The 1% Plan: Tackling my Student Loan Debt

So I recently had a visit to my silly little blog from the author of How to Stuff Your Pig Blog. I was so intrigued by their blog’s name that I had to go check it out. I can’t use any identifying pronouns because I actually don’t know if this blog is written by one person or group.  What I do know is that I liked this week’s blog post!

It was a great post on the current state that most people in the US live in…the inability to cover a $400 emergency without selling or borrowing money.  I can definitely attest to the fact that I was one of those people a few months back. I lived paycheck to paycheck and didn’t have the savings in the place to cover the unexpected on many occasions. My solution was always to send a bill late or skip it…which of course added to my balances and affected my credit score.

I still need to work on creating a savings pool for big emergencies, but I’m in a good place to try and tackle two things – whittle down the student loans and start saving (even if it’s a small start).

So I’m going to try out this one percent idea….the concept that every week you put away 1% of your gross pay in to your savings account.  It’s not a huge percentage weekly. For many people cutting out one day of eating out or a few coffee runs will do it.  I decided I would go ahead and try to do both 1% to my savings and 1% to my student loans every Monday.

That 1% weekly payment to my student loans doesn’t seem like a lot on a monthly basis but when I multiplied it by 52 weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to see the total. That would be a huge impact to bringing that balance down.

So here goes nothing.  It seems to be a very good place to start!

Financial Fridays: the last big DEBT

This is a terrifying number to put out there, but I have one last debt to resolve…my STUDENT LOANS!

Thankfully, I worked hard and paid off the rest of my debt, but this one seems to be never ending.  It almost gives you stomach pains to see the due balance, but it’s amazing to see that the amount due is ZERO because I’ve finally learned to manage my bills.

So let’s start with the scary current total: $54,925.34

The balance used to be much higher, but I have no regrets to having borrowed the funds. The educational opportunities I received from being able to borrow money has afforded me some incredible experiences. Making the investment in me has proven to be a good thing (ha!).

I thankfully don’t own property so I don’t have an additional huge debt at the moment. Yes, I understand that assets might give me a tax break, but being tied to one geographic location and the implications of rising property taxes is not something I need to also worry about right now. I have freedom to explore new opportunities and change my scenery at an instant.

I would, however, like to create a plan to whittle this down significantly. Ideally, I’d like to finally pay off this debt in 10 years or less.

Yes, I just put it in writing….this debt will be gone in TEN YEARS.

So, now to create a plan!  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions to make this happen on a non-profit salary.

Financial Fridays: Review of CKYBooks

About two months ago, I wrote about an online consignment shop called CKYBooks.

I didn’t have much to sell yet personally, but I had a chance to test out CKYBooks at work. As we were spring cleaning, we came across a drawer of new DVDs. While some we felt confident could be packaged in to a great auction item, there were others we were less confident about.

So I decided to see if CKYBooks was currently buying any of the DVDs we found.  We were shocked to see that many of them were being currently purchased!  We ended up with a buy back potential worth $45.

That also meant we qualified for free shipping, so we decided we would take the chance and send off the DVDs.CKYBooks provided the UPS shipping label and off they went.  I honestly wasn’t sure if we would get paid nor did I have an estimate for how long it would take to get paid!

Imagine my surprise when our check for $45 arrived within 2 weeks! The entire process was simple, easy and fruitful. The check has since been deposited and we’ve happily uncluttered a drawer for new items.

Financial Fridays: Selling Used Books Online

One of the other items on my areas to declutter is my bookshelf. I looooooooooooove my books, but I also really love my Kindle. I don’t re-read many of my books so the hard copies tend to pile up on my bookshelf. While I haven’t entirely given up on reading hard copies of books, I also haven’t been very good about moving books out of my home.

In an era where many libraries no longer accept used books, it gets harder and harder to decide what to do with the books you longer care to keep. They look pretty on the shelf, but all most of them do is collect dust.

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I could always use them for crafting…but there really is only so much I can do with the pages of a book. It is also so painful to tear out the pages of a book for crafting because someone else might have really enjoyed said book. I know that I can always take them to a thrift store or a used book store, but I’d hate for them to end up on a shelf only to be tossed in landfill because no one buys them.

So I decided to see how easy it is to sell them on-line. Like my clothes venture last week, I realized eBay and Amazon were options but it seemed too tedious of a process and would require me to actively keep an eye on my listings so I could mail them out when, and if, purchased. That was so not going to work for me. I’m looking for easy.

Like the online consignment clothes stores, I discovered that there was a whole host of on-line stores that buy back your books (and textbooks). They outright buy them for a certain amount, and then I’m assuming they sell them for a profit.

There are quite a number of sites out there to try, but the one that seemed to get the most positive reviews was ckybooks.com – you can sell books, movies, CDs and games. You literally enter the ISBN or UPC number and they tell you if they are looking to buy that item.  They’ll tell you how much they’ll pay for them so you can decide if it’s worth your time. I haven’t hit the jackpot with anything I’ve entered so far, but I like the user-friendly concept.

If you reach a certain level of payback (I think it’s $40), they even pay for you to ship the items to them.

Seems simple, right?  It is, but it’s going to take a lot of items to get anywhere near $40 in my household. One of my books will only get me $0.15. I guess that’s better than nothing, but is it worth me shipping?  Not sure yet. I’ve only just starting inputting identifying codes, so we’ll see. The process seems easy enough that it could be fruitful if you have recent textbooks and novels.  My books are all pretty old.

Another great site I discovered in this quest is BookScouter.com – you enter your ISBN number and it searches all the online buyers for you and compares their buyback offers. They even rank the sellers on reliability for payment. One of the books I had entered into the CKYbooks site was being bought at a higher price somewhere else.

So it will take work and you’ll have to read the fine print about condition and minimum amounts so you achieve free shipping.  Clearly, a $0.15 payment for a book that I’d need to ship for around $3 would not be worth the mailing.

I’m going to give this a go and report back!

Financial Fridays: Online Consignment Shops for Clothes

So as I have challenged myself to organize my home at the level of my workplace, I had a sudden inspiration to move things out of my house by selling them.  So I started to think through all the items in my House that could potentially be sold and interesting enough for others to want to buy.

  1. Books – I hoard and don’t re-read most of my books!
  2. CDs – Who keeps actual CDs anymore?
  3. Shoes – I have a lot of heels that I know I will no longer wear.
  4. Purses – Too many to use and most are just collecting dust.
  5. Crafts – The primary source of my hoarding tendencies – beautiful stamps and papers!

But where do I even begin?  Well, I felt inspired to start with my shoes. I have two pairs that are gently worn but still pretty fabulous, so I took a peek on ebay to get an idea of appropriate starting prices and what makes an item bid worthy. I was absolutely shocked by the lack of bids on auction items, and honestly feel like ebay has turned in to a wholesale distributor source for individuals oversees.

I decided I was going to give it a go and see how it all panned out. I proceeded to deep clean my shoes – the inside, the soles, the stitching. I was able to clean the first pair the best I could, so I sat the individual shoes next to each other so I could grab my camera. I was beyond shocked to find out that this beloved pair of retro Enzo Angiolini shoes were two different shades of orange.  TWO DIFFERENT SHADES?!  I wore these shoes to a few big functions and never one noticed.  Oh the fashionista horror!

Trust me, in natural light you'd see the major difference in color between the shoes.

Trust me, in natural light you’d see the major difference in color between the shoes.

I was feeling a little deflated but found the situation funny enough to share on Facebook.  Lo and behold, a friend tipped me off to a fabulous on-line consignment shop for clothes, shoes and accessories called ThredUp.

From what I can tell, you order a “kit” to be sent to your house. You have to first tell them what sorts of items you’ll be sending because I assume they have different sized bags/boxes for a variety of items.

You then fill this package up with your goodies and send it back to them.  Once received, ThredUp’s team will evaluate your items. Those that they think will sell, will be staged by their talented team and photographed beautifully. It will then go up on your shop!  You can use the credit you build from items sold to make purchases on their site or have the funds sent directly to your PayPal.

You have the option to get back the items that they decide not to sell (for the cost of shipping) or you let them upcycle/recycle them in the best way possible. You can even use their platform to fundraise for causes you believe in!  What?! That’s amazing.

So I’m giving it a shot. I’ve ordered my first kit and plan to take a good look at my closet for items that I think are in great shape and still on trend. If you want to give it a shot, please use my referral code I get credit for every friend that gives it a shot.

I’ll keep you posted on my experience. I’m super excited!