Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Hardest Part...

The past few times I think about writing anything for the blog, I get so lost. So confused and frustrated. It seems that my time writing brings nothing to fruition. Well not nothing, just a lot of unfinished blog posts...

My usual roundabout way ends up being I wake up early to try and get some writing in and be distracted a little bit by outside forces. But I then look at my feed, see what new articles are up, get some ideas, then move onto Facebook and next Tumblr...

What is it that makes writing so hard? I'm not at the point of running out of topics, I'm only just beginning. The best part being that personal finance is so personal, I can always find something in my everyday life to talk about and hopefully inspire someone in the end. That there are a myriad of posts that I can write in my whole lifetime.

It's all about putting all those thoughts and ideas into words. Letting them flow from the depths of my brain onto the tips of my fingers. Make all those random words legitimate sentences that follow English grammar and are usually void of spelling eras.

It seems that on a daily basis, instead of spending a lot of time reading other blogs for various ideas and writing styles, my focus should be on actually typing away at my keys. It's easy to get sucked into a passive way to fix your shortcomings, but until it is really put into use, only then will everything start getting honed.

And perhaps, maybe even, I'm scared of failure. Of seeing myself never really make it as a blogger. Not that I have huge dreams of success, but I do have some goals I would like to see myself achieve with this small blog of mine. Perhaps getting a few gigs on the side or having others who will follow me with adamant support and fervor. Those who are willing to back me up and tell me when I'm crazy when needed.

So with all that said, here's to working just a tad bit harder at this writing thing. Being a bit more forgiving with it all and sometimes hitting publish even if it is not perfect.

What's the hardest part for you? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Budget That Isn't Working...

As I sat down to make a new budget, I had my old budget in hand and considered it 80% there. No one is perfect, but it's not like I forgot to add in a new designer bag anywhere in there...

But then lots of questions and concerns started coming into play. I tend to be a frugal and conscious person. However, I love buying those small things that make life worth living, like flowers, and teas and cute pink things (no judging!!!).

And where did I have to start, with my debt. Being able to fully admit where I am and where I started is a great thing. It shows me how far I've come these past two years.

Total Debt: $29,670.44

This includes my student loans and my car loan.Yikes, that's quite a bit, but quite a bit of progress from 36k in student loans and 10k on the car.  With my car being half paid off and that key chain still on there, along with extra payments, we are making progress every day!

Each month there are a few priorities I want to take into account.

1. Paying off my debt sooner rather than later.
2. Enjoying life, including family and friends.
3. Being prepared!

Being able to take these things into consideration, categories start falling into place.

Based on 2200 an average take home pay...

Rent: 264 + 125 (part of home repairs that are underway)
Car Loan: 320 (extra 100 each month)
Student Loans: 500 (extra 311 and change each month)

Remaining: Not a lot...

Ballet: 100
Hair and Nails: 40
Taxes: 200

Remaining: Even less...

Hmm, and that got me thinking. There's a few categories that are missing here. Like savings and tithe and FOOD...

Church: 50
Groceries: maybe 100?
Gas: 100
Everything else:100

There is something that needs to be done. These past few days have been good to me, but that is the present and does not speak of the future. What happens when your budget does not balance? Do you start cutting your debt repayment to fit in food? Or perhaps putting the needs first, debt repayment second and then everything else third? Do you stop planning for those 'important to you' things? Take out the spontaneity from life? What is it that must be done to balance the budget?

That is the question that I'm still working on and will be for the next few months...

What do you think I should do? Do you think I should stop contributing to my Roth or perhaps lower my student loan payment? There's no wine budget...I NEED MY WINE...

Monday, June 1, 2015

May Expenses and the Start of a June Budget

And here are the final numbers. These past few months has seen me slacking in the tracking every expense category. So, I've looked back as best I could, but without a doubt there are a few lines with random purchases that cannot be remembered for the life of me.


Taxes: $125
Ballet: $120
Hair: $50    
Rent: $370

Snacks: $83.61
Groceries: $100
Eating Out: $100
Household Stuff: $100

Car: $15
Gifts: $17.12
Makeup: $126
Wine: $25

Car: $320
Student Loans: $200.00

Roth: $360

Income: $2200

Total Expenses: $2329.73 (Give or take that groceries budget...)

Got a new cover for my license plate! It's always been a hope of mine to have one with my alma mater's name on it, and I finally took the plunge! Lucky for me it was 75% off and figured it was the perfect time. Only three years later...

I made an effort and finally went around and got a new phone plan for my mom and I! So starting next month this should be a slightly lower figure!

That grocery budget, there must be something missing there...that's really way too low... Lots of gift cards from previous months were found to purchase wine, so this figure is also not that accurate. It's kind of sad to see that I spent more on makeup and dining out, but can say that's what happens when the budget really isn't in play.

What is frustrating me at this point is that I'm not assigning a job to every dollar and there were times where I could have really cut back or held out on going out just to have been a bit more in line with my income. I'm lucky that my bf pays for many of our outings and whims, but I still need to get a bit more on track. Instead of going out I'm going to try and convince friends to host small dine in dinner parties. And on days I feel bored, breaking out a book or two from the library down the street to cure it.

These next couple months are going to be tough. They are the months that I earn the least. But the best part is that if a new budget can work this month and next, it will work for basically all the others! Stay tuned!

How did May treat you in terms of life and finance? What are you looking forward to in June?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Family, Travel and Money

One thing I've started to appreciate is the ability to visit family and not just spend time but to really enjoy life with them. To share memories, to enjoy the minutes as they pass by. There might even be moments of complete silence, and yet it feels filled with meaning and understanding. Those are the moments that are worth the drive, those small hassels and that inconsiderate (only one right?) driver.

There are a lot of other 'things' in our lives that take priority. For me, work comes first, but what really is the real reason behind working constantly? It's the ability to earn enough money to pay down my debts. To finally have my student loans paid off, to ride around in MY car each and every day.

What made me stop and think about all of this was taking a spur of the moment trip down to see my family. Just one day. And seeing how much fuller life is with my family and friends. That there is so much to do, but is clouded behind debt repayment. Yes, paying off that mountain is important, and even that one extra shift can mean a whole extra payment. But there will always be (for the near future at least) that next payment. And after that, the next savings goal.

But even spending a few hours with family I hadn't seen in years was so rewarding and eye opening, I can't describe it only a few words. There might not be even words. It made me realize how quickly time is passing before my eyes, and that all the money I work for doesn't make up for the quiet moments that passed between us.

So, my hope is that my focus can shift from where I want my life to be in a few years, to enjoying life as it is now. Even if that means my debt repayment plans go by the wayside. Not totally, but just a little bit. Just enough to have a quick lunch with a good friend.

*Time to change that budget again...*

Have you ever rearranged your budget or renovated your goals to fit in sudden inspirations?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why I'm Maxing Out My Roth IRA Every Month

As many of you savvy people out there know, saving for retirement is up there on the to do list, but not really a priority on an everyday to do list. We either have it automatically set up or have no clue what's really going on. Which for 20 - something's is a likely possibility. Who really wants to put money away for a future self you don't know at all?

Even with about 28k of debt (20k of student loans and about 8k left on the car loan), most people would think I would use the $5500 towards either one of my debts and get them wiped out quicker. That does sound financially sound and a great way to use my hard earned money in the short term. But after a lot of thought, I realized there were quite a few positives towards putting that big sum into an IRA each and every year.

It's not something I advocate for everyone, not only because everyone's situation is different but because everyone has different goals that they are trying to achieve. There are many people out there who would find being free from debt would allow them to lead better lives not only now, but in the future. Or some would rather have peace of mind of not being shackled to a creditor sooner rather than later.

Here are my main reasons why devoting that chunk of money a year makes sense to me:

#1: My job does not have a 401k. Yes, it kind of sucks, but a few months after starting my first real world job, I realized I needed to start saving. At the age of 23, I went to my local bank and had them withdraw a certain amount every week. It got me into the habit of not spending those $100 because they would never be seen. One day when I do have a job with a 401k, the extra amount taken out of my paycheck will be nothing to worry about because I've already become accustomed to living with less.

#2: Now is the time for saving and compound interest. THESE ARE THE YEARS! Not just for fun and having the time of our life, but for compound interest to take into effect. During these early years, those small pennies those first few dollars earn can turn into hundreds decades later. And not to sound greedy, but lots of money later on sounds pretty nice to me.

#3: It probably would have been going to things other than debt... Like dinners out, or fancy face creams that make my skin look like I never ever worry about anything... An extra $400 a month seems like a lot, but when its in your hands, it looks like the best night out since graduation.

I'm lucky to be able to allocate such a large amount of my income every month towards my goals and paying off my debt. But forcing myself at this moment to slowly but surely pay off my debt while funding my IRA is reinforcing my patience towards financial freedom. My small salary today will not wipe away all my debts, but in the long haul, it will make a considerable dent in the mountain. But along with that, each dollar saved right now, will be quite a few more later on.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Next Quarter..

This past week has been very thought provoking for me. In a few weeks, I'll be turning 25, and that has startled me more than ever before. What I have done in my first 25 years on this Earth has been mainly milestones set by humans, but not a lot of it has been what I've been actively pursuing.

Now that I am conscious and aware of what type of person I am and what is out there, I can use that to my advantage and start partaking in activities that pique my interest and not merely arouse a satisfied groan for a job well done.

There are many aspects of my life that I have been neglecting, hoping that tomorrow will be the day to start, but in reality, today is too. Such as my health. I need to take care better of my body but also my mental health. Many of the reasons my body starts breaking down is because of my unhealthy eating habits due to higher than normal stress and less time to prepare meals in the morning because of how exhausted I was the night before. It's a never-ending cycle that can be broken with the right measures. All the equipment is at my disposal, yet I don't have the desire of the needed discipline to do it every night. Well, that is going to change!

Mentally, I need to get out of this rut of this is all that's out there for me. Yes, I waitress but that's not the end all be all. There are so many other careers out there that can provide me with the mental stimulation that I seek. But I'll never know if that apply button is never touched, not even once. So, taking time to really look at job postings not only in this area, but those around (and this is where the car comes in handy!) but physically taking the time to apply to them instead of keeping them open and considering all the reasons they would night hire me. Even if it means taking risks with other jobs that are far out there and pay a little less, maybe that's what is needed right now to get me back on track.

Financially, I need to hold myself much more accountable of my money on a daily basis. My debts have been going down at a reasonable rate, but I've been too willy - nilly these past four months with the small things. A drink out here and there has really started to add up four months into the year. My hope is to get January to April expenses all sorted out, take a really deep look into them and create a new budget to be tested May and June and the final version all set for July. This will give me the second half of the year to really make my money work for me.

The things I'm starting to appreciate are the home that the boyfriend and I are slowly creating. We are adding our personality here and there with small details that at times only we can understand why they fit. It's wonderful being able to look into our closet and see that we still have half of closet full of room. Our clothes have room to breath. We don't spend a lot of time or money on our appearance, but we appreciate other things that bring us together than divide us in separate directions. And I'd rather buy a couple ounces of tea over a sweater any day.

Everyday is teaching me what it is to be an adult in this world, but also a person, and a human. No one is perfect and failure needs to be a learning lesson. So hopefully I can take the failures and successes that are coming soon enough to heart.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Meaningful Spending

The past couple of months there has been a wonderful, new change in my schedule. After work a few days a week, I'll change into my gear and head over to dance class. Most of the girls are about half my age, but I don't let that perturb me in any way.

At first, I tried it out, paying for classes with a drop in rate. Then I bought a few classes at a time. Afterwards, I went all in. Slowly, new clothes were bought along with some new shoes and the transformation was only starting.

Yes, that money could be used towards paying off my student loans a bit faster. But in all honesty seeing that balance go down a little bit more wouldn't make me that much happier.

Life is about living, and not just for tomorrow but today. Being able to dance provides me with a joy that roots itself in my soul. I feel myself awaken in a way that daily routines don't allow.

There is no guarantee that in a few years that my body will still be able to perform the same moves, or be as graceful as I am today. Perhaps I won't have the time to dedicate once kids come into the mix. Now is the moment and today is the day, I'm not going to procrastinate on this one.

What things in your life are you not willing to give up even if it meant getting out of debt faster? And it can't be something small!