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? 

 

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?

How to Survive Living with Your Parents (and why it is still cool)

** First- I had the opportunity to guest post over at Fit is the New Poor yesterday 🙂 Check out the post and let me know what you think! **

Throughout your days of high school and college, I know the first thing on your mind was how you would define yourself as successful: when you moved back home with Mom and Dad- right? When I was in college and grad school, my parents had always told me that I was more than welcome to move back home if I would like to. No, noooo, I thought. I was an adult and I couldn’t live at home again… or so I thought.

Living with dear ole’ Mom and Pops saves you on rent, bills, and often times groceries (and if you’re lucky gas!). Just like living with roommates, there are ups and there are downs and its best to mentally “prep” for the big move. 

After moving back home with my parents, my initial plan was to stay only for a few months and move out in June of 2013, after my first year of teaching. Then, January came and so did student loan payments. After a few months of putting down tons of money and hardly having any left over at the end of the month (I was on a different salary schedule last year), I sat down with my parents and decided to stay for another year. Then- I told them, I’d move out in June of 2014. My family and I would do just about anything for each other and my parents made it clear that I could stay as long as I needed and not even worry a thing about it . So, here I am (happily) at home and have, as of last month, have now decided to stay until June of 2015, when I will have my loans paid off (or at least that’s the goal).

If you just moved back home or are about to, moving back in as adult does require some adjusting. Keep the following in mind to help make your transition a little bit smoother.

Set Boundaries

This can be a really hard conversation to have and it actually took some time before my parents and I sat down to do this. My parents were the type that any time I came home during college, they never could really “sleep” until they knew that I had made it safely home. Once I moved back in as an adult, they never did anything like that, but we did have to have talks about a couple of little things: where I could keep stuff in the fridge (it sounds silly, but I’m super OCD and like to have things organized and my parents aren’t always so) or asking if I could have a shelf in the pantry (it actually took about 4 months before I got one) to keep my groceries.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I am SO grateful that they are letting me live with them while I pay off my debt. We actually live together really well, but it is important to be open and honest with them. If there is something that is bugging you while living at home, make sure to talk with them about it! This is true of any roommate, but even more so with your family.

Enjoy Family Time

If you’re living at home for free, make sure you carve out some family time. You’re (most likely) not going to live with your parents forever, so enjoy the time you have with them. Have a family dinner night, movie night or game night- but just do something. This school year, we started a Monday Morning breakfast tradition. Each Monday we wake up early to go out to breakfast together before work. I always look forward to it and it is a great way to start off our week!

Just Embrace It

At first, it was really hard for me to tell people that I had moved back home to live with Mom and Dad again. I felt like I had failed as an adult or something. But let’s be real- who cares? You can’t let other people’s thoughts of you dictate your life or how you feel. Living at home has been a HUGE blessing for me. I’ve gotten closer to my parents and have been able to put so much more money on my loans than had I been living on my own. To me, that has been worth it. And just remember– all the cool kids are doing it .

Do you live at home? What are your tips for survival? If you don’t live at home how do you save on living expenses?

Femme Frugality

How I’m Using My Entire Salary to Pay Student Loans

How I’m Using My Entire Salary to Pay Student Loans

Alrighty folks, last Friday I mentioned how I decided to make a mental switch in how I view my income to help me increase my debt repayments. I’ve spent the weekend working it out, and I think I’ve come down with a solid plan. Below are the steps that I am taking to  begin using my entire salary to pay my loans and use tip money/side hustle money for living expenses.

1. Re-organize my bank accounts.

Previously, I had one checking account and one e-banking account with Bank of America. I used the e-banking account as my savings and the checking for everything else (I’ve also used my credit card for expenses and immediately paid in full from checking to earn Rewards Points). What I’ve now switched to is having one Checking, one E-banking, and one Money Market Savings account. The Money Market will hold my savings and will earn .03% monthly (gettin’ crazy with the interest here), while the Checking will function as my living expenses account and the E-banking will be strictly for loan money. My salary will be placed in E-banking each month so that it stays separate from living expenses funds. All tip and side hustle money will be placed in the Checking to use for living expenses.

2. Keep a “Supply Stash” just in case.

Currently, I have about $300 in my checking account. Normally, I would put this money to my loans at the end of the budget cycle when I received my salary payment. This month, I am going to hang on to this money as a “Supply Stash” just in case the end of the month comes and I really need the money for something (tires, oil change, etc). Any huge emergencies (all I can think of now is terrible car problems) would be taken out of my savings.

3. Decide on  Payment Schedule.

Salary Money: All loan minimums will be paid as soon as I get my salary. For the first month, I will save leftover salary money, just in case. On the last business day of the budget cycle the remaining balance will be applied to loans.

Tip Money/Extra Side Hustle Income: Will go straight to checking to use for living expenses. On the last business day of the budget cycle the remaining balance will be applied to loans.

4. Clearly Define My Budget.

I pride myself in being a good at budgeting, but to be able to live on tip money, I will need to have a very clear place for each and every dollar to go.

Item Amount
Savings 250
TollTag 40
Gas 160
Groceries 80
CrossFit 72.25
Arbonne 100
Misc 50
Total 752.25

That above number is a little overwhelming at first. The reason I am keeping CrossFit is because it really is the only way I’ll actually work out. If I go home after work, it does not happen. I feel better, sleep better and enjoy the challenge that CrossFit always is to me. Additionally, it is a nice mental break to see friends at the gym. And, if I’m no longer going out with friends, this will be a necessary thing. As for Arbonne, I have very sensitive skin and Arbonne products are so far some of the only products that don’t irritate my skin (I also am a vendor, so I get a hefty discount on the items). To make all of this happen, I have to make at least $752.25 each month in side hustle. To ensure I have enough, I’m going to make it my goal to make at least $800 in side hustle each month to make sure I’ve got my bases covered.

5. Increase Income.

If I want to keep my gym membership and Arbonne products, I have to make sure that the side hustle is one of my top priorities. At the restaurant, I am currently guaranteed every Saturday night since I have been there for so long. I spoke with my manager this weekend and he has also guaranteed me a Friday night shift for as long as I wanted it (they hadn’t given it to me before because I have been so stressed with school).

My next endeavor is to pick up Thursday nights (I could have these if I asked) and to try and get a tutoring gig. Heck, I’m always looking for ways to make some extra money, so hopefully there will be more added to this list later on. I just have to keep my end goal of $800 extra each month my top priority!

6. Reduce Expenses.

STOP. EATING. OUT. I struggle with this  more than anything!! Once I start this plan, eating out is NO MORE! I’m going to start with a 30 day challenge and then go from there.

Other items that will also be cut: new clothes, getting my nails done, movies, spending money out with friends, and really any other unnecessary expense. Not even in those extreme moments when I feel like “I really deserve this!“. NO.

So dear readers, here it is! I’m looking forward to this challenge and having your support the whole way!

Do you think I can do it? Any suggestions or anything you would change? 

It’s time for a change.

I thought the chalk board was fitting for a teacher, right?

The idea crossed my mind over a coffee date with one of my best friends from home. We were talking about finances and how we go about saving our money and sharing ideas when it hit me.

Why not spend my entire teaching salary on student loans and use tip money to live on?

I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. In making this switch, I would be putting at least $3,296.52 each and every month on loans. If I can make the mental switch from living on a salary to living paycheck to paycheck, I’d have the extra incentive to become more thrifty and pick up as many extra shifts at the restaurant as possible.

In all honesty, what could it hurt? My only true “necessary” expenses each month are gas, groceries, savings, CrossFit (a mental necessity) and Arbonne (I have super sensitive skin). Besides that, my budget categories are “Eating Out”, “Fun” and “Toiletries and Misc”. All things that if I am careful, can be cut.

Hmmm…. I am just now starting to hammer this out and it will take some time but I was just so excited I wanted to share it with you all now. I’ll work out all the details this weekend and will post my game plan next week.

Until then,

La Tejana

You have got to be kidding.

**Please note that I wrote this frustrated, this is not my constant view on loan repayment.**

Dear Readers, please forgive the huge delay in post time. I could give you the long list of reasons for the blog-silence, but let me boil it down to this: getting out of debt is hard. Most obviously financially, but also emotionally and physically.

The alarm sounded at school at noon on Friday, December 13th, a half day due to final exams and I rush to collect my things, grab my graded exams yet to be entered in the gradebook and speed over to the restaurant to work an eight hour shift. I sleep until noon the next day and go back in at two only to put in eight more hours. Then again on Sunday and Monday. The brief rest on Christmas Eve and Christmas (which was filled with wonderful time with family) was only ended by going back to work doubles on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thankfully we have a new waitress and she asked to take my shift today. Yes, new girl, I will gladly give you my shift and forfeit the money I could have made. 

All of this culminates with going to bank to deposit money to put on my loans. Within 5 shifts I paid $693 (not including my paycheck). Whew.

Then tonight I have the bright idea to go back and see just how much I have paid to my loans this year. Although I keep a monthly tally in my budget, I do not frequently check the annual amount. This is my first year to begin paying my loans and upon adding the total, I have currently paid $25,221.31. THAT IS A DOWN PAYMENT ON A HOUSE. THAT IS A CAR. THAT IS A BIG FAT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. It is so many things but is money that I will not ever see again.

Could you believe that a 25 year old could have a savings account of $25k if she did not have student loans? Could you believe that I could be traveling, starting more hobbies, have actual free time to spend with family and friends, time to ride my bike more often and not live with my parents?

How many more years do I have to work like a madwoman, live with the idea that I can’t even think about a serious relationship until I’m out of debt, or live with the huge desire to travel the world but not actually get to do it?

Sorry to be Debt-Free Debby Downer here, but seriously? I’m beyond frustrated.

Thank you college education and graduate school, you have clearly done me very well.