Why Are You Doing This to Me Sallie Mae/Navient?!?!?

So my student loans just jumped from about $500.00 per month to $1,200.00 per month. Like WTF…really?!? That’s literally like one of my paychecks…and when you only have a one income household, that isn’t going to cut it. Just when I feel like I am making progress on my debt, and I get hit with this whopper. Ugh…I am going to have to call Sallie Mae/Navient tomorrow and see if I can work something out.

There is no way I can make those monthly student loan payments, along with my other monthly payments with my current salary. I just want to scream and disappear. I HATE MY STUDENT LOAN DEBT!!! I will keep looking for a part-time job here, but I haven’t had much luck. Prayerfully, I get this new job with the increased salary…otherwise, Sallie Mae/Navient and I are going to have to come to some type of understanding.

First Week of February: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

Technically, I have yet to go over budget in any category this month so yay me. I have stayed away from the mall and some of my favorite stores to ensure that I am not tempted to buy new things. I also have to delete the sales e-mails I receive…I swear they know I am trying to cut down on my spending and want to tempt me with all kinds of sales (ugh).

Also, I have the opportunity for a new position that pays almost double my current salary, includes benefits and locality pay and is in an area of law that I think I would actually enjoy. I would have to move, which is time consuming and expensive, but I think it would totally be worth it for the increased salary. As I would be moving to a more metropolitan city, I would have to run the numbers to see just how much it would cost to live in the new city (or maybe not far outside the city) and whether I could live on what I make now and use the remaining funds to pay off my debt and build up my savings.

The Bad

I found expenses that I failed to budget for this month. Luckily, none of these expenses were large amounts (which is probably why I forgot about them) and there weren’t many. In order not to go over budget, I pulled funds from other categories that I knew I probably wouldn’t use this month. I’ll have to rework my budget for next month. (Some good news though, is that some of the expenses I can put an end to so I won’t have to pay them anymore.)

The Ugly

I have basically blown through my fast food and restaurant budget within the first week of this month. I have a few dollars left in both, but not much lol. Part of the reason is because I didn’t really cook last week so that meant a lot…whole lot…of eating out. Again, I haven’t gone over budget (so far), but it is something that I will need to take in consideration for next month’s budget.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it has been a good first week. I haven’t gone over budget in any category and I have an opportunity for a new job with a substantial pay increase, which means more money to put towards my debt. As I am more conscious of my eating out habit (thank you YNAB), I am making an effort to cook more this week so I can save some money. I am glad the month is starting out well…it gives me hope for the rest of the month :).

How is everyone month’s coming along so far? Are we sticking to our budget?

Freedom

(Disclaimer: I’m a bit of sad Sally in this post…I promise the next one will be cheerier lol.)

Light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_by_ChooseMyOwnWayToBurn

Freedom…that is the light at the end of my debt tunnel. Freedom is the reason why I have decided to undergo this daunting process of trying to become debt free within the next six (6) years. Right now, I am stuck doing work I don’t enjoy because I have a crap-ton of debt that needs to be paid (the people at my job are awesome and the only thing that makes the work bearable). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I thank God I have a job that allows me to pay all of my bills and not have to eat Ramen Noodles every day, but the work I do doesn’t interest me in the least. I have reached the point where I dread going to work…I find no enjoyment in it. I know no matter what the job, every day at work isn’t going to be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, but I am a firm believer in the saying that if you love your work, you never work a day in your life. I am too young (late 20’s) to be already dreading going to work. I’ve got at least another forty (40) years of work ahead of me and I don’t want to dread each day.

Truth be told, I am not even sure if I want to continue to practice law, at least not full time…crazy right? But if I don’t practice law, I’m not sure what I would do. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, but I can’t do much with it unless I get my Masters and/or PhD. Truthfully, I am tempted to join the military. I come from a long line of veterans and it is something I have always wanted to do. The only thing stopping me at this point is that getting in as an officer is proving to be rather difficult. I could enlist, but I have a degree and would prefer to go in as an officer. But I am getting older so if I am going to enlist, I have got to do it sooner rather than later. The only thing that is holding me back from enlisting is the financial aspect (thank you student loan debt). I would have to determine whether it would be financially feasible to enlist. O-1s (lowest ranked officer) make almost double what an E-1 (lowest rank enlisted) makes. I would still be taking a pay cut from my current job if I go in as an officer, but I think I would find more enjoyment in the work I would be doing and I wouldn’t have as large of a financial strain.

Ugh decisions decisions. Grow up they said…it would be fun they said lol. But enough of me being a sad Sally…what is the light at the end of your debt tunnel?

Starting Over in 2015

So I’m going to be honest…I have sucked at sticking with this whole budgeting thing. I think my problem is that I spend a little money here and I spend a little money there and before I know it, my checking account is crying. I am blessed with a job where I currently make enough money to pay all of my bills and still have money leftover to do fun things. That being said, I recognize that I will have to make some sacrifices on the funside if I want to get out of debt.

Here is my budget for February 2015 via YNAB.

February 2015 Budget A February 2015 Budget B

I have decided to utilize Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (“TMM”) to get out of debt. I am currently working on Baby Step One, which is to have $1,000.00 in my emergency fund, and Baby Step Two, which the Debt Snowball. I should be able to complete this first step by the end of this month and pay off three (3) of my smallest debts.

Based on my reading of TMM, I should only need $1,000.00 in my emergency fund because I will have budgeted for everything else. I know all extra money is supposed to go to debt, but I have a single income household…if I get laid off, $1,000 won’t cover one (1) month’s expenses. So I think I will modify TMM a bit. I will meet the initially $1,000.00 emergency fund, but then I will continue to contribute to it (maybe $100.00 per month) to help it continue to grow.

So what do y’all think? My budget has some wiggle room (i.e., Valentine’s Day and my birthday) so I am definitely open to suggestions for improvement.

Day 22 – Budgeting Take Two

Budgeting Take 2

Since October’s budgeting was a fiasco, I am going to start anew with the month of November. I wiped out my old budget from October and created an entirely new budget. I have budgeted for every dollar that I am suppose to receive this month. The only thing I have not factored in is the automatic transfer from my checking account to one of my savings account when I use my debit card. I haven’t decided if I am going to keep that particular savings. It makes the tracking of my accounts a bit more difficult. I currently have about four (4) savings accounts…which is probably two (2) too many lol. I may start using cash for my every day expenses to help with the transfer issue and also to be more aware on where I spend my money.

October was not all bad though. I did pay a little more on my student loans and credit cards than I have been paying in the past…so hooray for that. I have budgeted for an increase in the payment amounts of all my student loans and credit cards. I have also upped the money that I will be transferring to my savings accounts and investment account. If I can stick with my budget, I will have one credit card paid off by the start of 2015 and I will have one student loan paid off by March 2015. I will be very excited when I reach this goal.

There are some dangers to my budget though…like Black Friday lol. I am sucker for sales so I am going to have to do my best to stay within my budget for Black Friday. I haven’t budgeted for Black Friday specifically, but I have budgeted for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, spending money and new clothes (which will include shoes). I haven’t bought new clothes in awhile and I don’t really need them so I can use some of that money for Black Friday shopping, if I so feel inclined.

I also have to watch how much I eat out. I don’t necessarily eat out at a bunch of sit-down restaurants, but I am quick to grab some fast food for breakfast or lunch. Those $5.00 to $10.00 two (2) or three (3) times a week can really add up. I think I have to start planning my meals for the week better. That way I can have at least lunches already planned so I am less tempted to grab fast food.

Overall, I have high hopes for November. My three (3) main goals for this month are as follows:

  1. Stay on budget
  2. Increase payments on my student loans and credit cards
  3. Put away at least $200.00 in my emergency fund.

Maybe I will post my budget so y’all can help me stay more accountable.

Day 19 – Guess Who’s Getting Married

No, not me lol. My best friend is getting married and she’s asked me to be the maid of honor! Of course I’m thrilled for her, but I’m not going to lie…I am a little worried what this may do to me financially. I’ve read how expensive being a bridesmaid…in particularly a maid of honor, can be sometimes.

Luckily, my bestie is pretty reasonable and understanding so I don’t she will intentionally request anything ridiculously expensive. I found some bridal books on sale about a year ago when a book store was going out of business. The books have tips on how to have a nice wedding on a budget and how to be an awesome bridesmaid on a budget. She hasn’t really given me much information as to how she wants the wedding so I’ll have to wait until I get more details to see how to best budget for the wedding.

Here are some of the expenses I plan to have (in no particular order):

1. Bridesmaid dress, shoes and accessories
2. Bridal gift
3. Couple’s gift
4. Travel (I live about 6.5 hours away by car from the bestie. My parents live in the city my bestie is getting married in so I won’t have to pay for lodging and food. As I have an older car, I’ll definitely rent one to make the trips.)
5. Bridal shower and/or Bachelorette party
6. Make-up and nails

I’m expecting to make about three trips: 1. Engagement party; 2. Bridal shower or bacherolette party; and 3. actual wedding. She has her engagement party on December 6, 2014 so I will be making a trip that weekend. (That’s also the weekend where I’m supposed to go to a football game with the significant other…it’s going to be a crazy weekend lol.) I’m not sure if she wants a bridal shower and/or Bachelorette party so we will see. The wedding is tentatively planned for early May 2015.

I think I will definitely have enough time to save money up to not have to charge anything for the wedding. Do y’all have any tips for not breaking the bank while being a part of a wedding party?

Day 14 – Finance Fees Are Evil

So this is a little rant while I wait for my car to warm up this morning. Finance fees on credit cards are evil. Each month I get charged with a finance fee and it eats up most of my monthly payment for credit card #1. I’ve got to start putting a bigger chunk down on credit card #1. Ugh being in serious debt sucks!

Day 11 – Slow Start

Just wanted to give a quick update on how I’m doing. Soooo I definitely need to work on this budgeting thing. I think I royally blew my budget this month. Partly because I probably spent money on some things I didn’t need and partly because I’m not sure I budgeted well. I received my check for teaching on last Friday (hooray), but I spent a chunk of it on buying an Xbox One. Now I know, I know, that’s not going to directly help me pay down my debt…but hear me out. I am a big nerd/geek and video games are right up my alley. So I figured if I have video game system, this will help me stay home in the long run because I can play different games, watch movies and television shows and be social with my friends without having to spend the additional money of say going out for food and drinks. This also allows me to have say video game and movie watching events at my house, which again I think will help save money in the long run. I know this may be a stretch, but its the best I’ve got so it’ll have to do lol. Honestly, I have been wanting a new system for awhile now and there was a special bundle that came out that I couldn’t resist getting. I also bought two pairs of new shoes, but those were definitely need for work. When you work in a business setting, you can’t walk around looking shabby. I spent less than $100.00 on the two pair of shoes and I haven’t bought shoes in several months, so I will count that as a win. Plus, I don’t plan on buying any more new shoes for awhile.

I will be spending more money near the end of this month for Homecoming. I will have to travel so I am hoping to the cost of the entire trip will be less than $200.00. I will need to rent a car, buy gas, pay for my football game ticket, split the hotel costs with a friend, pay for food and pay for one or two parties. I definitely think I can make the trip for less than $200.00.

The good news is that I was able to pay more than the minimum balance for all my debt payments up until this point. I have also been able to put away $200.00 in my savings account. If I can put away $200.00 every paycheck I will hit my $1,000.00 emergency fund in no time. However, I think I may keep going and try to save up the recommended six months of living expenses…that will come out to about $4,000.00. This will roughly require ten paychecks, i.e. five months, of putting away $200.00 a month. This is definitely doable. I just have to be diligent. This debt repaying process is going to be a struggle lol.

Day 3 – Great News!

Sooooooo guess who got a raise?!?!? This lady here. I had my review at work today and received a substantial raise. Plus I can receive a percentage of the money I bring in from my own clients on a quarterly basis. That means I have the potential to make even more money, and thus pay off my debt even faster. I am on cloud nine right now. It is so nice to finally feel like I have a little breathing room money-wise. I can now start saving up for my emergency fund, putting a little bit a way for savings and start making a dent in my debt.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I went ahead and sprung the $60.00 for the YNAB license. I have started working on my budget and as of today, I have some money left not yet allocated for anything. However, before I throw it all at my debt, I want to make sure that I budgeted correctly and can stick with it. There is nothing worse than running out of money before you receive your next pay check.

I tried using Mint to manage out of my debt, but all the accounts are not updating properly. I am hoping that it will get fixed soon. Mint is supposed to automatically update and sync your various accounts. I think it will be a useful tool to see the status of my debts all in one place without having to log into each separate account.

It seems journey to pay off my debt is off to a good start…let’s hope it will stay that way. Well, I better get some sleep so I can be conscious for this day long seminar tomorrow.

Day 1 – Plan of Attack

Today is the first day of me seriously trying to make a dent in my debt. Since I basically owe a house’s worth of debt, I needed to come up with a plan of attack. So here it is:

  1. Contact my student loan holders and see if I can get a lower monthly payment rate…specifically for the Sallie Mae loans. I current pay $468.59 a month. That’s about half of one of my two paychecks. I would feel more comfortable making that kind of payment if I knew I had a decent emergency fund saved up. Even if I can get the payments reduced by $100.00, I think that would seriously help. Also, I will consider consolidating my loans. Most of them have a high percentage (6.8% or higher) so I think I could benefit from consolidating them for a much lower rate.
  2. Create a budget (and stick with it as much as possible). I have attempted budgeting before and totally bombed. However, this time I am going to do my best to actually stick with it. I currently use the Good Budget budgeting system and app on Android ($5.00 per month), but I really liked the YNAB budgeting system and app (one-time $60.00 fee). I think with my next pay check I will fork over the $60.00 and get the license for the YNAB system and app (once you buy your license, it is good for all future updates). I am hoping the investment will pay off in the long run.
  3. Find a way to reduce my expenses. There are definitely areas in which I can reduce my expenses. I can definitely cut down on my cable. (However, I will not lose AMC as the new season of The Walking Dead starts Sunday and I cannot miss it.) I think I have found a bundle where I can keep my internet at its current speed and reduce the number of cable channels I have. I think the reduction will cut my cable/internet bill down by about $20.00. I will also try and cut down on my dinning out expenses. I usually don’t go to many fancy restaurants, but fast food and family style dinning places add up quickly. I can also cut out one of my gym memberships (yes, I have two…but in my defense one is only $10.00 for 24-hour access lol).
  4. Find a way to earn some additional income. I think this will be the biggest way for me to make a dent in my debt. As I have stated in my previous post, I only make $35,000.00 before taxes. Even if I put all of my income into paying off my debt, it would still take about 6 years to pay it all off. Since that is definitely not feasible, I have to find some additional income. I currently do some adjunct teaching so I should be getting two additional paychecks (one in October and one in December). Those checks will provide me with about $1,600.00 in additional income. I will also start working a part-time job for about seven weeks that pays about $15.00 an hour. I think I can net anywhere from $1,050.00 to $2,100.00 before taxes. I will also look into finding a part-time evening or weekend job.
  5. I am going to attempt to use Dave Ramsey’s snowball method to pay off my debt. I will start with the smallest loans first and work my way up.

So what do y’all think of my plan of attack? Any suggestions?