A Preview for 2014

Happy Holidays!

I hope this post finds all of you who read my blog in the best of spirits. This isn’t an update blog as I don’t have much to update but more of announcement for 2014. For the entire year, I will be focusing on ways to save money using every day strategies and each month will be focused on another strategy.

This series of money-saving strategies is courtesy of a post I read on wisebread called “51 Unusual Ways to Save Money.” I came up with some ideas after I managed to close my mouth from the shock of some suggestions like “swipe fresh flowers from graves and give them to living people.”

Insane.

At any rate, I came up with twelve Money Saving Strategies that I will be using as monthlong challenges to up the amount in my savings accounts. The first challenge will be announced early on January 1st and you’ll be invited to join me along for the ride.

(Hint: You can tie it into a resolution or intention that you plan to set!)

Here’s to a new year of saving! Cheers!

Financial Intentions for 2014

The tumultuous year of 2013 is quickly winding down. That means it is time to give some serious thought to what you want to accomplish in 2014, if you haven’t already. Since this is a blog that focuses on my finances and goal of getting (and staying) out of debt, I’ve decided to share my financial goals here.

Financial Intentions for 2014

  1. MAJOR: Pay off my remaining student loan debt by 33%. This goal is HUGE, seeing as I have over $100,000 remaining in debt. To my surprise though, there has been some interest in this series I plan to have in January. If you’re interested, sign up here.
  2. MAJOR: Save $5,000 for the entire year. This is maybe the one goal that I want to stick to. I’ve always set a goal to save a particular amount of money and it never worked out. However, I’ve made the decision that I’m prioritizing my self and my needs above others. I’m sure this will be very beneficial.
  3. MAJOR: No overdraft notices on my accounts. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that when I looked back over my account and where most of my money went, it was to overdraft notices. This year, I’m taking extra protective measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 12 months of no overdraft charges? I know I can do it.
  4. Minor: Pay my bills a week early. While it’s something I don’t have to do, I wonder if I’ll notice anything change in my financial habits because of it.
  5. Minor: Adopt a family for the Holiday Season in 2014. I want to find a family and adopt them from Thanksgiving on through Christmas. Ambitious? I know but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was once the recipient of a stranger’s kindness.

So there you have it! My five Financial Intentions for 2014.

What are your financial intentions for the upcoming year?

Steps to Student Loan Freedom – Join the Challenge

Earlier this year, I celebrated something that I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to accomplish — I paid off my smallest student loan.

Full disclosure here: I still owe a significant amount. It’s to the tune of my future firstborn’s college fund $103,678. The amount of the loan when I started paying it off was right under $2,000 and I paid it off in six months. This was while I was clearing another delinquent account (I’ll share this story in the new year) that came to $1,711.

However, I did it and I learned so much in that process, especially restraint. Three key things that I took from it were:

  1. No question is too dumb to ask. Ask everything you think of. I remember asking one account representative what would happen if I made more than one payment a month. Her response was comical (“Nothing I think but we don’t really see that.”) but I felt better once I got it out. So ask everything that comes to your mind when dealing with a representative.
  2. Talk to the same representative. When you say that you want to take care of an account, they perk up. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some end-of-the-year bonus they received when their accounts stayed in the green. But it cuts down on your confusion when you speak to the same person. So ask if you can talk to them whenever you have a question about your account (p.s. – they have email). They will probably acquiesce.
  3. Automate the payment. If you take nothing else from me, take this – make that payment come out on the same day of the month every month. If you can get it on your actual pay date, great (tip: call your loan holder and tell them you want to change your due date to your payday if this helps)! After a while, I got used to living on close to $400 less a month once I had the payments taken out of my account on payday.

So that’s it….well, not exactly!

Starting in January, I’ll be holding a 4-week webinar series on the tactics I used to pay off my student loan. I got this idea after so many people asked me how did I do it to begin with (pick one and focus on it is one strategy) and I figured that in addition to the webinar series, I’d invite others to a yearlong challenge of paying student loans down and/or off!

If you are interested, join here!

Do you have any tips to help you pay off your student loans?

Finding Optimism in Financial Adversity

As of the writing of this post, I am still unemployed and legally homeless (I am gratefully staying with a relative). The final quarter of 2013 has been challenging to say the least and many days, it is a little hard to find optimism.

I remember reading once upon a time that the way to find more to be happy about is to be happy about what you have. For the most part, that is definitely true. But when you have days upon weeks upon months of challenges, it’s hard to be the picture of optimism.

It is especially tough when you felt like you did the absolute best for yourself by leaving your security net (of a job that didn’t really serve you well).

However, I do have a few things to be grateful for and that’s what I remain optimistic about. Here are my nuggets of gratitude:

  1. My business, Professional By Design NOLA, seems to be picking up at a steady pace which is AWESOME! I decided to focus on it full-time (while getting another full-time job as a second option) and I think that may be the best decision.
  2. The temp agency that I worked through in 2011 told me that I can come back fairly easily. This means that I’ll at least have a little bit of money coming in.
  3. A few people have asked me for some advice consulting wise which means that the people I’ve helped in the past have been saying good things. Also good.
  4. I have some of my Professional Self-Esteem back after an amazing opportunity to interview in another city. Although it didn’t work out, I’m going to remind myself that it means that my skill set is valuable (which is something I was struggling with).

So that’s it! Four things that have kept me pretty optimistic in the face of financial adversity. I hope to report soon that I have a second full-time job.