March update: the good, the bad, the ugly!

March was tough. If you remember my February post being so overdue, most of the headaches were already chronicled in that! Luckily I did check my balance a week and a half ago, so as of early April (the 2nd), my updated total in loans was $70,216.29. That only accounts for one of my student loan payments, and is a decrease of $195.65. Not much, but we are playing the pay-the-minimum game while we’re going through this transitional phase! Luckily, I locked in my student loan payoff deal with the boss, so I can at least not stress about that so much.

So while February was the stress of moving, March was the stress of settling in. We decided to move in with Mr. Bacon’s dad and stepmom at their main house (within 3 miles of my new job), since they end up moving full-time to their beach house over the summer (starting in early spring). Spring has been in hibernation here though, so March was spent semi-awkwardly trying to live together, which meant we ended up eating out a lot. (I like to cook, but it’s awkward sharing someone else’s kitchen!)

We ate out a lot, I bought some new work clothes, and then also had the unexpected flight expenses back to California for my grandma’s funeral. We tapped a little bit out of our savings fund since Mr. Bacon doesn’t have a regular full-time job yet (but he is side hustling like crazy! or is it just hustling?) but also had charge the flights onto our credit card. Hey, at least we get points! But unfortunately, it’s a huge balance we can’t pay off right away. BOOOOO!

Yeah–a lot of extra and not-usual spending due to all those factors. On the PLUS side (finally, some positivity!), I at least got paid for a full month of work during this transition. Despite not working for a week in between jobs, I got my last paycheck from the previous job early in March (it was for half a pay period), and the following week I got my first paycheck (also half a pay period) for the new job. Then I got my first full paycheck before the end of March!

Awesome! So the plan this month (April) is to pay off at least half of that stupid credit card balance (it’s up to $3,100) and keep crossing our fingers that our place we were renting in MD gets rented out. Then this no-rent living situation will finally be the big bonus we need! And also help Mr. Bacon however I can to get some full-time work. We also need to nail down a caterer and tent company for the wedding.

I am also trying to settle in a little better. And not let all this moving and financial and wedding stress get to me. Things will get better, I know they will! Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Employment Contract…SIGNED!

Well, today was the day. I’ve been working at my new job for about 4 weeks now and really enjoying it. I’m being challenged, I’m respected by my colleagues, and I feel appreciated. Work has been great and I enjoy the people I’m working with!

That’s a good thing too, because today I signed the employment contract, which has a “special compensation clause” to pay back $50k of my student loans over the next 5 years (see “negotiating like a PAWN star“). I won’t get the first 10k until the first anniversary of my return to work here, and if I do decide to leave before the 5 years is up, I have to pay back the money that’s been disbursed, PLUS 3%. Yikes!

Luckily I have no intention to break that contract, and actually feel good about knowing we’ll be staying in the same physical location for the next 5 years. Job security at a place I enjoy! Win-win!

long overdue February/moving update!

WHOOPS! Where did the last 4 weeks go?! What a blogging disaster! We did our big move during that last week in February, and the night before the moving truck left our old digs in the DC area, we found out my dear grandmother had passed away on the other side of the country. 😦

We loaded and unloaded the moving truck the next day, and after two days of work at the new job, a cross country flight and funeral later, we were back on a flight to Philadelphia (the nearest airport to us in Delaware), and back at the new job, tired and jet-lagged, emotionally and physically exhausted.

It was well worth it to spend the money on the last-minute flights in order to see my family and pay respects to Grandma, but that definitely set us back unexpectedly by over $2,000…!

Overall, I was so frazzled going into March that I didn’t even remember to check what my student loans balance was until St. Patrick’s Day (past the middle of the month!). I’m down to $70,411.94, which is $498.60 less than last month’s update. It seems more than the usual minimum payments, but it’s not, because I was supposed to report my balance at the beginning of the month, before the first of the two monthly payments goes in (on the 9th of the month). So that’s with 1.5 months worth of minimum payments. $300.46 of it is interest. Yech.

Budget-wise, we ate out a lot more (this will ring true for March as well), but bought less groceries. And paid a lot for the travel expenses for our California trip. Moving expenses didn’t turn out to be too bad, and I’ll save that for another post soon. Otherwise, we are still waiting for our condo in Bethesda to get rented out, and in the meantime are staying with Mr. Bacon’s parents rent-free. More soon! Happy springtime, everyone!

Redux: Living with the parentals?

So with the new job beginning in March, we looked at our housing options. It will be back in Mr. Bacon’s hometown, and his father lives only a couple miles from what will be my company’s headquarters (and later 5 miles away from my new office, once it opens up). FFIL Bacon (future-father-in-law!) also has a beach house about 1.5 hours away and intends to live there full-time during the summer with Mr. Bacon’s stepmom (though whether he does or not is to be seen! He is considered “semi-retired” and has been known to go back and forth some).

Anyway, FFIL Bacon has offered us up the main house to stay in, rent-free, provided Mr. Bacon mows the lawn (which he loves to do). We hemmed and hawed, as it would be nice to have our own place, but in the end finances won out, and we figured, even if we could last 3-4 months there, that would let us save up for the wedding fund!

Remember when I was hesitant about moving back in with the parentals? Back in October, I was thinking MY parentals (in California) and not HIS. So this will be an interesting twist! But we will do it as long as we can, and hopefully it works out and isn’t too awkward. Heck, if we can last through September (our wedding), we may even have enough to grow our down payment/housing fund!

That’s the plan for now. We don’t have a horrendous amount of stuff (we’ve only filled a studio, and then our current one-bedroom condo), so we’ll put our stuff in storage and see how long we can stick it out!

Taxes have been done!

IMG_2701.PNG

On a Friday (Jan 23rd), I got my W-2. I spent the next day, Saturday morning, doing my taxes. It was not crazy like last year, when I owed over $2500 (see “ouch, my taxes!“). Nope, not so bad at all. This year I owed Maryland $216 and actually got a $24 REFUND from the feds! Say, what!

It was amazing how quickly my returns were accepted too, when you do them as early as the end of January. Within half an hour of submitting them, they were both accepted. I just checked my account yesterday, and saw that within a week, I got my huge $24 refund (Jan 30th).

Not too shabby at all. Next January, I am looking forward to seeing what our tax situation will be like, since we are getting married and that’s supposed to come with all kinds of tax benefits right? Spouses with benefits! 😉

January update & negotiating like a PAWN star

It’s been quiet on the blog here as the ESCAPE PLAN was in full effect!

The January update essentially was the Escape Plan being implemented! As for debt, I paid the minimums again and am down to $70,910.54 (decrease of $292.65)…keep reading folks, because I’m no longer worried at all about this small creep in student loan repayment!

So how is the Escape Plan agenda going, you ask?

  1. Finalize the new job details and get an offer letter in writing.
  2. Find someone to take over our lease at the condo.
  3. Help Mr. Bacon get relocated through his current company (they have multiple locations).
  4. Give notice at my current job… 2-4 weeks.
  5. Find a new apartment.
  6. Pack up, move out, and get outta here!

That’s right, blogger friends, I have a new job!!!

My previous boss in Delaware had reached out to me over Christmas break about a new office he is opening up at the University. We have always had a great relationship and he was very understanding when I left to go to DC to get more experience in our field. We would still bump into each other sometimes as Mr. Bacon is from Delaware (which is also where we met), and he would half joke about me coming back to work for him. I would half joke that I’d do it if he would pay off my student loans. But seriously, I didn’t want to move back to do the job I used to do…it had to be something different and more challenging.

As it turns out, this would exactly be the different and challenging position I would move back for! I would be in charge of my own office and be involved with some of the research projects with the University–finally a use for that master’s degree that was once completely optional in my field of choice! Now, I hesitate to use the term “dream job” as I’ve called my last 3 jobs my “dream job”, so the next thing to determine…was he serious about paying off my student loans???

We sat down on a Saturday morning, for breakfast at a diner to negotiate terms. Pretty casual as we have that kind of friendly relationship. However, he showed up in jeans and I showed up in work-casual. I was to be taken seriously! I had written down a list of everything I wanted and knew I kind of had the upper hand, as he really wanted me back as an employee. I felt prepared to negotiate LIKE A BOSS, as Mr. Bacon not only subjects me to all kinds of HGTV shows, but I also have to watch Pawn Stars.

One of his concerns was that I wouldn’t stay long-term, as my job history has been a bit all over the place (he knew my background and understood why, but still). Which was when I pulled out the BAM! “if you pay off my student loans over 5 years, I’m willing to sign a contract for that term.” We went back and forth a bit on salary, as DC rates are much higher, and in the end I got basically the same base salary (after taxes), a percentage of profit-sharing in the company, AND we agreed to $10k per year of student loan repayment over the next 5 years.

$10k per year isn’t all of the debt, but I figured I would still pay the minimums so that I could lock down the -0.25% in interest rate, and after about 5 years of me paying the minimums and the company paying $10k, I’d be close to being completely done! So that’d be me paying off $20k-ish, and the other $50k being paid by…NOT me!

I was really happy with the outcome, as I feel the cost of living in Delaware will already be $15k less. With that in mind, the additional $10k of student loan repayment, and then the profit sharing, I think I’ll be making out with essentially a $30k raise, minimum. WHOA! Turns out that last weekend Mr. Bacon bumped into my new/old boss again when he was back in the area job-hunting, and apparently I was making him sweat and stutter over the breakfast negotiation. 😉

This was my first time I felt I had the experience to back up a negotiation like this, as previously I would just accept whatever number was given to me. So…yeah! Yay! Suck that, student loans! 😀

*Escape Plan in process*

Details shall be kept tightly under wraps until it is time for The Big Reveal. Things are going quite well though. We will be finding ourselves in a happier situation pretty soon… In the meantime, I was making an updated “Home Savings Plan” and thinking hypothetically, if we were to live rent-free somewhere and I was still making minimum payments on the loans, I’d be able to save up a maximum of $2500/month. Maybe even as much as $2700 if we are extra frugal!

Then I saw my old post from October (“speeding tickets, and a tentative home savings plan…”) and was kind of like WHAT?! What kind of crack was I smoking? I had said something like how we would be saving $4500 to $5000 per month if we moved in with my parents. UM… I’m really not sure how I came up with that gigantic number, as that was assuming we were making the same salaries. Even with no rent, we’d still have a car payment, groceries, utilities, minor student loan payments and other living expenses.

Anyway, ha! It is kind of fun cataloging my thoughts so I can look back (and that was only 3 months ago!) and compare the reality to what I was originally calculating and kind of laugh at myself.

Do any of you find it hilarious how naive you were when you first put together a personal finance plan, versus realistic numbers?

Escape Plan: ACTIVATED!

Things have escalated in just the last 6 weeks and I know there are at least 5 of us that are pretty disgruntled at work. Which is pretty bad considering it’s a small company of maybe 20 employees, max! Back in November, I was happily oblivious and had no inclination of getting the hell outta here. Figured I was making good pay, getting some good experience, would stick it out through our two-year lease on the condo (which isn’t up until April 2016, about 6 months after we get married)…

And now the shit has hit the fan.

Things have gotten worse since the unofficial annual review, with being maybe the only employee to not get a Christmas bonus (?!?), and this week having a one-on-one meeting with the supervisor looking at the business plan for 2015 (which only confirmed that I’m ready to leave). So instead, I am following through with the lead I mentioned in my last post and have officially activated the Escape Plan!

On the agenda:

  1. Finalize the new job details and get an offer letter in writing.
  2. Find someone to take over our lease at the condo.
  3. Help Mr. Bacon get relocated through his current company (they have multiple locations).
  4. Give notice at my current job… 2-4 weeks.
  5. Find a new apartment.
  6. Pack up, move out, and get outta here!

On the bright side, last night I went to happy hour with a friend who works in the same field as I do, but as a federal employee. We found out that I make over $30k more than she does as I work in the private sector! WHOA! Then again, I do have 4 more years of experience than she does. Fascinating for having the same certification.

I did talk with our pretty awesome landlord, and he was congratulatory and very cool about us breaking the lease early. There’s not a penalty in our lease agreement, however by Maryland law, he is bound to charging us for any unpaid rent until a new tenant takes over. But he seemed to think it wouldn’t be a problem finding someone at all, as usually posting a month in advance has given him some good leads. We are aiming for me to start the new gig March 2nd. Tick tock BOOM!

Snow Day #1 of 2015!

Good morning, snowy DC! It’s our first snow day of the winter (we didn’t have any the second half of 2014), so as is customary on snow days, I shall take a few minutes from “working from home” to update my little place in cyberspace. 😉

I have a really great lead on a new job opportunity that will take us back to an area with a much more desirable cost of living, slower lifestyle, and nice places to live within a very reasonable commute! We’re talking $1050/month in rent for a 2-bedroom/2-bath “luxury apartment” that was only built in 2013. There is even a rent-to-own program for brand new beautiful homes in that same new development. Check this craziness out:

cheaper homes

WTF, right? Not just real houses, BRAND NEW GIGANTIC real houses!

Now compare that to where we are at right now…we’re paying $1500 to rent a one-bedroom, one-bath condo that is definitely not a brand new “luxury apartment”, and I’ve seen 2-bed/2-bath “luxury apartments” in this area go for about $2650. What the WHAT?! Not to mention that I recently drove by a neighborhood with brand new construction homes about 20 minutes from work and this is their starting price for something similar to above:

not cheap

It is ridiculous that a similar product in a different geographic location can cost 2.5x more! Anyway, this is what we are currently striving for. We’ve realized we are not really city/traffic folks (well we already knew that, but it’s reaffirmed on a daily basis) and the only thing holding us here was my job, which isn’t so awesome any more.

That’s the update for now, more developments to come very soon!

HAPPY NEW YEAR (in review)! 2014 = 25% down!

quarter down

Happy new year! WOOHOO, 2015! What’s that picture? It’s a quarter on the floor. It’s ONE QUARTER DOWN! Get it? I have paid down 25.07% of my original amount of student loans since the birth of this blog. When I hit 50%, I can post up a picture of TWO QUARTERS! 😀

So I haven’t done my December 2014 review yet, but in the spirit of the new year, I was already jonesin’ to do a “year in review”. Can I combine them? Is that allowed? Basically, I kept to my modified plan of just paying the minimum on the student loans while stockpiling some extra money if the bonus didn’t come through. (Which it still didn’t. There may be hope to see it in mid-January, but I won’t hold my breath and that way I’ll be pee-in-the-pants excited IF it does actually come through.) So my debt only went down by $329.34 in December, and $227.80 went to interest.

My new grand total, however, is $71,203.19, which is $15,577.70 LESS than what it was at the beginning of 2014 ($86,780.89). YAY! $71k is so much less than almost $87k! More importantly, it’s 25.07% down from the original amount of $95,026.87. YAY! And 25% is much more than the 8.7% from a year ago. YAY!

Now, reviewing my goals from my “2013 in review”, how did I do?

  • blog here 4x/month or 1x/week
    • PASS! 48 total (published) entries for 2014.
  • get under $60,000 in student loan debt by January 1, 2015 (pay off $27k)
    • FAIL! and…ha! Really? I missed it by $11k. 😦
  • set up a wedding fund together with Mr. Bacon and save $5k
    • PASS-ish… Set up the account and only $1200 is in it.
  • get a raise, or get the bosses to pay for some of the student loans
    • PASS! 10% raise in February that was retroactive to the beginning of the year
  • set up triathlon and travel budgets and stick to them!
    • NOPE… It didn’t get too out of control, but I definitely did more racing than I had originally planned.

Major milestones in 2014…

Financial setbacks in 2014:

  • HUGE UGLY TAXES…
  • Moving expenses (security deposit, cancelling gym memberships and the Dish Network…)
  • New car

Financial Amazeballs in 2014:

  • Getting a raise (despite the frustrations of the new position, it’s still more money)
  • Moving to a cheaper place (saving over $300/month in parking!)
  • A gigantic mid-year bonus in September!

So overall, despite only making minimum student loan payments for three of the 12 months, I still managed to pay off an average of almost $1,300 per month ($1,298.14). If you take out those 3 small months, though, my average jumps all the way up to $1,656.24. HOLY CRAP!

Ok then…so now that only leaves us with 2015 FINANCIAL GOALS:

  • Save up $5,000 for the wedding, have a successful wedding for not much more than that!
  • Pay off the remaining $2,100 for the new bike
  • Stay credit card debt-free (still accrue airline miles on the CC, but pay off the balance each month)
  • Keep blogging 4x per month!
  • Save up $15,000 in the house fund! ($1,500/month)
  • Move towards a better work situation (whether it’s stress, finances, and/or location)
  • Get the loans under $65k (still pay the minimum, and then some)

Happy new year everybody! I am enjoying reading everybody’s yearly round-ups, and wishing you all a prosperous 2015. 🙂