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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.

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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

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!

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.

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!!

Back to Normal after the Holiday

November 28th, 2017 at 04:48 am

Whew! What a weekend. It was a really nice time, but very long. We clocked about 14 hours in the car total, visited 3 different cities, and ate 3 different Thanksgiving meals. I gained roughly 6 pounds over the course of it all. haha.

Trying to get back to feeling normal. All of the traveling (and eating, and drinking) had me exhausted all day yesterday. We didn't get home til 5pm on Sunday, and the only thing I had the energy to do was throw some pasta in a pan and heat up sauce. I think I went to bed at 8:30.

Yesterday at work was alright despite the tiredness. It's going to be a busy week - which I don't mind so much. I went to the wellness center after I got off, and worked out for about 1.5 hours all told. I've been really enjoying one of the pre-programmed courses on the elliptical, and it's an hour long. At the end of that hour it says I've burned almost 700 calories, so I'm really good with that. haha. Then I got on the rowing machine for 2000 meters. After working out I swung by Aldi. Managed to stay under $50 - which puts me right at my $250 budget for the month. Would have been slightly less, but we had to buy some things for our "Friendsgiving" contribution when we were out of town - and those foil pans at the grocery store are ridiculously expensive. Had I realized I would have found a Dollar Tree or something. A 12-pack was also included in that, so the total there was close to $40.

I suggested to a friend of mine we get together this week because his birthday was over the weekend. When he asked where I'd want to go out, I suggested he come over and I cook, so that's what we're doing! I'm making chicken paprikas tonight, which has been sounding so good lately with the chilly weather. Bought a bigger bird than usual so I could use part of it for a soup I'm making later in the week. I've been saving all of my vegetable scraps to make broth. Want to add chicken to it for even more flavor (and the meat for the soup itself). I've never made broth at home, but when I saw the idea to keep the ends of carrots, celery, onions, etc. I loved the idea of not letting them go to waste. So I started a bag in the freezer to keep the odds and ends. And then the same with chicken. When I trim meat, I end up just throwing little bits in the trash. Saving them in the freezer made sense to me so I could add them to the broth. Less waste is always welcome in my house.

Meals this week are:

- Chicken Paprikas w Egg Noodles
- Sweet potato and black bean burrito bowls (DH made this last night and it was great)
- Hawaiian Chicken with Rice
- Sausage and White Bean Soup
- Emergency Pizza

I'm expecting leftovers with a few of these, so it should cover us through the week. Maybe more, we'll see!

Started my little bit of xmas shopping. Hoping to finish it all by the 10th or so - then ship the box out to my mom's. Clarified with DH's family that we will not be doing gifts again this year. Did grab DH a pair of socks. Will be picking him up just a couple more little things. Putting my tree up at some point this week!

Just hoping to ride out the rest of November here without spending too much. It was an expensive month with all the travel. December may be pricier than I expected it to be, as it looks like we'll have a few visitors over the course of the month, and DH is taking another trip back to Ohio (I have my opinions on this). But I'm going to do my best to minimize all spending otherwise.

That's about it for now! Hope you all have a lovely week!