Why wait?

“I’ll start my diet on Monday”, “I’ll start paying debt down next year”, “I’ll start working out next month”, and “Ugh, I missed 2 days to my exercise program so I might as well wait until next week to restart.”  All of these are excuses I’ve used to excuse myself from doing something NOW.  That comment about starting to pay off debt? I made that in a February and wouldn’t allow myself to see the silliness of the comment.  After all, I had missed the New Year’s “deadline” to create goals so I would just save it for the next year.  Which, in case you were wondering, went by and this was not one of my goals.  Instead, I waited another few years to start doing something.

Just this past week I found myself starting to do this cycle of waiting all over again to re-start something.  It started out simple enough: I missed 3 days of work outs and when you add this to the 3 days I had missed the previous week, I really wanted to just say “I’ll wait for…”. But thankfully I recognized the cycle and on Sunday, I got my butt out of bed early and went for a run.  Granted it was a slow jog and I didn’t feel nearly as great as I normally would have but I at least did something.  And yes, on Monday, I was a little bit sore as I re-started Insanity week 3 (missed all but 2 days of this workout the previous week) but I feel better already!

With finances, I try very hard to stay in my routine.  If not, I’m afraid I’ll go back to the old ways.  So yes, I might check accounts every day or look at my budget, but I want to stay on top of things.   And last year, I finally started repaying my debt but I started in September.  It at least got me some momentum going and I was able to come up with a loose plan of attack. The “scariest” part was a few months into following my budget and I didn’t write it down to carry with me.  I hadn’t memorized it yet so didn’t realize how much money was for what category-but we spent anyways.  Thankfully we managed to switch some savings around and stay in budget but I did have a moment where I wanted to say I would start again next month.

The point to all of this is I had no real reason to wait.  There is no time like the present to implement a change.  Waiting to start it a few days probably won’t help you out-it might even hinder you farther.



To move or not to move

Ugh, with all the house issues (falling kitchen ceiling anyone?) I’m still debating on whether to move when our lease is up.   There are several pros to moving and there are several pros to staying.  In the beginning the plan was to stay for at least two years-if not more.  And then we talked about marriage and it became a stay here until the  lease is up  after we get married and then move to a bigger place—so that way I don’t have to move for a while and if we wanted to have a start a family, we’d be in the house we wanted to be in.   So I figured I’d make a list and see what other people might think.

Pros to staying:

Rent is fairly cheap-I would get to save more for all funds and pay off more debt

Close to work-this is important with our car situation never being completely stable.

We know the utilities for winter and summer-excellent for future budgeting

Could start saving up for furniture/curtains/house stuff we would like (right now we make do with what we have)

Cons to staying:

House is falling down around us.

Shady landlords who do not always answer complaints (valid ones in my opinion like the fact that I don’t have a back light at all or the ceiling is caving in or that I have a leak in my kitchen sink.  They swear I don’t but we’ve emptied the bucket under there a few times.  And by bucket I mean it’s one of the kitty litter containers I’m reusing)

Stress about the house and having to pay the landlords money.

Might have our heat/ac break a few more times.

Pros to leaving:

Get a better house –bigger (slightly) and not falling down around us.

Wouldn’t have to move for a while

Mental health is important!

Cons to leaving:

Not entirely sure if there will be a house we both want to move into (and yes house, I dislike apartments) when our lease is up and I have to give 30 days’ notice that we will be ending the lease.

Bigger place would come with a bigger rent so less money and we’d most likely have to pay a pet deposit again.

Not a lot of places around here really let you have animals and my cat is part of our family.

Would not be able to save up for new stuff (or new to us) as fast as we would like-it’d be put of until well past the wedding.

Really it’s a draw-well, kind of.  I hate this house with a passion but could put up with it for another year after our lease is up.  I wouldn’t like it but if I reminded myself why we’re doing it (wedding, debt, savings) I’d be okay with it.  And I know we could just move into a 1 bedroom place if need be, but I dislike moving (before I was 16 I’d changed counties/states/schools a total of 18 times just because my dad liked to move around) and the next time I move, I really want to be able to stay for a bit.  This means thinking ahead to potential family starting.

Part of it will be finding the right fit for us at the right time.  It sucks looking in the paper now because they have a lot of what we’re looking for in a lower price range than our maximum amount we’re willing to spend.   (did you follow that last sentence?) So I stay away from the paper but once in a while, we’ll see a house for rent and it looks good from the outside so I still see them.

Any thoughts on this?

Words of Wisdom

Something I touched upon in my post about financial mistakes after college  was the regret I didn’t try to move closer to home and transfer work places when my mom was diagnosed.  I don’t regret the hours I missed from work or the hours I visited her.  I don’t regret that I spent money I didn’t have-both to make her comfortable and to make sure I could visit her.  How could I? It was my mom and she was sick.  I only have a fleeting regret for not seeing if I could move back.

On one of my visits with my mom, I was staying up late and watching a movie with her and we got to talking.  I asked her if she had any regrets or mistakes that she wished she hadn’t made.   She held my hand and said “How could I? If I hadn’t made my choices or those mistakes, my three beautiful children might not be here and I wouldn’t have held my grandsons. Don’t ever regret a choice-you made it, learn what you can from it and be thankful. Yes it might have been a mistake but you’re you because of choices you made and mistakes you made.”   This is from a woman who married my dad, lived a life of poverty for the most part and didn’t marry the successful lawyer instead.

I’ll share a story I’ve known ever since I was little-I’d always loved hearing this story as it goes to show some of the strength my mom had.  Before I was born, my dad had just lost his job and they had very little money coming in. It was right before Thanksgiving and my dad became very saddened that he couldn’t supply a turkey and all the fixings for their dinner.  All they had on hand were some loafs of bread.  My mom, not to be deterred, made a Thanksgiving feast out of the bread.  She made “peas, baked potatoes, stuffing, and a turkey” out of mini bread sculptures.  And cheered my dad up in the process because she didn’t care about the lack of the Thanksgiving feast as she had everything she wanted.  Turns out that my grandpa stopped by and gave them a small feast after the fact but it wouldn’t have mattered to her.

I don’t regret my choices that made me who I am today.  Do I wish I hadn’t done them? For the most part no—if I hadn’t, would I be where I am at today? Would I have gotten into blogging? Would I be engaged to my fiancé?  Probably not.  Yes, once in a while I want to go back in time to talk to younger me, but I get over that thought pretty quickly.  All I have to do is think back to that late night conversation.   Instead, I am learning from my mistakes and hoping others don’t make the same ones that I did.

And I hit rock bottom

I started my slide into my debt lifestyle (here and here) and after college it just got worse.  I graduated in May 2008 and couldn’t find a job.  Part of it was the economy and part of it was me being comfortable where I was at.  I had transferred to a retail store to live with my ex because I was just too lazy to figure anything else out.  I was going to go back to school in order to finish off my other degree but never did. (Thankfully! I can only imagine the horrible school debt I’d have if I hadn’t decided to just stick with what I have.) But this is when I really crashed.  It was my rock bottom.  And I know it’s not as bad as it could have been but to me it was and still is my lowest point.



Here are some highlights from that time:

1)      Bought books from the bookstore I worked at.  Why? Because of the discount!  I just had to buy something every single day I worked.  Yes, you read that right. Every day I worked-not every pay day or every Friday.  And it was usually just an armful of stuff that looked good so I wanted to check it out.  I’m currently reading through these and some I’m just flabbergasted at why I bought.

2)      Not finding a second job.  I knew I needed more money because I “had none” (or you know, I spent it all on books every day!) but barely sent  my resume out to anyone or even tried for a second part time job in the mall I worked at.

3)      Continuing to use my credit cards even though I could barely make a minimum payment.  I was that girl at the register in front of you handing over 3 cards to get a $25 purchase.  Or smiling and taking back the “wrong” card that I thought I had “lost and canceled” and handing over the “correct” one.  Really it was just a game of “did that payment go through? Did they not put through that gas purchase yet?”

4)      Not moving back home when my mother was sick.  Instead, I’d take off 3 or 4 days at a time (sometimes a week or so) because I needed to be with her. And yes, I did need to be with her.  That is something I will NEVER regret doing but if I would have moved back home, I could have transferred and not missed as much work as I did.  This cost me paychecks (or at least good chunks of them) and huge credit card bills.  I had to have gas, food, and pay bills right?

5)      Not calling my student loan companies more.  I had all of my student loans go into default because I wasn’t making enough for a payment—which I wasn’t making enough for a big payment like they wanted but I should have put them into forbearance and not just ignored them.  Communication is key—well, part of a key.  The other part would have been showing them the fact I didn’t have a lot of income and working out a good payment schedule that could have worked for the both of us.

That’s the five mistakes I made while out of college.  Okay the five biggest ones!  I’m sure I have more (okay I know I do) but those really stand out to me.   I’m fixing them slowly and feeling pretty darn good about myself though.  Even though I made the mistakes, I’m owning up to them and getting them fixed.  And, as always, hopefully someone reading this won’t make the same mistake I did.

I kept sliding…

Yesterday, I filled you on how I started the downward slope into debt. Up to this point there was no debt besides student loans so at least I had that going for me! And here is where the years start to…blur as it will be. I’ll list off the highlights of my mistakes.

Photo credit: cohdra from morguefile.com

  1. I decided I needed a cell phone as I didn’t want to pay the school any amount of money for the use of their landline. Had my roommate bring me down to the nearest Verizon store and signed up.  Only issue was that I didn’t have the $250 for the deposit. My roommate did and paid it for me. I did pay her back but it’s something that I don’t enjoy thinking about—one shouldn’t borrow from friends/family as I only knew too well.
  2.  I got my first credit card! And this was something I hunted for as I only wanted to “build” my credit up. And I also signed up for something that I never used but continued to pay on—the account protection if you lose your job. (Which I forgot about when I did lose my job) Not a terrible choice to get a credit card if I used it correctly, right? I went wrong with not paying it off in full every month and running up the balance.
  3. I swiped my debit card knowing I didn’t have the funds in my account and wouldn’t until the following week. I rationalized this by saying “it is for medicine for my mom.” This would have been at least okay IF I hadn’t gone out to eat right before, as I knew I needed to pick up this medication. Woops!
  4. I lived off campus in an apartment that was $900 a month in Upstate NY. I paid more money than a lot of people’s mortgages (in that area) to rent a crappy apartment and did this for two years. Oh and as I didn’t bother to question something in the agreement, I actually ended up paying extra as they had it broken down into a semester payment plan—but they calculated it wrong. Too bad I signed it and didn’t wonder about it until a few months later.
  5. I bought things for people because I wanted to be the person with MONEY. Didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t afford it because I knew I would just pay the minimum amount due. Oh and that one credit card turned into four credit cards that were run up to the limit.

Those above mistakes are what helped push me into deep debt. And I only tell you all these things in hopes that another person won’t make them. I don’t dwell on them too much because I’m moving past them and fixing them. But I also won’t hide from them! To do so would mean that I haven’t learned my lesson and I would most likely back slide.

Old goals out and new goals in!

May’s Goals:

Medical: finish up my dentist appointments! – I’m going to say I fail even if it is the dentist’s fault.  I have one double appointment left in June for my last fillings and a cleaning.

Car fund: I’d like to put $90 into this. I have $75 scheduled to go for it so let’s see if I can manage an extra $15.—neither pass nor fail as I had this at $210 but then put the left over car money towards medical as I thought I was going to need it for a dental appointment.

Personal: I am entering my first ever 5k since high school and I really want to do well. Right now I know I can do it so now it’s just working on my time. – Pass. I entered and will be running it this Sunday but I’ve been working on my time!  Send fast thoughts to me around noon central time 🙂

Guy’s Student Loans: I would love to get this to $225. That means I need to save $75 for it. – Pass.  Looking at my side bar you will see it’s up to $250!

Efund: I’d love to get this to $200. That’s $60. Can I do it? No idea but we’ll see!–Fail! It’s at $190 which isn’t too bad I guess.  Soooo close!

June’s Goals

Medical-ONE more appointment.  Then onto my guy’s teeth (that sound you heard was me hitting my desk with my head).  And of course, he needs glasses and contacts.   So: $100 into this fund and maybe a dentist appointment for the guy for him to get a price range.

Guy’s Student Loans: I want to put $150 into this.

Car Fund: $100—it’s at zero right now and I don’t like that.  We are a) saving for a new to us car and b) what if another repair comes up?

Efund: $250.  That’s what I would settle for.  Of course, if I can get it over that, it would be even better.

So there you have it.  Are they ambitious? I think so.  Honestly, I’m going to be extremely happy when we get all the doctors, dentists and eye doctors over with.  (Oh did I mention that I also need to get my eyes checked out? Just not as badly as my guy does) Why? Because that money will be helpful to pay off more debt, get our efund up, and to increase other random funds (car, wedding, Christmas, etc).

Before I get overly excited about that, I have a question.  I’ve been kicking around getting and keeping the medical fund to about $250-$500 after all is said and done.  Or should I get my efund up first and then go back to building the medical fund?  They both have valid pros and cons so I’m having trouble deciding and it’s too far into the future for my guy to want to think about it.  Let me know your thoughts below!

How did your May goals go? Are you working on June’s?

Shopping Tips

As I was shopping this weekend (and seriously I say shopping in the loosest of terms as I bought nothing except for lunch for my gal pal and myself….oh and a notebook), a few things stood out.  First, go with your instincts—I knew that the dress I had tried on was going to be IT.  But besides that, go with your instincts about shops themselves.

Why? Oh boy.  I went into a florist to see a book so I could get some ideas for flowers for my wedding.  (Speaking of which, I don’t want to spend a fortune so we will be buying bulk and creating the arrangements and bouquets) The place was small and didn’t flow well.  Unfortunately, I was not wowed by the service which could have saved it.  I asked to see a book, was left waiting for about 5 minutes, and when she came back, it was to tell me that I needed to create an appointment.  Really?  I have to make an appointment to see a book?  Then I was informed that they don’t have a book of any of the stuff they have done for weddings or any other big events.  So…I was creating an appointment for what?  No thank you.  Instead we went to a supermarket and they had a book!  I now have ideas.  And that florist will not be getting my business.

Secondly, don’t settle for something you know you are not going to be happy with.  Every time I have, it either doesn’t get used; breaks or I give it away.  Even worse? I buy it, am not happy with it but am not able to return it because I lost the receipt or whatever.  (That just happened with a DVD player that we bought a few weeks ago.)  Instead, don’t buy it!  They don’t have what you want?  But have something that kind of matches but it is NOT what you were looking for?  Chances are if you leave the store, go look on line or wait just a bit, you will find something you will be happy with.  That DVD player is now a $20 paperweight.  It works but not as good as the one we thought was broken.   Don’t buy a XXX amount paperweight.  And if you do buy it? Pay attention to return policies, keep all packaging and the receipt.  Don’t be afraid to get your money back!