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Confessions of a Grey-Haired Girl

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You know how I’ve been cutting and coloring my own hair for the past 18 months? It’s still going strong. With the exception of 2 professional hair cut/colors prior to interviews I’ve been exclusively doing my own hair (one professional cut/color was back in November 2014, the other was in January 2015…funny enough, neither of those are jobs I actually landed. Before the interview for my current job I hadn’t done anything special to prepare myself physically. Just wore my interview suit – third time was a charm – and styled my hair normally).

Anyway, I’ve mostly been blonde but about a month ago I decided I wanted a change and I went dark for Fall. Dying my own hair, as usual.

Only….I made a terrible discovery in doing so. You guys! I’m going grey! Eeek!

Yes, at the ripe “old” age of 32 technically 31, but only for one more month. Grey hairs galore! I guess I hadn’t noticed before because they blend in much better with blonde hair. In fact, I bet it actually increased the length of time I could go between hair dyes because the grey masked any darker-colored roots. But with dark brown hair the grey is painfully obvious.

And now I’m in a conundrum.

I like the dark brown. I want to stay dark brown for awhile. But….yeah. The grey is an issue.

I feel like I’m going to have to dye my hair more regularly (maybe every 4-6 weeks instead of closer to 8-10 weeks, which was my norm with blonde hair). And I’m using cheap grocery store dye, not something professional. I’m worried about the condition of my hair. Especially with our colder weather it feels very dry and brittle. I’ve always been a person who has HAD to wash my hair every single day (because otherwise it would get so greasy!) but I’ve moved to an every-other-day wash schedule because my hair is so dry it really doesn’t need to be washed more frequently than that.

So, I don’t know what to do. I’m torn between my preference (I’d like to stay brunette for now), my pocketbook (more frequent dying = more $), and my hair quality (more frequent dying = more damage).

I know back when Adam and Emily were blogging I’d once commented on a post by Emily about hair care. I’d found some type of at-home salon-quality hair dye that’s professionally matched to the person based on hair type, color, etc. It’s a bit more expensive than the cheap grocery store hair dye, but it’s still much cheaper than going to a salon and maybe it would save my hair from some of the damage???  What do you think?

What would you do? Try better quality at-home dye? Go back blonde? Some other alternative? Any suggestions for good hair dye brands are welcome, too!

 


5th Wedding Anniversary

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When hubs and I got married we’d already been together for nearly a decade. We met the first week of my freshman (his sophomore) year of college. The rest is history!

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When we got married in 2010 I was about $70,000 in debt and still in grad school (racking up more debt). Our parents helped us with much of our wedding costs but our honeymoon was up to us. With little to our name (and yet, apparently still feeling that we “deserved” a honeymoon), we decided to go the cheaper route and head to Mexico. It’s close, (relatively) cheap, and easy.

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My real desire was for a long Hawaiian honeymoon. I’ve heard stories about the island chain (my mom lived there for a few years in her early 20s), and of course I’ve seen photos and videos of its beauty. It’s just sooooo $$$$$!

At the time I resolved in my mind that we’d have a second honeymoon for our fifth wedding anniversary. Destination? Hawaii. Because, of course, by the time our fifth anniversary rolled around we’d have it all together financially. Right?

I can’t help but to laugh, though I’m also so proud of how far we’ve come. If it weren’t for the accountability of this blog and the journey we’ve been on the past couple years to get out of debt, it’s highly likely we would have gone on that Hawaiian vacation. We’d end up putting much of it on credit cards and still have a mountain of other consumer-related debt (not to mention the daunting student loans).

So, our fifth wedding anniversary was November 6th.  My mother-in-law was in town for a visit. She graciously offered to watch the girls (free childcare!) and even gave us a giftcard to our favorite steak house as an anniversary gift. Score!

We did exchange gifts, but we’d set a $50 limit. Much higher than our usual gift-giving budget (which is in the $15-$25 range). I got hubs a nice leather belt (which he desperately needed after his major weight loss! He’d been using an old one that he’s punched extra holes in!) Hubs got me a Fitbit, which I’ve been wanting but was NOT expecting because they’re $100+. Turns out he found me a (very) gently used one on Ebay. Still had all its original packaging and no signs of wear. Works great (except for the sleep tracker, though that has nothing to do with the thing being used)!

I wanted to post on Facebook about our anniversary but decided maybe I’d hold off until we’re fully consumer debt-free.  A few close friends and family members know about our debt-free goals but I honestly don’t think anyone realizes the extent of our digging the past 2 years to try to get out of this hole. The extent of the sacrifices we’ve made or of the actual amount of money we’ve put toward debt ($25,000/year for the past 2 years)!!!  I don’t want to be overly obnoxious about it, but I’d like to acknowledge it. If for nothing else than to give others hope that they, too, can dig deep and find the willpower to get out of debt. That it doesn’t have to be an illusion or dream. It can be REAL. I’d post something along the lines of….

In November we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, I’d wanted a Hawaiian vacation. Instead, we buckled down and got to the business of paying off debt! After the past 2 years of hard work and over $50,000 of debt paid down, I can officially say we are now DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!*

*Note: This really only applies to consumer debt, as we’re still working on student loans, but it just feels like a HUGE milestone to have made it this far. Also, we’re taking a big ALL CASH vacation in April to celebrate my Mom’s 60th! We are blessed!

The note part will be a comment on the original post (because I do think it warrants the explanation that we’re not fully debt-free, though I don’t want to dampen the original post by tacking it on there. It belongs more as a footnote in the comment section).

So, mark my words….this will be a Facebook post happening very, very soon. Will it be December? January? I don’t know. But I know it will be soon. And when it happens I’ll take a screenshot to show you guys so we can all celebrate together. I’m counting down the days/weeks/months until (consumer) debt-freedom!!!

Anniversaries happen every year. Only once in my life will I become consumer debt-free. Why? Because once it happens, I’m NEVER going back into debt again. NEVER.

Hawaii, I will visit you one day. Not this year. Probably not even next year. But it will happen. And it will be the BEST vacation EVER because it will be guilt-free, paid for in cash with cash to spare. Just as it should be.


Car Inspection and Winter Hobbies

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

From my last post, I discussed needing to save up for my car’s state inspection and emission’s test, which I had scheduled for November 9th. Well, that day came and passed and it hit me to the tune of $887.00, which was within the range I was expecting. I needed some work done, which I was told about over the summer, plus I decided to get 4 new tires. Although they passed inspection, the mechanic told me they would have failed given another month of driving. To be honest, I was surprised they even passed at all. Instead of delaying the cost to next year, I decided to get a new set and just take the hit today. But now that this is out of the way, I could either 1) Replenish my EF (or savings, or slush fund, I’m not sure what to call it at this point), again or 2) Start tackling my loans. Personally, I want to see how long I can do #2, before I have to do #1- which should take me into the New Year, at least. I want to get back to paying off my loans as soon as possible (I’m getting very antsy to do so), which could be as early as today, even with only $1,000 in my EF. My goal would be to get below $40,000 before the end of the year, before contributing to my EF again. What are your thoughts on this?

Also, I have some exciting news on the hobby front. After taking a month off from playing guitar in September and half of October, I got back into it, like REALLY into it. I’ve probably put in 2-3 hours a night during the week and 5+ hours per day during the weekend, even spending some time at our city library to try and wrap my head around music theory. A little background: being in a band has been a dream of mine for the better part of ten years. While I have had some jam sessions with other friends who play guitar, they’re mostly just starting out and weren’t as interested in starting a band. Anyway, I put an ad out last week looking for other people who may want to jam/start a band, and I received a reply! We hung out this past week, and I think it looks really promising! The whole experience of putting myself out there and taking action with it was such a rush, as I’ve only played for my girlfriend and those few friends before.

The problem with this whole scenario is that equipment is EXPENSIVE. I have a guitar that is performance quality, but I don’t have anything else that’s up to par. I would need a new amp and speaker cabinets, pedals, and all the other miscellaneous hardware that comes with putting on a live show. But…we aren’t even close to this point, and I’ll likely be out of debt before I worry about gigging. For right now, I guess, it’s just something in the back of my mind.

What are some hobbies you guys have? Has money ever become a factor for them?

I hope everyone has a great week!


Weekly Update #26- Oops!

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Hey everyone, and Happy Tuesday!

To jump right into this post- last week I made an error. Not necessarily a bad error, but I feel like now, more than ever, I’m skating on thin ice. Every Wednesday (my pay day), I have my checking account withdrawn to pay off my student loans. I put make the payment request sometime before the payday (normally a week in advance) so that on payday, the money is gone and I don’t have it sitting in my bank account. Lucky for me- this month happens to be a 5 paycheck month and last Wednesday’s was the paycheck where I had nothing due, so I could put nearly the whole thing on my loans. I must have realized this earlier in the month because I somehow ended up making 2 payment requests of $705.00 to be withdrawn on the same day. I didn’t realize I did this until my account balances looked awfully low. I looked at my bank account, and sure enough, 2 payments were made. I say this isn’t necessarily a bad error because it isn’t like I went out an bought something unnecessary, but I had to move money from my EF to my checking to make up the difference. I’m down to $1000.00 in my EF, which has never been lower, hence why I feel I have a very shaky feeling about it. My plan right now is to finish paying off Sallie Mae 04 in 3 weeks and then build my EF back up before hitting the last two loans. If you look at the balances below, the $1,200 shouldn’t take too long to pay down.

On a separate note and a follow up from last week’s post, our anniversary weekend was amazing. Thanks to all those that shared your stories with me. Our trip to the ski resort was fantastic and it was a nice little day trip where we walked around their downtown (not the golf course, like I originally wanted) and got some appetizers at a local bar. When we got back home, GF made an amazing dinner and we exchanged little gifts. My gift for GF was, again, of the homemade variety. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some research on homemade anniversary gifts and stumbled upon a Pinterest account that described homemade bath bombs/fizzies. Here’s the finished product below:

Bath Fizzies

It piqued my interest and I found a simple recipe on Martha Stewart Living (the recipes are easily google-able- I clicked on the first link). Since I don’t have any hobby/crafting supplies at home, I had to buy everything I needed to put together what I was envisioning in my head, including the acrylic paint and paintbrush for the front little “card” I made, the ribbon, tissue paper and dye for the fizzies. As for the fizzies, of the 4 ingredients needed (corn starch, baking soda, citric acid and essential oil for scent- I chose peppermint) I didn’t have any of them at home, and the citric acid ended up being a specialty item I had to buy on Amazon. The total came to around $60 for eveything. It would have cost a whole lot less if I did crafting and/or baking on a more frequent basis and had the items already on hand. To put the whole thing together took about 4 hours, 3 hours was for the prep and set time of the fizzies. Needless to say though, GF LOVED them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of a gift I’ve given someone. It was truly a wonderful weekend.

As for my balances, here they are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,662.64$4,174.60$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,556.32$3,640.70$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$1,221.75$9,128.43$1,409.92
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$43,440.71$67,146.95$1,409.92

I hope everyone has a great week!


Weekly Debt Update #25- Anniversary Weekend

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Hello everyone and Happy Tuesday!

With a weekend between last week and me, I’m feeling a lot better than I was last Tuesday. I spent the whole weekend doing nothing but relaxing, playing video games and watching football. It definitely wasn’t the most productive use of my time, but greatly needed.

As for this weekend coming up, GF and I will be celebrating our 3rd year together! It’s crazy how time flies. It’s been a very, very blissful 3 years together and I cannot be more excited to celebrate with her. Two years ago, on our 1st anniversary, we celebrated by going to a small town that has quite a large ski resort. The ski resort is open yet, obviously, but the resort does have a golf course (now closed for the season) that has some amazing views of the mountain side and the fall foliage on it’s cart paths. We spent a few hours walking these paths before, and I’m excited to do it again this year. Afterwards we’ll stop at our favorite bar in the town for some food and drinks.  Once we get back home, we plan on going apple picking and making apple sauce. Nothing fancy, but we are both really excited to enjoy the weekend together. And it shouldn’t cost more than the gas to get there, $30 for dinner and beer (it’s really cheap there) and $5 for apples. Very much worth it.

So…I would like to know: How do you celebrate your anniversary? Do you change it up every year, or do you do the same thing year after year, as way to reminisce? I’ve love to hear your stories.

As far as gifts are concerned, I don’t want to spoil anything here since GF reads this blog, too. I want to do a handmade gesture (like I did for my mom and dad) that shows her how much I appreciate her. I have a few ideas on how to accomplish this. I will share what I did and what I spent on next week’s post.

Here are my debt totals as of this morning:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,662.64$4,174.60$57.28
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,556.32$3,640.70$47.72
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$2,631.67$7,718.51$264.11
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$44,850.63$65,737.03$369.11

I hope everyone has a great week!


Month in Review- August ’15

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Hello on this Tuesday evening. I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

I realized over the weekend that it is time for another month review, so let’s dive into it:

  • At the beginning of the month, we (GF and I) decided to do a garage sale (here). The thought was launched after reading a book about de-cluttering our house. However, after much work, we still have not done the garage sale :(. It’s still on the forefront of our minds, but the stars just haven’t aligned, where we’ve gotten a weekend free of no plans to just do it. Plus, we still have a lot of work to do going through our house. The basement is done, but the attic is only 25% cleared. My fear is that we are too late for garage sale season. Should we just hold off until the spring?
  • Here, I posted about my plans going forward for paying off my debt, albeit with some caveats. I’m keeping the fun fund going, continuing my contributions to my nephew’s ESA fund, continue contributing 10% of my pay to my 401k and pay weekly towards my mortgage ($150/week).
  • It the same post, I also outlined my timeline for paying off the debt. Hope fully this will occur in 18 months (now 17) before I hit 30, but most likely to happen in 22 (now 21) months.
  • In this post , I showed everyone the less than professional card I made for my dad for his birthday. I also highlighted some of the other things we did for him. He loved our gifts for him and we had a great time celebrating his 55th.
  • In that same post, I also shared my budget with everyone. This is the budget I’m going to use from this point moving forward.
  • In Weekly Update #22 (here), I shared my plans concerning my life after debt. This stirred up some controversy, particularly my plans concerning my retirement funding. My ultimate goal is to become financially stable without having to worry about a traditional job. This isn’t saying I’m not going to work at all; I do plan on making making still in some capacity.
  • The following week (here), I outlined my past, present and future stances on my retirement contributions. I received some great feedback from all you which I’m using to more carefully outline my post debt retirement plans.

Financially speaking, this was a very successful month back from vacation. All together, I was able to pay off $1,883.94 this month! Not bad.

And to update my balances since last week, here you go:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,719.92$4,117.32$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,604.04$3,592.98$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$3,342.10$7,008.08$703.13
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$45,666.06$64,921.60$703.13

I hope everyone has a fantastic week!

 


Weekly Debt Update #23- Retirement Contributions Past, Present and Future

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Hey everyone! I hope you all are having a great start to your week.

After I posted last week of my after debt plans (here), there was some outcry, confusion and wonder over my retirement plan. Here’s the statement in it’s entirety:

“I’m going to decrease my 401K contribution to the minimum (4%) to get the company match. I’ll use a fairly good portion of my after tax income to fund an investment account for a, hopefully, early retirement. I’d like to do between $300-$400 a week. This is a big one, since I want to save up a pretty large nest egg, but there’s a ton I feel like I’m putting off (like home renovations) that I could do with an extra $400 a month.”

After reading your comments and looking back and this statement, I left a lot of my recent activity and thinking on the subject off the table. But before I go into depth on my present and future retirement plans, I want to give you a history of what I’ve I’ve done previously.

  • At the start of my career, in May of 2009 with the federal government (in the Dept of Veterans Affairs), I started out contributing 3% of my salary to the federal government’s form of the 401k- the Thrift Savings Plan, or TPS, for short. I knew up front that the government would match every percent to 5%, but I also felt I needed every penny to pay my rent, utilities, food and looming student loans. At least I knew enough to contribute SOMETHING. What I didn’t realize at the time (but learned sometime after) is that the government will provide 1% of your salary (w/no match) into a separate money market account as a FERS (federal employees retirement system) basic benefit.
  • After a year of service I not only got a substantial raise, but a fellow employee found out I wasn’t contributed enough to max out the government match. I got a good scolding (she was a motherly type) and increased my contributions to 5% for the remainder of my stay with the government.
  • At the point I left the government in January of 2013, I had somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 in the TPS account and $1,500 in the basic benefit account. When you leave the government, you can either elect to cash out the basic benefit (which was tax deferred) or leave it with the government if you plan on returning. I elected to take the money, which I used to pay down my student loans.
  • When I started with my new company, they have a policy that new employees need 6 months of service before you are eligible for their 401k program. I started at the end of January 2013, and with my six months plus some waiting time for the next enrollment period, I got into the 401k program in November of 2013. I immediately started contributing 4% to get the company match. The company match, however, is subject to vesting: you get 20% on your 2nd anniversary and an additional 20% for every year after until you are fully vested on your 6 year anniversary.
  • I was in the 401k program for 10 months when I met with a Dave Ramsey endorsed CPA in September of 2014. While I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, I do agree that he’s helped a lot of people get out of debt with his debt free program, so I used his service to find a local CPA (plus I didn’t know how else to look someone up). After giving the CPA my story and financial run down, he agreed that I should cash in my government TPS account and stop contributions to my current 401k. I immediately did both of these (well documented in my first few posts here).
  • After 7 months of not contributing anything, I elected to go back to 4% in May and having feeling this still wasn’t enough, I’m now at 10%. My current vested balance is $6,200.

So that’s my history on the subject. Recently (within the past month), I met with a retirement adviser that my company utilizes to oversee the 401k program. After telling him my history, my financial rundown and future plans (the early retirement/financial freedom) he gave me some advise to stop all but the 4% contributions and instead contribute into a non-retirement investment portfolio (one with minimal fees) once I’m debt free. His logic was that if I want to retire at or around 40 (the age I gave him when he asked) I would want to have immediate access to the money without having to worry about income taxes and penalties that are associated with 401k’s. He also suggested that I could split the investments into a Roth IRA and the investment portfolio. This would give me two pots of money, one for pre-55 and one post 55. So that pretty much sums up the rationale behind my previous post. As a few of you said, my thinking nd history on the subject appears scattered, but I would say it IS scattered. I got some amazing feedback on what to do on my last post (looking at you, Angie), but I would like more. Any help is appreciated- anecdotes, references, tips, anything on the subject would help give me some clarity.

As for my current debt balances, here you go:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,719.92$4,117.32$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,604.04$3,592.98$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$4,045.23$6,304.95$410.45
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$46,369.19$64,218.47$410.45

I hope everyone has a great week!


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