September 2014 Update: Health, Housing, Budget & a Mini-Rant

I know! Long time, no write!  You can stop sending me hate mail for keeping you waiting for details of my exciting and glamorous life…  Not!   🙂

In reality, I have the most boring life on the planet right now. Ugh. Work, sleep, work.

stethoscope

HEALTH UPDATE

I am feeling much better than I was the the time of my last post. My acute symptoms were mostly caused by something new in my diet (dairy, esp. ice cream) which tasted heavenly, but was highly inflammatory to my body. So I had to cut that back out and add it to the long list of things that I can’t eat anymore. 😦   Why can’t I just be normal?  If you can eat anything you want and don’t have food allergies and intolerances, be thankful for that. Seriously…

My credit card payoff will be a bit slower now, because I need to save and prepare for medical expenses. I may likely have to have surgery next year.  I’ve finally decided to max out my HSA (Health Savings Account) starting this year (~$3,000 /yr). Because I’ll need the money for medical expenses anyway, it’s better to save it and use it tax-free.  Better late than never. At this rate it is unlikely that I’ll pay off my credit card debt this year 😦 , but hopefully by February 2015…   Did I mention yet how much I hate debt?

basic plain bedroom of someone renting a room to pay off debt

HOUSING UPDATE

I’ve been in my new place for over 2 months now. I am renting a bedroom in a house that I found via Craigslist.   I have three roommates. We are all females in our 30s, 40s, or 50s. I never thought I’d say this about having roommates, but so far… it’s not bad at all. The mood of the house is calm and mellow, which suits me. They don’t have random visitors hanging out in the house all the time like my last roommate did. They are clean and are early birds like me, unlike my last roommate. We aren’t going to be BFF’s, but we get along well enough.  I could definitely do this long term. I hope I won’t have to move again anytime soon. I don’t want to lose this rent (only $500/mo for my room), dirt cheap in this region.

reminder to pay off credit cards

BUDGET UPDATE

The small bit of good news is that I was able to lower my phone bill from $110/mo to $60/mo while keeping pretty much the same service.  Yay. However, the $50 difference has been spent on food.

I’ve been failing pretty badly at staying within my $400 /mo food budget. I know that seems high to most people, but with all my food allergies and intolerances, etc. I can’t just slap together a bologna sandwich or a pack of ramen to eat cheaply.  Recently I tried cooking a couple of meals myself. By the time I bought all the ingredients and spices for one simple-looking recipe, it cost most of my weekly food budget. It also took hours in the kitchen to make and didn’t taste all that great. I’m not giving up, but it’s not going to be easy.

I’ve decided not to join a gym for now and will keep that money. The downside being that I’m truthfully not exercising at all now.  At least I’m walking more now, though.  Public transit to work is costing more than I thought now that i’m father away. I’ve raised my transit budget from $100/mo to $125/mo.  Hopefully, it won’t have to go higher than that.

people getting on city bus debt broke

MINI-RANT

Time for a mini-rant. Who / what am I ranting about now?

Bus-riders who pay with coins. I’m not in any way putting down people who pay a bus fare with coins, per se. Those of us who ride the bus have all paid with coins sometimes when we forget our transit pass, or when money has been tight, etc. I’m annoyed with people who run and push to get on the bus FIRST, and then proceed to pay the fare with a bag full of nickels while blocking anyone else from getting on. A bag full of nickels is what it sounds like to the rest of us waiting outside the bus in line.

Clink, clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink….. .

“OMG. Seriously?!”  (My thought bubble while in line outside.)

…clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……clink, clink, clink….clink…clink, clink…….clink, clink, clink, clink……

Really…  If you have THAT many coins, you should let other people get on first and then pay while the bus is on route to the next stop.

This has happened twice in the last month, with the most recent occurrence happening a couple of days ago, so it’s just been on my mind.

Ok, mini-rant over.

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Can anyone relate? Let me know in the comments!

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

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2014 – A New Year with an Old Goal

happy-new-years-2014

It is hard to believe that it is already 2014.

I started this blog a little over 1 year ago to chronicle my climb out of debt. My goal for 2013 started off nobly enough.  I was fed up with debt. I was going to pay off $30,000 of credit card debt as Phase 1 of a larger debt reduction plan.  Did I accomplish this goal? No. Not even close.

Total paid down:  $7,000+.  That’s it??!!

I still have $22,599.00 of credit card debt remaining. How is this possible?  

2013 Recap:

I set up a budget, sold a bunch of stuff,  moved to lower my rent from $1265 to $425, and got a second job. Moving and giving up my stuff and my privacy, was a bittersweet experience, but I was ready to start eliminating some major debt. Life, however, had a curveball for me.  Things had been going downhill at work at that time and after a particularly stressful rough patch I lost my full-time job immediately upon preparing to start this journey. (To be honest, I’m still a little bitter about how it all went down, but I’m trying to move on.)  I collected unemployment for three months until I found a new job that required a move to a new state. This process, including the expense of moving and having to quickly find a new place to live, put me further behind in my debt repayment goals.

I’ve been thinking about the silver lining of my debt cloud. I was lucky to land a job that paid more than my old job, but I now live in a much higher cost of living area.  I set up a new budget, but sticking to it has been a challenge, as it was likely too tight.

Last week I quit my second job.  I deliberated about it for quite a while, but the number of hours that were expected of us for the same pay, made the effort not worth it.

paperwork

The second employer advertised that employees would only have to work 8-10 per week, but after starting, they made more and more requirements that we had to meet in order to “meet expectations” for continued employment. It was more like 15-20 hours/week worth of work that they wanted for the same flat payment.  I was already putting in 50-55 hours per week at my full-time job. Working 65+ hours per week started to wear me down. I’ve started developing a few chronic health issues. I’ve also been sick multiple times and stress has been a part of it.  I had to let the second job go.  It was not worth losing my health over.  I will still seek additional income, but only after a break.

What will I do in 2014?

I will focus on lowering my living expenses. When my lease is up will move to save as much on rent as I can without sacrificing safety. I will start a few months early so I don’t have to overpay on rent out of desperation like I did when I moved here not long ago. Not sure if I should throw everything at the credit card debt or start a 401k. I’m leaning toward the latter. I’m almost 40 and have NO retirement savings of any kind, which scares me. That is part of what burns me up about debt. Now I understand the meaning of opportunity cost. I think about all the money that I am going to spend paying off debt. If I put that same money into different investment vehicles, I could retire early and have a MUCH better life right now.

Never-Regret2

But I can’t dwell on that.  You live and you learn. I’m going to have a different standard of living than I envisioned for myself, probably for the rest of my life. Extreme frugality is not for everyone, but it is for me. It is my only hope. I have to take my own advice and start paring down even more.

I want to pay off the credit card this year. Next year I focus on maxing out retirement funding and pouring everything else into my six figure student loan debt.

Here is to an electric 2014!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

‘Snowflake Stepdown’ Technique for Debt Payoff

stairs-down

It’s all about motivation.

One technique that I use to stay motivated is what I call the ‘snowflake stepdown’.  I just used it yesterday and now my credit card balance is $26,998.

After I paid my most recent payment to Citibank, my balance was $27, 218. Good. It is down from it’s highest balance of $30,340.

But as I look at that balance, I think how nice it would be to put down another $220 to see that 27 go down, or rather ‘stepdown’, to 26. So I checked my checking account, and saw that I could spare $220 and make do with what was left until my next payday.

Just like that, I immediately made the snowflake payment to Citibank. Now I get to see a $26,000 something balance.  There is only a $220 difference from what was there before, but it feels like $1,000 difference.

It gives me a psychological boost. It feels like things are really starting to move. I can’t wait until my next payday so that I can throw some more money at it. The shackles are starting to loosen a little. Just a little.

Here’s to the Snowflake Stepdown Technique and positive motivation to pay off debt. Cheers.

down-down-down-the-stairs

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)