Savings and Debt Update

1 Jun

It’s the first of the moooonnnnnth!! Wake up, wake up. Cash your checks and come oooooonnnn!

Incremental progress is progress nonetheless. On or about the first of every month, I will post an update of my savings and debt totals.
By Sunday, I will have opened an online high-interest savings account (I’m looking at American Express @ 1.15% APR, but ING Direct does offer subaccounts) where I will direct the payments from my Direct Loans which total $330.11 monthly. I am going to set up automatic transfers of $165.00 bi-weekly from my Chase Checking Account until my loans are out of forbearance in October. To date, I have been unable to really save any of the funds due to my bar exam expenses.

SAVINGS TOTAL @ Wells Fargo: $1456.12

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31 Days To Reset Your Life Challenge

1 Jun

I stumbled upon a phenomenal blog entitled http://happyblackwoman.com some time ago.
(You don’t have to be happy, black or a woman to benefit from her coaching. Don’t let the title keep you away! I however, happen to be all three of those things on some days.) Today, after rediscovering it (smh, I need to subscribe and stop lurking), I read all about the 31 Days To Reset Your Life Challenge. God most certainly heard my prayers and led me back to this wonderful site.

In evaluating my plan to move to New York and my career, I have taken a hard look at my motivation for moving. Often I have to check myself for being too quick to do what other people want me to do without regard to my own needs and goals. Is this an attempt to get away from family relationships I have consistently found difficulty in managing? Am I trying to find validation and love from a man rather than developing my self-worth? Is this an easy way to disengage from taking my career to another level?

A few weeks ago, I ordered several hypnosis CDs to address some things I would like to change in my life. Namely, my negative, defeatist attitude about myself, my lack of motivation, my inability to get and remain organized and my inability to recall names and faces. My mother had success with smoking cessation by attending one of Dr. Kenneth Grossman’s sessions. After receiving an email indicating he was offering a 2 for 1 sale on cds, I decided to go ahead and order a few and give it a go. I ordered the following titles: Self-Confidence and Positive Attitude (2 discs), Neatness and Organization, Motivation and High Energy, and Remembering Names and Faces.

I was under the impression that I would listen to each cd once, see results and that would be it. (This was my mom’s experience with smoking cessation. Now it’s been about 25 years since her session, but at most it was two days or so I believe). After reading the literature, I realized I needed to commit to 21 to 30 days for each disc. Repetition produces change. I decided to start with Self-Confidence and Positive Attitude to assist in quieting my negative thoughts about myself and having a positive outlook. (I have also listened to the Motivation and High Energy disc once or twice before realizing I was just doing too much. Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

What does this all have to do with the challenge? The bottom line is, I am searching for the tools to find direction, purpose and fulfillment in my life. Hypnosis and the 31 Day Challenge are my new beginning.

Throughout this process, I am going to blog about my experiences. The 31 Day Challenge will provide me with daily assignments, some of which I will share entirely. Others may be redacted or I won’t share at all. I know for certain one of the more tangible results I am claiming is this blog. Working on it has been something I’ve talked about for over a year. The only thing that has stopped me from consistently pursuing this goal is ME. I have found a myriad of excuses to aid my inaction. Though they left me unsatisfied I kept going back for more. My pattern of negative thoughts and defeatist attitude made sure my well of excuses was never dry. I know that if I continue to put negative things in, I will never reach my potential.

I have only listened to the Self-Confidence and Positive Attitude cds about 5 or 6 times, but I have noticed a difference. That difference has brought me back to this place. My journey to change begins today. Won’t you join me?

I AM A WINNER!!

14 Dec

A couple of weeks ago I discovered the blog Mel’s Goin’ Goin’ Gone… whose goal is to provide encouragement to women from a Christian perspective.  So I saw she was doing a giveaway for Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace’ Personal Finance Software. I never win anything, but decided to give it a shot.  I entered the giveaway, then forgot about it. Today I log into my Twitter account (@thechicfo) and lo and behold she has sent me a DM indicating I won!!

but I couldn’t DM her back. So I log into my email. She had been contacting me for a week. She had given me 24 hours to claim the prize, which expired yesterday.
myspace comments

I’ve been working on quieting my negative thoughts so I decided to thank her for the opportunity to win even though I didn’t claim the prize in time. Doing so helped me to focus on the positive things about the situation rather than mentally berating myself for failing to check my email and missing out. Melinda was gracious enough to reply AND she indicated she had an extra copy of the software she was willing to send to me anyway.


GIFSoup

Thanks a bunch to Mel! Check out and subscribe to Mel’s Goin’ Goin’ Gone…

Discover Card is PAID IN FULL!!

7 Dec

What? There ain’t no more to it.  (c) Biggie Smalls

Increase In Gas Prices Just In Time for Holidays

5 Dec

CNN is cautioning drivers to expect $3.00/gallon gas by Christmas, if they aren’t already paying that much.

Eliminating vehicle related expenses is definitely a plus in relocating to New York for me. I would definitely use public transportation more often, if it were possible, here in Atlanta. Here’s hoping I won’t use cabs more than necessary, which will drive up my transportation related expenses.

Here are a few tips on how to save money on gas in metro-Atlanta this holiday season:

1. Use Marta during rush hour to and from the airport
I decided to use Marta for my Thanksgiving trip to D.C. Long-term parking was only $5 per day ($30 total) and I only spent $4.50 to get to and from the airport. There was no sitting in traffic, waiting on my ride or feeling like I was inconveniencing anyone. Naturally, I provide gas money to anyone nice enough to pick me up, but one in particular took every opportunity to remind me he was doing me a favor.

2. Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
The most accurate information for how many psi your tires need is the tire itself.
The recommended amount will be written on the sidewall of the tire.

Note: Only check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. Hot air expands and will give you an inaccurate reading.

3. Make sure your car is well tuned and the oil has been changed on schedule.
The frequency with which you should do these things vary based on the make and model of your car, as well as, the type of motor oil used. Refer to the manufacturer or a trusted mechanic for more information.

4. Comparison Shop
With websites such as , you can find the best value on gas in your area without leaving home or the office.

5. Fill Up on Thursday Before 10 a.m.

…so says this article on Yahoo Finance. If you regularly visit one or two stations in your area take note of when the prices are changed. Too busy to do so? It can’t hurt to ask the staff.

Happy Saving!

Online Bill Pay and Principal Reduction Payments

2 Dec

The fastest way to reduce debt is by having additional payments applied to directly reduce the principal amount owed. Previously I mailed in payments for my loans. For my Citibank loan I could easily check a box to have the additional money be applied to the principal rather than to advance the payments. Now that I have somewhat automated my finances, I don’t have this option. Seems like I am not the only person who has encountered such an issue with a loan. Check out an excerpt from a post on The Consumerist:

“This wouldn’t be a huge deal if the online bill-pay options allowed you to choose between early payment or principal reduction (although why anyone would choose early payment is beyond me), but instead special checks have to be mailed to Chase Auto Finance for any principal reduction to occur. ”
Several readers in the comments have the same issue as well.

I find it rather interesting Citibank, as do most student loan servicers, has an interest rate reduction incentive to induce its borrowers to sign up for automatic debit, but does not have an option on the website to have additional payments apply to principal reduction rather than early payment. Additionally when I view my statements online, there is a box that I could check to apply extra towards principal if I were mailing in my payment. I guess going green and getting out of debt quickly aren’t compatible.

I was told both by Citibank and Direct Loans, I could either mail in a separate payment for principal reduction or continue with electronic payments, but call every month to have the payment applied according to my instructions. The extra work to do this is why it has taken so long for me to reduce the balance of my loan. I have been merely making early payments every month.

In the Internet Age, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than the banks want you to incur as much interest as possible. While I understand it is a business, we as consumers should at least have the option of online principal payment reduction.

Are you having a similar issue with any of your debt obligations? How have you chosen to deal with it?

To Forbear Or Not Forbear? That Is The Question….

2 Dec

The plan to relocate to New York is shaping up nicely. As I expected, reality has set in regarding just how much this is going to cost. Taking the Bar Exam is an expensive endeavor even with Mr. Terrific’s valued assistance.

He suggested a student loan forbearance a few weeks ago. He has used it in the past to save more money in case of a lay-off and has already applied for another.
I, Miss-Hurry-Up-And-Pay-That-Shit-Off, was a bit more apprehensive about it. I have finally started making headway on my Citibank Student Loan (read: I finally owe less than what I borrowed after THREE years of mostly more than the minimum payments). I mean, I am going to have to pay it back eventually why delay the inevitable?

Here’s where the EMOTIONAL side of money management is creeping in for me. I decided to stop being so cautious and spendthrift and actually had a LOT of fun this summer. So much so, I blew through most of my savings. My basic e-fund of $1,000 remained largely in tact. Then, I was blessed to begin a dreamy (did I just say that?) long distance relationship with Mr. Terrific, which DEMOLISHED my budget. LDRs and budget aren’t generally in the same conversation, although they should be. Now I’m relocating.

I would love to have enough money to save for emergencies, retirement, relocation and pay for my bar expenses, but there’s just not that much money to go around.

As a contingency planner, I usually start from a worse-case scenario point of view. For me that would be passing the New York bar, but being unable to secure employment there prior to my move in or around June 2011. In the meantime, I need to have a sizeable emergency and savings fund.

Currently I make payments totaling $441.61, which includes a debt snowball payment for $53.67 on my Citibank loan. I paid off one student loan with a monthly payment of $53.67 and rolled the payment amount to my next lowest balance loan for those unfamiliar with the snowball concept.

Obtaining a forbearance on my Direct Loans will free up $330.11 per month for saving. The potential saving for my Citibank loan is unclear because I believe I will still be required to make interest payments during that time. The minimum monthly obligation is only $57.83. In reviewing a past statement, it appears on a $57.83 payment, $16.99 is applied to interest. If this is indeed the case, a forbearance will free up $94.51 per month for saving (the difference b/w what I’m currently paying $111.50 and the interest of $16.99).

I am looking at saving $424.62 per month. I applied on 11/22. I’m not sure how long it will take to process, but I should know something for certain by January. If approved, I can project $2547.72 of savings from a forbearance alone.