Workout Playlist!

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 Quit whining that it’s Monday. (Talking to myself too…)

 Push play and then go get after it!

#BeABeast

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Workout Playlist!

I know it’s Monday. WHATEVER. Don’t start your week off in defeat.

You’ve got this. Ball up your fists, give a yell if need be, put on your workout clothes, and go.

Get after it and BE A BEAST!

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Get debt-free by 30. Check.

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As I wrote a couple weeks ago, one of the things I wanted to do by age 30 was get out of debt.

This is incredibly embarrassing to type out, but last year, a few months before my 29th birthday, I was realizing that I was nowhere near where I’d hoped to be financially. For some reason I thought, by that point in my life, I’d have 10, maybe 20 grand in the bank and be well on my way to a financially secure future. In reality, there was my car loan, two small credit card balances, a couple dental/health bills, my student loans, etc. They were all small amounts when you looked at the bills separately, but when I actually added up my total debt, I was disgusted with the number… and myself. $12,000! I owed 12K and had just a few hundred bucks in savings… What had I been doing the past few years?! Not focusing on finances… obviously.

Initially, my debt didn’t seem to stand out to me. Most of my friends my age have a car payment, student loans, and some sort of credit card they’re paying off. Online I’d read tons of stories of folks owing tens of thousands of dollar in just credit card debt alone. I thought I was way better off than those people. But when sat down and looked at the amount of money I could save each month by not paying on debt, it rocked me. I was spending about $1000 each month on debt bills. That ish was completely unnecessary. Saving $1,000 per month sounded way better than shelling it out.

I had been under the impression (from myself) that  I was doing good financially: I made more money than I had to pay each month and I could pay my bills and still have some left over. Great. But all the “leftover” got spent each month. I’d been out of college for 7 years and had nothing to show for it. (I won’t say I didn’t have anything to show for it… not in terms of “stuff.” I took plenty of trips, saw 6 countries, and made great friendships from a lot of those trips. But still…) It was time to reel it in.

At this realization, I was kicking myself for not making larger payments all this time. Especially when I was married and living in a two-income household, with a husband that saved everything. Going from that kind of household back down to a single income household was more costly. I realized that since my divorce in 2011, I just stopped focusing on my financial goals. I could still support myself, but there definitely wasn’t as much “extra money” and I wasn’t making any goals of my own. However, I couldn’t sit around moping about what I didn’t do for the last 3 years. It was time to get after it and tackle my debt.

Step 1. Take advantage of 0% interest rates.

I needed to make sure the debt I had wouldn’t accumulate any extra interest. I had an empty credit card that had $9600 of credit available and it was offering a 0% interest rate for any balance transfers for 1 year, so I put as much as I could onto that card. That only left a few thousand dollars to get rid of as quickly as possible and gave me a year to pay down what I’d just transferred. This bought me some time and saved me some dollars on interest.

Step 2. Pay down the smallest balances first.

If you’ve got more than one balance (like a credit card, car payment, student loan, etc), focus and start on the smallest one. Make minimum payments on everything else and put everything you can toward the smallest balance until it’s gone. As soon as that one’s paid off, you do the same with the next highest one. You’ll knock out payments and have a bigger amount to spend on the next thing every month. It snowballs each month and gives you a small sense of accomplishment, which helps!

I had $800 that I owed on my computer so I started with that first. Since I didn’t have crazy interest building on my other credit card after the transfer, I was able to get rid of that balance in just 2 months. Then I moved on to finish paying the $1100 I owed for my dental work. Each time I paid something off, it left more money to pay off the other things faster. This was great for me psychologically too. Every time I crossed something off my spreadsheet, I got more motivated.

Since I’m self-employed, how good/not-so-good business was that month was the deciding factor on how much I was able to pay off. Some months were better than others and so I’d put as much toward my debt as possible. Once those little things were all done, I just had the big sum to start chipping away at.

I did this before I’d heard Dave Ramsey talk about the debt snowball, so I felt validated after the fact.

Step 3. Cut back on monthly spending.

Looking back, I could have paid off my car in under two years if it had actually occurred to me to do so. But instead I spent any extra money I had. However, if you’re in any kind of debt (other than your mortgage), there is no such as thing as “extra money.” I used to think I had leftover money each month after I paid my bills, but that wasn’t a great way to look at my account. There’s no reason to be buying things, going on vacations, getting a new tv/car if you owe money to other companies/people. I had to re-wire my thought process on my spending.

Since it’s easy to drop anywhere from $30 – $60 on a single night out, I cut back on dinners/drinks. This wasn’t incredibly hard. I wake up at 5am most days of the week so usually want to get to sleep by 10pm. This doesn’t leave a lot of time at night. Also, since I travel for work most weekends I’m really only in town a few days per week.

I also started cutting my monthly expenses. I got rid of my storage unit ($60/month), found new car insurance (saving me $40/month) and even changed my phone plan (saving me another $40/month). The extra $140 per month went to the debt.

My next move was to stop buying “stuff.” I don’t shop a lot, but every now and then I’d go with a friend to the mall and walk out having spent $100. For NO REASON. And we all know about the $30 cover charge just for walking through the doors of Target. I had all the clothes I need. I’m stocked up on shoes/accessories. I don’t need any “things.” My new plan: if it was an item, I didn’t need it. (Reading about minimalism lately has really gotten me pumped on not having a lot of stuff. This will also be helpful the next time I move…) Now, I didn’t get crazy and just stay at home in the dark eating Ramen noodles. I just looked at my bank statement and added up everything that I didn’t need to spend money on. It was a lot. I knew I could do better… and so I did. All the money I stopped spending went to paying down my debt balance. And it was getting lower, faster.

Step 4. Make more money.

I took on a lot more work this year than I had the years before. This meant a lot more travel and time away from home, but it had to be done. I was thinking if I could pay off this debt by the time I hit 30, then I could cut back on some hours, but until then, it was time to crank it out. The extra work paychecks that I made went directly to my debt. ALL OF IT. This is definitely disheartening, seeing your account balance go up and then right back down in the same day, but it was necessary. If that money had been in my account, I would have found something to spend it on. The good thing about working more is having less time to spend. Since I was gone more weekends, I spent less on groceries, entertainment, gas, etc. I was making more, spending less, and knocking out my payments.

Step 5. Saving at the same time.

Since the other part of my goal was to increase my savings, I had to actually act on that. Unfortunately being self-employed doesn’t mean I get a company matched 401-k. I was gonna have to get started myself and I didn’t want to wait until my debt was paid off (who knew how long that would take). I started small: I opened an IRA and a Money Market account and just set them up to automatically withdraw $100 per month each. This was an embarrassing amount to set up, (because the guy I talked to suggested $1,000 per month…. riiiight) but it was better than nothing. I just wanted some forward movement. Any forward movement! The majority of my money needed to go to my debt. Once that was paid off, I would increase the monthly contributions.

The good news is, those contributions add up quickly. Since they were automatic, I completely forgot about them at times. When I looked at them last month, there was a total of $3300! That’s $3300 in savings that I didn’t have before! That balance doesn’t allow me to retire soon or anything, but it’s definitely more than I had. Now that my debt is actually gone. I can make those amounts bigger.

Step 6. SAVE: The $1,000 Buffer and 6 months of expenses.

$1,000 Buffer: For the past 6 years or so, I’ve kept a minimum of $1,000 in my checking account. This makes me feel taken care of should anything unexpected pop up; needing new tires, an unexpected medical bill, a car break-down, etc. I’ve dipped below it a couple time when things came up, but I always replaced it. If my checking account read $1700, my mind only saw $700. This helps. It’s a great way from having to dip into savings or use a credit card in times of need.

6 Months of Expenses: They always say that you should have 6 months of expenses in a liquid account in case you lose your job, but I hear more and more, you’re probably ok with 3 months worth if you don’t have a family yet. I’m in the process of that right now, but I’m nearly halfway there, so that feels good.

Now: I’m 30 and debt free!

Five days before my birthday, I made my last payment on my last bill. I’m officially out of debt, I have a few thousand in savings/retirement and I’m on my way to feeling more financially secure. I know I’ve still got a ways to go; getting my 3 months of expenses saved up, having a chunk of money that can actually be invested, etc, but I’m in a way better place now than my last birthday and that feels wonderful.

So tonight, I’m congratulating myself by drinking a bit of sparkling wine that a client of mine gifted me.

Good night!

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Do you have any financial goals you’ve recently made for yourself or accomplished? How did you do it? Any tips for investing and becoming ridiculously rich? Pass ’em on!

 

 

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Workout Playlist! Shake your ish…


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Notes: *My workout playlist consists of music that makes me wanna shake it… for an hour. *It has Iggy A, Taylor Swift, and Kanye all cozied up together. *Loving the first song, by Charli XCX. *My boyfriend, Lenny Kravitz has a new album out,as does Jennifer Hudson, who apparently is now going by “J-Hud”… which is interesting. *I don’t think I’ll ever make a playlist that doesn’t have Beyonce on it somewhere…

So either bust a move on the dancefloor, or get your workout on… either way,

#BeABeast

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Growing up by 30… or at least acting like it…

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I turn 30 years old this Sunday! I’m really excited to reach this milestone. A year ago, I did this blog post, “29 lessons learned in my 29 years.” It was a great post, but at the same time, parts of my life still felt like I needed to learn more lessons. I wasn’t quite where I’d imagined I’d be by 29 years old. So I made some plans and vowed to get myself a little farther down the line to feel a little more grown up by the time I hit 30.

1. Get outta debt.

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I didn’t have anything crazy like $50k in credit card debt or anything, but with my car payment, dental/health bills, credit cards, and student loans, I had more debt than I wanted or needed. It didn’t seem like a lot of bills, but when I sat down last year and added everything up, it totaled about $12,000. I hated having to spend money each month paying on things, so I set to work on getting rid of all of it. (More on this in tomorrow’s post.) I am happy to say that I made my last payment on my last bill two days ago. I am officially out of debt! Now I can start working on “building my wealth.” #shitgrownupssay

2. Investing in my future.

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That sounds in credibly grown up, doesn’t it? Investing. What a ridiculous undertaking. Yes, I have a savings account, but there are SO many other ways to invest money, most of which I’m completely lost on. I made one of my new year’s resolutions to open an IRA this year and when I went to the bank on January 2nd to do it, the banker asked why I wanted to open an IRA. My response? “Because you’re supposed to.” Then when he started asking me whether I wanted stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, I just sort of blinked at him. Slow your roll, buddy! One thing at a time! Just put this money in that account and leave it alone. I gotta get rid of my debt real quick and then we talk about bonds and shit.

3. Working a little bit more.

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Being self-employed is really cool on some levels; you get to pick when you work, you can take off as many days a year as you’d like, you really like your boss, etc. But it also has its downfalls. Not working as much means not making money as much. BOO. So to meet my financial goals this year, I reeled it in on the fun spending and cranked it out on the work front. The more work I did, the more opportunities popped up. My business blossomed and I got all my debt paid off. Boom.

 

4. Floss Regularly

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I mean, flossing takes less than a minute and it’s really not that big of a deal, but it feels like such a pain in the ass every night. I just want to go to bed! But every time I go to the dentist and they ask me if I’ve been flossing, I want to feel good knowing I can say yes… and also so I don’t have to spit out a pint of blood when they do it for me. I’ll allow myself two skip nights per week; usually Sunday nights when I’m arriving back in town from a work trip, and Friday nights because reasons… Ever since I had to have a root canal and crown last year (with no dental insurance, it cost me $1500) I realized it can be quite beneficial, physically and financially, to floss my freaking gums every night. And get dental insurance. And who knows when I might need to strangle my enemies? ; )

 

What grown-up things have you caught yourself doing lately?

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Workout Playlist!

Does anybody else feel like there’s hardly ANY good music out right now?
I’ve been struggling with making a new playlist the past couple weeks 
so I’ve been re-playing some of my older ones in class. 
I’m over that. 
I’ve been SCOURING the intertubes for good music to workout to. Here’s what I’ve found. 
As always, my playlists are an hour long and include cool down/stretch music. 
This is this week’s playlist: 
Let me know if you’ve got some great tunes 
that get you PUMPED for your workout. 
I’d love to add them to the next mix!
Thanks! 
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Workout Playlist: 90s Edition!

There’s nothin’ like a little Salt N Pepa & Marky Mark
to get in an old school state of mind for your workout this week! 
So throw on some oversized clothing, tight roll your pants 
and work that ish! 
Playlists are an hour long 
and include slower cool-down music 
to remind you to STRETCH! 
Enjoy: 
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Workout Playlist: Dance Party!

Notes:
  • I’m LOVING the Mirrors song (as it’s the only good song on JT’s new album, but that’s another blog post). 
  • I can’t get enough of Emeli Sande’s song, Next To Me. It may be my new ringtone soon…
  • And I can’t help myself when it comes to One Direction. Their songs are super cheese, but my inner teen can’t get enough… 
Which songs are your workout jams this week?

All my workout playlists are an hour long
and include some more chill songs for cool-down/stretch.
Now get after it, bitches! 
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Playlist!

This is what we’re listening to in my fitness classes this week
… because my bootcampers have no other option.
That’s the cool thing about being in charge. ; )
My workout playlists are an hour long, 
with built-in cool-down/stretching songs,
so you don’t leave that ish out
’cause I know how you are. 
I’m LOVING Gin Wigmore these days. 
Her sound is a cool mix between Amy Winehouse and Duffy. 
Also, have you guys heard Bruno Mars’s new album? 
I can’t get enough of “If I Knew”. I just wish it were longer! 
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Playlist! (From December)

Here’s a playlist from a couple weeks ago that I forgot to post. 
Enjoy! 
The cool-down song, “Not Even The King” 
is my new favorite chill jam. 
I heart Alicia Keys. 
(and so did my bootcamp, as a few of them 
kept texting me to get the name of the song to download). 
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