Friday, April 4, 2014

Life isn't boring!

Whew, just when I think life is about to calm down it goes haywire again. Honestly, I kind of love it because it means I'm packing a lot of life into my days. As so many things happened, I didn't even know how to write about them so I simply didn't. But I love writing, I love being accountable for my goals, and I love the blogging community. So here I am and here I hope to stay. Quick recap of 2014 so far? I quit my job! I took this job when I first moved to Wisconsin. I took the first job I could find because I needed to be paying for a wedding and there weren't many options in small town cheeseland. During my interview, the CEO worried I would be too qualified, and he was right. When my engagement ended and I moved home to Minnesota, the company allowed me to work remotely, as many of their employees do. It helped with my big transition home, but I was still left uninspired and unchallenged with this role. Every time I tried to advance myself, my requests went unfulfilled and I was barely able to make ends meet with my entry level pay. Fortunately, on Tuesday I accepted an amazing job offer with a company who acts like a family. The role will be challenging, inspiring, and full of potential for growth, both financially and personally. I am so excited for this new chapter to start! With the new job comes financial changes. I've been struggling to keep up with my small paycheck and I'll finally be able to cut credit cards out of my life. I'll have room for extra income to actually pay off debt and I can make some serious progress. I have felt so defeated lately that it's been a low priority but I know the more I pay off, the more money I can free up later for a much more comfortable life. I'm also looking to move with roommates. I currently live alone and could save up to $300/month if I had roommates. Not only would that help financially, it would be a lot less lonely. Between working remotely and living alone, it's been very isolating and pretty depressing, especially in the winter hibernating months. The search for great roommates and a subleaser for my apartment continues but I'm hopefull about the idea! There was a boyfriend for a brief stint, who I was absolutely crazy about. It started quickly and very happily and ended just as quickly and painfully. Fortunately, it's behind me now and I'm quite happy being on my own. I'm the Literacy Coordinator for an organization that works with Down Syndrome kids. I run the literacy tutoring program and I'm working on wrapping up our first session and starting our summer session. It is so rewarding and I'm so thankful to have a volunteer position that I love! I've been a total nerd lately and loving every minute of it. I've been reading a lot and our book club is becoming a night I look forward to every month! We have read The Husband's Secret and Me Before You, both were excellent. We read Cutting for Stone but no one liked it, oops! Next up is The Circle and I'm excited to start! Also, while living alone I find so much time on my hands. I started watching TedTalks on Netflix and they are fascinating! And last night I started How The States Got Their Shapes and I'm learning so much about the US. I figure instead of watching one more rerun of Friends (as great as Friends is), I could actually learn something! Any suggestions on documentaries or nerdy shows, please send my way! My resume business has been steady all year and it has been fun to see growth. I even got an updated headshot for my website, go check it out! (Katie Pelton Resumes) Lastly, I've been doing yoga and it is nearly magical. It helps me physically, mentally, and emotionally and I hope to always keep it part of my routine. I also plan on getting a bike and a kayak soon so I can really enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer! Minneapolis has the most miles of bike paths in all of the US and ya know, we kind of have 10,000 lakes. Now only if this snow would go away pronto! It feels great to be back! Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A day late and a dollar short

I have a terrible habit of taking on the world and spreading myself too thin. I've done it since I started college and no matter how aware of it I am, I can't stop myself. There's just so much to do in this one life we get! And sometimes, blogging about it falls to the wayside. I'm not sorry but I certainly wish I was able to keep up as much as I'd like to!

So a few cool kids did the January spending freeze and we were supposed to report our results yesterday.
Love, Fun and Football

Check out the link ups here! I'm so impressed with how well everyone did! I sure wish I could say the same!

The first two weeks were great. I didn't spend a dime. But I also didn't earn an extra dime. Not only did I have no extra income for the first two weeks of the year, my paycheck was docked for a mix up on PTO and our wellness plan was cancelled, which takes an extra $32 out of each paycheck now. It was discouraging. To top it off, my car ended up needing $1,300 in repairs so my emergency fund took a big hit.

At this point, I was fed up. I was discouraged and bored. Every January I plan a "Treat Yo Self" day based on the perfect TV show Parks and Recreation.
I planned on $100 to treat myself to a mani/pedi and a massage. But I had to run to Target and I splurged. Then I went out for drinks with friends and ended up buying too many rounds at the bar. The damage to my credit card wasn't pretty and I wasn't proud of it. I didn't go too crazy the rest of the month but I didn't stop myself from buying wine for book club or a birthday present for my friend.

I ended up taking some money out of savings to pay off debt and make some headway. I picked up a few babysitting jobs and resumes have been picking up. I will continue to work at it though I'm not 100% confident in my big goal of paying off $20,000 this year. Hopefully a few more plans are in the works for improving that situation. Thankfully I still have 11/12ths of the year left!

Life has been swamped with mostly great things so I can't complain. However, blogging will probably remain sporadic and that's just how I'll roll. After all, my story is for me and the day blogging feels like a job is the day I quit.

Now go read how everyone else did on the link up! I'm sure there are so many impressive examples out there, even if mine isn't one. At least not this month!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A playdate with Sallie & Perkins!

I have these friends, Sallie and Perkins, and they are trying to aggressively pay off their student loans too! They let me hang out with them today over at Love, Fun and Football so go check it out!

I even dressed the part - here's a preview :)


Monday, January 13, 2014

A lesson on perspective

This weekend was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I spent most of it alone and tried my best not to be bored. But during a routine oil change Saturday afternoon, everything changed.

As the mechanic approached me to report on the oil change, he seemed a lot less comfortable than expected. "Uh...are you aware there is a major gas leak in your car?" No, no I was not. "It's actually unsafe to drive and you're very lucky you haven't blown up." Umm...what?

He showed me the gas leak and it had stained most of the underside of the car - including the area with the exhaust pipe. Ya know, the one that gets really hot and when near gasoline can quickly go up in flames? This leak had obviously been around a while, including an 8 hour round-trip to Wisconsin. Seriously, I should have blown up. It still makes my jaw drop. I am so very lucky and thankful to be alive.

I left my car with them until they could do diagnostics. I continued to be so thankful, no matter how costly this would be.

I got a call this morning that to fix everything, and give myself a new, much-needed, muffler, I'm looking at $1,300. Woof. However, I have more reasons to be thankful. I actually have that money available. Just a few months ago, if I needed $1,300, I would have been royally screwed. I would have had to put it on my credit card and dig myself further into debt.

But a few months ago, I anticipated that my old car would either need help or replacing eventually. And I needed to be prepared. So I picked a number and saved. I set aside $3,000 for a car fund, which would either help with maintenance or get me another older used car if mine were to be totaled in an accident or anything unexpected. On December 31st, I finally reached that savings goal. Talk about timing, huh?

When I heard $1,300, I wondered if maybe I should just buy a different car. After looking at Craigslist, I quickly realized I wasn't going to get much better than the car I have and who knows what issues that car could have. It was worth the investment to fix my reliable car to last me a few more years. Hey, maybe by then I'll even be out of debt!

While it's not fun to see a big portion of your savings gone so quickly, my dad pointed out that $1,300 could be the equivalent of 3 car payments. I'm so thankful I don't have a car payment that sucks out such a large chunk of cash each month! I might not have a fancy new car that would come with these payments but I know I'm being smart financially. Looks like I might not be so clueless after all!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spending Freeze - Week 1 Done!

So apparently we're already a whole week into the new year! Cue cliche phrase about how fast time goes. But really, it does fly. Honestly, I haven't even noticed I was on a spending freeze for most of this time. Remember those nerves I had about the sacrifice this would be? So far I haven't even thought about it. Maybe it just was the date after all (which I survived, thankfully! Maybe this here blog will get details one day, but maybe not.)

So what has been the secret to not worrying about a spending freeze? Distraction! And circumstance! I've kept myself occupied with so many things that are free, I didn't have the itch to spend money. Whether it be phone calls with the bffs, working on a puzzle, reading an awesome book, volunteering, watching really good football games (good in the fact they were all nail biters - I wasn't rooting for any teams in particular), or attending a class at my gym, I have found things to do. Yes, there have been some moments I've wanted to scream from boredom, but thankfully I've had this perfect bottle of wine to keep me company.

It has been colder in parts of Minnesota than it is on Mars. I never really thought about Mars being a cold planet but apparently it really is. We've had record cold temperatures this week, you may have heard about them. It even made the international news. So I've been stuck inside with no desire to go out and spend money. And I didn't want to order any food because I would have felt awful to make anyone come out in the cold, and hey, I'm a pretty good cook!

Surprisingly, I haven't really cared to shop online either. I'm realizing I have plenty of clothes and books, which are really all I buy online. However, I will confess I almost caved and bought a plane ticket the other night! I know, not exactly a small cheat purchase either! My mom asked me when my next trip was and I sadly said May - yes, I travel as often as I can and for me, May is a long time to go without an airplane involved. And yes, I know that is a huge reason why I still have debt. After that conversation and mid-hibernation, I hopped on Expedia to see what the possibilities of flying to Dallas on the cheap would be. Turns out my friend's birthday weekend had tickets close to $150, which is nearly unheard of. After an excited call to my friend, it turns out her sister would already be in town that weekend. Blessing in disguise because I did not really need to buy a ticket, even if it would have meant leaving this frozen tundra.

With all this progress, you would think paying off debt has been fairly easy. However, I've had no babysitting jobs due to the cold and no extra income has come in. Additionally, I learned that my pay stub does not accurately reflect my PTO and I took too much in 2013. I was docked pay in my last paycheck as a result so the spending freeze was actually mandatory, rather than giving me a leg up on debt. Not seeing the payoff has been the hardest part so far. 

I hope the spending freeze is treating you well if you're playing along! We're 1/4 of the way finished!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kicking off the January Spending Freeze

Happy New Year! At 12 o'clock I sure was happy to see a brand new year. However, as reality sinks in for what is in store for this year, my stomach has been in knots. Maybe it's looking at this mountain of debt - much higher than I ever expected it to get. Or maybe it's the fact that I asked out a guy today and we're having dinner on Friday and I have to do the first date dance and I'm really nervous and awkward. Either way, I'm WAY outside my comfort zone just hours into the new year!

What better way to continue this dive outside of my comfort zone by freezing my spending? As positive as this will be for my finances, it makes me nervous. I have too many "what if" scenarios in my head of how this will be difficult mentally and socially. They're ridiculous scenarios and I know my priority of paying off debt will be well worth the sacrifice, but yeah, I'm nervous. Maybe it's just getting rid of the credit card safety net that freaks me out. It's hard to live within my means when I don't make that much money. But I can do it and I will. Man, this post is full of rambling, huh?

I was going to go see Saving Mr. Banks today but then I realized I couldn't spend money. Thankfully there's a Happy Endings marathon on VH1 to keep me fairly entertained. However, I'm bound to go stir crazy at this rate.

I updated my budget today and made my first debt payment of $145. It feels good but it feels so small. I'm embarrassed to admit how high my credit card balance is. It's higher than it has ever been and I'm ashamed. I'm freaked out that I have no babysitting jobs on the books for January yet and no resumes to do.

But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Who came up with this anyway? People don't eat elephants!

The best I can do is $1 at a time and do the best I can. And I'll put my nervous energy into working hard and setting up more jobs instead of worrying my days away.

Cheers to new challenges and a new year! If you're doing a spending freeze, be sure to link up with us on February 4th!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 New Year's Resolutions

This entirely unoriginal post is still going to happen because it holds me accountable and helps me look back on what I set out to accomplish in a year. I've always been a big goal setter and this year is no different. I'm so ready for 2014 and I'm kicking this list off with a big bang!

Pay off $20,000 worth of debt.
I honestly don't even know if this is possible since my full-time job is an hourly, entry-level paycheck and my extra income only makes so much at this point. I'd have to babysit 32 hours/week every week to accomplish this. Or I'd have to write 10 resumes/week and I'm nowhere near that level yet. So why $20,000? It would pay off my credit card and my smallest student loan. That student loan is interest only until March 2015 and I'd like to kick it to the curb before the minimum payments increase. I will still have 1 more interest only loan increase to deal with so I'd rather keep it at bay if I can. Fortunately, I'll be doing the spending freeze every other month of the year and will put all windfalls towards this goal. Then I'll just work my butt off at all side jobs I can find and try again to increase my full-time income.

Work smarter, not harder.
I spread myself too thin, working 4 jobs that all pay very little. I will cut back to 3 jobs and really work at making those more profitable. Then maybe I can reach that $20,000 goal of mine!

Have more dance parties!
As much as I work and worry about extra income, I need to let loose and have some fun on a regular basis! And guess what, dance parties are free! Basically what I mean is to bust a move to Beyonce or Kanye during my lunch break or after getting home from a babysitting shift or really whenever I want! It can be solo or even out with friends. No one ever regretted a dance break - unless of course they injured themselves. But I would never do that - says the girl who broke her foot falling down the stairs.

Create a successful book club/read more! 
I love getting lost in a good book and I love having an excuse to get together with girlfriends and wine. I put feelers out on Facebook and it turns out a lot of ladies were interested in doing a book club and our first meeting is at the end of January. Hopefully it sticks and becomes a fun monthly thing!

Get roommates when my lease is up.
I really enjoy having my own place. I never have to bitch or be bitched to about dishes or messes or being noisy. I can walk around naked or sing at the top of my lungs whenever I want. But being in a position where I'm still trying to meet new people and grow my life here in Minnesota, living alone doesn't help one bit. It's very anti-social, especially when I also work from home. It would be great to have a roommate, meet their friends, and have the opportunities to go out more. Additionally, it would save me at least $250/month on rent and ya know, that would certainly help goal #1 too.

Be active.
Yes, it's cliche. Everyone and their mother wants to lose weight or get fit in the new year, every damn year. And nothing ever happens. Honestly, I'm not trying to lose weight exactly. I'm fairly comfortable with my size (maybe minus my sudden appearance of a tummy roll) and in my skin. Despite a trainer recently telling me I need to lose 20lbs of pure fat to be more attractive to guys (another story for another day but no exaggeration at all), I'm not interested in restrictions from enjoying life. In this case, life = pizza, duh. But I would like to be toned and in better shape. I don't want to be out of breath doing basic things. I want to go out on the town in a short skirt every once in a while without a care about cottage cheese legs. I got a Fit Bit for Christmas and let me tell you, simply wearing it does not shed the pounds. I need to use that gym membership of mine and get my booty moving. If for nothing else, I have a bachelorette party, a vacation and a wedding to be in come May/June and I want to look and feel damn good. Single life is hard, no point in making it harder by not being confident!

When I shared this list with my parents, my dad asked if I was hoping to get a boyfriend in 2014. My answer was that it will happen when it will but it's not a goal of mine. And that's the truth. But I am on Match and I'm becoming more comfortable putting myself out there. If it happens, great. If not, I have plenty to keep me busy and happy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have champagne to drink and tables to dance on. Cheers to the new year!