With the holidays behind us, it’s once again time to reflect upon the past year and plan for the next. New Year’s resolutions were easy this year. 1: Continue down the path to financial freedom. 2: Be kind. 3: Work hard. 4: Stress Less. 5: Sweat once/day. 6: Drink more water. More on those later. Let’s talk progress.
Month 2 – $115,163
Original and current payoff totals and interest rates. Listed in order of repay.
Graduate Plus – 8.25% – $35,407.95 –> $32,605.01
Stafford – 6.55% – $80,356.09 –> $80,455.94
Perkins – 5% – $2,133.10 –> $2,101.82
‘Twas the Season
I managed to get through the holiday season spending zero cash money on gifts. I had already purchased many of the gifts before this spending freeze and considered them a sunk cost. I have also recently discovered that I am a gift card hoarder. The advantage of this is that during a spending freeze, Christmas shopping can be accomplished with very little impact to the pocketbook. I was happy to see that some of the items on my family’s wish list just happened to be from stores I had saved gift cards from. I had planned to use them for personal needs throughout the year, but was just as happy to utilize them for gifts.
I also have to say “thank goodness” for all the holiday parties – especially at work. The end of the year brought about many meal-centric events, which meant I was able to exceed my goal of $3 per meal, spending a whopping $1.58 per meal this month. Boo-ya! Considering that I was at home with family for about a week, it is unlikely this number will be as low in the coming months. Unless, perhaps, I take to spearfishing in the ocean from atop my bodyboard. If it comes to that… I beseech thee, dear friend, to stage an intervention.
I paid a total of $2818 towards my debt this month. More than ten times the amount that I had been paying monthly prior to this challenge. I am baffled as to how I managed to scrape together such a surplus, yet also discontented that it is not closer to $5,000 – where it needs to be if I am to reach my year-end goal.
In order to take my monthly loan contributions to the next level, I must also engage the second part of my strategy: increasing revenue. I have spent some time this past month ruminating over how I will accomplish this. Since setting the January deadline in November, I have had plenty of time to ponder, question and rethink this strategy. All things considered, I’ve decided to move forward with the goal, and now is the time! It is with much trepidation that I begin my search. Part of me feels like I’m taking a step back professionally, since these lower-responsibility part-time positions have a significantly lower pay scale. I remind myself that I still have my stellar, high-responsibility and stressful big-kid job to feel important about.
I started my search by reaching out to a few friends who live in the LA area, asking for ideas or any job openings they might know of. My most direct suggestions were to look into restaurant and babysitter/nanny work. I began to poke around the restaurant industry online, looking into local high-end restaurants (assuming they might pay better than the alternative) and began asking around about babysitting/nanny positions. By the end of my restaurant search, I was underwhelmed by the hourly wages and not particularly thrilled at the prospect of that type of work. As I explored babysitter/nanny positions, I became excited about the potential of boosting my income by hanging out with kids. I was directed to care.com by multiple friends and I decided to set up a profile. Perusing the job postings, I came across Opportunity 1: A family looking for a regular babysitter to play with their 3-year-old who loves to dress up. My immediate thought was “OH EM GEE! We can totally geek out, singing and dancing to princess songs together!” I love her already and we haven’t even met. Were this an online dating scenario, I would most certainly be considered a Stage-Five Clinger with the vacant smile of Overly-Attached Girlfriend. I’m hoping this is less creeper-status because she’s a little kid… but I’m not sure that makes it better. I’ll make a point to dial back the “crazy’ in my initial communication. Though my availability may not be what they are looking for, I’m giving it a go. Opportunity 2: Teaching gymnastics to young toddlers at a nearby gym on weekends. What?! I could potentially be paid to laugh at little kids rolling around and licking the floor? Amazing!
My instinctive reaction to both of these opportunities tells me this avenue could be a good option. I have applied for 3 positions so far and will continue my search. I will also extend my search into dance instructor positions. I am a little bit intimidated by the caliber of dancers in Los Angeles, seeing as it has been awhile since I’ve been a competitive dancer myself, but I suppose it won’t hurt to see what’s out there.
Stay tuned… and cheers to the New Year!