Frugal Idea #41: Countdown – 3,2,1, “I’m debt FREEEEE!”

Hi All! I have some exciting news to announce. I just made my LAST payment towards my student loan and now I am 100% debt free! My heart was racing as I hit the “submit” button. I was near tears achieving this huge accomplishment. 10 years ago, I graduated college with about $59k in debt. How did I get myself into that mess? I was financially irresponsible, lived off of credit cards, and was eager to please everyone out there. At 24, I graduated college with a $21k student loan, had about $10k in credit card debt (that grew to $20k of course), and purchased a brand new car at about $16k. The shame I had really affected my work, my relationships, and my self esteem. I was secretly angry inside and really wanted to blame anyone except myself. Who would have guessed that walking into a thrift store and picking up a used book titled, “The Courage to be Rich” by Suze Orman would be the start of my personal journey towards financial freedom.

Here are some of the changes I made in my life to pay off this huge debt. Along the journey towards financial freedom, I was still able to vacation, go to nice dinners, and buy gifts for those I care about, but I saved for it instead. It took small baby steps to get to where I wanted to be, but of course, the first step was always the hardest. I write this to inspire others in their own journey to financial freedom. Whatever you want to achieve, you can do it! 

How I paid off $59k!

1) Give yourself a raise. Work hard for the promotion or find a company that  will value you. I decided to study sales and gave myself a raise. I never thought I would work in sales with a commission structure, but I loved and still love being in control of what I can make. There is no cap on earnings. Any successful bonus I earned in sales went towards debt. I also lived below my means. I never banked on the commission. Through hard work, I was able to receive multiple promotions and helped increase salary.

2) I stopped shopping for new clothes (for a while). When I was ready to buy new clothes again, I had a budget and patience. Everything was calculated.

3) I stopped eating out too much. I had a period of time that I only allowed myself to eat out when it was a special occasion – birthdays, etc. I said no to dinners I knew that would have a complicated situation when it came time to pay and the group was too large. For some reason, I always lost money that way. I ordered water!

4) I stopped drinking too much. I would spend $100 a night drinking out. That really had to stop.

5) I started taking the bus and trains more. Once I paid off my car, I really wanted this car to last. I currently am at 187k miles and loving it!

6) I took care of my car. I was on time for oil changes and maintenance.

7) I used coupons

8) Since I loved eating out, I watched Youtube videos on how to cook my favorite dishes and made it at home with less ingredients.

9) I never cut my budget for groceries. I eat and snack a lot, so I need to have food available. I also like eating a variety of items. When I limited my groceries, I found myself being unhappy and eating out any way. Best to buy what you want, when you want it. Yes, buy that nicer cut of steak when you want it. I guarantee it is cheaper to cook at home than to eat out!

10) Downgrade. Example, order a small coffee vs. your medium or large.

11) Say no to activities you really don’t want to do!

12) Write down everything you owe and get angry! Get angry at the credit card companies who have high interest rates. Pay the card with the highest interest rate first!

13) Do side jobs and sell your items. I’ve sold clothes, ran errands, and did taste tests. Anything to earn extra money. I did not spend it. I put it towards debt.

14) Be honest with family. I no longer wanted to buy gifts for adults in the family. Just the kids.

15) Study. I watched YouTube videos, listened to Podcasts, read every article and book I could about personal finance.

16) Manifest. Believe, believe, believe. Surround yourself with like minded people.

17) Avoid high spenders! Never let anyone distract you from your goals!

18) Take control. When I noticed the debt started dwindling, the car was paid off, and my emergency savings started to increase, I took notice of the new offers I obtained with transferring balances or taking out personal loans at 0%. I also became more savvy with investments and even switched to a HSA account. Know where your money is going to.

19) Gratitude. Be thankful for your life and what you own. There are those with less. When you appreciate what you have, you no longer have the need to search elsewhere.

20) Own it. I am frugal and I am proud of it. Being Frugal has taken me to new places in my life and I am forever thankful.

I hope this helps you out! As Dave Ramsey says: “Debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.” Exactly how I feel!

… and for those who are curious about my current goals: To become a millionaire, save for a down payment for a home in San Francisco, and increase my net worth. Happy saving!

With Love and gratitude,

Frugal Nev

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Frugal Idea #40: EveryDollar.com

I have been obsessed with The Dave Ramsey Podcast. I listen to him on the way to work, when I am riding the MUNI, and when I walk around San Francisco. For the past few years, I have had a mediocre budgeting plan that consisted of a spiral notebook and a pen. Halfway through the month, I gave up writing down all of the items I purchased , but I at least knew a general amount of what I should not go over. Thanks to a few listens to Dave’s show, I have discovered EveryDollar.com! This budgeting tool has really changed my view on my spending and now I am obsessed. I now have budgets started all the way thru December. The great thing is you can also download the App onto your phone & plug in the dollar amount every time you spend. I just bought a Strawberry drink from the local Taqueria and I was able to sip the cool, refreshing drink while plugging in $2.45 into the App. Yes, I am still in budget for my “restaurant” category. Give it a try!

http://EveryDollar.com

Frugal Idea #39: Projecting the spend

Hello! I feel so horrible that I have not written in quite some time. I have a full-time job that had completely taken over my life for a bit, but I am back. My load is still heavy, but more manageable, and I am finally in the groove. I also have consciously taken more of an effort to be myself again and do what I enjoy doing. My current priorities are:

  • Writing again
  • Remember that I work to live, not live to work
  • Travel, travel, travel
  • Still empowering myself and others to always stay on the path towards financial freedom
  • Cooking – I love it!
  • Yoga and working out – definitely in a new phase in my life
  • Love

What is on your list? Take time to really think about what you want out of life because our biggest asset is time. During my time her on earth, I want to take care of my money, so that I can live the life I want. Money cannot guarantee happiness, but having no money can guarantee misery!

So much to write about, so I need to organize my thoughts and stick to one topic. I want to write about understanding your spend. In the past few yeas, I have really become organized in many parts of my life. I truly believe becoming more of a minimalist has aided to that as I have learned to say no to so many things that do not add value. I now want to live a life of (pardon my language), of a “Fuck Yeah” mentality. For example, hey, Neville do you want to go to this concert? If my answer is not “Fuck Yeah”, it’s a no go for me. Excellent way to save money. Time to go back to proper English now. 🙂

Since travel has been important to me and I am forcing myself to leave the United States this year (one must never be too busy for what he/she loves), then I need to evaluate my spend. I have a few domestic trips booked already, so I need to figure out a way to pay for my international vacation without dipping too much into savings (which I would definitely replenish!).

Here are some changes in my life I have done the last two months to have more funds for my vacation spending:

Change the cat’s diet – Mila has been one lucky cat! I used to buy her a new toy once a month and of course, I believe in quality litter and food. However, I have noticed she tends to not eat all of her dry food. She has learned that I come home from work a certain time and she waits for the wet food. As I pet her hello, I remind her that this is a house we do not waste food in (not that she understands that). So, I actually skip the wet food feeding. She ends up finishing her dry food with a bad attitude. The food lasts longer, helping with the overall save. I also have enough variety in her toy selections to still bring excitement into her play time.

Beyonce said to upgrade, but I now downgrade – small things such as ordering a small coffee vs. a medium coffee goes a long way!

Tindr truth – I have been on a dating rampage and the best gentlemen I have met have actually read my blog and are also saving money. Perfect way to brainstorm ideas. My most recent date included a walk up and down Polk street and choosing one restaurant to share a dish. No need to have an awkward moment of who spends what. Let’s decide on a dish together and share it.

Cooking at home! – I have been much better at cooking at home. I am choosing easy recipes vs. complex ones that will require extra ingredients. For what I do have at home, I google search recipes with that ingredient. An example was having extra ground beef. I found a recipe that required just a few additional ingredients. So, I purchased bell peppers and will stuff them with the ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheese. Bonus points that the website stated these were easy to freeze for future meals.

Say no – As mentioned, saying no has never been easier. I do not want to be a hermit, but I know myself well enough to know what would bring me joy and value to my life vs. wasting time. I no longer want to add more to my plate that adds no value (yes, that includes people). Don’t feel so pressured to impress people you actually don’t care about!

I have a lot more on my mind, but I will wrap up this edition by saying: Live your live as it is, not what you or others thought it  would be. You will no longer feel pressured to spend time or money to impress others. Do you!