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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Payday Is My Fave Day

Yesterday was payday, so that meant I got to throw some more money at my debt! I have an odd way of budgeting which involves keeping a month-long budget in a Google spreadsheet so that I can access it from my phone on the Google Sheets app or anywhere with internet. That's relatively normal for budgeting, but I also keep track of my budget in a two-week format since I get paid bi-weekly. I find that I feel more gratification making two payments to my debt a month rather than one large one at the end. So on payday I see what's left from my previous paycheck and put that money towards my debts. I do, however, make sure that the new paycheck is enough to cover my upcoming bills and expenses before doing this. I track the bills that are coming up on a calendar which has my paydays marked, the dates of normal bill due dates and some of the amounts that will be due if it's a bill that doesn't vary. The budget sheets and my calendar are all kept in a budget binder that I have. I discovered a YouTuber who runs a channel called "Our Life... On A Budget" and she has an awesome video explaining her budget binder along with links on where to find the free printables she used to create her binder. That is what my binder is based off of and you can find her 2016 Budget Binder video here:

Our 2016 Budget Binder

I think the binder works pretty well, although it is only my first month using it. We shall see how the upcoming months go using the binder and how well my odd budgeting goes.

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Here We Go!

Alright, here it is. My blog documenting my journey out of debt! I became hooked on Dave Ramsey and his baby steps for getting out of debt last month (October) and that's where I'll be marking my starting point on getting real serious about paying off my debt as fast as I can. I'm hoping this blog will help keep me even more accountable for staying on track. I have a whiteboard hung up in my apartment that has all my debt totals written on it for me to see every day and drive me even further to get this done. I update it every time I make payments on my loans.

So, my debt. I have the usual student loans. I graduated from North Dakota State University in May of 2014 with just under $44,000 in loans. After two-and-a-half years I've only paid off a whopping $5,000. I also had accumulated credit card debt, which I actually paid off two weeks ago. And then there's the car loan. I purchased a used 2009 Volvo C30 in June for just over $10,000. That loan has only gone down $500 since then which is a tad depressing now that I think about it.

Following Dave's baby steps, I am on step 2. I already had about $5,000 in savings before starting the baby steps so I used some of it for paying off my credit card and I am leaving the rest in there for upcoming expenses I know I am going to need it for. As far as listing my debts from smallest to largest, the credit card was first, so ✔ on that one! My student loans are separated by year so I have five separate loans. All five are individually smaller than the car loan so they will all be getting paid off before the Volvo.

I don't have a specific schedule for how often I will be posting to this blog, but maybe at least once a week for now. I might do a post or two on how I keep track of my spending in the near future.

Starting Debt: $50,000
Current Debt: $48,498