It’s Been a Freakin’ Year of Blogging

The Year In Review

April 7, 2012
I reached a breaking point in my life where I was no longer willing to live in a state of denial with my student loans. Looking back on it all, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve been hard at this for a year.

Back then, my debt load was a whopping 45159.35.
41,971.74 to Sallie Mae
3235.31 in Credit Card Debt.

Today April 8, 2013 I have $332 of credit card debt and that’s by choice. Looking at the abysmal return of using my debit card for every transaction (1% interest after 10 transactions in my checking account), I can have enough small transactions to continue earning that but on my larger purchases I can earn money through Citibank’s Thank You rewards program. Still the idea is to use credit sparingly and I’ve done a pretty good job of that.

As for student loans, I recently broke a significant financial hurdle. Down to 40,775.26. So at a quick glance I knocked $4384 off my debt on an adjusted gross income of just under $30k. So roughly 15% of what I earned for the year went to paying down the debt. On top of the $1500 down payment toward our home purchase (most of it got reimbursed as part of ourrelocation package).

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The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. 8 years ago I bought my first new-ish car, a 2003 Nissan Maxima. It was powerful, way classier than my Oldsmobile and also a bit of a money pit. I spent a big chunk of cash on 60k maintenance, tune-ups, getting brakes redone and the like. If I didn’t think the transmission would be going soon on it I might have kept it longer. The car I replaced it with also a Nissan has been fairly problem free in the next 5 years I’ve owned it.

Wouldn’t have thought in 2009 that I’d be living with a guy, much less all the way out in Texas. Definitely not my old stomping grounds on Long Island, but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. The people here are nice, overall it is a safer place to live, cost of living is half of what it was up north.

Today after much deliberation I decided to purchase a road bike. A 42cm frame, steel Takara Kabuto. The price was $199 plus taxes so about $215 total cost. I had looked at Craigslist and several retailers that weren’t Amazon and didn’t like what I found. Either too old, required too much maintenance or too expensive. The last thing I want is to purchase someone else’s headache. I’m typically a mountain bike guy but road bikes are better for distance and I’d like to do a little bit of sight seeing in Dallas. 🙂

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The real reason for the bike purchase is related to health though. Back in 2005 I would ride my bike several times a week and was about 35 pounds lighter than I am today. If I can get closer to that 185lb ideal vs 220, the cost is worth it.

Retirement Plan – Re – Activated

Set up an automatic transfer to my Roth IRA. A whopping 57.29 a week. I plan to contribute half the max each year at least until my income increases significantly or the loans are paid off. Hopefully not spreading myself too thin.

For now, the money is going to sit in my discount brokerage account until I figure out exactly what to do with it.  I have some stocks in mind, but want to avoid paying excess fees. Also want to be diversified. A Roth is one of those things that everyone says to start doing while you’re young. At just a couple months shy of 30, there’s no time like the present.

I’m still not sure if I should be contributing more to make up for lost time… On a 35k gross, 5500 / ~20% of my net income is a touch pill to swallow. Even if I can take it out at anytime and avoid paying a penalty.

Happy and Sad & the same time…

Got paid on Friday, this time it was 3 weeks income plus overtime so really a much larger check than normal. Over 1800 vs 1200 after taxes… In some ways it feels like I’m getting free money when I know for a fact I am not. I’m being conservative as possible with my spending.

We recently celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday, lots of friends came over and tons of food was served. I overindulged as I often do. The pounds keep on creeping up on me. Also haven’t been to the gym as much as I’d like. I’ve been making excuses there and it shows. The gifts I bought him between food, books and a game were around $200.  Nothing too extravagant, but also within my budget.

Saturday I got my Nissan serviced at a local Dallas dealership. Got a CVT fluid flush and an oil change. Having no idea what it cost, I told the service guy what I needed and he showed me a price list. It was $299.99 for the flush. A little extreme I thought, but I plan to keep the car for quite a number of years now so not a big deal. I mentioned a coupon for $30 off at the cashier before they finished writing up my paperwork. The clerk said she would take care of it and thanked me for notifying them. To my surprise the discount was not $30 but  $100 off. Not complaining about that though. Altogether I paid $209.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I know I should be contributing to my Roth IRA, especially being 29 and having pulled the money out in the mid 2000s when the market was headed south. The student loan debt still bothers me and contributing a small amount like $10-20/week really is within my comfort zone. Then there’s the question of what to invest in with such little money. Far shot out from the chunk of $3k I had invested into a Vanguard Lifestyle Fund.

No changes on the job front. Things have been a bit crazy at work, moving around to different teams, mandatory overtime and a fair number of meetings. Interestingly enough, a former coworker who left around December is coming back. I’m not judging, but based on my age (3 years her senior) I know very well the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I really loathe the process of looking for jobs and on many levels I fear working for a company that doesn’t offer work/life balance or is full of unhappy, negative people. Some say working at a company for a year isn’t really long enough to move elsewhere without having it raise more questions. I’m kind of on the fence about that.

Got paperwork about being included in a class-protected group for my previous employer being sued because of the WARN act. If they are found to be in violation and agreed we should be paid for 60 days of time plus my bounced paycheck I’d be in a much better spot.  I’m owed about 6000 post taxes if this gets approved for the full amount and 1200 if it doesn’t. That’s a big chunk of cash to me..At this point though after a year I’m not holding my breath for anything to happen soon.