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? 

 

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!

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?

How Saving $20 Cost Me $85.52

A few weeks ago, I ordered  a pair of New Balance Minimums (which I LOVE) off Amazon. Amazon offers this sweet deal in which you can sign up for a one month trial membership for free. Yes, zero dollars. Amazon Prime is awesome because not only does it offer TV shows and movies (much like Netflix), but it also offers free shipping.

So, in an effort to save $20 on shipping my new shoes, I signed up for the free trial membership. My new shoes came in and I revel in the fact that I got them at such a good price. All is good in the life of the Tejana. She’s saved some money and is now getting really good use of her new kicks.

Then… I log onto my bank account today and to my surprise, I find a charge from Amazon.com for a prime membership. I thought that my trial membership ended on the 19th, how ever could I have a charge on the 15th? This just didn’t make sense. So I log on to Amazon and realize that my free membership actually ended on 14th! Since I didn’t log in and cancel the trial membership it ended up charging me for the FULL YEAR! Oh my gracious- I can’t believe I got the dates switched up!

*Sigh* I’m so mad at myself!

To look at the bright side, at least it looks like the Instant Video feature has a nice selection of movies and TV shows (Downton Abbey anyone?). Which, will provide for some nice entertainment this year as I cut back on all non-essentials like movies and movie rentals. I’ll keep y’all posted this year as I use the membership (you better believe I will be trying to get the most bang for my buck after seeing that $85.52 gone) and I’ll let you know if I really think it is worth the price.

Moral of the story: BE CAREFUL WHEN SIGNING UP FOR FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIPS ONLINE! Be sure to cancel before the deadline!

What are your biggest spending “accidents”?