Frugal Idea #9

My heart literally broke….on lost opportunity! I just realized my cards were not synced to UPromise, a way to reduce your student loans. I’ll come back to this shortly…

In 2013, I made a promise to aggressively pay off my student loans this year 2014. I stare at this amount at times and am at disbelief I took this loan out, but I stay focused on what this loan has provided for me in my life today. In 2001, I decided to make the plunge and escape…I mean move… from Sacramento, CA to the beautiful & awesome city of San Francisco. I was making $8.25 per hour as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant, had no savings, but a heart full of joy to know that I had finished all of my requirements to transfer to a 4 year University. After a college tour of 4 campuses, my mind was set for San Francisco State University. I was thrilled for a new environment, new friends, new adventures, and no extreme heat waves. Of course, my family wanted me close and really pushed for me to return to CSU, Sacramento (I quit my first semester after HS). I was able to receive grants, but it would not be enough for my cost of living in SF and if I was going to make this move, I wanted to invest my first & second semester to be a true student….as in no working. I wanted to focus on the books and taking in every opportunity that came my way. If I was going to move, I was doing this alone per my dad. I remember the day of my move. My sister drove me and I had three boxes of my personal items packed in the back seat and I fought the tears as I saw my mom wave goodbye from the garage. One of the bravest moments for me.

I admit I was financially inept back then. I was thrilled to have such a large amount of money deposited into my account, but I had no clue about budgeting, how the loans would be re-paid, etc. For some reason, I had thought that I would be in my 40s with an amazing career and I finally would have to repay my loans back in small amounts. After graduation and it was time to make payments, I realized that these “small payments” are actually not small for an entry level worker!

Today, I am in complete control of my finances. I know what comes in, I know what goes out. I have my Excel spreadsheet titled “Nev’s Finances” with all financial information complete with lovely formulas to calculate my true net worth. To get my student loans under control, I consolidated it to one account and I have a monthly amount deducted directly from my checking account. I also conducted research on ways to reduce this amount even more. I discovered UPromise. You can sync your credit/debit cards to earn money back towards your loans with participating restaurants, vendors, etc. I now will choose restaurants that participate, consider the retail stores through this site, and check it weekly for coupons.  I just synced my cards – let’s do this!

Thank you student loans for providing me shelter, food, and a social life during college. Thank you allowing me to earn a BA degree which was a contributor for me to have the career I have today. Thank you, but it is time to pay you off. Till then…

Frugal Idea #8

When you focus on gratitude, you save. Every Sunday, I take a few minutes of the day to read, watch, or listen to something inspiring. I recently have been focused on gratitude. It is easy to be upset that you are not quite where you thought you would be by now (financially, career, home, location, etc.) or upset that you do not have a material item you can not afford at this moment in life. I used to think I “needed” items, but when I focused on gratitude, it really puts your life & possessions in perspective. One year, I wrote down 5 items/ideas/events I am grateful for. In honor of FrugalNev, I am listing 3 material items I currently have that I thought of replacing/upgrading, until I replaced that want with gratitude and that prevented me from spending more to fill a void.

1) I am grateful for my 2005 Mazda 3 car. It has 164,000 miles on it, but it is paid off. I am grateful that I do not have to pay monthly dues to a loan. I am grateful that this car takes me to work daily and that I can visit a family member or friend. I am grateful that I can go on a trip to explore a new city. I am grateful and do not need to buy a new car at the moment.

2) I am grateful to live in a studio in San Francisco. It may not be a 1 bedroom and it may not be a studio that I own, but I am grateful to live near downtown San Francisco. I am able to walk to a restaurant, walk to go shopping, and attend the numerous cultural and artistic events. I am grateful to be in the city I have always wanted to live in. I am grateful that I can afford to rent this space and grateful to have great neighbors. I will buy a home when the time is right, I have 20% down, and have 8 months of emergency funds to cover the mortgage. I will buy without settling down to a space I think I must buy rather than I want and can afford to buy. I am grateful this studio keeps Mila (my cat) and I warm and safe.

3) I am grateful to have enough clothes to wear to work, the gym, a casual night out, and to sleep in. I may not have the most expensive items and most of my clothes are last season’s wear, but I am grateful to have people compliment my style from time to time. I do not need to buy more clothes unless it is time to replace an item due to wear & tear, stains, or if it lost its shape. I have more clothes than some people in this world and I am thankful.

I hope you find time to be grateful for items you currently have. Before you buy, think if you really need it. It may stretch your dollar!