Thursday, November 28, 2013

Time to Be Thankful

Evening Folks!

Hopefully by now you are all stuffed with great food and are relaxing and digesting! Perhaps you are watching football or just sharing memories with your loved ones.

As for me, I'm listening to a football game (no, I'm not a sports fanatic) and trying to prepare for tomorrow, aka Black Friday. It's going to be a long couple of days with the kickoff (see used a football reference there!) of consumer season, but with a very supportive work-place, it'll go super well.

But I just wanted to make a small list of things I'm thankful of today. Not only my family and friends, but also all the opportunities that I've been given in life. As much as I may complain that my job search isn't going well, it could be going much worse. Luckily, I have two degrees and have a lot of hands on experience that put me far ahead of most candidates. And I also have a job that covers my overhead expenses and allows me to save tons of money each month.

Also, my super supportive bf. We are super close and are able to overcome any challenge that is presented to us. It's great knowing that when I get home, whether it be super early or late, he's willing to make me dinner and rub my feet. Honestly, I can't ask for more.

Being able to remember each and everyday to be thankful for something, even if it's the littlest thing, is something I need to work on. Making a Thanksgiving everyday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Student Loan Story

Ah, student loans. I came out with the full amount a couple weeks ago. If you didn't see it, here it is again: 27k. Well, it's an approximate amount, but it's everything I owe at this current point. But where did it come from???

It was in high school that I decided to go into a field I loved, but luckily (well hopefully) was also practical. I applied to a few schools and got into all of them. Luck was even on my side in that my top pick gave me the most financial aid in terms of scholarships, not just loans. Yay for hard work!!!

While in college, my schoolwork took a lot of time. And with all the extra curricular activities, there was little time to work. And yet, I found time. On weekends I worked an amazing work study that gave me lots of time to study and do something I enjoyed with great pay. The months I lived on campus, it was essentially play money, because all my expenses were paid. Once I moved off campus, my mom matched every dollar I earned (usually about $400) and put it in the bank account. With rent for my room being $400, and not everything included, I learned to live a very indulgent lifestyle on what I made. Being able to pull together all of our resources, including time and money, helped my roommates and I living together on a tight budget make the best of what we had.

All of my student loan money went directly to the school. Most people don't realize that I never saw a penny of the money. It wasn't spent on clothes or dinners, but tuition. The semesters where there was an amount the loans didn't cover, usually 1k or 2k, my mom would give me the money. She saw this as an investment in my future. The small amount I earned using work study would have paid off this amount, but my mom didn't want me to feel responsible in paying it back. She knew these were a few less loans I would have to take out.

After graduation, I had a large amount of money saved up and made a huge payment to get rid of my largest and highest interest loan right off the bat. This lowered the interest rate and my monthly payments significantly.

Honestly, I felt I did the best I could, with what I had. No one is perfect, and while you are in college, you are usually making a lot of decisions for the first time on your own. But it's also great knowing that the sound decisions I made early on have led me to a more secure path. So yes, my student loan story is boring, but I know it's better this way.

What did you do with your student loan money? Did you use it on the practical or was it misspent on all the greatest things college students find!?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Link Love!!!

There is so much on the internet that intrigues me! Some of these are on the older side, but they are great if you didn't get a chance to read them the first time around!

Leo talks about selfless compassion and how we as mere humans can develop this trait. It's hard to be kind to everyone we meet, and imagine everything through their eyes, but we can always give it a shot!

Kirstin Wong talks about lifestyle inflation and if there is a reasonable way to do it. She also discusses job loss and how to deal with this tough subject.

Linda writes about how money and happiness correlate and how often a large amount of money really doesn't mean anything at the end of the day.

What do you do when you are in debt? Well, if you are a good PFer, you'll try and pay it off as quick as possible. Frugal Rules has a great article on how to get your butt moving in the right direction!

One of my favorite articles in a few weeks was by Bridget and increasing net worth by 25k a year. On a 50k salary. Yes, she went there. It's awesome and even if you don't think you can, you probably can learn something to help you become even savvier with your money.

If we want to start saving some money, perhaps the best thing we can do is cut out the things we don't need. Over at Just A Little Less, being able to cut out spending by shopping less is a great way to start!

Reading! One of my favorite things! Leo has a few recommendations, but it's what he says about reading that is worth heading over there.

Glorifying Debt! Sounds interesting right? Over at Dear Debt, she talks about whether going to school and accumulating so much in student loans was really worth it. In my opinion, it really depends on the individual and the situation.

At Dear Debt, she talks about her ex-lover, savings. It's a great post about how savings are a wonderful thing, but how they need to take a backseat at times when debt is in the picture (talk about a third wheel!).

At Mo' Money Mo' Houses, she's got some special news to share!!!

As all of you know, I've been considering purchasing a car for the longest, and at Journey to Saving, they are contemplating the same thing! However, they are a bit on opposite sides, due to his car not being completely on it's last leg.

At Budgets are Sexy, J. Money tries to help someone who feels they never have enough money and want to stretch it as far as possible.

At Thirty Six Months, the situation described, of helping others, and can you afford that, sort of reminds me of me! Do you know anyone else like that? Anyway, a great article on what to do to know where your money goes!

Being able to Create Space is sometimes difficult for us at one point or another. But this article should help with even carving out ten to fifteen more minutes in your day!

Whew...Well that was a list! Get some coffee (or tea) and get started!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Appreciating Time Off

Finally, a day off! A first in quite a bit! Even though I only work part time, with my long commute, it feels more like a full time job at the end of the day. So the day or days off I get during the week are used to not only catch up on housework, but also to work on those small projects or make a really delicious meal (or three). 

It's really interesting that when we really have no work to do, we get a bit anxious, and then we start looking around for a new project to start or a new skill to learn. We can almost say that we get a bit bored. As humans, we really do want to contribute and feel we are doing something with purpose. 

But when we work too much, we miss the time to do whatever it is we want. To explore, to let our creativity run and find it's own outlet. We also need time to rest and relax, to make sure we do not burnout our mind or body.

So, it's a bit of appreciation for the work life balance that we all try to master. Work is great to give us meaning to our lives, but life is also a great thing to enjoy. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Paying Off My Student Loans and Getting There Faster

Another blogger on the interwebs wrote a very interesting article about increasing your net worth by a huge amount every year. And one of her points was earning over 50k a year. It got me thinking how being able to earn more money opens many more doors. But where some people can tap into a side income or work a few over time hours at their main job, that's a bit more difficult for me.

I've thought really hard about working a second job, which would be easy to find during this holiday season. It would definitely increase my meager salary, however, when you take the bus everywhere, and you live in the middle of nowhere, it becomes almost impossible.

So, for the sake of being able to do something productive, and change my situation, I'll be looking into purchasing a car!

But wait, how does this relate to paying off debt if you are going into more debt? Yes, it sounds counter intuitive, but it actually isn't. Instead of a 1.5 hour commute each way, it would be about 20 minutes (yes, the bus route is that roundabout). Then a second job at night (probably one where the restaurant has a bar and thus closes later) would only take me a max of 30 minutes to get to. Yes, it would mean having to pay for a car and all the associated costs, but it does open up a lot of opportunities. It's not just free time to veg out, but free time to actually do productive things and spend time with the bf.

As for my school loans, it's finally time to come out with the whole amount:


I've been paying it off for a couple months now, and luckily, it's a small amount. But it's still debt and it's money I would love to use for something else. For the past couple months, I've been trying to pay double the minimum payment, and luckily, it's not that bad of a strain.

If having a car would mean the possibility of a second job, that would DOUBLE my salary, I could definitely contribute more on a monthly basis to my student loans! It would almost seem like a win-win!

It would be great to hear how others deal with a long commute or if they ever regret getting a car after taking public transportation for a long time. Please tell me I'm not making a mistake!!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review: The Definig Decade by Meg Jay, PhD


So, if you guys can remember, way back when I said that I'd be reading ten books for October, it looks like I'll be a few shy of meeting my goal. One thing I tend to do is read a few books all at the same time and choose long, complicated story lines. For some, it may seem impossible, trying to keep all the plots straight, but it works for me!

I picked up this book because a few people close to me had a variety of responses to just the title, not even thinking about delving into the actual content to wait for judgement.

The title of the book says it all, the author really believes that your 20's are super important in shaping who you are as a person going forward. She uses research and studies to supplement her point, but also stories of actual people she has helped in her practice.

She divides the book into three important parts of life: Work, Life and Health. She then divides these sections even farther, and concentrates on issues that may seem nominal at the moment, but make a difference ten and twenty years down the road. For work, she talks about how 'weak ties' can actually land you the perfect job. In the life section, she discusses the importance of making sure you choose not only a great spouse, but also a great step family. And last but not least, in the health section, it's not only about keeping yourself healthy and developing those healthy habits early, but what happens when you leave having children til it's too late.

My favorite portion was when she talks about a girl who constantly feels stressed about work, and uses her family and friends almost as a crutch to get through her day. She is told to let go of that crutch and focus on learning to deal with these issues and feelings on her own. Now, she is able to create her own coping mechanisms, making her even more prepared for the outside world.

It was a quick read for me, and I would recommend it to anyone in their 20's who feels really lost. It was hard for me to relate to a lot of the examples because I have such hard and fast goals. She really focuses on those people who feel working at a coffee shop for the rest of their lives seems like an okay thing to do. She does a great job of giving names and definitions to some of those feelings we have and others tell us about, but seem so abstract.

Have any of you out there read this book and if you did, what did you think? Or what are your opinions if you have only heard of it?

I picked this book up of my own free will and these opinions are my own.