Tag Archives: finance

Personal, Professional, and Financial Goals: 6 Month Check-in

Where has the time gone?! 2014 is now officially half over and it’s time to do a 6-month check-in. I never posted my 2014 goals on this site, but you can click over to my coaching and training site and see them there.

Here are my professional and personal goals for 2014:

Professional:

  • Grow in my job – I have been in my current job for just over 3 months now and I really love it thus far. Throughout my public health graduate studies, I would have never thought that I would find a job in healthcare technology. It was a topic that never really interested me; however, now that I work in the field, I love it. Not only is healthcare technology important in the United States, but globally, where my heart lies in global health and international development. My job is challenging and rewarding. Each week I am learning new skills that will only improve my work quality and also aid in my future career development. In 2014 I look forward to working hard, learning new skills, and furthering my future career path. I’m still loving my job and I have expanded my skill and knowledge set that is not only valuable in my current job, but in my future career. I’ve been given some more responsible recently, which makes me happy and hopefully that will continue. I hope that I’ll be given some writing assignments by the end of the year that I can dive into since writing is one of my passions.
  • Grow my business – If you have read my blog for a while you have probably noticed the changes over the past couple of months. I plan to officially launch my new business in a couple of weeks. I started my own coaching and personal training business because it is my passion and I find great satisfaction in helping people achieve their goals. I don’t plan to make a million dollars in my business, but a few extra dollars to help pay my student loans would be nice. I have some interesting plans and opportunities in the future so stay tuned for future developments! My business is doing well. It’s still very small, which I prefer. I only take on about 4-6 clients total between both my personal training and coaching clients. I’m not out there to make a ton of money and I prefer to give each client individualized attention. I am currently in the process of becoming a certified RRCA run coach (I just need to complete a first aid course). I’ve also taught a lot of spin classes over the past few months at Zone 3 Fitness and the Bay Club and really love teaching.
  • Learn French – This has been one of my goals from early fall 2013. I want a future career in global public health and international development, thus I need to become bilingual, or at least competent at a second language. I’ve been slowly practicing my language skills via software programs, but I will continue in 2014 with french lessons at The Language Exchange in Portland. I don’t naturally pick up language quickly, so this is going to be a tough goal, but it is necessary and important for my future career goals. After traveling in Central America in May, I’ve discovered that I love the Latin American culture and have decided to switch from French to Spanish. I took a year of Spanish in college, but I don’t remember a whole lot. I begin my first class on Monday! 🙂

Personal:

  • Become more financially stable – The last couple of years have been a bit tough financially. Last year I took a risk with my career and it did not pan out as well as I hoped. The last couple of years were also riddled with unexpected purchases, i.e. lots of car repairs and health bills. My graduate student loans also kicked in and I quickly realized that about a third of my monthly income goes directly to SallieMae and Nelnet. Awesome. With my new job I received an increase in pay from my old one. I need to buy a new car some point this coming year and thus I have begun to put some cash away for that big-ticket item. I’m still driving my little car until it dies for good (or is going to cost me a zillion dollars to fix). I also plan to stash some money away again into my emergency fund since it became low due to said expensive car repairs. For the past few months I have created budgets and reviewed my spending habits to determine where I can cut back. Going into 2014 I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly budget and I have been researching ways to live more frugally. Stay tuned for that journey. Well, my little black car died in March. It was a sad day, but I am very happy with my new car! My father was very generous and gave me a down payment for my car, but I still have a $13,000 car loan plus about $32,000 in student loans. See below for more of my financial goals.
  • Travel – It’s ironic that one of my main goals is to save more money and live frugally, but I also seek adventure outside the US. I haven’t been to a new country in a couple of years and thus, 2014 is the year I discover a new part of the world. My mind has gone crazy with ideas, but I yet to commit to anything yet. I may travel to South America with a friend, go on a medical mission to a developing country, or take a solo trip to Southeast Asia or Europe. I love daydreaming about traveling the world and I know this year will be the year of an adventure. Anyone looking for a travel buddy? I traveled to Belize and Guatemala with one of my best friends in May for a week and will be going to the Azores Islands in November. All were new countries for me and definitely reignited the travel bug in me. I’ve been resisting the urge to impulse buy a plane ticket to Columbia! I traveled to New Orleans for work in June and absolutely fell in love with the city that I hope to pursue my PhD studies in. Montreal and Newport, RI are also in the planning stages as well as a couple big trips in 2015.
  • Volunteer more – This past fall I joined the Junior League of Portland, Maine and have met some pretty fabulous and inspiring women. The organization is built on giving back to the community, which is one of the main reasons I joined. I look forward to volunteering around the community with the JLP, but I also hope to give back to my community in other ways. I have been researching various organizations related to my career interests and will be making contact soon so hopefully I can help in any way needed. Junior League is awesome and I think all women should join! 🙂 I’m still seeking out more opportunities to volunteer as well. Since I have more time on my hands due to my hip injury, I am reaching out to a couple of organizations after the holiday.
  • Read a book once a month (or more) – I love to read and you periodically will have book reviews on my blog. For a collection of old book reviews click HERE. I’m an avid reader and I usually read daily, whether job related papers or pleasure reading. My goal in 2014 is to finish a book at least once a month; however, I would like to read more than just 12 books a month. Heck, in the past 5 days I have almost finished all three Hunger Games books. I have a stack of half-finished books so I will start my reading list there. I fell off the bandwagon on this one, but began back up again in May. I’m doing a summer book challenge which has inspired me to read about a book a week over the past two months. You can find out more information about the book challenge here.

Financial Update:

  • My Emergency fund is now up to also $1200! My goal is to have about $2000 in it by the end of the year. Right now, I’m a head of my schedule. Currently I put in $100 each month automatically from my checking account, but will increase the monthly payments to $150 in October. I keep my E-fund in an online bank. You can read more about why I use an online bank and how you can earn a free $76 by opening a savings account with Capital One 360. I just learned today that if you open a checking account and make the 5 purchases within 45 days, you’ll also earn an additional $100! Their checking account is fee-free and no foreign transaction fees!
  • Since March I’ve paid $1512.04 towards my student loans! Since April I’ve been paying an extra $150 towards my SallieMae loans. One of my $778 loans will be paid off this month (YAY!) and the second one will be paid off by hopefully October. I’m planning on selling my tri bike this fall and will use that money to pay off another bigger SallieMae loan. My goal is to pay off my SallieMae loans by the end of December 2015.
  • My net worth is getting closer to zero! My total net worth was about -$31,223 at the end of December 2013 and over the past six months is now sitting about -$17,896. The main reason that it shifted towards positive by nearly $15,000 is the purchase of my new car. Yes, my car loan currently sits at about $12,500, but my car is worth, according to Kelly Blue Book, $17,000. My investments are doing well. I currently put in 7% of my yearly income into my company’s 403(b) with a company match of almost 7%. I rolled my old 401(k) into a Roth IRA in March and have finally reached over the $6000 mark in April. I am planning to start contributing to my IRA this fall.
  • I haven’t been very good about sticking to my budget over the past few months. May was expensive because of my vacation. I had planned a head so I knew they were coming. June had some unpredicted extra expenses, such as $300 dentist bill, a few business-related expenses, and a $330 plane ticket to Portugal in November. My goal for the remaining summer months is to reign in my spending and stick to my budget better. I know I will have some extra expenses coming up such as another $90 dentist bill and an eye exam. I just need to stay out of the J. Crew outlet store!

Not to wish away the remaining six months of 2014, but I’m really excited about the prospective of nailing all my goals this year. I feel that I’m in a solid place both personally, financially, and professionally. I know 2016 is going to be a big transition year for me with my future goals of going back to school so I’m happy that I’m well on my way to be able to pursue my dream of attaining my PhD. And hopefully reach a net worth of $0 within the next year! 🙂

March Budget Check

My March budget is full of red! So much for sticking to the budget I worked so hard to create in January…

I was way over budget due to this kind of large purchase….

The new whip!
The new whip!

It was a sad day when my old car died last week. I knew the day from coming, but was hoping that it would occur closer to December. My father was generous and gave me money for the down-payment, but I now have a $13,104.20 car loan with a monthly payment of $232 starting in April. However, before I even took the car off the lot and to finalize the car loan through my credit union I had to buy car insurance. My 6-month payment was $588. And, of course, it will probably cost me another $500 in April to register it and pay the excise tax. Woof! I’ll be using the save I have saved thus far as a car down-payment to pay for the registration and taxes.

I also went way over my normal food budget as well because of my birthday. I went out for lunch and drinks with some friends, which I normally don’t do very often. I also spent $44 on the night I test drove my car to bribe my father to come to the dealership with me to negotiate the price of the car. Although he really do anything. I spent way more at coffee shops too. Bad, bad!

Eeek Lots of red!
Eeek Lots of red!

I went over my student loan payments, which I consider to be a good thing because I’ve paid off more debt. During the month of March I paid off a $368 grad school loan that was just annoying me plus my normal monthly payments.

Let’s see. I had a lot of extra predicted spending in March, like my dog’s $200 vet bill for her annual exam. I picked up a couple of new shirts at Old Navy on my birthday. They were on sale! Yay! Plus, I had some small business fees as well.

March expenses by categories
March expenses by categories

I think the highlight of my March personal finances was rolling over my old 401k account to a new Roth IRA account with Vanguard and making some $$! I’ve finally been making money with my 403b account with Nationwide as well. I love watching my retirement accounts make money! Let’s hope that pattern continues for the next 40+ years. 🙂

Total Debt as of 4/3/14: $50,121.13 (thank you car loan!) <- includes this month’s credit card bill as well (I pay everything using my CC to earn airline miles)

Total Student Loan Debt as of 4/1/14: $32,842.63 (Goal: Bring total loan debt under $30,000 by end of 2014)

Emergency Fund as of 4/3/14: $850.68 (Goal: $1500 by end of 2014)

Total Savings + Investments as of 4/3/14: $12,866.13

Net Worth as of 4/3/14: $21,255.00 (does not include the value of my new car)

Frugal Fridays: The First Edition

 

Note: Originally posted on January 17, 2014 on Big Sky Multisport Coaching & Personal Trainingfrugalfridays

 

One of my big 2014 goals is to become financially stable and pay off some student loans! Thus, welcome to my new series called Frugal Fridays! I plan to post at least twice a month on everything from paying off debt, making and sticking to budgets, and living frugally.

Since September I have been using the free online budgeting program, mint.com, to create a monthly budget and track my spending. The first few months I knew I would be off my budget because I started a new job and had to buy an entire new wardrobe. Hello big girl job! I also wasn’t 100% sure about my gas, health and grocery spending and what it was going to look like. The fall months were definitely a trial by error months. By monitoring my spending over the past three months or so has led to some fine tuning of my monthly budget going into 2014.

The largest chunks of my budget were student loans, food and medical. Obviously I can’t cut down my student loan payments, but I knew I could make cuts in my food and medical spending in order to grow my savings account. With my new job I get a company funded HSA to help pay our high deductible insurance plan. Last month I realized that I could use it to pay my chiropractor (since that is my medical spending)! But now that my hip is starting to “normalize,” I don’t have to go weekly. Yay!

Food is a big area most people can cut down on in order to save more money. I use to go to Starbucks a couple of times a week for a latte and a breakfast sandwich. That’s about $7 a time, which over a month can add up to a lot of dough. I will still stop at Starbucks on an occausion, but I’m focusing on making and eating breakfast at home. I don’t normally go out much for dinner so I really don’t have much to cut back there. In the recent months I have been bringing my lunch to work almost everyday to work. Sometimes if I’m traveling for work though I have to buy it and I’m okay with that.

For both my undergraduate and graduate degree, I started with about $44,000 in student loans, which I use to think was really bad, but after hearing about some of my friends undergraduate debt, I don’t feel as bad. However, $40,000+ debt is definitely scary and I want to get rid of it as fast as possible, especially since I would like to go back for my PhD. Over the past few years I have managed to pay it down to about $35,000.

Here are my mini-goals for 2014:

  1. My goal is to get my student loans under $30,000 this year. I plan to pay off two loans for sure this year: one for $2500 and a second for $1500. If I have extra money in my budget, then I may apply more money quarterly to certain loans to pay them off quicker.
  2. Saving for a car. I’ve been driving my 2000 Hyundai Elantra for over 7 years and it’s on its last legs. However, I plan to drive her to the grave. My goal is to pay for a new car with as much cash as I can manage instead of completely funding via loans. I also don’t plan on buying a brand new car. I would love to buy a Subaru, but at this point in my life, I don’t want to pay that much for a car. We’ll see though what is available when the time comes. I just want sometime good on gas and can fit my triathlon gear!
  3. Cutting back on things and sticking to my budget. There are somethings in my budget that I can’t cut from my budget, such as student loans and rent. However, I’m going to make every effort to stick to my budget and make cuts when I can. Recently, I decided to dump my $100 a month Verizon bill for a more budget friendly cell phone plan. I will let you know in a month or so how that new plan is going, but I should be saving anywhere from $50-75 a month!
  4. Packing my lunch, eating breakfast and dinner at home. One of the best ways to save money on food is via meal planning. Confession: I’m a total Type A person, but not when it comes to food. I rarely grocery shop with a list. That is going to change. I’m also considering a small garden this summer as well.
  5. Pay myself first. I had built a good emergency fund over the past few years, but the amount took a drastic hit over the past year due to some very expensive car repairs. My main goal is to build this up again to be able to have enough money to cover all my bills for 3-6 months. Hopefully I won’t have to use it, but it will be there if I need it. I also plan to add additional money to my second savings account for potential travel this year or early next year.
  6. Buy things I only need. I’ve never been a huge spender, but when I want something I will go out and buy it. I have a lot of friends that are very liberal in their spending and I have a feeling a lot of them are in some debt. Most people are in this country, especially in their 20s. I’ve started to keep a list of items that I would like to purchase over time. No more impulse purchasing!
  7. The Mason Jar Savings Plan – I’ve seen various versions of this running around on the internet and I have decided to do it this year. Frugal Beautiful gives you a good outline of the plan here (plus her blog is really a good read too!). I don’t have a fancy mason jar to put my dollar bills is; I just keep a big envelope in my safe.

So that is my plan for 2014 to save some moolah and also pay down some student loan debt. Anyone have some good advice on ways to save? I’m all ears!