Month 5 Update

Hoped the sucker would be paid off by now, but celebrating progress.  992.41 left on my credit card.

Checking  = 650.00

Credit Card = 992.41
Student Loan=42329.70
Total Debt = 43322.11

So down $1837 since starting this blog and also a homeowner.  Not bad considering:

  • Bought a house with my bf.
  • Car needed 4 new tires and an inspection. 300.00
  • Speeding Ticket in March for $178.
  • Bought a new computer for 1550, sold old one for $1004, minus 112 in Paypal fees and like 30 in shipping costs that I ate.
  • Booked a flight to New York in October. 300, bf paid half.
  • Becoming more sociable / going out for lunch, dinner, etc.
  • Interest is continuing to accrue on the student loan. I’m going back and forth about whether I should do Income Based Repayment again this year. The annual interest of 1785 with my current balance is a bit of a deterrent.  If I am able to pay 1/3 of my principal balance next year rough estimate I could save 500-600 interest. Translated into work terms, that’s roughly getting a week’s pay back.

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I’m thinking of leaving my job after the next 6 months. It will mark a year, but my income really isn’t high enough to support my lifestyle without continuing to make major sacrifices. At my age I should be earning at least 40k/annually and based on the informal research I’ve done, I would need 2 promotions for that to happen. With the first “promotion”, a pay raise isn’t necessarily guaranteed. I don’t think the managers even make 50k. I do need a game plan though. Building skills, networking and coming up with my own career path and being super proactive in the search.

People leaving my company…

Another person left our company in a nearby cube to work elsewhere.  That’s 7 people in 6 months, add that to my boss who broke the news that she is going to continue working for the company but in another country makes 8. 7 other people were moved to other areas of the building leaving a number of vacant cubes. I kind of feel that after my boss leaves, I’m pretty much starting out from scratch in terms of making a good impression. These things take time

Kinda bummed about it still.  People are nice, but the lower than comparable salaries, lack of 401k match and call center type feel to the job does have an impact on morale. With a raise I’ll make an extra ~5k a year than I am now. That still puts me under 40k/yr. Money’s not everything, but I definitely want to accelerate this student loan payoff process.

On the flip side, my partner’s job / company is going through some major transition.  Tonight he was stuck working past midnight on a project to help make sure it doesn’t completely blow up. This isn’t the normal, but there are definitely sacrifices necessary the higher one gets on the totem pole.

I started reading Joe Mhalic’s book on my Kindle – Destroy Student Debt: A Combat Guide To Freedom. Good read so far, a lot of it are things that I know on a mental level, but my actions didn’t always back it up. A lot of us waste money on things to impress people we don’t like in the first place or to make up for insecurities elsewhere in our lives.

Started doing a little more planning the last 3 days than I was prior. The goal is to keep my life simple and guide my day rather than letting it guide me. So far so good, I ask myself a simple question. What would a planner do? My bf is a planner and I often have been haphazard with a lot of things and that can put a strain on the relationship at times. It appears I don’t care when I really do.  I just haven’t placed the same value on certain tasks that he does.  ie cooking a meal, cleaning up around the house, being on-time for social functions.  I’m not giving up though. I surprise myself of what I’m capable of when the actions back  up my intentions.

Ending this week with less than $100 in my bank account. Put $15 of gas in my car this morning, it was on E since yesterday morning. Went dining with some buddies and spent about $30. I have been doing this very tight budgeting since before we bought the house in June. The two semi-large purchases I’ve made since were my car tires ($300) and my laptop for $1550 (sold old one for about 1000 minus fees). Eaten out a bunch of times since. I want to cut it out, but when we’re both burned out at the end of a day the last thing we want to do is start cooking at 7pm. I use the same excuse for the gym..

I can be creative about this whole process. Saw a nearby church promoting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program. Great to see others jumping on the get rid of debt band wagon. We all have differing opinions on which approach is best but the main thing is getting over psychological barriers, then comes integrating the payoff plans into a realistic schedule.

Debt and Death

Unintentionally I’ve been surrounded by a barrage of reminders of the sanctity of life. Mentioned my grandmother passing away several weeks ago, but more recently my friend’s dad passed just this week after ongoing health issues. I attended the wake and really had a hard time keeping it all together. It brought me right back to May 2004 when I was a 20 year old kid whose life would never be the same again.

You can’t take it with you, but at the same time planning for the future is a constant high priority. Politics aside, I don’t believe the US Government is going to be able to keep its retirement promises when it’s time for me to retire in the 2040s/2050s. I teeter-totter between the idea of working in another company that has less of a career path but would pay over 50% more. Different field, long-term the skills would not be as transferrable and politics. Do I want to give my soul over to the devil just to get out of debt faster? Long-term, industries are constantly changing. Who knows what types of verticals will still be around vs those phased out by innovation.

Gone back to reading some Tony Robbins material after years of the information collecting dust. The quote that resonates most: “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” My decision-making skills need improvement. It is particularly challenging for me to commit to taking certain actions. The incessant and annoying voice in my mind paralyzes me from taking action. I suppose age and risk tolerance also play a role here. Quite honestly, I don’t want to make a decision that will screw up my future. I’ve settled too long and every single time I went against my gut instinct things just got worse.

After not seeing a concert since No Doubt in 2003 a friend invited me and my partner our to see Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias. Tickets were $40, parking $20 (though I didn’t pay anything), and $25 on drinks. The seats were super high up though we did move up a couple aisles after seeing empty seats. Still high up, but much better views and we could actually see the stage / tv screen. The performance was nothing short of electrifying. Dancers, singers and the energy of the crowd. Enrique had two guys on stage who were dating. I would not have expected it in Texas, but I’m not complaining. I don’t have a radical gay agenda but it’s just nice to be accepted for who you are.

Up late watching Princess right now. CNBC show about women who spend radically large amounts of money on frivolous items, borrow money from other people and have an entitlement attitude. Assuming they change their ways, the prize is $5000. If they fall short, they get less or nothing. My upbringing is almost the complete opposite. I knew we weren’t wealthy since around the age of 5.

Looks like I won’t have to use my credit card to get through the rest of the week, which is a big plus for me. Really looking to get the credit card under $1000. I honestly never thought it would take this long to pay off just one bill. Not getting stressed, it is what it is, but really not as bad as I make it out to be.

Earnings…

Made a very shocking revelation.  I don’t earn nearly as much as I think I do.  Even with overtime I’m not making quite the amount of progress I would like. Some progress is better than none.

Just scheduled 2 credit card payments that brings my total down to $1500.  Paid down about 500/25% of the total. If I ever get back what my past employer owes me, that would cover my balance in full. Still frustrating that the company has owed me $1600 since February and the bankruptcy proceedings are a bit drawn out. Any month now…

Birthday Update

I really enjoyed my birthday this year. Typically I’m not one for a whole lot of celebration. Guess it goes back to once being a Jehovah’s witness (didn’t have big birthday celebrations) and always wishing I had more friends. Still getting used to the idea that people like me, think it stems from deep-rooted rejection over the years. Deep down I wish I was a little cocky and overly self-confident.  It would make certain situations a lot easier to deal with.

Consumed lots of alcoholic beverage, but stopped right before becoming ill. Dancing in gay bars, tapas and some of the best sangria I’ve had outside my partner’s homemade variety.

So I’m sitting here watching The Twilight Zone just thinking about how badly I’m waiting for a paycheck. Under $100 to my name and the bills keep coming. When I lived with my parents I never lived paycheck to paycheck. It’s not the best feeling, but I am making as big an impact as possible on my salary. If my estimates are correct, this is going to be a three-week pay period, combined with my bonus I’m hoping this check is enough to cover my outstanding credit card balance.

Sallie Mae on my birthday sent an email reminder to submit my 2011 Tax paperwork for them, to reassess my loan payments for the interest-based repayment program. My income was a notch above the poverty level last year so I’d expect my monthly payment will be 0 or close to 0 again. I still am assessing whether it makes sense to continually chip away at the loan or just save the money (possibly a short-term CD I keep adding to each month) in an account and see if they cover the interest payments.

I’m grateful to have a job, but at 29 I really think I should be earning much more. Had I continued in my banking path I’d be making 50% more than I am now. I have friends who completely hate their jobs and work so much they have almost no social life. On the flip side their salaries are double or triple mine. Does balance exist? Short of burning myself out in my current role, how can I accelerate this process and enjoy the process? Questions only I can answer. I do know one thing, I’m not falling in the trap of leaving a job without having another one lined up. That poor decision in 2009 made me burn through 10k of savings surpluses and when I moved having almost no income for 6 months.

I do know one fact, over the next 3 months more positions are going to open up at levels above mine.  I need to keep demonstrating I am at the top of the pack and one of the most desirable people to get promoted. Of all my jobs in the last 12 years I have never really been super  happy with them.  Means to an end rather than something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. I know it sucks but that’s my reality right now.

For now though, sleep is in order.

Month Four Update

Lots of mixed emotions going on.

I fell short of my goal of paying off all my credit card bills by August. July was almost a regression for me financially.  Reviewing mint.com..  Under $180 to my name and payday is 9 days away. I paid $1050 on my credit cards during the month. This may have been a little too aggressive in retrospect but I needed to psychologically keep the number under $2k. Failure is not an option, I’m holding myself to a higher standard.

All is clear for my bonus on the 15th.  Don’t know exactly what I’m getting but I certainly appreciate every dollar that helps me get closer to achieving my goals. 

Had my parents come over to visit me and I got a $100 birthday present and they treated us out to dinner several times.  Well needed as I almost had to revert to credit cards again. 

Also had a death in the family, my grandmother through marriage who was in poor health for quite some time. Despite numerous efforts on our part to get her to take care of herself, her condition gradually declined. Haven’t been in the best communication, in part due to the anger that surrounded me seeing she did little to help herself. My real grandmother and father fought hard to stay alive as long as they could even though they both succumbed to health issues in their 50s and 40s .  She requested to be cremated and no service was held. I was willing to drive 10 hours to say goodbye and pay my respects but that wasn’t possible. That was two days ago and I’m still bummed about it. Based on history, it’s really not much of a surprise to me though. 

Birthday is coming up soon.  Excited, but also reserved and don’t want to do any activities or purchase any items that are going to derail my plans. I do want a digital camera again.  Something small that has good quality, shutter speed, ability to record video, etc.  I threw out my old camera last year after it was giving me memory errors and making funny noises. 

Quite possibly could have had a connection to interview for a position that would pay me significantly more than my current salary.  However I decided not to pursue it.  Have only been with my current company for a few months, work / life balance would have been much more out of whack and politics galore. Something else might be open at this company in a few months. I decided to go with my gut instinct and pass on the opportunity.  It’s not always about the money.

Snapshot: Student Loan: 42251.28

Credit Card: 1926.64

Savings: 173.34

Total Debt: 44177.92

Making progress albeit slowly.