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.




Friday, November 27, 2015

The 27th

I love the new website that Navient has on tablets. I found out that it allows you to pay on your loans whenever you want without applying your total to the next payment scheduled. So with this information, I decided to test this out on 11/18 and made a payment on my last 6.8% loan 1-10 to wipe it completely out. Here is the breakdown:

10/30: I put back $500 which is what I normally put in my savings but I decided to apply it towards this loan to get it paid off faster.

10/30: I put back $124.19 which are my raises for the past two years

11/13: I put back $947.08 which is a combination of my quarterly bonus, an extra shift that I picked up and my raises from the past 2 years.

Total=$1571.27

My 1-10 loan had a balance of $1528.85 so I used this to wipe it out so now I am only left with my 2.3% loans.

So today, my new loan payment is $97.80 from paying off the 1-10 loan so I still like to "pretend" that my loan payment is still $200 so I took the difference ($102.20) and the difference between what I put back from end of October and middle of November ($42.42) and applied it towards my 1-05 loan.

Total=$144.62

The balance on my 1-05 loan is $2111.59 and after today's payment, it will bring the total down to $1966.97

So I only have a total of $17,523.89 left for the combined total of all my student loans.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The 27th

I am still working on the last ugly 6.8% loan. I plan to have this paid off in full by Nov 27th since Dec 27 falls on a Sunday and the system online will not let you make an extra payment on that date for some reason. Anyways, here is the breakdown which is 2 months worth of saving to make this payment:

On 8/29, I put back $224.28 which was an extra shift, plus my raises for the past 2 years that I pretend that I did not get.

On 9/15, I put back $124.29 which is my raises for the past 2 years.

On 9/21, I received a check for $28.47 from my local consignment shop for clothes that I did not wear anymore.

On 9/30, I put back $124.19, which are my raises I pretended that I did not get

On 10/15, I put back $224.29 which are my raises and money from an extra shift that I picked up.

My auto debited payment amount for my loans was $135.34 and I still put back $200 and pretend that this is still my payment, so I added the difference which was $64.66.

Extra from "pretend payments" for Sept and Oct: $129.32

Total applied to loan 1/10: $854.75

This brought the 1/10 balance down to $1522.61

I plan to pay this loan off on Nov 27th with some extra help from my savings and quarterly bonus and the normal amounts that I put back to pay off the loans.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things Don't Always Go As Planned Sometimes..

So I have been making extra payments for awhile now and this is the first time that I have run into any issues. So the 27th fell on a Sunday, which means that my auto debit did not get taken out until Monday, 9/28 and the online system did not let me make any additional payments on the 28th without having some of the money go towards my next payment. Grrr. I tried different ways to do it so it would take the full amount and not apply part of it to next month's payment, but it would not work.

I thought about mailing in the extra principal and telling them to apply it to loan 1-10, but I don't trust them enough to apply it just to that loan and it may have taken more phone calls to get that straightened out.

I was beyond irritated about this and ended up calling Navient to see if I could make the extra principal payment over the phone. The woman that answered was very helpful and said that she could do that, but the convenience fee for that would be $14. No thanks, I can be patient, so I am waiting until Oct.

So I have $441.61 put back and will apply it to the extra payment on Oct 27

So the other Sunday auto debit this year is in Dec, which is when I planned to pay off the last of the ugly 1-10 loan, so since I ran into this issue now, I plan to raid my savings account again in Nov to just pay off that balance in full in Nov and then save my "overages" to pay extra in Jan 2016 since the 27th falls on a Wednesday.

So frustrating, but hey, that's life sometimes and I know worse things could have happened to prevent me from paying extra on my loan.

So it's always important to have a baseline savings in case of emergencies. I have a savings and have reached what I consider to be a safe amount in there and anything over the baseline, I am saving to pay more on my loans. So when I raid my account again for November to get rid of that loan, it will be overage on my baseline amount, so that way if a true emergency happens, I still have money to take care of the emergency without relying on credit cards.

So I guess I am still on track to paying them all off by the end of 2016. Here's to hoping that nothing else gets in my way :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The 27th (Loan 1-12 Paid in full!)

I was so excited to pay off my ugly 1-12 loan with a balance of $4031.60 with the ugly interest rate of 6.8%. I decided to keep a baseline amount in my savings account and use anything over the baseline to pay off bigger balances off my loans to take an avalanche approach, so I free up more money to put towards my loans.

My other loan at 6.8% is the 1-10 that I am working away at still and plan to have gone by the end of this year. So here is the breakdown of what I did:

Amount over baseline savings: $4068.00 (Used to pay off 1-12)

My 7/31 paycheck I have an extra shift and my two pay raises from the past 2 years that I pretended that I did not get: $224.29

8/14 I received a quarterly bonus from work: $462.80

My 8/14 paycheck I have an extra shift and my two raises from the past 2 years that I pretended that I did not get: $224.30

My auto debit for my monthly payment is now $168.15, I still pretend that I have a payment of $200, so I added the difference which was $31.85

Total put towards loan 1-10: $979.64

This leaves a remaining balance on 1-10 of $2398.07

I plan to have this paid off by the end of 2015.

I have been very busy with work over the past month, which has been stressful in the short term, but if it helps me to pay my loans off faster, it will help me in the long run.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Day of Nothing

I call my no spend days "Days of Nothing." It's a psychological thing. If you call it a no spend day, you focus on what you cannot do on that day instead of the possibilities that could happen when you choose not to spend money. It's like if you tell yourself that you can't have chocolate for a full day that you find yourself thinking about chocolate through most of the day instead of focusing on the good and healthy things that you can have, like fresh fruits and vegetables and you may even splurge on making your favorite smoothie recipe in a blender to make it feel like a special treat that you don't even miss the chocolate.

So I make my "Days of Nothing" feel like a special treat. Today was a beautiful day where I live and I spent most of it on my hammock with a good book from the library. I have a patio in my backyard where my hammock is and I laid under the patio umbrella and I also plugged in a fan to circulate the hot air. When I was tired of reading, I just watched the white wispy clouds float by in the perfect blue sky of today. Think about the last time you really looked at the sky, besides a casual glance to see what it was doing out there. It gives you an appreciation of life and your place in it and also allows you to disappear in your thoughts for awhile. On my "Days of Nothing" I try not to do mindless things online to take up my time, but to be intentional in the way that I move and think on these days. The time does move slower, but you feel more appreciative of time off work on those days.

I think that there is a huge focus in our culture now that we have to always be doing something, or always be entertained or always working on something. I challenge you to stop with all of that for one day and think of three things that you would like to do that does not involve technology or being in a constant state of business. My three things were to go for a long walk, read my book and spend some time on my hammock to think and also to cook dinner from scratch. You could argue that writing this blog post is work, but I feel since it is so late in the day and this is what I thought about doing today as well and I had such a good day that I wanted to capture it in this post. Writing does not feel like work to me because I enjoy it so much. I didn't even think about spending money today because I was so focused on doing enjoyable things that I don't always get to do everyday that it never crossed my mind. I didn't even get in my car to go anywhere today.

My husband (who is a maximalist) even said that today was such a good day. He was out riding his bike and spent some time on the patio with me and the television has not been on all day, which when he is home, the television is always on. We both got to enjoy each other's company and talked about things that we never discussed before in the almost 8 years we have known each other, like toys and games that we liked to play when we were children, books we enjoyed reading and things that happened when we were in elementary school that we both almost forgot about. It's amazing how conversation starts again when the technology and running around spending money plans stop for a day. I challenge you to have a "Day of Nothing" to experience this for your yourself.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The 27th

So I am still working on the 1-10 loan and made another additional payment today. Here is the breakdown:


My auto debit is still $168.51, but I am still putting back $200 and pretending that this is my actual payment which leaves me with a difference of $31.49 to put extra towards my loans this month.


On 6/30, I put back $224.29 from that paycheck which is my raise over the last 2 years I pretended that I did not get, plus payment for picking up an extra shift in June.


On 7/2, I received a reimbursement from my job for my professional license that they pay for, I like to pretend, so this also went towards my loans. If I didn't have an employer that was nice enough to reimburse for my license fee every 2 years, this would have come out of my pocket anyways.


On 7/15, I put back $124.19 which is my raise over the last 2 years that I still pretend that I did not receive.


Total to put extra towards my loans this month: $454.97


My balance when I made this payment on my 1-10 loan was $3822.14 and after making this payment, it brings the balance down to: $3367.17.


Next month, I am hoping that I get my quarterly bonus (fingers crossed) and I ended up picking up two extra shifts this month in July, so my next payment should be over $900. In September, I plan to use my savings account to pay off the other 6.8% loan. I have thought about this a lot and have developed a baseline savings that I am comfortable with and have made a decision that anything over the baseline will also go towards the student loans. My plan is to get enough over the baseline to just pay one of my loans off in full, instead of paying them off a little at a time. So while I am slowly working away at one, I am saving quickly to pay off another high balance loan.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ways to Stretch Your Dollar On Personal Hygiene Products

I do some of my best thinking when I'm in the shower. As I pour product in my hand and onto my hair and body and watch it go down the drain, I always think of ways to lessen the amount of money that I spend on that product that just goes down the drain. Here are some of the things that I do to lessen the amount of money that I spend on hygiene products.


Shampoo: As a woman with curly hair, I learned a long time ago that you shouldn't "poo" your hair. Which means that you should never use shampoo on your hair, so shampoo is not one of those things that I spend money on. If you do need shampoo, I would recommend buying shampoo in bulk. You can buy a gallon of shampoo on Amazon.com to refill your bottles.


Conditioner: Since I don't use shampoo, I do use a ton of conditioner. Part of the "no poo" method is scrubbing your scalp before conditioner goes in, then "shampoo" your hair with conditioner and then add more conditioner to let soak into your hair while washing the rest of your body. I buy a gallon of conditioner on Amazon.com for $50 then refill my 8 ounce bottle. At this rate, I can refill my bottle 16 times, so if you go through an 8 ounce bottle on conditioner a month, a gallon can last you a year and four months. That's a good deal considering most people can spend $20 for 8 ounces of good conditioner.


Lotion: I buy lotion in bulk. I spend $50 on a gallon of lotion and use it to refill my 16.8 ounce container. I can refill my container 7.6 times. That works out to about $6.57 for a bottle of good lotion which is a good deal considering that some of the good lotions can cost between $10-$12 a bottle when you buy them individually. I go through a bottle at the rate of once a month, so this should last close to 8 months.


Body Wash: I used to buy bar soap thinking that it was the best deal, until I found out how to make your own foaming body wash. I buy hand soap at the Dollar Tree, a 21 ounce refill for a dollar, then add 10 pumps of the soap into a foaming hand soap container (you have to have the container to make it foam) and then add water and shake the bottle and keep it in my shower and use the body wash as a shaving cream to shave my legs and to wash my body. This is a way better deal than buying bar soap, when a 21 ounce container of hand soap can last a few months at the slow rate that you use it.


Foaming Hand Soap: I have to bring this up because ever since I have found out how to do this, I absolutely love it. Buy a couple of foaming hand soaps at your local Dollar Tree and put them in each bathroom and by the kitchen sink and use what you bought. Don't throw those containers away! Instead add 10 pumps of a hand soap into the container and fill the rest of the container with water and shake to mix. If you buy 6 21 ounce containers of hand soap at the dollar tree, you have 126 ounces of hand soap to use for hand soap and body wash, which can last you well over a year. Awesome deal for only 6 dollars for 126 ounces of hand soap!


Shave Gel: I do not buy a separate shave gel. I use my foaming body wash and have also used conditioner that I didn't care for and also other hair products like hair gel and leave in conditioners and other products with a creamy consistency just to use it up.


Deodorant: I recently discovered that you don't need to use traditional deodorant to keep yourself from smelling. You can use clear Aloe Vera Gel which is $3.97 at your local Walmart to put under your armpits. I think that it works a lot better than regular deodorant. You do have to reapply the Aloe Gel if you are going to the gym, but I think that most people reapply deodorant throughout the day anyway. I find that I don't have that "Workout smell" but instead like an earthy smell when I get sweaty, which doesn't reek. The Aloe Vera Gel lasts about a year. I still have a half bottle left and have been doing this for about 8 months.


Leave in Conditioner: Most big companies would have you believe that you need a separate leave in conditioner-you don't. Just add a dime size of your regular conditioner through your hair before you step out of the shower. I have tried about every leave in conditioner known to man and do not notice a difference between using regular conditioner this way and a separate leave in conditioner.


Pimple Control: Feeling a pimple coming on? Buy a bottle of witch hazel and when you wash your face at night, take a cotton ball and put some witch hazel and rub it all over your face. It's an astringent that helps with keeping the bacteria that causes pimples under control. I bought a bottle of Witch Hazel at Deals for $2 and use it every night and I haven't had a pimple in over 6 months since I started doing this.


These are some ways that I keep my costs low for personal hygiene products. I left some things out like face wash and face moisturizer and that is because I buy really good (expensive) products for this because it works for my face. I have tried lots of cheap ways to wash my face which resulted in rashes, pimples, acne and blotchy skin. Since I started using good products and stopped treating my face like a science project, my skin cleared up and looks great. If I do find a cheaper way to care for skin without causing problems, I will let you all know. I hope that these tips help you as much as they have helped me to save money

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The 27th

I am still working on my ugliest loan 1-10. I paid an extra $423.19 on it. Here is the breakdown:


5/30-I saved $124.19 from my paycheck which are my raises from the past two years that I pretended that I did not get.


6/13-I saved $224.29 from my paycheck which are a combination of raises that I pretended that I did not get, plus pay from an extra 4 hour shift that I picked up.


6/18-I got a check for $43.22 from my local consignment shop for clothes and other items that I no longer needed


I always put aside $200 which was my monthly payment for my student loans and since I have been paying them off, the automated payment goes down. This month, my automated payment was $168.51 which subtracted from $200 is $31.49


Grand total: $423.19 extra added to my 1-10 loan bringing the balance down to: $3809.06


I hate this loan. I hate the 6.8% interest rate and I just want it gone. The motivation to get rid of this one and the 1-12 loan of $4066.20, also at 6.8% is very strong. I plan to keep a baseline in my savings account and when I get about $4050 over the baseline, I will put it towards the 1-12 loan, just to get rid of it, while still whittling away at 1-10.


My goal is to have both of these loans gone by October so I will have no more loans at 6.8% and have the rest at 2.3% to pay off.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crazy Things I Do To Make Money

I rarely go shopping for things other than food and clothes when I need them, but there are some useful apps that I have found that make you money or have you earn gift cards for things that you are already buying anyways.


Receipt Hog


This is an app that you can download where you take pictures of receipts and then submit them and you earn coins and slot spins that earn you even more coins. The coins can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards or get money through Pay Pal. They also have a referral program where you can earn spins at the slots for every friend that you refer and then that friend will earn 5 spins for being referred. If you want to use my referral code it is: CLEL4102. You don't have to use my referral code at all if you don't want to, you can still register for it. I think that downloading the app to upload receipts that you get every week anyways from grocery shopping is worth it.


Walmart Savings Catcher


I go to Walmart every week to do part of my grocery shopping. I recently started using this app and I have already received $7.04 in cash back from another competitor having a lower price than Walmart. You take a picture of your receipt or type in the TC code and then submit it and then Walmart compares your receipt with prices at other competitors and they send you an e-mail in 3 days saying if you got money back. The money is given back in a Walmart gift card that can be used for future grocery shopping trips.


Consignment Shops


I love consignment shops. You drop off things that you no longer love or will use again and they price it and sell it and you get a portion of the profit. The one in my area that I use has a 60/40 split and I get 40% of the profit.


Reward Credit Cards


My bank has a rewards credit card that earns points that can be redeemed in all kinds of ways. I use the points to redeem gift cards that I use for Christmas gifts every year. It's like a no spend Christmas.


Doing Surveys on the Bottom of Receipts


I am hesitant to put this one on the list because I have never won any money so far from doing these surveys, but it's a free way to win money so I take the time to do them at the bottom of receipts and wait patiently to see if I hear anything about winning. I'm not sure what the chances of winning are, but it's fun to try.







Friday, May 29, 2015

Saving as a Lifestyle Change

In many ways saving money is like being on a diet. Diets are temporary and can cause weight loss over a short period of time. Then after you reach your goal, you tend to go back to old eating habits and end up gaining the weight back.


Many personal trainers and fitness magazines will tell you not to diet, but to make a lifestyle change. Changing your lifestyle and eating habits permanently will cause you to keep the weight off and reach your fitness goals.


Saving money is the same way. If you say, "I am going to save up $1000 for an emergency fund," what happens after you reach that goal? Some people stop saving like they did before and end up going back to old spending habits. Savings has to be a lifestyle change, but within reason. No one can expect to save huge amounts of money over long periods of time by resisting any splurge.


As with dieting, if you deprive yourself of chocolate for several weeks, you will end up breaking down at some point to binge eat brownies or cakes or sweets and then feel guilty about it later. Giving yourself small splurges throughout reaching your savings goals will help you to stay motivated and stay on track.


It's also important to have realistic expectations. If the "miracle diet" consists of eating cauliflower at every meal, but you hate cauliflower, you are setting yourself up to fail. You have to look at saving money the same way. If you absolutely love the conditioner you use on your hair and hate using cheaper conditioners because they make your hair look bad, don't stop using what you love just to save money. You may end up spending more money in the long run by trying to find the perfect "cheap" conditioner and end up with several wasted bottles of conditioner in the process.


Buy generic when you can. If you can get away with using generic for items that perform the same function, you will end up saving money in the long run, but still have the money to spend on the things that you love so it does not feel like a sacrifice.


Figure out what your splurges will be in advance so there are no impulse splurges that have you asking "What happened?" $200 later. A splurge can be something as small as a tube of mascara, a movie out with friends, or a dinner out Anything that you can think of that won't cause you to binge spend later and stay motivated.


You can always do a spending fast where you go periods of time without spending anything, but make sure that you don't do it for long periods of time.


When people find the right diet that works for them and the weight seems to fall off, if you find the right savings plan that works for you, the debt will seem to fall right off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The 27th (Loan 1-09 Paid Off!)

Today I paid $1009.27 extra on my student loans. I paid off loan 1-09 which had a balance of $752.07 and then I started on my ugliest loan that I hate looking at when I log in. I started on loan 1-10 with a balance of $4,473.48 and a 6.8% interest rate. Yuck.


 Here is the breakdown:


  • I put back $224.29 out of my 4/30 check which are my raises from the past 2 years I pretended that I never got, plus $100 for picking up an extra 4 hour shift.


  • I put back $179.99 which is for a conference that I had to attend to maintain my professional license. My employer reimburses these costs, so I pretend like they do not and put this towards my loans.


  • On 5/15, I got a quarterly bonus from work of $405.70.


  • On 5/15, I also put back $124.20 from my paycheck, which are my raises for the past 2 years that I pretended like I did not get.


  • I also got a $50.00 check from my local consignment shop for selling things I no longer love or needed.


  • I also put back the difference between $200 and my actual debited payment of $174.91 which left a difference of $25.09


So with this money, I paid of loan 1-09. Remaining balance $752.07, now gone!


I applied the rest, $257.20 to loan 1-10. Remaining balance: $4,216.28.


It will be awhile before I pay off 1-10, but I will be so happy when I do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

11 Ways to Save Money with Meal Planning

One of the biggest expenses that people have that cuts into their savings goals and debt paying goals is going out to eat or eating fast food. Some people do it for enjoyment, some because it's fast and easy and others do it because they do not know how to cook. Not knowing how to cook was something that I struggled with in college and so I went out to eat frequently and was always broke and didn't understand why. Now that I'm older and have learned how to cook and not go to Jack in the Box to get a salad and a grilled chicken sandwich everyday, I thought I would pass along what I have learned to save money.


Make Your Own Box Mixes
It's still amazes me that whenever I wanted brownies or a cake, that I would go out and buy a box mix for $1.99 or $2.99 when you can make your own for a lot cheaper just by having things on hand, like flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder. You can make just about any box mix that you can find on a shelf with these base ingredients. There are a ton of recipes online about how to make your own. I make my own pancake mix, cake mix, cornbread mix and brownie mix and keep it in my pantry when the need to make one of these arises. Then I add the wet ingredients and bake according to the directions of the homemade mix. If you know that something is coming up where you need to bring something, it is good to have these mixes on hand to whip something together instead of buying something pre-made at the store.


Make Your Own Spice Mixes/Marinades/Salad Dressings
You don't have to buy fancy grill seasoning mixes, bottles or ranch dressing or marinades. These are so simple to make and then you can refill your spice bottles and marinade bottles. I make a big thing of ranch dressing and keep it in a plastic container in my fridge. It's usually gone by the end of the week.


Have Snacks Accessible
Make sure that you have snacks that are easily accessible, like fruit, nuts and popcorn. If you buy those 100 calorie bags, just stop doing that. Make your own 100 calorie bags, by counting out snacks and then filling bags with serving sizes.


Make Freezer Meals
We all have days where we are too sick to move, or it's been a long day and cooking is the last thing on your mind. If you are making a lasagna, casserole or another meal that can be frozen, make 3 or 4 extra at the same time and freeze it, so when one of those times happen, you will be prepared and not have to shell out for fast food.


Freeze Leftover Meals
If you have had enough of leftover Thanksgiving food, meatloaf, whatever and know that you aren't going to eat any more of it. Pack the left overs into freezer safe containers and label them with what's inside, so if you are looking for a quick lunch later you can reheat one of those instead of going out.


Make Desserts to Freeze
If you are making cookies or brownies and they are close to the point where they are about to get stale, freeze them to enjoy later.


Create a Master Cookbook
Instead of having several cookbooks taking up space on your shelves, just copy down the recipes that you love and get rid of the cookbooks. Get a binder with sheet protectors and make your own cookbook with your favorite recipes, marinades, spice mixes, dressings, breads, etc.


Make a Meal Plan For The Week
Sit down and make a list of what you want to eat and then buy those things.


Make Time For Meal Prep
Set aside time to chop fruit, vegetables, get meat ready, make spice mixes and make it easy to grab and prepare for a dinner. Also set up an assembly line of breakfasts and lunches and put them in containers in the fridge, so they are easy to grab in the mornings before work. You can make fruit and yogurt parfaits, sandwiches, salads, etc in the assembly line.


Know Your Weaknesses
If you know that you crave pizza on Friday nights, or want ice cream or a milkshake and order in or go out to places that offer what you crave, buy the things to make them, or buy a frozen pizza or take and bake pizza so you are not spending extra money on a tip or delivery fees.


Have a Go Out To Eat Plan
If you like to go out on Saturday nights, make that a part of your meal plan and look at the menu online before you go so you can figure out what you want, order water with dinner, skip the drinks, appetizers and desserts to have a more budget friendly meal.


I know that there will be days that you are just craving a White Castle Cheeseburger and I'm not saying to not give in, but eating out should not be a convenience, but a treat to enjoy occasionally. When you use these tips, you will notice a difference in your grocery bill, I know that I have.









Monday, April 27, 2015

The 27th

Today I had my regularly scheduled payment of $174.91 deducted from my account for my student loans. This amount went down after I paid off my other loan last month. So here is the break down.


On 3/31 I put back $75 from my paycheck which was my raise that I pretended that I did not get.


On 4/13 I put back $57.76 which is what I received from selling my old NES on Amazon


On 4/15 I put back $224.00 from my paycheck which was a combination of my new raise for 2015 and payment for an extra 4 hour shift that I picked up.


On 4/20 I put back $24.32 which I received from my local consignment shop for selling clothes that I no longer wanted.


On 4/27 I received payment from Amazon for selling my weighted hula hoop that I used a few times and decided that it wasn't for me and received $23.52.


I also continue to pretend like my student loan payments are $200 a month, so I subtracted $174.91 from 200 and had an additional $25.09 to put towards my loans.


Grand total put towards my Stafford 1-09 loan: $429.69


As of today, my balance on my 1-09 Stafford loan was $1180.50 and after my payment, I will have a remaining balance of $750.87


In May, my goal is to pay off this remaining balance and move on towards the ugliest loan that bothers me every time I look at it. I am going with the highest balance that I have with a 6.8% interest rate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

12 Things To Do With Your Tax Refund Besides Buying A Bunch Of Stuff You Don't Need

Most people dread tax season and some people get their taxes done as soon as possible to get their refund. In some cases, the refund is already gone before it's even in their bank account because they have already gone out to buy new things like a tv, patio furniture and other big ticket items. Those items are things that you are going to own temporarily and not giving you what you need to look out for your best interests right now.

If I were single, I would use my refund to pay off one of my loans, but since I am married, my husband and I discussed what to do with our refund and we decided to put it in our savings account.

Here are some other ways that you can use your refund that will help you in the long run:

1. Pay off or pay down debt.

2. Put it in your savings account for emergencies. An emergency is an unexpected car repair, house repair, appliance replacement or an unexpected medical expense. A new designer releasing their latest ANYTHING is not an emergency.

3. Use it to pay bills like your car insurance or life insurance in advance so you don't have to worry about it for 6 months or a year.

4. Open an IRA.

5. Buy all hygiene products and household necessities like cleaning supplies, dish detergent, laundry detergent, soap, deodorant, etc. for the year. You can make your refund go a lot further by getting as many of your boring essentials at the Dollar Store.

6. Use the refund for money saving items around the house, like a programmable thermostat, light bulbs, tankless water heater, extra insulation for the attic, etc. Then use the money that you save from installing these items and put it towards your debt.

7. Use your refund for expenses that you have to pay throughout the year that are not fun for anyone to pay. I'm talking about things like getting your car/driver's license renewed, oil changes, new tires, any routine car maintenance, anti-virus software for your computer, homeowner's association fees, vet fees for vaccinations and heartworm medications.

8. Put the money back for Christmas gifts, Birthday gifts, Anniversary gifts, Hostess gifts and other occasions where you need to purchase something for someone else.

9. Replace an item that is on it's last leg that will not be a fun expense to pay when it actually goes out like a water heater, air conditioning unit, refrigerator, stove, fixing cracks in the foundation of your home, or any other item that may be on it's last leg that you would rather fix now then be in an emergency situation later. No one wants their furnace to go out when the temps are in the negatives and the furnace company tells you that the technician will be out in three days to fix it.

10. Put the money back to pay for gas for your vehicle for a year. It will almost feel like you are getting free gas for a year.

11. Use the refund to pay for prescriptions and medical copays and deductibles that you may expect throughout the year.

12. Pay any membership fees, professional membership fees or dues that you may be responsible for throughout the year.

I know that it may feel more fun to have something shiny and new in your home, but wouldn't it feel better knowing that you have money put aside for the things that you know are coming up that you need to spend money on and then not have it touch your entire paycheck when it happens. It will almost feel like getting free tires put on your car or having a free air conditioning unit put in when it actually happens. If you still want that shiny new thing. do it the old fashioned way where you save a little money from each check and then pay for it in full when you have the money.



Friday, April 10, 2015

So Many Options To Waste Money

Everywhere you look, there are so many options to waste your hard earned money. Temptations are everywhere. If you go grocery shopping, they put non food, colorful items in your view that make you think that you need it. If you get a service done, like getting a hair cut, they may suggest highlights or that you buy a product for your hair. Sales people are very good at trying to convince you to buy things that you don't need.

It is good to know this going in and instead of an automatic "Yes" to every suggestion of something that you should buy, "No" should be the first thing out of your mouth. Sales people do not give up at the first no. If a hair cut, was what you intended to go in for, then a hair cut should be what you walk out with. If it is time to buy conditioner for your hair, you should walk out with conditioner only and not any other item that you may have come across along the way. No one should convince you to hand over more of your hard earned money for something that you were not planning to buy.

Think of all the beauty items that you have that you tried once and didn't like that is taking up space in your bathroom. You decided to get that product because it was going to give you something that you wanted like gorgeous straight hair or beautiful eyes and when you found that it did not deliver what you wanted and you stopped using it and put it away. What makes you think that this product is going to do anything different for you? If you have something that works, keep using it, don't be fooled by ads and pushy sales people that try to convince you otherwise.  No sales person is looking out for what is best for you. Be strong.

I know I became deaf to sales people when I immediately thought that I would like to spend an extra $15 on my student loans than having hot cocoa and an aromatherapy candle burning during my massage. I am so determined to pay them off that nothing is going to shift my focus.

You need to train yourself to not accept every shiny new thing that is dangled before you, so it's important to ask yourself:

Do I need it?

Will I use it?

Would I work an extra hour to pay for this?

Do I already have something like this at home?

Would I rather put this money towards my debt?


The first time you say "No" is liberating and makes you feel more comfortable with the word "No" the more you use it. Look out for yourself, because no one else is and no one knows your best interests like you do.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Way to Look At Decluttering

If your house were to catch on fire, what 3 things would you grab?

Chances are you would grab your spouse, your pets, your children and other family members to get them out. Your "things" would just sit in the house to be engulfed in flames and destroyed. This is an exercise in what is truly important to you. So looking around your home right now, I want you to think about if your house did catch on fire and everything was destroyed and you are at the point where you had to replace what you want in your new home.

Look at your possessions and ask yourself:

Would I replace this?

Would I buy this item again?

Do I use this?

If the answer to all these questions are no, then the item needs to go. You paid for that item (or may still be paying for it) so if it's not something that you use or would buy again, you can either sell it, donate it, return it or give it away. I have done a ton of decluttering and have made money off the items that I no longer loved or would use and put it towards my student loans. Every time that I think that I am done decluttering, I always find more things that I have no use for.

Selling Your Items:

  • I use Amazon to list my items and then go to the post office to ship them off. Easy. I love Amazon

  • I also use a local consignment shop for clothes, shoes, purses, odds and ends items like home d├ęcor that I will never use again. Be careful here though, you want to make sure that the consignment shop has been in business for 5 years or longer. I once used a local one where I dropped off a ton of clothes and shoes, only to go back 2 weeks later with more items and found their door locked tight with a sign that said "Thank you for your business for the past year." I won't be making that mistake again anytime soon. So just be careful where you choose to consign.

  • You can also have a garage sale if you choose. I have never had one because I have watched other people have garage sales. It is a way to make quick money, but not a lot of money. If you list an item for $10, someone is bound to offer you 5 cents for it. I have seen spousal arguments at garage sales and exhausted looking faces. This isn't worth it for me, but if you feel like a garage sale is the way to go, by all means, try it.
Donate Your Items:

  • You can donate your items to Goodwill, a local homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter or an animal shelter. You can choose where your donations go. I donated my wedding dress to goodwill last summer. I wore it once and know that I will never wear it again so I would rather donate it so someone else can use it. I had the dress preserved so I donated it in the box and the man that I handed it to was in total shock and asked me if I was sure at least 4 times and I said "Yes" each time. A wedding dress is not an item that I would replace if my house caught on fire. My memories of that day are preserved in my head that I can tap into anytime I want.
Returning Your Items:

  • If you bought something recently and had to pay for it with a credit card and are having buyer's remorse then the item needs to be returned. Check to see what the store's return policy is and find the receipt and return it. Get it off your credit card. If you aren't going to use it, it has no business being in your house taking up space.
Giving Away Your Items:
  • You can give items away to family members, friends, whoever you want. I have some bulky items like an entertainment center stand that has been sitting in my basement collecting dust over the past 3 years that is in excellent condition that I am putting out of large item pick up day in my community. I would probably get $10 for it at a garage sale (or more likely 25 cents), but having one of those is not worth it for me, so to the curb it goes.

I know with the exercise at the beginning that some people would be grabbing photo items and family heirlooms and that is your personal choice. I am in the process of scanning all my photos so they are digital and then uploading them to Dropbox for storage so everything is digital so I will never lose my photos in a fire. If my house is on fire and I have time to either grab a family heirloom or my dog, my dog would be my choice. Everything is else is just stuff.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The 27th (Loan 1-04 Paid in Full Today!)

So today was exciting, I paid off Stafford Loan 1-04. Here is the breakdown of what I did.

I put back $75.00 from my 3/13 paycheck.

I added the difference from the $200 I put back for my regular student loan payment from the automated debited amount of $182.73, which was $17.27.

Total=$92.27

To pay off the 1-04 loan, the total was $111.91 was what I needed to pay it in full, so I went ahead and just took $19.64 out of my regular spending money just to pay off the balance in full.

So my next loan that I plan to attack is the Stafford 1-09 which has a balance of $1184.62 as of 3/27/15.

The next 27th post should be more exciting, I will have extra shift pay and a raise added that I will pretend that I did not get again this year to pay down the loans faster.

It feels great to pay off another loan installment, I am going to reward myself with a movie from the library since I have a day off work today and have some time to myself. I almost never watch television so this will be a treat for me. If you are doing the same thing, try to reward yourself with something that you enjoy that doesn't involve over-spending or over-splurging.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crazy Things I Do To Save Money: Haircut at Beauty School

I recently tried another way to save money. I went to the local beauty school in my area where they cut your hair for $6. I went online and was amazed at the services that they offer and how cheap they were, so I decided to give it a try to see if this is something that I would continue to do to save money in the future.

I don't get my haircut often, it's usually about every 4-6 months and I usually just get my hair trimmed since I like to keep it long.

This is done by students learning and since I have long hair and figured that if they mess it up, I would go and get it fixed somewhere else without having to worry about it drastically changing up how I look. I asked for a trim with some layers added in.

I was pleasantly surprised by the haircut that I got.

Pros:

  • It's a cheap haircut.

  • The student is under supervision by an instructor and in my case, the instructor came over frequently to check the student's work and corrected what she missed.

  • The student was very careful and took her time with my hair. She was really trying to do a good job and made sure that I liked the haircut that I was getting.

  • It's a nice feeling to help out students that are learning in their field to become professionals.

Cons:
  • It was very time consuming. It took her about 2 hours to cut my hair and that included the shampoo. So if you are looking for a quick haircut, this is not the place to go if you are in a hurry.

  • It's a little nerve racking wondering if they are going to do a good job. The student appeared nervous every time the instructor came over to check her work and gave her some pointers on how to check length and do layers correctly.

I would definitely go again. If you are looking for a drastic change in your hair, I would probably go to a regular salon. I have not tried out their other services, like color or highlights, but I would definitely give it a try.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I Choose Not To Extreme Coupon

I remember when I first saw the Extreme Couponing show on TLC and was in absolute awe of what these people were able to do with coupons so of course I jumped on that bandwagon and tried it out for a few months and found that it really wasn't for me. Here are a few reasons why:

It's VERY time consuming.

I used to get so excited about getting the Sunday paper and would spend hours going through the coupons and clip all of them and find out how many overages I would get and how much the final bill would be. I would spend about  hours a day looking at websites to match sales and trying to meal plan around those sales. It soon got to the point where I dreaded it when the Sunday paper came and would put off going through it. In the end, having receipt with a zero total of a very low total just was not worth it for me.

I would also go to multiple stores where the deals were spending a good portion on my days off just to get stuff. Instead of spending my time relaxing and spending time with people I care about, I would spend it raiding clearance bins and matching coupons to deals.

I would end up with a diet of more processed foods

Most of the coupons in the Sunday paper are for very processed unhealthy foods and snacks. There are no coupons for fresh meat, fruits and vegetables so slowly as I became obsessed with couponing, these healthy staples ending up getting eliminated from my diet.

I would buy things with coupons that I didn't need or want just to have overages.

I remember the day that I had coupons for Febreze plug ins for $3 off one plug in. In a clearance bin, I found a bunch marked down to $2, so I would end up with $1 in overages for each plug in that I would buy. I though that I was getting an awesome deal.

The truth was, I don't use plug ins at all, so I was buying things that I didn't need and wasn't going to use at all just to get free money which is wasteful. I ended up taking these to my local consignment shop.

I was getting free items with coupons that I didn't even want or need just because they were free.

I still have a ton of dental floss that I got for free with coupons, but the truth is, I don't even use that kind of floss because it is hard to get my back teeth with regular floss and I would still buy (full price) the regular floss that I would use.

Coupons make a suggestion that you buy something that you wouldn't normally.

It amazes me the amount of snacks that are available today and the kind that you buy just because you have a coupon doesn't save you any money at all and adds to your grocery budget.



So with all that being said, I have turned into an Opportunistic Couponer.

  • If I am going to get an oil change, I will go online to try to find a coupon to save me some money.
  • If I am buying something online, I will always search for a coupon code to see if I can save money.
  • If I get a coupon in the mail, I will hang onto it and if I happen to go to the restaurant/clothing store/franchise I will keep the coupon in my wallet for when the opportunity presents itself, but I will not go just because I have a coupon.

I know Extreme Couponing works for some families, but it doesn't work for myself and my husband who make up a family of two people. I remember looking at huge chest freezers and shelves to store all of my couponing finds when my husband snapped me back to reality reminding me that it is just him and me. So after living through giving this a try, I have learned that there are better ways to save money without being so wasteful, like buying only what you need, buying generic, shopping the perimeter of the store and making sure that your meals include a protein a carb and a vegetable and doesn't revolve around what new dinner item coupon is available in the Sunday paper.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The 27th

So it's time for my student loan payment for February. I was excited about making this one. I was able to pay an extra $785.20 on my loans this month in addition to my regular payment. This is how I did it:

On 1/30 I put back $75 from that paycheck.

On 2/13 I put back 75 from that paycheck. Also on 2/13, I got my quarterly bonus from work which after taxes was $439.38.

On 2/27 I put back $75 plus the 103.55 for picking up an extra shift this month.

I also subtract the total that is automatically deducted from my payment from $200 since I am still pretending that my monthly payment is $200. So the amount that was deducted was $182.73, so I was able to add an extra $17.27 to my extra payment.

Grand total= $785.20

I applied this to my 1-04 Stafford loan which as of today has a balance of $897.26. So after today (before interest is applied for the month) I will owe $112.06 on this loan before it is paid off and I get to move on to the next one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You Shouldn't Pay For Things That Are Free (Or are already paying for)

And no, I'm not talking about stealing or shamelessly taking off with sugar packets and plates when you go out to eat.

I am talking about the things that you do have access to get for free or choose to pay extra for.

Let's start with entertainment...

Books, Magazines, Music,  Movies and Cookbooks

These are all things that you should never pay for. How many books do you own that you have only read once and have no plans to read again? Get them from the library and return them when done. How many magazines do you put aside and say that you will read one day, or say that you will make that dessert that looks like it takes a lot of effort and save the whole magazine for one page? Copy down that recipe and get them from the library and never buy another magazine again.

How many cookbooks do you have cluttering your kitchen that have maybe 5 recipes that you and your family like? Write down the recipes that you want to save and get rid of the cookbook. Same goes for cookbooks that have exotic ingredients that you know that you will never use, get rid of them. Get these books at the library and return when you are finished.

Movies at the library are not always the newest releases, but has anyone actually died because they didn't see a movie that they really wanted to see? Stalk the library website and put the movie on reserve as soon as it is loaded on the page-then enjoy not spending money on a movie that you will only watch once and never watch again.

Speaking of movies..

You shouldn't pay for premium channels either. Companies will run free previews of these channels from time to time. Use your DVR to record the movies that you want to see from these channels to watch when you don't have access to the premium channels.

I also think that no one should pay for Satellite radio. It is a premium upgrade that I feel is a waste of money when you can listen to the radio in your car for free or listen to CD's or a playlist that you already own. Even if you were to download new songs to add to your playlist, it still would be a lot cheaper than having a Satellite radio subscription.

Trash Bags

Most people end up with a ton of plastic bags when they buy items. Use these for trash bags instead of just buying trash bags that you will throw away anyway. I don't end up with too many plastic bags because I try to avoid them when possible and use reusable canvas bags to take my groceries home in.

Scrap Paper

Everyone gets junk mail. I turn mine over to see if there is a blank page on the back and turn mine into notebooks. I made a post on this about some of the crazy things that I do to save money.

Free Checks

Some banks offer free checking and free checks. The plain boring ones are free and the ones with cute pictures and backgrounds are not. Stick with the plain boring ones, no one cashing your check spends any time admiring the pictures and it's a huge waste of money.

Stamps

Sign up for online bill pay and save your stamps for Christmas and Birthday cards.

Shipping

Before you complete an online shopping order, check online to see if there are any discount codes for free shipping being offered.

Water

Don't buy a bottle when you are out. Fill up a reusable container to take with you when you run your errands. Make it special by adding lemon, cucumber, cantaloupe or limes.

Ordering Pizza the Same Day You Go Grocery Shopping

If you know that you are going to be tired when you come home after shopping and don't want to cook, pick up a premade or frozen pizza for when you come home. You will save money on delivery fees, tip and pay a lot less for pizza for the family.

Credit Report

No one should pay for this. You can gets yours free at www.annualcreditreport.com

A Company To Pay Off Your Credit Card Balance After You Die

I have one store credit card that is rarely used and when I got the new card after the old one expired, I called in to activate the card and the women tried to talk me into paying $4.99 a month for them to pay off my credit card balance in the event that I die before it is paid off. I explained to the woman that I never carry a balance and pay it off right away as soon as I charge something. She used her persuasive sales skills to try to convince me to sign up for this program. I wasn't biting. I am not paying $59.88 a year for something ridiculous that I don't need.

Ridiculous Upgrades

One of the things that I splurge on is a massage membership where I go and get a massage once a month. I went in last month and they were offering to have a Peppermint aromatherapy candle burning during the massage and you get a cup of hot chocolate after it is over for $10. This is an upgrade that I was not willing to pay for.

You are always going to be pressured to buy more or to pay for things that you don't need. You just have to know where to draw your line in the sand. Every time you say no to something that you don't need means more money in the bank to save or to pay off debt.






Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Buy Most Of My Boring Essentials at the Dollar Store

If there was a way that I could buy everything that I use at the Dollar Store, I would do it. There are things that I won't compromise on like conditioner, body lotion, deodorant and mascara and I break down and buy these for higher prices because I like to have better quality with these products.

Think about what you use around your house. Do you really need to spend $10 on trash bags that you are just going to throw away anyways? I try to avoid using trash bags if I can, but I will buy these at the Dollar Store. They are not as strong as the more expensive bags, but I am not okay with spending money on something that I plan to toss out. Do you really need a $15 calendar when you can get one for just a dollar?

This is just stuff.

Consumable, use until it's gone stuff.

I see no reason to spend a lot of money on simple items.

Cleaning products  I buy dish soap, wood cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, dish rags, towels, spray bottles for my own cleaning solutions that I make, buckets and toilet cleaning brushes. I do splurge on a little more expensive dishwasher detergent because I find that the Dollar Store Brands don't get my dishes as clean as I like. Same with the laundry detergent, I make my own laundry soap that lasts for a little over a year and it works very well.

I also like to dilute the multipurpose cleaner and put half into a an empty spray bottle and then fill both half empty bottles with water.

Beauty products I will get razors, teeth whitening pen (this shocked me, but it works and I love it). I also buy eye shadow colors that I just want to experiment with, cold cream, sunscreen, bar soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair ties, hair clips and headbands.

Household products I will get the long lighters, cleaning wipes for the car, candles, greeting cards, gift paper, gift bags, bows and gift tags, tape, envelopes, calendars, batteries, plastic storage containers for food, hand soap, baking pans, gardening gloves and random kitchen utensils.

I have saved a lot of money by checking my local Dollar Tree first to see if they have what I need first before breaking down to buy these things somewhere else. I have found that if you do miss shopping, that looking around the Dollar Store is very helpful in fighting that urge. It helps me realize that there are a lot of things that I don't need that I don't want to waste a precious dollar on and I end up sticking to what is on my list. I also think about where I am going to put a potential impulse buy and I end up putting it back when I realize that I don't really want the impulse buy at all.

When you have people over, no one notices that you don't have top of the line trash bags or top of the line cleaning products (or if they do notice, they don't say anything.) When given the chance to buy generic anything, I go with the generic. It is a lot cheaper and I love that I can put that money somewhere else like towards a vacation or towards my student loan debt or put in into savings.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Immune to Shopping for Pleasure

Do you ever seem to notice that your weekends go by way too fast? Do you go back to work on Monday morning thinking "I didn't get anything done" or "I feel like I didn't get a day off at all"

Do you ever stop to think what you actually did over the weekend? How did you spend your time? Did you do what you really wanted to do?

Most weekends you see people out shopping for pleasure, aimlessly wandering the rows of endless stuff to clutter your home with. Some people even consider shopping a hobby. I read a lot about minimalism and the articles speak to me. Do I really need another thing to put on my shelf or another thing to add to my wall? No. Minimalism is about getting rid of all the things that you don't need to make room for what you want in life. Over the past 2 years I have been slowly downsizing to get rid of the things that I no longer have use for. These things didn't come into my house overnight, so it takes awhile to go through them to get them out of the house.

  • I have gotten rid of clothes that I not longer like or no longer fit or have to be dry cleaned.
  • I have gotten rid of things that I was just hanging onto just in case I needed them again someday.
  • I have gotten rid of gifts that I was hanging onto, just because it was a gift.
  • I have gotten rid of things that I know I would never use again.
  • I have gotten rid of old electronics that were cluttering up the drawer.
  • I have gotten rid of books that I have read only once and never plan to read again.
  • I have gotten rid of magazines, cookbooks, and phonebooks.
  • I have gotten rid of accessories that I do not like or rarely wear.
  • I have gotten rid of endless paper clutter that I don't need.
  • I have gotten rid of beauty/hygiene products that I know I will never need again.
So with all this decluttering, do you feel like you really want to spend your weekend or time off bringing things into your home that you may end up getting rid of in another 6 months? NO. So in a way, I have become immune to shopping for pleasure. I like to spend my time doing more things.

So now my weekends are filled with naps, walks, reading, writing, work outs, spending time with family and friends, playing with my dog and doing what I want to do.

So when I work on Monday, I feel recharged and refreshed and not like I'm spending all my time working, sleeping and shopping  and doing the mundane things of life that have to be done.

Some weekends, I will spend the entire day either Saturday or Sunday curled up with a good book, because that is what I want to do and I am ok with that.

You just have to figure out what you are ok with doing with your precious weekend time and make it happen.



Saturday, January 31, 2015

Crazy Things I Do To Save Money: Notepad Out of Junk Mail


Notepads are one of those things that you should never waste money on. You get all kinds of paper in your mailbox everyday that you may toss in the recycle bin without a second thought. I make my own notepads from the junk mail that I get.

Step 1: Take unwanted junk mail and letters you receive and turn them over. Chances are you have blank paper on the other side that hasn’t even been used.
 

Step 2: Grab a pair of scissors and a binder clip

Step 3: Cut the junk mail into 4 squares
 

Step 4: Secure your new “notepad” with the binder clip
 

Now you have a notepad to write out a grocery list, doodle, write your plan for world domination or whatever you want.

The 27th


The 27th is when my payment is due. I had an automated payment of $182.73. Then I added:

$60.00 (put back from my 12/31 check which was my raise which I pretended that I didn’t get)
$36.15 (an Amazon payment for selling an old Nook)
$216.32 (Money that I earned for picking up 2 extra shifts)
$60.00 (put back from my 1/15 paycheck which was my raise that I pretended that I did not get.)
$6.22 (an Amazon payment for selling an old video game-hey every little bit helps.)

Total=$378.69

Then I always put back $200 for my student loan payment which I will continue to pretend to pay even though my payment has been going down.

$200.00-182.73=$17.27 (I add this difference to my payment.)

Grand total to put towards extra loan payment= $395.96

I applied this to my Stafford Loan 4 to pay down one balance at a time.

$1291.79-$395.96=

Remaining balance $895.83

The Plan


I plan to pay off my loans a few different ways.

Last year, I “pretended” like I did not get a raise at work and took the extra $120 a month and put it straight towards my student loans. I plan to do the same thing this year with my raise to add to the $120 I already put  towards my loans. It may be tempting to  celebrate and spend your raise, but if you do it once, it is harder to keep the discipline of going back to pretending like you don’t have it.

I also get the occasional quarterly bonus from work that I also put towards my loans.

I have taken clothes and other items that I am not going to use or no longer care about to my local consignment shop.

I sell used items that the consignment shop won’t take like old video games and books on Amazon.

Not getting a raise this year?

Do you:

Have cable or satellite?

Have magazine or newspaper subscriptions?

Have a gym membership that you don’t use?

Have any membership that you don’t use?

Get your hair and nails done?

Have someone come in to clean your house when you are capable of cleaning it on your own?

Have someone mow the lawn or do any other maintenance that you are capable of doing on your own?

Go out to eat more than once or twice a month?

Eat fast food?

If you stop doing any one of these things or a combination of several of them, then congratulations, you have just given yourself a raise. I know that you may be thinking that “I HAVE to have my hair done.” or “I HAVE to have satellite are you kidding me?” Just remember, these things are temporary and you don’t have to give up everything. Just look at the things in your life that are priorities and eliminate the things that aren’t.

My gym membership is a priority because I see it as an investment in myself (and I love working out).

I could go without television because whenever I take the time to actually turn it on-there is nothing on that I am interested in watching-so I turn it back off and grab a book or go outside. My husband CANNOT go without television and so it stays. I chose when I sit down to watch a program with him or do something else. My life does not revolve around several shows that I have to see every week.

I do not get my hair or nails done. I clean my house myself. My husband loves working outside so our lawn and landscaping is taken care of. We stay away from fast food for the most part, but we love going out to eat for date nights.

You have to decide what will work for you and what will not. Just remember that these changes are temporary. After your loans are paid off and you are debt free, you can use that money however you like.

Getting Started


Welcome to my blog. I created this as a way to motivate myself and others to pay off student loan debt and realize that there is more to life than money and working all the time. Let’s rewind to around 2007-2008. I was working on my Master’s degree and doing an internship and working 40 hours a week and an extra 20 hours a week for an internship. I was exhausted and have no idea how I made in through that year. I never felt the relief that I felt on the day that I graduated-no more papers, no more final exams, no more unpaid internship. The six month grace period came and went and I finally received my monthly student loan bill of $235 and a grand total of $35,000 in student loans.

When you see a huge number like $35,000, you try not to think about it, just like a mortgage payment. You blindly go through each month making the minimum payment because that it the way that it is supposed to be-right? WRONG. I didn’t want to spend the next 30 years of my life making the minimum payments. That would mean that I would have this payment until I am 56 years old. I’m sure there are better things that I want to spend my money on by the time I’m 56.

So after making 120 payments on time, my monthly payment dropped to $204.36. I also opted to have the monthly payment taken out automatically, which also gave me a little break on the interest that I was paying.

So here it is 2015, and I have paid off a total of 3 of my 12 Stafford Loan Installments by throwing money at the smallest of the loans to get them paid off. I was amazed by the rush that I felt when one more was eliminated out of the list. I still have a long way to go and hope that you can experience the same rush that I have by paying off those student loans.

So here is where I am at now:

I owe a grand total of: $29,606.98 as of 1/19/15 and my loans are separated into the following:

Stafford Loans     Loan Balance     Interest Rate

1-01                     $4,398.13                  2.33

1-03                     $4,398.09                  2.33

1-04                     $1,291.48                  2.33

1-05                     $2,199.20                  2.33

1-07                     $3,232.29                  2.33

1-08                     $4,174.08                  2.33

1-09                     $1,199.54                  2.33

1-10                     $4,559.93                  6.8

1-12                     $4,154.24                  6.8

Grand Total:$29,606.98

The loan that I am currently attacking is the 1-04. Last year, I pretended that I did not get a raise so the extra $120 a month that I get goes towards the extra student loan payment on top of the current monthly payment of $182.73. I also add any extra money like from the items that I sell at my local consignment shop, bonuses from work or any extra money that may come my way.

I plan to show you how to pay off student loans as quickly as possible and help others to do the same and get excited about the process of this as well so you can live life free from the anxiety of student loan debt and start living the life that you want to live.