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?

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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?

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!

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?