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Spending Freeze Diary

Today is April 4th. On April 1st, I decided to start a 2 week spending freeze. I am not going to spend any money until April 15th.

Of course, that previous sentence is completely ridiculous. I’m going to spend money in this next two weeks. But I’m cutting all miscellaneous spending. That means that money will be spent on the following items only:

  • Bills
  • Necessary groceries
  • Gas

Read the rest of this entry

2015, Quarter 1

The first 3 months of this year have flown by. As far as my savings plan goes, it is going… tumultuously. I haven’t really earned any income on the side. I am doing well at saving money from my regular income though.

By now, I would have like to have made a nice large payment to my student loans, but car troubles and needing to get my wisdom teeth out have kept me from taking that money out of my savings. I’d rather feel secure that I can pay for unexpected expenses than save a couple bucks on interest. If I have to replace my truck, I want to do it without financing, so I want to keep some extra money set aside just in case.

I still plan on paying off my highest interest loan this year, I just might end up making the payment all at the end of the year, when I will also hopefully have more in my savings. I’m thinking I really want to move from keeping a $1000 emergency fund to a 2-3 month income emergency fund.

Mainly, I need to get to work on earning extra income. It all boils down to actually working in my free time, something I struggle with. I don’t want to mess with y work-life balance, so I’m trying to make side money by doing things I enjoy- but you can’t make money watching Gilmore Girls reruns and eating frosting out of the tub. Dang.

Anyway, that’s how my first 3 months have gone financially- not terrible, but I have a lot of work to do this year.

Don’t Let Dave Ramsey Kill Your Confidence: Being in Debt doesn’t Mean You’re Stupid.

Since I decided to get a super practical degree in English and go to a private liberal arts school, I ended up with a lot of student loan debt. I loved college, but I’d rather not spend half my income every month for the next 12 years paying it off. And I was lucky. I found a job where I write and get paid a decent amount. If I was making minimum wage, I’d probably not need to be making loan payments, but just keep accumulating interest.

Spending most of my days online, I find a lot of interesting information. I was writing for a client in the debt sector last year and I found a lot of articles about strategies for getting out of debt. Of course, I came across the name Dave Ramsey a lot. Lately, I’ve been coming across the name Suze Orman, who no one seems to like.

Dave Ramsey on the other hand, is very popular. Read the rest of this entry

My Savings Plan

I just filed my income taxes and finding out how much I spent on student loan interest was a rude awakening. I am more determined than ever to clear up my debt, and a lot of that will come from saving money that I would otherwise spend. Here are the ways I am going to focus on saving this year:

52-week-money-saving-challenge

1. The 52-week saving plan. Basically each week you save a dollar more than you did the last week and end up with over $1300 at the end of the year.  I am tailoring this to my own needs by transferring the money directly from my checking to my savings each week so that it’s nice and tucked away. I have debated whether I would change it more, since I don’t like the idea of putting away $200 in December, but I think I’m going to suck it up and make it work.

2. I’m putting my entire tax refund toward loans. I need to determine whether I want to make a big payment now to get the principle down or wait until the end of the year so it’s an even bigger payment. I might do it now, just to save on the interest even more. This year I will keep track of all charitable donations so that I can get a deduction next year (though it won’t be huge, every bit helps).

3. I’m going to save on groceries by using tactics like growing vegetables from scraps. I’m also going to make my own vegetable stock from scraps, like potato skins, leftover herbs, and vegetable ends.

4. Any time I get extra money (specifically cash) it’s going into savings. I’m even going a step further and treating money people pay me back (like if I bought them drinks, or mailed a package for my mom) as extra money. This is a small way to put money into savings that I wouldn’t otherwise.

5. I already have $25 a month automatically going to savings. That is continuing in addition to all my other saving tactics.

6. Every time I make an extraneous purchase (eating out, going bowling or to the movies, other entertainment), I’m going to put the equivalent to what I spend in savings. I saw this tactic in an article I read recently, and wasn’t sure if I wanted to adopt it because it seems a bit extreme and will take a lot of discipline. But I know it will make me look at my expenses closely and keep me from living beyond my means.

At the end of the year, all the extra I’ve saved will be directly applied to my student loans. This week I am also going to look into raising the monthly payments on the loans with the highest interest so that I’m paying down the amount faster. I will then work that higher payment into my monthly budget so that I can still pay my other bills.

Writing this up, it looks a bit over-the-top, like my life is going to be focused on money. But I see it more like my life is going to be focused on not spending money needlessly. I will find other ways to entertain myself- reading, crafting, and other things I enjoy. This will give me the leeway to spend money on things I really want to when they come around like traveling to visit friends, and the occasional concert.

What are your strategies to save money/get out of debt? Share in the comments!

 

 

My Debt

Last week I talked about my resolve to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible. I don’t want to be paying over $800 a month for the next 14 years just to pay off my education. I want to be able to save money and travel and that’s just not very realistic with all that money coming out. Luckily, if I pay it off in bigger chunks, I’ll save a lot of money on interest. But before I get into that, I want to go into how I got into debt in the first place.

I’ve never had credit cards. I’ve never overdrawn a bank account. All my debt is student loans (with the exception of a line of credit for car repairs that I’m on track to pay off before interest kicks in).

I went to a small private school in Portland, Oregon. I’m from Idaho, so there was no in-state tuition, but that wouldn’t have applied since the school was private. I graduated four years and had the time of my life. I loved the small classes, the professors who kept me accountable, and the relatively small student body. I chose private school because I didn’t want to fall through the cracks.

From a financial standpoint, it’s smarter to go to an in-state public school. If there is one that has the program you want, I would recommend forcing yourself to have the self-control to keep yourself accountable and not fall through the cracks.

That being said, there’s more to life than money. I don’t know if I would have graduated if I’d gone to a large school, and then any money I had spent, though significantly less, would have been wasted. I also loved going away from home, and having experiences I never would have had otherwise.

So, if you’re set on a small school, or an out-of-state school because you think you’ll enjoy it more, go for it. Just be smart about your finances. I got some scholarships, but mostly just the ones I qualified automatically for. I kept procrastinating on external scholarships until the deadlines were past.

I also didn’t pay off any of the interest that accumulated while I was in school. This is a couple thousand that is now gaining interest, that I could have paid off while still in school. If I had been making payments while in school, I would have had more of a mind about my finances and probably would have saved a lot more.

The main point of all this is that going into debt is easy. And getting out takes a lot of time and effort. So even if you don’t have to make payments for a while, make them anyway. Think about the payments you’ll have to make in the future. Yes, go out and have fun. I wouldn’t trade my college experience for the world. But I still would have loved it if I had eaten out a couple fewer times a month, and been more financially conscious.

So, that’s my debt story. The next post will focus on what I’m currently doing to leverage my current income and save money to pay off my student loans