Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Officially Debt Free

I decided to just go ahead and pay off my loan balance in full by taking some money out of my savings account. I went below my baseline to do this but after a lot of thought, I decided that this was the best way to save interest in the long run.

This is what I did:

On 2/29, I put back $124.08 from that paycheck which is my raise that I pretended that I did not get for the past 2 years.

On 3/14, I picked up a check from my local consignment shop from dropping off clothes that I no longer loved. That check was $41.41

On 3/14, I put back $224.17 which is a combination of an additional shift that I picked up, plus my raise that I pretended that I did not get for the last 2 years.

Total: $389.39

I applied this amount to loan 1-07 which had a balance of $1185.01 and after this payment, my balance was $795.62

After this is when I gave this a lot of thought. My remaining loans were these:

1-03 $4147.38

1-07 $795.82

1-08 $3936.07

Total: $8879.27

I was thinking that I could just continue to do what I have been doing and just pay these loans off in full in August 2016, but decided that I really didn't want to pay the extra interest when I had the money to just pay these off in full, so that is what I did.

It has really motivated me to keep a blog of my progress and still plan to keep this blog to write about other goals and other frugal things that I do along with writing about how minimalism played a huge part in paying these off.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The 27th (Loan 1-01 and 1-05 paid off)

So I was able to pay off two loans and start on a third this month. I continued putting money in my savings account to save to pay off some of the bigger balances, so I took $4166.30 out of my savings and went ahead and paid off loan 1-01.

Then I was received a quarterly bonus from work and an end of the year bonus which was very exciting because I never got the end of the year one before. You know you are obsessed with paying off your loans when you don't even think about what else you could buy with that money. So I took my entire bonus of $2623.48 to pay off what was left on my 1-05 loan which was $1109.25 taking care of that.

I added the remaining $1514.23 from that bonus, plus the $224.18 I put back from my 1/29 paycheck and paid $1738.41 on loan 1-07. I did all of this on 2/12.

Then today my auto debit went down to $62.73 a month since I paid off those 2 other loans. I still like to pretend that my loan payment is $200 a month so I put the difference of $137.27 towards loan 1-07 too.

I have 3 loans remaining after this:

1-07  $1183.73

1-03  $4141.85

1-08  $3930.83

Total: $9256.41

It is great to see that balance go below the $10000 mark. I am still going to pretend that my payment is $200 a month and continue to add raises, bonuses and any extra money I get from selling my stuff and whatever else may come my way.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How To Create A Weekly Meal Plan

"If you fail to plan, plan to fail."  -Benjamin Franklin

You get off work after a really long 8 hour shift and are exhausted and starving. You come home to find an equally exhausted and starving family and nothing is prepared, nothing is thawed and anything that you are going to make is going to take forever and you just don't want to do it. So you reach for the phone and order a pizza.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. I have done this multiple times and I think that this story is familiar in every household. You come home after working hard all day and spend your hard earned money on a large 2 topping heart attack in a box, plus delivery fee and tip, just to relax and unwind after a tough day.

There is a better way.

The better way involves taking 10-15 minutes out of your day once a week to actually figure out healthy meal plans you want for the week and then another 1-2 hours on a weekend day to prepare those meals and get them ready for the week. The trick is to make this as convenient as possible so you don't have to pay a premium for convenience.

Let's start off with breakfast. What do you want to eat and drink every morning before you start your day. My breakfast includes cereal with vanilla almond milk and coffee so you want to make sure that you have those things added to your list. Sometimes I will prepare oatmeal in a mason jar (Oh, I love mason jars) with cinnamon and nuts and when I want them, I just add water or almond milk and pop it in the microwave and have a hot breakfast in just 2 minutes. Other times, like this weekend, my husband was tired of oatmeal and cereal so we did egg sandwiches with cheddar on an English muffin,

Lunch. I make salads in Mason jars. (Did I mention that I love mason jars?) I get my toppings together like cheese, tomatoes, chicken, nuts croutons and put them in a jar and then buy whole romaine hearts (a lot cheaper than the bagged pre-washed stuff) and chop up the lettuce. My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, a cereal bar and nuts.

Dinner. I sit down and figure out which days of the week are the busiest and make those crock pot days and then figure out which days I have more time to make a meal and make the most complicated dishes on those days.

So I grocery shop and do food prep on different days. On food prep days I spend 1-2 hours cutting lettuce, chopping veggies, and assorting snacks into snack size containers and have an assembly line of food that is going to be easily accessible throughout the week.

So here is what my week looks like:

Breakfast Mon-Sun- Cereal with vanilla almond milk and coffee

Lunch Mon-Sun-Chef salad with ranch dressing and sliced tomatoes, turkey, ham, boiled eggs and croutons-already assembled in a jar to just grab and dump on a plate.

Dinner: Mon-Egg salad sandwiches and fruit
             Tues-Crock pot roast beef and mashed potatoes and carrots
             Weds-BBQ chicken, cole slaw and deviled eggs
             Thursday- Crock pot chili
             Friday- Homemade chicken tenders with homemade honey mustard and oven roasted fries
             Saturday-Parmesan shrimp, baked potato and roasted asparagus
             Sunday- Grilled pork chops, rice pilaf and steamed broccoli

The day before the dinner after I cook, I will assemble marinades and put meat in there and lay out the ingredients for the next day so it's not a hassle to throw something together with already assembled meats, chopped vegetables and premade sauces.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The 27th

First extra payment of January 2016. Here is the breakdown:

On 12/31 I put back $224.29 from that paycheck which is my raise for the past 2 years that I pretended that I did not get, plus money from an extra shift that I picked up.

On 1/15 I put back $124.08 from that paycheck which is my raises from the past 2 years that I pretended that I did not get.

I like to pretend (it helps) that my payment is still $200 a month, but with all the extra payments that I have been making, that monthly payment is now down to $97.80 a month. I add the difference which is $102.20 to my extra payments.

Right now I am working on eliminating loan number 1-05 which has a balance of $1558.70, so after today's payment of $450.57 it is now down to $1108.13.

I plan to pay off loan 1-05 and loan 1-01 next month. Fingers crossed that I get my quarterly bonus in February and I have also been adding to my savings and plan to just keep a baseline balance this year and anything over the baseline will be applied to some of the bigger loan balances to help pay them off, while I whittle away at the smaller loan balances with raises, extra shift money and any extra money that happens to come my way.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Where I am at now and goals for 2016

Good morning and Happy New Year. I thought that I would do a post about what I paid total for 2015 and my plans for 2016. I tallied up everything that I paid for auto-debits and extra that I put towards my loans and found out that I paid a total of $17,421.37 in 2015. I wiped out a total of 4 loans. I did this by pretending that I didn't have raises for the past 2 years and putting any extra windfalls towards my loans and also all the money that I made from picking up extra shifts towards it. I also continued to pretend that my monthly student loan payment was $200 and put the difference towards my loans.

This really was not easy and I had to do things throughout the year to keep my motivation up like reading other frugal blogs and other online inspirational stories about getting out of debt. I gave up a lot of things to be able to do this like buying new clothes, not getting pedicures, not getting fast food and not going on a vacation and telling myself no constantly and thinking that paying off my loans would be more satisfying than any purchase or experience that I can have. Just like losing weight, this isn't something that happens overnight and I had to keep reminding myself of that throughout the year. You didn't put on 40 pounds overnight and you are not going to lose 40 pounds overnight and you have to commit to making a lifestyle change.

It is important to focus on what you can have instead of what you can't have. I kept some luxuries, like keeping my once a month massage membership and my gym membership. If I ever found myself thinking about what I wish I could buy, I would just focus on what I already own and would spend extra time caring for what I already own or cleaning things. I also went through a lot of things that I owned that I no longer cared about and got rid of those items and got money for them at my local consignment shop and put that money towards my loans too.

So for 2016, here is a look at what is left as of 1/2/16:

Loan 1-01 $4182.92

Loan 1-03 $4182.94

Loan 1-05 $1557.64

Loan 1-07 $3074.11

Loan 1-08 $3969.83

Total: $16,967.44

I really plan to pay this off in full by the end of 2016 unless something crazy happens that I can't pay these off. I built up an emergency savings in 2015 too and am going to remain at my baseline savings. My plan for 2016 is to keep adding to my savings, except the difference is, I am going to take whatever is over my baseline savings every few months and use it to pay off one of my bigger loans in full while still applying extra payments towards my smaller loans. This is going to make my monthly auto-debit lower each month, but I still plan to put the difference towards my loans. If I get a raise for 2016 in April, that is also going to be applied to my loans along with any other windfalls that I may receive.

It has been really motivating to see my progress and has kept me on track blogging about it. It also helps to see that people are actually reading my blog and I hope that this has motivated others to start saving and get out of debt too.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 27th

This is the last student loan payment that I will make for the 2015 year. My next post will be about goals for next year and what I was able to pay this year in total. So here is the breakdown of what I was able to do today. I would have liked to put more towards these loans this month, but with it being the holidays my money went to other places like gifts, Toys for Tots and a family member that just had a baby. Even though I am frantically trying to get rid of these loans, it is still important to be charitable and generous for others who are not as fortunate as you are.

On 11/30 I put back $124.18 from that paycheck which are my raises for the past 2 years.

On 12/15 I put back $124.20 which are my raises from the past 2 years.

On 12/24 I saved my Christmas money of $50 to put towards my loans.

My auto debit was $97.80, and I still pretend that my payment is $200, so I took the difference of $102.20 to add to my loans.

Total: $400.58

I put this towards my 1-05 loan, bringing my total balance on that loan down to $1557.14

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Gift Is Not A Relection of Love, Your Actions Are

On Thanksgiving and Black Friday millions of shoppers went out to find their loved ones the "perfect" gift. Is there really a such thing as a perfect gift ? After the holidays, people struggle with returning gifts that were bought by loved ones simply because "it was a gift" and getting rid of that gift would be a hurtful thing to do since it was something that was given by a loved one, so you hold on to it and never use it and it collects dust and adds to the clutter of your home. Since when do items equate to your feelings for that person?

It shouldn't at all.

Your actions that you show towards your loved ones are a reflection of how you feel towards them everyday, not some item you found in the clearance bin or paid top dollar for. How many times have you received something that you did not like or struggled to find a gift for someone just for the sake of giving a gift? Chances are this happens frequently, so instead of giving your loved ones what you think they want this Christmas, think of what they truly need and give them what they need instead of what they want.

If you know that a loved one is in a situation where they are struggling to pay bills, a gift of cash or a book on budgeting or personal finance may go a lot further than a gift card to a department store.  If a loved one is ill and struggles to take care of basic needs like cooking, cleaning and keeping up their home, give the gift of freezer meals, a house cleaning, or a handy man to take care of those things for them.  These are action gifts that will speak volumes to your loved one instead of a new flat screen television that helps them to escape reality or a gift that just adds to the clutter in their home.

The holidays are more than material gifts, but an appreciation of those that are in your life.