Sep 6, 2012

summer of little savings

I'm having the usual busy summer but since my folks got here, I've eaten out less. I think I've only eaten out twice in August. It's kind of weird but it's obviously a good thing for my pocket.

My Kiwisaver is finally cashed out. It's in our bank account sitting pretty, waiting for its transfer to the USA. That's it for NZ life.

Savings, like I posted last time, is slow. We even got lucky to have saved $150. Ha! So far this month we've saved $200. Always a good thing. Travel expenses are mostly paid off and tomorrow I fly to NYC with my folks! I'm somewhat excited, and I think it will kick in sometime in the afternoon as I wrap up my work week.

Jamison Square Park, Pearl District, Portland, Oregon
 I'm still reading about people who paid off debts of $30k and more. How in the world did they do that??? Man, they must've made some really big sacrifices to get to where they are today! I'm inspired and a little bit tired just thinking about it. :)

Aug 14, 2012

a loan, loan time ago

Gee, I think I miscalculated when I set the goal to get the student loan below $30,500 because at the current rate we're going we can only pay it down to somewhere $31,500 by end of the year. If we truly stuck with the goal, we'll have to give up $1k somewhere along the way.

The only place where I know to pull that amount is from savings. The good thing about the savings goals is that we are so close to achieving them, so it looks like we could get the loan down to the goal level.

The loan is as old as time. I feel for my husband who has been saddled with it. Not only had he made some not so good choices in the past, he didn't earn enough to make an impact on it. He could've drastically altered his lifestyle, but I guess if you grew up poor there comes a point, especially when you're earning something, that being poor gets old too.

I'm grateful that I didn't have to get into debt to get a degree, but I didn't necessarily graduate with money smarts either. So joining our forces, we as parents have been teaching finances to our pre-schooler since he was 3. No joke. I don't know if we're doing it right, based on the info I read everywhere on that subject, but whenever he sees a coin on the ground he picks it up and says "I'm gonna put it in my piggy bank; and when it's full, take it to the big bank again for it can earn more money." He has $50 saved from all the coins he sees lying around the house and in the streets, plus our contributions here and there.
Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon

I honestly can't wait to savor being debt free from the student loan. It's just sad, when I think about it. Our lax target is 5 years, but we plan to be aggressive and pay it off in 3 years. I'm honestly impressed with people who were able to get rid of it after some drastic lifestyle change. Though we've not really done it that way, I find myself trying it at times with not much success. I go back and forth between trimming everything down to basics and giving in to traveling and good food (which are our weaknesses).

Emotionally speaking, I feel better nowadays knowing we have money in the bank and I know that once we've reached our target goals of $12k emergency fund and $6k house fund this year, I can relax on that and put more towards the loan. There's more money coming from NZ in a month, around $13k, which, while I could consider as part of the emergency fund, will just be that -- extra money.

For the most part, I realized that I really couldn't be satisfied with just having $1k for emergencies. It's just not enough in my mind. It's true what they say, that money is mostly emotional. I feel more empowered now to kill the student loan. We've been consumer debt free for months now. That took a lot of resolve to stick to the plan, a year and a half in the making. But we're here now, and I'm glad and at peace.

Aug 8, 2012

mom and dad

My birthday's coming up and dad just said that he will buy us all dinner the night of my special day. Mom reacted a bit and said that that we could just cook and eat at home.

They're funny and they're here in America for the first time to visit!

I love my folks! They are both frugal, but their spending styles on things are a bit different. I sometimes wonder what combination of their financial styles that I adopted.

At lunch today--I bought them lunch at Chipotle--mom said that a burrito there, no drinks, costs more than the chicken dinner she made the night before. She also stated that no working person can get rich by eating out regularly.

Since their arrival less than a week ago, we've only eaten out once (and I bought it!) but meals have been awesome at home. I love my frugal cooking parents! No leftover's left behind, too. I expected a bit more expense too soon but I could be wrong and I'm hoping that the checking account will prove that at the end of the month! :)
Oregon Coast

Today they went to Safeway with the intention to buy frozen pancakes and fruits, and that was all that they bought. It must've taken them years to perfect that. They pay attention to prices. They exclaimed how Safeway was selling peaches for a dollar/pound more than Fred Meyer's, and asked how anybody can just get away with that. My dad's face looked almost appalled in a funny way.

It has been good so far. Such a busy summer, though.

Aug 2, 2012

We are trippin'!

Saving money will take a back seat for maybe 2 months because this week was about buying airfares and accommodations.

J will be going with a work buddy to Reykjavik, Iceland for a music festival. Much as I'd like to join them, I can't because my passport is only valid for another 5 months and it will be cold in November and Iceland is not a place where I want to be that time of the year.

Secondly, I will be taking my parents to NYC in September. They don't feel comfortable going to a large, crazy city like NYC without me, despite living in a bigger city than NYC. It's the lack of familiarity I guess, but that's traveling. It's kind of odd when I think about it, and at the same time understandable.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon

With those 2 big trips, it doesn't make sense for me to go to Iceland even if my passport wasn't near expiration. J and I are still considering a trip just by ourselves. The last time we did that was before our kid came. No specific plans yet, but we're hoping for a cheaper option with plenty of fun activities that aren't expensive, if not free.

Dome at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Portland

I'm having a bit of difficulty accepting that J is keen to go on his trip without me. It will be his first time in Iceland. Part of me has this expectation that we will explore new places together, but I know that that's not a fair expectation to make. I wanted to experience NYC alone, I told him that, and he supported it all the way. But I didn't go because I was too worried about its impact to our finances knowing that there is a high chance of going there with my folks anyway. J had lived in NYC and so I felt justified in a way.

It's one of those things that I wish I didn't feel.

Jul 22, 2012

Sprinkling tiny goals

You know how in losing weight it's easier to target a close and small weight loss goal instead of targeting the ultimate goal? When I tried Weight Watchers, they suggested a target goal of 5 lbs instead of my healthy, and ultimate goal, of under 135 lbs (which is the heaviest for my height).

With my starting self-confidence (aka deflated ego), I thought 5 lbs was so easy to get rid of. I was honestly disappointed at the beginning when I was "forced" to start with losing 5 lbs. Though I managed to shed 5 lbs off and more, the process took longer than I expected.

Life happens, my priority shifts from time to time, and my hormones tell me what to do. So much self-control was necessary and I didn't have it in me to keep at it. I stopped WW after 4 months, mostly because I reached a plateau - I wasn't losing any more nor was I gaining beyond the ~3 lbs that my body would gain at certain times of the month and shed off in a day or 2.

Waitangi Park, Wellington, New Zealand

So today, I've decided to try a similar approach. Our only debt is J's student loan, which is at $32,894 today. Its interest rate at 7.375% is not low enough for our $500/month to have a big impact on. For a couple of months now, I've been thinking of setting a small goal to get it below $30,500 by the end of 2012.

With our current monthly payment of $500, ~$300 of it goes towards the principal. By end of the year, it will be around $31k. This gave me the inspiration to target an extra $500 to pay. We already pay an extra month to it by adding 10% to the minimum, which is another way of paying bi-weekly.

J is really dying to get his student loan gone. It has been too long and I'm just as excited to get this off our backs! Good luck to us!