Five things I plan on doing when my student loans are paid off

In light of starting to pay off my student loans a year ago last month, I’ve reflected on the things I could’ve spent the money on.  That’s not a healthy way of thinking and I’ve attempted to block it when the thought crosses my mind.  To combat it I’ve been thinking of the things I’ve accomplished both monetary and life progresses and successes.  It did get me excited about how different my life will be in five years or less when they’re gone for good.

 

1. Throw a party

l do plan on throwing a party once my student loans are gone.  I have no idea what it’ll look like, but I’m throwing confetti and giving myself a pat on the back.

 

Lady of Catan shirt (source: CatanShop)

2. Clothes shopping trip

I’ve often had to forego clothing purchases that I’d like because of money (either in debt or as a poor college student).  One of the things I’ll do once my debts are paid off is go on a good shopping trip to a mall I really like and give myself a $500 window.  It may not seem like much to some, but to someone who gets nervous spending more than $50 on clothes a month, it’ll be something else.

 

Leeds Castle, Kent, UK view from  Hot Air Balloon by Samantha Lacy, via Flickr, one of the most beautiful castles ever (Leeds Castle, source: Flickr)

3. Travel

One of my biggest goals in life is to travel.  It means traveling out of town, out of state and out of the country.  While I’ve done some traveling so far, I haven’t been out of the country yet, which is depressing to think.  Once my student loans are paid off, I plan on traveling to the UK for two weeks to celebrate.

 

4. Replacements

I have a couple things that are looking a little worse for wear or I’d like to replace.  Due to being focused on student loans, I’m holding off on those things until my debts are paid off.  I feel that, being frugal, I hold onto some things longer than I should.  I finally talked myself into recycling an old pair of jeans, that I loved before they got holes in them.  There’s no point in having two pairs of ‘painting and outdoor work’ jeans, especially when one has holes and rips!

 

Never underestimate your ability to make someone else's life better. Even if you never know it.

5. Donate, donate!

Over the years I’ve done a lot of volunteer work and donated money to various organizations, even leading a few programs with other board members.  I’ve had to step back in the last two years because of time and in some ways, money.  Once my student loans are paid off, I look forward to using my time not spent on part-time freelancing and ‘extra’ money towards donating my time and energy.

 

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Sadly I’m still another four years out before I can celebrate my student loans being gone at my current rate.  I’m due for a raise in a few months, but I’m hoping for a promotion or something similar before then.  Having always been under the banner of ‘poor college student’ or ‘in debt college graduate’ it’ll be strange, but exciting!

 

What do you plan on doing when your debts are gone (if you have them)?  If yours are paid off, what did you do to celebrate?

One year later

way too accurate... (via pinterest)

A year ago I put a decision into action, that action being paying off my student loans.  Although I graduated in 2011, I wasn’t in a place where I could pay off my student loans and do well with it (plus I was contemplating going for my masters, glad I didn’t).  I enrolled as a part-time student and worked three part-time jobs.  A year after graduation, I was able to quit all three and began working as a full time teacher.  The following Spring, I was finally settled (in my current apartment) and in a good place, so I finished off my classes, let go of the idea of pursuing my masters and prepared to start paying my student loans off.  This was last November (2013).

One Year Later

Fast forward to a year later and I just finished my last student loan payment for the year.  Sometimes it has been very draining, but I went in knowing that the first year would be the hardest.  Some of it was trial and error, but I’ve found what works best for me in terms of when to pay and how often.  Paying extra every month and making extra payments here and there have made a big difference.  When I total what I started off with, I’m happy to say that I’ve paid off  over $9000.  It may not seem like much to some, but considering I’m a teacher and bought a new car paid in full this year, I think that’s pretty good.  Two loans were paid off this year and I plan on paying off another small one in the next few months.  It’s going down!

YUS

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Spending changes

I’ve always been frugal and my student loan debt is the only mistake I can really fault myself on.  I’ve done an excellent job tracking everything (I have the really organized binders and records to prove it) and I’ve been mindful of ways I can save money.  In the coming year, I plan on searching for a better car insurance company (well, cheaper than my current one and one who doesn’t LIE) and finding more small ways to save.

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Extra money

I’ve also done a pretty good job of finding ways to earn extra money (side hustling).  Websites like bubblews, perktv, swagbucks and mypoints have helped me get things without spending money out of pocket or gone directly to my student loans.  I’ve also had a stellar online selling year, though this month things have capped off.  I was bringing in $100-300 a month, which isn’t too bad.  I’ll get an automatic raise in six months and maybe other promotions to increase my salary.

Inspirational Pillow.

November 2015

Where do I hope to be in a year as far as finances go?

  • Find more side hustles (I have a goal to earn $2000 extra next year, I met that this year!)
  • Pay off $10,000 or more on my student loans
  • Get a raise, promotion or a better paying position
  • Build up by savings
  • Contribute more to retirement

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I’ll have my goal update for November up by the end of the week.  I haven’t done too bad this month, but I need to book it on some goals to finish everything!

Ways in which I’m not frugal

When you’re paying off debts or saving up for something, frugality is a necessity (along with a budget).  Tied in with that is frugality or, by definition,  economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful (dictionary.com)  .  I’ve been frugal since I was in college and now that I’m paying off my student loans, it’s taken even more importance (because I actually earn money, but have more bills to pay).  I’ve always been good with money, I just have student loans because well, that’s another story.

Nelson Mandela

I was browsing forums the other day and stumbled across a trend of frugal things people do that society frowns on.  Some things were gross (stealing food from strangers after they finished a meal?) and some were sad (if people have to do these things, you never realize how fortunate you are).  Some were by choice.  Reading it made me think of the things I won’t do to be frugal and there are a few.

 

Housing

I live in a city that is the second most expensive area in my state to live in.  Most places cost $900+ to read (some being just 1 bedroom) and those aren’t always the best places.  I got very lucky when I was searching for a place closer to work (I was commuting with a 20 year old car 45 miles both ways) and found my current place.  I got it for $800 a month (2BR, 2BA), plus a washer & dryer, an amazing landlord and it’s within ten minutes of where I work.  It’s also in a good area of town, which can be tricky to find.  Some might argue it’s expensive, but for this area and what I get, it’s worth every penny.

 

Not having a roommate

I’m an introvert and I need my space, sometimes more than most.  My best friend and I were roommates the last two years of college and it was awesome.  The roommate before and one of the girls I lived with afterwards were complete nightmares though.  It does save money to split the cost, but I’d fine with spending the extra $400 a month to have a place completely to myself.

 

Buying organic/natural foods

One thing I won’t skip out on is eating healthy.  This doesn’t mean I’m doing all my shopping at the local farmers market or Whole Foods, but I do go as organic and healthy as I can.  I’m a vegetarian too and I make all my meals from scratch, plus I do all my baking from scratch.  If I’m faced with buying generic flour from $2.50 or organic for $5, I’m going with organic (the actual organic, not the mislabeled) everytime.  Same way from produce (unless it’s inside the skin, like bananas).

 

Having a new car

Older readers might remember my complaints about my old car.  It was 21 years old and I ran it until the transmission went out.  Not wanting to deal with that again, I made the decision to buy a new car.  I do not for a second regret the decision. It gets good gas mileage, I can travel safely and I don’t have to worry about it breaking down once a month (which was true for the entire last year I had it).

 

Internet

A popular trend to save money for some is to not have internet.  With work (online and my fulltime job) I need internet and a reliable one at that.  While I don’t like Comcast, they do have a monopoly in my area, so I am forced to pay their fees for a necessity.  Maybe someday I’ll live in area with something other than Comcast.

True

Miss spending time with loved ones

If a friend is in need and needs help, I’m there.  If a friend wants to see a movie, I’m there.  Of course the fun things are within reason, but I’ve had friends who really need help in a tight spot and I help them out as best I can.  Loved ones mean far more than a dollar to me and I’m not going to be frugal over that.  If a friend needs gas, I’ll give them the $10, for instance.  $15 in gas to see a friend, $10 to make a friends day or money to help a family member is worth far more than my frugal code.

 

What are things you won’t be frugal on?

 

June Goal Recap

Yes (John Green)

June felt like a month that went at a moderate pace.  For once, I didn’t feel like it breezed by faster than some months this year.  I was glad for that since it meant I was able to balance my life at a slower pace.  June itself was a good month and I had a week off from work, meaning I spent a week and a half traveling around to visit family and friends.  I look forward to those 6-7 weeks throughout the year when I can do that.  It’s hard being far away from family, especially since they’re getting older and from friends who mean a lot to me.  I have plenty here, but I definitely get nostalgic to move closer to family sometimes…ok a lot.

Goal wise, June was a pretty good month.  I think the only goal I was dissatisfied with was my extra earnings, but it happens.  More on those below!

 

Extra earnings ($1247.13)

$144-sales

$53.62 -Writing

Total: $197.62

My freelance check has been taking two weeks to get to me, so that hurt my extra earnings for the month.  Sales were great in the beginning of the month, and then basically stopped.  I had three people in a row cancel their orders, which stunk.

 

Reading Goal (34/100)

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortsenon

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

Horrible Histories: The Awesome Egyptians by Terry Deary

Paper towns by John Green

Tales to Inspire by Bathroom Reader Institute

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

Boy Next Door by Betty Cavanna

I was a readaholic this month (when I had time) and I’m already well on my way to reading a lot more in July.  I actually took one weekend to just read mostly and it was wonderful.

 

Beat 10 Video Games (6/10)

Bible Adventures (NES)

Final Fantasy IV & FFIV: Interlude (PSP)

I played a lot of video games this month and beat two.  I’m currently making my way through Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and have no doubt I’ll have it beaten by the end of next week.  After that, it’s time to reload either Shadow of the Colossus or Persona 4!

 

Complete 20 crafts (7/20)

The only one I finished this month was a Dalek piece for my Doctor Who bathroom. I started on Rose in the beginning of the month, but haven’t worked on it in two weeks. My goal in July is to get her finished and the tenth Doctor. Oh and I need to start on gift crafts in July.

 

Volunteering (5/10 opportunities)

I slacked off on this one with the exception of donating to service dogs of Virginia.

 

Pay off $10,000 of student loan debt ($4650.81/$10,000)

I was VERY happy to pay off over $2,000 worth of student loans this month. I only wish I could do this every month, but I don’t forsee this happening again until I get my next tax refund. I’m halfway through the year though and not halfway through, so I’ll need to up the payments…somehow.

 

Get rid of 365 items (233/365)

I only got rid of 27 things in June, but since I’m already ahead for the year, I’m not too bothered by this fact. I anticipate I’ll get rid of a lot more in July, mostly due to giving away things to friends and (hopefully) more sales.

 

Clothing goal (replace and add)

This is a weird goal because I don’t have a formal way of tracking it. I’ve been more adamant this year about recycling or donating clothes that I no longer need, but also getting better quality clothes and making my overall wardrobe better. By the end of the year I hope to have a couple more things in my wardrobe and get rid of the things I really don’t want.

 

Recycling

I took my recycling twice this month and it felt so good to do it! I’ve learned a lot more this year about what things can be recycled and how, which has affected what I buy and even how I buy things.

 

Traveling

I went to visit a close friend in Maryland in June, which was awesome. I also discovered why people complain about the beltway and why I’d not want to live there just because of the traffic! That being said, I DO want to move closer to the Northern Virginia area someday, only I’ll stick with the outskirts like Manassas.

 

Try out 40 new recipes (22/40)

I didn’t do a ton of new recipe experimenting this month (due to being out of town), but I did make some new Japanese recipes, one of which is a definite keeper, Miso soup. I’ve had it many times and it is a personal favorite, so I’m glad to have found one that tastes just as good as the ones I get in Japanese restaurants. The other three things I made didn’t get recipe cards made for them.

 

Filling bear bank to the top

I put money in it every week in June. I’m worried about it not getting to the top at this rate, but I do put what little spare coins I get in. I’m planning on investing in coin wrappers in July to prepare and I already have plans for when it’s full and ready to be banked!

 

Get out there more

I did a good job of this and found myself out and about more often. I went to Doctor Who: Rise of the Cybermen with two friends, went out exploring Rockville Maryland, went to places with friends and met my first online friend. We’ve been friends for 7 years and met this weekend. It was a lot of fun and we clicked super well!

Revealing your debt

I read quite a few debt blogs and while each is unique, there is one common trait I see on every blog.

How much debt they have.

Some may have noticed I haven’t revealed my debt number, yet. The truth is, I’m embarrassed by the amount (though it’s less than what many have) and want to reach a certain number before I’m upfront about revealing it.  Only 3-4 people know what my debt number is, but many friends know that I have a decent amount in student loans.  Actually, I feel like I too often sigh and saying “when I’m debt free” or “if I didn’t have student loans”.  I’m jealous of those who don’t have them and can travel abroad or buy cool things or even better, donate to good causes and help out others.  I can only do those things on a smaller scale.

What is a Loan?(pinterest)

Provided I get to the amount I’m aiming for by the end of the year, I’ll post my debt number.  Until then, I’ll keep it hush hush and then I’ll be honest.  This is how much I started with, this is what I have now, this is how much remains.  Since I stated paying back my debt aggressively, I’ve taken off quite a bit (in 8 months).  I’m hoping the next six months of the year are just as good!

 

35 Reasons to get out of debt as fast as I can

Maybe if i pray hard enough God will make my student loans disappear....

After paying over $2,000 towards student loans this past month (take that!) I’ve reflected on how far I still have to go to get them gone.  I’m sorry to say how much I think about it, but then I think ‘just a little more work and I’ll be less in debt’ and it propels me forward.  I have a good balance, but I know I won’t be free until its gone…in five years.  I’ve officially set a timeframe of five years for myself.  I’ll be 31/32 at that time, so here’s hoping for the best.

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Whenever I start to doubt why I put so much energy into getting them gone, I think of different things.  There are numerous reasons anyone can give for wanting to be out of debt.  I’ve given a lot of thought to ‘why now, why not just slack a little and live versus putting so much energy into them’.  Well, the interest rates are a good reason for that!  I have several friends taking the slower pace, but I have a little more than the average graduate and I want the peace of mind and financial freedom.

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1-To have the freedom of knowing I’m no longer in debt.

2-To not feel guilty or fret over eating out, going to a movie or a tour that costs more than $5 (or even $5!)

3-To be able to buy the people I love proper gifts or even have the time to make said gifts

4-To buy little things, like a poster frame, that I currently can’t give a good enough reason to buy (ok other than the fact of decorating and having said posters)

5-To have less stress overall

Hobbit house!

6-To be able to walk into the grocery store and buy what you want without sticking to as strict a budget.  You know a $200 grocery bill versus a strict $120 one.

7-To travel to far off places. One of my biggest dreams is to see the world, but it requires money (usually).

8-To buy the books I really want to read as opposed to wishful thinking with rarer books.

9-To buy a 3DS, PS3 and eventually a PS4.

10-To finish my Doctor Who themed bathroom.

11-To support small businesses as opposed to bigger ones (voting with my dollar)

12-To buy more geeky things, in general (a geek can never have too much!)

13-To create a proper garden (gardening does have an upkeep and start up cost)

14-Donate more to causes that I support and give more time to said causes

15-To be able to freely give to someone in need

wow! Lowes sells these for about $20. love the idea of transforming one of these into a teacher tool box. Super organized!

16-To afford better stuff to organize my house

17-To save for retirement (because currently its looking grim)

18-To go to conventions like comic con

19-To buy spontaneous gifts for those I love

20-To be healthier (money means taking the fitness classes I’ve always wanted to!)

21- To not ‘cheap out’ on some things

22- To cover the tab for a friend who needs it without worrying

That's what missionary work is all about! PreparetoServe.com

23- To pay for volunteer experiences and missionary work (did you know you have to pay for some, I don’t have $2,500 to volunteer abroad!)

24- To invest in better quality clothing

25-To save up for a house/afford a better place

26- To have more freetime (because the money I’m putting towards extra earnings would be gone!)

27- Interest rates on student loans are a nightmare.  The quicker they’re gone, the less those awful companies get!

28-I’m tired of talking about my student loans and how they hold me back

29- To be more liberal with spendings, donations etc.

30- To run in 5K’s that I want to run in, to support a good cause, but cost $30+ a person

Will MOOCs Disrupt Higher Education or Level the Playing Field? [#Infographic]

31- To further my education beyond my Bachelors of Art degree (without student loans at that!)

32- To better myself because of less stress and because I can live freely

33- To help others stop worrying about my student loans along with me

34- To experience more of the world around me (isn’t it sad how much money can control this?)

35-  To feel truly free and not feel as though I can’t make any big changes or move without risking financial suicide

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Some of these may have sounded similar, but they’re different in my mind and all equal the same.  I want them gone and I’m ready to work hard to do just that!  Five years or less, here I come!

 

 

 

 

November Goal Update & Debt Progress

snowman close-up - 2nd or 3rd grade

It’s already the first of December (wow) and we’re down to only 30 more days of 2013 after today.  This year has flown by and it’s been a year of a lot of growth and change.  I’ve been progressing on my goals throughout the year and I’m ready to get started on my next list of goals for 2014 (already have a rough draft).  I’m definitely excited to start focusing more on paying off my student loans.  Though, I have felt that lately I’ve been thinking too much about my student loans.  Hopefully it gets better as they get lower. I did pay $325 on my principal.  It seems low, but my other bill didn’t get processed until today, so it should be another $200 higher.  Oh well, next month will see a bigger decrease.

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I made decent progress on my goals in November, but I have a lot of work to do in December if I hope to complete them.  I’m also debating if I should have a ‘penalty’ for not finishing them, but I can’t think of anything reasonable.  Just not getting them done will be enough.

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1-Earn $500 online

-$38 (game sales)

-$25 (freelance)

Year Total: $680

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2-Health/Beauty

-Slacked off working out this month…fixing it in December!  I did get my hair done to rave reviews though!

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3-By 80 new wardrobe pieces

November total: 1

Total for the year: 71

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4-Watch 70 new movies

-Done-

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5-Get everything out of my parents house

-Two boxes left at grandmothers!

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6-Read 100 books in a year

The Cat who Wished to be a man by Alexander Lloyd

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Amazing book of Lists by Armchair Institute

Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller

Horrible Histoies: Barmy British by Terry Deay

The Curious Incident of the Night-time Dog

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

What Happened at Ms. Minchins by Sara Crewe

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Madam Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims by Cylde Robert Bulla

November Total: 13

Total for the year: 61

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7-Volunteer or donate to 25 different causes

-Library sale/fundraiser

-Random act of kindness

Total for the year: 12

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8-Keep Budget all year

Loving the software I now use for my budget!

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9-Try 30 new recipes

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Snowman cookies

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Croissants

Total: 36

-DONE-

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10-Make at least 20 crafts

Gingerbread sign

Tardris ornament

November: 2

Total for the year: 18

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11-Beat 15 Video Games

Animal Crossing

Total for the year: 6

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12-Student Loans

-Paying a lot extra, but I’m really looking forward to having a set goal next year.

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Basically in December, in order to meet my goals I need to;

  • Buy 9 new clothing items (easy)
  • Get the two boxes of books from my grandmothers basement
  • Read 39 38 books
  • Volunteer/donate to 13 causes
  • Make 2 new crafts
  • Beat 9 video games

Here’s to December and finishing off my goals!