And here comes the real world…

I’ve moved into my new digs – a 10ft X 10ft room in an older home out in the boondocks. It’s a big change from living in the heart of downtown, but I don’t miss the fancy apartment nearly as much as I thought I would. There is a bus stop right across the street from my new place which takes me to town and to my workplace. (I have no car, so this is awesome). Even though very few people my age would be willing to do what I’m doing and live how I’m living, I wake up every morning thinking of how much money I’m saving each month and it makes it all worthwhile.

My family, of course, thinks I’ve gone off the deep end.  Giving up a great apartment, selling everything. They talk to me with concern in their voices. They know that I have debt, but they have no idea how much. And I’d like to keep it that way for the time being.

So far my Citibank credit card balance is down from $30,340.oo to $28, 469.02. Not bad, but not on target. Why?

And here comes the real world…

Reason 1:  Expiration of Social Security tax cuts. I now have $100 less in each paycheck. That is, my monthly pay is now $200 less. I have lost $2,400.00 a year just like that. So, that’s is almost one month’s payment to Citibank that the government is taking back.

Reason 2: I’m experimenting with starting a side business (a third job)  that may be another stream of income, but it will take time and upfront investment. Not a huge investment, but one or two Citibank payments worth. If it works, it will pay for itself and generate a small profit over time.

Good News

The good news is that my second job started last week. We have a training / orientation stage for the next few weeks and then we are on our own.

I also got another student loan forbearance approved for the next six months. My goal is too get a big chunk of this credit card down before the student loans kick in. I cannot wait for this credit card debt to die. I will have a little celebration when that balance is finally zero. If the card weren’t full of toxic chemicals I would toss it into the first bonfire I come across and then dance like a madwoman. The people already there may call the cops, but hey, it would be worth it. Hmmm, on second thought, I will likely just cut it up and treat myself to a nice dinner.

The Not So Good

One thing that I am already experiencing is a lack of time. Yeah, surprising huh? Who knew that three jobs makes you crazy busy.  I will have to pace myself to avoid burnout.

Another thing that I am experiencing is lack of focus. It is difficult for me to stay focused at my first (primary full-time office) job or my second job (part-time) because I can’t stop thinking about my side venture (3rd job).

Working for myself and making my own money excites me. As I get older, I’m starting to dislike taking orders from and working for others. I’m no longer interested in advancing someone else’s agenda. I want to advance my own agenda. In the distant future, when I am financially more secure, I would like to work entirely for myself.

Keeping Perspective and Holding On

I keep these goals in my mind as I wait in the dark and freezing cold after work for my bus, which is chronically late during the afternoon rush hour commute home. Not 10 minutes late.  About 25 – 45 minutes late. If the bus is already full, as it often is during rush hour, it doesn’t stop to pick up anyone else so I must wait for the next bus. Even when I’m standing there with my fingers and toes frozen and  hurting from early stage frostbite, and feeling poor and pissed off, I have to cope with the situation. I keep the big picture in mind. Not only my personal debt freedom, but that in the grand scheme of things, my temporary discomfort is nothing compared to what others are going through around the world.

As I get ready for another week of work times three, I have to keep in mind how important it is to have a clear picture of what you want and the reasons why it matters to you. For me, I want freedom and control. I want to be in total control over how I spend what’s left of the limited time that we all have on this earth.

What do you want in life? Are you ready for the real world? I say, bring it on!

.

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

2013: Out with the Old and in with the New

Image

This will indeed be a new year. This will be the first year of my financial future. After my rude awakening with respect to my finances and debt, I FINALLY started to make some real changes in my life.

I moved to this West Coast city two years ago to start a new job. Instead of continuing to live like a grad student, I inflated my lifestyle. Life mistake #412. I moved into a posh apartment building in the heart of downtown. I couldn’t afford furniture or a car or travel or nice clothing, but I didn’t care. I loved my posh digs. It took me two years of living paycheck to paycheck to buy furniture for a studio apartment. And the kicker, I’ve had my student loans in forbearance this entire time. Yes, I put my massive student loans in forbearance, accumulating interest continuously, so that I could buy nice furniture for an overpriced shoebox apartment. The stupidity!

Today I marvel at how much my thinking has changed and evolved. This has undoubtedly come from reading many personal finance blogs and listening to the gurus. I had the head knowledge of what I should be doing with my money, but I wasn’t uncomfortable enough to change.  I wasn’t fully realizing what I was giving up to live like that (opportunity cost). All I could afford to do was work and come home to my posh apartment. Occasionally, I’ll have a rough day at work – taking crap from clients, my manager, etc., and I’ll fantasize about leaving and finding another job, but I quickly realize that I can’t take the risk of leaving. I  am wholly dependent on my employer for my livelihood. So I keep my mouth shut and my head down in those situations at work. I hate it.

Image

I have been reading blogs such as Man vs. Debt. Bloggers like these have been able to travel extensively (my passion) and lead a lower stress life thanks to lack of debt and financial freedom. I realized that I would never be able to live that type of lifestyle while shackled to this mountain of debt. That made me sad. What made me angry was the realization of how much interest I’ve paid to make others wealthy and not myself.

I finally got uncomfortable. I got angry. I’m still angry. I’m done being a tool. I’m done being a profit center for corporate fat cats. I’m done funding everyone else’s retirement but my own.

When I am out of debt I vow to never pay another red cent in interest for ANYTHING.

I do not own a car, but in the future when I am able to afford one, it will be used, very small, economical, and paid for in full, in cash.  I don’t know if I’ll ever own a home or if I’ll ever want to, but if I do I will pay for that with cash, as it too would be very small, simple and functional.

Cold-Hard-Cash

I’m done with consumerism and materialism. I’ve come to embrace simplicity, minimalism and frugality. While I still like nice things, my definition of nice has changed from what it once was.

I now realize that no fancy apartment or electronics or furnishings are worth what I’m losing. What am I losing? I’m not funding my retirement. I’m 37. I have no emergency saving, so I have no peace of mind. I can’t travel. I have old clothes that are so out of fashion that people stare at me sometimes. The list goes on. And #1, I don’t have control over my own life. It’s too risky to try for a new job in a new city or a different country. And when you can’t stand up for yourself or push-back in the workplace because you are entirely dependent on that job, a bit of your self-esteem crumbles away, little by little. To the financial powers that be. You can have your treadmill back. I’m done with all of it.

So, out with the old and in with the new!

It’s time to get on track and trying my best to catch up with my finances.  In my next post I’ll give a rundown of my current state and my goals for the new year.

What are you glad to leave behind in 2012? What are you ready to gain in 2013?

.

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