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. ūüôā

Love, puppies and butterflies,

La Tejana

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Wednesday Blog Love #3

Tommy used to work on the docks. ¬†Gina read her blog posts all day. She said “we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got. These posts will be the difference if we make it or not. We’ve got these blogs and that’s a lot…”

Big shout out to all of these bloggers. I love reading your work!

  • Tax season is upon us! Tonya at Budget and the Beach gives helpful tips to help get you ready.
  • Looking for some new ways to make money this year? Budget Blonde cites 5 Interesting Ways to Earn More Money. One day I would love to do no. 4 (Flip a property)!
  • 20-somethings… feeling the Quarter Life Crisis? See what Erin at Broke Millennial has to say about it!
  • Thinking about all of the traveling I’ll be doing this year, I’ve got a big case of the travel bug! Nick at A Young Pro gives some great ideas for traveling for cheap.

Okay readers, this week’s song should be easier to guess. Think 80s! First to comment here or on Twitter (@DebtFreeTejana) will receive the highly valued VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE and Twitter shout out!¬†

This picture is making it too obvious!

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 ūüôā 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 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”?

Wednesday Blog Love #2

Dear lovers and Friends, if Usher, John and Luda had to do it again, it would probably look a little like the following blogs. Mad props to each of the bloggers, you guys inspire me!!

  • I’m sorry, but what?! Michelle at Making Sense of Cents made over $12k in business income for the month of December! Way to go Michelle!
  • Nikki over at Debt Busting Chick cites 17 strategies she uses to help pay back her loans. I love her no. 9 (start a blog!) and think that no. 10 and 11 (setting short and long term goals) are SO important. You need to have a plan to get to where you would like to be financially. For the majority of us, it won’t just happen by chance.
  • I just recently discovered FemmeFrugality and am completely hooked. Her witty writing style mixed with great content is a must read!
  • Big shout out to Stephanie at the Broke and Beautiful Life for re-committing to her 2014 goals!

So, I leave you all with one last image to really add in to the cheesy opening line (old school lyrics, anyone?):

What were your favorite blog posts from this week? Share in the comments below! Also… are you following me? If not, join the club! Enter your email address ¬†above¬†(above the twitter feed)to have my new posts sent to your inbox! Don’t forget to follow me out on Twitter, too!¬†

P.S….. be the first to guess the song from the above lyrics and win a VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE (you know you want one) and Twitter shout out!

Time for a HAPPY DANCE!!!

This budget cycle: December 20-January 19, I paid (drum roll please) $4,029.69 ON MY LOANS!!!!

HOLY COW! I cannot believe it. I worked an insane amount at the restaurant because of my two week break from school, but I also picked up a lot of catering events that were on school nights. I seriously busted my butt working this past month and it worked!

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

2014: The Year of the Weddings.

Recently, I watched the movie Love Actually. It’s this great Christmas movie that I try to watch it every year. In the beginning of the movie, Hugh Grant’s character narrates as families and loved ones embrace at the airport. Yes, we are about to get super cheesy for a second, but Grant’s character says: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Well dear readers, in my friend circle, love is really every where this year. After getting another Save the Date yesterday, I will now be attending a grand total of six weddings this year. Yes, six weddings. I will be in three of those weddings and two of those three are destination weddings. Oh. boy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings. It is so special to watch to friends exchange vows (not to mention the reception is a blast, too), but after the whole kit-n-caboodle, weddings are expensive.

I’m not talking just for the bride and groom, but for the guests, too. Market Watch recently stated that the average american will spend $539 in attending one wedding this year. ¬†I’m not sure about you, but that is a TON of money. Reading these stats and getting the initial totals for the destination wedding scared me a bit, so I decided it be best to get a rough budget outlined now so that I can plan ahead, instead of waiting to add up my receipts after the fact.

Without further adieu, here is a preliminary budget for each wedding and travel expense.

January– N’s wedding. It’s local and I’ll be carpooling with another friend. Estimated total for gift and gas: $50.

April– B’s wedding. It’s 2.5 hours away and I’ll be carpooling. ¬†We’ll crash with friends for the night. Estimated total for gift and gas: $100.

April– S’s wedding. It’s local and I’m going with my family (she is a family friend). Estimated total for gift and gas: $0 (gracias to my parents).

July– M’s wedding. The location has not been set but it will be a destination wedding. So far she’s mentioned France, ¬†Spain or New York. Estimated total for attending: $2,000 (I’m guessing high so I can budget accordingly. This will include, flight, lodging, dress, etc).

August– B’s wedding. Location: The Dominican Republic. She’ll be using a travel agent so the package is all inclusive and I’ll be able to make payments on the price. ¬†Estimated price: $1,500-$2,000.

September– C’s wedding. It will be local. Estimated cost for dress, bachelorette party, bridal shower and gift: $400.

Added up, the initial budget for attending six weddings this year will be around¬†$4,050-4,550. Yikes. I’m wondering if the best way to go about saving for this is taking $20 out of each shift of tip money to put in a “wedding savings account” (Is it sad I’ll have a wedding savings account when it’s not even my own wedding? ). Even then, after working 25 shifts, I’ll only have $500 which is just a fraction of the amount. The rest will have to come out of my teaching salary, which will cut down on my loan payments. I’ll still be able to make all the minimums, but I’m a little bummed knowing the my debt repayment will be a little light after having paid so much these last few months. I guess, asi es la vida.

Have you ever attended so many weddings in one year? What was your strategy for saving money while still going and supporting the couple?