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?

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!

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.

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.