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Archive for March, 2014

More small savings!!

March 31st, 2014 at 07:21 am

One of the other blogs I read regularly had a post about car insurance savings, so I decided to look at mine. While I didn't make any coverage changes, I did update my payment information to my bank account which saved me 4 bucks off each of the remaining 3 installment charges. Seriously?!?! 80% savings even though my debit card takes from the same bank account... Come June, I plan to pay the 6 month period upfront and then apply the budgeted monthly insurance to my extra car payments.

Looking at my budget, the only things left that I could cut/reduce are Netflix, the gym, and the cable box. The cable box isn't an item in my budget right now as I don't actually pay for it. However, part of our agreed terms when I moved in with the family was that I'd cover my cable box since they had to add one. It's approximately 20/month.

I haven't touched Netflix in a very long time, but my family all uses it. I'm thinking I'm going to have us rotate months of paying for it. It's only 9 bucks, but if I can only pay that 3 times a year instead of 12 when I only have the occasional Netflix binge, it would be better.

The other thing I want to look into is Hulu Plus. My understanding is that it contains recent episodes of new shows which is what I keep the cable for. If I could cut that bill in half, then the vast majority of my paychecks would be going towards debt reduction!!

Side note: I'm keeping the gym for the time being although I do plan to put it on hold come cheerleading season since I won't be able to go to the classes I like.

I should have done this sooner...

March 30th, 2014 at 08:56 am

I recently mentioned how I felt my family was holding me back in my journey. My biggest frustration with this isn't the one-off loans, but rather the phone bill. My phone bill is currently about 200/month for four lines for my immediate family. It's been like this for years and is something I've just always accepted. Recently, though, I've been trying to figure out how to cut back this expense. This past week, I'm very happy to announce that we switched to the mobile share plan and cut the bill to 135/month. Much better and I get to keep att which we're all partial to Smile

Financial Freedom vs. Fun

March 27th, 2014 at 06:47 am

Let me preface this by saying I'm fully prepared for any and all flak that may come my way. And part of the reason for this post is that a part of me is hoping someone's logic will be enough to change my mind...

I've never had a vacation, like a legitimate go somewhere (or stay home) week-long break that belongs solely to me. The past few years, I've had the unfortunate luck of regularly being sick and so all of my PTO went to sick days.

This year, a good friend of mine who lives far away (1.5 flight; 8 hr drive) wants to do a girls' trip. The idea sounds phenomenal - 4 women relaxing and living it up somewhere warm with ice cold drinks Big Grin

Since the trip is in August and I have the (mostly) fortunate luck of living with a family rent-free, I could easily pay for this trip by saving my surplus for the month of April. The trade-off is that it'll push my payback plan back a month.

I'm torn...on the one hand, I've loved seeing the balances go down or disappear completely, so I think I'd miss it going back to the minimums for a month. On the other...VACATION!!

What to do, what to do...

Who doesn't love numbers?

March 27th, 2014 at 06:34 am

This post is a little late, but last week I shared my debt. Today, I'd like to share my anticipated budget for the next few months...with the caveat that my priorities may shift a bit (more on that soon) as I struggle with trying to pay down my debt while still living the fun, fabulous, carefree life most 20 somethings do before financial reality sets in. I'm just trying to do it a little smarter...if that's possible Smile

Here's my regular budget (Paycheck = 1348)
Removed Savings (at a different bank than BOA) - 15
Netflix - 9
Insurance - 89
Car - 317
Gym - 30
Sallie Mae - 175
BOA Savings (linked to checking) - 25
ACS Loan - 170
Wells Fargo Loan - 50
Food/Gas/etc. - 110

As you can see, it's a pretty bare bones budget. I don't always stick exactly to it, but I'm pretty close. Whatever's left goes straight to extra car payments. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I haven't really gotten the hang of budgeting for things like car maintenance/taxes, pet expenses, etc. For the months in which I anticipate these will occur, I simply take it from the overage when I look at where that paycheck will go and adjust the leftover amount to throw at my debt accordingly.

I also have 3 credit cards. These balances are at 0. In the rare case that I do use them, I pay it off as soon I receive the statement, so that I can show utilization without running it up. The money for this also comes out of the surplus.

I'm sure some of you more seasoned pf gurus probably have more sophisticated examples. I'd love any advice or feedback as I try to find something that works well for me.

Family Values

March 24th, 2014 at 09:34 am

I think it's time I mentioned the biggest factor potentially holding me back in my debt journey - my family.

My mom grew up in a very traditional Filipino family where everyone does things for the family. It's simply expected that when someone is in trouble or needs help, you help them.

While I've gotten better with this lately, this past weekend was a little bit of a setback. My mom's terrible with money. Because of that, I've been vague about increases and finances, so she's not aware of what I make or what little I have in savings. You can bet if she knew, she'd come calling more often (she is, however, aware of my living situation).

She's been spending what little she has on a lawyer for her sister (told you, they all pay help each other...even at their own expense), and asked me for a loan. While I don't mind giving it, I usually have to put myself in the mindset that that is money I'll just never see again if I agree to give it to her. If it comes back, I just consider it a nice snowflake, but more often than not, it doesn't. Unfortunately, that was money I had intended to put my car well under the 9 grand mark. Now, I have to settle for just getting it to 8 grand and (LOTS OF) change.

Has anyone else experienced this sort of family culture? How do you escape it without losing those you hold dear?

Is financial freedom worth your sanity?

March 21st, 2014 at 10:02 am

At times, it is. I've alluded to my housing situation. I live in the finished basement of a townhouse owned by the family I nanny for. In exchange for 10 babysitting hrs/wk plus the household's laundry, I live there rent-free.

While it's a great arrangement 90% of the time, there are moments where I question whether it's worth my mental health. Last night, for instance, what was supposed to be a half-hour of getting the boys (8 and 5) to bed turned into an hour and a half battle of wills.

It's nights like that that make me question whether I want to continue the arrangement. Is it worth the occasional so-annoyed-I-could-scream feeling to have a LOT more money to throw at my debt? For me, it's a resounding YES!

Breaking Down the Numbers

March 20th, 2014 at 06:58 am

I'm floored by the positivity here (in a great way)! Yesterday, I went out to get batteries for our belated company anniversary/St. Patty's Day party (we had light-up shamrock necklaces). The CVS was right next to Chipotle and I really could have gone for some chips and guac (after all, they're running out Wink). Then I remembered that I'd just started this blog and I realized even that 4 bucks means something, so I passed chipotle and went on my way.

Now to the numbers:
Car - 9210.13
Sallie Mae 1 - 2795.17
Sallie Mae 2 - 4812.15
Sallie Mae 3 - 2743.51
Sallie Mae 4 - 2682.50
Sallie Mae 5 - 4737.77
Sallie Mae 6 - 2971.46
Dept of Ed 1 - 6062.53
Dept of Ed 3 - 2156.42
ACS Education Loan - 10568.17
Wells Fargo Loan - 2521.39
Personal Loan - 3438.81
BOA Credit Card - 0
Kohls CC - 0
Target CC - 0

Emergency Fund - ~500

Told you I've been good with the cards Smile

My income comes to 2696/month and my current expenses total 1128 not counting food/gas. I'll go into detail next post about expenses because I know that I can cut back even more.

For 2014, I set 3 goals:
- Pay off my car
- Pay off the Personal Loan
- Bring my emergency fund up to 2000

What are your 2014 financial goals? Are you on track to achieve them?

All About Me :)

March 19th, 2014 at 08:39 am

Hi Everyone!

I'm new to blogging so be gentle Smile I recently made the decision to buckle down on my finances. After creating the dreaded 'B' word and working up some scenarios, I've given myself the aggressive, but attainable, goal of being debt-free by 30 (gives me almost 3 years). I'm pretty open, so I will be posting full numbers and would appreciate any feedback/help I can get. My blogging goal is 3 posts/week, so feel free to hold me accountable on that too.

I've been working on this aggressively since January (I started in November, but we all know how the holidays can derail things: finances, weight, work, etc...) and am happy to say that I've paid off my credit card (1500) and gotten my car under 10000 (originally 13000). And since no story's complete without failures, I will say they upon discovering my credit score was higher than it's ever been (720ish), I foolishly opened 2 more credit cards and took out a personal loan (more on this later). I've been good with the cards so far and they have low limits.

Next post, I'll lay out all my numbers and my broken down goals for this year.