2015 Goals

This year I have big plans as I do every year. I always start out with the best intentions. This year I plan to keep my big goals in front of me in hopes of moving forward.

Freelance full-time This is a scary goal. I can’t believe I actually want to leave my well paying full-time job for the unknown, uncertain world of freelancing. But I value my time and my best hours are work hours. I want to do more for me. To get off to a good start with freelancing leads me to the other goals for 2015.

Debt Free With debt gone, we get to keep more of our money a month. Win- Win.

Save at least $3K I want to have a starting amount for freelancing to help me get started. That way if I only make $100 the first few months I have some money to fall back on since my income will be the fun money.

WRITE If I want to make money writing, then I need to write and write a lot.

Draw Another hobby/passion I am developing hopefully into a web comic at some point.

Lose Weight and RUN! Have to do this!

Organize and clean house By this I mean clear the clutter

So over the next week I will take each of these goals and break it out further for a better plan/course of action. Also maybe a monthly checklist/tracker. So my action items for the next week:

Blog about each goal
Develop tracker for goals for monthly blog post

Here is hoping 2015 is the best year yet!

Automatic Savings

We decided to open up a checking account locally to make it easier to access our money. I definitely want us to get back to using cash for a log of purchases as this will keep us from using money from our checking account and make us more mindful of the money we are spending.

One of the checking account options was to have a $1 automatically drafted from your checking account into your savings account(with the same bank) each time you used your debit card. What a neat way to save money. We use our debit card probably an average of twice a day. That would be $14 a week we would be automatically funneling into savings and wouldn’t miss at all. It will definitely be something to consider if/when we open a savings account with them also.

This does inspire me to save more – even if it is small amounts. Savings is a struggle. Small amounts do add up in time. For general savings this will be a great strategy since it is really just extra money.

Budgeting

Now that I am employed, we are planning to sling as much money as possible towards our debt. One way we plan to do that is to live on a budget. A budget will keep our spending in check – especially since we are doing the envelope system.

For those familiar with Dave Ramsey, you know what the envelope system is. The envelope system is simply taking items from your budget and marking each on on an envelope. Then use cash to fund that budget. When the money is gone, so is the budget for that item. We are using the envelope system for food, restaurants, grooming, clothing, miscellaneous, and blow.

I decided that we need some small budget goals that we can meet that will keep us focused and on track. Our first small goal was to have at least $100 in the bank by our next payday. Tomorrow is payday and we have actually more than that. Having some money leftover will create a little ‘breathing room’ and give us extra money to sling at our debt.

So the first week of using the envelope system has gone pretty well. Our food budget is gone and so is the restaurant spending. For the first few weeks, we will probably tweak our budget to make it work best for us.

Credit Score

Our credit score is something that we never think about – that is until we need money. Then it’s really too late to take care of any little dings on it. Like today, we found out my husband’s credit score since we are exploring money options to fix the Jeep.

Through our bank, we cannot get a loan. His credit score is nearly 80 points lower than about a year ago. It’s because of tardiness with student loan payments – which I feel is totally my fault. I’m the bill payer and need to make it a priority to pay everything on time – early even. This has always been our struggle and the reason we are still in debt. Anyway, we will just have to go with plan B to pay for the Jeep – deplete savings and eat macaroni for a month. Not my favorite plan, but at least it doesn’t put us further into debt. It also means that we won’t be sending extra to a bill for the next few months as we recoup.

We might can find financing through another source – which remains an option. Not my favorite one since the interest rate and terms will mean we will pay more. But we need to figure out what to do. Now I realize the importance of a good credit rating. Even though we aren’t looking for a loan, we need to know our credit history. On my husband’s credit report are two small medical bills from 2005. That’ll be fun to track down.

So I will have to order a free credit report. I know that you can get one once a year and if you have been turned down because of your credit. It’s been so long since I got our credit report. I dread looking at it, but it could be just the thing to keep us on track this time.

No Savings Dip

Hooray! It’s payday and this last pay period we made it through without touching savings. This is huge for us. We always seem to run out of funds a few days before payday if not sooner. Before Christmas, we did well not to touch savings. Since then we have dipped into it each pay period. Finally it seems we are getting on track.

With a vehicle needing some repairs, we may not be so lucky this pay period. Here’s hoping that we can hobble along for the next few weeks to get some real savings under our belt. Making it through a pay period without touching savings does make me feel that we are making financial progress.

We will find out more about the vehicle Monday. Then we will know what we will need to spend on it. It may be time to do an eBay blitz to raise some much needed cash. I hope we can do something to earn extra money and not dip into savings to fix our ride.

Less Spending, More Saving

I hate being in debt. All of my adult life I have been in debt. It just makes me sick to even think about how careless I have been with my money through the years. We have decided that it all ends now. We are getting out of debt once and for all. That means spending less – even though it seems for all the money we spend we never have anything to show for it. This tells me that we spend a lot more on piddly stuff than we realize.

Recently we signed up with Mint.com. It’s a free tool that you can add your bank and credit card information. Mint then pulls down the transactions where you can then categorize each purchase. You can even split purchases to categorize different amounts in different categories. You can also make monthly budgets. It is so nice to log on and see just exactly how much you’ve spent in a category. We have been using it for a little less than a month, but I can already tell a difference in our spending habits. It makes keeping up with our money like a game – which makes it fun. I have never enjoyed paying bills or being in charge of our finances.

We have decided to pay the minimum on everything except the lowest bill. Then we plan to pay and extra $400 a month to the lowest bill until it’s paid off. Hopefully I will have a job within a few months – then we can double or even triple that extra payment amount. Extra spending will be nearly wiped out, but with less debt we will have plenty of extra money in the future.

A lot of payday weeks, we will spend $200 on going out for the day. We won’t buy anything significant but eating, drinks, and a few small purchases add up quickly. It we just eliminate that spending, then there is our $400 extra dollars easily.

We have both wanted to pay off our debt before. I feel right now we are very motivated and hope to stay that way. Blogging about it helps to keep me on track. I feel that if we can stay on course for a few months, then we can make it the rest of the way.

No Job For Me

I finally have word on my job interview. They declined to offer me a position at this time. I am somewhat upset but relieved at the same time. Am I really ready to go back to work? I enjoy being at home with my daughter. Soon she will be in school, and I will have the rest of my life to work. Still I feel like I flubbed a job offer than should have been mine.

But right now money is extremely tight. We could definitely use the extra steady income that the job would have given. I’m beginning to feel all the stress from the weight of our debt. We can’t keep up with payments. It is like each month we have to decide which ones we have to pay and what ones we can let slide. It sucks. I’m so ready to be done with debt.

I need to take this as an opportunity. Since I have been at home I have made money online. It is usually no more than pocket money or to pay a bill or two. Now is the time to step it up.

I hope to have another chance with this company. Until then I need to focus my online efforts. It is going to be hard but I have to do it, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get us out from under this debt.

January Over

January is always a tough month for us financially. December always wipes up out even when we carefully plan. There is always little things that come up that must be taken care of that cause bills to be pushed back.

We spend January trying to get back a hold of everything. I’m glad January is over but we are still behind with some bills. I was planning on income tax returns making up the difference but my husband’s workplace withheld too little. We will most likely owe and owe a lot this year. That stress plus job searching really has made a rocky start to 2011.

Hopefully I will hear something today about the job. If I get it, that is awesome and all our problems will be solved. If not, then it is time to go another direction. This is the year that we get back on our feet. We will get our debt paid one way or another. It is way past time.

Now that January has past, it is time to look forward to good things hopefully happening in February.

Interview Aftermath

Today I had an interview for a job that I really want. It has been years since I went to an interview, so I was pretty anxious about the whole ordeal. The job is also in a field I have virtually no experience.

Usually after an interview, I have a good idea whether I got the job. But this one is harder to read. I interviewed with three different people. Not one person will have the deciding opinion about whether I’m hired. I think that is what throws off my gut feeling. In the past I have always interviewed with the person directly responsible for hiring. During the interview, they will talk like I have the job. There is just something about ‘clicking’ with the person that makes me believe I will get the job. This interview was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, so my senses are thrown for a loop.

I should know within a week on a decision.

Job Interview Questions

As part of our plan to get us out of debt sooner, I am going back to work. I’ve been job hunting for about two months and may have a lead on a job. Waiting for a phone call is the worst wait, so I’ve decided to occupy my time by preparing for a possible job interview.

It has been years since I went on a job interview, so my skills are rusty. But I was thinking the other day that motherhood has completely prepared me for any job interview question. Out of the blue, my daughter will ask something silly or something very deep. Sometimes her questions have easy answers while others just really don’t have an answer. Having these questions like “why can I see rain when it’s invisible?” lobbed at me on a daily basis really helps to keep my mind sharp.

Even though it has been a while maybe I will be prepared enough to do well during an interview. Let’s just hope I get a call for one.