Posted in The Struggle

MLMs…I’m not buying it!

It Works! Mary Kay! AdvoCare…I have done them all.  The best thing I got out of these multilevel marketing (MLM) businesses were the products themselves. Unfortunately, the products won’t make you rich.  What pays, is getting everyone you meet to drink the kool-aid.  I have fallen in love with many products.  The Mary Kay Satin Hands is the most amazing dry skin product I have ever used on my hands.  I could sell it because I believed in it.  But you can’t sell stuff you don’t like or don’t use.  I didn’t like the makeup for my skin tone.  I was addicted to MAC eyeshadow so I never used the MK color palette.  And the skincare I liked was discontinued after I began selling it.  The facts, that I only liked 30% of my products and knew the group I was in only cared about my quota, helped me walk away.  Read my post The Brief Love Affair I Had With Lipstick

Then I tried AdvoCare at a time in my life when I was least committed to my fitness.  I was talking the talk but not walking the walk.  I did love those Spark drink mixes though.  However, I never tried to sell one pack.  I used my starter kit and abandoned ship.  Who knew later I would drop 15 pounds and actually set fitness goals.  But I did that without AdvoCare so I was really uninterested in selling the goods.  

Next I followed my niece into It Works!  I have not used a single product and I have been a distributor for 7 months.  My starter kit is in my trunk.  After about 4 months I decided I wasn’t turning my Instagram into a way to worry the shit out of all the people I follow or that follow me.  Also I didn’t want to use stock before and after photos to convince people that It Worked for me and would work for them.  Nor did I want to post earnings checks to make folks interested in the business.  And besides I would have to hustle and earn some money first.  Honestly, I signed up in hopes of a small secondary income and so far i have lost $140.

I now have a friend courting me to join her Rodan Fields business.  The initial investment is about $700!  That shit ain’t happening.  

(But best peel and moisturizer ever!)

My truth:  MLMs are increasing the size of my shovel.  I’m done digging a larger debt hole with get rich quick schemes.  I’m just going to continue working and chip away at my existing debt.  It’s slow but effective. 

BTW: I have cancelled It Works. 

Posted in The Struggle

There was a light at the end of the tunnel…

Then I tripped over the cord and unplugged it. Back into the darkness I go.  I am forever doing the right thing, getting overconfident, stretching my money too thin and starting my journey over again.  You would think I would learn by now but no. So here we go again. My credit card balances went up from my last “I got my sh*t together” post. From $2500 to $3700. My car isn’t paid off but is down from $8800 to $2600. My oppressive student loan is down from nearly $78K to just under $76K. Oh and my new AC feels amazing. Alabama in the Summer (Spring and Fall) are pretty HOT!  So my new debt was worth it. The loan balance is down from $5000 to $3700. But the last storm blew shingles off my aging roof, I need to paint, put in new flooring, get $2000 of work done on my car, and replace some pretty ratty furniture. However, I will work on reaching my immediate financial goals first. So here goes the revised plan: 

  1. Pay off my car by August 6th.
  2. Increase my payments on my AC loan in July to 2 payments per month. 
  3. Get my student loan balance under $70K by 04/2018.
  4. Pay off my credit card with the worst interest rate and $1900 Balance.  (Bye bye Chase Visa!)

So I have got to make some extra money. Oh you may remember me mentioning a roommate and how much I hate roommates well…that proved to not be a stable source of income.  Stay tuned to other money earning ventures I try.  Who knows what they will be. Toodlelu.

Posted in The Struggle

Don’t you hate it when…

…you get your mind set on paying off your pesky debt and a new bill crops up? So I’ve been forging ahead on my student loan debt.  I’m paying every dime I get my hands on to my $11,000 student loan and then all of a sudden I get this nagging pain in my…tooth.  There was no saving it and I had to get it extracted.  Now I must mention I have a phobia of having a tooth pulled.  I mean it sends me right off the rails.  So my choice was to have the tooth pulled for $45 conscious or $300 unconscious.  Which option do you think I went with?  You are absolutely right UNCONSCIOUS!  I may have put a serious dent in my emergency/repair AC fund (we will chat about that one next time) but, I type to you with one less tooth and no memory of it being removed.  And I can say that I am satisfied with my decision and would do it all again. Now let’s hope some overtime comes my way.  Oh and BTW, that $11000 student loan is hovering around $1200. To God Be the Glory!

Posted in The Struggle

On Again Off Again – My Truth Behind Inconsistent Student Loan Payments

For the past 17 years, that I have been out of college, I have had trouble paying my student loans back.  You may think that I am in a low paying field or that I had trouble finding/keeping a job.  Neither scenario applies.  I simply mismanaged my money.  I had apartments I couldn’t afford and hobbies that I invested in with no return.  I bought new cars and kept high credit card balances.  In my own way, I chased the Joneses-es (I meant to spell it that way).  I didn’t want to live an unfabulous life in my late 20s/early 30s because all of my friends, coworkers, and family members were fabulous (or they appeared to be).  I have 9 sisters total (no typo).  All of them are older and dare I say uber-fabulous.  They had well established careers and finances when I couldn’t afford extra cheese on my McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.  I wanted desperately to be as “adult” as my sisters.  So I spent when they spent.  Shopped when they shopped (and when they didn’t).  But unlike them I was tunneling my way to Debtor’s Hell.  And I didn’t bother using a little ol’ shovel to dig my way to financial abys, I used a back hoe (look this up if you are city folk). 

While I was so busy chunking (throwing) my money at all things Jonesy, my debt grew.  No it didn’t grow like a beautiful tulip.  You know. You plant this big onion-looking bulb in the fall and wake up on a beautiful spring morning to this cute tiny unopened bud.  Then you obsess over this bud until it blooms into a breathtakingly perfect flower.  Nooooo.  It grew like the mold on that spaghetti you cooked several weeks ago and stashed in the fridge.  Yep, that food you kept forgetting to take to work for lunch because you always woke up too late.  It sat in the far back corner of your cold dark refrigerator in a covered container.  Out of sight and out of mind.  Then one day you open the fridge to a horrid smell!  WTF!  Who put a dead skunk in here? You quickly toss everything out. And then you see it.  The container looks so innocent.  But you know what evil it holds.  You remove this container as if it is a hardwired pound of C4 (like in all the action movies in the 90s).  You run to the sink and turn the water on scald.  Then activate the garbage disposal.  Now you rip off the lid, take a quick glance at the contents then dump it!

So I had the “WTF is that smell” moment with my student loan debt.  For 15 years my loans sat on the back of the shelf.  I made a payment here and there (usually just to stay out of default).  And every time things got hectic I put them in deferment. Many years of shoddy payments took $60,000 of debt to over $84,000!  See what I didn’t know was the important difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Debt (I mean Loans).  I have an UNSUBSIDIZED student loan, which means that the interest on the loan continues to accrue monthly and is capitalized while payment is deferred.  So the interest accumulated every time I took a break from payments and got tacked on to the principal balance.

Example:  $60,000 loan @ 6.25% interest accrues approximately $308/month in interest.  If deferred for 6 months a total of $1883 is added to your balance for a new total of $61883.  You are probably checking my math now and saying that should be $1849 in interest at $308/month.

Have you ever heard of compound interest!?!? It’s the B*tch that fertilizes your monthly interest payment when you defer your loans.  In six months my monthly interest grew from $308 to $316!

Ohh, but I am not done…

Don’t forget I also had a problem with paying on time every month! 

My payment was $500 per month.  Here is an example of my payment schedule for one year.
image

There are about 5 life lessons here.  I shouldn’t have to list them for you.  But if you need them, here you go:

1.      Worry about you and live within your means

2.      Pay all your bills on time, all the time unless life renders you helpless

3.      Know if your loans are Subsidized or Unsubsidized and act accordingly.

4.      Deferment is the DEBOLLLL! (Watch Waterboy if you don’t get that reference.)

5.      Compound Interest is your moody Frienemy!

 

-From the desk of D. Heard, your Student Loan Debt Horrible Warning, I wish all the readers of this entry a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Posted in The Struggle

So this is where I am…

Enough of my torrid financial past.  I have been a complete ass about my spending.  I have paid penalties, late fees, insufficient funds fees, and overdraft fees as if they were unavoidable bills.  I am down to $4400 of credit card debt and have fought back from the brink on my mortgage.  Believe it or not I am darn near even on my car note.  I have been blessed with a better paying job  that pays straight time for overtime on Saturdays (which I can get plenty of) and a bonus for volunteering to work 1 Saturday/month.  Get this. I could get a double bonus for volunteering for two Saturdays/month.  Now comes the tough decisions. I have been reading the NoMoreHarvardDebt.com blog and have been inspired to make some tough choices.  The writer paid off $90000 in student loan in under a year!!!  He sold one of his cars, a motorcycle and lots of other toys.  He downsized his life to nothing and he won!  He beat the system.  He avoided all of the interest and the emotional strain associated with being in debt.  I have $93000 in student loan debt!  So he and I have that in common.  He makes a little bit more money per year than I do. :}  So with that being said, I am going to look at what I need to do to eliminate my student loan debt in 24 months.  YES!  I am aiming high.  I have no idea how I will do this!  If I only paid my mortgage, power, water, and basic phone.  I will be about $1400 short of what I need to meet this goal.  That is if I don’t have any debt and will not buy grocery or gas (yeah right).  So what’s a girl to do?  I need to make about $2000 extra per month.  What shall I do?  I don’t want to start stripping on the weekends.  Besides I don’t think anyone would pay me to take off my clothes.  I have too much of a conscience to be a criminal.  So I must get creative.  I am capable of working a part time job for twenty hours per week.  If I make $8/hr I can make about $500 (after taxes).  I will work at least one Saturday per month and make about $400 extra per month (with the bonus).  Now I only need $1100 more per month.  WTH!!!

How low can I go???  Should I sell my house?  Rob my 401k?  Could I take on a roommate?

I don’t think so!

Maybe I will find a new box and think outside of IT.  Headed to bed to fantasize about how I can be student loan debt free.

Posted in The Struggle

Sweat the small stuff…

Would it be fair to say if you don’t know where your pennies go then you don’t have a clue where your dollars go?  I learned the hard way this is very true.  I had a money melt down in August and wanted to turn over a new leaf AGAIN.  I took a hard look at my earnings and my bills.  Or shall I say what I thought my bills were. I call it my WISH list of bills. W.I.S.H.-What I’m Suppose to Have.  I jotted down an estimate of what I paid every month.  I was so shocked to find initially that I made more than enough to take care of my bills.  So what the HELL was going on???
My WISH list wasn’t telling me enough.  So I pulled my spending records for three months.  Wow!  I am so dumb.  I spent money on stupid ish!  Ridiculous!  And let me tell you, its not what you think.

It was late fees, overdraft fees, money transfer fees, and the occasional bottle of wine.

Okkkkkkkkkk. Now that I know that…I need to add up how much I’m wasting on paying bills on MY SCHEDULE. Then figure out how to get off this hampster wheel.
STAY TUNED…

Posted in The Struggle

How do you fight fire?

Imagine you are awakened to the smell of smoke.  You realize your house is on fire!  What do you do?  You would typically rescue the kids and the dogs (the cats will save themselves).  Then you would run to safety.  After you and the most important people (and animals) in your life are safe you give the fire department a call or yell for the neighbors.

When you are faced with losing it all, you spring into action saving what’s most significant to you FIRST.

I awakened in August 2012 to the smell of smoke.  It was my credit score going up in FLAMES.  If you read the previous post you know that I was behind on every bill.  The worst of all, were my car note and home mortgage. They were the most expensive and the most significant.  I can’t go to work without a car and I need somewhere to live!  To top it off, my fledgling credit would never recover from a foreclosure AND repossession.  YIKES!  So when I ran into the flames to rescue what was nearest and dearest to me, they were undoubtedly first.  But how do you pay 3 car notes and three mortgage payments in one month.  This is over $4100!  I said a prayer and called Wells Fargo (who held my mortgage).  Well I am sure they were waiting on my call.  Seeing as how they called me 15 times a day, they really wanted to talk.  They had this great “repayment plan”.  I could sign up for the plan, pay an extra $300 per month on my mortgage for 6 months and save my credit (and house).  Where do I sign?  Finally someone has handed me a fire extinguisher.  To make it an even sweeter deal, the payments wouldn’t start until October!!!!!

With that problem solved (or so I thought) I moved on to the next fire.  And I was armed with my mortgage payment for September (since I didn’t have to make a payment until October)!  I called the credit union to get the bad news.  How much did I need to pay to have their permission to continue to pay for and eventually own my car?????? $1690!!!!  I had the money for 1 mortgage payment and 1 car note payment in hand.  This was about $1400.  Let’s just say I had to make several more phone calls.  I asked for extensions, made payment arrangements, and yes ended the month with a negative checking account balance.  But I pulled it off.

I don’t want to go through this ever again, so it is time I make a change!

STAY TUNED…I am not out of the woods yet.  Still a lot more drama.