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!}