just a girl named syd...

...living life on a budget while having fun!

  • 19th August
    2013
  • 19

I’m out of college loan debt!!!

*huge sigh of relief*

It took me six years to pay off my 10-year college loan from Virginia Tech. *pats myself on the back* In 2007, I started off with $18k in student loans. I believe my interest rate was about 2.5%. At that time, I wanted to pay it off in five years, but six years is pretty good, too. This January I was broke and really sad about it. I needed to figure out a way to get extra cash in my pockets. I decided I needed one less bill to worry about and a new job.  Both of which became my goals for 2013. I could either pick my cable bill or my student loan/credit card bill to eliminate from my life. I chose the latter. I can’t be missing Love and Hip Hop. NO MA’AM. I was down to $3,200 debt with my loan and also had $1,300 in credit card debt. I knew this would be obtainable and easier than finding a new job. I wrote out a plan on January 8th to pay off all my debt by August 2013. My plan was to pay off my credit card in March and then I throw $400 at the college loan every month.  With that plan and with dedication and the support of my parents, I accomplished this goal on August 15. 

How did I do it? First, I got a second job working the front desk at a yoga studio for extra cash, free classes and zen. Then I gave up shopping, getting my hair did, going out with friends, vacationing and pedicures/manicures. It was an absolute struggle. I cried many of nights from being so broke.  For eight months, I walked around in the same outfits, the same busted black flats, a raggedy mop on my head and no makeup on. I looked like a walking billboard for depression. I missed out on so many fun activities, vacations with friends and the Beyonce concert. The one thing I could not give up though was fast food and eating out. I still had to get my skinny fat girl on!

The day I paid off my loan I went straight to the mall. It was like walking into heaven. I got my hair did at Carol’s Daughters, bought some new black heels, foundation at mac and 8 pairs of earrings. I think I dropped about $350 at the mall. Then I cried all the way home. I felt so guilty spending all that money, but I realized I needed all those things so now I’m happy with all my purchasing. I will be splurging on myself for all of September then its back to business for me. My birthday is 3 weeks away (September 5th) and I will be going to Miami with my cousins. In October, I’m going to my hometown of Chicago with my boyfriend. My daddy mac bought the fam tickets for my birthday to the Bears vs. Saints (Me vs. my boyfriend) game in Chicago. So excited for all these upcoming events.

With all that said, I’m STILL in debt. *super sad face* I went back into credit card debt and owe my dad for the classes I’m taking at Emory. I need a new job where I’m making more money to afford myself! I will be writing out another plan in October for this new debt. Wish me luck! *sigh*

  • 6th July
    2013
  • 06

$900 to go…

…and I will be out of student loan debt. YAY! I am making my last payment on August 15. I’m so happy I stayed focus on my goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year. It’s so nice to see the light at the end out the tunnel. THE STRUGGLE IS ALMOST OVER! Freedom is near :)

My action plan:
July 18: $100
August 1: $300
August 15: $500

  • 24th June
    2013
  • 24

Summer, Summer, Summertime…

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Happy Summer! This is definitely my favorite season. The season of vacations, sunshine, festivals, beaches, BBQ, pool time and flip flops. OH JOY! 

It’s also the time where I spend more money than any other season. I’m usually going on some lavish vacation. Treating myself to pedicures every two weeks. Buying booty shorts to flaunt my stuff. Eating out with friends to enjoy the summer breeze. Or just being carefree. This summer though I don’t want to be careless with my money, but more careful. I am almost to my 2013 goal of getting out of debt and I don’t want to detour from my path to financial freedom.

Since my boyfriend and I are saving for a lavish vacation next year (Travel fund is at $550), we are going to have a frugal yet fun summer. Here are some things I have planned this summer:

  1. Driving 8 hours to Ruston, Louisiana to visit my boyfriend’s family for the 4th of July. I love going to Louisiana for some relaxation, good home-cooked southern food and drive-thru daiquiris. 
  2. My boyfriend bought himself a bike last week so we plan on biking throughout Atlanta to see all the funky, cute neighborhoods and parks.
  3. SIX FLAGS!!! We are some roller coaster addicts. My job sells $20 tickets and $40 season passes to Six Flags. You can’t beat that price.
  4. I really want to go to the Jill Scott concert at Chastain Park. Tickets range from $116-$65. 
  5. Summer web development classes. I will be taking 4 classes this summer. After the summer, I will have 2 more classes and the capstone left to do.
  6. YOGA!!!!

What do you have planned for this summer?

  • 22nd June
    2013
  • 22

My financial weakness…

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FOOD!

Every single month I go over budget on food. It never fails. I only budget $200 for food every month, but I spend almost $300 a month. It’s June 22nd and with eight more days to go in this month, I have spent $229 on food. I’m starting to question if my food budget is realistic. I will admit I eat out a lot! I’m an impulsive eater. If I’m craving it, I got to have it. Oh, and I’m a lazy bum. At the beginning of the year, my  boyfriend and I planned out our meals and went grocery shopping together to save money. I need to make a conscious effort to plan my meals and go grocery shopping every week. When I do this, I also eat healthy, which is a double win! So, that next time I’m craving Moe’s tacos, I need to think about my bank account and make a sandwich :-)

What’s your financial weakness?

  • 30th May
    2013
  • 30

That awkward moment when the check comes…

Do you split the check evenly between your friends or do you pull out your calculator to see how much your portion of the bill is? I’m most likely to do the latter or ask the waitress to split the check. I’m not paying for my friend’s steak&lobster, appetizer, beer and dessert when I only ordered chicken tenders and a glass of water. Now, if we ordered similar meals, I would split it evenly.

I ran into a “check” situation this past weekend traveling to NYC with my friends. I had a spending budget of $100 in New York and I was sticking to it no matter what. We went to Sylvia’s in Harlem. Apparently, people who live in NYC do not like this restaurant, but I thought it was good. It reminded me of Busy Bee’s in Atlanta. Anyways, it was me, three of my friends and my cousin. We decided to split up my cousin’s bill among me and my three friends since she was driving us all around town. The bill comes…and it’s only one check. Sigh. My friend suggests we just split it 4 ways evenly making it $38 for each of us. HOLD UP PLAYA! No ma’am. All I ordered was a catfish plate ($16.95) and water ($free.99), while they ordered entrees, salads, alcoholic drinks and/or dessert. Instead, I asked the waitress to separate the checks and ended up paying only $25. 

Spending in NYC

  1. $40 taxi rides
  2. $25 Sylvia’s
  3. $8 food at airport
  4. $5 pizza
  5. $5 milkshake at applebee’s
  6. $7 toll

TOTAL SPENDING: $90

…and this is me living life on a budget while having fun. :-)

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  • 23rd May
    2013
  • 23

Target selling wedding gowns…for cheap!

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The average woman spends $1,211 on her wedding dress, according to a survey of 20,000 brides from the Knot. In my opinion, that’s not too bad since it’s the most important part of the wedding, right? Ha! Just kidding, but not really. If you are not looking to spend that kind of money, Target has joined the wedding gown industry, along with other retailers such as Costco and J. Crew. So, while you are looking for laundry detergent, dog food & bras, you can also buy yourself a wedding gown. Prices range between $99.99 to $129.99. I actually think the bridesmaid dresses are actually CUTE, but the wedding gowns…not so much.

  • 21st May
    2013
  • 21

Macs: Fix my Life

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My parents are the Iyanla of my life. They always swoop in and fix my life. Two weeks ago, they came to visit me in Atlanta for my cousins’ graduations. Before they came, I did some deep cleaning in my condo & car. I thought everything was perfect, but of course, my parents have the sharpest eyes and ears in life and found found everything that was wrong. Within the four days of their visit, they fixed my toilet, my ceiling fan, planted flowers, got new chairs for my balcony and made me get an oil change & fix my brakes on my car. BUT this cost ME money, not them. (well, my mom bought the chairs) All this fixing of my life came out to be about $300 and $200 of this contributed to my credit card debt. My mom also convinced me to buy myself a $50 dress and her some sunglasses. Another $60 on the credit card. So, I have racked up $644 in credit card debt in 2 months. *Hangs head in shame* To my credit, I haven’t bought myself clothes ALL year. I deserve to treat myself every once in a while, right?

BUT…Yesterday was my lucky day; money came falling from the sky. I received a $350 check in the mail from Wells Fargo. Woop Woop. I was overpaying in my escrow account for my condo since my city taxes went down. I put that whole check toward my credit card debt. So, now, I’m just in about $300 worth of debt. If nothing breaks anytime soon, I should have that paid off no later than July. And I only have 3 more months until my student loan is paid off. Praise the Lord. I can’t wait to have that extra $400 in my bank account every month.

In conclusion, I need to make more money! Being an adult sucks!!!! :-/

  • 11th May
    2013
  • 11

Salary…compensation…compa-ratio, OH MY!

"Knowledge is POWER!." <——TRUTH!

My job had a compensation workshop for its employees last week and it was a huge eye-opener for me. I learned how salary grades worked, how to find my salary range (minimum, midpoint, maximum), the correct definition of compa-ratio and basically how I am getting paid. I wish this was a workshop I went to at orientation six years ago. 

I pride myself on being a personal finance “guru,” but I was really disappointed in myself on how little I knew about the money that was being deposited in my bank account every two weeks. I may have been shocked at the information I received, but I was glad I went to the workshop. I am now armed with this information and feel I will have an upper hand discussing the salary I believe I deserve at my next review, promotion or new job.

Women who work full time make 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid, on average. Why is this? One reason is we aren’t negotiating our salaries. I have had three jobs out of college at the same company, and I have not once tried to negotiate my salary. I was just happy to get a job or a promotion at 21/22 years old. So young, so dumb, but now I know better and will do better. If you don’t negotiate your salary, you are most likely leaving money on the table. So, let’s not be afraid to ask for more money! Keep in mind though don’t ask for too much and talk yourself out of a job. DO YOUR RESEARCH before asking for a higher salary.

To dig up corporate pay information for a job, visit such websites as Payscale.com and Salary.com, as well as the Economic Research Institute site, which can show you what a particular position pays where you live.

Some helpful articles on this topic:
How to Get a Raise, Even When You Forget the Rules
How To Negotiate A Higher Salary

  • 1st May
    2013
  • 01

Life, stress & unexpected expenses…

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. I know I need to do better. I think I haven’t written a post because I have gotten off track financially, but the whole point of my debt free journey is to document the good, the bad and the ugly!

I wrote out this beautiful, well-thought out plan for getting out of debt in January, but I didn’t account for the unexpected expenses along the way. I was doing so well with my finances until March and April hit. In March, I attended a bachelorette party and bridal shower which cost me about $100. I put the gift in my budget, but not the cost of the dinner and the $30 VIP section. Although I went way over budget, I loved spending time with my friends and felt it was well worth it to make my friend’s party a success.

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That same night of the party I had a "situation" where I had to take out $400 in my emergency fund. This is why emergency funds are essential! You never know when you will run into a “situation.” I’m a huge fan of Suze Orman and she thinks you should have 6 months to 1 year of savings in your emergency fund. Once I get out of debt, the next step in my plan is to build my emergency fund to 6months. I’m about half way there. I should achieve this goal by 2016. Welp!

In April, my boyfriend and I didn’t go grocery shopping every week like we were suppose to so I was eating out more than what my budget had allotted for. THEN my air conditioner broke. Apparently, homeowners are suppose to get their air conditioners checked once a year. A fact I just learned. HA! I have been living in my condo for about 3 years and never got my AC checked. Soooo, $300 later…I still don’t think its fixed. I paid for the maintenance of my AC with my credit card. Back in credit card debt I go :(

So that was about $800 of unexpected expenses in March and April.

Other updates:
2,000 left to pay on my student loan…woop woop!

  • 31st March
    2013
  • 31