Student Loan Update: Gains Baby! Gains!

Slow Progress is Better Than No Progress

Clearly, I’m still struggling with this consistency thing lol. So I started my new job and focusing on that has made me drop other things by the wayside. But that is no excuse. I committed to keeping this blog going to inspire others and that is exactly what I intend to do. I really wanted to share how surprised I am at how far along I’ve come with paying my student loans off!

At last check in, my loan amount was about $27,000 in December 2016. It is now:

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I can’t believe this and I am super stoked. This despite under/unemployment. This despite self- doubt and discouragement. This despite fear of not knowing what my next move was going to be after job loss. One of my goals is of course to travel and expand my spiritual obligations/ministry and purchase a home. I will not be in any rush to pay off my mortgage because it’s an asset. I can’t sell credit card debt for profit. I can’t sell my student loans for a profit. Not to say that home purchase is a full proof way to gaining wealth. But at least I won’t be compounding debt with a mortgage AND credit card debt AND student loan debt.

So a few things that has helped me in accomplishing my financial goals:

  1. Meal planning. I still don’t have this nailed down to where I want it because I’m eating out a bit more than I want to but at least I am attempting to curb my grocery/food spending and that helps
  2. A drop in the bucket can make a big difference. I realized that the interest amount accruing daily on my account is about $3.75. So I try to make daily payments double that amount in addition to making large payments. I think it is helping in staving off the interest. Maybe not but it’s working in my head!
  3. Mental tricks. So whenever I have the urge to stop by Taco Bell or Subway and I decide against it because it’s a waste of money, I take the money I would have spent and apply it to my debt. I feel great about myself for exercising control simultaneously reaching financial goals.

So I hope you can take these tips and apply them…you can reach your goals, doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you never give up.

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1st Goal of 2017…Done!

 

The Best Way Out is Always Through.

                              – Robert Frost

I can’t believe it. I got a job…woohoo! I am so thankful, so thankful to my God Jehovah! He gives us EXACTLY what we need at the EXACT right time. For the last few months, I was starting to feel so uncertain, fearful, hopeless. This journey has been such an eyeopener for me and the truth of Matt 6:33 always comes to fruition in my life. This job was right in line with what I was looking for with a well known retailer. Despite my excitement (tee -hee!!) I have anxiety about this new odyssey. Mainly because some old demons (negative thinking)  has been appearing un-welcomed  and frequently in my mind.  I am working on REJECTING these feelings/thoughts. Fortunately I have been able to identify areas of my life that I am actively improving on so I don’t make the same mistakes over and over:

  1. ASK Questions- No matter how stupid you think it will sound, an employer appreciates your inquisitiveness. This is how you gain insight into your role, get clarity on expectations and have a better understanding of your presence there overall.
  2. SPEAK Up – You have to be vocal at your place of employment. And I not talking being a loudmouth or a gossiper. I am talking about engaging people on a professional level so that you can begin building good relationships with the possibility of gaining a mentor or advocate who will be in your corner when review time comes around . Also that good idea that you have does no one any good if it remains in your head.
  3. BECOME An Expert – You want to be extremely knowledgable about your role. If there are questions or problems that arise you want to be the one that can put out fires or train others when the opportunity presents itself.
  4. KEEP Things in Perspective – We are NOT what we DO. Of course we want to do well in our careers and be recognized for our hard work. But don’t allow your job to define you or dictate your happiness or even allow that to be the barometer for a successful life.

I will be working  EVERYDAY to implement this in my work life. It’s so weird because growing up, I’ve always been the most outspoken and opinionated of my siblings, the ham, the debater. When I reached the working world , I almost became a robot just carrying out functions , rarely voicing my opinions or thoughts on something for fear of being wrong or just feeling intimidated by others. There is NO basis for these feelings! I am just as capable, qualified and smart as the next person and I have to stay in this mindset everyday or I will keep making the same mistakes.

But I feel hopeful and I can’t wait until this next step in my journey!!! 🙂 For all those who are struggling with unemployment, meditate on the above quote and NEVER give up.

Warby Parker- Affordable Flyness For Your Eyes

Why Not Pay Off Debt in Style?

                                      – StrongFragile

With my seemingly unending journey to paying off debt, it is very easy to become frustrated with the process so you have to find ways to keep things interesting and yourself motivated. For me , even though I nearly caused myself financial ruin due to crazy shopping habits, that doesn’t mean I don’t still LOVE style and looking good. A friend told me about Warby Parker a few years ago and I should have jumped on the bandwagon then. An online and brick and mortar business, Warby Parker has revolutionized the eyeglass industry by providing eyewear, including frame and lenses  for an unbelievable $95! You can’t even buy a frame for that at other places so when they said that I could order 5 try-on pairs for free (with no obligations), I made sure to jump on it.  One of the best parts about the company is that, whenever you order a pair of glasses , a pair is sent to someone in a developing land where just the simple gift of sight is inaccessible for many.   I ended up paying an extra $30 on top of the $95 because well, I’m blind ha! and to avoid looking like Mr. Magoo with the coke-bottles,the prescription was strong but not thick. No complaints here…I’d rather pay $125 than $425!  I decided to order Nash in Crystal and I’ve gotten nothing but compliments! You best believe I will be ordering more pairs :).  You can also go to the store if you need them to be adjusted. Just be careful , they come out with new styles frequently and it is very tempting to buy one every season.

Nash
These are the ones I ordered.

Check them out here.

Don’t Budget For Budgets Sake

         Let the Deprivation Count for Something!

                                                                              – STRONGFRAGILE

As I am sitting here eating dinner, it dawned on me that the reason I have been somewhat ineffective in paying off my student loan debt is because I was not tracking the money I was NOT spending. In other words, I wasn’t budgeting effectively. When I didn’t spend money by skipping dinners and movies with friends, by not clothes shopping or snapping up the latest tech gadgets that money went to other things like FOOD. I am a spend $10, $15 or $20 here and there type of girl and it adds up. I was not maximizing my money in the sense that those small amounts could have been applied directly to the debt and caused some real damage. So I have seen the error of my ways and lo and behold , I’m budgeting smartly! Here are some tactics that I am implementing to reach these daggone financial goals:

FOOD

Oh food! How do I love thee…but you are a money killer. I decided to budget on $30 a week for ALL meals at home but I am a growing girl and I realized it was not enough. What ended up happening was I would food shop on Sunday and by Wednesday I’d run out of everything! And then end up going to get something outside. Which obviously defeats the purpose (face palm). So I kicked it up to $40 a week and that extra $10 made a huge difference! I find that I am covered for the week and I don’t need to eat out if I don’t want to. What I don’t spend on groceries every week, should go towards debt. My remedy for not going overboard food shopping?…..

MEAL PLANNING

This little gem is a money and time saver. I usually make a list of everything I already have at home (to avoid buying duplicates) and then make another list next to it of what I need for the week. I usually have the staples (oil, butter etc) so I can save there. I try to plan on Saturday and shop Sunday . PS I really used to hate food shopping but I don’t mind it now because I have a plan and I know exactly what I want and usually don’t overspend. Of course there is an occasional slip up but I try not to trip about it.  I have discovered an Aldi’s not far from where I live and I love it! I will take you on a trip with me there in a future post.

CLOTHES

I come from a long line of fashionistas and I love clothes. In my 20’s, I wracked up $15,000+ of credit card debt, a lot of that was from clothes shopping. My old boss swore I had storehouses of clothes because I would RARELY repeat an outfit. Well those days are long gone, so foolish because I don’t really know what I spent it on and don’t have much to show for it today. Lesson learned. I’ve discovered thrift shopping and I love it. Just give the items a good wash and it is like new. Some of this stuff is barely worn in case the idea grosses you out, definitely a tactic to implement in your debt war :).

This bears repeating: Take the money you DON’T spend at the end of each month and apply it to your debt. You must track.

After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki he made a good point about money. That is just a tool. You have to use it in a way that it is working for you, even as you sleep. That is one of my money goals. For so long it has controlled me kept in jobs I hated, apartments I couldn’t afford to leave and so on all because I couldn’t really manage it. Well  I’m getting smart and making sure that if I’m missing out on the small pleasures in life for now that it better be worth it!

 

 

Why Am I SO Inconsistent??

consistent

Ugh . My last post was January 1. I am officially part of the “get hyped for the New Year, set GOALZZZ!!!! and then gloriously fall off club”. And it’s only February!  What the heck?  I realize that it is time to tackle the underlying issues of my inconsistency, to face head on what’s really going on here. First I want to start by talking about why I am inconsistent with the blog. Is it disinterest in what I thought were my interests? Is it laziness? Boredom? Fear?

Wait a minute….Fear. Yes. Fear of failure and success has been one of the major root systems in my inability to follow through on my goals. Sometimes it’s irrational sometimes it is perfectly rational. Here is a deeper dive into exactly what some of these fears are and how I am rationalizing and finding ways to overcome. And hopefully this will help you too if you recognize any of these in yourself:

FEAR

a.I fear running out of topics to talk about once I gain visibility in the blog space. Which is silly. I have SO many things I want to talk about and share with you guys because my struggles are common human struggles and I know people will relate.

b. I fear competition. There are probably 1,257,673,456,798 blogs out there right now  with really great content and even if the content isn’t that good, the visuals are amazing. Amazing pics, amazing scenery, amazing interiors , amazing food, amazing clothes, just amazing. And I don’t even have a proper camera yet ha! But I can’t dwell on that. Ever ask yourself why even though we’ve probably seen a thousand babies in our lifetime , we are ALWAYS fascinated when a new one enters the world? Because that child is unique and there is no one else on the planet like it. So I realize that there has never been anyone in the history of people like me therefore my only competition, is me.

c. I fear having to keep up with this blog. Ok ok so I am lazy sometimes but don’t we all get lazy?? But this is NO reason to stop following through. If I am worth my word , I WILL keep up. I keep up with other things in my life you know eating, keeping my place clean, doing laundry etc…so creating my own unique content consistently should be no different.

d. I fear I cannot stop procrastination. Again rooted in fear! And let’s face it we procrastinate on tasks that we don’t want to complete because there is an element of pain attached to it. It may be boring, sleep inducing , work intensive. And putting it off is pleasurable, temporary but pleasurable nonetheless. But I realize the way to get out of this rut is to attach GREATER pain to the outcome of NOT completing the task. For example, if I don’t study hard for this test, I will not get into my dream school and that will be more painful than studying! Thinking ahead to larger goals gets you through the unpleasantness of the task in front of you.

So there you have it folks, and here is where I’m starting to fix things, by taking small steps to conquer this Fear demon once and for all. In all honesty  it’s wrecking my self image , even maybe how others see me (*flaky* gasp!!) , and quite possibly opportunities for the future but no pity party here. I’m taking a chance on me. Because if I don’t see the value in myself and what I have to offer , no one else will.

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward

 

Habits Change into Character.

                                                                              -OVID

Breaking old habits is harrddd. Fundamentally making changes to become the improved, awesome people we really are is harrrdd. But it is very possible by knowing EXACTLY what you want, daily self-checkins and constant readjustment to eliminate things that aren’t working anymore. This is easier in than it sounds in some ways because there are strategies you can employ to automate certain processes to reach your goals, using less self discipline and effort….more on this in a future post. I set a goal during the last few months of 2016 to create new habits which in turn creates new routines which in turn creates character. It’s Sunday, January 1, 2017 and after getting back to my apartment this afternoon, I immediately turned on the TV to watch a few Youtube vids. Now I did say that I am limiting being on the YT to Sundays which I have been doing (pats back) but now I have to watch the time I spend on it. Sometimes we deprive ourselves of our guilty pleasures and end up OD’ing!

A few tips to changing old routines

  1. Do the hardest thing first. Let’s face it studying for that exam, washing the car, going grocery shopping is not fun for normal people. If you get the biggest drags on your day out of the way first , the rest of the day can seem like a walk in the park.
  2. Complete items on your to-do list back to back and IMMEDIATELY to the extent possible. Notice how I turned on  the TV as soon as I got back home. Keep your handy dandy checklist close by or posted where you can see it and tackle that as soon as possible. You don’t have to spend hours on one thing but do quick burst of activity in 30 minute increments and take a break. You will be so surprised what you can get done
  3. Stay balanced. Don’t beat yourself up if your day doesn’t go exactly to plan. The mere fact you attempted to get tasks done means you got at least SOME done as opposed to none at all. Give yourself some credit.

I set many goals for 2017….MANY goals! But I have a clarity and a determination that I didn’t have before. I have no choice but to grow from the person I was in 2016. I am so grateful for all the fear, failures, uncertainties and doubt that I lived through because it was ALL lessons learned that I am taking into the rest of my professional life especially. My do worry about falling back into bad habits and not meeting the ambitious deadline/goals I set for myself but I don’t want to become focused on not achieving because that will only hinder my progress. At the very least I just want to follow through and have fun on the journey!

Have you set large goals for yourself this year? Let me know in the comment section!!

 

Can’t make a decision?You’re Giving Away Your Power

indecisive

Indecision! It has plagued me for at least the last ten years and I can see the physical manifestation of just not deciding because I’m just not where I want to be. It has served as a huge wall preventing me from reaching long term goals, to fulfill dreams and to move forward. My problem is that I am an over thinker and I always think about (and get stuck on) what ifs and what could go wrong, never on what could go right. And in more cases that one I let others decide for me, taking a job I didn’t really want, or making a purchase on an item I knew I didn’t really need. We’ve all been there.

I realize that at the base of indecision plain and simple is fear. Fear of failure , fear of success. It is interesting to me how this word has not just shown up in my life but has guided it , even controlled it. And the same is true for so many others. The worst and truest part about indecision is that you end up making no decision, which leads to no plan , which leads to no ACTION. You’re so worried about making the wrong choice, you end up making no choice.

I am ending this pattern by taking action and I want the same for you. You have to take control and build your power. You don’t have to take huge steps here but small, digestible chunks is the best way to attack any goal or reach a dream. MY process is as follows:

  1. Figure out what it is you REALLY want. I love the above quote because it is so true. In that split second moment when you have to decide between two things you are not really sure about , the thing you REALLY want always comes to the fore. Next time you are deciding on a something in your life  big or small, flip a coin and the first of the two ideas/plans will present itself. Make sure that if you have a family , you discuss all consequences and implications with your spouse before making moves.
  2. Break it Down. As I mentioned above , when you have a huge goal the smart move is not to wrangle the biggest part first , that is a sure way to failure. What is One thing that you can do today no matter how small that will push you forward to toward what you are working on?
  3.  This goes hand in hand with #2 but take action. NO MATTER HOW SMALL. Not only will you get the wheels turning but it will be a real confidence boost when you realize that you are doing what you said you are going to do. Remember to honor yourself, you have to honor your word.

I have been very focused on productivity lately, mainly in part because of this book “The One Thing, The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. So many great insights but the one phrase that really stood out for me were the three words : Purpose, Priority and Productivity. One begets the other but the foundation is purpose, once you get clear in your mind what you want, you will be unstoppable. Have you read the book? Let me know in the comments section!