Saturday, April 12, 2014

Student Loan Payoff date (as given)

What can I say? I am liking my new "next payment date" for my student loan. I can go by not making another payment until 3/28/2016! Just for fun, I decided to play with math a little bit.

Ok, I faked the math part, but just in rough numbers, the remaining amount (ignoring a scheduled $635 payment made Friday) is accruing about $1.50 in interest every 15 days. Rounding numbers here! So let's say it is $0.10/day. From today to 3/28/16 (when my payment is due), the $1560.28 I owe today would add another $71.70 to the loan. It actually does not sound half as bad as I was expecting it.

Can't say I haven't toyed with the idea of forgoing payment for a while longer. However, I am happy to report that the whole train of thought took about 1.5 seconds to be shot down and laughed at. My last payment is next month, on 5/9 or 5/23. Reason for different dates is that I'll only owe about $130 on 5/9, and if I have the funds to do so, I may as well pay it off and be done with it instead of waiting for 5/23.

Update: My payment posted today, so maybe I should play with math again... nah. (It doesn't show the payment yet, but it updated totals)

I can't wait! It's been 5 years coming! The earlier you start with those things, the easier it becomes. I didnt start until a year later, but it still paid off to get going.

Friday, April 11, 2014

March Totals

I didn't think it'd be any interesting to see what happened in March... I knew there were so many unexpected expenses during it that the graph wouldn't make sense for what I consider a standard, but here it is anyway:
Indeed, very messed up. If we take down the three bigger categories, then we may get a better picture, but let's talk about those 3.

  • Student loans, paid as agreed, no surprise there. I pay way too much extra because I want to get rid of it. My last payment will be in May and I cannot wait! 
  • Vet expenses... yeah. Our pet Star passed away. I was ticked off we had to pay over $300 for a Vet to see her and he did nothing, and then pay cremation fees the day after. I am not blaming him for her passing, but I just felt he did nothing. Guess we'll never know and I should leave it at that.
  • Auto expenses! Yikes! Most of that is tires ($300-some), and then parts to repair what was wrong with the car... parts that need to be put IN the car, but my dad is procrastinating like no other. It's alright, I'll wait. His fee is free vs the $380 the shop was asking for labor. I just want to get it done before something inside the car does break.

Taking those 3 big categories, and we get a better picture:

  • My shopping was extremely high, $120 over. Though to be fair, my spending income for that category also went up. This is mostly for work shoes and a few new work shirts. I'm loving them so far! (budget: $80, spent: $200.61)
  • Food and dining is definitely up. Between cooking more often, and cooking more often at my parents' house (which means buy the stuff), it went over by about $50 (budget: $120, spent $177.67)
  • Gas: Too much going back and forth from work to parents' house to PT job... even 1 extra trip to PT job takes a toll on my gas expense. (budget: $100, spent $123.17)
Everything else is as should be except for Bills&Utilities. I cant find a way to make Quicken account for my phone payments as a bill; instead, it adds it as a negative, which takes away from the total in that category. Pretty annoying, but oh well. I know it's only $50 per month. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Is it debt free or the highway?

The car loan process is really going a lot slower than I anticipated, perhaps because my brother can only sneak a call at 4am on Fridays or a few minutes during the weekend (when I am working, it appears, so no go).

This made me think of something... ok, most of you know how I feel about credit cards. Sucks big time to pay interest, but can be managed to your advantage. Student loans suck as well, no excuse there. Actually, most debts suck. And some will say that ALL debts suck, no exception. I tend to be of the disagreeing type. I believe debt is a dangerous tool, like a double edged sword with little hilt to grab onto, and if you hold it the wrong way or swing it the wrong way, it will either cut you or cut something/someone else. Makes sense?

So why would I be actually OK with getting this car loan? It IS debt, don't get me wrong. It is money I will owe someone else for about 32 months, and paying them up to $10/mo on top of the borrowed amount just for the privilege of using that money now vs saving it and using it later. Look, I wont try the whole "but let me justify this!". Debt is debt is debt. But it is always as bad as something worth burning at the stake? Is it really reasonable for the average person to bypass some debts?

When I started this journey, I never planned to get a car. That's actually something I started after my little car died in 2011. The car I loved and thought would last me forever, but didn't. I did intend to buy a house eventually, and financing was and is my primary choice. Perhaps my only one at this point. But a car loan? Sure, I could go and get a car, though from what I'd see, I couldn't find anything lower than $9.5k with my very low standard requirements. So though I do have $4k saved, I still need some to complete it. The situation under which I am buying the current car is personal/family, and it's not just those two, but also makes financial good sense. Not BEST sense, but good sense.

In summary, yeah, I am alright getting a loan for the car. I think anything that I can do to protect or improve my 5 basic needs (food, shelter, safety, health, transportation) is worth reconsidering. And since I was going to buy a $10k car anyway, may as well help rebuild some family relations, because let's be honest, it sucks being on your own with such a large family.

On your family, is it debt free or no deal, no exceptions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lazy week, busy schedule

Even though I am getting a lot better at cooking meals, with having to drive to parents' house more often and staying longer (hello, night-time working during the weekdays!), cooking really hasn't taken much of a priority. I hate cooking a large batch and not eating it sooner than it starts to lose its flavor, and I REALLY hate throwing food away, because they're money! Down the drain!

Cut carbs from the equation, and I really don't have a whole lot of food options from fast food or pre-made meals that wont cost me an arm and a leg ($4.50 for a frozen Atkins meal? No thanks!). Sometimes I just go for grilled chicken from the deli department, 12 pieces for $10, pair it with 2 bags of frozen vegetables for about $3, and I've got myself dinner for 4 days ($3.25/day, barely a bargain). What's your super short dinner shortcut?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Moving again!

The first time I moved was a bit sad and melancholic. The whole "first time moving out" deal. The next one was rushed, by no plan of my own. Third one was by choice due to... hazardous environment, and here we are again! Time to talk moving plans.

My landlord asked me about my plans, and I was kind enough to be vague. They're a lovely family, but it is a bit restricting timewise and spacewise. Another leading cause is distance; I am half hour farther north. If it was south, it wouldn't be an issue; it'd be midway between parents' house/PT job and FT job. But as it is, it's just too many extra miles that I could do without, not to mention it increased my gas budget to $50 as well as my rent by $50.

It's already April, and my lease is over in July. I could leave early if I asked her, but not yet. I've been looking for postings since February and have not seen anything remotely decent. So disappointing! For my next rental... I REALLY would like it to be back in town, close to my FT job. I was spoiled with my first move, living within 5 min of work. And really, it makes sense. Highest gas savings and time saving. I don't ask for a lot of things besides the basics plus internet. You'd think that'd make me a good, easy target to get rentals, no? Nah. It doesn't. *sad face*

My rental budget is $500 including utilities, which I believe is reasonable for a single room. I mostly rely on Craigslist, because being such a small, in the middle of nowhere town, we don't make it to the newspapers (haven't seen a listing in over 8 months now!), and even the smaller websites don't have local listings. Can't say I am looking forward to packing my stuff again, though I never truly unpacked this time around. Once spring officially starts and it's not cold in the mornings and evenings, I'll pack all of my winter stuff and drop it off to my parents'. The less stuff I have to get ready, the better. And though I normally pack within a weekend, I don't see any harm on getting it done little by little.