Monday, September 15, 2014

Introducing My New Blog:

Hey guys!

I started a new blog called Feisty Finance!  Feisty Finance is a personal finance blog for feisty and ambitious women.

Go check it out, as I'll be adding all of my new posts there from now on.  Make sure to bookmark the page, subscribe to receive my posts, and leave a comment or two and let me know what you'd like me to write about.

See you on the flip side!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If you could ask a lawyer anything...

{photo via}

I'm working on something exciting, but it's still in stealth mode at the moment.  In the meantime, I wanted to ask you: 

If you could ask a lawyer anything, what would it be?  

Since some of you are entrepreneurs, are you interested in learning about starting up your business or protecting your intellectual property rights?

Since some of you may be bloggers, are you worried about people stealing your work or receiving a cease and desist letter to remove content from your site?  

Leave your question(s) as a comment below.  Any and all questions/ comments are welcome (and please limit the snarky comments.... ;) ). 

I can't wait to read your responses!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Net Worth Update: $-108,203.69 [Up $2k!]

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope Labor Day treated you well.  I had a lovely long weekend with my boyfriend, full of enriching experiences.  It's so wonderful to unplug and get closer to nature and your loved ones.  We stayed at a retreat center, did yoga, ate good food we made, chased sunsets, drank prosecco in a hot tub under the stars, took photos, and basked in the sun.  It felt very indulgent (and yet it didn't cost us much)!

Here's my September net worth update, for all the world to see!  :)

Cash $14,789.63$12,550.18$2,239.45
Total Assets$51,378.26$48,073.02$3,305.24
Student Loans$156,900.60$156,751.56$149.04
Credit Cards$2,681.35$1,629.23$1,052.12
Total Liabilities$159,581.95$158,380.79$1,201.16
Total Net Worth-$108,203.69-$110,307.77$2,104.08
Student LoansAmount OwedAmount Paid OffInterest RateMonthly PaymentPayoff Date/ $ Paid Toward Loans
Federal Loans$118,694.66$5,000.005.75%$1,093.65
Private Loan 1$11,344.155.00%$0.003/7/2014
Private Loan 2$9,750.073.01%$81.18
Private Loan 3$11,368.913.21%$84.77
Total $156,900.60$31,354.72$1,399.57$36,953.00

We're up $2k this month, which I'm happy about.  This month my plan is to ramp up my 401k contributions to reduce the amount of taxes I'll owe for 2014...  Let's see how much we can stash away in there this month!

Debt repayment has been slowing down, as I'm trying to focus on increasing investments and making sure I have a healthy emergency fund.  Once those are covered, I'll jump back in to paying down debt at full force.  My dilemma is that the lower balance private loans have low interest rates and the higher balance has a higher interest rate but is a federal loan with tons of repayment options.  Paying down the high balance loan will feel like drops in a bucket, so I'm also assessing what the best tactic is for me going forward.  I also want to invest more, so there's a lot to consider.  Over the next month I'll try to come up with a new and improved debt repayment/ personal finance strategy.

How was your Labor Day weekend?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Enter to win $10,000

Hey guys!

Ramit Sethi is offering a chance to win $10,000.00 cash over at his blog to celebrate I Will Teach You To Be Rich's 10 year anniversary.

Submit your entry here.*

Good luck and let me know if you win!

{*Submitting through this link will also give me additional entries.}

Monday, August 18, 2014

August Net Worth Update: $-110,307.77 [Up $5k!]

For all the worries I was having last month about my job, thankfully it has turned out alright.

I'm also grateful that August has been a kickass month in terms of income, as the payments for all my hard work freelancing from the past few months have been coming in.  So nice to receive checks in the mail for a change (much prefer that kind of mail over bills).  Yay multiple streams of income!!!!!  :D

Here is my August breakdown.  Check it out!

Cash $12,550.18$15,265.47-$2,715.29
Total Assets$48,073.02$43,391.02$4,682.00
Student Loans$156,751.56$157,211.06-$459.50
Credit Cards$1,629.23$1,641.77-$12.54
Total Liabilities$158,380.79$158,852.83-$472.04
Total Net Worth-$110,307.77-$115,461.81$5,154.04
Student LoansAmount OwedAmount Paid OffInterest RateMonthly PaymentPayoff Date/ $ Paid Toward Loans
Federal Loans$118,471.64$5,000.005.75%$1,093.65
Private Loan 1$11,344.155.00%$0.003/7/2014
Private Loan 2$9,738.043.01%$81.18
Private Loan 3$11,368.913.21%$84.77
Total $156,751.56$31,354.72$1,399.57$35,553.43

I realize this net worth update is coming late in the month... so that will probably mean less of an improvement between now and September 1st, but that's ok.  Just trying to keep track of progress over the long term.

I also just invested about $7,000.00 cash, which is why my investments have increased so much.  I know there is a whole debate about paying off student loans in full vs. investing, and I've gone back and forth about it myself,  so I think that will be a good topic for a future post.

What are your thoughts on the paying off loans vs. investing money debate?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Strategies to Help Pay Off Debt Faster: Live in the Present Moment

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” 
Thích Nhất Hạnh

My third tip in the series on Strategies to Help Pay Off Debt Faster is to Live in the Present Moment.

Now before you assume that this post is going to be about YOLO, let me explain what I do and do not mean by "living in the present moment."  I do not mean you should live as if it's your last day and go blow your savings in one go.  I do not mean you should stop planning for tomorrow.  I also do not mean you should just adopt an "ignorance is bliss" attitude and let whatever happens happen.  

What I mean by this tip is, try to be more present to yourself, your feelings, your intuition, your work, and the people around you.  When you are present, you are more fully aware, awake, and alive.  When you feel more aware, awake, and alive you are more conscious of your decisions, your actions, and the implications of your decisions and actions.  When you are present, you don't do things mindlessly.  You think, say, and do things with intention and purpose.  Living in the present moment makes you feel more in control over your thoughts, feelings, and actions, all of which can make a great impact on your life in general, including your personal finances.

Some great ways to feel more present that you can use everyday:

  • yoga and meditation
  • writing in a gratitude journal
  • taking moments to focus on feelings derived from the senses rather than thoughts derived from rationality
  • activities that get you in a state of flow, where you lose all sense of time, such as painting, writing, reading, knitting, playing the guitar, etc.
  • writing down what's on your mind so you don't have to keep thinking about it
  • spending time in nature
Now I'd like to hear from you!  What strategies do you use to be more present in your day to day life?  How has being more present in your life helped you?  Please share in the comments below.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Strategies to Help Pay Off Debt Faster: Aim for Progress, Not Perfection

It's easy to read personal finance blogs and lament that you don't have as good of a situation as some other people do.  There are some bloggers with net worths approaching $1 million, and here I am, with less than 0 net worth.  I'm in the red.  By a lot.

One of the things that I have to remind myself is that progress is my goal, not perfection.  Perfectionism equates stumbling along the way with failure.  Progress is getting back up after you stumble to continue on your path.

I might be able to perfectly balance my budget one month, but the next month will inevitably be off.  I don't like obsessing about my finances, and the whole point of this is not to sit and worry about money day in and day out.  The loans will be paid off.  I work a lot, I don't live extravagantly, and I'm trying to get a hold of my finances.  I'm not trying to do something extreme like pay them off in 1 or 2 years, because I know myself and I know that the immense pressure would be emotionally taxing.  

I remind myself to measure what I'm doing in terms of progress because if I measure it in terms of perfection, I will never reach my goals.  In terms of progress, however, I've come such a long way since a few years ago, since last year, and even since I started this blog about 6 months ago.

Holding myself to an impossible standard of perfection is unsustainable and would only serve to discourage me.  I'm a perfectionist in so many other areas of my life that it can become a hindrance to taking action.  That's why I think progress is the main goal here for me.  I'm in this debt payoff adventure for a while, I might as well do it the best I can rather than aim for perfection and never do anything.  As long as I am being true to myself and making progress, I will be happy.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The A La Carte Method for Gym Memberships!

{image via}

Hello my lovely readers!

This weekend my boyfriend and I were talking about how much we would love to do more swimming.  My apartment building doesn't have a pool, but there is a community center right around the corner which has a big gym, swimming pool, a sauna and steam room, and tons of weekly workout classes.

I decided to call up the community center and ask about membership rates.  They quoted me a $200 registration fee and $117/ month membership fee.  The price is a little steep for me because although my health is super important, I know myself pretty well and I'm not sure if I'd actually go enough (at least once a week) to make it worth it.  I don't want to just throw money away on a membership I won't use very often when I'm trying to pay off massive debt!  That would be downright silly.

So I asked the community center's registration person how much a day pass would cost.  Turns out it's $25 for a day pass, and you can access all of the gym's amenities with a day pass!  So for someone like me that might only go once or twice a month and then not go for a couple of months, that seems like a much better idea than the monthly membership!

This is just one example of ways you can save money by purchasing things "a la carte" rather than as a package or a monthly subscription service.  You have to weigh the costs and benefits for you and how much use you might get out of that particular purchase.  In this case, it looks like the A La Carte Method* would work best for getting all of the benefits of some time in the gym without hurting my budget too much.  If it turns out I'm going more than 3 times a month and it might be worth investing in a membership, I can always rethink the decision.  It's totally flexible, which is why I love it.

What about you?  Do you use the A La Carte Method?

{*I first heard of this concept through Ramit Sethi's blog.  Check it out!}

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update on My Work Situation

Hello my lovely readers!  Did you miss me?

First off, apologies for the absence.  I haven't been blogging the past few weeks because (1) I was stressed about work and was attempting to find a new job; and (2) I took a quick trip to NYC to meet with my consulting client.

Second, I HAVE GOOD NEWS IN THE JOB DEPARTMENT!!!!  After some back and forth, I ended up getting transferred to a new department at work, so looks like I won't lose my job in the foreseeable future.  Woohooo!  :)

I'm so happy it turned out this way.  I hate updating my resume, writing cover letters, and spending tons of time on trying to find a new job, especially when you feel like you need a new job ASAP.  That pressure really does not help things!

Anyway, I will keep you guys updated on my debt repayment progress, although July was a really difficult month in terms of income and payments on my loans.  Hopefully I can get back on track starting in August.

Let's do this!

{gif via}

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Open a New Capital One 360 Account by July 3rd and Score Some Cash!

I hope you all are enjoying the summer beaches and sunshine!

In celebration of the upcoming long weekend and 4th of July, Capital One 360 is offering some extra bonus cash if you sign up for a new account with them!

Here's what you need to do to score your bonus cash:
  1. Open a no-fee 360 Savings® account between June 30th and July 3rd (with a deposit of$500 or more).
  2. Snag a $76 bonus and start earning interest
What are you waiting for?  Go ahead and sign up now and get your bonus money!

What are your plans for the upcoming weekend?  My boyfriend and I are staying local, spending time with friends and family, BBQing, drinking lemonade (which may or may not be spiked! ;), and generally relaxing.  I can't wait!  :)

{Note: this post contains my referral link.  If you sign up through my link, I will also receive some cash.  It's a win-win!}

July (Negative) Net Worth Update: $-115,461.81 [Up $3k!]

I can't believe it's already July 1st!  Time has been flying over here!

Here's my net worth update, compared to last month's figures:

Cash $15,265.47$13,683.23$1,582.24
Total Assets$43,391.02$40,754.14$2,636.88
Student Loans$157,211.06$158,036.78-$825.72
Credit Cards$1,641.77$1,461.99$179.78
Total Liabilities$158,852.83$159,498.77-$645.94
Total Net Worth-$115,461.81-$118,744.63$3,282.82

I'm up over $3,200, thanks to my freelance income.  My hours have been reduced at my regular job, so I am really REALLY grateful for my side hustle income.  I am also actively looking for a new job, since my current one is not looking too promising at the moment.  This has been keeping me quite busy, as I'm setting up meetings with friends, old colleagues, and other people in my network to try to find something that's the right fit.  

Fingers crossed I'll find a new place to work soon.  I really don't want to dip into my savings, but it's nice to have as a cushion if I need it.  I may also be able to get a lower payment amount with Income Based Repayment on my federal loans due to my lowered income, but this won't stop the interest from accruing on those loans.  In the meantime, I am just paying the minimum on my student loans.

Man, there's a lot to think about right now, but I am committed to remaining optimistic that something good will work out after all this.  Wish me luck, my lovely readers!!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Actively Looking...

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late.  I just submitted the first draft of my freelance project this week, which means I'll have more time to read blogs and write on my own!  Yippee!  :D

As for an update, not much is new in the debt repayment department.  I am currently thinking about slowing it down, as I'm not sure how long my current employment situation will last.  Things are really slow at work, which worries me.  I am now actively seeking new work opportunities and will be dedicating much of my free time to that.  Fingers crossed that something good works out.

My current situation is probably a good reminder to myself and some of my readers out there why an emergency fund and multiple streams of income is so important, and why you need to tailor financial advice to yourself.  Having an emergency fund and having a freelance consulting gig both make me feel way more secure than I would have felt if my day job was my only source of income and if I only had $1,000.00 emergency fund, as some financial gurus suggest.

Paying off debt won't help you in emergency situations, but having liquid cash will.  Balancing your different interests, priorities, and goals, and tailoring advice to your unique situation is the most important thing when it comes to personal finance.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June (Negative) Net Worth Update: $-118,744.63 [Up $7k!]

Here's my June net worth update, up by almost $7k:

Cash $13,683.23$11,667.40$2,015.83
Total Assets$40,754.14$38,244.83$2,509.31
Student Loans$158,036.78$162,744.62-$4,707.84
Credit Cards$1,461.99$1,111.34$350.65
Total Liabilities$159,498.77$163,855.96-$4,357.19
Total Net Worth-$118,744.63-$125,611.13$6,866.50

Slowly but surely inching upwards!  My previous goal was to increase my net worth to -$115k.  My new goal is to increase it to -$99k by the end of the year and to be in the black by early 2016!  That might be a pretty bold goal, but it's nice to see things change over time.  Even if I don't meet those goals, I think I'm headed in the right direction by trying to pay down my debt.

Here's my debt repayment update:

Student LoansAmount OwedAmount Paid OffInterest RateMonthly PaymentPayoff Date
Federal Loans$119,166.13$5,000.005.75%$1,093.65
Private Loan 1$11,344.155.00%$0.003/7/2014
Private Loan 2$9,916.893.01%$81.18
Private Loan 3$11,545.693.21%$84.77
Total $158,034.33$31,354.72$1,399.57

I paid a total of $6,399.57 towards my debt during the month of May!  That's including my regular monthly payments of $1,399.57 + a $5,000.00 chunk from my savings towards to my highest interest debt.

I have now paid over $32k towards student loans in the past 4 months!*  I was only able to do so because I had a head start with a large amount of cash in my savings in the beginning and because of my freelance work which is helping me make payments in large chunks at a time.  I'll admit it's really hard to see $5,000 just go with seemingly nothing to show for it, but I consider it an investment in my future.

What are your financial goals?

*That's including my minimum monthly payments.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Strategies to Pay Off Debt Faster: Accountability and Support

One of the major things that got my butt kicked into making some serious payments on my student loans was meeting my boyfriend.  When we were discussing me possibly taking a new career path last winter, he asked me what was holding me back and I replied that one of the major concerns was my student loans.  He asked me how much I had in student loan debt and I was embarrassed to tell him that I didn't know.

This was in December 2013.  That conversation felt like the kick in the butt I needed to get motivated to find out exactly how much I owed.  I knew it was above $150k but less than $200k, but I knew little else about my student loans.

After I had my "getting to know you" session with my student loans, listing them out on a spreadsheet, complete with interest rates and monthly payment amounts, I realized I had some major work ahead of me.  As my boyfriend and I were talking about a possible future together, I didn't like the feeling of the student loans hovering in the background or coming up in our conversations.  I realized that I needed to do something about it because they weren't going to magically disappear on their own (as much as I fantasized about it...  :).

In addition to crunching the numbers and coming up with ways to pay off more debt, I realized that I needed two other things: accountability and support.  While my boyfriend provides the accountability and support I need to get moving on this goal, I thought starting this blog would add to that, and I would learn some cool things and "get to know" other PF bloggers in the process.  

Accountability to my blog readers has already helped prevent me from making some silly decisions, and support from readers and my boyfriend have been so helpful in moments when I just want to give up altogether and book a one way flight to Mexico.  ;)  

So while I recommend getting started with the logical steps of listing out your debts and coming up with payment plans, I also recommend that you have accountability and support from someone you trust (perhaps also the PF blogging community!) to help you on the emotional side.

As we all know, debt repayment on a huge debt can feel like an emotional roller coaster at times, so having that support really helps.  

What about you?  What strategies do you use to pay off debt faster?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rethinking Your Money Beliefs

I watched a Marie Forleo video a while back doing an interview with Kate Northrup on changing your money beliefs which I thought was interesting.  Kate talks about the 4 money beliefs that may be holding you back from reaching your financial goals.  Some of these may have been ingrained from your family upbringing.  None of these are excuses for bad finances, but rather provide a means from which to examine our relationships to money and our issues relating to money that we may have internalized from a very young age.

Being mindful about our financial and personal habits can help us reach those seemingly impossible financial goals.  For me, that's paying off my large student loan debt.

Here are the 4 money beliefs Kate talks about:
  1. "Someone else should or will do this for me."  People with this money belief do not take responsibility for their actions, if they have the power to do so, and are willing to give up their financial power to someone else.  This includes hoping that Mr. Right or a parent or someone else will save us from our financial troubles.  If you have this money belief, you should remind yourself of your agency - you have what it takes to take control of your finances.
  2. "I'm not good with money."  This money belief is one way that some people set themselves up for failure.  By thinking that they're not good with money or numbers, they simply avoid dealing with them, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  To counteract this, try checking in daily with your finances through websites like Mint or Personal Capital, and manually inputting transactions in your budgeting software (I recommend YNAB) so you can be aware of what's going on.
  3. "People with money are greedy or it's not spiritual to have money."  Judging others for having money or having their finances in control will block you from becoming wealthy or getting things under control.  To counteract this, try to see money as a reflection of the value that you are adding to someone else's life.  
  4. "I'm not ________ enough."  Whatever limiting belief you have about yourself or invisible assumptions you make about your abilities will hinder you from achieving your goals.  These beliefs reflect low self confidence, which in turn is perceived by others who will not have as much confidence in you.  Remember, no one will value you more than you value yourself.

What Kate gets at, and what is really consistent with my own personal philosophy, is that having control over our finances allows us the freedom to be fully present to more creative, service oriented purposes.  Whether that be volunteering more of your time, sitting down to write that novel, or giving more time to family and friends, that freedom benefits you and the world around you.

Check out the video here and let me know what you think!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Confession: I Almost Went on a $2500 Shopping Spree

I have to share something with you that I wasn't sure if I wanted to share, because I was embarrassed to admit it, but I thought some of my readers might relate.  I was recently tempted to go shopping to celebrate my progress on debt repayment (I know, classic no-no!).  I started adding ridiculously expensive items to an online shopping cart and before I knew it, the total came out to almost $2500.  One of the biggest factors that stopped me from going on that major splurge shopping spree was thinking of my you, my lovely readers, and that I didn't want to disappoint you (or myself) by doing something so silly!  It also occurred to me that with that purchase my net worth would not increase as much, and my debt payment wouldn't be as high, as I was planning for the following month.  I must say, since starting this blog I've become much more disciplined and conscious of my spending.  Just one of the side benefits of the blogging process.  

So I wanted to thank you for your help and support.  No matter how hard this process is, thinking of my readers is one of the things that helps keep me going on the right path.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May (Negative) Net Worth Update: -$125,611.13 [Up $7k]

Hello my lovely readers!

For the purposes of consistency, I am starting to think I should start doing my net worth updates on the 1st of each month, as there tend to be monthly variances with when I get my income and when major expenses go out, so starting in June I'll try to post net worth updates on the 1st of the month.

For now, here's my mid-May net worth update.  We're up $7,891.22 since my last update in April.  Not bad!  Here's hoping June will look even better! 

Cash $11,667.40$18,677.30-$7,009.90
Total Assets$38,244.83$43,791.98-$5,547.15
Student Loans$162,744.62$174,219.82-$11,475.20
Credit Cards$1,111.34$3,074.51-$1,963.17
Total Liabilities$163,855.96$177,294.33-$13,438.37
Total Net Worth-$125,611.13-$133,502.35$7,891.22

Monday, May 12, 2014

Get Rewards for Saving Money and Paying Off Debt with Save Up!

I recently learned about Save Up and wanted to share it with you.

Basically, you enter your account information, as you would on, and you earn credits for each dollar you save or use to pay off debt.  With those credits, you can play to win prizes, such as cash, money for paying off student loans, money to pay off credit cards, money for a vacation, etc.  They even have a $2 million jackpot right now and the lucky winner of that contest will be chosen on June 1st.  Here's a write up about the site in the NY Times.

I just signed up for it this past weekend.  It's free to use.  I figured I don't have much to lose.  I received over 1000 credits just by inputting my account information and playing around on the site (your numbers may be different, as I'm still trying to figure out how all those credits accrued!).

Save Up seems like a great way to reward people for being financially responsible by saving money and paying off debt, which I thought would be of interest to my lovely readers.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

{*Disclaimer: If you sign up through the links in this post, I may receive credits/ plays on the site.}

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Win 2 Roundtrip Tickets to Hawaii

Ramit Sethi, from, is offering a pair of roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from anywhere in the U.S., plus $500 for your hotel.

More information is available here.
Good luck my lovely readers!  Let me know if you win!

Friday, April 18, 2014

~ Friday Inspiration ~

"The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, ‘I can do this.’ It brings inner strength, self-confidence, the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully and transparently."

- Dalai Lama

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust!!!!

I'm proud to say that I have now paid off 4 of my private loans in the total amount of ***$26,354.72*** (!).

That's right!  I've paid off yet another loan.  How sexy is that?  ;)

I paid off a loan that fell under the Private Loan 3 umbrella, in the amount of $10,749.01.  This particular debt monster had a 3.71% interest rate and a $117.34 monthly payment.  This loan was from undergrad and it has been *OVER* 10 years since I took it out.  It was about time that debt monster went away!  I took out money from my savings to pay for this.

Here's an updated breakdown of what I owe now that this loan has been paid off:

Student LoansAmount OwedAmount Paid OffInterest RateMonthly PaymentPayoff Date
Federal Loans$124,335.206.00%$1,093.65
Private Loan 1$11,344.155.00%$0.003/7/2014
Private Loan 2$9,962.073.01%$81.18
Private Loan 3$11,599.863.21%$84.77
Total $163,389.39$26,354.72$1,362.95

I have to admit, every time I push that button in my account to confirm I want to pay off another loan, I get a rush of adrenaline.  I think I'm getting a little addicted to paying off my debt.  :)

This is definitely hard work, and I have moments where I feel completely overwhelmed by the burden of this debt, but it's so so nice to start seeing some progress.  If I hadn't paid down some of my private loans, and I was continuing to pay the monthly amounts I was previously paying (about $647/ month), my monthly payments would be up to $1,740.65 by now!!!!!!  That makes $1362.95/ month seem a lot better.  It's all relative, I guess.  :)

How is your debt payoff plan coming along?