Life’s a beach- Resolutions for 2018

 

Ahh the start of a New Year. Nothing like it. I love it ! In fact, New Years is one of my favorite holidays. I know it’s a ton of hype and usually overpriced. Yet, aside from a few rare birds, the majority of NYE celebrations in my adult life have been loads of fun.

This year I went to my neighborhood wine and beer bar, which is an honest to goodness a one minute walk from my house. Relaxed, low key, and no driving required. A few glasses of white wine and a champagne toast was perfect. It’s calm nights like these where I sense I’m heading (happily) into a new phase…my 30s!

2018 on the calendar started Monday. But mentally in my own little world, 2018 began yesterday when our holiday houseguests headed home. As an introvert, lives in a 2 bedroom apartment, and also happens to works from home—when I say that I breathed a sigh of relief, that is an UNDERstatement.

Now, I’m ready to jump into the year full force ! In the past, I’ve been pretty darn unsuccessful when it comes to resolutions, but it never stops me from making ‘em. Usually they are something related with health & fitness. I think the key part of the failure is making them far too broad with no specific processes to reach that outcome. “Lose X Pounds”, “get in ‘shape’ “, you get the idea…

This year, I’m taking a new approach. My initial plan was to make a financially related goal, but so much of my current goal setting revolves around that. The BIG one being debt free by end of 2018. (which by the way, I’m far exceeding < 20 weeks to go !). This isn’t to say I won’t have more finance goals that come up throughout the year, but really no need to belabor it more. I’m already focusing a ton of energy on this area of my life.

OK, so what about health and fitness? Turns out , I already have a goal for that too! I’m running my first half marathon the last weekend of February. My first 8 mile run EVER was this afternoon–woo hoo ! So, I’m feeling decent in that department too!

What’s left for a resolution then ? Totally kidding…a TON. One big realization for me throughout 2017 was just how much my mental and physical well-being affects my financial behavior. Therefore, I wanted to make a goal that would enhance my health and thus, indirectly positively impact my finances. So… I made 2 relatively easy, attainable, and FUN resolutions.

  • 1. Make it to the Beach at least 1 X per month –This kind of resolution ain’t for everyone, but I live 30 minutes from a beautiful state park called Honeymoon Island. Living near a beach and palm trees was one of my dreams as a child, so it’s just darn sad that I haven’t been making this more of a priority in my life. I’m sorry to say that I went to the beach less than a handful of times in 2017.

What’s been holding me back? Waiting for other people to want to go with me, waiting for the “perfect weather”, and just waiting to make a whole day of it. Enough of the waiting, time for action!  This resolution isn’t just to honor my former child.  The beach gives me this feeling of clarity and calmness that’s hard to describe to any non-beach lover. Basically, it’s mental health in the form of sand and water.

This all sounds a bit spoiled and ludicrous to state this resolution as much of the country is being hit with a bomb cyclone (?), terribly cold temps, and loads of snow. But trust me, I don’t take a mild climate for granted. I set the goal of once per month to make it attainable and measurable. For example, If I just said, “go the beach more in 2018” I wouldn’t do it. The time I spend at the beach is not important–It could be an hour, half day, whole day. I can lounge, walk, run, swim, whatever I feel like in that moment. I can go by myself, with my partner, friends, or family. The point is to go in with an open mind and above all to Enjoy !!

  • Read at least 25 books: I love to read ! As I have mentioned previously, I have been reading sooo much more since graduate school ended  in 2016 and I have reignited my love of the library since moving to Tampa. So, why make this a resolution if I’m already doing it? I want a way to monitor my progress, and shift some of my attention away from screens in the evenings/weekends and on to what I enjoy (RE: Reading). Again, more enjoyment= better mental health= better financial habits. So essentially everything leads back to health & wealth ! Also, I’m sure I’ll read at least a few personal finance books, so that’s a win win for any Wisedebther ;).

Here are some resolutions that did not make the cut:

  • Learn ‘how to blog’--Let’s face it . I have NO idea what I’m doing. Nor, do I really care. I’m pretty content (at least for now) with my blog being a personal diary of sorts. It’s offering me accountability on my own terms and having a Twitter account solely dedicated to the PF world has been enlightening and inspiring.
  • Get a side-hustle— I’ve mentioned before my fails at securing some freelance income here and here. Again, for now I’ve realized I’m OK with that. I’m not saying that it won’t happen someday in the future, maybe even this year! As of now, it just hasn’t panned out. Currently, I’m enjoying learning how to live within my means based on my full-time salary and getting some R & R on the weekends. To each is their own as the saying goes…
  • Take an international trip–Oh boy, this one was hard to keep off. I’ve been itching to get out of the country for a few years now. Not taking this dream off the table, but there are other considerations…particularly our savings to take said trip. Where do I want to go ? Everywhere  ! Asia is one of my top picks because I’ve never been–Signapore, Thailand, China, the list goes on and on. Also, Europe is so so special for me <3. However, we have some work to do in getting our financial base stable before we just go ahead and take a YOLO Asia and/or Euro trip. As a result, I’m being realistic that this trip may be this year, or maybe it will be in 2019. However  it ends up… it will be WITHIN our means.

Overall, I’m pretty jazzed up about 2018. Big things are a happenin’ : Debt free, Half Marathon, Beachin’, Reading, and TURNING 30! Here’s to learning and enjoying the year’s ride. Cheers to the NEW YEAR !

2017 Debt Reflections

 

Excited to announce that I entered 2018 with approximately $8,761 of student debt to go. Debt Free Day is becoming R-E-A-L!

First, the numbers:

-Total Debt paid in 2017 : $18,706.  

-Extra Debt payments beyond monthly payments: $15,625.

-Monthly Debt payments Feb/March 2017 vs. January 2018: $228 DECREASE. $376 was required monthly payments after all loans came off of deferment between Feb. and March 2017. Now, heading into the new year monthly payments are down to $148.

-Average Debt paid per month: $1559 [for reference, that’s almost one biweekly paycheck, meaning about 50% of take home pay has gone towards Debt].

-Month with HIGHEST $$ Debt $$ paid: June $4111, followed closely by October $3941

-Weeks ‘til Debt free: Modest goal , 20 weeks. Stretch goal, 9 weeks. That large discrepancy due to unknown amount I’m getting back for taxes, plus annual review at work coming up in a few weeks. The stretch is a REAL stretch, but anything is possible!

Second, the reflection behind the numbers.

Numbers are great, but hey they don’t tell the whole story. In the last 10 months I have made some aggressive strides in improving my financial well-being. Although this was a peaks and valley kinda year (what year isn’t?!), I like to think the debt piece was a peak ;).

Blogging about debt pay off is rewarding and a great way for me to track progress, but I’m trying to catch myself from turning this into a ‘Highlight reel’. On that note, there were some “behind the scenes” expenses that deserve a shout out–

  • Moving (most costs were incurred at end of 2016, but some did linger into 2017, or at least that dent in the wallet lingered)
  • Weddings (3!) This was by FAR the biggest additional cost of the year, given that all were destinations. Looking towards 2018…only one is a definite. Love to see my friends in love, but ahh a sigh of relief :).
  • Household: Due to some unforeseen circumstances there were a few months particularly during the Fall where I shouldered additional household expenses including rent, food, and supplies (e.g. paper towels, detergents, etc).
  • Hurricane season: Irma (personal, only travel/supply costs) & Maria (family, monetary donations for recovery)

I mention these other expenses, as a way to demonstrate that it wasn’t always a smooth ride. I’m not special, I’m actually quite lucky and acknowledge the privilege I have to even attempt paying off this debt. But, I am proud of myself for not giving up. Before I committed to the debt free journey, one or 2 of these events would have completely derailed me. Now, I give myself grace as I fall down, brush myself off, and try try again ! Same approach for my spending tracking, and all other things personal finance related.

On the personal front, this was a big transition year in my career. I moved out of academia (as a former graduate student) and into the non-profit sector. Although I have been gifted LOTS more time since finishing my degree, I did not push as hard as I could have in getting a side hustle. I’ve unsuccessfully applied to freelance stuff on UpWork, but other than that did not make much of an effort. Thus, relying on my income alone to get to debt free is working just fine, but definitely makes the process a bit slower.

Finally, the Debt-free bug appears to have worn off on my fiancé ! He is documenting his spending daily (which he says works best for him). In addition, he has created spreadsheets that document projected expenditures and earnings for the upcoming year. It’s nice to feel like this is turning into more of a team effort and to have an accountability partner in the household.

2017 was my wake up call. It was the start of my debt free revolution! It was a year of creating goals, educating myself about personal finance, and dreaming about the future. There’s always more to grow in this new year, but actually visualizing the numbers and the progress I made feels pretty gratifying. However, I’m wise enough to know (see what I did there ;), that the feeling is fleeting. In 2018, I hope to better articulate how this debt free journey has helped me to live my best life going forward.

Half Marathon Prep Part II

Long time, no blog—like REALLY long time! Work deadlines, family visits, a quick trip to Orlando for FUN, and more Holiday cheer ‘round the corner got me feeling like it’s time to get back on track.

Speaking of, my weekly spending reports went right out the window around Thanksgiving(ish) week. But, I am so so so happy to report that despite this lapse, ALL my spending has been withdrawn from ONLY my checking account, Small $ WIN! I do attribute this to the mindset that the previous weeks tracking my spending has put me into—Spend only what is available (i.e. no Savings account dipping!), Save as much as possible, Extra $$ goes to loans. Needless to say, I am going to get back on the spending tracking wagon for the following week!

Meanwhile, in my personal life I’m training for a half-marathon! And so far, mostly so good. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I continue to recognize the parallels between my health habits (both physical, mental) AND my financial habits. Here are some highlights and lowlights of my training so far based on the goals I initially set out in this post:

Continue reading “Half Marathon Prep Part II”

Debt Organization Part II

Back in July, I committed to a number(ish): $7000-8000. This is the range I decided would be feasible for me to pay off before the curtain closes on 2017. And so far, so good…

I have paid off $4,508 since the summer. This means I have less than $4K to go to reach the highest point of my goal. I have eliminated 4 loans in their entirety since 2017 began and ONLY have 3 loans left [All $4-5K]. In total, I have $13,455.61 before being officially debt free! Woo hoo!

Saying the goal ($7,000-8,000) is the easy part. To my surprise, the other easy part is paying the loan. I find it oddly satisfying to see that number dwindling away, bit by bit. Anyone else feel the same? Now the HARD part has been actually tracking my cash flow…

Continue reading “Debt Organization Part II”

Summer 2017: It’s a wrap!

 

Now that it is officially Fall, I figured I better jump my butt into gear and tie up all my Summer loose ends.  First up, personal life, followed by $$$$$! Disclaimer, this post is a ‘hodge podge’ of sorts and much heavier on the personal stuff than money.

Personal Life: 

August was a high point of the summer. There was 2 weddings + Vacation!

The first August wedding took me near my hometown and alma mater up in the Boston area. I took off Thursday and Friday in order to have ample time to visit with family and childhood friends. On Friday, my mom threw a casual get together with our close family friends and their “kids”. “Kids” because they are definitely not children anymore. In fact, one of my friends is expecting her first baby this upcoming winter. I’m so excited for my friend and her husband <3!! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of fun. We saved some $$ by bunking with one of my college buddies in the hotel and off we went to seriously one of the most beautiful weddings. The weather was iffy with clouds and a few sprinkles, and I kid you not that after their first kiss… the sky opened! How romantic! We danced and drank the night way and less than 24 hours later we were back in Tampa.

Continue reading “Summer 2017: It’s a wrap!”

Debt Organization

Alright y’all it is time; Time for a debt pay off plan. With less than 6 months of the year remaining I have made it my goal to shave off somewhere between $7-8K more of my student loan debt. How did I come up with that numbers? Well, it involves discussing a few more numbers…

$22,892.04, that is the amount I will earn for the rest of the year after taxes and 401K contributions. Until now, I have debated whether I should share this type of information with the world, but it is a bit egotistical to think that anyone is actually reading this/would actually care anyway. So there it is! I will stick to my guns about guarding my boyfriend’s and other family’s financial information unless granted permission because I’m of the belief it’s their business to share, not mine.

Continue reading “Debt Organization”

Treading water

I have decided this month is just about staying afloat. I WANT to focus on generating more income to devote towards my loans, and budget & save like crazy! The reality looks different. Two personal trips + 3 work trips = Treading water. And well, I’ve decided that it’s ok. These cumulative 4 works leave little ‘extracurricular’ time for anything but the necessities, RE: Food, water, sleep, work, exercise [when I can], travel, repeat. To top it off, the month brings a few ‘extra’ expenses. I won’t go into detail here, but one was certainly unexpected. So to be honest, the cash flow is going to be in the red this month, womp womp.

Continue reading “Treading water”

Committing to debt free

Welcome to WisedebtHER! I’m a late 20-something, female, millennial, and cat mom, who is more than ready to conquer my student debt. The “Wise” implies that I aim to learn and grow as much as possible on my journey to debt free and beyond. I am planning to pay off my debt by the end of 2018—a lofty, but completely plausible goal! A little about me and my debt:

I feel it is an important disclaimer to note that my professional background is in health care, nursing and research to be exact. A personal finance expert I am certainly not, nor would I ever claim to be—at least not yet. I’ve been consuming personal finance blogs, podcasts, and books like wildfire the past 4 months (more on that later).

In terms of my debt, I’m probably what you would consider your “Average Jane”. I left undergrad with approximately $30,000(ish) in student debt. To date, I have paid off 2 loans in full (woo hoo!). However, I still have a grand total of $22 K more or less to pay off. I pay my credit cards in full each month and still rock a fully paid off 2006 Toyota Corolla. So while I consider myself extremely lucky, I still have far to go in terms of being $$ savvy.

The reason I decided to start a blog is two-fold. For one, it holds me accountable: “Hello universe, I’m ready to be debt free!” More importantly, it would be a bonus to connect with fellow WisedebtHERs: women (or men!) who have successfully paid off their debt, student loans or otherwise.

I’m a self-described introvert and overwhelmingly a social media/blog observer, but I felt this experience was far too important to sit on the sidelines. I’ll be sharing my successes, failures, and everything in between. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!