Debt Repayment… a marathon or a sprint?

Admittedly, I have not been as committed to paying off my loans these past few months as I was when I first started this blog.

As it turns out, this loan repayment business is tough. If you are just now beginning your loan repayment journey, starting a debt-free blog or committing to attack your loans with warrior like intensity, you probably have some lofty initial goals.

Which, in all honesty, is good. I know I sure did. Back in January, I committed to putting my entire 2014 salary to loans and solely living off my side hustle money. I was putting money to my loans like it was going out of style. And then, life happened. Yup. It’s crazy how that works, but sure enough, something comes up. Friends get married, you need new tires, you start a long distance relationship,  you have medical bills…. and the list goes on.

Things happen, they do. But, all of this has got me thinking… to what end am I doing all of this? I’ve been working two jobs for two years now. Teaching Monday-Friday, commuting two hours a day to do it, living at my parents house to be able to put more money to loans, waiting tables almost every Friday and Saturday night and some Sundays. On the little time I do have off, I’m almost too exhausted to do much else, always having to say no to my friends to hang out, or give them “I can’t make it until 11” (at which point I’m pooped).

Typing this out, I realize these are serious first world problems. I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and heck, even a car, cell phone and laptop. But really, this working round the clock to pay off loans is tough, tough business.

I think it’s time that I finally concede to the fact that paying back student loans is a marathon, not a sprint. I can’t believe I am actually posting that, but yes, a marathon it is. I remember reading that on other blogs when I first start Debt Free Tejana and thinking, NO WAY! I want to clear my debt as quick as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I do, but not at the expense of going crazy trying to do it. So I don’t get my loans paid off by my 27th birthday, you know what will happen? Nothing. What’s wrong with paying them off four months later?

I don’t know. Blog world, what are your thoughts? Marathon, sprint or some combination of both? 

 

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How to Throw a Kick-A Valentine’s Party

1. Make sure to have the proper decorations.

Like OMG, all your male friends will all be fawning over this.

Like  OMG, your male friends will all be fawning all over this.

2. Fill your iTunes with music to really set the mood.

The regular edition is really just not the same.

3. Make sure to have enough food and beverages for your guests.

Because of course you have time to carve small perfectly shaped hearts out of your apples.
Nothing says romantic party like squeeze me juice. These also double as a party game: have everyone tape the cards to their shirts and see what happens.

 4. Before guests arrive, make sure to dim the lights. 

pink and red roomIf your room does not have this much pink and red, go ahead and call the guests and cancel because your party will suck.

5. Offer Valentine’s Glamour Shots.

That rose smells just as awkward as this photo looks.

6. Dance your a** off and have fun!

90s decor meets Saint Valentine.

Certainly a crowd-pleaser.

Happy Valentine’s Queridos! 

Funny-Valentines-day-photos-0

Just take it in.

Why Texas is the Best and the other 49 States Don’t Even Compare

Hola a todos! If you’ve guessed from the title of this blog, I am Texan. And boy, do I love Texas. Like really love Texas. I am the quintessential overly proud Texan and am unashamedly so.

So, today I bring you a little random Texas love with why this state is the best. Enjoy!

1. The shape of our state is beautiful enough to design things out of. 

texas cookies
Like these cookies.
Because it's just not fun to sit at a circular or rectangular table.
Because it’s just not fun to sit at a circular or rectangular table.

Texas waffle
My personal favorite, the Texas waffle. Waffles shaped like Texas actually taste better.

2. We were once our own country

texas map
And a big one, too!
texas secede
Many Texans think we should be one again.

3. The first word heard from outer space was Houston

texas houston
Boom.
Even our flag has been
Even our flag has been around the moon.

4. Famous people like Davy Crockett prefer Texas over any place else.

texas davy
Wise word Davy, wise words.

5. The Texas flag is stylish enough to wear.

texas bra
Lady’s fashion.
texas shorts
So all the other runners know you support the best state in America.
texas shirts
How good does this family look?

6. God blessed Texas and we’ll sing and dance about it. 

*I actually showed this video to two Canadian friends while I was in Spain a few years ago. They nearly fell over.*

7. Two words: Willie. Nelson.

texas willie
One of the world’s BEST country music singers. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you live under a rock.

8. We’ll claim Texas over America any day.

texas bumber

Texas Pride

Happy Thursday!

La Tejana featured on Go Girl Finance!

Happy Hump day a todos!

Just wanted to send out a quick update– I was asked to write a post for Go Girl Finance! You can check out the post here. The post talks about my debt story and my advice to a younger Tejana self.

I’m sorry if this is bad blogger form, but please check it out (feel free to share it, too)! I ‘d love to hear what you think about it (can you tell I’m excited about it??).

Best,

La Tejana

Anchorman

Goals, Goals, Goals!

I love goals. I also love Bruno Mars. Did anyone see his fabulous Halftime show yesterday? Mmm!

But back to the goals. For me to accomplish something big, I need a specific goal so that I can shape a plan to ensure that I do what needs to be done to reach said goal. I’ve been putting off posting my 2014 goals here for no big reason (at first it was to avoid the myriad of New Year’s Resolutions posts, after that I’ve just been pushing it back). So it happens today!

Personal

1. Run my very first marathon. I signed up for one last year but jumped into training too quickly, hurt my knee and couldn’t get over the injury. I did PT and am fine now, but I still really want to run a marathon (just one, I actually really dislike running).
2. Knit a pair of socks. I’ve been knitting since the 11th grade but have stuck mainly to scarves. I’ve tried socks several time previously but have not been able to master them. This year!
3. Be intentional (family, friends and work).
4. Complete 2 Whole30s.
5. Read 15 books.

Financial

1. Average $3,700 a month in student loan payments.
2. Put $250 a month in savings.
3. Set up and make $500 from my Etsy shop.

Blog:

1. Reach 100,000 Alexa World Ranking.
2. Reach 1,500 unique visitors monthly.

Anddd brand new to the blog this month: Monthly Goals. To get to the big goal, you’ve got to have a solid action plan!

Personal:

1. Increase running to run a 5k comfortably.
2. 26 days of VERY clean eating (I typically eat Paleo but have been slacking a little bit lately and have been feeling lousy because of it).
3. Go to CrossFit 2x a week.
4. Sell at least one item on Etsy.

Financial:

1. Pay $3,500 to student loans.
2. Save $100 for best friend’s destination wedding.
3. Save $50 for upcoming Mexico City trip (post on this to come).

Blog:

1. Reach 500,000 in Alexa World Ranking.
2. Reach 500 unique visitors monthly.
3. Feature 2 guest posts. If you’re interested, please email me!

Glad to have these typed up and out there for the world to help keep me accountable. Please feel free to hold me to these goals throughout as we progress through the year.

Lastly, to help you start your Tuesday off right, please enjoy the following. It is 150% worth a minute of your time. Really, really worth your time

What are your February goals?

The Tejana Diaries – Part 1

Okay readers, I have been in this new mindset of living paycheck to paycheck for almost two weeks now and I have realized something that makes me a little disappointed in myself: I can’t curb my spending!

Not yet anyway.

In the past two weeks, I’ve made $506.13 in side hustle between tip money and the paycheck I get at the restaurant. This is a pretty sizable amount and over half of what I “need” to live paycheck to paycheck so that I can put my entire take home teaching salary to my loans. I must admit though, it’s been tougher than I thought it would be. Since starting my professional career and earning a salary, I’m so used to spending money pretty much whenever I feel like it (within reason) without worry that I won’t have enough because, of course there will be enough, why wouldn’t there be? Previously, I was putting the bulk of my salary and all side hustle money to loans, but was spending a little extra on fun money (eating out, going out with friends, etc).

With living paycheck to paycheck, it’s been harder to justify spending money, but I’ve still spent some. I’ve been keeping the cash so that I physically see the money I have to work with (so I’ll be inclined to hold on to it longer) and so that that my checking account stays low so I won’t use it on a splurge.

Even with with all the psychology going into how I “see” my money, I still managed to spend $46.41 on eating out these past two weeks. That’s crazy. $11 of that was spent with a friend who is moving out of town, so I don’t mind that at all, but the other $35.41? I’ve allocated $50 to “Misc” expenses in my budget, but still, this money could have gone to much better use.

As for other expenses, here is the two week break down:

Line Item Spent Left to Go Notes
Savings 100 250 This “Left to Go” is money to be deposited. This will happen in the next two weeks.
TollTag 0 40 My account was charged last month, which should last me for the next two months.
Gas 80 80 With my commute, this $80 will definitely be spent.
Groceries 37.35 62.65 I’ve really worked hard to stretch my money at the grocery store these past two weeks and it has worked!
CrossFit 72.25 0 This is an automatic draft each month
Arbonne 98.70 1.30 Yay rollover to next month!
Misc. 133.41 (83.41) $80 was spent on a BHB class which was paid for with “extra” money I already had in checking. So technically, this is really only $3.41 over.

Knowing how to save money and get out of debt and doing it are two different things. I know I’m on the right track, but to make this work I need to really keep my eye on the end goal.

To help make this happen, I’m going to try setting up weekly goals. For the week of February 2-February 8, my goals are:

  1. Spend ZERO dollars on eating out
  2. Put $100 in savings (then I’ll only have $50 more to go)
  3. Make a plan to maximize my credit card points to earn travel credit for the trips I’ll be taking this year (more to come on this)

Darn straight.

Let’s see how this goes!

The Cost of Being a Female

Last night, I sat at my laptop staring at my budget trying to figure out a way to cut some costs to have some extra dinero. As I was looking, one part of my budget popped out as cut-worthy: the “Misc” category. This category is my catch-all account for whatever little things might pop up. I considered it for a minute, thinking about how I mainly have used it this month for eating out (bad Tejana!). 

But wait.

You eyeliner is about to run out.

And you’re getting a little low on hairspray.

Ohh and your hair clip just broke, you’re definitely going to need another one.

My life is just so problematic, right?

Ladies, have you ever thought about how much money we “blow” on making ourselves presentable to the world? I don’t consider myself extremely high maintenance (I mean, I could live without the hairspray and hair clip… although the eyeliner is a non-negotiable).

But seriously, it’s expensive to be a lady. Now, we could forgo all makeup, hair products, jewelry and nail polish, but it’s widely known that women are seen more credible and “put together” when do indulge in those things. Take a post like this one, where statistics show that bosses actually discriminate against women who don’t wear make up and take time to fix their hair. Or this one, from the New York Times where one professor at UT Austin (shout out) agreed that the idea that makeup makes women more likeable because “we conflate looks and a willingness to take care of yourself with a willingness to take care of people”.

In graduate school, I took a course called “The Psychology of Women and Gender”. In the class we reviewed numerous studies which all came to the conclusion that appearance does have an effect on our lives, whether we like it or not. As men get older, they are considered more “prestigious looking” and gain respect while as women get older, they just start to look, well old. Not more prestigious, not more respectable, just old.

So unfair, right ladies? Well, before we all burn our bras and stop shaving our legs, let’s face it. You don’t have to agree with it, but the fact is that wearing makeup (and even being attractive) helps you make friends, gain more respect at work and seem friendlier to others. Please don’t confuse this for me saying that this is not achievable if you don’t do your hair and make up each day, it is just “easier” when you do.

I started wearing makeup at 15 and have worn it consistently since. I’m comfortable going without makeup, but I prefer to put it on, so you better believe I’ll get my butt up an extra 15 minutes early to make sure I have time to put it on and another 15 to straighten/curl/pin my hair. Not only, but I’ll carve an extra $50 out of my budget to pay for those items. Call me superficial but it’s what I choose to do. Your choice may be different- and that’s great too.

**I realize that this is only just scratching the surface on this topic and by no means does it justice. I did not want to rewrite my term paper from Psych of W&G, but just wanted to write a small rant about it. You might have very strong views about the topic, and if so I’d love to hear so below!  

 Ladies— what do you think? Do you believe that you are seen as more professional and open when you wear makeup/do your hair? Do you feel better/prettier when you wear make up?

Gentlemen– what are your thoughts? Do you believe that women are taken more seriously when we wear makeup or make sure our hair is done?

 

 

Femme Frugality

Wednesday Blog Love #4

Happy Hump Day dear queridos! Only two days left to a very, very anticipated weekend.

With the blogs, the good posts always seem so good. I’ve been inclined, to believe they always would, but now I…share them with you 🙂

Big shout out to the following, these are very worthy reads this week!

  • Little Miss Money at the Pursuit of Riches talks about her change in mindset. It’s all about the power of positive thinking!
  • Lauren at L Bee and the Money Tree talks about her 2014 goals. Her goal of $30k in side income is so inspiring.
  • A Disease Called Debt talks about the different emotions of the debt repayment process and addresses Debt Denial. This was something I definitely struggled with in undergrad. My thought at the time was that “well everybody has to take out loans to go to school” or “it won’t be that bad to pay back later”. Definitely wrong.
  • Sarah at GoGirlFinance gives 4 great tips for making a finance plan in your 20s. #3 (having an emergency fund) is so important!

Okay readers, this week’s song is an oldie but goodie. First to comment here or on Twitter (@DebtFreeTejana) will receive the highly valued VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE and Twitter shout out! 

neil diamond

That shirt… oh man.

Dealing with Unexpected Expenses

Fridays are pretty long days. I’m at school from about 8:30-4:10, then drive straight to work a dinner theater shift at the restaurant and am there until about 10:30pm. This past Friday, I ended up spending some time with a very dear friend (and spent $11, whoops) who is moving to Louisiana next week, so I didn’t get home until about 1am. No complaints, just a long day.

I walk into my bedroom to find my mail on my bed with a little post it note from my Dad attached. I turned on my bedroom light and picked up the note which read “please pay this soon, it’s in my name”.

Oh boy.

I proceeded to open the envelope and it was a $75 charge for running a red light. Dang it red light camera! 

Life’s unexpected expenses like this one seem to always get us at the wrong time, too. Now that I am an adult and am working toward financial freedom, I need to have solid back up plans for little “oops” moments like this one and for serious emergencies. As of this year, here are the two ways that I currently deal with unexpected expenses.

Side Hustle Money

In the case of the red light ticket, it’s not that I don’t have the $75, but it is definitely an expense that puts a wrench in my financial plans. I would much prefer to put that $75 towards a loan or to my wedding travel savings account (for all those destination weddings this year). However, I don’t like straying off budget too much, so instead of taking this out of money I attribute to gas, groceries, crossfit, etc, it means that I need to make an extra $75 this  month to cover it. If we’re going to be really realistic here, this means that I’ll need to pick up two expo shifts (running food to tables, not actually waiting tables) at the restaurant  or get this tutoring gig really up and running and complete 4 hours of tutoring sessions. Or, I could just win the lottery and pay off the red light ticket and all my student loans (just kidding, who wastes money on that?).

Thankfully, it’s a small enough amount that even though it will be more work, I will be able to cover the expense. At this point in my life, if the emergency or the “oops” is reasonable enough, I’ll just work harder to make the money to cover it instead of spending money from any budget category to cover it. That way, I’m not “out” any money, just time.

The Emergency Fund

This past summer I had to get my brakes replaced and buy new tires within about two weeks of each other. Then a week later, the AC in my car went out. I was willing to endure the 100+ degree weather for a 45 minute commute to work, but it was not so easy. The AC broke in such a way that pieces of metal were actually getting into the engine and if left alone, it would do some serious damage to the car. When it was all said and done the tires, brakes and AC cost just over $2,000. In that particular month, I had already spent my salary on loan payments and there was no way I could have waited enough tables to come up with the  money in time, so I had to use about $500 from my checking and $1,500 from savings. Not fun.

How I felt when the dealership told me how much it would cost to fix my car.

Let me add in here that my emergency fund is by no means large. I am following Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps” and have not yet  made it to the “Save 3-6 months expenses”. After this month, my current savings will be $2,750. This would cover all my minimum loan payments for three months, but leave very little for gas, groceries and everything else. It’s a work in progress. If this is where you are at too, don’t fret too much, as long as you have a plan and are working towards that goal. I put $250 a month towards savings and at the end of the year, that will be an additional $2,750. It’s nothing fancy, but it works for me.

How do you cover life’s unexpected expenses?

Do the Hustle… The Side Hustle That Is

A simple look at the hashtag #sidehustle on Twitter will yield a variable mezlca (mix) of answers ranging from something you might find on UrbanDictionary.com, to dance moves, to what us PF bloggers consistently strive to find and make time for in our busy schedules.

Because how does this picture not make this post that much better?

Almost every PF blogger has posted about it. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents has a whole page dedicated to extra income. Melanie at Dear Debt talks about the lifestyle of side hustling. Michelle at Shop My Closet Project talks about what brought her extra income in 2013 and Art of Manliness gives us 37 very creative ideas for earning some extra dough. I’m not going to try and re-invent the wheel with this post, but I will give you my strategies for making time for some side hustling and what side hustles are currently helping me pay down my debt.

the tried and true

Waitressing

I have been waitressing for a local restaurant for over a year now and it has been my main source of side hustle income. Waiting tables at the restaurant looks a little different depending on the day and time that I’m working because the restaurant is also a sports bar. During lunch and dinner, I wait tables, just like at any other restaurant.  After 10pm, the place turns more into a “club” type atmosphere and I run cocktails until 2am. Waiting tables/running cocktails is something that I typically only do on the occasional Saturday/Sunday lunch shift or when I am on breaks from school (Christmas and summer), because we also share a patio with another building that our owner also owns and employs that houses a murder  mystery dinner theater. So, on Friday and Saturday nights, I wait tables at the dinner theater (and I get to enjoy all the shows!). I prefer to work Friday/Saturday at the theater because we get off at 10:30pm instead of 2am at the bar and we make the same amount in tips! To top that off, working at the dinner theater I make $8 an hour, so I also receive a check every two weeks for about $100.

Right now I work every Friday and Saturday night at the dinner theater and will pick up occasional Sunday afternoon shifts at the restaurant. I am SO thankful for this job because it has been a steady source of income this past year. Plus, since I’ve been there for so long (there is a pretty high turnover rate for waitresses) they essentially let me work whenever I ask. HUGE plus.

My advice: I had no waitressing experience prior to getting hired, so don’t let that hold you back from trying to wait tables. My biggest advice in this area is to find a local “home owned” type place. These places are nicer than the big chain restaurants because you get to know the staff/management/owner a bit better, have more “regular” locals and (in my experience) they are much more willing to work with your schedule.

Being an Arbonne Consultant

Last February, a friend invited me to attend an Arbonne holiday party with her. She had no intention of getting me to become a consultant, but needed a friend to attend the party with her because she would be the youngest one there by about 20 years and was a little nervous. After attending the party and learning about the company, I was hooked.

Arbonne works much like Mary Kay, except we specialize in clean, botanical skin care products. There is a network marketing side to the company (where you can get others to “sign up” under you), but Arbonne is a very open and honest company that I fully believe in. I do not use the network marketing aspect of the company, but I do sell the products and will occasionally have parties.

On months that I host/throw parties, I earn upwards of $100 while on months without parties I make between $30-70 from clients re-orders. For the time that I put into Arbonne (hardly any) I think it is very worth my time.

My advice: **Please note- I know that many people have mixed feelings about network marketing companies. I am not advocating that everyone go out and join some type of company. If you like it, great. If not, that’s okay too!**

in the works

Tutoring

As of Saturday, I am now a Spanish Tutor with a local tutoring company. The company has told me that I can take as many or as few hours as I would like each week and that I am starting at $20 an hour. Not too shabby! My goal is to tutor for 5 hours each week which would bring in an extra $400 a month. For me, that is a worthy time investment.

My advice: If you have extra time and like working with students, try going the tutoring route. You can tutor in almost any subject and even SAT/ACT/GRE test prep. Most tutoring companies pay in the $15-25 range. Several popular and nationally known companies to work with are WyzAnt, Varsity Tutors or Sylvan.

Etsy

At dinner theater, we go through about 10-15 bottles of wine a night and we simply throw away the cork and empty bottle. This past weekend it hit me- why not save the bottles and corks and make something crafty like wine cork wreaths/bulliten boards or wine bottle lamps? The investment in making the craft would be minimal as the bottle and corks are free. Selling on Etsy seems like it could be a fairly lucrative side income, but I do not know of anyone personally who is selling on the site. If you sell on Etsy or have friends who do, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

My advice: Why not give it a try? It only costs 20 cents to list an item which will not break the bank. Etsy does charge a 3.5% transaction fee on the listed price of the product, but you can easily adjust to include this in your shipping and handling price. I will keep you posted on my Etsy adventures here in the upcoming weeks.

overall

Just like when investing, diversify your side hustle! That way, if one side hustle falls through, you still have other sources of extra revenue coming in until you find another side hustle to replace it. Side hustling is not always easy. It requires you to put in time and effort, so when deciding on a side hustle, make sure the income you’ll be receiving will be worth your time and energy. With that being said, make sure that no matter how many extra hours of work you put in a week on your side hustle, you have to have some “me” time. Whether it be reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV shows, cooking with friends or a game night. Schedule your “me” time in your calendar if you have to and fight to keep it. You need personal time to run at 100%.

What kind of side hustling do you do? What do you find works best? What doesn’t work?

When in doubt, keep calm and do your side hustle.