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student loans

monthly roundup no. 7: march 2018

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It’s the end of March which means spring is officially here. That means it will finally get warm… right? RIGHT?! This long-lasting chill is making me crazy. Going through my Pocket this month shows me that I’ve been really career-minded lately, and this link round-up post is pretty indicative of that. Read on for some great resources to check out to build your employability and get organized (and also get clean teeth with really cute toothbrushes)!

Signature is one of my new favorite blogs, and their Memoir Writing Guide is awesome. I don’t have any grand plans to publish my own memoir, but past therapists have given me exercises to write about traumas and tough memories – this guide helped give me some more prompts on how to get started on this, and I love writing exercises.

I’m not a hypochondriac (said every hypochondriac ever,) but my family history of cancer has given me some pretty severe anxiety. Any weird ache or pain or ailment or symptom and I’m convinced that I’m the next in line for chemo. This post from WBUR on onco-anxiety – this specific fear I have is actually so common that it has a name – helps me realize that it’s a pretty valid fear for many.

Marisa Mohi is a Twitter friend-of-a-friend with a fantastic blog and super cute Etsy shop. I’ve been gearing up to clean and reorganize my office for literal months – this post with ideas on desk organization for creatives is what has finally gotten me off my butt to get moving.

Marlow is a new business and employment blog, but they already have promise. This article on expanding your network was really helpful – I’m very guilty of being a bit narrow-sighted in thinking that since I’m so happy in my current job that I don’t need to put effort into my career or brand (not to mention I get pretty nervous and awkward at networking events.)

Google’s Digital Garage is a really great free educational resource to work on your employment skills. I’ve been doing some of the digital marketing activities here, and they’re super useful! If you’re looking to career shift or even just build on your current job skills, it’s a really nice resource.

I’ve been a very long-time fan and reader of The Billfold, and current editor Nicole Dieker launched a podcast last fall called Writing & Money. I’ve ramped up my freelance pitching game lately, and this podcast has really helped me feel confident in pitches and stories! < If you have a LinkedIn profile and use any kind of software in your job, you could earn Starbucks or Amazon gift cards for adding reviews to G2 Crowd. They do apparently have a limit so even if you use a seemingly endless amount of programs, they’ll eventually put a cap on your rewards, but I used my Amazon gift cards from them (in conjunction with the ones I’m still loading up on from Swagbucks) to score some sweet new workout wear and running shoes. 

The Student Loan Refinancing Blueprint: I’ve been thinking for awhile about refinancing my student loans. This post from Comet broke down a lot of the remaining questions I had and helped guide me through which of my loans (if any) would be good candidates for refinancing. I also found this student loan spreadsheet from Student Debt Warriors which made me confront all my outstanding debt and really break it all down – something I’ve pushed off and ignored for years.

And now for something completely different, BF subscribed us to Quip a few months ago. I’ve never had an electric toothbrush before, so it’s a whole new world for me, but I really love the toothbrush and the toothpaste is super good. The brush has a built-in timer with notifications every 30 seconds so you know when to switch sections of your mouth, and my teeth are the cleanest they’ve ever been.

Do you read a lot of business or employment articles? Share your faves with me – I love to read career-related posts!

March 30, 2018
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M.O.N.E.Y / April is Financial Literacy Month

Posted in Money by

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pril has been Financial Literacy Month, which is great timing as I’ve been focusing this month on “spring cleaning” my finances and getting my money back in order (and spending under control.) I’ve definitely been guilty of lifestyle inflation lately and it’s a habit I want to get out of. Especially since I’m traveling so much this year, I’d much rather save up cash to be able to have great experiences rather than impulse shopping because I’m bored at home alone.

Obviously, the most important thing is to budget your money and track your spending so you know where it’s going. Every dollar has a job, and you are your own CFO – it’s on you to make sure those “jobs” are getting done. I won’t pretend to have the best budgeting spreadsheet or system, but I really like the tools on Learnvest and Mint. They connect with all your financial accounts and do the hard work for you, so you can log in to one place to see all your money matters.

This year, I have worked hard to get comfortable being uncomfortable. When I moved, my living expenses more than doubled, so I’ve had to cut out and cut back some of my favorite treats like daily Starbucks or weekly mall trips. Things that were by no means necessary, but little things that I enjoyed that made me happy. Cutting these and making coffee at home and having clothing swaps with friends have taken the place now, and while it’s a little out of my comfort zone, it’s definitely been worth it.

Another good way to keep an eye on your money is to track your income. For people who have just one salaried job where the paycheck doesn’t change each week, this is probably not imperative or even helpful – in my old job, I was salaried, and didn’t have any side hustles, so I always knew every month precisely what I was going to take home. Now that I have multiple income streams, my income varies. I always budget based on the bare minimum I know I’ll be making from my full time job, and track everything that is extra in order to see what I have left to play with (aka save for travel or pay down student loans.)

trim the fat – Going along with spring cleaning, this is a good time to look through your credit card or bank statements and see what you can cut back on or eliminate totally. If there’s a recurring subscription you haven’t used in months, get it out of there. If there’s a credit card with a low outstanding balance you can comfortably knock out, do it. It might also be a good yearly reminder to get on the phone to your cell phone and internet providers to remind them what a great customer you are and see if there might be a reduction they can offer you or a new discount you can take advantage of.

SAVE YOUR MONEY. Do whatever it takes, set up your budget in whatever way you’re most likely to a) stick to it and b) save money and spend purposely. I have to trick myself into pretending it’s a game. (Because I’m an adult.) I track the number of no-spend days I have in a row and celebrate if I break a streak. Things like that really help me want to be mindful of my money and concentrate on the ins and outs of it.

The most important thing in my financial journey has been reading personal finance bloggers. Some of my favorites are Budgets are Sexy, According to Athena, Money After Graduation, brokegirlrichVanessa’s Money, and Blonde on a Budget. The Billfold is one of my favorite reads as well. They all have fantastic resources and advice, whether you’re a finance all-star or just starting your budget for the first time, and sometimes it’s just nice to read through other people’s successes and failures as well.

How do you “do” money? Do you keep to a strict budget and track your spending, or do you just hope to break even at the end of the month?

April 27, 2015
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April Recap & May Goals

Posted in Living by

april recap may goals

Where is this year going? Seems like just yesterday I was celebrating New Year’s, sick on my couch with the flu. Anyway, let’s take a look at my April Recap:

  • PR at NWH YES YES YES! 2:57:30! Now onto 2:45 🙂
  • Stick to my budget pass – I went over, but not horribly, especially given that I paid $34 for parking while I was in DC -_- I never remember to budget for parking because at home, I know all the tricks to not pay for it.
  • Cook at least once a week check
  • Bring lunch at least four times a week/only eat out with someone else check, as long as Starbucks doesn’t count
  • Pay $500 to my student loans check paid $525.37. 
  • Walk to work once a week big fail. It’s not warm enough at 7:30 yet to even think about walking.
  • Max out moving fund fail not really sure where I thought I was going to find an extra $1300 to get there in one month…
  • Go to Ohio for Easter (and snuggle the shit out of my new little nephew<3) fail, I had an immovable doctor’s appointment on Good Friday so I didn’t go
  • Stick to my new nutrition plan (AKA the Beyonce life plan) check. I ate really well.
  • Calibrate all my electronic devices, clean up Dropbox check. Cleaned out the “downloads” folder on my work computer (nearly two years of font downloads, Photoshop brushes and admats…) and cleared out my overly full Dropbox
  • Try something new at the gym pass. I signed up for spin this Saturday, though, so I technically signed UP in April… I also made a friend at the gym, so that counts as something new, right?

I had a real come to Jesus moment with myself while updating my spending for the month when I realized how much I spent on food (spoiler alert, I went over by DOUBLE somehow. This might explain why I ate really well.) I’m surprised that I was able to pay so much to my loans this month and technically the last $100 payment hasn’t come out of my bank account yet, but it’s already posted on the loan system, so it counts… right?

May goals

  • Only go to Starbucks once/week
  • Spending freeze – no retail shopping
  • Run 75 miles
  • Pay $850 to my student loans
  • Retail spending freeze
  • Get my portfolio built
  • Apply to 20 jobs
  • Pay my dental bill and fax in the paperwork
  • Update medical paperwork

Starbucks is my little treat to myself. Sometimes I don’t go for two weeks and sometimes I go every day, but I want to cut back to no more than five times this month. That part should be easy – it’s the retail spending freeze that will be really hard. I want to sock away some cash to travel a bit this summer and, obviously, take bigger cracks at my student loans this month, so cutting back on food and shopping is where I’ll find that cash. I’ve been in application hyperdrive as of late, and I’ve broadened the locations I’m looking in. Originally I thought I wouldn’t be able to move to California, or I wouldn’t be able to move there solo – but I don’t care anymore. I need that sun and sand. I’ve been pushing off some sundry paperwork that I don’t feel like doing (updating contact info, faxing in receipts, etc) but that needs to get done this month.

How was your April? Are you ready for the summer sun like I am?

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May 1, 2014
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4 Ways Running A Marathon & Paying Down Debt Are The Same {money monday}

Posted in Money, Work Out by

Admittedly, I haven’t trained for a full marathon yet. I’ve trained for (and run) several halfs, though, and read a lot about going the full 26.2. And I have been working on paying down my student loans (thankfully the only debt I have) for longer than I care to think about. The two processes feel very similar. Here are a few examples of how.

  1. Training – to run nearly 27 miles, you have to put in the work. Not only does your body need to build endurance and muscle to run for that long, your brain needs to learn how to push through barriers and shut down the part of you that says “I can’t.” Paying down debt is the same way – no matter how much or how little, there’s always a part in your head full of doubt. Retraining your mind to think you can conquer your big goals – student loan payoff, running a marathon, or anything else that seems insurmountable can be accomplished if you get your mind right.
  2. It sucks – I can’t think of any runner who hasn’t thought this at least once. On a less than stellar run, during speed work or hill repeats, or even during Couch to 5k, we’ve all been there. Throwing money at debt also sucks – you have to make sacrifices and skip out on things you might want right now, and there’s nothing fun about that.
  3. It’s expensive – I’ve covered the costs associated with running before, and that barely begins to cover marathon entry fees for some of the bigger races. (Go on, Google it – I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the ground.) There are costs associated with paying off loans, too – interest rates and late fees can increase already high monthly payments.
  4. Research – everyone’s an expert on the internet, but for running and finance, this can be a good thing. Not every method works for every person, but if you read enough blogs and magazines, you’re sure to find a running method and payoff strategy that suits your style. And while sometimes it’s daunting to look at payoff success stories and feel like you’ll never be able to match their success, it’s also empowering to see that it is possible.

What big goals have you accomplished? Do you think paying off debt and running a marathon are comparable?

April 14, 2014
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Savings & Debt Payment check-in {money monday}

Posted in Money by

Today I logged in to my Capital One 360 account to flip some money from my birthday savings to the checking account to buy my plane ticket for Los Angeles and was super pumped to see this:

disneysavings

Having set up the automated savings last month has really made it easy, and I didn’t even realize I had that much socked away. It hurts a little to not have that almost-$700 sitting in my 3% interest earning checking account, but this way it’s much easier for me to spend it specifically on LA vacation details. In addition to the automatic savings that comes out of my paycheck, I dump extra windfall money here as well – ATM fee reimbursements, interest earned in my regular checking account, eBates cashback, GymPact earnings, secret shopping payments, things like that. If you’re looking for a “special occasion” savings account, Capital One 360 has been really easy and convenient for me and since I don’t carry this debit card around with me, it’s very out of sight, out of mind money. (Plus I like the graphs.) I would love to have all of my money pooling up in my 3% interest checking account to just accrue, but psychologically, that isn’t working for me right now. I need dividing lines.

Beyond saving for Disney, I’m still trucking away at these stupid student loans. I discovered Student Loan Hero via Stephanie at Empowered Dollar, which is a tool that lets you add all your student loans (and even syncs with the NSLDS and Fannie Mae) and displays all of them in an easy to read format. The only thing I don’t like about it so far is that you can’t change your loan priority.

This fall I am really trying to refocus on paying down my debts. On the 14th, I made the last payment on my dental work (thank God) so that’s another $40 I am getting back in my budget. Here’s my pretty, up-to-date, and sad year-to-date graphic:

debt update 10/18/13

Sad because I have some big expenses coming up and I know I won’t be able to hit the debt payment goal I had hoped to. I will need new running shoes before Disney (and probably won’t have enough Swagbucks to buy them,) plus holiday trips to see family in Cincinnati and Gatlinburg, I need new brakes AND tires, and I’m still replacing tings in my wardrobe since things are so ill-fitting.

Little by little. I’m getting there. Adulthood is expensive.

What is your best money hack?

October 21, 2013
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