March My Wellness Month: Week 4

With every passing year of my 20s, I’ve slowly accepted more ways of adulting: saving money and being financially stable have become more evident with time. The habit to spent and not to save is a really hard habit to break though looking at my past I could have been much worse. I didn’t have a real credit card until years after college when I needed it to rent a car. The only debt I had after college were the loans themselves. The couple years after college working my first entry level job were spent being very broke but taking care of myself in a cheap one bedroom apartment. I never put money aside, I just figured that after paying bills, student loans, groceries, etc that if I still had money left and didn’t go in the red I was ok. Even if you only have a couple of dollars left, I still should have started the routine and get in the habit of saving SOMETHING.
After going through a layoff and being unemployment at age 24 for almost a year I still managed to get by and not use assistance of any kind. I owe it all to the simple budgeting skills I had developed and knowing what to cut; which in my instance the only thing I had to get rid of was cable. Luckily I lived in a building were the units were kind of funky and even after I cancelled, I still got all the channels anyway. Shhh! Haha come on, if you were broke and unemployed you would take advantage of that free shared analog cable too!! I also decided this was the time to quit smoking. The last pack of cigarettes I bought was on August 25th, 2011 and for a couple of months after Tyler and I would share when we would go out on the weekends. Eventually this gradually cutting back helped me kick the habit. Tyler’s last cigarette was Thanksgiving weekend of 2011 and I followed a couple of month after.
When you break the cost it saved me: I smoked an average of a pack and a half to two packs a week at the most. When I quit Camel Crush’s ran $6.50 a pack. So $6.50 X 1.5= $9.75 to $13.00 a week. That’s $507. to $676. a year!! If you are a smoker who’s short on cash QUIT SMOKING!! No excuses!!! Think of your health!!
I have to laugh now at when I went out to the bar I also budgeted, which was often because what else do you do when you can’t even get an interview and you spend all day job searching, cleaning, playing guitar, and going for walks? I would walk into the VIP with a 10 or 20 and when that was gone so was I. I could get a couple of drinks, tip and get a song or two on the jukebox if I wanted.
Fun side story: That same time period from the layoff to finding a part time job and still drawing unemployment: it was Halloween season and I’m a huge fanatic and love going all out. I realized this year I also needed to cut back. Having TOO much time and very little money, I decided why not make my costume this year? Using a recycled Xena costume, pieces found on Amazon, consignment stores and supplies from Hobby Lobby: I spent over a month making myself into Lady Gaga! I loved the look from the Edge of Glory music video.
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(These three from the video are not my photos! I found on google images.)

Anyway on to wrapping up the story of my broke ass: Finally after a year had passed I was now 25, I was employed full time again with better pay and benefits! Tyler, my then boyfriend, bought a house and I moved in with him. All the joys of cohabitation and no more outdated small apartment with annoying neighbors who I could hear bang frequently like clockwork! At this time besides my loans (which I still continued to pay during my unemployment), I had accumulated more short term debt: I owed $2000. to my dad for a car I bought from him before the layoff and another $2000. in hospital bills for having to get my tonsils taken out. I was lucky that is happened when it did because I was young enough to be back on my mother’s health insurance. My dad had me hold off on payments to him until I was employed full time again. If I had to be unemployed for a period in my life I’m glad fate picked this time. While working at Winnebago making bank by being on so much overtime, I took care of these two debts within 10 months. If my bank account got big, I would move the over flow to savings. That wasn’t bad I started to save then but it still didn’t get me into a habit of saving a set amount and more into having fun with all the money I was making. I did have fun wisely, I took a bitchin trip out to Vegas to see friends and drove a BRAND NEW Mustang with only 3 miles on it out to LA and back putting over 600 miles on it. I’m more for experiences than blowing my money on a shopping spree. I’m the best wife ever only for the fact I hate Coach purses and would never spend hundreds of dollars on a purse or anything like that.

January of 2015 when I started working at Waldorf at age 28 I finally decided that being almost 30 I need to start getting more serious about saving. Getting paid once a month can be the pits but in a way it helps SOO much with budgeting. I started the habit of what was left over at the end of the month before the next check got deposited would go into savings. In April I decided to take up a part time job so I could build a savings up faster. It was also time to look at where my money was being wasted and what could be cut. At work I had been putting money on my ID card to eat at the grab n go lunch place. Putting money on the card saved money on tax and if you put $50. on, you would have $5.00 added on. So pay $50. and get $55. However if you put 50 bucks a month on this card like I did, that added up to $600. a year! I could go back to Vegas for that amount.
Something I have also implemented was the Penny A Day savings I kept seeing over Facebook and on Pinterest:

“365 Day Penny Challenge: Day 1- Save $.01, Day 2- Save $.02, Day 100- $1.00, Day 365- $365. By the end of the year you will have saved $667.95 and it will seem like nothing throughout the year.”
I have been making deposits from checking to savings once a month at the beginning and so far:
January: $4.96
February: $13.36
March: $23.56
Bringing this to a grand total of: $41.88, so far so good but the only possible flaw that I can see is toward the end of the year when the amount per day goes up this is the holiday season and that can conflict with trying to shop for Christmas. Hopefully if this can be executed along with not eating at the Warrior Crossing this can put $1267. extra in my savings by the end of the year.
This month of no drinking has made me save a ton of money $20-$30. per week. Besides being busy with my graduate course, play practice and bartending two nights a week, I have no time to spend money on fun. It literally pays to be boring and busy, haha. I do like having fun though but after taking a break, it will be easier to go back and manage how much fun I decide to spend.
One last little tip I have for anyone who is my age, you know the lingering pain of student loans but they really don’t have to be. After consolidating my loans; my minimum payment has always hovered between $100. and $150. a month. I want these fuckers gone so I started paying over $200 a month, bumping it up to $300. a month after a couple years and then finally to $400. a month a couple more after that. Always pay more than the minimum payment if you can! The sooner you attack the principal amount the sooner it will be paid off and there will be less interest paid in at the end. My goal when I started paying back my federal loans was have them paid off by the time I’m 30. I’m happy to say that next year I will be 30 and my student loans WILL BE PAID OFF!! 🙂 Eeek! Oh that just gets me so excited I might just pee my pants.

That is all for this week, please like, comment, share this post. Also comment here with any tips, questions, concerns. I like to hear what anyone else who reads does in all the areas I have covered over the last month. Next week is the final March Wellness entry and my final weight in! How much will I lose over last year? Stay tuned!!