Birthday goals

It’s been almost a week since my 28th birthday, and per usual, it’s been one of the craziest weeks ever.  We went to a Friendsgiving, wrapped up the Annual Campaign after raising $1.4 million dollars ($1.4 million?!), and generally, didn’t get a minute to ourselves.  I mean seriously, I fell asleep on the couch twice this week and my hubby had to come get me and tell me to come to bed.

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So in this week, and in thinking about what 28 means, and what I want to accomplish in this year.  And after having sushi with a friend who told me he likes to set 4 goals each birthday, I decided to do the same, and hold myself accountable for each of those goals.

So here goes, 4 goals for my 28th year of living. 

  1. Get my personal trainer certification.  It’s something I feel will make me a better teacher.  I don’t necessarily want clients, lord knows that there may not be enough hours in the day for that, but anything to make me a better and stronger, I think is worth going for.
  2. Begin some real work on a book.  It is my dream to be the black Bethanny Frankel – to write a book on black women, and their health and fitness.  Maybe my first book won’t be that, maybe it will be a guide to dating, or something fun and syrupy, but I know I’m destined for it.  I don’t know why, but I just know.  Plus I need that advance so I can pay down my student loans.  (Just kidding! Kinda…)
  3. Utilize my time more efficiently.  This is something I’ve really been striving for, but I’m not great at.  That’s sort of an abstract concept, but that means squeezing the most out of every moment I can and limiting distractions.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a lazy Sunday, but I don’t want every night when I come home from work to be a flop down on the couch kind of night.  I don’t have time.
  4. Do something creative every day.  I do my best when I’m given the chance to do something creative every day. Whether that means going to Home Depot and picking out colors, picking out linens, painting, writing (even if it’s just 100 words), or READING, I will be doing this each day.
  5. Okay, and I had to sneak a 5th one in here.  I would like to start saving more.  I’m starting with an EXTREMELY modest goal of $500, which means I only have to put $41.67 in a separate account each month.  But on top of this, I’d like to put all my checks from Aradia into this account.  The amount varies depending on how much I work, but the reason why this is hard/important is that I usually like to take that Aradia check and do fun things with it.  But it’s time to let that go.  I’m really competitive, even if it’s just with myself, so I’d really like to push.  Additionally, I’m toying with the idea of “tipping” myself for every workout I do.  I’m not sure how much, but I’m playing with  the idea of tipping myself 10% in dollar amount for the minutes I’ve worked out.  So $3.00 for a 30 minute work out, $6.00 for an hour workout and so on.

What’s ONE of your goals for the next year?  

What would you do if your income doubled?

I read this a few days back on Roo’s blog, Semiproper, and I found it really really interesting.

What would you do if your income suddenly doubled?

This really stuck out to me because money has been a hot topic in our house – having just gotten marred we spent a pretty decent chunk of it, and now, having purchased a house, we’re always talking about money.

Spending it wisely, spending less on coffee, saving more, eliminating our debt – all things that have become the stuff of our weekly conversations.

So when Roo blogged about this the other day, I thought about it.  What would we do if our income simply and magically doubled?

If our income doubled:

  • I’d pay more down on student loans, and get them paid down faster.  As of right now, I’m on the track to have them down in a few years, but shortening that time would be amazing, and help me to sleep better at night.
  • We’d save more.  Thankfully, my husband is awesome at saving, but having a nest – for a bad day, for our parents as they get older, for kids and a college fund?  I want more savings for that.  The thought of getting caught with my pants down like so many folks did a few years ago really scares me.
  • We would travel more.  I would just love love love to go places, anywhere, with my husband.  I’d love to go to Alaska, go to Hawaii, go to Greece, go to Bora Bora – just beautiful places where we can go hiking and swimming together without checking our email.  The thought just makes me so happy!
  • I would race more.  Right now, I race as much as the budget will allow – but I would definitely race more if I could afford a few more registration fees and to travel to where all these races were.

And that’s really all I’d like.  Not too much to ask is it?

What would you do if your income suddenly doubled?

Private College. Is it worth it?

I have been really really open about the fact that I went to Elon University.  It was a wonderful, beautiful experience, and I loved it.  But was it worth it?  Is private college worth it, and for whom?28833_603402085403_7000782_n

I was inspired to write this by a few things.  Number one, as a graduate of a prestigious private uni, I am saddled with a pretty good hunk of student loans.  It keeps me up at night.  It motivates my thinking.  It affects my purchases.  And I feel an unimaginable sense of sorrow and guilt that when I signed on for the loans, I wasn’t 1000% sure what I was signing up for.  At the time, when my parents could no longer afford Elon, I was under the absolutely incorrect assumption that by now, I would have a job that paid me a reasonable, living wage, and that with some budgeting, I would quickly be able to pay off the debt that I’d incurred.

The second thing that inspired me to write this was the fact that Emily Yoffe from Slate addressed this recently, when a mother, who’d had nothing saved for her children’s education, was questioning if she should send her son to his dream school (that they could not afford), or have him live at home, attend a state school, and allow him to transfer a few years later.  Yoffe gave some decent advice, and on someone who kinda lived through the whole recession thing, here are my two cents.

Student Loans

I didn’t have a crystal ball.  I had no way to know that my parents would go from being able to afford school to having to build back up, but if I had had that crystal ball, maybe I would have chosen somewhere different to go.  But here is my assessment, especially for those of you wondering if you or your kids should go to your dream school, or to the best school you can afford.

Okay, here goes.

I do not regret my decision to go to Elon, and the subsequent debt however, please keep in mind the following before you sign away your life for student loans.

  • Your decision will affect your future purchases.  So four years later, when you’re trying to buy a car?  The fact that you have debt will impact what you can buy.
  • Were you thinking about buying a house soon?  Not so fast with those loans holding you hostage.
  • If you’re prone to anxiety, stay far away from those loans.  Seriously, the things that keep me up at night all involve money.
  • Marriage may be the furthest thing from your mind, (I know I was not in that headspace at all) but 5 years later, I brought my debt into my marriage. Or I’m about to at least.  And I feel really guilty.  Austin gets it, he understands, but this was not the ideal way for me to start a family.

So the verdict?

If you can afford it, go to the best school you can.  If you cannot afford it, think long and hard, long and hard about loans.  And after you’ve thought about it, go to the best school you can afford, not the reach that will affect your life for years to come.

What are your thoughts on student loans?  

Budgeting.

Austin and I had to have a really difficult pre-wedding conversation yesterday, about budgeting.

I think it’s really cute and funny to be poor and subsist soley on Ramen and Diet Mountain Dew for college, but I’m out a few years, trying to build a life for me and my husband-to-be, and we would be complete idiots if we didn’t have the very difficult conversation about money.

I think naturally, money is just a really difficult and uncomfortable topic to talk about.  Then, throw in the fact that I don’t make very much of it, and Austin makes more than enough, and it makes for some learning curve and growing pains.

Because I make so little, I’ve gotten comfortable being a little sloppy with my spending.  As long as I can make my sort of “required” bills, I don’t worry about a ton else.  But that can’t work forever.  Things happen.  Transmissions go out.  Sometimes you jam your thumb (side eye).  Sometimes something just unexpected comes up.  And it makes me extremely uncomfortable to not have some sort of cushion or nest egg built up at the point that I thought I would.

So, a few steps I’m taking to take some more charge of my finances?

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  • I’m using Mint to keep track of/analyze my finances.  I almost dread when I open Mint up, but it’s necessary, I think, to keep track of what’s going on.  From Mint, I’ve gathered a few things.
  • I really need to chill out on the coffee.  Like it’s really not even funny, I have to chill out.  As of this month, I’ve spent $40 on Starbucks, and a few more dollars at McDonald’s and Bruegger’s on coffee-related items.  I need to come up with a plan to still get my caffeine, but to forgo a few trips to Starbucks.  Realistically, I’d like to limit my outside coffee budget to about $25/month, which can feasibly be done if I skip the fancier drinks and just go with americanos and flavor them to my linking.
  • I’m awesome with brown-bagging the lunch, but I need to chill on errant trips to the Teeter when I feel inspired to cook something weird.  My food spending is a little higher than it need to be. 
  • Switch to cash for food.  No more swipey swipey for me. 
  • By the end of this week, I need to call the awesome folks down at the student loan place, and figure out how much I’m going to be paying once we get married and combine the incomes.  It’s gonna hurt, but the bigger the monthly payment, the faster I can be free of that debt. 
  • Long term?  I gotsta make more money!  I’m keeping the eyes peeled for job opportunities that will afford me (hee hee) more wiggle room.

I have to admit, I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing, and I feel like a total idiot for not knowing some of this budgeting stuff already, but what are some of your best responsible spending and money saving tips?

Things you do when you’re broke.

My sassy boys over at Class and Trash and me were group texting, and discussing that fact that as it was getting close to the first, and we were waiting on pay day to come save us.

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And here I present to you, the things you do when you’re broke/waiting on payday. 

  1. You pack all your lunches.  There is no eating out.  The only eating out you will do will involve a Starbucks gift card that you dig out of the back of your wallet.
  2. Speaking of Starbucks, your morning coffee?  Not a thing, you will be enjoying the coffee from the break room.
  3. Free stuff starts feeling kinda good.  Go for a run!  Go to Lululemon for a free yoga class!  Sit at the coffee shop and blog – maybe without ordering something.  That sounds fun, right?
  4. Your $16 hot yoga class downtown is not gonna happen for another two weeks.  
  5. And finally, when your friend asks you for drinks, you totally make an excuse to postpone it for another week or two. 

To be perfectly clear, I’m not like broke and decrepit, times just get hard for a day or two after I make my car payment.  How does your spending change close to payday?