Debt Sux

Just sucking it up and moving on to kill $31,500 of student loans.

reflecting on a mindful month

It’s end of August—the month we HAD to be mindful of our money. We had to change something to get a different result.

My husband helped me a lot in planning meals with me. Teamwork is awesome! But you know, we bought some luxurious items, like ice cream and juices. So it wasn’t exactly a monk-like lifestyle. Although that would be interesting to try. We ate out once as a family using a coupon that paid 90% of it. I look forward to eating out again as we still have a discount coupon and a gift certificate. Grand life. Needless to say, we met our budget for this month AND made an aggressive move to pay a good chunk of card debt. Great job on us.

There will be a month or 2 left of sunshine and I look forward to doing more activities, such as hiking, where we can pack our food and enjoy each other’s company and the activity itself. I’m feeling pretty good about life nowadays. My mental space is spacious as the card is going to be paid off with a strategy in place. After the card’s paid off, what else can my mind obsess about? I was telling my husband that it’s boring managing money when I’m not doing my magic tricks (moving money around). Weird how overspending can plant its effects on one’s psyche.

I feel that being mindful will bring upon changes. No idea what those are yet, but I sense it. The other day, I was not up for a long walk with the dog (aka workout) but I did anyway. I came home feeling great because I even beat a previous personal record. I seem to have more mental power to kick my own butt. Now I compete with myself. My runs are twice as far before I walk to catch breath and relax the muscles. All these will translate to something I can tell.

On that note, here’s an article about why my/your budget isn’t working. I swear the author was talking about me.

This week’s spending. Well, we got a bit lax and bought extras on groceries that we’ve not consumed yet. I expect the first week of September to have only 1 or 2 small grocery purchases. I came across 5 Dollar Dinners, and will try a number of its recipes to see what they would do to our budget.

Nay of the week. Last summer week before school starts. It felt so short.

Yay of the week. Took the kid to his dentist and wellness visits. I like that I’m able to do those things as planned. No procrastinating in that department. :-)

Enjoy the long weekend! x

wandering in december

We’ve paid the card whatever amount we budgeted for this month. It feels awesome. Aside from groceries, there are no other anticipated expenses for the rest of the month. The card balance will be gone by September. Yay!

This week, we decided to buy our tickets for the December trip. I don’t know when I checked for airfares last, but the one we were eyeing was much cheaper then (probably late July, early August). I couldn’t risk the increase again so we just bought them.

We didn’t spend all of the savings for this trip. Hurrah for that!

Again, it feels great to pay for something large, like trips, with savings. I used the card so we can earn points and then paid the card the next day. We were actually looking into redeeming our points for a return trip for 1 adult but the total cost of doing that against buying all 3 together was hundreds more. So, husband and I thought that he could use the points for visiting his dad in the fall.

I’m wondering if we should get another card for better travel points/miles. Our card does a $1=1 point conversion, and we could get more if we click the merchant links on the website. All cards serve a fundamental purpose and that’s what I’m after. There are plenty of travel hacks out there, but I don’t know if I will exert the effort.

This week’s spending. You’re probably bored that all I say here is groceries, but it’s mostly true for this week. I, however, bought 2 cute dresses for a friend’s daughter as a gift.

Nay of the week. Wishing that I had bought the tickets sooner. Urgh.

Yay of the week. We volunteered to repack food. That was such a great experience, although tiring after 2 hours of constant mind-numbing activity. The kid started with swim class again. I may really have to put him in classes until he can swim. It’s not the money that turns me off from doing this, it’s the commitment in doing it, but we must! We’ll see.

mindful spending

Per my post a couple of weeks ago, I said that we’ll be mindfully spending this month and next.

The purposes for spending mindfully, in our situation, are:
1. To pay off the credit card balance;
2. To start paying more toward the student loan, and;
3. To stop myself from going insane. (Does this count?)

Since we are trying to turn things around in August and September, there is big mindfulness required of us in both months. I can only hope to make a habit out of the experience.

As I reviewed our spending halfway into August, I congratulated myself for doing a great job (including my husband of course!). We’re being true to our budget. I love that. It doesn’t occur everyday but it has been this month.

To date, I’ve dumped around $3,800 to our card. It includes payments for this month’s consumption and bills (budgeted) and a big chunk went to paying down the balance. It’s going as planned…well, somewhat. I forgot that we were going to renew our car registration this month, and so I had to do some budget magic trick to make it work.

There’s only one eating out involved so far this month! $15 for tacos for my boys while I was away taking care of my passport.

We’re having family friends over this weekend for dinner. I’ll be cooking for 6 people. I found a recipe that is so good and I only need to buy 1 ingredient for it. That’s even better! I really enjoy cooking especially when I don’t have to buy all the ingredients. :-)

I also notice that I’ve been avoiding summer events that involve spending money. I think about hiking and a visiting the beach without staying the night so we can save money. I like going to street fairs, but I always bought something in the past. We still could go and not spend, but I don’t think last year’s street fairs are significantly different from this year’s.

We volunteered to pack food at Oregon Food Bank sometime this weekend. We talked about doing this early this year when our son read a panhandler’s sign. He felt so bad for that person, and I get a feeling he felt worse realizing that he had been seeing those signs since he was little and just couldn’t read yet at the time.

This week’s spending. Groceries and much-needed health vitamins for my husband. I need to budget for this now that he’s intending to take them for as long as it takes.

Yay of the week. Spending is at a minimum. Love it!

Nay of the week. Because work has gotten busier again, my walks with the dog aren’t as long and frequent as they were. I find my body complaining about that. I, however, joined a challenge at work to walk 10k steps a day for a month. Ha! We’ll see about that.

This will be a good weekend. I can already tell. Enjoy yours! x

a year older and, maybe even a little, wiser

I turned a year older this weekend and I, of course, reflected on my life. What a life it has been. I’m lucky in many ways. I have a great family, a job I like, ability to buy and eat healthy food, live in a comfortable house in a good neighborhood, and just overall living a good life. My birthday was truly a celebration.

The weekend started with me renewing my passport. Total cost $100. I had to go to Seattle for that and paid $45 for a return trip on BoltBus. It was a good feeling to get that done. I had been procrastinating for more than a year. It needed to get done so that we can visit my side of the family for Christmas. If there’s one thing that I acknowledge about myself, it is procrastination. Agh.

My husband and I went out to dinner at Departure, which has a beautiful view of Portland. The food was delicious and the cocktails were awesome too! ;-) We spent $145 on that awesome dinner, tip included. We were somewhat mindful of what we were ordering but not so much that we were scrimping. It was a joint birthday dinner afterall and we were gonna have fun!

Early in the day, husband and kid bought me a $13 red velvet cake from Ja Civa’s. Made me happy. On my actual birthday, we just stayed home; and for dinner we sautéed vegetables and husband seared salmon from our neighborhood’s farmers market. What a lovely weekend.

Going back to my dinner date, I enjoyed it a lot that I wonder if we should go out on date nights every month. It’s fun when we do. Maybe it’s because we go when there’s a reason? When we go out, we choose nice places that range between $$ and $$$ according to Yelp. Two years ago, we went to a $$$$ place. We don’t do it on purpose, I swear! Perhaps when we are no longer saddled with the student loan we could factor date nights into the budget. We’re happy with how we do it now. Plus, I worry that if we do regularly, it would soon lose its novelty value.

Though this weekend was costly, I’m still happy. I got to accomplish something and I had a great birthday, albeit on the quiet side. I suppose it’s part of being older. We held an afternoon party last year at home, but we seem to only want to do that every 2 years. So maybe next year it would happen again.

On the debt side of things, we’re still mindfully spending. I’m wishing for a computer monitor lately. It’s kind of challenge for my posture to constantly be bowing down to work on my laptop. If one day I decide to get one, it wouldn’t be this month for certain. The card debt is dwindling. So far, so good. xo

august is

1. My birthday month
2. The last full month of summer vacation here in Oregon
3. The month we mindfully spend

I hope that as we work on #3 it becomes a habit. I want us back to our mindset when we moved countries and how freeing it was not to own stuff and debt. We got by without a car for 7 or so months. Life was easy, though not very convenient. It was good.

To quote Mr. Money Mustache:

"The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income. The reason is that every permanent drop in your spending has a double effect: it increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life."

Maybe I should print this quote and post it on my wall. This is good motivation.

Anyway, I’ve been noticing sunsets before 9pm lately. It’s starting. It’s weird what I pay attention to sometimes. I’m enjoying this summer because it feels more memorable than ever. Maybe because my kid is bigger. I don’t know. I think about sunsets in terms of upcoming seasons—what we’ll be doing then, what life will be like, what activities to enjoy, and hoping that winter will be nice to us and give some safe opportunities for outdoor activities.

Picked from our garden :-)

Anyway, again, this week I made a decision to “borrow” $1k from savings to pay the card. Come September, there should be close to $700 left to pay and that’s not a problem. We’ll have money left after paying $700 to “pay back” our savings account.

Of course, all of this will only work if we stick to the plan. So far, we are doing well. We’ve been good about eating leftovers and clearing out the fridge and pantry. The other day, there was a good deal on a drum set that would be nice to give to our kid, but we didn’t get it. We reminded ourselves that this month requires of us some dedication and discipline.

Husband has been taking active participation in dinner prep. That does wonders to my mental health knowing that I’m not the only one thinking about how the rest of the afternoon/night will go. I’m so glad that we’ve been consuming plenty of fruits. There are no rotting fruits in the fridge! Hurrah!

This week’s spending. Just grocery mostly. We had guests over for 2 days and though we fed about 10 people, the cost of that didn’t hurt our budget.

Nay of the week. I learned that one of my kid’s neighborhood friends is pre-diabetic. Her weight is unsafe for her age. It was so easy to notice, from early on when we moved to this hood that she’s allowed to consume a lot of sugar. It makes me cringe seeing her eat a handful of jellybeans. Wish those were blueberries instead. I hope her parents will find a way to get her health back.

Yay of the week. Like I said, we had guests over. That was nice. We also visited a friend. I’ve been taking the dog for a walk almost everyday now. The other day, we completed 4 miles! I’ve noticed that since I started adding exercise to my daily routine that I think differently about how time should be spent. Walking doesn’t seem like a drag now. It was such a delight to find out that my husband has a fancy pedometer that he let me borrow!

I’m posting this early as my weekend will be busy with some things still up in the air. I hope you have fun! x

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