On May 16, I revealed that I was lousy with money, needed to do something about it and own up to the $167,000,000 in student loans I had. Did you catch that decimal error? I didn't at first but luckily one of you did. Sometimes it feels like I have millions of dollars in student loans but in reality it's only about $136,000.
I set out some goals for myself that day and here they are:
1. Survive the next 8 days on $157.
Ha! I regularly budget myself way less than that much pocket money to last an entire 14 day period.
2. Pay off "short-term" debt - two payday loans totaling about $400; loans from friends and family totaling $460 ; pay overdue bills - utilities around $400, cable around $200.
On June 30, I finally paid off the last of my payday loans - yikes. Not something I ever ever want to have to turn to again. I also paid back Friend A, to whom I owed $200. I've paid back Boyfriend most of the money I borrowed from him and am working on paying the rest back. I worked out a Payment Agreement with my utility company. As for cable, I'm not sure if I owe them anything but it's not a bad idea to find out.
3. Develop a working budget.
I make a budget for every payday. Technically it's more of a Spending Plan then a Budget but I call it a Budget and it's working for me so far.
4. Start paying as much of my student loans as possible.
I'm working on it. I currently pay $666 in student loans a month. Yes you read that right. It's going to go up to $706 soon. My Dad pays $305 on my behalf. That's about all I can bear right now. I wasn't paying them at all prior to starting this blog so that's been a huge change.
5. Save up an Emergency Fund of $1000.
I'm working on it. Saving money is kinda hard when you are on a tight budget. I created an Emergency Fund but I linked it to my Checking Account because the emergency I'm most hoping to avoid is getting hit with overdraft fees, something that I know all too well about.
6. Contribute to my Roth IRA.
Fail. Well I changed my mind on this one and decided to contribute instead to my 457 Retirement Plan. I'm putting 7% of my pre-tax income in there (so far I've contributed about $1000) and currently have about $769 remaining. It's not much compared to the amount the average 28 year old has saved for retirement but you gotta start somewhere.
Over the past six months of budgeting and blogging I've learned a lot about personal finance and also my relationship with money. I've also reached some personal milestones in large part due to this new knowledge:
- I quit smoking!!! You need a heck of a lot less pocket money when you are not spending $7 a day on something that will kill you. I am unbelievably proud of this accomplishment as are all my friends and family (and many readers too!).
- I quit the gym. Okay so I know this isn't something I should be proud of since I think working out is really important but it just represents the fact that you should stop paying for things you don't need, aka if you never go to the gym, stop paying $46 a month for it!
- I reduced my cell phone bill by about $30!
- I settled an old debt with a collection agency. Another 15 months of paying $125 a month and I will finally have that friggen old credit card out of my life forever!
- I stopped taking regular handouts from my parents! This is a huge step on my road to independence.
So it's taken a while and I admit I'm still behind the curve of most fiscally fit 28 year olds but no one ever said it would be easy paying for all my money mistakes. Hopefully the next six months will produce some results as well, most notably keeping my job and building up an Emergency Fund.
As far as the blog goes, it's no masterpiece and there are lots of design bugs I haven't taken the time to fix. I need to update my blogroll and find new ways to attract revenue but I have made $60 in ads which is pretty cool. I have 54 subscribers (thanks!) and average about 100 readers per day (wow!). I know I should be participating in more carnivals but alas I never remember to sign up. I have lots of ideas for future content (recipes and book reviews to name a few) so if you've enjoyed the past six months then stay tuned.