Quantcast Finally Frugal: June 2010

The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .


Monday, June 28, 2010

A blast from the past. . .

My current flash drive is full, so I'm moving some school stuff over to another drive that I own, and discovered an Excel spreadsheet showing my credit debt in 2005 (see below). As you can see, I owed almost $25,000 total; and I made less than $40,000 a year. I paid all of this off when I sold my first house (back in the days when homes had equity - sigh).

Of course, I immediately started running up NEW credit card debt after moving and buying another house. But it's interesting to see just how much I owed - for STUPID stuff. I have no idea what I bought at Mervyns (which doesn't even exist anymore) or the Gap (I owed over $1,000!!!! That is INSANE).

By the time I finally came to my senses a few years ago, I think I owed almost $5,000 again - these days if I run higher than $300 or $400 on my credit card from month to month I start getting antsy.

I guess the lesson to me in finding this old accounting of my credit debt is really that I have little to nothing to show for all of that debt. I have my car, which accounted for $4,000 of the $25,000, and a computer which is outdated and rife with computer viruses (and therefore unusable). And that's about it. So the next time I 'have' to have that little item, or those shoes, or that t-shirt, I hope I'll consider all the money I've already wasted in my lifetime on frivolous items. Maybe when I've paid off my student loans and at least my second mortgage (waaaaaay in the future) I can do some frivolous shopping (with cash), but until then I've got to get 'gazelle intense', as Dave Ramsey would say.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hello, coupons!

With my new plan to live super-frugally - until I've paid off those blasted student loans - I decided to flex my couponing muscles again. I was really just beginning to learn the ins and outs of shopping with coupons a year ago when school got so busy I decided to give them a rest for a bit.

Now, though, with school done and my budget screaming for mercy, I need to get back on the wagon. Today, I went to Safeway and Target to see how much damage I could do, and I must admit I did well. Granted, most of my purchases were non-food related, but it's a start. Here's what I got today; I spent .57 cents for all of this, AND I got a surprise $2 cash-off coupon for the next time I shop at Safeway (AND, I forgot about this: there's a mail-in rebate for the razor, which, if it works, will net me $3.99)!

Since my grocery budget in the new super-frugal world will only be $75 (to include pet food and toiletries and other household items), I'm going to need to find as much 'free stuff' as I possibly can, so that I can spend as many of my pennies as possible on actual food. There's a blog I've been following called Eating Well on $1 A Day, which is quite interesting. I don't want to eat a banana and peanut butter burrito (one of the blogger's staples) anytime soon, but I think there are skills to be learned here.

Happy summer, everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Super Frugal-istic. . . .

I've been doing some thinking about this $60,000 student loan bill, which is growing like a monster each minute I put off my repayment. I want to pay this sucker off as soon as I possibly can, and I'm just starting to consider what I'm willing to do to achieve that.

Today, I looked at my "day job" income (which is 20% lower than it was last year). With 10% going to my 403b, I'm bringing home just over $1800 a month. I logged into my trusty Excel spreadsheet to see what my life would look life if I were 'forced' to live off of just that income (thereby allowing me to send all the income from second jobs to good ole Sallie Mae). Here's what it looks like:

Pretty barebones, eh? I know that in order to make this work, I need complete confidence in my ability to live on $1800 a month, but this just looks unrealistic! Then again, I'm so tired of that $60K hanging over my head.

Since I stopped monitoring every penny I spend, I'll need to begin paying attention again, or this austerity plan will never work. So, starting next month (July 1st) I'll see just how frugal I can be!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A new chapter. . . .

School's out! Meaning, I've finished my graduate program and am now weighing my options (which are somewhat limited in this anemic economy). I will continue my previous job (now at part-time status) as well as my night job, and am trying to pick up teaching gigs on the side. It's tough, since I have little experience; I've really had to promote myself, which is not a 'natural' for me!

I'm so impatient to begin the next chapter of my financial life, yet am finding that the opportunities aren't just dropping into my lap as I'd hoped, so I'm having to learn a little patience and humility (as my many job applications are either ignored or denied). Baby steps!

As far as my financial life, what's on my mind now is the $60,000 in student loan debt that I'm carrying (and which is growing, growing, growing as that interest accrues!) I've been listening to Dave Ramsey's show on my morning MAX commute, which is helping inspire me, but to be entirely honest, the prospect of paying off that much debt is just . . . . daunting! I vacillate between: "I can DO this!" and "There is NO WAY I can do this!" If I could sell my house for what I owe, life would be much, much less complicated (I'm sure many Americans are in the same bind). I literally fantasize about selling my house and living in a cheap apartment, constantly running the numbers in my head, calculating how much extra I'd have each month to pay down that student loan debt.

So that's my current dilemma: how to pay off $60,000 in the shortest possible time on about a $45,000 year salary (including the second job), with about 55% of my take-home pay going towards my mortgage. Yikes! And I've already whittled my budget down as much as I can. Should I bite the bullet and try to find a roommate? I love my privacy, but having an extra $400 or so a month would be bliss!

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