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!

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's A Wonderful Life - 2013 in Review

Admittedly, 2013 was not my best year. Unlucky 13, I liked to say. But as I look back, the year was still full of great things, too. When you look back you can learn how to go forward - and I am so ready to go forward in 2014!

This time last year my engagement was ending and I moved back to Minnesota to live with my parents. I rang in the new year with some bubbly - entirely unsure how to really be alone.

I took a break from adjusting to have fun seeing Fun. in concert with some of my favorite ladies from home.

I learned my serotonin levels were dangerously low and I was thankful to get a doctors help. I got involved on SitterCity and met some wonderful babysitting families that have kept me busy all year.

My 21-year-old sister came home from England to get married! It was a big surprise and my mom did a great job pulling together a great wedding in 1 month's notice.
March was also the month I paid off over $3,000 in credit card debt.

I took a girls trip to Dallas! It was so fun to get away, explore a new city and have quality time with some of my best girls.

I paid off my smallest student loan of just over $3,000. It was also the month I got a travel rewards credit card - thinking it was a "good deal." It quickly became obvious I still don't handle credit cards well.

Katie Pelton Resumes got a facelift!

I had a reunion trip to NYC! The four of us became so close while living there and even though only one of us is still in New York, we pick up right where we left off.
I put an offer on a house and found out on my 25th birthday that the seller was in no position to negotiate. Turns out that was one of the best birthday presents I could have received because the rest of the year proved I was not ready for home ownership.

We also found out my dad's depression was back. 

I suffered from debt fatigue and I used that damn credit card for a few more rewards than necessary. I spent July 4th with a babysitting family up north and crossed a few Minnesota landmarks off my bucket list.

My dad was officially diagnosed as bi-polar and it sent my mom and I into a spiral of chaos while my dad was in and out of hospitals. It was the hardest month of my life.

Asthma reared it's ugly head and I ended up in the ER for a few hours but we made friends nonetheless.

I took the time to explore more of Minneapolis and it solidified that I'm in love with living here.

I moved out of my parents house into my 1-bedroom apartment 20 minutes away. It was the best thing I did all year. I continued to deplete my savings and build my credit card debt while I bought all the start ups necessary for living on my own.

My mom and I saw Wicked in Minneapolis. I am so thankful I moved to a city where culture isn't hard to find!

I also visited Megan in Florida and it was wonderful!
And I got a tattoo!

I spent 3 weeks in New Jersey helping my Godmother recover from rotator cuff surgery. I was able to spend time with the "kids" I nannied for after high school and I just can't believe how grown up they are!
I was able to pop into NYC a few more times. It is easily my favorite place to visit!

We were able to find the right medications for my dad and we are very lucky that he is doing better.

I started volunteering as the Literacy Coordinator for GiGi's Playhouse - which is a program for people with Down Syndrome. I am so excited to continue my involvement and watch this role grow.

I saw Amos Lee, Joshua Radin, and Matt Nathanson in concert and they were all fantastic!
I also cooked my first (successful) Thanksgiving meal!


I visited one of my best friends in Utah!

I took a day trip to visit my NYC girls in Madison since they all happen to be from there - small world!
My family celebrated a nice and quiet Christmas. I don't love that my sister can't come home for the holidays but we had a great time anyway. 
And just yesterday I completed my last financial goal of 2013 - a fully stocked savings - and my dad and I went to see The Phantom of the Opera!

I have so much to be thankful for this year, even the difficult times. Looking back helps me appreciate that. When you know better, you do better. And I am ready to do better in 2014 and take life by storm!

Friday, December 20, 2013

January Spending Freeze - You're invited!

As we head into 2014, of course I'm thinking about goals. Not surprisingly, I've been dreaming up a few financial goals that I am really excited about tackling. One thing that makes it so exciting is teaming up with others so we can encourage each other throughout the way. You can imagine my excitement when a few awesome bloggers teamed up for an exciting challenge!

Erin, Steph, Marla Jan and I would like to introduce the January Spending Freeze!

It's a make your own rules kind of challenge, since everyone has their own financial preferences. We'd love for you to join!

Personally, I'm going to take my small bi-weekly allowance and put that towards debt instead. By month's end, that will make a dent of $180. It's not a lot but it's better than spending it on stuff I don't need. This also means keeping my credit card in hiding with no exceptions! 

I'll keep my grocery budget, but no fast food stops or Chipotle run. No online shopping. No expensive nights out at the bars. It's time to make debt a big priority and have my actions reflect that.  

I even plan on extending this challenge to be every other month for all of 2014. That will knock out $1020 of debt, which is pretty cool! 

Now, it's easy to debate what is a necessity and what's not. And that's why I like this challenge being completely up to you. Maybe for you it means cutting your cable or gym membership. Maybe it means cutting back on your groceries, gas, spending money.

One addition to the challenge would be to call the companies you use and see if you can lower your rates or payments. Maybe you can get a lower phone or internet bill. Maybe you can lower the interest rates on your credit cards or student loans. It never hurts to ask! 

Everyone has their own motivation when it comes to their finances. Mine is to pay off debt asap. But maybe you want to build your savings or pay for a family vacation this year. I'd love to hear what your motivation is! 

We'll be hosting a link up on February 4th to recap how this challenge went so grab a button and get ready to freeze!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm bringing Clueless back!

After a 2 year hiatus and a ridiculous blogging identity crisis or two, I'm back! I may have learned a thing or two about finances since I was here last but frustratingly I'm still in the same spot. Stuck in student loan and credit card debt and determined to get out. As much as I tried to become a lifestyle blogger, I always came back to finances. I felt stuck or bored writing about much else and I felt guilty writing too much about finances in a lifestyle blog. So I'm back and better than ever.

What's been going on in the past two years? Here's a really quick recap:
I lived in NYC until May of 2012, when I moved to WI to be with MG (my guy) who proposed the weekend I moved.

After 6 months we didn't work out. Let me tell you, moving for a guy is tough, to say the least. Thankfully we're still on good terms and I always want the best for him. I moved back to Minnesota and lived with my parents for 9 months.

A month after moving with them my 21-year-old sister dropped the bomb that she was getting married in 1 month! She lives in England for the Air Force so this caught us off guard to say the least!

After plenty of family chaos, I'm in my own apartment now and I am so excited to have a break from moving!

Coming back to Minnesota made me realize I'm madly in love with Minneapolis and don't plan on being a resident of any other state again. I'm thankful for all the moving I've done but I'm so happy to have found a great home base. Who knew it was right under my nose the whole time? Staying put will certainly save me money too! But this doesn't mean I'll stop traveling. My travel bug is just as strong as ever and I'm continually learning how to use reward points to travel on a tight budget. In fact, I was just in Utah visiting Jessie thanks to a free flight from credit card points! 

I thought about buying a house and I even put an offer down (definitely a clueless move!) but that goal is on the back burner until my debt is gone. On that note...

I got myself out of credit card debt while living with my parents. Stupidly, I got myself back into credit card debt (start up expenses for your own apartment are expensive!!) and I'm ready to quit again, once and for all. I also paid off my smallest student loan while living with the rents and I am eager to get the other 3 gone asap!

I work remotely in inside sales and I work 3 side jobs to increase my income. Yup, 3. I own Katie Pelton Resumes, I host Freezer Meal Workshops via Wildtree, and I babysit a few times a week. The idea is to put that extra money towards debt so my full-time paycheck can cover more than just my minimum expenses.

I'm still getting my bearings as a single lady in Minneapolis. I'm loving exploring the area, getting involved in all that this area has to offer, and meeting new people. I joined a wonderful group of Minnesota bloggers, I started volunteering, and I started a book club. Maybe I'll even start dating this year ;)

I have some big goals for 2014 and I so happy to be back sharing my progress with you!