Pinching Pennies Until They Scream, or at Least “Squeak”

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Many of  you know that I left behind a very good paying job in the Boston area when I moved to the southwest to chase my simple dreams. I had a pension into which my employer put 10% of my income, in addition to my 403(b), and my rent was definitely lower than it could have been for the area I was in, and the building. (Some people might think $1100/month for a studio is a lot, but then again, they didn’t see my studio or have the awesome guys living and working in the building who took care of everything, or the reservoir out back.)

Some days, I look back and think “what was I thinking?” when it comes to how I spent my money. What seemed so important  at the time, whatever it was I thought I needed (I now know it was, I wanted) – I can’t even remember what most of it was. I made more than three times what I make now. Ok, wait a minute. I need to retype that to really let it sink in. I made more than three times what I make now.

So, how am I surviving?! Well, I am really paying attention to where my money goes, and where it doesn’t. I’m not doing the envelope system as Dave Ramsey advocates, because, to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable carrying a lot of cash on me in a city that definitely has its crime problems, even in the good areas. I do, however, have a very small pink notebook that I carry in my purse. On two of its pages, I have written down what my budget is for each category, and then I subtract from it when I have spent money in a particular category. This is the first month I have been doing it this way, so we shall see if what I have predicted or budgeted for each category is actually realistic or not.

I’ve also utilized a few apps and websites to help me whittle down even pennies. Some of you may have heard of some of these, but if not, you should definitely check them out! By the way, some of the links I have mentioned below are referral links – please note, I am not getting paid by any of these companies to discuss them or include their links. I’m just simply telling you my opinion of them, and I will be adding referral links to my page from time to time as I find what I consider good ways to or make a few extra pennies.

Ebates – I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post, but it’s worth mentioning again.  You can either use the app on your phone, or add it as an extension to your browser (I use chrome) and if you are shopping for things online, and go through ebates first, you get cash back. The percentage of cash back differs from store to store, and you get paid quarterly as long as your cash back balance is at least $5.01. Payment is made either by paper check or paypal if  you have an account. It’s like finding extra money somewhere on the ground or in a coat pocket you had forgotten about. It’s your money you are spending – why not try to get some of it back if you can? And yes, this is my referral link.

Ibotta – this is a FREE app that allows you to search for items that have rebates on them at a large variety of stores! Places like Walgreens, Walmart, Sprouts, Smith’s grocery store, you name it. You “unlock” a rebate and then take a picture of the UPC code, as well as your receipt. You can get $10 just by signing up, and then when you hit $20, you can withdraw your cash, either via paypal or to redeem gift cards for places such as Amazon. It’s not that much work, and honestly, you’re already spending the money, so why not snap a few pictures and get yourself some money back in the process? Please check out my referral link and use referral code: ergflfx !  You will get $10 just for signing up, and I will get $5!

Receipt Hog – this is another FREE app that has you take pictures of your receipts that are no more than two weeks old.  You accumulate points based on the amount of the receipt and if you keep meeting targets (such as uploading receipts every week, no matter how small the dollar amount), you get more “pulls” on their “slot machine.” Pulls on the slot machine can get you actual $ or as has been the case for me, more coins. Once you reach a certain amount of coins, I believe it’s 1,000, you can redeem for gift cards for places like Amazon. For me, I buy some of my pet’s food or other things on Amazon, so it’s like getting a discount coupon down the line to save me money. Available for Androids and iPhones!

Grocery store apps for digital coupons and fuel rewards. There is a grocery store in ABQ called Smith’s, which is what I consider something close to Safeway, like we had in Page.  In addition to viewing their weekly ad, so I can see what’s on sale, I can also download coupons to have sent to my rewards card, so not actual physical cutting of coupons, yay!  Then, if you use your rewards card at the fuel pump, you save $.03 for every gallon, just in every day use. But once you have earned 100 points with your reward card, you save $.10 per gallon of gas! However, one way to quickly rack up points without spending $100 is to fill out the survey that is mentioned on your grocery store receipt. That gets you 50 points, and you can do it once a week. So, you could spend $50 on groceries, and then fill out the survey and get 100 points in one week, thus saving yourself $.10 per gallon.  I have a smaller car than most (a Mazda2) but think about the savings, added up over time, if you were to have a big SUV or truck!

Answering surveys online and on my phone. For Androids, there is an app called Surveys on the Go. It is also available via iTunes. The surveys only pay about $.50 or $1 each, but they also only take about 1-2 minutes, if that. I’m up to $4.75, and once I get to $10, I can withdraw my cash. Every little bit will then go to my credit card balance. We all pull out our phones to kill time, sometimes, such as at the grocery store. I figure, why not earn money at the same time? I also do surveys through SurveySavvy (which also pays you monthly to install their software on your devices such as tablets or phones so that they can observe your online behavior for market research.) I’ve downloaded it onto my phone, and after a few initial snafus (it seemed to be slowing down my phone, but a phone update seemed to cure that problem), it seems to not have any effect on the speed of my phone.  There is also another website called Opinion Square, which rewards you in points for completing surveys, which can then be redeemed for gift cards, for again, places like Amazon!  SurveySavvy has been having some problems lately with their site, so for the current time, I’m actually liking Opinion Square better. If you want to join it, drop me a line or comment below and I can email you from Opinion Square so we both benefit!

I’ve signed up to be a mystery shopper via the Secret Shopper app. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but will let you know what I think of it. It will allow me to get out into the world and earn a small bit of cash at the same time. I know someone whose husband did it a lot at one point back in the northeast, and they could at least enjoy a family night out to dinner that cost them very little if nothing.

Finally, I received a flyer in the mail the other day about donating plasma. As a new donor, you make $50 each time for the first 5 times you donate. After that, the amount goes down based on how much you donate (being vertically challenged, I’m at the lower end of the donation level, so I will likely only get $20.) However, I’m told the plasma center runs promotions every month. I’ve donated twice, and they say that you can donate up to 2x per week, but I will not be doing that for a few reasons. First, you can’t donate two days in a row, and well, my days off are now going to be Wednesday and Thursday. The actual act of donation takes me about 30 minutes or so – I stay hydrated the day before (and try to every day, honestly), as well as afterward. Plus, there is the admin side of things – they only open at 7 and I’m told there are people usually waiting in line already at that point. I have to be at work every day by 11, and my mornings also consist of taking care of The Herd, which includes Morgan’s “walk the crazy out of her” walks. So I will likely only be donating once a week at the most. I also am a bit  leery of giving away too much of my plasma without allowing my body time to regenerate it.  I also value my veins, a lot.  In Europe, they only allow you to donate every two weeks. Is it a bigger industry in the United States? Possibly. They pay you on a prepaid debit card, which I’ve used for both groceries now, as well as pet food. Whatever I save from spending out of my own bank account for these items, I will then put toward my credit card balance.

I’m also starting the basics of meal planning, which I will write about in a future post too. It’s what prompted me to start looking at the weekly ads for Smith’s and Sprouts.  People who have gotten out of debt swear by it, so I figure, if  I can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?!

As you all know, a penny saved is better than none. And five dollars saved is better than none. It all adds up, in my book. It’s like that “latte factor” we all hear about so often.   You may not agree with all of these ideas, but for now, they are working for me, and as of now, anyway, the US is still a free country where people can do what they want (God help us get through the next 4 years!!)  I haven’t started looking for a second job yet because I know I will be leaving this apartment by mid to late April, and may end up moving closer to my full-time job. (I will talk about those thoughts in a future post). If I’m going to work two jobs, I want them to be conveniently located near each other so as to save on gas and time away from my furballs.

And FINALLY, a friend has asked me to help with some legal transcription – yay! She lent me her foot pedal and I’m downloading the software to get it all to work with my laptop as I write this post. I can’t wait to get started – I used to take a lot of dictation, and I’m looking forward to learning about the subject matter at hand (for confidentiality reasons, that is all I will say.)  I hope to not let her down and make some extra cash in the meantime so I can BEAT, BEAT, BEAT THE HELL out of my credit cards.

And yes, I have made headway on my debt this month – I will update you about that and my budget probably next week. I need to get a full paycheck under my belt to properly budget – for right now, I’m just estimating the amount of taxes and things that will be deducted from it. (I didn’t get paid for Thanksgiving because I didn’t work it and it fell on a Thursday, which is one of my official “weekend” days.) Starting in January, I will also be on the company’s medical insurance, so that will affect my bottom line.

So many future posts!! Thank you as always for reading, and Morgan and the rest of The Herd say they are sending “slobbers and kisses!” to all of you! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Getting Out of My Debt: A New Plan (I’ve Had IT!!)

I came to a few realizations last night and I went to bed angry. Fighting mad angry. But in a good way. I owe a lot of this to my friend Dan, who answered a text message of mine that said “Do you think I’m stupid for wanting to leave a good paying job to do something that will pay so much less?”

The reason I asked this question is because I see so many people struggling just to get by and I feel like I should just be thankful for whatever opportunity is thrown my way. For example, there are the cleaners/housekeeping folks at my gym – all three of them work two jobs. None of them have English as their native language, which definitely hurts their job prospects.  I know for a fact that one of them works seven days a week, and that a second one was until he finally had his daughter talk to me to write a note to the manager stating that he would like to take Fridays off since he was working seven days a week. (He and I are slowly teaching each other some words in Spanish and English.)

In response to these concerns, my friend Dan told me, among other things, “you can still be thankful and desire to live a Purpose Driven Life.”  He also said something that struck home: “No one says on their death bed, ‘Thank God I paid off that student loan.'” Finally, “It (my student loan debt) runs your life in that it makes your decisions for you.”

So now, I’m going to do what he suggested: “Find a balance between the obligation you owe the debt and the bigger obligation you owe yourself.”

I looked at my loan details last night for my Big Daddy loan. I started paying (or shall we say, deferring and forbearing) back in 1997. Now that I have been paying interest-only payments on it for the last two years (as part of a graduated repayment plan), just to keep it from growing, I see that the final repayment date is in 2034 and another in 2035 (Big Daddy consists of two consolidated loans – one is unsubsidized federal money and the other is subsidized.)

In case you’re wondering what the difference is between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized one–well, the difference is when who pays the interest that is accruing during terms when you are not in repayment, such as when you have taken a deferment. Deferments can be for a number of reasons but the most common ones are that you are currently in school or you are going through some sort of economic hardship. With a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest coming due. With unsubsidized ones, that interest just keeps on accruing and accruing and accruing and at the end of your deferment or forbearment period, all that unpaid interest gets thrown on the top of the loan, essentially making your principal balance, upon which more interest accrues, even larger than when you started. Do you see why this can get overwhelming to think about? I had loans that were unsubsidized during my first year of law school. You’re encouraged to not work during your first year of law school for  a lot of reasons. So even by the time I graduated my principal balances had already grown by a whopping lot.

My Big Daddy loan actually consists of two loans – out of $75K, one has a principal balance right now of $44K.  So that puts the other one around $31K.  Here’s the funny thing – that loan that now has $44K to its  name – when I consolidated that loan back in 2001, guess what the principal balance was at that time? Yeah….it was about $41K.  All these years, I have paid at the very least $538/month, and for many years, while I was married, I even paid extra principal to it every month. Sometimes, about $700/month, on the combined Big Daddy loan.  So, how, you ask, is that balance even higher? If you take an average of $6000 paid every year and you multiply that by 13, how much do you get?? Hmmm. 78K.  And yet the balance of Big Daddy these days is still over $75K.

So here’s what I decided the other night – I’m going to switch careers to something that I find much more fulfilling, and if I pay less money per month to my student loans, so be it. I want to have a life where I feel like what I am doing every day is more in tune with my heart. And for me, that means working with animals.

Beginning this week, I am going to begin volunteering with the Animal Rescue League of Boston and work with their livestock animals. Right now, that means goats, sheep, a horse, and some chickens. I heard back from my local vet who asked me to send a resume or CV and let them know the hours during which I could volunteer, so I would be able to get experience working in a private vet office with small animals. I want to try to expose myself to as many different types of animals and types of organizations so I can see what best fits with me and my personality, etc.

I already know the average salary for vet assistants is something like $22K-30K. This is about what I live on right now, but I currently pay extra money to my student loans and paying the higher amounts on my loans. With a lower salary, I will be eligible for different types of repayment plans, and one can lower your payments to about 10-15% of your salary. So yes, it moves the final payoff date out that much further into the future, but life is short.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a slacker. i do want to pay back my debts. I do. I just think that with all the money I have paid this government over the years, the government can continue to wait for the 2x and 3X the principal amounts I will end up paying back. I could walk outside today or tomorrow and get hit by a car or something worse. I could be like Brittany Maynard who was 29 and found out she had an aggressive form of brain cancer. I’m not trying to be melodramatic or anything. I just have decided to not let these loans run my life anymore. I’m going to start living my life for me. And for the animals.

So this is the new plan. I’m going to pay off the private student loan which is sitting around $13,500 right now. That one, I don’t have tons of options about. But the federal ones…I’ll deal with them, probably for the rest of my life, but at least it’ll be a life that I feel good about at the end of every day. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given in this world, and every time I go to a talk at my school about animal rights, I get this strong feeling in my stomach that I NEED to do something to help them. And with my background, I can. I want to work with the animals in a hands-on way, but if there’s a way I can also be involved in using my education or my social or personal skills to their advantage, well, I plan on doing it. I’m open to the opportunities.

I’m home with my mom this weekend to celebrate an early Thanksgiving. I hope you will all have a great weekend. If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below.

Ah, that consumer lifestyle…

This makes an appearance at the reservoir every year. Is it a dredger?
This makes an appearance at the reservoir every year. Is it a dredger?

Or, the way I used to be, but no more!!

Four years ago, I paid out about $3K per month and that was before I had eaten. How, you ask? Well, $1250 for rent, $900 for my half of a mortgage payment, and $900 in student loan payments. Yep, that’s a whole lot of cash going out the door. It left me with about $500 for the month, and that was to cover food, utilities (I mean, CABLE was a must!!), car repairs, etc. Not to mention that I was also fighting through the stages of unmedicated clinical depression, and add in the turmoil of a marital split after 11 years together, and you don’t get a frugal person. You get someone who doesn’t want to sit home because then that forces you to sit with your thoughts. And who wants to do that when all you feel is guilt, a heavy heart and lots and lots of self doubt? No, you want to go out and shop. Read more

Getting Rid of My Debt, Part 18 (A look back and forward)

our beautiful view from last night's walk
our beautiful view from last night’s walk

I listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show a lot and he usually has several people during each show do what they call their “Debt Free Scream!” Sometimes the people travel to Nashville to be able to talk to him and do it in person, and sometimes the people do it via phone. He always talks to them about what was their household income while paying it down, how much was their income, etc. He also always asks the people “what was the hardest thing you had to do during this process?” He also asks them “which bill was it that when you paid off, it felt the best?”

“What was the hardest thing you had to do during this process?”  Usually, the people say one of a few common answers – saying no to going out with friends because the amount had not been figured into The Budget.  Sometimes they answer that the hardest thing was to just keep going when it felt like the debt fight was never going to end.  Now, I don’t do a ton so the first answer isn’t that hard for me. And when my friends and I do get together, well, none of us are made of money so we try to keep cost down. So, it’s not a problem.  But I do understand (completely and more than I would like to) that feeling that the debt fight might never end.

So, this is how I have learned to combat those feelings or at least quiet them momentarily. I look back to my situation a few years ago and compare it to today.

1.  About three years ago, I had roughly $8,000 in credit card debt.  Today, that number is ZERO.

2. About two years ago, I bought a brand new car. With the added warranties and gap insurance, that put me roughly another $20,000 in the hole. Today, that number is ZERO.

3. About last September, my private student loan was almost 21,000. About two or three years ago, it was around $23K. Today, it’s $16,171.82. (My account info on line only goes back about a year so I’m guestimating on this.)

4.  About three and a half years ago, I sat at home over the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I remember that my credit cards were maxed, my checking account had oh, about $20-30 in it, and my grand total of savings was probably about $500.  I remember thinking “this has to be the lowest I can go.” Today, I have more than I had in savings (at our highest point) when married. And that took us a long time to get to our milestone amount as well.

When I add it all up, I figure that I have probably gotten rid of about $32K in debt over the past few years when I add in the brand new car I had taken on and since sold. I used to have a negative net worth. Today, that number is solidly in the positive zone. It’s not a huge number, but it’s something. I’m worth more alive than dead!!!! When I look at the figures like that, I feel better.

Two years ago, I didn’t feel completely fulfilled in my current job but I also didn’t know what I could do instead. Since then, I’ve gotten certified as a personal trainer, and taken and passed a few specialization tests, and am solidly working toward getting a second certification. And the best part? I owe nothing for having taken those exams. They’re all paid off.  A few years ago, I would only have known to bankroll those by using credit cards.

A few years ago, I talked the good talk – about wanting to get out of debt, but still solidly digging myself in more and more month after month.  Now, I actually walk the walk. The credit cards (other than the CareCredit one I have for pet health emergencies) are gone. And, the Care Credit is only used until money can be transferred from my online savings account into my checking to pay it off.

It’s funny how things work out. When I had figured out my bills and savings amounts a few months ago, I knew the only way I could cut expenses any further was to cut my housing costs. And then, I got a roomie, and even though it’s temporary, it’s taught me a few things. One, it’s been nice to have someone else around some times. She’s decided she’s set on getting her GED, so when I see her studying, it makes me want to be a good role model for her.  So, even if I don’t necessarily feel like it, I’ll get out the laptop and start studying or trying to do some freelance work. (And if that fails, yes, I can watch an episode of something, but she knows I’ve worked hard all day, so I’ve still set a good example.) And, while my food costs have gone up with her being there, I will still be able to save a bit more per month than I could before with the additional rent income. So, while it’s been a bit of a transition to get used to having another person in the apartment, it’s not been as big of a change as I expected. We get along pretty well, and we’re both vegetarians, wanting to better our lives. We respect each other’s space and different habits, plus both of us have been sleeping like rocks lately, which is great, since I’m a morning person and she’s a night owl.

Some days/nights, you just feel like things have come together the way they are supposed to. When I saw my little dog Osito basically running because she was so happy to be outside in the crisp air, I just knew last night was one of those times. You don’t question when things are going well, I have learned. Just accept it and go with it!

And that’s what I’m going to do.

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Getting Rid of My Debt, Part 17 (Some Decisions Made)

Another cute pet photo - HoneyBun and Osito. HoneyBun has recently discovered the softness of Osito's bed. :-)
Another cute pet photo – HoneyBun and Osito. HoneyBun has recently discovered the softness of Osito’s bed. 🙂

Have I mentioned in the past that sometimes I am decision impaired? Well, if not, lol, I am. It can be on something so simple as travel arrangements (will a cheaper flight come around right after I reserve my seats? Is this the right thing to spend my money on? etc., etc.) I’m getting better, though.

The other day, I sat down and figured out that based on my LAL loan balance, which is now, (Drum Roll, Please . . .) $16,721.40, that if I wanted to have it paid off by June 2015, it would cost me roughly $1,306 per month.  I’d been planning on paying $720 on it each month so that’s a big difference in funds. So, this is what I have done to make up for the shortfall.

First decision:

I’ve decreased $ going into my savings accounts from a total of $480/paycheck to $230. There’s a $250 difference per paycheck. Yes, this means that the amount going into my tiny house/land fund each month from my full-time job goes from $400 to $100. But here’s the good news…I just picked up an additional regular shift at the gym, every week. It will bring in about $140ish more to the tiny home/land fund as that is where all the money I earn from that job goes.  (That amount is what I estimate after taxes are taken out.) I literally never see it in my regular checking account. This helps me in a couple ways. (1) I don’t even get the opportunity to spend it elsewhere. (2) If I ever feel tired, I just remind myself where that money is going — i.e. to my future tiny home, or more likely, motorhome, and that’s all the motivation I need to get moving.

Second decision:

I know others may not agree with me on this, but I cut my contributions to my TDA (tax deferred account – in the academic world, it’s known as a 403(b) rather than 401(k)), in half. I was putting $200 in per paycheck and I’ve cut that amount to $100.

I think these two reductions come up to about the $600 dollar difference I needed (I had previously budgeted to pay a total of $720/month on the LAL loan.) So, if all goes well, I will now be paying $1320 on my LAL loan every month in addition to $558 to my federal loans (and yes, folks, that $558 figure is ALL INTEREST.)

While I know this means the tiny house/motorhome fund grows at a slower pace, there is still some freelance work to be done this summer. I don’t know the exact amount yet (still waiting on another chapter), but I know it’s out there. And it’s gonna be FUN! (I say that in all seriousness, because yes, I am a giant dork. That and I already know the topic of the chapter…)

Also, I will have another three paycheck month this year – I believe it falls in November. That will be another month where I put a ton onto the loan balance, if needed. OR, it goes to the tiny home/motorhome fund!

Scheduling Payments/Budgeting:

I have begun tracking my expenses with a free version of the app called DollarBird. (I have an iphone 4S, but it looks like it is also available on Android phones.)  I’ve done the tracking deal in the past but not with so much concentration. And yes, this month has already included some “fun” expenses such as my friend’s 30th birthday celebration. So I’m trying to get a realistic sense of my $ and where it’s going, even more than I already do.

I’m going with Dave Ramsey’s advice as best as I can – writing down before the month starts, how much from my paycheck goes to allotted categories.  His saying is “Every dollar has a name.”  Trying to account for every $ but sometimes it’s hard to estimate things like “how much will I spend that day out with my friend?”

Here’s what I can do though – schedule those extra principal payments to my LAL loan at the beginning of the month. I’ve already scheduled a payment for May 16th, for $400. It feels good to know it’s taken care of before the funds even arrive.  That extra principal payment is just like another bill to me. I don’t question it’s going to be paid.

What do you do to try to get yourself out of debt?

Tangent Alert: I am LOVING training for a marathon again. Granted, I’m in the beginning stages so my mileage is not too high – 20.75 miles total last week and only 16 scheduled for this week, but I started doing some fartlek/speed work yesterday and felt strong and confident. Just keeping the faith that my body can hold out and the exercises I’ve been taught for my back and SI Joint keep working.  Plus, there’s always ice packs! 🙂

If you have liked this post, please drop me a line below, or hit like or subscribe! Seriously, I love comments and interacting with people that way!

Getting Rid of My Debt, Part 12: Recap, and WOWWWW

Will spring ever get here??
Will spring ever get here??
Bikes in the snow. My baby blue has been inside throughout all of this.
Bikes in the snow. My baby blue has been inside throughout all of this.

I’ve noticed that people tend to really like these posts on my blog, and I hope it’s because my progress inspires people. This has been a really tough winter in the northeast – ridiculously “butt cold” temperatures and when it does warm up, it’s just to snow.  (See my evidence in the pictures above.) So, I needed a pick-me-up to make me feel good.  I have been meaning to chart my progress on my wall, so I gathered up the numbers.

 

Here’s how they look since I started really keeping track:

Sept. 2013:

Personal loan: $4,211.42
LAL loan: $20,939.94
Simmons Loan: $23,620.04
Big Daddy (federal) loan: $75,390.94

TOTAL BALANCE: $124,162.34

Today:

Personal loan: $000000000 (gone, gone, gone!!!!)
LAL Loan: $18,871.05
Simmons Loan: $23,620.04
Big Daddy (federal) loan: $75,390.94

TOTAL BALANCE: $117,882.03

DIFFERENCE (DECREASE in DEBT): $6,280.31  🙂 🙂 🙂

Of my last two payments on my LAL Loan ($455 and $171.95, respectively), here’s how much went to principal and how much went to interest:

$455 total payment = $397.46 to principal and $32.54 to interest
$171.95 total payment = $169.12 to principal and $2.83 to interest

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!!

It’s been 5.5 months and I’ve gotten rid of more than $6K in debt, AND have increased my savings accounts to more than what they have ever been before since I’m on my own.  I’ve gotten rid of enough shit in my apartment that I can now keep all of my christmas decorations here instead of taking up space in my brother’s attic. I’ve gotten a job at the gym which has been a goal of mine, and I start this Thursday evening. I’ve taken an additional test with NASM and passed, and am working on test #3 and certification #2.  Out of nowhere, “my” author has asked for  my help again on her book, and she really respects my work (and sense of humor) and pays me well for my time. I have a positive net worth due to my retirements savings and am continuing to put in more than 6% of my salary into my 403(b) account on top of the 10% that my employer puts in a pension (yes, really, I have one) plan, in which I am fully vested.  Things are coming together!! 

(To my friends out there reading this, if I ever get down on myself, could you remind me to read this post? Thanks.)  As my brother said to me on facebook the other day “Sis, you’re doing it!”

You may have noticed that two of those loans don’t appear to have changed, balance-wise, since I embarked on this course. Today, that changes. You see, when I had more debt, I asked my lenders to allow me to just pay the interest that kept accruing on my loans per month. That equals $558/month. Yes, it’s depressing as hell to think about paying over $6,000/year just to keep a loan from growing.  I’m calling my lender today and will be asking them to put me back on the standard repayment plan, so at least some of my payment goes toward cutting down the balance. It may not be much, but as I have learned, every little bit helps.

Good things are happening. I don’t know how or why but as I say to some of my friends when they question why things start going their way, “do not question the wisdom of the gods, just go with it.” 

And now, for those of you who love the snow, I leave you with one more image. If I had been standing next to this snowpile (which wasn’t created by plows, etc., it was just there, it would have at least been up to my waist.)

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Feeling cold yet? :-)
Feeling cold yet? 🙂

Getting Rid of my Debt, Part 6

I was going to write this as a Making Progress Mondays post, but the day got away from me yesterday. Sorry!

The last week has been kind to me. Not a ton of progress in the cutting debt area, overall, but the hope for saving and paying off debt definitely increased. I am going to be working at a gym as a front desk person, hopefully in January. I have officially been hired and will probably just be the fill in person but you never know when that could become more permanent! AND I have started doing freelance work for someone I worked with a few years ago. At times,  when I’m working on her book, it feels like no time has passed, but I know it has. Because I am different now. I have a real focus to my work I didn’t have before.  And I LOVE IT!

The debt total stands at this today, having just made some payments on my personal loan and my LAL loan.

  • Simmons loan: $23,620.04 (paying interest only right now)
  • Big Daddy loan: $75,390.94 (paying interest only right now)
  • LAL loan: $20,437.99
  • Personal loan: $633.85

GRAND TOTAL:$120,082.82

Total as of Dec. 1st: $120,563.23 

DIFFERENCE = $481 decrease in debt!!

On a completely unrelated topic, I just finished reading a book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, by Susannah Conway, which I highly recommend. She writes from such a place of openness and I just found it to be really refreshing. I also felt like a lot of what she wrote was written for me (although I know that’s not the case.) That’s how much her writing spoke to me. I found I was bookmarking almost every single page.

Have you ever read a book that touched you like that? Please let me know if you have  — I’m always on the lookout for good books, especially now that the snow, ice and cold weather have come to New England and I’ll be running on a treadmill a lot more. (Having broken my anterior fibula last year, I’m becoming a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to running outside on snow and ice.)

I’ve also begun reading Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, by Mark Hawthorne, which a friend told me was on sale today on Amazon for .99!! (Kindle version, it’s usually more like $34 to buy.) I’ll let you know in a future animal issues post what I think of it. So far, it’s looking really good.

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