Category Archives: Goals

Planning and Progress

Now that the Discovercard is paid off, the next move is to pay off the high interest Banana Republic Visa card. The current balance (before next month’s interest is added to it) is $5531.46. I’ve initiated a $3500 balance transfer to my Discovercard which offered me a 6 month, no-interest balance transfer. The fee is 5% of the balance, so my Discover balance will go to $3675, and the Visa down to about $2500.

The March debt payments will be split between these two balances. The reason for that, rather than just paying off the Visa, is that I am awaiting a $400 reimbursement to the Visa when the VA/GI Bill reimburses me for fiance’s spring semester registration fee. So the plan for March, more specifically, is to pay down the balance on the Visa, after balance transfer, to $600. Then in April when I get the reimbursement, I will only have about a $200 balance which will be paid off in April. In March, at least $700 will go to the Discovercard, then in April another $2300, then in May the balance of $605 will be paid. Also in May, we will pay off fiance’s IRS bill. That one makes me feel really gross so I’m looking forward to that.

We will continue to work on our frugality, specifically cutting back on alcohol and not eating out. We kind of sucked at those this month so far. We’ve only eaten out twice, and at about half of what we used to spend when eating out, but we did get take out a couple of times. When it’s just the two of us we get lazy. When we have fiance’s daughter, we tend to be better about this. I think it’s for two main reasons, at least on my end: I want to feed her nutritious food for the sake of my conscience, and it’s more expensive to take three people out to dinner rather than two (even if one is a kid).

My stepfather came into a little bit of money so he and my mom sent us a windfall (to us) of $500 which will help us accelerate some of the debt payoff. I have to deposit the check though! It was totally unexpected and very generous of them, I feel so grateful. We do have the dogs’ vet visit coming up which will cost at least $500, but that was planned and budgeted for so it should not impact anything and allow the gift from my mom and stepfather to be a boon to us. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the dogs get clean bills of health and that bill is kept to the minimum of what it needs to be.

One thing that felt really fun last weekend was that fiance’s car registration renewal came in the mail earlier than we had planned for. Since we had the money in savings (leftover from tax refund), we just paid it online, and the sticker is already here and on the car two months early. This is a huge change from two years ago where he was driving his old car for six months with an expired registration. So I will be able to update my budget and delete that expected expense from the month we had been planning on paying for the renewal.

I feel good and really optimistic about the financial/debt payoff side of things. The plan is solid, and I think we can do even better than planned if we are really diligent and disciplined. I still need to really get motivated on the exercise/fitness side of things. I started a hand-written journal just tracking daily goals and how I did in hopes that will keep me mindful. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that here, but I may at some point.

I have also been feeling good about work since the New Year. I would like the promotion my director said he wanted to give me before he retires in June, but I feel okay where I am for now. I think I will give this place another year or two as long as I continue to be happy. And after that, if I’m still being under-utilized and haven’t received the raises I’m looking for, I’ll start looking at my other options. It’s just a big change from the end of last year when I felt really trapped and hopeless in the job. I feel really happy that I’m feeling happy. Lol.

I am so looking forward to continuing to make progress on these debts. It will be such a good feeling this summer to have a few things paid off and gone from our lives for good.

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First Debt Goal Down!

WOOHOO!

So, I had paid $800 on payday (Jan 31) towards my Discovercard, leaving a balance of $450. Today, my federal tax refund came in so I clicked right over to the Discover website and paid this baby off! I can’t wait until the payment posts and I can see that $0 balance. Super excited!

On his way out the door this morning, fiance couldn’t find his laptop this. He had LEFT IT BEHIND IN CLASS last night. “HOW does that HAPPEN?” you may ask. I do not know. But he is one lucky ducky because when he stopped by the classroom after his morning work study shift it was sitting right where he left it. He had a backpack stolen out of his car on the same campus a few months ago, so this was seriously lucky. Whew!

Goals Part III – Get It (Awesomeness in Life), Girl

Please allow me to preface these goals with gratitude for all of the gifts in my life.  I have an amazing, loving fiance, wonderful friends, and a great family.  I have two awesome dogs that bring so much joy. I live in a comfortable home, have a good job, and life is generally stable and very, very good.  However – I don’t believe you can be complacent and be a good person. I think you always have to try, and you always have to be learning and growing. I have plenty of things to work on within myself to be a better person, and there are also plenty of things in my life that I would like to improve.  That said, on to the goals!

  1. Start a blog (done!)
  2. Learn blog stuff – (in progress)
  3. Join Treehouse and start learning some new marketable skills (February)
  4. Stick to chore schedule (ugh)
  5. Brush dog 1 more regularly to help with #4 (he’s basically 80% fur, 20% dog)

Goal 1 – I started! I’ve been writing posts! Yay!

Goal 2 – I am totally newb. All I’ve figured out so far is how to write and publish posts, add pictures, and change some colors. I’m going to seek out some tutorials and try to up my knowledge to achieve the functionality I’d like and maybe eventually gain some skills that are useful to others.

Goal 3 – I think it would be useful to learn some internet-based skills in our increasingly internet-based economy. More about this below.

Goal 4 – I hate when my house is dirty and cluttered. I am not a neat freak, but I like things picked up, a clear landscape is soothing for my mind. Plus, our home is only a two bedroom condo, so this goal is just to help me feel more relaxed while I’m home. I’m working on some strategies to make this easy and as green as possible. We make our own laundry detergent and surface cleaner currently, so that’s a start.

Goal 5 – Dog 1 is a pekingese, they have these double coats where the undercoat is really soft and the outer coat is course and has the color typical of the breed. He sheds like it is his JOB. I feel like my house is covered in his fur, and it’s gross and a never ending battle. I love him so much though that I deal with it. Regular brushing is supposed to help keep the shedding down, and that would make Goal 4 easier to keep up with. I think I need a different kind of brush, I have a Furminator but he really hates it – I think it pulls too much.

All of these goals are parts of achieving a mental/life freedom of sorts. My job is a good job, and I like the area I work in (regulatory side of human medical research). But sometimes I feel trapped. I’m not really satisfied with the way my office is run – it’s inefficient, it is structured and also somewhat cultured so as to increase, rather than to minimize, antagonism between our staff and the people we work with. This is unavoidable to some extent because we are the rule-enforcers, but there are lots of ways to make things easier for people to follow the rules. The reason for this problems is really that management is fragmented, the director is a softy who doesn’t like to upset people in or out of the office (and he’s also a short-timer, due to retire in under six months). This is also a lower-level position than my last one, but I took it because the pay was similar and I was moving cross-country and needed to take a job. I was lucky that this one was open right when I needed it. I have been promoted in the two years I’ve been here with a decent raise, but I’m still not at the responsibility level I was prior to coming here. My director says he wants to promote me to associate director before he leaves, so I’m hopeful, but I’m not taking that as a promise or guarantee.

With that explanation behind us, my skills are in a niche area in academic research. Lower and mid-level administration in academia doesn’t pay a ton, so unless I continue to move up, my earning potential is stagnant, and then there still remains the personnel issues with those running things that frustrate my ability to do a great job, are just frustrating themselves, and show not much likelihood of changing. So these goals are about building out something for myself, some skills with earning potential that don’t rely on my job. This would give me some mental freedom – I can go somewhere, do something else – I’m not just stuck doing this with no other options or way out. That’s also where the goal of achieving FI comes into play, but that’s longer term, and this is more something to manage my emotions and mental needs in the near term.

You might ask why I don’t go back to school and get an advanced degree or a degree in something else marketable. If I was (1) debt free and could (2) go to school for free, this might be an option. I have a household to support so I would need to work at least part time while doing this and minimizing bills would make that easier. But I really don’t want to go back to school and struggle to make ends meet while doing so. It’s not a necessity. I definitely do not want to incur any debt to go to school and get a degree when I already have a bachelor’s, I have a good job, and there’s plenty of things I can do with the degree I have and learning some new skills.

So, for now at least, I’m going to make the best of where I’m at and do some things in my own time to give me more of a sense of that freedom that I’m looking for.

Goals Part II – Get In Shape, Girl

Throughout my whole childhood, and into adulthood, I never worried about being overweight. I was super active growing up – I studied classical ballet very seriously, which, for those not in the know, is extremely demanding physically. I did it seven days a week so I never needed to worry about things like calorie counting. Motivation to exercise (meaning, take ballet class) every night came easily because I loved it, it was my passion. Even when I stopped studying seriously and went off to college, I reaped the benefits of those prior years of work for quite a while. Now that I’ve hit 30, my body is getting all crotchety and I can’t eat whatever I want anymore. I’m technically overweight. Luckily for me, I’m 5’10” so it had more area to distribute itself over. On a recent trip to visit my dad back east, some pictures of me were taken…not good. Top that with realizing my own mortality as my body starts protesting things that it never so much as sneezed at before, and I’m feeling like I’ve got to start making an actual effort to take care of this apparatus called “my body” in which my mind resides.

I’ve kind of avoided really spelling this goal out into discrete components until now. I had made a vague New Year’s resolution to do 15 minutes of exercise a day at 5:30 in the morning (hah!) and work my way up to longer, more intense work outs. I want to have a rockin’ bod again. But I have not been doing so great with this one so far, so maybe the accountability of writing this blog will help on this goal too. I feel really motivated on the debt front, but feel like I’m still waiting for something to click and kick me in the ass on the caring for my body front.

So here goes, and we’ll start tomorrow morning:

  • Mondays – workout video, at least 15 minutes
  • Tuesdays – run/walk (until I can run) dog 2 who needs extra exercise around our condo complex
  • Wednesdays – workout video, at least 15 minutes
  • Thursdays – run/walk dog 2
  • Fridays – workout video, at least 15 minutes
  • Saturday – off
  • Sunday – ballet barre (start in February)

For the month of January, fiance and I are not eating out at all (this is to meet both financial and health goals) or drinking alcohol. We had one Friday night where we fell off the wagon on the alcohol. I feel asleep after three beers, so it really wasn’t as fun as I expected, quite a let down. So I think I can make it through the rest of the month without it.

For February I’m going to do no dairy, and eat out no more than twice the whole month. I’d like to keep alcohol intake low as well, but I’m not sure how I want to structure this yet so I’ll update as it’s upon me.

For March I’d like to follow the Paleo diet strictly. It will be hard, but I’m certain it will be good for me mentally and physically.

Hopefully adding exercise, generally avoiding grains (thought not religiously), and eating sensibly will help me lose weight. I’ve already about four pounds of holiday weight just from no alcohol and not eating out, so that’s awesome. I want to lose another 40 pounds by June 2014. I think I can do it, but I have to really commit to the exercise. I hate exercise for exercise’s sake, it’s so boring. I love being physical with my body in sports, dance, etc. But I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so out of shape I can’t just jump into those things without putting myself at risk of injury. It’s sad. I feel ashamed, like I’ve let somebody down, and I guess I have. My poor body.

Goals Part I – Get Out (of Debt), Girl

So I have three primary goals:

  1. get out of debt
  2. get in shape
  3. build some new marketable skills so I don’t feel trapped in my job and so I have something I can make money with if I get desperate and want to change careers.

For this post I’ll focus on my get out of debt goal, and break it down a bit. I’ll do my debt story in a future post.

My fiance and I have combined finances. I know some experts do not recommend this before marriage, but he and I both feel totally secure with it. It also improved our relationship because we don’t argue about money anymore. I’ll go into detail about how we got there and our specific arrangements/agreements in another future post.

Our debt falls into a few categories:

  • Credit cards (both of us) – ~$28,000
  • Student loan (me) ~$12,000
  • Car loans (both of us) ~$10,000
  • Bad debt in collections (him) ~ $8,200 (but we’ll probably settle the debt for a little more than half that)
  • IRS (him) $2000

So that’s a nice ugly $60,000 in debt there!

The credit cards are the ones that are really on fire because the interest rates are all over the place, but they’re all high, and even if they weren’t, I still wouldn’t want to have them. The plan is to pay credit cards off first, IRS is on a payment plan already, pay off all the debt in good standing and then settle the collections crap along the way. The past two years were spent dealing with fiance Gogig’s financial “emergencies” so we agreed the next year or two would be about taking care of stuff that is in my name since I covered the majority of both of our expenses for a while prior, and a good chunk of the credit card debt anyway is from spending on both of us, not just my stuff.

Since credit cards are the first goal, I’ll break them down:

  • Discovercard ~$1250 – pay off in February 2014.
  • Banana Republic Visa ~$5900 – pay off in May 2014.
  • CapitalOne ~$5800 – pay off in November 2014.
  • Citicard ~$10,000 – pay off in February 2015.

I have a budget spreadsheet and basically the plan is to throw all extra money at this debt until it’s paid off. Some money that doesn’t go to living expenses will be put into savings for an emergency fund and also for some planned future expenses like pet stuff, kid stuff, holiday stuff, birthdays, car registrations, etc.

I’m also expecting a small raise and bonus in June this year (2014), with the possibility of instead getting a promotion and significant raise which may speed up my timelines. So fingers crossed for that.

I tell you, I just can’t wait for February 1 to roll around – it’s pay day and it’s the day I’m going to pay off that Discovercard. I CAN’T WAIT. I hate it! I want it gone and out of my life!!

Get Started

Starting a blog was one of my New Year’s resolutions. I usually don’t make them, but I thought I’d try something new this year.

I’m Gogig (not my real name).  I’ve got some goals. Some are hard, some are more ephemeral ideals, and some are just things you can never stop working on. My goals are why I’m here. My expectation is that writing this blog will serve the following purposes for me:

  • goal tracking
  • accountability
  • skill development

I’d like to use this semi-public forum to establish and broadcast my various goals and then to be accountable for making progress toward and achieving said goals. My biggest goal is to get out of debt, so I expect that I’ll spend the majority of my writing on that topic. That’s the “GetOut” in my blog name.

I also hope to learn more about blogging and web coding stuff as I do this. I have a niche professional skill set, and on the bad days at work, I feel trapped. So blogging and learning about coding was the solution I came up with to make me feel like I have somewhere to go (or am at least working on giving myself somewhere to go) if I ever want to get out of what I’m doing now. I plan on doing some of the courses on Treehouse (another New Year’s resolution!) to start learning the coding side of things. I would love it if one day, my blog became popular and I was able to monetize it, work for myself, yadda yadda, but I have a long way to go before that’s a likely possibility. So I’ll just be here, in my little corner of the interwebs, typing away at whomever stumbles upon this. I have a bunch of other goals to improve my life and me as a person, and I’ll write some about those too. That’s the “GetIt” part of my blog name.

And the “Girl” is because I’m female, though at 30, I’m a woman. Had to stick with the g’s for the name though.

In my next post (maybe next few?), I’m going to start spelling out my goals and my plans to get there.