Gratitude – Random thoughts

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, something I frequently  remind myself of is to have gratitude. Even when things may not be perfect *yet* there still is a whole lot to be thankful for. Why do I have gratitude today?

  1. Officially getting a promotion in the next 2 weeks. Fancier title and more money are both pretty big wins in my book.
  2. So I bought a new car a year ago. My payments total $32,460. My payoff as of today 4/22/17 is $25,164.91. That means 19% done. With my compensation increases, I’m essentially basically covering the entire car payment. If I get bonuses that will go above and beyond. I remember years ago struggling just to pay a $349/mo payment and almost 6% interest on top of that.
  3. Along with point #2 I am comparing my pay when I was in New York vs where I am today. My net is over 250 higher%. That’s not including a 401k match or what I contribute. Leaving the banking industry was probably the best thing I ever could have done for my career.
  4. I’m making progress. Instead of 1600/mo toward credit cards I think I can pull $2k/mo. It’s a short term thing fortunately.
  5. Friends – Glad to have people around who are supporting my efforts to grow and become healthier.
  6. Health – My dad was on dialysis at my age and had other health issues which severely limited his options to do much. I am fortunate enough not to deal with any of that. I’m overweight (working on that), have minor stuff like asthma but that’s it. One of my aunts has emphysema, requiring the use of an oxygen tank. My grandmother also struggled for years with the same thing. It’s so easy to take good health for granted, but I try not to.

The last point is… on life – Each day is an opportunity to see more of the world, meet great people and grow as an individual. Hopefully meet a special guy someday. Overall I feel happy and relatively free to go where I want and spend time with who I want. I count my blessings everyday in a world where bad things happen to good people everyday. To be miserable and angry all the time is a horrible way to live. No one truly knows what the future holds, but I will try my best to make it a great one.

 

Deja Vu

This all is starting to feel like Deja Vu and not in a good way. Let’s give you an update.

  1. Switched my upcoming 401k contributions from a Roth back to the traditional. Still want to get the match but cut back my immediate tax liability to apply money toward debt.
  2. Booked my trip to Mexico. Total round trip is $189.95. I got a credit from my New York trip cancellation back in November.
  3. Booked a room for said Mexico trip in Puerto Vallarta through Expedia. It was $691.18, less taxes it’s $586.47 and getting 10% of that back through EBates. I also get 1% back from the credit card I used. Supposed to be splitting it with a friend. My estimated cost is 346-5.86-6.91 or $333.23 for three nights.
  4. Got $162 back from credit card company for a defective Fitbit Charge HR. The only catch is I had to buy a replacement item after I filed the claim. The new watch I got was $269. I can still sell the one I bought a few months ago I estimate for between $80 and $120. Or I could give to my mom who is trying to exercise more and stay healthier.
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  5. Went to a ranch/cabin early this month with friends. My contribution was $100 and I had to buy gas to get there and back. Went through about a full tank. I also gambled at Winstar and spent a whopping $11. I didn’t want to spend the $5 fee at the ATM especially if I was going to lose the money anyway.

     

  6. Replaced the air filter and in-cabin microfilter in my car. The parts were $27.37. Both filters took less than 30 minutes to replace. A friend went to the same dealer to have them do it and paid almost $200 with labor included. Screw that, you don’t even need tools!

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  7. Requested a disbursement of funds from my HSA to my checking account. Since I put it on my card I might as well use it to pay off the credit cards sooner. $200.
  8. Car payments are almost 20% done. Currently owe about $25,200. I do want to speed it up at some point but now I’m all tapped out.

Kinda had one of those aha moments. How much no car payment would mean to my amount of free cashflow. That and no credit card payment would be over a 50% raise considering how aggressive I am. 50 friggen percent! Fuggetaboutit. Stay hungry, stay foolish and enjoy life.

Credit Card Update – $9,820.79

I planned to make this a quick update, but it’s been so long since I’ve shared updates with you. Let’s start in reverse chronological order

  1. Two weeks ago Igot hit with my final hospital bill. At $1,638 it sucks but it’s  liberating to know what no more bills will be coming through. A you can tell from reading the blog, I’m big on seeing progress.This chart show how things will pan out with my current plan of paying $800 per paycheck on these debts.
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    Some of my friends were shocked that I put it on my card or didn’t try to settle.
  2. Got a raise and that makes me happy. Been stepping up to the plate and taking on more responsibilities. Every morning I take a men’s multivitamin, vitamin D, probiotic and Neuro-Peak brain function supplement. I credit the brain function pill and some dietary changes to making me feel like a much better person. Not to say that I don’t still hit roadblocks from time to time, but it’s all a lot less of a struggle than it used to be. I literally just felt mentally fried / burned out all the time.
  3. Got a bonus. It was a fraction of last years but still something. That went right to my credit card. I’m grateful for getting something. Some others at my company have either been laid off or offered a voluntary early retirement package.
  4. I shipped my $149.95 Fitbit Charge HR to my credit card’s extended warranty protection program. The device’s band had an issue with bubbling and the credit card expanded my warranty to 3 years. I got two replacements and all 3 had the same problem. I also tried to fix them with no success. In the meantime, went the Garmin route and bought a Vivoactive for $150. Really hoping to get my money back and putting it back on the card.
  5. Through usage of my credit card’s price protection program I got a $75 check for my MacBook Pro computer purchase. That brings the computer cost down to $2,074. If I bought it from Apple, with sales tax and a higher starting price it would have been $2,597. The old 3 year old machine brought in $835 and eBay fees were about $80.
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  6. Booked a flight to Mexico for my friends wedding. The total round trip thanks to my cancelled New York trip was $189.95. Still need to figure out the cost for the hotel stay. With food and drinks included, I think it will come out to around $645. Friends are staying an extra day (additional $215) but I’m trying to do this trip on the cheap. Every week I put aside $50 so even if I do use my credit card I can pay it off immediately.
  7. Bought a Microsoft Office 365 subscription ($74.61) for a year. Apple Numbers sucks. Everything I want to do with it just feels backwards. Too many clicks…
  8. I cut the cord, but did buy a cable modem ($90) and a router ($86). The router built into the modem gave me half the speed of what I was paying for so I got an Asus one to compliment it. My monthly bill is only $41.45/mo from $105 when I had tv. I miss cable tv at times yes but I have youtube, netflix and streaming. I’d rather keep the $760+ in my pocket. 😀
  9. Started reading this great book by Aaron Cleary called The Black Man’s Guide Out of Poverty. Best $3.49 I’ve ever spent. His writings resonated with my youth and observations both of extended family and peers. Fortunately my upbringing in a middle class suburb insulated me from some of the pitfalls. Along with family that really wanted me to succeed in life. Being gay insulated me from some others, namely a role in becoming a young parent. Early on I viewed celebrities and entertainers as role models. Growing older, my realization was a disconnect exists between me and them. Their success is the result of hard work, athletic prowess, mainstream appeal, looks, and defying statistical probability. Aka I was fucked if I didn’t get an education.My greatest takeaway from the book so far is on defeatism. Between people in ghettos, media / music industry brainwashing, government assistance programs that do more harm than good. Defeat reared its ugly hear quite a few times in my life, but I bounced back and am stronger today.
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Time to sleep. zzzzz. Keep chipping away at your debts, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Medical Bills – The Damage Is….

First and foremost I’m grateful. Grateful for being able to stand upright each day and do things that I love. Grateful for having a job that offers insurance at a hefty discount. Grateful I didn’t go to a facility not covered and end up with much higher out of pocket costs.

I will say however that these recent health events have not been cheap. Without insurance the combined total would be $50k. Insurance covered $9,073 and my out of pocket responsibility is $7,118. The most recent claim, originally $22,474 came in and was pending for an entire week. Several nervous breakdowns later I saw how much I owed and was relieved. Thought it was going to be another thousand dollars.

hospital-bills-listAfter paying $13k in student loan payments last year, the last thing I wanted to think about was owning someone else money. To anyone else trying to relate, image feeling like a slave for 8 years and once you get your papers to become a “free” man, you are thrown back into slavery until your debt obligation has been furnished.

The biggest thing now is to cut my expenses and keep fighting the good fight….

No More Medical Debt – My Immediate 2017 Challenge

Just when I thought I could sit down to smell the roses after paying off the student loan debts, appendicitis struck. Though my stress levels would be higher if I had the car loan, student loan, *and* medical bills.

There will be more bills next month when I get the appendectomy. A rundown of the bills so far are below. I was going to put it into a spreadsheet but didn’t have the inspiration at 1AM on New Year’s Eve. Not all of these are from the ER  directly. Some are followups after the fact and other include lab work.

So for the first phase I’ll be paying about $4,500 according to estimates. Aflac may reimburse me $1,000 based on 2 days spent in the ER. Getting an itemized bill from the hospital that I’ll submit next week. Worth the $125 that I paid for it. Trying to be as aggressive as possible in getting this debt gone. Unlike the car that is 1.9% fixed, the credit card will jump to ~13% Truthfully though my credit card is at 0% until January 2018. Go Chase Slate card.

I paid over $13k in student loans during 2016. The total for medical debt should be around half that. Thank god I have insurance though. Even with deductibles to hit, I’m still getting a pretty huge discount. Not how I wanted to start the new year, but it’s a short-term reality.

Thanks for reading my blog. Have a Happy and Safe 2017.

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Hospital Emergency Room Bills after Insurance

Cutting The Cord & Reducing Gym Membership

So after over a year of deliberating back and forth I decided to cut the cord. The short version is my cable tv + internet bill went up to $105 from $90. Frontier Communications is my provider. The other options to keep tv and internet would only save me $10/mo give or take a a few dollars.

Let’s do the math.
Current rate: 105 * 12 = 1260/yr for someone who doesn’t watch TV much.
Prior rate: 90 * 12 = 1080/yr
New rate: 60 * 12 = 720/yr

I also downgraded my gym membership from the $20/mo plan to the $10/mo plan. The friend that I was going with no longer speaks to me and never was really interested in going to begin with. $120 annual savings. So combined I’m saving $660/yr. Not a huge deal but it adds up. Maybe 1% of my takehome pay over a year for something where the impact will be minimal.

I still have Netflix at 10.81/mo, Amazon Prime and may possibly be getting Hulu Plus or a Slingbox. Haven’t decided yet, but all of these options are cheaper than keeping cable TV and having a limited number of premium channels.

What things are you spending money on that really don’t matter to you? I love my car and while the $541/mo isn’t cheap it’s something that gives me a thrill everytime I get into it. Stuff like eating out at fancy restaurants outside of special occasions isn’t that important to me. Plus I juice more and my body feels way better.

On the topic of juicing. I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now since my appendicitis debacle. Not every meal but about once a day. It makes me crave fast food less and less. After the first couple bites, fast food loses its appeal to me. The aftertaste, feeling of being bloated and in many cases I’m still hungry. $10 for crappy food only to want more crappy food because it’s loaded with sugar. If I’m still hungry after the juice I’ll eat some nuts, make a wrap or something. Also keeps my daily calorie consumption in check.

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Who am I? Man with a Breville Juicer and enjoys the energy boost.

Ok enough of my ranting. Spend on things you love not the stuff you don’t. ❤

2016 – End of Year Review

I’m on vacation right now. No big plans. Flying to New York for or before Christmas and even with a car rental is not cost effective. Combine that with the snow situation… Nope.. May see Rogue One at the local theater tomorrow at the matinee. After giving it a few weeks of thought…I really find keeping track of my finances helpful on the blog. So I’ve decided to keep on doing it. I have three key goals.

  1. *Don’t* pay off the Maxima early. Sounds counterintuitive but the loan is only 1.9%. I reduced my sales tax burden by $937 with my trade-in. The original amount financed was $31,167.20. The key though here is that I need to one of the following: keep my credit card debt at 0, boost my emergency fund and max out my Roth IRA. I got the car in March 2016. Today I owe $27,173.60

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2. Get credit card debt to 0 by May. I currently have originally planned to do this for some time now. There have been a slew of events that have made this go up. The current balance is: $3,358.60. I pay $1,000 every paycheck. The challenging part has been limiting my spending so things are getting better not worse. It can be very tempting.
1) Hospital Bills – These are still coming and will likely total up to close to $6k. Unsure how much my ER hospitalization insurance is going to cover. Without insurance these bills would take me years to pay off.
2) Insurance – For 6 months car insurance was $684, renters insurance $130.
3) Eating out – Have cut back a lot over these past weeks. Juicing has been helping as well. Sometimes it’s more expensive than eating government-funded  fast food garbage. I’m down to 226 from 241 in November. 24 days until my appendectomy procedure. Planning to lose 6 more pounds between now and then.
4) Life.

3) Keep the retirement ball rolling. I’m most impressed with how my portfolio has done this year. If I didn’t invest diligently that would not have happened. Current 401k portfolio snapshot:

Curent Balance: $21,206.01
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My Betterment account is $721.96. That makes for a combined total of: $21,921.97. Back in  September 2016 my total was $18,585. $3,336 more than before or 18% more in about 3 months… I’ll take it.

On Minimalism – I watched this fantastic documentary on Minimalism and how it’s transformed people’s lives. When I think of buying a home or a much fancier apartment I think of people who are happy without all this stuff. I could be one of them. Stuff keeps you happy short-term. New experiences and having fun with someone makes you happy in ways that matter a lot more.
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I did a pretty thorough cleaning of my apartment this week. Got through 4 bags of old clothes, boxes, mail and other crap that wasn’t serving a purpose. Very liberating!

2016 has taught me one important fact. To value life. My crush Chris passing away at 29 due to various health issues in April that I couldn’t save him from. Then yesterday the mother of a guy I’ve been messaging online for months and just met for the first time passed away. It’s like the three times I found guys I could see myself really falling for over the past 2 years something major has happened. I will just keep trying though until I find the one and focus more on me.