Monthly Archives: July 2012
Since I always stress the importance of education, I thought I would write down a few things I have been wanting to learn but have simply been putting off.
1. Basic HTML: I really like using the little bit of code that I know. It’s like “BAM I just made that sucker bold!” or “Watch me change the color of this sidebar!”. I took one web design course back in college that used CSS and all of that knowledge has been washed away. Walking myself through the W3Schools free course will teach me pretty much everything I need to know (for my purposes).
2. Basic Mandarin Chinese: I am still in the first of three free courses available on Mango Languages for Mandarin. Chinese is spoken by 1.3 billion people, and considering that I already speak English and Spanish fluently, I’m practically James Bond once I get this Chinese stuff down!
3. Research Affiliate Opportunities: I love blogging and I’d like to take advantage of the increasing pageviews American Debt Project is getting. I’ve finally got my Amazon and Bluehost links up in my sidebar since they are two businesses that are no-brainers for me: Amazon is the biggest ecommerce site in the world, and Bluehost has been great for all my hosting needs. I currently have 4 domains under my Bluehost account with plans to add at least 1 more shortly. I will research and add 2-3 additional affiliate links very soon. It’s time to start reading Smart Passive Income.
4. Create a Real Estate Investment Valuation tool: I have been meaning to create a simple valuation sheet that factors in variables and considerations for tax, management fees, renovations, HOAs and any other expenses. I think this is pretty simple and there are others who have already made such a sheet but I want to make it for myself.
5. How to do Makeup: I have never been very creative with makeup and don’t wear it very often. But I want to schedule an appointment with a beauty counter and buy a few basics (is it bad that I have been using the same Lancome foundation since 2007?)
6. Pass the PMP exam: This one is work-related. I have to take the exam before July 2013, and I need to start studying and decide when to take the test. I know the basics of project management, but this is a 4 hour test and at least 6 weeks of studying is needed.
7. Stop freaking out on schedule
Maybe it’s a woman thing or maybe I am crazy (or both?), but every couple months I seem to have one freak-out session where nothing I am doing makes sense. There is a lot more to life than getting that big house or even getting debt-free. I know what my values and priorities are, but I really want to learn to rely on those in times of weakness and let that guide me. Temper tantrums are no longer cute.
8. Public speaking: Public speaking seems simple and non-scary to me in theory but not in practice. Each time is a different experience and it seems like no matter how comfortable or confident I originally feel, once I start talking, I actually lose my voice! Suddenly, my mouth is dry, my heart is beating really fast and I have to clear my throat and breathe deeply before I can continue. I don’t know why it happens when I am talking about something I am really passionate and knowledgeable about with groups of my peers, students and professors. Although a few times I was confident and relaxed in my presentation, most of the time I experience nerves before or immediately after I start speaking. I think the Toastmasters video series will be a good place to start.
What do you want to learn or do that you have been putting off? Let me know!
When I started my blog, I had no idea there were actually hundreds of blogs with similar goals in personal finance. I just wanted to write about money and debt in order to gain a better understanding of it and change my own situation permanently. Looking back, I am amazed at how long I simply lived with debt and regularly made poor financial decisions without ever thinking for the long-term. I am really glad I made the decision to stop being broke all the time and figure out what I needed to get it together. Along the way, a lot of cool bloggers have come by to comment and offer support. The majority of money bloggers are positive people who understand the value of encouraging your fellow man in pursuit of their goals. Put another way, they’re not haters. For that, I am extremely grateful. I’d been embarrassed about my debt for so long and never really talked about it with anyone and had no idea how to take the first step to change my ways. It was nice to put my situation out there and receive encouragement and advice in return. Plenty of people go into debt for college degrees, medical bills or even investments or real estate that doesn’t pan out. I have no such good excuse. I just liked spending money on shiny things and partying and plane tickets and I didn’t think that not having money was a good enough reason to stop me from doing anything. Now, of course, my debt is holding me back from building the businesses and products that can completely change my life. So I’ve been better about money because being financially sound will provide me real freedom, long-lasting freedom to do what I want to do, not just a temporary escape financed with debt.
I was irresponsible for a long time. A lot of people are. A recent Economist article put it this way: “Consumers are now engaged in a long, hard process of shedding debt and learning to live within their means.” Does that sound familiar to anyone else? But it made me wonder: do some of those bloggers who seem to have a lot of disdain for the “debt bloggers” resent us because we were once irresponsible and now we’re joining the ranks of the responsible and proclaiming it proudly for everyone to congratulate us and maybe do a little self-congratulating and back-patting ourselves? Does that just annoy them because they think: “What’s the big freaking deal here, people, I haven’t been in debt my whole life! I’ve never paid a cent of interest besides business and mortage loans! I don’t see anyone patting ME on the back!”
I think I get it. I can be honest, I have felt a similar twinge of resentment at times when someone is very vocal about being in recovery or rehab. On the one hand, I am happy they are able to turn their lives around (that’s what I am trying to do). Their friends or peers might be discussing them glowingly and applauding them and praising their efforts. I’m not going to lie, somewhere in the back of my head I have a horribly judgmental thought in those moments, “Well, I never got addicted to anything! How come no one’s praising ME?”
And that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? I’ve never been addicted to anything (besides avocados and quesadillas, but I think we’re talking about addictive substances) and so I have no concept of trying to quit a substance. To me, it seems easy as hell to quit drinking or smoking. And to some of you, consumer debt is mind-bogglingly idiotic. It seems pointless and repetitive to write about debt. And maybe there’s a little twinge of resentment: do we really need to applaud people for getting out of debt they could have avoided in the first place? Maybe. Maybe not. But if it’s working and changing people’s lives around, why hate on them?
Not paying for expenses with debt is the first step to changing your financial future. I am staying focused on that and if other people who are looking for ways to get out of debt get inspired by my progress, then my blog has accomplished its goal. It’s great that there are responsible people out there who never got into debt and can give real life advice on building wealth, understanding taxation issues, and analyzing investments. I like Financial Mentor and Money Mamba for that. But the people who have climbed out of debt and went from being irresponsible to responsible are just as interesting to me and offer the most worthwhile reading for the average indebted household with $14,517 in debt.
(BTW- no blogger has directly said anything mean-spirited about my blog that I know of, I’ve just noticed the tone of some bloggers and that lead to this post. My readers have been nothing but ridiculously kind and supportive even though my writing is nowhere close to what I want it to be. That’s OK. Keep trying, I tell myself.)
What do you think? Do some bloggers have a chip on their shoulder about the debt bloggers? Do other bloggers have a chip on their shoulder about the wealth bloggers? Should we all just stop worrying so much about other people’s siutations? Let me know!
The City of Los Angeles is getting rid of plastic bags in all grocery stores and requiring retailers to charge 10 cents per bag for paper bags. The ban was passed in May 2012, but we won’t see an actual end to plastic in the stores until December or January. I am so excited for the economics of bags to finally force me into change. I have at least 10 of those reusable shopping bags and a few are always in my trunk, but I can’t remember the last time I actually used them. It’s just so convenient not to bring them and there is no penalty for me to use the store’s free plastic bags (bonus: free bags for picking up dog poop!). But in a few months, I know I will change my ways as soon as I am charged for that first bag. Even though stores now are giving 5 cent rebates for bringing your own bags, it generally takes a penalty for most consumers to change their ways.
What do you think? Have you changed your behavior lately? Was it because of a penalty or a reward?
The goal for July was to be under $2,500 on the Discover card:
Smallest Debt (June 2012): $3,600
Smallest Debt (July 2012): $1,683
My goal is to have the Discover card paid in full by the next update!
Total Debt Update:
July 2012: $28,995
% Change from July: 6.6% Decrease — Nice.
Key Facts to Consider:
- I’m under $30,000 in debt for the first time since April 2008 (when I financed my car)
- I noticed that Discover is offering me a 0% APR balance transfer with a 3% fee for 18 months. The offer is available through 9/11/12, which means I could have the full limit available to transfer minus the 3% fee, around $6,700. When the Discover card is paid, my other credit card has a blended interest rate of 10.48% (majority of the balance is under 9.24% interest, new purchases are 14.24%), so paying the 3% fee and then having 18 months to pay a chunk of debt with no interest is tempting. I will consider it once this account is at a $0 balance.
- I just realized that at some point in the not too distant future, I will have a month where I am not accruing interest charges. Each month I am taking a step back of at least $200 in interest charges. This amount is decreasing, but I just realized how pleased I will be to look at all of my accounts and know I didn’t incur a single fee in a month.
- I have been slacking: not doing any extra work or overtime. I need to get back on that and earn some extra dough.
How did your finances change this month?