Sunday, January 15, 2017

Forward Thinking

Over the past week or two I have been thinking more about what I want to do once I finally get out of debt. I know my debt freedom is still projected to be two years away, but I think having goals for after that point will push me to get out of debt even faster.

One of those post-debt dreams is to own a home. A lot of the houses in this area go for around $200k, so I am hoping to have at least $50k saved for a down payment before I start looking. I've printed myself off a little chart so that when I get to the point that I am saving I can visually see how far I am towards that total. I can't really project how long that will take post-debt because there is the possibility of raises before I reach that point.

Another goal that I have for life after debt is to finally own my dream car. It isn't a cheap car by any means (about $85k for used model that is only a year or two old, yikes), but I want to be able to pay cash for that sucker. I printed another visual savings tracker for the car fund as well.

I got my visual savings trackers from a blog called Debt Free Charts which you can find here.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $44,174 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

BRING IT 2017!

In my last post I made before the end of 2016 I listed off the goals that I have for 2017. I’ve been thinking since then of what I can do to get the ball rolling RIGHT NOW on those goals and kick off the year with a fantastic January.

To be able to pay off $25k worth of my debt this year, I need to step up my budgeting game as well as increase my income. I have cut my grocery budget back to $100 a month (only buying groceries for myself) which I stuck to pretty closely in December, so I am going to continue on with that and hopefully stay below that every month. It’s hard to find other places in my budget to cut because I cut so much back already at the beginning of December, but I plan to keep reviewing it and seeing if I can squeeze any more money out. To increase my income I have already picked up the second job, but I hope to put in just a little extra time each week at my primary job so that I can boost that income as well.

Cash-flowing Taiwan doesn’t feel like it will be too difficult. I won’t have a ton more to pay for since I already covered the plane ticket and I have a place to stay there. I’m planning to just put a little less at my debt in the month of February to compensate for those small expenses.
I have found a plan of sorts for working your way up to being able to run longer distances from a starting point of minimal running. I go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to get on the treadmill and I am going to continue doing that until it’s time for my 5k. Nearly every day when I get home from either work or the gym, I do a set of home exercises to work on various muscles of my body to help improve my health even more.

Studying for my AREs is going to be my biggest obstacle. I have never been big on studying so I don’t really have any good strategies nor do I have the motivation to study every day after all the other things I am trying to accomplish with my time. I need to build a habit of setting aside some time each day to just sit with my book and study. Right before bed might be my best bet as a good wind-down from my day.

I’m planning to try and do monthly check-ins on these goals as another means of keeping myself on task and moving along with the things I want to accomplish this year.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $45,082 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Setting The Bar High

As the end of the year nears and I get ready for 2017, I need to set some goals for myself. I've got a couple financial goals as well as a couple that aren't financial.

My main financial goal for 2017 is to knock out $25k of my debt. It seems kind of optimistic, but at the rate I have been going each month I think I might be able to do it if I put in a little bit more intensity towards the budget each month. If I can do it, over half of my remaining debt will be gone.

The other financial goal I have is to cash flow a trip to Taiwan I am taking in mid-February. I know taking vacations isn't great for trying to get out of debt, but the trip was already in the works before I started my Total Money Makeover. I paid for the plane ticket with cash and I already have a place to stay for free when I am there. So all I have to do is save a little bit for souvenirs and food for the trip which should be super simple.

As far as non-financial goals, two that I have really relate to each other. I want to really work towards improving my health and sticking to it. I know it's the cliche New Year's resolution, but I'm completely serious about it. I started following a fitness and eating plan at the end of 2015 and in to 2016 that was actually working and for some reason that I can't understand I stopped doing it. Low and behold all the progress I made is completely gone. So I am going to get back on the plan as well as training for a 5k this summer so that I can beat my time from this past summer. Working on my running and following the other health plan should really help me crush my fitness goals.

Finally, I want to pass at least three out of five of my Architecture Registration Exams. I'm not sure how much studying I actually need to do for these since I haven't taken one yet, so I could possibly complete more than three in the span of a year. I plan to get back in to studying for the first one this week since I kind of fell off because of the holidays.

I have set some lofty goals for myself for 2017, but I also think they are achievable if I really get Gazelle Intense in all aspects of my life this year.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $46,368

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Got Me A "Dave Job"

It's been a little while since I posted to this blog. That's mainly because I've been busy/ exhausted this past week since I have picked up a second job. Today is my only day off for the week and is going to be the case for quite a while...

I had a early morning job in college that I went to before classes, so I decided that I would pick that job back up on top of the full-time job I already have. Being a "re-hire" means I get to go straight back to what step I was on on the raise payscale. Woot! It's been a little rough adjusting to going to a 5am job and then rushing to my other job at 8, but I've been managing. This new job means I get paid at least SIX TIMES a month (my full-time job pays every-other Wednesday and the new part-time job pays every Friday). This upcoming Friday's paycheck will be the first one from the part-time job, but I won't be able to gauge how much I will be getting weekly from that yet since that check wasn't a full week worth of working. I estimated it will be possibly an extra $600 a month, but hopefully even more than that.

It's been a week and a half since I've been able to put money towards my debt and I'm itching to throw more at it. This week is two paydays so I'm going to do my weekly budget review today and see how much I should be able to put at debt when those paychecks come in.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $47,288

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's The Little Victories

Payday is tomorrow so my paycheck will be direct deposited sometime in the early hours of the morning which means today I got to chuck some more money at my debt. I checked my bank account to see what I had left from my last paycheck and I had just over a thousand dollars in there! A THOUSAND DOLLARS! THANK YOU OVERTIME!! All of it went straight to the student loans with about $90-ish being destined for outstanding interest, but that still means I have a bit over $900 less in debt principal!! Hitting "submit" on a payment of one thousand dollars towards my debt snowball was one of the best feelings on this journey to debt freedom so far. I am getting so very close to knocking out my smallest student loan which will now only have around $5,000 left when this payment clears. I'm just beyond ecstatic right now. Srsly.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $47,443

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reviewing November's Budget

The end of November is only a few short days away, so I've used part of my Sunday to look through this month's budget and see how I did and where I need to adjust.

I managed to stay on budget or even better than budget in most categories, but there were a couple that I ended up spending too much. Since I traveled home for my Sister's baby shower (a five-hour drive each way), I went over on my gas budget. I also went a tad over on my pet budget. I started with a budget of $25 which is enough to buy Lee's cat food each month (the boyfriend is in charge of buying litter so I don't worry about that), but I managed to find some of his favorite toys at the Dollar Tree and had to stock up because they are hard to find.

After my first solid month of budgeting, I found I can cut my grocery allotment in half. I budgeted $200 for the month for only myself since Dillon buys his own groceries. I managed to only spend about $112 of that so I'm sure cutting to $100 wouldn't be difficult at all. I also realized I can cut more of my budget by cancelling my HBO Now account. I subscribed to be able to watch the last Game of Thrones season when it was airing, but then I never cancelled it once the season ended and never watched anything else through the service. So I dropped my subscription for now and I can sign back up once the next season starts airing. It only saves me $15 a month, but every dollar counts, right?

I needed to add a new category recently because I wanted to start stockpiling foods to donate to next year's Fill The Dome. Fill The Dome is a youth-led food drive where spaces are marked off on the Fargodome floor and schools from around the Fargo-Moorhead area are given a space to bring in their donations. Each school tried to collect enough food products to lay out on the floor and fill up their entire space. There's one space marked off, called the "Community" space, for donations to be brought in on the day of the event that aren't affiliated with any particular school. This year's event was last week and when I went to drop off my donations there was hardly anything in the Community space on the floor of the Dome. It was a bit depressing, so I want to be prepared to haul in an abundance of stuff to fill that sucker next year. I'm on the new volunteer committee at work now too so I'm hoping to also get the office on board for donating to the 2017 event.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to laying out December's budget and making my final payment of the month to my debt snowball when my last November paycheck comes in on the 30th.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $48,355

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lazy Sunday

Sundays are usually my day to peruse grocery store flyers and plan out meals for the week based on sale foods, but since this week is Thanksgiving I don't really need to do that. Last Sunday I made about fifteen breakfast burritos for my lunches and I still have enough left for my three lunches this week and a few lunches next week even! Plus they were rather cheap to make which is super great for my food budget! I might keep making them and just changes up some of the burrito contents. The ones I made last weekend had scrambled eggs, some pork sausage I already had, off-brand hashbrowns, bell peppers, and store brand cheese that was on sale. The tortillas were also cheap because they were the store brand. Maybe I could add some other vegetables to them next time.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $48,355