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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!

Back again! With even more change this time.

June 1st, 2018 at 01:03 pm

So here we are again – I haven’t posted in quite some time, and a big life change is happening. So I come back to the SA community. Y’all have seen me through so many life changes. Why should this one be any different? Ha.

So I’m getting a divorce. DH and I have been unhappy for a long time and grown apart pretty drastically over the last few years since we got married. It’s been amicable – weirdly, lovingly so. We both know it’s the right thing to do, and we’ll both be better for it. Our divorce thus far has been far healthier than our actual marriage. Irony and all that. Nonetheless, it has been hard. We’ve been together almost 8 years. It’s going to be a lot of history to shift away from. It’s going to continue to be painful. But I’m trying to focus on opportunity and the chapter that lies ahead. There is plenty to be thankful for. Not the least of which being our continued support for one another.

The splitting up comes with a lot of logistical stuff to deal with, and going from two incomes to one is going to certainly be an adjustment. I’m apartment hunting right now. We’re on the hook for our current apartment until the end of July, so we have some time. Just seeing what’s out there and hoping something amazing in my price range pops up… We thankfully have about $20k saved up in our joint account since getting married. We’ll be splitting that down the middle. We have no shared property, so things should be pretty easy on that end. None of our belongings will be hotly contested or fought over, so it’s really just a process of getting it all done.

I drew up a budget for myself last week and was more than a little scared about making all of my student loan payments. I’ve been paying about $600/month in minimum payments, and an additional $180 for my car. Which is a lot for just my debt… But I think I’ve worked it all out for the best. I was able to get my big chunk of private student loans refinanced (approval went through today) – which not only dropped my minimum down, but also my interest rate went from an average 10% variable to a 6% fixed. Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty good about that right now. Really happy this full-time job thing worked out for me after all. Ha. So that dropped my minimum payments down by about $150/month. Then with the money we’re splitting, I’m going to pay off one of my federal loans (about $1600) – which will eliminate a $130/month payment AND the rest of my car (about $4400). I wont have a ton of savings to show for it, but at least I know I’ll be able to cover my bills. And of course I save on interest payments.

And while I will have dropped my minimum payments, I don’t plan to only pay the minimums. In fact, I’d like to continue paying about the same amount every month as I have been. I just want to make sure I’m good even if I can’t go above my minimums. Really, I’d like to aggressively pay my loans in the coming year – in a way that I couldn’t before (both because I was paying so much, and because DH was so appalled by my minimums that paying above was not an option). My plan is to divert the majority (if not all) of my freelance income toward debt. And step up the amount of that I’m doing.

My other plan is to ask for a raise – sooner than later. I have more than demonstrated my value since starting my job, and my boss is amply aware that I should be getting paid more. We’ll see what I can swing (or rather, what he can swing).

So I’m getting there. I’m plotting and planning and trying to figure out all of the things I’ll be able to manage through it all. To be completely honest, I’m ecstatic to get to live alone again. I really enjoyed it when I did. And while of course it was amazing to have shared finances, I’m excited to have the opportunity to really dig into paying off my debt in a way I haven’t been able to. I think it will be so freeing to see it being chipped away at, and will put me in a great position for the next chapter of my life – because I honestly don’t know what it will look like or where it will be.

I’m just beyond thankfully that I’m not finding myself in an awful position through all of this. I understand that I am truly lucky (from both an emotional and financial standpoint) for things to be as smooth as they are.

There are a million things I could update here, of course. But for now, I’m going to just be excited about this bit of progress. These days, taking things one day (or even hour, at some points) at a time is where I’m at. Just have to keep moving forward. Ever forward.

Hope y’all are well, and I look forward to catching up with your posts as I become more active!

Screenplay Reading and Gearing up for the Weekend

November 22nd, 2017 at 04:17 am

My screenplay reading last weekend went great, despite some nasty weather that I'm sure kept some people home. It's always such a gift to hear my work brought to life, and my actors were fantastic. I'm very lucky. I got so many positive comments from attendees. Many asked what the next steps were, if there are any plans to put it into development because they'd actually like to see it as a movie. That's what we're aiming for, so it's good to hear the story is resonating with people. It bodes well Smile

My producer thinks the script has about one or two more passes before sending it on to the distributor. Once we do that we're hoping for some buy-in and leverage to gain funding (this distributor works with big name studios as well as indie companies). He's the money guy. I've got not connections in the biz. But he seems confident this could actually happen. I'm trying to not let my imagination run away with itself.

Submitted the script to two film festivals. I'll hear back in February and March on both of those. The first draft went to the semifinal round in a screenplay contest earlier this year, so I'm hopeful that they will be accepted in its current (better) state now. Acceptance or a win would be great leverage for pitching the movie as well, so crossing my fingers!

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This week has just been flying by! It's exciting to have tomorrow and Friday off work, but I always feel the push to get completely caught up before a long weekend like this. Luckily, I've been fairly productive.

As far as spending goes, only spent about $33 at the grocery store over the weekend. We had dinners left over from last week, and we'll be out of town for the holiday - so it was mostly breakfast food, lunch fare, etc. Though I did pick up a pack of country style pork ribs for a little over $3 and cooked them in the crock pot with a bunch of leftover veggies and cream of celery soup. Yum. Will be adding that one to the rotation.

Got an oil change last night. Used a $10 coupon from the mail. It was still expensive, but we have a 5-hour drive back home coming up and it's been a little overdue.

It's going to be really nice to get to spend time with everyone. I'm glad we're not doing all 3 cities in one day like we typically do. Instead, we're doing a day per city. I'm hoping that will make it far less exhausting and allow us to really enjoy our time with each family/group. We'll be with family tomorrow and Friday, so I'm hoping it wont be a super expensive trip. Really, it should just be lunch a couple of times and of course extra gas.

Not doing any Black Friday shopping. I don't do crowds. I may hop online to see if there's anything worthwhile to grab. I'm still not sure what the story is with DH's family or whether we're doing gifts this year, so I've been holding off on planning for the moment. I'm sure we'll figure it out when we see them tomorrow, though.

Today will be finishing up work (and possibly staying late at work, depending on how productive I am), working out after, and getting ready for the journey. I hope you all have such a lovely Thanksgiving!

DH was Accepted :)

December 7th, 2016 at 06:21 am

We found out yesterday that DH was accepted to the PhD program he applied to! It was his first choice, and we're incredibly excited. It means a lot of changes ahead, but mostly it means that he gets to dive into something he's truly passionate about, and leave the job that has been eating away at his soul for a couple of years now.

Also, it means that we can stop speaking in hypotheticals and start planning in earnest, which is an absolute relief.

That planning will involve me starting the process of finding a job, researching our new city (2 hours away) and planning our move that will happen in June when our lease ends, and trying to wrangle our financial future once that happens. He'll have an assistantship with the university, which means a stipend income of about $20k per year, but there are a lot of question marks where my job is concerned.

It's cause for a bit of anxiety, but I'm trying to focus on the positives.

In just a couple of hours I have a meeting with the financial planner from my networking group to go over my student loans and see if there are any options out there for reworking the situation to make it better. I'm paying over $500/month and not making much headway because my interest rates are through the roof. The loans originated back when I was an undergrad, with little to no credit, no cosigner, and before I was married. So I feel like things can only improve. I'm hoping, anyway.

Let's hope this meeting will yield more good news!

Hope you all have a great day!

CCs Paid Off!

April 26th, 2016 at 06:35 am

It feels good to have no CC debt anymore! Just made the payments. I've got to say that dropping $4,263 on anything that isn't a vacation is a bit rough... but it's certainly freeing.

In total, I was able to contribute $6,172 from my tax savings to our personal funds, so there was even an excess of $2k after paying the cards off. And now things are back to square one. I think that's the best part. I'm saving about $40/month in interest payments, and I generally was paying $200/month in payments. That's money that we can either put toward our savings goals or to pay extra on my student loans. And my credit score will definitely see a nice uptick.

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Finally went and closed my PNC accounts the other day, so now I'm just operating out of our joint account. I want to go in with DH and open a savings account soon, and he said he's fine with that idea. We may as well be earning a bit of interest on our savings. We'll get one of the higher-tier accounts with US Bank because I'm a prior service member (a fun perk that I wasn't aware of until we opened our account).

The only other account that I need to close is that stupid Toyota credit card that I never actually signed up for years ago. I've had it around for emergencies, but it seems silly to have 4. I'd like to close the PNC CC as well, and still might, but it's my longest standing line of credit... so I'm a bit hesitant. But at this point, again, we're not really looking to get loans any time soon. So it's probably not that big of a deal. For the sake of simplicity, I think I'd rather just have my 2 Chase cards.

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Yesterday had a field day with my nightmare client, but by the end of it she was singing my praises and her invoice has been sent. Needless to say, I will not be working with her again. Headache.

Decided to jump on Freelancer.com and bid on a couple of projects. I got one, and so I've got a nice little design project to do and a couple hundred more coming in. It's going to be a busy week. I'm also doing some pro bono work for the local chapter of a national nonprofit that I really support. They'll be giving me some advertising exposure in kind, but I'm just excited to be doing something for a cause I'm passionate about.

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Dietbet is going really well. I'm now at 158.8, and just a few pounds away from my (actual) goal weight! We did break down and get takeout from a lebanese place nearby last night - a friend came over and we didn't really have enough for everyone if I cooked. I was also exhausted after our workout. So womp womp. I only got some chicken lentil soup, though - so at least it was good for my diet.

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That's it for now. I hope you are all having a lovely week!

April 22

April 22nd, 2016 at 08:57 am

Got my invoice from the accountant - $650. That's $300 for filing our taxes, $100 for paying sales tax for my business throughout the year, and another $250 for my Quickbooks and consultations throughout the year (I met with them 3 times). All in all, I would say it was money well-spent. Not the cheapest, I'm sure - but at least it's also an expense I can write off. And I know it's getting done right.

Now that all that is done and the checks are all written, I have an accurate view of what's going on. Today I'll be going to the bank to close my personal checking account (moving the last little bit of money to our joint account). Then going to the other bank to deposit that money + some cash that I've been meaning to put in... namely, xmas $ (it's just been sitting in a drawer) and the $ I collected from friends to put towards DH's bday party, a total $423 deposit.

Also slipping the check in the mail for my accountant and making our local tax payment. We have returns coming to the tune of $609 total.

Deposited a couple of payments from clients today and moved 35% of each amount to the savings account where I hold tax payments for 2016.

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Now that I have an accurate view of where we are at, it's time to have that conversation with DH about our goals. When we first sat down to take a look at the budget, we made some rough savings goals: vacation, kids, kids education, emergency fund, retirement, house. We even put general numbers to them, but I'd like to be a little more organized and intentional about actually doing that. I'd like to open a joint savings account so we can see the progress there rather than just having a number raising in the checking (which is how DH tends to do things, but doesn't really work for me).

Lately, money has been a rough subject to talk about, so I want to explore some different ways to approach the discussion. I've got some ideas up my sleeve, and I'm excited to give them a go.

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Scheduled a shoot for the weekend, which was unexpected but nice. Have a couple of sessions to finish editing and wrap up. Still job hunting, and am starting to get really excited about the possibilities Smile

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Dietbet is going well - did great with my eating yesterday, though I was way hungrier than usual. Went on a 3.5 mile run Wednesday night and that drained me. Didn't workout yesterday as a result. We were both pretty exhausted. Today will definitely be working out, and so far my eating has been great.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with flax, berries, and peanut butter
Lunch: Veggie burger with leftover ratatouille, avocado
Dinner: Roasted Carrot Salad
Snacks: (none yet! that oatmeal was filling) Almonds, string cheese

No plans tonight other than working out. Think DH wants to do some Kenpo after work. We'll see after that! Tomorrow I have a double feature movie date with my SIL. We'll also be grabbing dinner while we're out, but I'm going to do my best to keep it inexpensive and healthy. No movie popcorn Frown

Sunday I've got that shoot at noon and an empty slate otherwise. Weather should be nice, so I'm hoping to get outside!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

April 19

April 19th, 2016 at 11:55 am

Alrighty, taxes are filed and things are back to normal! Woo! We got sizeable return from state (about $700), owe about $200 to city, and will be getting a small $200 refund from the fed. All in all, a completely successful tax season! Particularly considering that I thought I was going to be $8k out of pocket... sheesh! Now I just need the invoice from my accountant to know exactly how things pan out, and I'll start to use those funds I've been saving (about $6k right now).

I think I want to pay off at least one of my CCs with the funds, the one that isn't 0% interest for the next 10 months. Then we'll save an additional $37 every month on top of that. Things are looking good! After that, only one more to pay off and I can start laser focusing on my student loans. Hooray!

So looking at my long-term goals, I no longer need to save for taxes (I'm already setting aside a percentage of income in a savings account for 2016). We have far more than $1k in the bank that we could use for an emergency, though I'd like to start talking with DH about setting specific savings goals...

And now that we have a few months' worth of financial data in our mint account, we can look more closely at what we'd like to change in terms of our spending and saving. It's a great place to be!

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In other financial news, DH and I both signed up for Dietbets - he did 2 games, and I'm signed up for 3. So we're $150 in. I think we'll both have little problem making our goal weights, so hopefully that will yield a nice gain. And we'll both be a bit closer to where we should be on the scale! Win-win.

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The budget right now is looking okay... We're past the halfway point in the month, and definitely coming close to maxing out most of what we've allotted. We were about $40 under on our heating bill, so we'll adjust for next month. Our discretionary spending is close to maxed, but I'm confident that we can pull through. Groceries might be problematic now that we're trying to eat healthy... but I'm going to try and be smart about it and get a little creative so I don't go over. We're doing a lot of cooking this week.

At any rate, that's where things stand now! Hope you are all having a lovely week!