Back From Vacation, Unexpected Surprises, and Moving Forward!

Wow! I’m finally back from Germany and settling back in. I would go into all the lovely, wonderful details of the vacation, but that isn’t the focus of this blog. The focus of this blog is to get the Hell out of debt! However, one lovely and wonderful detail was a very unexpected surprise that relates to that goal:

For 10 years, I had a bank account opened by my grandmother that was never touched by me nor my parents. She passed away, and somehow this account was overlooked. I went with my mother to the bank to figure out her finances and suddenly the associate turned to me and started discussing my account. I found out I had just over 1,000 euro (1,300 US) just sitting there. I took it out, didn’t spend a dime of it, and when I came back I exchanged it over.

I am most happy to report that I have cleared out my debt to my boyfriend and completely paid off one credit card!

This means my rough $10,000 amount is now down to $7,400! So much happy, so much excite, and it’d be easy to celebrate and go wild! But, that brings us to the next step: the future!

I’m still considering a second, part-time job. I also now am supplementing my income with Fiverr. I have a couple large and/or reoccurring orders through this, but it’s not realistically enough to say it’s a second job. I’m waiting to hear back from the MFA program at the university I work for to begin classes this Fall and, until I do, I can’t make any movement towards a second job (schooling > job). What I can continue to do is snowball my payments on my other debts, and this is what it looks like now:

Debt Amount as of August 11, 2014 Interest Minimum Snowball Total Payment Very Next Step
Paypal – BillMeLater 959.72 19.99% 35 60 95 Under 900
American Eagle – Credit Card 1602.23 48 95 143 Under 1600
Bank of America – Credit Card 4863.52 49 192 241 Under 4850
Total Current Debt 7425.47 132 347
Total Beginning Debt 10,000
Total Current Debt 7425.47
Percentage Debt Free 25.75%

Still working on my budget, as well. It’s a little haphazard because of the trip so, I will be working on that this week and updating here. But, essentially, the lessons learned:

Surprises are nice, but they also make it easy to lose focus. Use that forward momentum to remain charged and motivated to getting out of debt. Don’t lose sight of what’s important or your priorities.

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The Strugglebus is Real, Folks. (and that’s ok!)

As much as I hate to admit it, the 17-year-old in me has adopted a new favorite hashtag: #strugglebus. I’m both incredibly disappointed in myself and kind of giddy about it. Its close cousin, #wambulance, was a long-time favorite of mine as well. So, I suppose that’s happening now!

Onto more real matters… When discussing our struggles, a very close and dear friend of mine had let me into his situation as well. He is crippled by student loan debt, works full-time as a store manager at a convenience store, and has two roommates (hopefully he’ll be moving in with only one in August – keeping my fingers crossed!). He, too, can’t seem to make any template work. We spend many hours discussing our budgets and best practices only to cave when we want greasy Chinese food or a friend has a birthday. It’s part of the struggle: breaking those habits and finding alternatives.

Recently, I brought up the idea of consolidating his loans so he only has a single payment to worry about and manage. He went to his credit union to talk to them about his options only to find out that without a very good co-signer there was no way they would help him. Much like me, he doesn’t have a co-signer which means he’s S.O.L.

Frustrating? You betchya! But, this is what folks like us face every day.

Sometimes, it really feels like we just can’t catch a god damn break. No one will take a chance on helping us because they see our past and the mistakes we’ve made. It’s often overlooked that in asking for this kind of help, we’re not looking to dig ourselves into a deeper hole. Trust me, it’s hard enough to breathe as it is this deep down! We’re asking for help because we know we’re fighting our last fight until we give up and crawl back to mommy and/or daddy with our tails between our legs.

And we refuse. So we keep fighting. When I apologized to my friend for his misfortune in debt consolidation, he just smiled and said he’d have to find another way instead of getting lost in the bottomless pit of, “Oh my god, I can’t do this.”

So, folks, the takeaway? Keep fighting the good fight. It’s better than the alternative by a long-shot. Be honest, be courageous, and know you’ll see the end. If you think you can’t do it, guess what? You already are. Still not convinced? I offer this reminder:

You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be scared of?

 

Mid-Month Update!

It’s been a couple days now and I think it’s time for a mid-month update!

Exciting (and not so exciting) things have been popping up all over the place and I’ve been a busy-bee while trying to stay within my budget. On one end, no, I haven’t managed to stay within my budget due to pop-up expenses. On the other end, I did start my Fiverr account and have gotten some good, honest work out of it. In fact, I’ve made enough so far to pay off one monthly bill! That’s HUGE! So, I guess this means I can call myself a freelancer now, too. I’m also learning where my weak points are when it comes to spending (impulse buys for things like video games…).

Fiverr, pop-up expenses, and applying to grad school.. All within 15 days! There may also be plans to start a Twitch.tv account and broadcast my gaming skills (or lack thereof) and I forgot to mention another exciting life event happening this month: I will be leaving for Germany on July 25th and coming back August 8th! Expect a lot of reflective posts during that time period and, of course, photos.

If there’s one thing July has taught me so far, it’s that I can’t sit still for long and I’m not comfortable being immobile. But, this opens opportunity for me to reflect on how much I really do value being still and if I can implement stillness into my life while gaining momentum. Worth thinking about, at the very least.

Aside from celebrating all the good that’s been happening lately, below is my mid-month budget update. As you can see, things are getting a little hectic, but hopefully we’ll see at the end of the month a budget that comes out in the black! Please note, July is a 3 pay-period month. In this way, I almost feel like I’m cheating my budget, but because of travel, I’m so thankful I get paid three times this month!

Projected Actual Notes
Income 1 939 1163.54 Sold lightning outfit, sold books, mom owed me $50
Income 2 908 989.19 With overtime. 80.19 difference
Fiverr 0 20
Total 1847 2152.73
Gas (Fuel) 80 46.81
Groceries 80 115.24
Home Supplies 35 44.82 Included travel items
Laundry 10 10
Pet Supplies 35 64.95
Therapy 100 75
Renter’s Insurance 25 23.24 Paid 6-27
Rent 795 818 Transferred 6-27 & 7-11
Student Loans 50 50 Paid 6-30
Bank of America 49 49 Paid 6-27
Bill Me Later 35 35 Paid 6-27
American Eagle 48 48 Paid 7-11
Util: Gas 70 49.88 Scheduled 7-14
Util: Internet 50 49.9 Paid 7-11
Util: Electric 50 11.78 Scheduled 7-14
Capital One 25 75 Paid 6-27
Auto Insurance 80 79.52 Paid 7-11
Fun 40 40 CASH from previous check mailed from mom – not taken out of check
POP-UP Expense: License Plate Stickers 102 0
POP-UP Expense: College Transcripts 10 10
POP-UP Expense: Ebay Fees 8.7 8.7
POP-UP Expense: Kickstarter 5 5
POP-UP Expense: WildStar 15 14.99 Impulse buy
POP-UP Expense: Parking 1.5 1.5
POP-UP Expense: Demo’s Birthday 10.91 10.91
POP-UP Expense: Lunch at work 5.75 5.75
POP-UP Expense: Grad School Application 75 75
POP-UP Expense: Earbuds with mic 22.92 22.92
Total 1913.78 1840.91
Difference -66.78 311.82
**$300.00 ontop of whatever is leftover goes towards germany

Unexpected Help – Telling Your Story

A single day after giving myself permission to go on this journey, I walked into work a new person. Sipping on coffee, I made small talk with people who have become something in between coworker and friend, and mentioned my situation:

I’m young and in debt. Almost all resources I find start with “My husband and I…” or “My wife and I…” and it is infuriating! I’m not married, I don’t have a family, and I don’t want either of those things (and I CERTAINLY don’t want them out of convenience to get out of debt/fix my situation).

Almost immediately, I received two resources from two people. It’s amazing what can happen when you open up and have honest conversation with people. Of course, resources are no good if you’re not willing to take the advice and insert it into your own, personal life and template. I’m looking forward to finding out if I can use any of the advice these resources give as I adjust and grow my relationship to “money” and “wealth” and sharing the results!

RESOURCES

  1. Patrice Washington (http://realmoneyanswers.com/).
  2. NPR program called Marketplace Money (http://www.marketplace.org/money) currently scheduled on Sundays at 1pm on WBEZ Chicago.

Cutting ’em Up!

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On 6-30-14, after talking with my therapist, I cut them up. All three of them.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it was hard, but I did have 10 seconds where I looked at my highest balance card and felt a sense of fear. Fear about not having a “back-up” plan; not having something to pull out in an emergency. But, then I remembered it was maxed out and I couldn’t use it in an emergency anyway. For the past however long, I had been carrying around 3 cards that I a) can’t use and b) are a symbol or talisman of what is holding me back. I reminded myself of my value, “Do things out of love, not fear.” and reaffirmed that I love myself enough to get me out of debt.

It feels good, folks. Try it sometime.

 

 

Rookie Mistake #1: FORGOTTEN DEBT

A bit into my private life: I do have a boyfriend. When I moved into my current place, I had mix of odd furniture that didn’t include a bed or mattress! I also had only $2000 from my tax return and income to pay first month’s rent and deposit ($795 + $795 = $1590). This left me with $410 to rent a uhaul, go to Ikea, and buy a bed and mattress at the very minimum (although, I did have an air mattress I could have used while saving up).

My boyfriend stepped in and demanded I be able to get myself enough furniture to make myself a nice home that I feel comfortable in. I ended up with a new loveseat, end table, coffee table, living room lamp, storage/book shelf, dresser, bed frame, mattress, two rugs, and another side-table lamp with a couple kitchen mats for the floor. My boyfriend lent just over $1800 to make sure I was comfortable. A coworker-turned-friend gave me her old La-Z-boy recliner for free and another coworker-turned-friend supplied me with a patio set for free as well!

However, as one of my values is making mistakes and one of the blog ground rules is being honest… I have to tell you all that I forgot to include this debt in my initial totals of consumer debt. To date, this debt has been paid down to now owing $524. This bumps my current consumer debt to roughly $9,630 total.

I suppose it’s good I rounded up to paying off $10,000 worth of debt.

LESSONS LEARNED
Estimate high when it comes to debt, estimate low when it comes to income.

Don’t be ashamed or become frustrated when you find debt you forgot about. Roll with it, baby. Part of this journey is to become adaptable. Forgive yourself and take action to adjust.