K.i.s.s.’ed my debt good-bye

Hi everyone!  So after some waffling with whether to just transfer my savings to pay off the remaining debt and start anew in 2014, I decided to go for it and truffle shuffled all my debts away.

Dun-dun-dun – Another one bites the dust!

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And another one gone, and another one gone, another ones bite the dust

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Hey, I’m gonna get you, too

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my biggest balance, paid off yesterday so updated today with $0

Another one bites the dust! (clap clap)

It was a no brainer in terms of number crunching and risk assessment, but to be honest, I kept delaying because it was more emotional versus logical.  However, after quite a few motivating comments (thank you!!) and a lot of dealing with my ghosts of worries past since I’m the Chicken Little of worst case scenarios, I let go, thought of K.I.S.S., and Kept It Simple, Shorty (and I know that’s supposed to be Stupid, but why would I call myself stupid?  That’s not very kind!).

It also aligns quite well with my 2014 goals to save 40-45% of my total income next year, though I suppose it’s misleading considering 1) I’m just replenishing what I took out for my debts in the beginning and 2) some are going towards our ‘forever’ house and hopefully little rugrats funds, but I do plan on further cultivating my investing skills.  I got my big toe in this year and saw modest gains, so I’m looking forward to exploring more, as well as looking at side income.  And, not going to lie, I still need to control my Spendy of Spenderville ways, since I’ll own that I like to spend and it’s something I have to work on.

Anyway, that’s my news as of late.  I’m motivated to ramp up in 2014 and beyond, so I’m excited to see what these next few years will bring us.  I might not become Financially Independent Rock Stars like The 1500’s, Johnny Moneyseed, Done By Forty, The PoP’s, or Cash Rebel who will accomplish F.I. in their 30’s 0r 40’s, but I do believe that B and I could have quite a promising outlook in our 50’s, which is really like the new 40, anyway, dontchathink? 😉

I hope everyone’s been doing well and I honestly can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings for those paying down debts, reaching financial independence, and/or overall just taking care of their business like a beast!  There was so much progressive movement and positive energy in 2013, so it’ll be amazing to see what happens in 2014. 🙂

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November Updates – Debt Repayment, Fitness/Running, and Wedding

Hi everyone – holy canoli, only 30 more days until we ring in the new year!  I’m starting to formulate some 2014 goals, so I think for December my goals are to “finish strong” financially and mostly fine tune some of those 2014 details (and realistically throw out some lofty or out-of-my-control ones).  Here’s what went down in November with things that I usually update about:

1) Debt repayment – I cannot tell a lie, I didn’t complete Michelle’s Black Friday Challenge and pay off my credit card debt, though she managed to pay off *two* so be sure to go over and congratulate her!  I did manage to pay off $300 which brings my total to $3789.  I’ll for sure pay off credit card by 2013, and thinking about just taking the remaining balance from my EF/savings and have all debts ($3789) completely paid off.  I figured why not start 2014 anew, I’d rather pay back myself than those darn companies, and the remaining is a balance that I feel somewhat comfortable parting with.  I always worry about poo hitting the fan, but know that if it came to that, B’s got my back.  Should I just do it?

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Why hello there, seasonal BFF!

2) Fitness – I’ve been somewhat following Jamie Eason’s workouts, and starting to see results strength-wise with frequenting heavier dumbbells more, as well as making gains in squats (though this is attributed to B, since I join him during “Leg Day” and he definitely pushes me past my comfort zone despite him being the most awful testosterone-driven meanie who tells me to suck it up when I whine about how heavy something is).  Physically, I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, but my clothes fit better at least.

3) Half-marathon training – I’m getting in 3-4 runs a week and my longest has been a 7 miler.  It’s been nice, but so chilly con carne outside!

4) Nutrition – this area could for sure use more work, especially with Trader Joe’s bringing back my seasonal BFF, dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  Nom to the nom!  Besides, isn’t it good for carb-loading for my runs?

And now, onto my favorite updates – the wedding!

1) DJ picked!  She’s given awesome ideas, such as introducing us to the Vitamin String Quartet of which I am *loving* their rendition of Viva La Vida.  We’re toying with the idea of playing them throughout the dinner and making it a game where our guests will guess which songs they are (like Bohemian Rhapsody, Thrift Shop, Don’t Stop Believin’).  It’s kinda cheesy, but also kinda us. 🙂

2) Florist picked!  Flowers aren’t really high on my priority list so I was having a mild heart attack at the cost of really simple flowers, but we found a really cool guy at practically half the price.  Not only that, but he took the time to leaf through pages and examples with me, explaining different flowers, and has beautiful ideas for my bouquet (a round and neat mix of anemones and lisianthus in deep purple, with specks of mini red roses).

3) Honeymoon taking shape.  I told B I really want to go to one area of South America, he agreed it would be awesome and wants to add on another area, and he’s starting to work on this aspect thanks to some oh-so-very-subtle hints I’ve given like “um, so you got this, right?” 😉  But in all seriousness, we both started working on this during the long weekend (him prior), so it’s been exciting.

IMG_20130927_164556_3304) Wedding dress fitting – I went for my first fitting and I absolutely can’t wait to wear it, and campaigning for Wedding Dress Fridays in lieu of Casual Fridays at work, so hopefully it’ll pan out. 😉 I heard that tailoring costs a pretty penny and this is accurate, but I was at least prepared for it.  I’m wondering how the the re-sell prospect will work out with how it’s being tailored since I’m tailoring the hem, as well as the hips/tush part so it’s less A-line and more form-fitting.  I think I’d have to sell locally so people can try it on to see if it works out for them.  I’ve also decided on these shoes, though will probably drop down to flats once we start dancing.

5) Hairstyle picked – I’m going for this hairstyle and I’m going with my usual hairstylist whom I love and trust.  I need to figure out make-up still.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week – so crazy that there’s only a few weeks left in 2013!  Make it some great ones. 🙂

Re-focusing and finding that line

7231_137563119102_966813_nIf there was one picture that could describe where I’m at right now, that would for sure be it.  That’s me about 95% up, dawdling in the most ungraceful way possible, as I figure out where my next step is to reach the top.  While I knew I had the security of a rope – physically in that picture and figuratively in the form of savings and having a steady job – I do find myself a little stuck on accomplishing this whole debt repayment process even though I’m so close.  Sure, I’ll reach it, but I do find myself getting a little distracted with wants, which I’ve admitted to feeding into the past couple of weeks (albeit justified in some sense, though I won’t harp on the details.  Sorry if that sounds cryptic).

So I thought perhaps a good way to motivate me to get this done with already is to state how I truly got into debt.  While I started this blog about $12k or so in the hole, that wasn’t the totality of it, unfortunately.  It isn’t very linear, since while some debts were being paid down others were incurring, but these are the primary “big hitters” of my debt over the last 15 years or so:

1) student loans

2) credit card debt (going out to party when I lived in college and LA, shopping profusely, spending recklessly)

3) traveling abroad and domestic when I didn’t have the means

4)  medical treatments (which at least saved my life despite the hefty price tag)

5) car payments (Got reamed on the total cost of it as it was my only option, though still have it actually, at 240k miles strong (knock on wood to hit 300k!)).

6) attending weddings (10 in one year, some that I was a part of, some destination), and subsequent baby showers (a couple where I was a godparent)

I do know at some point, the highest it peaked was $30k not including the car payments (since in my then-financially illiterate mind, I didn’t count it for gosh knows why).  Cumulatively, I think $50k is a reasonable estimate, not including the interest.  Thinking about the interest pretty much guts me, to think of all the wasted money due to it and my stupidity.

So now, that I’m about $4k shy to debt freedom, I feel stuck.  I do admit, the “wants” still get at me, tries to make me justify that the debt balance is so small so just go for [insert-want-of-the-moment-here], or try to make it up with another justification.  And while there were a few expenses that incurred, for the most part – I just have to swat that away and refocus.  Refocus and find that friggin line to get to the top.

I think a part of it is, obviously, the self-satisfaction of finally getting rid of this.  And I would be lying if, since I tend to be a people pleaser, that another motivation is because I don’t want to disappoint the readers who have graced me with their time and kind words through this process (seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart!).

But it seems like in some ways, it’ll also symbolically help me let go of some crap and some demons from the past.  All the recklessness, foolishness, feeling lost, doing dumb things over and over again.  I know I’m not that person anymore mentally/spiritually/physically/emotionally, but I also view it that once this debt is off the books, that it’ll close that chapter(s) in the financial sense.  I have a tendency to harp on the mistakes of my past, so once this debt is paid off, it is my hope that I can fully let all that past shit go.

Because what’s next is truly exciting – (hopefully) starting a family with a kickass partner (digression: who is so awesome, since I was super nervous for a presentation and knowing this, the guy shined my shoes the night before as a confidence booster for me.  That’s love, man!), being financially literate and responsible, and essentially just having some financial freedom to accomplish beyond what I thought life was going to be.  That motivation is exciting, and I just gotta keep that in mind over the next few months (months!) as I find my line to get to the top of this debt repayment mountain.

It took me quite a few years to get it – so much so that it probably wasn’t even a line for me, but I probably circled the rock a couple of times before I figured out which was was up. 😉  But at least I eventually figured it out, and the top is right there for me to accomplish.  Motivation and focus – centered.  Let’s do this.

September Repayment and Last Name Change

Hey everyone!  I, much like everyone else, can’t believe it’s already October!  September, as I assumed, kinda-sorta kicked me in the tuckus with a barrage of September birthdays and some hefty wedding deposits (photographer, church fees, favors), so in terms of debt repayment I only managed to kick out $290 from my life.  If I can be honest, though, I still don’t super regret it – some big ticket expenses were flights (since we’re saving as much vac time as possible for our wedding and got fairly good deals) and a nice dinner for my mom’s 60th (split amongst my bro/sis-in-law).  During that weekend, my dad also threw her a surprise brunch with all of her friends, and even though my dad forgot to alert everyone we were coming to the restaurant since he got distracted playing tour guide with B when we were in the car (an endearing quirk about him), the confusion-to-delight-to-happy-crying on my mom’s face was just something that I’m glad I didn’t miss.  It was amazing to feel so much love in the room for her, and I’m so glad B and I went to be a part of it.

This being said, mere moments ago John from Frugal Rules just notified me that I’m the winner of his blog birthday giveaway – thanks so much, John!  🙂  I never win anything except staring contests with B (and usually I don’t declare that we’re playing a game, but merely claim myself victorious once he blinks), so I’m all sorts of stoked.  This is all going towards my debt, I swear, and has renewed my focus on getting this debt out of my life.

Completely new topic, but a couple of people have asked whether I’m going to change my last name once I marry B.  I do plan to, because in my culture, I have two first names, my middle name is my mom’s maiden name, and my last name is my dad’s/family name.  You do that with all the kids, so my brother and I share the same middle and last name.  Once I marry, though, my last name becomes my middle name, and B’s last name becomes my new last name.  I’m hoping to keep the tradition if we’re to have little ones, since it’s something I find really interesting about my culture.  Besides, my last name only has a few letters and they’re all in his last name, so it’s like his last name just ate mine, anyway. 😉

If anyone else has intercultural stories or exchanges like that, I’d love to hear it!  Hope everyone has a wonderful week and a kick-booty October!

Telling Your Partner About Your Debt

A common search phrase I get on my blog is ‘telling my partner (or spouse) about my debt.”  The search varies from should I, when, or how to, so I thought it was worth exploring a bit more about when is a good time to tell your partner about your debt.

For full disclosure’s sake, I admit to not telling my partner about my debt until just over two years of being together and right before I knew a proposal was imminent, despite us already cohabitating for almost a year.  Despite it working out in the best way possible since he merely asked how much it was, why it occurred, and what I was doing about it before carrying on with our day, I still might not be the best spokesperson to discuss this issue.  However, since money is the number one relationship argument and in 2011, a Forbes article cited that 31% of people admitted to about money to their spouse, it’s worth discussing.  As a disclaimer, since everyone’s situation is different and I’m definitely no expert as seen by my experience, these are just meant as things to think about and not intended to be set examples.  Read the rest on Economag!

Screw the Joneses, They’re Not Worth Going Into Debt Over!

If you watch broadcast television these days, you’ll notice a number of commercials trying to convince us viewers to buy the latest and coolest smartphones, to party lavishly like rockstars by drinking a certain brand of liquor, or keep our designer jeans in top shape with a certain detergent.  You’ll even see a man being the envy of their next door neighbor because of the new car he just purchased. It seems as though keeping up with the Joneses is infiltrating not only daily life for some people, but advertisements as well. We’re supposed to believe that buying a certain product will either keep you with the trend or set the bar for a higher standard.

First off, who are the Joneses, anyway?  Read the rest of the post here…

Telling My Partner I Have Debt

Recently, I finally told B about my debt.  (insert cringe here at all the gasps I hear from the interwebs)

I know!  I know I should have told him sooner, but despite co-habitating I honestly didn’t feel too much pressure to tell him until we started getting serious about wedding planning and starting a life together.  In my defense, we know about each others’ salaries, various accounts, ways of spending, etc.  However, since he’s frugal beyond belief and overall fiscally responsible, I was ashamed to tell him about my debt.  A part of me thought that perhaps I could just get rid of the debt without having to tell him (not to justify, but some friends I bounced this off of thought this, as well).  However, as I became more invested in PF communities, as well as read various articles and comments about when to tell your partner about your financial situation, it started to internally bother me that I was keeping this from him.  Plus, I do generally believe that omission is still lying, so I womaned up and came clean.

This is how it went down more or less:

Me: “So, I have to tell you something…”

B (kind of concerned since I had a serious look on my face): “Okay, what?”

Me: “So I haven’t been shopping lately and staying on a strict budget because I really want to be debt free by the time we get married.”
B: “Okay… how much are we talking about?”

Me: “Well this year I started off with $12.5k, and now I’m down to $6k.”

B: “Okay, cool, you’re halfway there… are we going to the gym this morning?”

Pretty anti-climactic, but I was so relieved that I finally told him.  He did inquire what kind of debt it was, and why it’s taking me so long to get rid of it, which I answered truthfully (some of it were the destination weddings that I was in, but most of it was just plain stupidity and lack of discipline).  To be honest, I must be a masochist because I was slightly perturbed he didn’t dig deeper or shame me, but I suppose that’s the upside of dating someone so stoic – he may not get overly enthusiastic, but he also doesn’t get overly angry.  In fact, I joke at times how borderline robotic he is, gently poking at his face and commenting “How very life-like they make you guys these days!”

So with that proverbial boulder off my chest, it kind of helped me get my second wind back in my determination to get rid of this debt.  I think most PF’ers talked about financial situations right away in a relationship, but did it ever take you awhile to tell your partner something important, or am I the only bad person? 🙂