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.

 


How learning to manage my finances has helped my health out

First, let me be honest.  I’m a worrier by nature (read about wedding worries and baby showers issues) and will stress myself out over the oddest of things.  I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because I’ve panicked about random worries (which could be something as weird as not remembering if I sent out a bill or as crucial as something like I don’t know how I’m going to eat.  Thankfully the latter worries have not come back for a while!)  and have suffered insomnia due to this.  (The insomnia is one of the reasons I have set schedules that I try not to change a lot-I do better sleeping on schedules)

A little over a year ago, this led to some issues with my health and thankfully it was nothing major-only an ulcer.  First, I was doing a workout program on top of riding a bike to work (no car at the time) and making a quarter above minimum wage at a place with no regular hours-both in shifts and in the amount of hours per week.  Second, we had no real budget or plan-we paid bills to our roommate and made sure we had some food but that was pretty much it, the rest was gone.  So there I am, getting up early to do a workout with poor nutrition and very little sleep and wondering why instead of feeling stronger, I’m getting weaker.  But I’m also a stubborn person and persevered through it, plus the workouts helped relieve the stress of being broke. Not my brightest decision.

Due to the way my body was aching and me skipping lunches at work (I needed as much time as possible and would rather not eat if it meant getting an extra half hour.  These added up as this place would start to send people home if it wasn’t busy so I needed all the hours I could get.), I started to take ibuprofen to counteract the headaches and soreness.  Funny thing-I couldn’t take them with milk as my stomach would get upset.  So I took them with water on an empty stomach and kept it up for a few weeks.  Woops.

Sure enough, I started to have really bad stomach pains-these blinding, ripping, stabbing pains.  I went to the ER and finally to a clinic (they worked with people with no medical insurance) where they finally got me on medicine and calmed down the raging stomach issue.  The bad part? It took 2 and a half weeks to get this figured out so I ended up missing a lot of work-or rather, was sent home from work a lot and add the small paychecks to the medical bills and my normal bills? Ugh.  That did not help my stomach issues out as the more stressed I became, the worse the pain ended up being. I did get financial assistance for those medical bills though so that’s a plus.

That was one of the reasons I wanted to be out of debt and wanted to have a budget.  I didn’t want the stress of “OH MY GOD!  The electricity is due…but we have no money! How could we forget!?!?!” that I’d been having.  Instead, I like it much better when I get an outrageous bill and can say “hmm, I think that is a mistake and I’ll be calling but if not? It’s budgeted for.”  It’s partially why I tend to overestimate things.   Now that I have that budget and my plan, my ulcer has stopped flaring up and I sleep a lot better.  Oh, I still worry but I can open my computer and look at the pretty budget.  My insomnia, while not going away, is much better than it was previously.

What did having an ulcer due in the long-term? I can’t take anything with an NSAID in it without my stomach cramping in pain, I cannot eat as much of the spicy food that I love as I used to or have it as hot as I liked and I have to make sure that I have medicine on hand in case it flares up.  Not fun at all.  But it was also that nice kick to the butt to get a budget in place.  While I would never wish an ulcer on someone, at least *some* good came out of it. And thankfully, I didn’t need surgery!


Student loans….again

 

I sent in my first “real” student loan payment the other week and it applied to my account today. I felt such a thrill! Granted for a little over a year now, I’ve been making “payments” but it didn’t feel real as it was to get the loans out of default status.  And the one loan went into deferment so I haven’t made a payment on it.  (As much as I wanted to, the car had to come first along with a few other items that cropped up unexpectedly.  I’d much rather not make a payment on something that isn’t due yet then have to withdraw the money from our very baby emergency fund. Maybe that isn’t what other people would do but I’m okay with that.  I had to make a tough choice and went with what I thought was best for us.)

It didn’t go down by much-I only paid an extra $2.15 (roughly) as I just can’t afford to pay anymore yet.  But it was roughly 1% of my loan that I paid.  Ouch, that hurts to see small number right there in black and white but I’m still happy that I’m on my road to debt recovery. It’s slow going and sometimes I feel like I’m taking breaks (i.e. not paying more than I am and not paying on the loan that is in default) but I’m still moving forward.

Eventually we won’t have a wedding we’re paying for that takes up a lot of any “extra” money.  And, I’m proud of how we are doing it, so don’t get me wrong there.  But when we are able to concentrate on getting out of debt, I’m going to be even happier.   Eventually I can see us making double payments but that day isn’t close to being here yet.

So yes, it might be too soon for the fireworks but I’m extremely happy about this turn in events.  We’re on the right path and every little battle is worth it right now.


Spending Recap 8/20-8/26

Monday $76 auto place (car fund)

Tuesday no spend day

Wednesday $4 milk

Thursday no spend day

Friday $11 Mall Deli (yum!)

Saturday $185 auto place (with a return of $27), $37 drug store, $246 grocery store, $37 drug store, $34 gas

Sunday no spend day

Ouch.  Good news is that we *think* we have the car figured out for now! So maybe a honeymoon after all! It did suck though-we had to take money from a fund that was not for this purpose.  Which sets us back farther there but our car has been starting up now and the lights are brighter. If we can just make it last enough for us to get a little lot set aside for a new to us car.  So keep sending good thoughts my way, please. Oh and that battery jumper purchase of $76? A great investment as we kept having to jump it to start it.

And by the way? Ouch at the grocery store. $20 of it was able to come out of out medical fund because I bought some protein stuff for my fiance-he enjoys drinking it after his work out and as he doesn’t particularly like working out? I figure it’s well worth it.  But we seemed to be low on everything.  No chicken, hamburger, toilet paper, out of spices, no toothpaste, no floss, no deodarent…it was just never-ending.  Thankfully I found some good deals on everything.  Not really great deals as it still cost me a lot of money but better than nothing.  We’ve also tried this thing where I go shopping by myself. I get up early which is better for Wal-Mart runs and he likes to sleep in.  I bought a few wrong things but I don’t think I did that bad all things considered.

Insanity update

Going on our fourth week into this.  It’s getting…well, easier isn’t the word as you can always push yourself a little farther each time.  But it’s at least getting better-less breaks and I’m able to push myself that little bit more every day.  We had the fit test last Monday and we both lost weight.  I lost 4 pounds! No inches yet but the 4 pounds was nice.  Especially as I only ran on Monday, Saturday and Sunday last week.  The whole issue with the car meant I wasn’t going to the gym and Friday I worked through lunch.  Next week is the “rest” week and I’m kind of looking forward to it.  Plus, I found two free runs for next month!  (Free unless I want to own shirts but free sounds so good to me!)

How was your weekend? Did you have cookie gnomes?  I made some home made chocolate chip cookies and every time I turned my back?  More cookies were missing.  My fiance swore he saw a gnome running off with them…

 


Scrooge McDuck and Money Lessons

Hopefully most people will remember the cartoon Ducktales right?  I’m not the only one in existence to remember it? Well, I’ve been rewatching it by getting the discs from Netflix and I’ve learned a lot (okay, “learned” is stretching it…)! One key thing is that I still love the show as corny as it is.

Besides that, I’ve learned that people don’t like you if you are greedy and mean.  It isn’t necessarily that you have more than them, it’s the fact if you flaunt it and are just plain…well, scroogey.  In the pilot episode, it shows Scrooge being miserly and mean to everyone including his newly taken in nephews.  But in a shocking turn of events, he ends up poor.  To his surprise, no one likes him anymore (not that they did before but they at least feared/respected him) except for ONE person.  This person was a guy who he was going to take away his boat from him as he couldn’t make the payments to Scrooge anymore.  But he helps out Scrooge and teaches him a lesson—always be kind to people no matter your circumstances as you never know what could happen. And of course, Scrooge ends up being rich again.

Know how much money you have and where it is.  I love the money bin episodes that show him swimming in his gold.  It’s something I want to do someday (joking…maybe…okay, yes I do want to do it) but of course, I hope the Beagle boys aren’t around, or any sneaky leprechauns.  In the episode with the leprechaun, Scrooge can tell that exactly $225 in gold is missing just by diving into the piles.  As his nephews tell Webby, he can tell if a piece of gold is missing (and which piece of gold is it is) in 5 seconds.

Hard work pays off. I love the episodes that show him working his way up the money ladder.  He wasn’t always a tight-fisted rich miser.  He used to be a tight-fisted poor worker who, through his own hard work and saving, made it rich.  He still has his first dime that he ever made.

Money isn’t everything. This was a lesson that Duckworth (the butler) taught the boys.  They accused him of being Scrooge’s slave and asked him why he didn’t go work for himself because he could have really made himself rich.  Scrooge fires him when he hears that Duckworth doesn’t think money is everything and he and the boys are then kidnapped by vegetables from outer space to be actual slaves.   The lesson that Duckworth shows everyone is that while he might be a servant, he does it out of love for his job and Scrooge—he doesn’t have to do it, he wants to do it.  Scrooge ends up hiring him back when they get back from space because he can’t do everything Duckworth can.

That’s four things that I learned from Ducktales or that I at least picked up on again.  That and it’s okay if I pick up all the loose change that I find on the ground.  No matter how little, when you save, it really adds up.  Granted, I don’t pick up all loose change but I still pick up quite a bit.  Right now it’s going towards my wedding fund.

So I guess that was five things I learned….

Did you watch Ducktales when you were younger?  Do you watch old cartoons for nostalgia reasons? Ever see any lessons you might have missed when you were younger? (I mentioned previously that they talk about student loans on Darkwing Duck)


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.


Student Loan Number 1

I wasted so much time last Thursday….

My first student loan is now officially out of default status!!!!  (The quadruple exclamation points show how excited I am) It should never have been there in the first place but that’s a previous mistake.  Except….it almost didn’t get paid for this month. I’d have been upset as I’ve worked really hard to get it out of default and didn’t want it to get placed back in default and according to the loan rehabilitator that I was working with, one missed payment would send it back into that icky status. I’ve been waiting on a statement from the company who bought it as I was told this should happen in a few weeks after it was rehabilitated and it was rehabilitated at the beginning of May. (In fact, the payment that was processed in June was considered an “overpayment”) I never received anything—and no payment was taken out of my account for June.So I gave them a few days what with the 29th being a Friday and then July 4th occurring to see if they would process my payment but still nothing!  After a two-hour period where I called one company after another, I finally found out who I should contact.  Keep in mind that I had to verify my address with every single phone call.  I finally get in contact the company who owns the student loan and verify my current phone number and work phone number with them.  The address is one from 5 years ago.  They did find it funny that all the letters they sent to me were returned to them though.  (*eye roll*) And then I find the payment jumped up about $110 more than was agreed on with original collector and was due in two days.  Ha, funny.

So I talked to a customer service rep and was able to put it into forbearance for 6 months.  I want to do the 6 months and not the year as I really am trying to pay these student loans off.  I’m just not going to be able to afford this larger payment right away.  So I figure if I continue to put aside the amount of money into my account that I pay this off with, I can pay on some of it as I can and work my budget to be able to afford the larger payment.  Another reason I want to wait on reworking the budget is that I am still waiting on that news for the other student loans I have.  I’m hoping to hear from that in a few weeks—this will give me a much better idea on how much I need to budget for.

To sum up: not a good experience with the company who bought the loan at first but they’ve redeemed themselves! My new plan is to try to pay some of the student loan (which is actually two loans but lumped togetherish) while it is forbearance. And then to find out how much the other student loans will be and get my budget worked out.  I’m glad that my plan is working out so far and I’m moving in the right direction to get out of debt.