is now. So it will be fine. In fact, it will be great.

Hope you all had a wonderful week - and enjoy the holiday!

Laziness as a frugal tactic, and other musings

November 18th, 2019 at 02:27 am

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 05:47 pm

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.

---

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.

---

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 02:31 pm

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 11:51 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!