My Money Mindset

 

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Totally unrelated to the subject of this blog entry.  Cochiti “Lake” (really more of a reservoir) but just exemplifies the vast open spaces and views of the southwest. 

I love a particular podcast called Budgets and Cents.  One of their recent episodes talked about their money mindsets, and it was interesting to hear how their mindsets had reversed over the past year.

 

One mindset that a lot of us have is one of scarcity. It’s one that I have fallen victim to off and on in my life.  Recently, I found myself going down that road, and I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it at all.  I’m one of those individuals who feel that whatever energy you put out into the universe will affect the situations and individuals who come into your life.  So I knew I needed to make a change. I really think you can change your life or your circumstances if you put your mind to it.

When I was first separated from my marriage, there was a day that it became very clear to me that my outlook on life was hugely important to my everyday life.  I could choose to be sad and miserable and hate myself every day or I could choose to wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Today is going to be better than yesterday.  Even if it’s just one small thing, that counts.”

So, when I found myself feeling very stressed about my financials recently, I decided to take a deep breath.  Then I started to ask myself what I could do to change that.  I thought of the transcription work I’ve already done over the past several months and started to look into other companies that are hiring, to supplement the income I make from my first priority company.  (It’s also run by a friend, so I can’t and won’t let her down.)

I also looked into Flexjobs, and just signed up today for a membership.  It costs $49.95 for the year, but they also offer promo codes, so I got 30% off of my first-year membership with them.  I like that the jobs and employers are vetted by real, live humans and not a computer!  At the very least, I will know that the jobs I am applying to are real and not scams.  The way I look at it, paying $3-4/month in order to have the opportunity to obtain flexible side-hustle work is a very low fee to pay. Even if I only get one job off of there, I think it will pay for itself. That’s my attitude and I’m sticking to it!

As soon as I changed my attitude, I heard good news from my friend who asks me to do transcription jobs.  It looks like there will be a good amount of work coming my way, very soon, and I can’t wait.  I like being needed and knowing that my efforts are helping someone else out.  Plus, the work is generally pretty interesting.

And finally, a friend of mine has had a delivery route with the Albuquerque Journal for several years.  I’m going to ride along on a route tomorrow and see what I think, if I can handle it.  It would involve getting up early every morning (usually papers have to be delivered by 6 a.m. during the week), but Hello! That’s something I already do, get up early! At least this way, I could get paid for it. I would be paid as a 1099 contractor, so I know I would need to hold money  back for taxes.  But it would still allow me to pay off my debts very quickly and then start putting money aside for things like travel, etc.

A good friend of mine was concerned I was losing sight of my goals by entertaining this idea.  But I’m not.  Rather, it will help me stay on board with those goals.  My day job really just covers the day to day expenses.  If I want to get ahead, I have to sacrifice in some places, and in this case, the sacrifice will be in time. But it will be worth it.  I will pay off my credit cards, then pay off my vet bill at my employer, and then pay off my car.  I really want the car paid off before I reach 100K miles.  And the best part about it?  I will be able to do that work and be productive before most people even get up in the morning and have their first cup of coffee.  And you know what?  A lot of people are in the same boat as me, having to work more than one job.  I know some of you readers have done this before.

One thing my mom taught me is a good work ethic. She taught me to do whatever you need to do to get things done and take care of yourself.  And that’s what I am going to do. By the way, if you like to listen to podcasts like I do, there is a good one called His and Her Money.  They had a recent episode called 3 Words That Will Help You Get Out of Debt Faster.   And those words are Whatever. It. Takes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a few skills tests for Flexjobs to add to my skills already listed on my resume. 🙂  And snuggle with a few furry ones, because, as you know, they are the reason for the changes in my life I’ve undertaken over the past few years. ❤

As always, thank you for reading.

 

 

Journey Through Debt: A Shopping Ban, You Say?

What the heck is a shopping ban, you might ask? And why in the world would one ever want to do one??

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image from Pixabay.com

So I got the idea from Cait Flanders, who decided to put herself on a two-year shopping ban, after having paid off $30,000 of debt in just two years. You can listen to her talk about it on her Budgets and Cents podcast.  I’ve taken a really good, hard look at my finances, and have decided there are just some things I have to do. The operative word in that last sentence is HAVE. If I want to be serious about paying off my consumer debt, meaning my credit card debt, auto loan and then that pesky private student loan I have, I need to get SERIOUS. Every video I watch on YouTube about people getting out of debt and how they have done it – they all include the word or concept: SACRIFICE. You can’t get out of debt without changing your ways.

So,  when Cait went on a shopping ban, she did give herself a list of approved items that she could buy if she needed to during the shopping ban. So I’ve been thinking of what that list would include for me and here is what I have come up with:

  1. nutribullet/ninjabullet/magicbullet blender system (or something similar).  Right after I posted about my debt hurdle last week, mine died. I used to have a cheaper one made by Oster which only lasted a few months – the motor on it was just not very powerful. The NutriBullet is a bit more expensive (I paid about $85-90 for mine about two years ago), but it is super powerful and I do drink a lot of smoothies. It’s a good way to get a lot of veggies and fruits and protein powder in your diet if you don’t want to eat a ton of salads. And I have to admit, I like salads, but I definitely like something that is a bit heartier at times, like rice or pasta.
  2. Jacket or sweater for Morgan. Pets get cold too, and I understand sometimes it can get down into the single digits in ABQ. So if she seems like she is getting cold out on our walks, then I will get her one. For right now though, she seems just fine!
  3. Plane ticket to Florida for May 2017. It’s my brother’s wedding and I have been saving for it since I first heard about their plan. I almost have enough money saved for the ticket now but am hoping that flight prices come down. I’m going to keep looking pretty much every day. And did you know that you can use Ebates to go to sites like Orbitz or Travelocity, and then earn money back on your ticket?! (Seriously, I’m loving Ebates!)  And I may need to get a rental car unless I split one with my mom and her husband, which they have offered to do. Just depends on which airport I fly into, I think.
  4. Still mulling this one over – a dress for my brother’s wedding. I say this because as of right now, I have two dresses and I wore each one this past year for each of my nephew’s weddings. I’m sure that if I do buy something, I can get something that isn’t too expensive, and there are always second hand shops. If need be, I could get it altered. It won’t have to be anything too fancy because the wedding will be on the beach.
  5. I will occasionally let myself buy a ticket to a movie or museum type-thing. But honestly, there are a lot of free museums and places I can go to here in ABQ, and there really isn’t one movie that I am just dying to see. Not something that I would want to spend full price on. Unless the new Fast and Furious movie comes out, because well, that I would go see as a first run movie. (No judging!!)
  6. Renewing the domain name for my website when it comes up, but I don’t think that’ll happen until summer 2017.
  7. Necessities such as food for me and the furballs, toiletries, and gas for my car.

Honestly, when I look around at my place and my lifestyle, I don’t think I need much. Nor do I think I want that much either. Because, let’s be honest, needs and wants are very different, even though we can often get the two confused. I have plenty of clothes, and I wear scrubs to work, so there’s nothing to buy for there. I have lots of extra blankets and pet beds, etc. I use milk crates as my bookshelves of sorts, and milk crates also act as the base of my bed. (I have a four-inch latex mattress topper on top of them and it works just fine for me and the furballs.)  I’m also planning on selling a few things also, to free up some cash and room in my apartment.

Also, As I’m looking toward the future and when my lease is up, I’m even considering apartments that don’t have kitchens, because I’ve realized that since living here, I don’t use mine a ton (because of the insect problem I wrote about in an earlier post. It’s getting better since they’ve sprayed, but still, I’m DONE with dealing with that.) So if that happens, a fridge will be on the approved list of items, and probably a toaster oven. But if I do move to a full-fledged studio, then I won’t need those. I even watched this video on youtube about a lady who moved into a place that only had bathrooms in the hall – she seemed to make it work and also seems happy with her choice!

How long is my shopping ban going to be for? I’m not sure yet. I should probably keep it in place until at least when I move to another apartment. In fact, I think that’s what I will plan on doing. See how much I can save or pay off debt in the meantime.

Btw, an update. I have bought a magic bullet since I started writing this post. However, I bought it online through Kohls.com, which was offering an even stronger one than I had before (this is 900 watts, the last one was 600, and it kicked ass), at 30% off. I then used an online discount code for an additional 25% off, and shopped through ebates.com to get an additional 6% in cash back! If you haven’t heard of ebates, check it out, and please use my referral link! If you’re buying stuff online, you might as well get it through ebates, so you get some more money back into your pocket.

Would you ever put yourself on a shopping ban? Why or why not? 

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

My Debt….Journey out of Hell

I know there’s a saying that says if you find yourself in hell, just keep walking, because eventually you will get yourself out of it. The other day, I did something scary, but necessary. Except for my federal loans, I added up all of my debt. (The federal loans are just too overwhelming to grasp.) And here’s what the picture looks like (avert your eyes if you don’t want to be scared, or is it scarred, for life?!)

Tower Garden: $407.70
Capital One credit card: $2,651.65
Citibank credit card: $3,929.69
Auto Loan (through a credit union): $6,005.16
AES Loan (private student loan): $10,567.09

Grand Total (again, avert your eyes if you need to): $23,561.29

My gross income is just barely above that. As Dave Ramsey would say, I don’t have a debt problem, but an income problem. So I plan on trying to find a second job if I can. Or, finding a way to make money online. Some of you have given me good ideas in the past.

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Rio Grande River, as seen from the Tingley Beach open space area

I’ve also listened a lot to a podcast called Budgets and Cents. The “Budgets” part of the podcast is Cait Flanders, and she went on a shopping ban for one year. After the first year, she decided to continue it for a second year. During that time, she only bought essentials like food.She had a pair of jeans that ripped and she eventually had to replace them. When her one hoodie just got completely gross, she got another one, but only after months of looking for the perfect hoodie. It might seem a bit extreme, but it did help her to really appreciate the stuff she did have. I know it will help me too, even as I continue to get rid of stuff I have accumulated over the past year, but realize I really don’t need. Every dollar I save by not shopping for stuff, will go to the debt.

So, I’ve decided to do something similar. I’m not going to shop for things I don’t need. Just groceries for myself and for the furry ones, pretty much. And I am going to start checking out all the free things to do in Albuquerque. There are actually quite a few free museums that I can take a look at, ranging from the atomic bomb to meteorites! After all, part of the reason I moved to a city was to take advantage of amenities a city has, that a smaller town does not. I’ve already been checking out a lot of the free open public spaces and am really enjoying checking them all out with Morgan. We both get the fresh air and exercise we need.  So, occasionally, I may pay to go into a museum or some place like the Botanical Garden that does have an entrance fee. But I will space those out accordingly. I know if I don’t treat myself occasionally, this won’t work. I just have to remember, it’s ok to treat yourself, but in moderation.

I am going to keep my gym membership to Planet Fitness. It’s only $21/month and working out is once again, very important to me.  It all works together.  It’s helping my morale improve, and I am liking the way I look in the mirror, more.  Same thing with my running sneakers – if they wear out, I’m going to replace them. One thing I do know that it is worth spending money on is good sneakers if you want to run. Since my health insurance at my new job (once it kicks in, in January) has a high deductible, I need to focus on eating well, and staying healthy. Luckily, those are two things I already realize the importance of.

So, you will notice that up above, the debts are arranged in order from smallest to largest. I plan on paying off the tower garden first. I plan on taking a couple hundred out of savings, and then paying the rest out of my paychecks. (I’m not using it in this apartment since I heard that roaches like water, and well, it’s a hydroponic system. So I may try to sell it online.)  Then, the money I was paying to that every month (about $81) will go toward the Capital One card. I’ve found that gas here is cheaper than it was in Lake Powell (it was a tourist destination, so no surprise there), so whatever I budget for but don’t use per month, is going to go the debt payoff. I get paid $10 every month from  my credit union for having my checking account with them, having money directly deposited, and using my debit card a certain number of times. So, guess where that is going?!

I am paid way ahead (about 5 years) on that AES student loan, so I plan on making smaller than the full payments every month of $167.  It accrues about $27 in interest every month, so I plan on paying more than $27, but also paying it every two weeks, when I get paid. You see, student loans are different than other types of loans. The interest accrues daily. So while it may not seem like a lot, every little bit can help. It’s kind of like paying off your mortgage twice a month instead of just once a month. It shortens the loan time.  (I just paid $20 on it this morning.) The money that I am not paying toward the AES loan will go toward the Capital One card. That should help  a lot since the Capital One card has a higher interest rate.

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one of the few moments in which I could get Morgan to sit still on  our walk at Tingley Beach

The Citibank card is currently on a 0% interest rate, and I need to check to see when it ends. It was 21 months when I signed up, so I think I have another year or so. If that time comes up, and it’s not paid off (the likely scenario), then I will transfer it to another credit card which is giving 0% interest for a certain number of months. Then I will snowball what I had been paying on the Capital One card into the minimum payment on the Citibank card, and then on to the car, and then on to the AES loan at the end. The car loan has a low interest rate so a lot of my $142 monthly payment goes to paying off principal.

So yes, this is the snowball method. It’s different from picking the debt with the highest interest rate, but it does provide you with more “wins” and let’s face it, handling money is an emotional thing. If it wasn’t, we would all be millionaires, right?!

I’ve updated my direct deposit with my work – luckily, they allow you to put your paycheck into 5 different accounts! So from every paycheck, I will be saving for the annual or semi-annual bills that come up, like renter’s insurance, car insurance, etc. That way, when the bill comes due, the money is there. And I am also continuing to save to go to my brother’s wedding in Florida in May.

I watched this video earlier today via the His and Her Money youtube channel, and I was definitely inspired. This girl started out making $15K per year and she owed $25K on her student loans. She paid it off in about 3.5 years. I don’t know that she had some of the expenses I have, but if she can do  it, then I have no excuse to not even try on my end.

I will talk about the budget I have planned in a later post because this one has already gotten way too long!  But I wanted to get this post out there so that the few of you who read this blog regularly can be my accountability partners. I need people to know what is going on. (And thanks to those of you who do read it regularly, even though my posts have been somewhat sporadic lately.)

Finally, I will leave you with a picture of Baby O doing what she does best: sleeping. 🙂 Well, she snuggles pretty well too. LOL (She and Max are both snuggling up to me as I type away. There could be worse things in life than having two animals trying to love you at the same time.)

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my adorable baby girl, Baby O

As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below. 

 

 

 

 

“Change Your Money, Change Your Life”

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The view outside of the public library, where I’m taking advantage of the free, amazing wifi!

The line above is one that is used a lot in one of my new favorite podcasts to listen to, called  Budgets and Cents. The “budgets” part is from Cait Flanders (formerly known as Blonde on a Budget) and Carrie is from Careful Cents. Cait got herself out of about $28,000 in debt in 2 years. Carrie and Cait are both freelancers in the financial writing field (and they do other things as well.) Their podcast is relatively new – in its second “season” as they call it. A lot of the topics relate to their freelance work, but there are also episodes that talk about how they did find life after debt, and how they take care of themselves with self-care, etc. I just find them extremely down to earth and it’s like I’m listening to friends. I get inspired listening to them. So, let’s talk about how I’m “changing my money” these days.

I have good news. I found someone to sublet my apartment, and a place where I can move to on a month to month basis starting in September. The person who will be taking my current place is only taking it until December, but there is a possibility it could be for longer, so I’m crossing my fingers the new tenant like the area and decides to stay. Because then, I can move to a larger city, sooner. Oh, so excited!!

With any change, I see opportunity. Yes, I’m only moving literally next door, but I see the opportunity to get rid of some of my stuff. Yes, get rid of some of my crap! When I moved last year, I fit everything I had into my car and a car carrier that rode on top. The only thing I originally mailed from Boston was a large painting, and then my friend Dan helped me free up some room in  my car by mailing some boxes for me. But you know what? I don’t need all the stuff I’ve accumulated, and I certainly don’t need all the clothes I’ve been holding onto. And the idea of lightening the load of crap in my life is exhilarating!

With the decrease in rent I will be paying (the new place is unfurnished and not professionally managed like the place I have now), I will plan on saving some of it and putting some of it toward my credit card bill which is currently sitting just below $4,000. I can’t WAIT to see that balance come down! To remind myself of it, I set up an alert with my account. Every day, I get a text message reminding me of the balance, as well as the fact that the balance is over $3900. When I get it below $3900, I will then change the alert to let me know when it’s over $3800, and so on. And every time I open up that freezer and see that other credit card literally encased in ice, I feel more confident and strong, and in control of my life and finances.

I’m going to start tracking my spending, and actually stick to it for more than 3 days this time. I need to know exactly how much I am spending on groceries, etc., because since I don’t do many activities that cost a lot of money, that’s really my biggest ticket item, I’m pretty certain of it. And I already know one area where my spending has got to stop. It’s going to be pretty hard though. It’s spending on junk food or munchies food at the campground store where I work. We get 20% off as an employee, but the prices are still too high in my opinion (you pay for the convenience of not having to go into town to get your food and other items.) And I can definitely find more healthy alternatives to the food offered there. (Example, eat fresh broccoli dipped in ranch dressing, rather than potato chips.) I’m trying to come up with an incentive for myself to keep that up –  I will start up another bank account and every day that I don’t buy something there, transfer $2.35 into it (that’s my cost for a large can of Pringles with my discount), or I do buy something, if it costs less than that dollar amount, transfer the difference into that savings account. And at the end of a certain period of time, decide what to do with that cash that has accumulated.

In fact, I just opened an account with CapitalOne360, and it’s called No Junk Food (you can give your accounts nicknames.)  So this morning, I transferred $1.35 to that account, since I bought two things of crackers that totaled $1.00 yesterday. And I also just went through my checking account statement and wrote everything down in a small notebook I plan on carrying around with me, and wrote down next to all the expenses what they were for. That is definitely eye-opening, but I think it will be even more so when I write down the number at the same time I’ve just spent it. I’ll let you know regularly how the money is adding up. (Yes, I plan on being more regular with posting onto the blog.)

I think I know why I hadn’t posted on this blog so much this past summer. I was feeling pretty frustrated and out of control or lost about a lot of things.

  1. Financially, I felt very constrained, and will, for a while, but now I feel like I’m taking steps to get in control.  I will write more about that in a separate post, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned here.
  2. Job-wise, I was unhappy and felt directionless. Now, even though I’m not exactly sure when I will be leaving my current place of employment, I know I am starting to make plans to do so. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I made this drastic move in my life, why it hasn’t come out exactly the way I planned, and what I can do to rectify that.
  3. I’ve realized small town living is not for me, so I’m taking steps to be more financially fit and be able to make a move to a larger city. I’m talking to folks about that new prospective city of Albuquerque and am researching into it a lot before I even go for my first visit. I’m remembering that it’s important for me to live in a lower cost of living area than where I am right now, and that that is a big priority for me in looking into prospective places to move to. Living where it’s less expensive gives me more freedom to explore work that makes me feel happy about being on this earth and contributing to society, not just punching a time clock every day for a paycheck. And I know in my heart that that kind of work will involve animals, in some way, shape, or form.
  4. Finally, I’m turning my attentions to things that make me happy. Some of them are activities that I used to do regularly and had fallen away from – like going to the gym or exercising. I’m still not at that regular pace I used to be when I worked in an office and had a very routine daily schedule, but I’m allowing myself time to get back to that gradually.  I’m not gonna make myself feel guilty about it. I know it’s gonna be rough and my body will definitely feel sore some days.
  5. Writing is another thing that makes me happy and I’m thinking up ideas for regular series of posts. Ideas about things that will remind me of what it’s like to live in a way that makes me feel like I’m grateful to be alive, and living a life of abundance, and not just deprivation. I think I’ve been spending too much time lately thinking about what I don’t have, rather than what I do have.  I’m hoping the ideas that are percolating in my brain will be helpful to others.
  6. I’m spending more time reading and learning (currently reading The Book of the Navajo by  Raymond Friday Locke and loving it because it teaches me about some of the history and culture of the folks I work with and live around every day.) I never want to stop learning and I want to be respectful of them and their history.

Speaking of things I have in my life, I have some amazing coworkers. The below photo is what a coworker and friend did as a surprise for me. She’s always playing practical jokes on me, and they just make me laugh and feel loved. I wouldn’t want her to change a thing. I hope she is reading this, because she knows who she is!  🙂

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