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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.

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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

December Goals

December 3rd, 2017 at 02:28 pm

This week went by in a flash, but it was a good one. Worked out every day - can't say I've done that recently. But I've been feeling better, slightly less sluggish. A little less focused, though, too - oddly. I really do need to schedule a doctor's appointment soon and get my meds refilled. It's starting to feel a bit more necessary.

It was a good day, relaxing. Planned out my grocery list, had a shoot this morning (putting me at $150 towards my $200 goal for additional income this month). Then went to yoga, then hit Aldi before coming home. Spent about $50 for the week - and that included a $7.50 frozen cheesecake we're taking to an xmas party this week. I thought of making something, but all told once I bought the ingredients I would have spent about the same. And I saved myself quite a bit of time. So I feel good about that.

Meals for this week:

Crock pot Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Pineapple Chicken with Rice
Brats with Butternut Squash Risotto
Fried Rice
Emergency Pizza (always on hand)

Thinking that we'll have at least one of these meals roll over into next week.

In other spending, did hit up the consignment shop yesterday and grabbed a couple of sweaters and a dress. All work clothes, all will get a lot of wear and love. Was $40 for the 3 pieces. Also had my swimsuit delivered today, so I'll be adding swimming laps to my workout routine. Suit only cost me $20 on Amazon. Was a little skeptical it would be quality, but it's actually fairly nice. Will definitely work for my purposes.

Set my goals for the month. A few were holdovers from November (adhere to budget, finish webseries). Increased my goal to working out 3x per week, and added tweaking my HSA contributions and investigating student loan consolidation. I need to sit down and figure out what I'll likely be spending on medical expenses so I can adjust my (now $10/pay period) contribution to my HSA. I'd rather get the money pre-tax if I can. And now that I have a steady full-time job, it's much more likely I'll be able to find refinancing options. So I want to at least see what the options are and get more aggressive about paying those puppies down.

Also need to add "Finish Xmas Shopping" to the list. We don't have much left to do, but I want it off my plate well ahead of time.

Thinking I might put up our tree tonight, since we don't have much in the way of plans. All I've done since getting home from the store is read my book from the library - which has been delightful. After traveling so much in the last few weeks it's been awesome to just relax at home.

Hope y'all are having a great Sunday!!

Finally an accurate picture

November 18th, 2017 at 06:29 am

So though I've been budgeting with Mint for the last month or two - I had found some errors and needed to clarify a couple of things with DH about how things were being paid (he set up autopay for a lot of our accounts), and how often the university pays him. I adjusted my numbers and the situation isn't quite as dire as I had initially understood it to be - we can at least live off our full-time income without having to stress that one spare dollar over the budget is cutting into our savings. And if we're frugal about it, we could even sock some away in our savings. Which will be useful during the summer months when DH wont be working. His income is supposed to increase by a bit come next semester when he starts teaching, so that will also help. We can't quite sustain with just my income. Sadly, he makes about as much as I do as a PhD grad student as I do working full-time.

So with that accurate picture, I feel much more comfortable setting some goals for the next year or so. Now that I do have a full-time job, I'd love to revisit the idea of consolidating (at least my private) student loans to get those interest rates down. And I really love the idea of throwing any extra income that way so I can hopefully get rid of them some day... I'm already paying $640/month in my minimums. But it will remain like that if I don't get super aggressive.

Thankfully, I am seeing some business stirring. That last possible photography job did not end up happening, but I have another smaller gig in the works and a potential design project as well... so the networking has been paying off. This kind of work is so dependent on word of mouth. It's nice to see things picking up finally.

This week has been (and will continue to be) a pricey one. Just a lot of socializing - which means drinks, dinner. A friend of mine came through town earlier in the week. Another had a birthday. Today we're driving to Nashville for the taped table read of my screenplay (woooo!), but that also means food/drinks. Next week we're going back to Ohio for the holiday, which again... Thankfully we'll be with family a lot of that time, but not the entirety. And our gas budget is definitely blown.

I guess on the good news, I'm killing it with the grocery budget, and even with a couple small purchases my "misc" spending hasn't even kicked in because of the refund I got from my cancelled class.

Speaking of which, I got a GREAT deal the other day using Victoria Secret coupons from the mail. 20% off any item and 2 free pairs of undies with any purchase. I've been putting off buying another "everyday" kind of bra. I'm the type that wears the same one day in and day out most of the time. Which isn't good, and wears them out quite quickly. $30 for a VS bra and a couple pairs of undies was an incredible value.

Need to get a jump on my xmas shopping. Still need to get word from DH's family if we're going to do any gifts. But I for sure am going to buy something small for my mom, sister, and mom's BF to send to their place before xmas hits. And I think DH and I decided to exchange a couple small things. So there is some spending in the works.

I'm actually excited about xmas for the first time in a really long time, it just being DH and me. Our plan is to have a Die Hard marathon at home, lounging in our PJs, exchange gifts, make delicious food, and all around relax. I'm looking forward to putting up our tree. I'm looking forward to no stress. I'm looking forward to the holiday feeling like an actual holiday. It's an almost foreign feeling for me, but I can get used to it.

At any rate, time for me to get some things done before we whisk out of town for a really exciting event tonight! I hope you all are having such a great week.

Catching Up (Again)

November 4th, 2017 at 07:08 am

I've been around SA since 2006, but I'm not sure I've consistently blogged for more than a few months at a time. And when I stop, things tend to go by the wayside. So I'm committing myself to doing better. Once again.

The last time I wrote was back in March, and MUCH has changed since then. DH and I made our move up to Louisville at the end of May. I spent three months in a very painful and stress-inducing job hunt. Then finally got a full-time job and started working mid September.

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My goals for the year looked like this:

[ ] Adhere to monthly budget, continuously - NOPE.

When we don't really pay attention or plan, this is the case.

[ ] File taxes by March 1

Finally got done, but it was a NIGHTMARE. Will not be using that accountant again. We did get a bit of a return, so that was nice.

[ ] Ideally, save an additional $5,000 prior to June 1 - NOPE.

[ ] Find an apartment in Louisville for

Feb 1

February 1st, 2017 at 06:43 am

We're already one month into 2017. How did that happen?? Sigh. So I paid all of my monthly bills this morning and set out our budget. It'll be slightly less lenient than last month, but not too much so. Adjusted the gas budget to reflect the unexpected increase last month. Added a couple of things we know are coming up (Amazon Prime membership, a gift for his cousin who just had a baby). Adjusted the restaurant/bar budget - we're still only planning to eat out when we have company or are traveling, but we're both going to be out of town this weekend and we have friends visiting later this month. So the budget reflects that.

We decided that we're not doing gifts for Valentine's Day. We're going to make a nice dinner in - with the steaks my MIL bought us for xmas. And I'm going to make this whipped feta recipe. When we went to dinner this past month on our one date night we tried it, and it was delicious. So I'm attempting to recreate at home.

Also adjusted DH's and my misc spending money (essentially our allowances). DH mentioned wanting a little more freedom to get out of the house and go to a coffee shop, etc. He works from home and doesn't really have any friends here (as much as I've tried to introduce him to people), so he ends up cooped up most of the time. I am hoping to host a board game night sometime this month to get him a bit more social. And I think we'll be attending an Oscars party at the end of them month. It'll be good for him.

Updated my goals for February - most are holdovers from last month. It ended up being a really busy month and I while I didn't accomplish everything I set out to, I'm happy with what I did. And I'm just happy that I've been consistent in updating, because honestly it's the only thing I've found that keeps me accountable. So grateful to have you all here to motivate me!!

So that's that! Hope y'all had a great January and are looking forward to a productive February!

January Recap

January 29th, 2017 at 10:54 am

So here we are already. Just a couple of days left in the month! Sat down and looked over our budget and spending with DH, and overall we're pretty happy with how we did. We were over in a few areas, but there were also several things we hadn't accounted for at the beginning of the month - needing to get a new router, friends coming into town this weekend, needing to buy $50 worth of cat litter... you know. Our gas bill was also much higher than usual. Which is surprising. It wasn't even *that* cold this month. We'll see how it goes in February.

Took a look at my goals for January:

Net Gain of $1,750 in account - Actually, even with the unexpected spending, we're ending up with a surplus of $2,377!! Which is super exciting! We underestimated our income and had a couple of unexpected additions (HSA reimbursement, DH's trivia pay). So overall, really great progress there.CHECK.

Uber Frugal Challenge - I can't say this was entirely great, but we definitely cracked down on a lot of spending and were MUCH more intentional about it. This is particularly applicable to restaurant spending. It wasn't zero. But 95% of the month we cooked and ate at home. We had one date night, and the rest of our restaurant spending happened in the last two days because we had friends in town. There were some extras purchased, no doubt. DH bought a ticket to a soccer game, I bought some clothes from work yesterday ($28 for two dresses, a blazer, a pair of earrings, and a necklace) because it was our 50% off sale - and they're items I've been eyeing for months. Also, the AirBnB room for Lexington next weekend. So maybe not as "Uber Frugal" as Ms. Frugalwoods would have it, but I'm really proud of how calculated we were. So I'm calling it a win. CHECK.

Change phone plan - Nope. We really just need to get it done. Been procrastinating it forever.

Consolidate/put into forbearance gov't loans - Made some really great progress here, though it's not quite there.

Get HSA stuff figured out - CHECK.

Start GIS training (for resume building) - Not yet. Realized I had some technical issues, so I need to sit down and figure out how to install the software. Forthcoming.

Research networking opportunities in Louisville - CHECK.

Start putting together planning portfolio - Started compiling info, but haven't started actually building it out.

Edit screenplay - Still have a couple of days left in the month, and I'm hoping to get this done. Haven't quite started, but I did write an episode for a web series that a group of us is planning to shoot in the next month! So certainly haven't been idle.

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So it was a pretty productive month! Even better - DH and I have been communicating much better about our finances. Which has been helping SO MUCH. He was really shocked (and happy) to see that we had such a high net increase for the month. He's on board with limiting our spending as much as possible again and only eating at restaurants when we have company. I'll have to rework the budget for February to include a few things we have coming up, but it shouldn't be too different.

Hope you all had a wonderful month!!