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? 

 

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

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

Dear World, My Life is not Match.com!

So readers, here it is: I am single.

Yes. And I have been for some time now. And you know what, I am happy. Very happy in fact!

Now, I am not against relationships or marriage or any of the lovely dovey stuff. One day, I do want to get married and have a family, but that day is just not today and I. am. okay. with. that.

So, friends, family, and friends of family members, please stop feeling the urge to set me up with every single man you know under the age of 30. Or to talk with me about them. Or tell me how cute he is and show me tons of pictures on your iPhone. Your friend/son/cousin/boyfriend’s best friend who is a fly fishing instructor in Minnesota is sure to be a good catch (my Aunt actually mentioned this guy last night and yes, pun intended), but let’s be real. I teach in Texas. What is the point of discussing all of the men in far places? Or really this place for that matter!

Is it not okay with the world for a 25 year old to be single and happy? To not be actively seeking a relationship right now? To, GASP, be okay providing for myself and figuring out my life? I am super picky and I know one day I’ll meet the stud muffin of my dreams, fall in love, get married and ride shining white unicorns into the sunset, but that time is not now. Please stop butting your nose into my business.

Never!!!

Thank you. 🙂

Love, puppies and butterflies,

La Tejana

El Fuego Funnies

I believe that yesterday more than constituted a Monday Funday.

It was your typical MLK day. Off work for the day. Had just finished breakfast with the family. Enjoying the lovely 70 degree whether.

Then, it was time to go to the grocery store. I always prepare my meals the day before the work week starts so that I am ready to go. I meticulosly made my list, pulled El Fuego out of the garage and headed to the store.

DIY parking at the grocery store.

DIY parking at the grocery store.

The list was a bit light this week as my Mom had made a huge meal on Sunday and gave me the leftovers. I put the produce in the beautiful blue basket and proceeded to bike home.

Now, when I bike (or drive in the car alone for that matter), I listen to music. I don’t just listen, but I tend to jam out and sing along. Loud. Dorky? You betcha. If you are also a car-singing super star like me, you can’t carry a tune (or pitch) in a bucket. In college, my sorority participated in a university wide show called “Sing” where all the clubs put together a 10 minute show that we would sing and dance to. My second year in club, the Sing director asked me just to lip sync. Honestly I can’t blame her, I’m terrible!

So, I’m riding El Fuego down a pretty low-traffic street here in subrubia (thinking I’m alone) jamming out to the 80s classic “Take on Me”. Take meeee onnnnn. I’lll beeeee goneeeee OH ooooooooh!

On the highest pitch of that OH ooooooooooh I turned a corner only to find three teenagers standing on the corner, staring at me incredulously.

And to make your Tuesday better, Justin Bieber Valentine's Cards. You're welcome.

And to make your Tuesday better, Justin Bieber Valentine’s Cards. You’re welcome.

All I could do was laugh. I teach teenagers and sing for them quite regularly (I make up super dorky songs to help them remember what we are learning in class). I can’t even say that I was embarrassed, but the face on those three kids was absolutely priceless. It was if they were stunned that someone could 1) sing so bad and 2) proceed to do so in public.

Well, all is well and El Fuego, the produce and I made it home safely, but it was definitely a grocery ride worth mentioning.

Have a fabulous Tuesday dear readers!

Abrazos,

La Tejana

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

Do these shoes match my free table and blog ignorance?

Alright folks, I come to you today with two exciting pieces of news and something to admit.

The school that I teach at has something that we call “Ryan Ebay”. Ryan Ebay works like this: when one teacher (or teacher’s family member) has something to sell or get rid of, said staff member will send an all-staff email with the item, price and pictures. As I was lesson planning on Friday, I just happened to check my work email and see that one teacher’s daughter was getting rid of her dining room table and wanted to give it away for FREE. That’s right dear readers, for the price of absolutely ZERO! Over the course of living with roommates in college and graduate school, I have managed to pay $0 to furnish my room and house. Thankfully, my mother has fabulous friends who would always save me their old furniture and then donate it to me whenever they decided to get rid of it. To fill my kitchen, my Mom saved “stamps” from incentive programs from the local grocery store over several years time to redeem and give me a full set up dishes and pots and pans.

So, I opened the attached picture and saw that this was a really, really nice table. I immediately emailed her back and asked if I could have it. Luckily it was still available and today a friend and I picked it up. In the picture it looks nice, but in person, it is gorgeous (plus being FREE only adds to its beauty)!

The new table at its old home.

There is just one thing: I live with my parents. Right now, anything I need is in my bedroom (mattress, dresser, desk, bookshelf, etc) and the rest of the items (kitchen stuff, vacuum, etc) are taking up space in my parent’s garage. When I moved back in, I did sell my couch and love seat, but decided to save the rest. My parents are more than fine with storing my stuff in the garage (they love the fact that I live with them), but I do feel slightly guilty for holding on to it when I know I will probably be living her for at least one more year while I pay off my loans. My reasoning behind it is that 1) it was all free. I didn’t have to pay anything to get the furniture and kitchen items, so I don’t feel like I need to “make money” off of them by selling them; and 2) I’d rather hold on to it all and not worry about having to find free furniture or pay for furniture when I move out. Call me a hoarder, but I really do feel like it will be cheaper in the long run to hold on to it all now (please feel free to comment below if you disagree, I’d love to get some different opinions on this).  But as of now, the table is sitting on top of a patio table (that was also free) waiting to for its new home.

Along with the fun new table, a gift card from my Aunt and a free Amazon Prime trial membership afforded me to get a new pair of work out shoes for only $60. I’ve been holding off for about a year and a half on buying new work out shoes. My previous pair is three years old and has zero support left to them, but a new pair of the same model (or for that matter, anything similar) was around $100, an amount I really just couldn’t justify spending.

For Christmas my Aunt gave me an Amazon gift card. After looking on Amazon, I found a pair similar to the ones I have now for $80, only $50 with my gift card, a much more reasonable amount. With tax and shipping, the total price would have gone back up to $80, but Amazon does one month free trials of Prime, in which you receive free two-day shipping. So, I signed up for the trial membership and only had to pay $66.31. I’ll take it!

New kicks!

New kicks!

Lastly dear readers, I need to admit one big thing. I started this blog about two months ago with the purpose of helping to keep me accountable to decreasing my spending and increasing my revenue. I have to say, it has worked. Since starting the blog,   the idea of “oh, I’ll have to write about this” or “I’d be embarrassed to say I wasted my money on X” run through my mind when making purchases or paying on my loans and help to keep me a bit more accountable to my end missing of killing $80k of student loan debt.

With that dear readers, I need to tell you that I really have no idea what I’m doing here. I hope that this is serving as a source of encouragement for people who are in similar situations. The Personal Finance blog community has been so supportive and the emails and comments are so very appreciated. If there is something that you would like to see me post about here or have any kind of suggestions (about the blog or debt repayment wise), I would love to hear them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! Any suggestions for my blog? What are you thoughts on holding on to all my furniture? I’d love to hear, post below!

Abrazos,

La Tejana

New Year’s Post? Nah.

Okay dear readers, I contemplated the idea of reviewing 2013, looking forward to 2014 and yadda, yadda. But right now I’m still a little upset about how much debt I am still in and don’t want to re-hash the crazy, albeit incredible year I just had (at least financially, anyway. Remember that last post?).

No, queridos, that might be next week. I believe that reflection is a very powerful tool, something necessary to grow, but I’m not ready to write about all of that just yet.

So, lets leave it at this: I just went through my budget for this budget cycle, adding in a payment I made today, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Since December 20th, I’ve paid $3,585 on my loans. I had to take a second because I didn’t believe it. I went back, redid all of the math and double checked each of my lenders website in the “My Payments” section. But no, I really have put that much on loans this cycle.

I still can’t quite believe it yet. I’ve still got 19 days until this budget cycle ends. So… I’ve decided to make my new goal to pay $415 more in the next three weeks, bringing my total loan payment for this budget cycle $4,000.

While paying back loans is hard- so damn hard, it’s nice to feel a little bit of progress after having a set back this past week while “looking at the forest”. For now it’s just looking at the trees, and $415 is a tree that I would imagine looks like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree: small and sad, but representative of something much bigger.

Thank you for taking the time to read and stick with me through the ups and downs of this process. Feliz año nuevo!

charlie-brown-snoopy-christmas