Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There goes 2010

last thing i remember, i was eagerly setting up this blog with post ideas oozing our of my ears, my brain churning out thoughts faster than i could get to my laptop and dump them all out onto the pages of the internets.

next thing i know, this year is 2 days away from being over, and there are no additional posts about stories of budgeting and working like mad and all of the monthly decisions that led to something wonderful at the beginning of this month.

what was originally a 5-year car loan was paid off in 350 days!  

with interest, i paid just under 12K.  $601.25 was my final interest cost, and when i divide that by what i paid altogether, that is just 5.02% of total cost.  does this mean my super aggressive and accelerated payments shaved off about .73 off of my original 5.75% interest rate?  

i don't know how much interest i've saved myself by finishing the loan 4 years early, but i'm sure it'd be well over another $1000, even if i did continue to pay about $100 more than the monthly minimum, so YAY for saved money that can now be used for something else!

it's weird, i thought i'd feel better after this one, but i have one more interest-bearing student loan to go.  i am playing around with my 2011 monthly budget to start saving for other things, but my fingers might get click-happy again and start accelerating payments on that loan until it's gone.  emergencies aside, it wouldn't take me that long.  but then there's that trip to italy i've been dreaming about....

Current balances: 
college loan #1: $4,482.89 @ 5%
college loan #2: $2,750.00 @ 0%

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where I stand (May 2010)

it's been a pretty hectic weekend, and i'm so not ready to start another work week tomorrow. but gotta keep plugging along to pay the bills, right?

over the course of the week, i took a look at where i stand with all of my loans, and updated my budget, and even though i owe a decent amount of money, i'm actually doing pretty well and can't complain too much.  i just must have been born with the "pronto" gene, whether it's paying off my loans or fixing up my budget or other non-financial things.  but i gotta cut myself some slack and just chip away at it.  

so here's what i've got outstanding:
college loan #1: $4,915 @ 5%
college loan #2: $3,150 @ 0%
car loan: $10,565 @ 5.75%

since i graduated from college, my goal regarding a ROTH IRA has been to give myself some time to settle down, figure out what my budget is going to be like, pay off my highest interest student loan (that's already happened), and then have 2010 be the year i first max it out.  however, now that i've had to buy a car for work in the last 6 months, this massive car loan is breathing down my neck.  i've been around the block enough times to know every single side/argument of everything to do with car loans and i know, i thought about all of them, and i still made the choice that is right for me because at the time, i was still in my old position at work and i was fine paying a little bit on top of the loan each month and plugging along.  but now that i find myself in a new position making a decent (on the lower side of decent) amount more, all of a sudden, all systems are a go and i want to pay it off stat.  i'm a little torn thought - do i throw almost all of the extra money at the loan and push like heck to pay off the entire thing in 1 year?  my first payment was in late december, so i could try to be done with it by the end of 2010.  what would help, b/c i don't have THAT much money, is adding the money i get for business travel (reimbursed mileage).  or i could split it up and get the loan down to 5K, and still max out my ROTH IRA, then kill the remainder next year.  after that, i'd start aggressively paying down college loan #1.  i'm not even worried about #2, since that's $50/mo til it's done and it's not costing me anything extra.

with my pay raise coming in this month, i'm going to have an extra $600 to do something with.  i'm already contributing something to my ROTH 401(k), 5% with a 4% match.  but with my being unemployed for a few months last year, i drained a lot of my savings.  with my current bills, i have about 3 months of living expenses saved up.  

my preference is:
pay off car
increase emergency fund

i have until april 2011 to fund the IRA, and i may also split the money between growing my emergency fund and putting extra money towards the loan.  i should also mention that i'm thinking of increasing my tithe/giving, so that might throw a money wrench in everything and i wouldn't really care, as giving back remains my first priority anytime i run my numbers and/or am thinking about long-term goals.  

what will probably happen is i'll get an idea or a direction pop into my head and i'll follow that gut instinct.  that's sort of i work with my money, and so far, it hasn't done me wrong.  so i just have to be patient with myself, continue to sticking to my budget, remember that a little saving here and there do matter (hard to beat that square peg into the "go big or go home" round hole), and wait til i'm ready to make one or more of these bigger decisions.  if anyone has any thoughts, feel free to share!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


i've been desperately wanting to sit down and re-evaluate where i stand in all of my accounts, but my hours at work have just been plain crazy.  i also feel like i've just come off a very intense 18 months (and, oh, the last 10 years before that) of tracking my finances so meticulously, that i needed a break.  but i know i need to get back on the wagon for may, and step back for a bigger picture of where i am.  in the last 8 months, i've been unemployed, got a new job, bought a nused car, got a promotion, and have tried to stifle lifestyle inflation.  so i need a "where have i been, and where am i going" moment.  my biggest mental block to sitting down and doing this has been knowing that once i see my numbers, i won't be as happy about them, and the debt will feel too overwhelming and i don't be able to pay things off as fast as i want to.  but i need a starting point, however small.

i'll have something up by the weekend, if only to keep myself accountable.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Humble Beginnings

I wrote a lot when I was younger.  There was always a lot going on, with a trans-Atlantic move just as I started school, adjusting to life in America, navigating my way through a tumultous neighborhood, school experience, and family life, forging my way into the world of education at a time when girls my age from my culture did no such thing, and all of a sudden (or so it seems), finding myself catipulted into the throes of adulthood.  Every so often, I take a look at my life and cannot believe that I am where I am and that I have all that I have. 

Most of my journey revolves around becoming financially independent at a fairly young age, starting to deal with income, bills, and budgeting just as I turned double-digits.  I started reading a lot of personal finance blogs as I was getting close to graduating and entering the working world, and there were times where I just couldn't get enough.  If nothing else, my own experience has taught me about the importance of balance when it comes to money, and other peoples' journeys have confirmed as much. 

What I haven't found as much of, and maybe I just haven't clicked on enough links, is stories of people literally starting from the ground up, without a lot of resources or advice or anything else that comes from parents and family that grew up here and know the system and understand how to deal with the fine print.  Or people who can't necessarily follow the obvious pf tips and should-do's.  So I've been really wanting to write again, and this time, not just in my wide-ruled notebook, but to share the story of someone who started out really really small, and may not even make it to some really large sum in her retirement savings account.  Partly to throw another perspective out there.  But also for me, to remind myself that my progress is my own, that I should not be racing to catch up to someone else's networthIQ or feel inadequate when I can't save as much, and that I don't want to get so caught up in my spreadsheets and percentages and budgets that I lose sight of the better things in life.  So here's to making strides, big and small, in that direction.