Opportunities


You may remember from my previous post that I had two job interviews last week. Well, I am excited to announce that I have since received and accepted a job offer with the long-term care nursing facility I met with last Wednesday.

Though returning to the field of nursing after finally earning my B.A. in English definitely wasn't my plan, it seems to be God's plan. At least for right now. And considering that debt snowball we're dying to get rolling, I'm okay with that. The pay here will be great (way more than I've ever made in my entire working life), the hours will be pretty fantastic, and everyone I've met there so far has been super friendly and welcoming.

But there's a bit more to it than that.

My favorite job I've had to date was when I worked for an in-home assisted living company. In this position, I provided one-on-one care for a paralyzed, nonverbal, elderly client in her home. I developed a special bond with this sweet lady (and her family as well), and it honestly became a joy to take care of her, even though I was only making $8.25/hour. I'm trying to view this new opportunity in the same light. I'm about to work in a facility filled with lonely, hurting, elderly people. I'm praying that if I go into this new venture with the attitude of This could actually be a form of ministry, it will be a better experience for everyone. So that's my plan. But for it to work, I'll need a whole lot of Jesus.

I'm not giving up on my own real passion though. I've been trying to think of how I can get back into writing fiction again, and the perfect opportunity hit me pretty hard this week in the form of a Facebook promo:

NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month. The mad dash to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. Every November. November. NOVEMBER!!!

I don't know how I managed to forget about NaNoWriMo, but it popped up at the perfect time. And I mean, the perfect time. I guess I kept skimming over it every time I perused the list, but #22 on 101 Things is "Complete NaNoWriMo". And, um, the timeline for my 101 Things in 1001 Days? January 24, 2014 - October 28, 2016.

November 2015 is literally my last chance to check this off the list.

So. Yeah. Guess I gotta do it.

In 2013, the first time I tried NaNoWriMo, I signed up on October 29 (lol). I had a whole three days to prepare. This time around, I have an extra month and a half of prep time. And I'm gonna need it. Because in 2013, I had a decently developed story idea I'd been cooking up for about three years. This time...


I got nothin'. Except one and a half months to find an idea. I'm up for the challenge. 

I've done it before.


I think I can do it again.

Any of you out there ever attempted NaNo before? Thinking about trying it this year? What are your tips/suggestions/plans?

Steps to Debt Freedom Part III: The Debt Snowball Plan


This final part of my Steps to Debt Freedom series focuses on confronting and tackling the actual debt itself. This involves Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball Plan. The concept of this plan is probably the most simple one I've covered yet, but it's a pretty amazing idea. (If you've missed them, check out Making a Budget and The Cash Envelope System before reading this post!)

Like the previous two steps to debt freedom, I heard about the Debt Snowball Plan through Dave Ramsey's blog. I thought it was genius, so I told Matt about it a few weeks ago. He'd been kind of unexcited about budgeting and pretty hesitant to ditch credit cards and use cash for everything, but once he heard about this, he changed his tune. He plugged our debt numbers into a spreadsheet, did some calculations, and got all fired up. And when he shared his calculations with me...I saw the world in a completely different light.

He found that, using this method, we could be completely debt free in about four years. No credit card debt, no student loans, no car payments. Nothing.

I think I cried a little.

See, my student loans are something I had decided would always be there. The thorn in my side I would have to accept and learn to live with. Because after making minimum payments on time, year after year, I somehow owe more now than I did when I started. Man, that irked me. I grew so angry and so bitter about it, that at some point, I forced myself to stop getting all worked up over it and just accept the fact that I would be paying a couple hundred bucks to Sallie Mae every month for the rest of my life.

But nope. Not with the Debt Snowball Plan. If we stay fired up and follow it carefully, we can completely unshackle Sallie Mae from our ankles!

We are so ready to get our snowball rollin'. Neither of us have ever tried anything like this before, and we can't wait to see how it works.

Let's go over the deets, shall we?






This will likely be one of the toughest part of the process. But as hard as it is to face the numbers, you have to do it if you want to things to improve.

(Again, not our actual numbers; just an illustration.)
You'll need to arrange them from smallest balance to the highest balance, as I've done here by placing my $8,695.11 Navient balance first and my largest debt, the Honda balance of $17,597.25 at the bottom.




This is why you need to arrange them in order of smallest to greatest. Though you might think it'd make more sense to pay off the balance with the highest interest rates first, Ramsey says to start with the smallest loan. The smaller the debt, the faster you'll pay it off. And once you pay off that first debt, you'll see the results of your efforts, feel the excitement, and work that much harder to gain momentum.




To make any major progress here, in addition to cutting off credit card use to keep from adding to your debt, you'll need to pay more than the minimum payment.

Let's go back to what we covered in Part I: Making a Budget. The minimum payment for your debts (whether it be a credit card, student loan, or mortgage) should be already included in your fixed expenses. Here is the sample budget I used, with the minimum payment for loan debt highlighted in the red box:


Since they're fixed expenses, we've already budgeted for these minimum payments. But to build our Debt Snowball, we need to add extra on top of the minimum payment with the money leftover from our adjustable expenses. Here's the example I used in Making a Budget:


In this example, after paying our fixed expenses, we have $1,113.58 to divide up on our adjustable expenses to get through the month. After we take out money for our groceries, gas, dining out, clothing, entertainment, and miscellaneous cash envelopes, we will have $293.58 remaining in our bank account that needs to go somewhere.

And guess where that somewhere would be? Yep. The smallest debt.


So, if the minimum payment coming out of our fixed expenses for this debt is $78.14, when we add our leftover $293.58 to it, it increases our monthly payment to $371.72. That's almost five times more than what we've been paying each month, which means we'll pay off that loan five times faster than we would have before.

Oh yeah. That'll add up quickly.




This is the part that got us all excited.

Let's say that after paying $371.72 every month for a while, that smallest debt, my Navient loan is paid off (Woohoo!). We can readjust our list.


We can now move on to the next largest debt, Matt's Navient loan. According to our fixed expenses budget, we pay $82.13 toward this loan each month.


But since we don't have to worry about my Navient loan anymore, we can throw all that extra money we'd been putting toward it onto Matt's Navient loan now! That means $82.13 + $371.72, which equals $453.35. Then when this loan is paid off, we take that $453.35 and move to Matt's Dept. of Education loan, which is $97.78 each month. Those added together equal $551.13 put toward one loan.

You following this?

I know it sounds complicated, but it's really quite simple. You're just compounding your payments ("building a snowball") as you pay off debts until finally, you end up making $1,300 monthly payments on your biggest debt. And at that point, it's no time until you're DEBT FREE!

Gosh, can you imagine? No student loan payments. No credit card payments. No car payments. That would knock out more than half of our fixed expenses. Without those bills, we'd ultimately have $1,300 each month that we wouldn't know what to do with.

$1,300!!!

That's how Ramsey uses these methods to build wealth. Once you're debt free, you start putting that extra $1,300 into savings and investments each month. In a year, that's $15,600. In ten years, that's $156,000. When you're old and ready to retire, you're set. Your kids have money for college. You have enough money to give freely to people in need. You're livin' the good life.

Whoooo, it gets me excited!

We're just now starting to chip away at our smallest debt, one of our credit cards. It's pretty cool- it does add up quickly when you're not adding to your balance by swiping the plastic. It's gotta be incredible to watch this method get rolling and take off. We can't wait to see how it goes!

Have any of you tried this? What are your thoughts on the Debt Snowball?

It's September!


Okay, so it's not October, but the arrival of September is always pretty exciting. It means fall's a-comin', which means I get to dig out my few puny- yet beloved- autumn decorations. 



You don't know how tempting it was this year to buy more of this stuff. This is my favorite time of the year- crisp air, crunchy leaves, boots, sweaters, and pumpkin everything- and I looooove all the warm and cozy colors of autumn decorations. And since this is the first time I've had my own home to decorate...it was a bit of a challenge. That old voice came sneaking back into my thoughts: "Just put it on the credit card." 

But nope! I talked myself out of that one. This whole debt-free goal of ours means too much at this point. Especially since we went so far over our budget for August.

August was the first month we actually made a budget and put the Cash Envelope System into practice, so I didn't expect perfection (I just hoped for it). But, we based our budget on a four-week month, and August was five weeks (should have looked at a calendar...), so we ran out of money way before we ran out of month. And well, that is largely due to the unexpected arrival of this little troublemaker:


With food, chew toys, a bed, a training crate, baby gates, medicine, vaccines, and grooming supplies, she basically wrecked our envelopes. We were determined to not use the credit card for any of these purchases, and WE DID NOT (YAAAAAY!). So, to cover her expenses, we pulled money out of our envelopes: fun, dining out, gas, groceries... It really threw everything off and put us in a mess. We had to go back to the ATM and withdraw more cash to replenish our envelopes, which is a pretty big no-no in order for this system to work.

But.

It was a start. We, at the very at least, managed to get through these unforeseen expenses without relying on Chase, Capital One, or Citi, and that in itself is quite amazing. And, because of our first month's struggles, we've gained a better idea of where we need to adjust our envelope amounts for September. I'm SO ready for a new start with a better-planned budget!

And on a related note...I had a job interview today!!!


I got my Missouri nursing license in the mail a few weeks ago and have since been applying everywhere that hires LPNs. My interview today was with a family practice clinic, and I actually have another interview (!!!) tomorrow with a long-term care nursing facility. Pretty exciting stuff! I'm hoping and praying that the right one will fall into my lap.

That's about it for the life updates for now. What are you excited about this month?