Year In Review / Month 9 Update

I started this blog in April 2012. This was about a month after getting hired in my current role. A lot has happened this year.

  • Beginning of the year I had 3300 of credit card debt. Since September I have had 0.
  • Before June 2012 I was renting a 3br/2br floor 1300sq ft apartment for 1285/mo. Today we have an 1800 ft townhouse with a lower monthly payment. My partner’s company covered the bulk of our closing costs. 3.5% down payment, under the 20% so PMI is involved but still the mortgage payment is around 1020/mo while still building equity.
  • In February I got laid off from a company I worked at for a mere 6 weeks before they filed Chapter 11, bounced my semi-monthly paycheck and haven’t been paid for the time I worked since.
  • Visited New York. The trip itself was fun though getting sick, laying out a couple hundred for a housing situation, missing my flight, paying for a cab and getting into a heated discussion with my bf all put a dampener on how much fun I had.
  • Networking – I made some new friends at work and outside. Some of them are not exactly complimentary to me though. The ones who spend $100 on a dinner without flinching, I’m really not at the same level they are.
  • Car – Been doing preventative maintenance. Got new front rotors and pads, though the rears need to be done soon. In June I got a great deal on 4 tires for 396 installed.  Need to get my CVT drained and filled soon. My car was built 5 years ago and though it’s not the most fun to drive, it has been pretty reliable other than the one hot day when a valet left it on.
  • Living less paycheck to paycheck. Weeks have gone by where I literally didn’t have enough in my accounts to not have to tap into credit. Knock on wood, I am 2-3 weeks ahead and plan to increase this buffer to several months.
  • Applied to over 30 jobs positions this year between losing my job in February and starting a new one in March. Went on an interview for a job that would pay near double my current salary and due to a technicality was not offered the job at the last minute.

I could have accomplished much more this year, but I’m celebrating all the baby steps along the way.

Month 9 Update

$1800 in the bank before my 2nd loan  payment to Sallie Mae. Estimating my new balance after payment but today my balance is 42361.98. Assuming the same amount goes toward principal as last month I will owe around 42057.

January 2013 Sallie Mae Update.

January 2013 Sallie Mae Update.

2013 is just around the corner. Here’s to making headway in getting these loans paid off!

I also started reading Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. It’s a good read, packed with information. I’m only on Chapter 2. I never really connected the dots before, but now it makes more sense on how people can retire early and how liberating living below your means really can be over time. I’m beginning to see how working constantly can leave little time to develop new skills to make a person more competitive in the marketplace. Basically an ongoing cycle of experienced workers being phased out by recently college graduates who have time to undergo more training.

Early Retirement Extreme

Early Retirement Extreme

Bummed Out

Slightly bummed out overall with the way life is going. I’ve become a bit boring, trying to spice things up a bit and not be a slave to work. Lately though it’s like I go to work, eat dinner, watch some tv show I’m only half interested in watching to begin with, veg out on my laptop and repeat. Trying to find people to meet on craigslist who don’t sound shady, but that is an ongoing process…

I am on a budget yes, but I also want to find ways to keep things exciting. I’m grateful to have a job and be able to pay my bills, but the 33k salary I earn plus overtime and the occasional 700 or so pretax bonus isn’t enough. Started looking at job postings again and it’s a bit overwhelming and discouraging. I really don’t want to start this whole process over from scratch.  However… I do see the writing on the wall. I don’t think I will get a bump up to a higher paying position in the next 12 months.  Just because of how the division and positions are structured. You basically need to put in close to two years before you’re considered senior and even then it’s like a $5000 pay raise. Most of the people who have been with the company that long have left. I suspect we will have a lot of churn some next year around the summertime in particular. I’ve had 2 managers since I started and both have gone to other areas of the company. Soon I will be reporting to my 4th manager in less than 9 months. I like all my managers but big picture I don’t see a whole lot of growth for me here without putting in 3 years minimum. Of course something unexpected might open up. It seems that’s often how it works. Can’t sit and twiddle my thumbs waiting though.

In other news, I’m making a big shift again in my health after some recent issues that have come up. Basically there are times after eating certain foods that I go into a diabetic-like shock where I will start sweating, feel lightheaded. I know being overweight and addicted to certain foods isn’t helping. I plan on doing a fasting blood test to see if there is a serious medical issue or my body is just having a reaction to excess sugar consumption. 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the people who have been looking at my blog this year. I am happy to be able to be able to share a few hours each week sharing my journey to become debt free with each and everyone of you.

My bf and I recently saw the Trans Siberian Orchestra at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Bought the tickets from a guy on Craigslist. It’s not the first time I’ve bought / sold something on CL, but I always have my guard up since I know there are a bunch of scammers out there. The cost was 150 for both of us, plus $10 for parking and around the same for tolls.

I thought the show would be boring and uneventful but it really wasn’t. They played Christmas music infused with rock, blues and a pyrotechnics show. Not sleeper music by any stretch and that was a good thing.

Image

This Christmas, I didn’t go into any credit card debt. I didn’t buy any gifts for my friends or parents. They know I’m in the midst of getting my financial house in order. I felt no guilt for not buying them any gifts. I’d much rather spend time with people who are important to me than buying expensive items they probably will quickly forget anyway.

Tonight we had some friends over for a Christmas feast. Good food, some alcohol and crazy kids running around. I honestly don’t think I was ever that wild running around. Today I’m very even tempered, no-nonsense. Definitely not the kind of person who would want to deal with children all day.

It’s interesting to see opposing viewpoints on the same issue. Take one in particular. Person I work with who doesn’t pull their own weight so to speak, always comes in late and leaves early, does probably 50% of the work I do, living on a social networking site. Complaining about coming into work for 4 hours and getting paid for 8 and his commute in general. I can identify with some of what he’s saying, but I also have been on the other side of the equation. On days when you don’t have work, you don’t get paid. Those doing contractual work or self-employed. I’m grossing around 175-200/week extra by giving a few hours over the weekend and an hr or so a day in the week. He does a side job that is much more time-intensive and probably earns about the same but off the books.

Raises are coming up soon. Should get one on the paycheck after my next one. I do work pretty darn hard at my job. I’m thirsty for success. Even a very slight 3% raise would be an extra $20/week or 1040 a year. That’s two months worth of loan payments. Also if I can sustain the 8 hours overtime a week (debatable), I basically will be grossing 33% more. We shall see…

Plumbing Issues (continued)

Had some more plumbing issues two days ago. I was all ready to get showered up, then head off to the gym (yeah I’m one of those people), when all of a sudden my bf is telling me to turn off the water.  I only got my feet wet.  Then I go downstairs and witness the horror.

Backed sewage all in the shower, toilet backed up and overflowing, on the floor. Not the best way I wanted to start my Saturday morning. On top of that our friend was visiting us from out of town. It’s the first time she’s been to our new house so we wanted to cast a good impression.

I approached our usual handyman / plumber / electrician, but he was busy doing other jobs. After 7 hours passed and no word from him, I called him. He said he wouldn’t be able to come so I had to take matters into my own hands. I used a local service to schedule a plumber and they came within 2 hours. Plumber hooked a machine up to the line that ran pressure through and pushed out two large blockages in the pipes. I suspect the issue was exacerbated by putting tissues into the toilet but have no way to prove it.

Cost was $405 as it was a Saturday evening. Bf covered 300 and I covered the rest. The work our handyman did in the summer was about the same. Crossing my fingers that our sewage issues are put to rest once and for all.

I’ll spare you all a picture. It was gross. I did the cleanup myself without gloves. Lysol cleaner with bleach, soft scrub and plastic bags were my best friend that day.

What’s funny is the day before I got paid. 3 weeks worth of work, 14 hours of overtime. My paycheck was 66% more than it is normally. I joked around with bf that as soon as I make some extra money something is going to happen. Sure enough not even 48 hours later…Murphy’s Law?

Still not holding my breath on the issues with getting paid from my previous employer. Since February I’ve been waiting for the $1600+ owed to me. No word yet from the bankruptcy court. My intuition says things are slowly drawing to a close however.

Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly Weight Loss Book

Wheat Belly Weight Loss Book

At the beginning of the year I started making changed to my diet that were pretty much in-line with both the Paleo and A tkins diet. I lost a fair amount of weight but ran into some obstacles. The first being energy levels. Cutting back so much on carbs meant that my body had to rely on fat and muscle for energy instead of carbohydrates. The only dessert I would consume was 80-90% dark chocolate. This lead to insulin level spikes at work, where I would become dizzy or lightheaded if I didn’t eat food with carbs and fats. I was very heavy on protein and veggies, but my breeath reeked and I was always in a constant fog.

Needless to say I couldn’t sustain such a stringent eating regiment for a prolonged period of time..

Right after turning 22 (when I started a bank desk job), my weight began to spike. 8/5/04 I was 188 pounds, which at the time was in-line where someone of my height should be. My body was not nearly as muscular as it is now, but I moved around with ease and some level of ignorance that I would never get fat.

There have been periods over the last few years where my weight would spike, My highest on record was 223 pounds in August 2011. This was shortly after leaving New York, being in temporary housing for a month (no real kitchen) and having the stress of moving and no job constantly looming over my shoulder.

As of weighing myself this morning my weight was a more respectable 211.6 (down from 218.6 on 11/24). Lower than my ideal, but a big step in the right direction. While I am cutting back on carbs this time around, I do consume them and am putting less of a shock to my system.

Wheat… Of all the ingredients of foods I consume I would say it has been the most monumental in my weight gain. I recently went to see the new James Bond Skyfall movie. At the concession stand I got a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Ordinarily it doesn’t bother me but this day was a little different. I experienced what some would consider a mild diabetic shock, where my body started to sweat and I had some light shakes. I have never been diagnosed with diabetes, but this was a wakeup call to me that some changes need to be made to my diet.

So right now I’m feeling pretty good. Cutting back the wheat, working out and the pounds just seem to almost be melting away. It’s kind of weird. I’m hitting up the gym less than I did before but the pounds are still dropping. I know the holidays are going to be a particularly tough time. Heck yesterday I attended a company party and did shots before drinking more at the event. Even with two plates of food (only a nibble of bread), I still managed to not gain any pounds.

So this is all a work in progress. I no longer view any one dietary plan as being 100% correct in all instances. You can lose weight in lots of ways, but the question is which is the healthiest and which can you maintain over the long-term.

Month 8 Update

Hello Macintosh. Oh wait… Hello readers of my blog. Still paying down my debt.

On IBR (Income Based Repayment) for the last two years. I logged into my Sallie Mae account and see that 2157.50 was applied to principal that was accrued interest. I read somewhere that the government would cover interest payments for some IBR loans but apparently not mine. This is a real-life example of interest accruing interest. Not happy about that but I don’t think there’s a whole lot I can do about it.

Two consolidation loans:

loansnapshot122012

Interest that has been rolled into principal aside, after the next payment I will have roughly 42,250 in student debt. An incremental step from the 45159.35 I had between credit cards and student loans when I started this blog. I have a little over 800 in my bank account before my monthly bills are coming out.

I went out drinking with some friends, a low calorie margarita and two beers spaced out over about 3 hours. On the way home I started to feel really sick. I don’t know why but it seems like my body is rejecting alcohol. My blood sugar gets a lil wonky afterward.

This week has been a particularly emotional one. My great aunt whom was ~65 and had leukemia passed away suddenly earlier this week. My mom spoke to her Monday morning and on Wednesday she was gone. She was a good person. Opinionated yes, but a great cook, always welcomed us into her home, frugal and always had a good work ethic. Services were held for her Saturday in Alabama, 10 hrs away from me and over 17 for my folks in New York. We couldn’t get there in time given we were told the day before and the cost for a last minute flight was just too much money.

According to the CDC, the average US life expectancy is 78.5 years. I hope I live until my 70s or older. The odds aren’t in my favor, but starting in my 20s I want to do everything in my power to make that a reality.  I’m a believer in the power of decisions over time working out in my favor. Like working out and having my health monitored frequently.

Pushing myself hard with the overtime still. My bf said if I work 7 hours a week in OT he won’t make me pay the 350 for car insurance that I owe him. Gotta love positive reinforcement! 🙂 Even with the Holidays I expect to come out ahead at the end of this month.

Our Christmas Tree 2012.

Our Christmas Tree 2012.

To me Christmas is less about the gifts and more about sharing time with the people you care about. Half the gifts people give are forgotten about not long after. I understand we have to do things for political reasons, but at the end of the month as Suze Orman would put it, stand in your truth. Don’t buy expensive presents if you have unmanageable credit card debt and/or no emergency fund. Pay yourself first and donate a toy to a child in need through a local toy drive. We did that several seasons ago both at my jobs and college. It’s great to see how far $20 can go to make a child happy who may not have a stable family environment or whose own family simply didn’t have the resources to provide more than food + shelter.