Goal #2 and #3 met: Pay off my last credit card & suprise parents with a paid mortgage payment

Two weeks ago, I did something I never thought would be possible this year….I paid off my last credit card!

How did I do this? Well, I got serious about my budget and started to look into what options were available in my current world. I don’t have the best credit so I couldn’t open a new credit card to transfer balances and I was a tad scared to take that route as my goal was eliminate my credit card.

I eliminated payments by unsubscribing from frivolous monthly costs.  Bye bye Weight Watchers online and Freckled Fawn subscription. One I never used and the other had items collecting in my craft room – so those were easy to eliminate!

But I still didn’t see much relief and I was getting frustrated that I would make a very minimal dent in a necessary goal of mine – eliminate my debt and start cleaning up my credit score. There had to be something!

And then it hit me….the one financial area I hadn’t tapped in to for help was my 401K. I am blessed to have a solid 401K plan and I’ve been great about investing in to it despite some of my other poor choices. Like a ton of bricks, I realized that had a great pot to get me back on my feet positively. By taking out a “loan” with a very small interest rate (about 1%), I could pay off the stupid financial choices and consolidate about $500 worth of monthly payments to a single payment of $180.

Reducing my monthly expenses by $320 would have a huge impact on my savings and emergency reserve…so I did it!  I eliminated my car payment (which had an interest rate of 8%) and my last standing credit card (which had an interest rate of somewhere close to 15% because of my late payments). I then used some of the extra funds from that loan to pre-pay a couple of utilities to get me back on track. I no longer have any excuse for late payments and/or balances from month to month.

This right here has changed my financial situation so much so that I finally feel I can breathe!

After resolving all my issues, I realized that I still had a significant amount in my savings account to help me reach a second financial goal – to pay one of my parents’ mortgage payments.

I can hear some people screaming that I should have put the remainder in savings.  Yes, I could have made that choice, but this goal is one that I knew I wanted to make the savings’ pot sacrifice for….they deserved it and I could do it.  So in celebration of Father’s Day in Mexico and my dad’s 65th birthday (June 15th), I surprised them with the deposit. My dad was so overcome with the emotion of the gift that he broke in to a sweat as he chuckled and my mom started crying. The moment was unbelievable.

IMG_7073Before anyone starts panicking, please know that I still have savings in my bank account and that I went ahead an upped my 401K investment with my employer. I’ve found that the automatic deduction from my paycheck forced me to adjust my spending because I don’t even think of the 401K as something I can use freely.

I will still continue to watch my budget and plan to put away at least 10% of each paycheck in to savings to start a true savings/emergency fund. There’s a plan in motion and it all feels incredibly doable barring any major emergencies. So send me lots of prayers and well wishes. I finally feel like I’m a true grown up who can handle most emergencies on her own because I’ll be financially ready to tackle what may come — but let’s keep the emergencies away from me for now (or ever!).

Reaching these two goals has been one of the most memorable moments of my life. Now to move on to the next!

Goal #1 met: Take a photography class for my new DSLR

Awhile back, I posted some of my 40 before 40 goals.  Number #14 on my list was take a photography course so that I could start to learn how to unleash the full blown potential of my first DSLR camera.

In Chicago, we have a website called Dabble. It’s a great site to find instructional courses on things you want to take a little dabble. While I know I would have enjoyed a full blown class, I don’t currently have the time to invest in a full course. I also didn’t want to invest a serious amount of cash on a hobby when I am also trying to eliminate my debt.

So a dabble course for $40 was perfect…and boy was it!  In three hours, I learned how to take my camera from automatic to manual mode, and I learned how to take some alternate focused shots. While I still have a lot to understand about aperture and shutter speed settings, it’s been really fun to start the learning process.

I hope that I’ll be able to take a full blown course soon. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and am so excited to have a camera that will allow me to get really artsy while also giving me excellent quality.

I will continue to add to my photo album on this blog so join me in my journey!

40 before 40 Goals

I have a coworker who made a really fun list as she approached her 30th year. I really liked this idea and wanted to start my own list as I approach the big 4-0 in 2017. I have a few goals, but I’m nowhere near 40 goals yet. I figured I would share some of my goals now and just update as I continue to build my list.  Some of these are serious goals while others are silly and fun goals. It would be simply boring without some sort of variety, right? I may even change some of the ones listed here. I’m brainstorming while I write.

  1. Learn to Hula Hoop
  2. Learn to do a Headstand
  3. Learn to do a Handstand
  4. Do the Crow in Yoga
  5. Pay off my credit card (done!)
  6. Lose 60 pounds
  7. Buy property
  8. Surprise my parents by paying some of their mortgage payments (done!)
  9. Fix my credit score so that it’s beautiful and healthy
  10. Run 1 mile without stopping
  11. Buy a new car – not a put put car like my Chevy Cobalt but a more serious grown-up car
  12. Make a scrapbook for me (done!)
  13. Downsize my stash of crafting supplies by 1/3 its current size (or more)
  14. Take a photography class for my new DSLR camera (done!)
  15. Learn to make Pozole like my mom’s
  16. Learn to make creamy grits & collard greens
  17. Make tamales by myself
  18. Have actual savings in the bank for emergencies
  19. Declutter my home and adopt a more minimal lifestyle — I’m a girl that has a lot of stuff she doesn’t use
  20. Travel to one new country
  21. Pay off $10K of my student loans (starting at $54K)
  22. Make a Project Life album
  23. Grow my blog reach to 1000 followers

As someone once told me, goals are just dreams if they are written down or shared. Now to get to it!!!  I’ll continue to add to my list.

make it happen

make it happen