The One Where I Disclose My Student Loan (and other) Debts ….

*** disclaimer if you are someone who is sick of hearing about my financial journey, don’t want to hear about white girl money problems or just don’t care about this stuff – this post isn’t for you

I am gonna be honest with you living within my means actually kind of sucks.

Truly it does.

I never really lived outside my means – but I certainly didn’t think about the financial ramifications of my adventures abroad or the financial cost of post secondary while I took out loans and didn’t work my way through school.

It wasn’t until my mid to late thirties that I actually looked at my financial situation and thought “oh fuck, I am in some serious trouble!”  but the panic – that was some time a few years later –  maybe 4 years ago-ish. I started to notice that while I was paying my bills it wasn’t actually doing me any good. No progress was happening. Some of them had such a high interest rate that my payments weren’t really doing any good. I was barely paying the interest. I wasn’t paying down the body of the loan at all. Not only that – in some instances it was like I was throwing money away. Thousands of dollars.

I honestly wondered how it was even legal. I also realized that the more of a mess your finances become – the harder it is to claw yourself out. I know that sounds like a no brainer – but I legit mean the part where you start to get penalties for late payments and the non sufficient funds charges – the non stop calling for collection agencies and all the other stuff that make you feel like you are drowning in a super bad situation.  No one will give you credit to consolidate and no one can help you. I remember a time when Dell used to call me 15 times a day. There was a time that Royal Bank charged me so many NSF charges and then added interest on that that I was negative $900 in my bank account and I didn’t have over draft.

I started to read a lot of financial books, listen to podcasts and realized that I needed to do something different.  Drastically different. I really needed to take a handle on my money situation and somehow figure out a game plan where I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life in a mediocre, stressed about money, never having any fun kind of way. I also realized that marrying rich was probably not going to be an option.

I got myself into this mess, I sure as shit need to get myself out.

The financial snow ball.

When I started flying and my income changed is when I really started to make strategic moves and financial decisions. For the first time in a long time I could see a financial plan coming together. Early on I sat down and made a full repayment plan for my debts. It was a 3 year plan but something that I could feasibly do and I felt confident in my success. I actually started to budget and pay my bills first. Telling your money where to go before it disappears was better for me than – doing what I wanted and then trying to pay bills with the rest.  I had to let my stocks vest an entire year, an entire year of putting 20% of my income in a fund (that got matched dollar for dollar) that I couldn’t touch no matter how hard it got. An entire year it took me to get used to living on less – all for financial wellness and debt repayment. I am not gonna lie it hasn’t been easy but I toughed it out  – I sacrificed my social life to live off of less.

Want to know feeling low ?? Feeling low is being almost 40, single, barely making minimum wage and trying to claw yourself out of 60K worth of debt. All while putting 20% of that income away.  Feeling low is seeing all your friends use their travel benefits while you eat ramen noodles complaining that you can’t lose weight. Feeling like none of the education you thought you needed is getting you were you need to go. Feeling completely and totally worthless because you work so hard and a treat of a Cancun overnight financially derails you because you cant afford to eat food on the road. Feel that – that is low.

The debt.

(This hurts but) here is an honest look at what I owe. I feel like to some it isn’t much, to me it is almost crippling the amount of stress that paying this causes me. After I pay off my bills there isn’t really that much left to feed myself, fuel my car and do everything else you need to do in a month. Social times, clothing, prescriptions and any incidentals come from the pool of $150-200 every two weeks.

I have rounded up some of these numbers just to make for easy math but here we go – the actually debt in point form in no particular order :

  • Back taxes owing to the government of Canada because I wasn’t getting taxed properly at my side hustle (in 2017) Owing $2500
  • Alberta Student Loans – I took this loan out in 2003-06. I have probably paid at least double what was originally. Currently owing $2500
  • Nova Scotia Student Loans – I took this loan out in 2012-15. In collection with the GOC, in good standing, am no longer being charged interest. They collect a set amount from my bank account every month. Owing $6500
  • Canada Student loans (Federal Loan) – HOT FUCKING MESS. This loan is in collections with the GOC.  It is a combination of amount owing from 03-06 and 12-15. They want me to pay $925/ month. We have made an agreement that I can pay $200 because of my current monthly income. I can barely afford that $200. I often miss this payment. I am now at a point that when I miss payments the cost is garnished wages. That $200 barely covers the interest that is accruing at $5.19/day. The only way to get it out of collections is to put $4000 on the loan. As of today owing $35000
  • Car Loan – I couldn’t afford to buy a car out right so I needed to get a car loan. It is 12% interest. It is what it is – this car saved my life. Owing $7500 (in case you are wondering I owe more than the car is worth so selling it currently is not at option even though I have thought about it – but also with all the trips to the airport I do need a car)
  • Credit cards. I have one. It is maxed. amount owing $2000

 

Financial Decisions that I made that have helped my snowball.

This summer I found a new insurance company. That saved me almost $1500/year on my car insurance. So instead of paying $108 every two weeks. I am paying $138 per month.

I pulled out some stocks in July to help me catch up when I got behind on my bills. Which actually helped me stay on track, make payments on time and not get to back logged on my bills.

I paid the first debt in my snowball off. I currently no longer owe money to the government for back taxes.

When my company rolled over the way we get paid to twice a month instead of every other Friday. I read the emails, I prepared and I changed all my monthly payments to line up with this new structure.

I got a second job so I get 4 paychecks a month.

I have recognized that I needed to restructure my snowball because if I can pay off something that frees up more money a month – I will actually have more money to pay off bills. So I restructured the order of my debt repayments. Learning the best way to tackle things and changing my plans to be more effective – just straight up financial badassery!

I started meal planning and prepping and actually paying attention to what I bring in my lunch bag so I have less food waste.

I took the summer off from drinking on the road – just to get my shit together and it was worth it. I am pretty sure Umbrella drinks in Puerto Vallarta are going to be extra delicious this winter with all my planning and financial success.

One of the biggest and best things I have learn this last year of financial badassery – that I can only focus on one big life goal at a time. If I try and take on to many things nothing gets done. So while I would love to be focusing all my energy on my fitness or on writing or podcasting or other things – my biggest goal and where all my attention goes is taking care of this mountain of debt and paying things off – one by one.

 

So, there you have it friends – an open and honest conversation about dealing with financial fuckery and some of the things I did to get myself on track. I know that I am not alone – so lets discuss some of your financial badassery …. go on, tell me something good!

xoxo,

C

 

 

 

Hustlin’

I picked up an extra shift today and while I normally don’t work Saturdays I am working tonight and this song is in my head:

 

Everyday I’m hustling. Because every day I do – expect Saturdays, when I sleep.

It is no secret that I have 2 jobs. 1 full time job working as a CAD monkey making floorplans for trade show company here in Edmonton and one part time side hustle with the siren at Starbucks. I work anywhere from 53-60 hours a week. This depends on the week, my level of exhaustion and my ability to work with the public (cuz let’s be real yo, lots of bitches be drinking skinny vanilla lattes!). Sometimes I find the more busy I am the more shit I accomplish. And, there is a lot of truth to the simple reality that if you are always at work its hard to spend your money. I am lucky that there are some super duper cool people at both my jobs and that the jobs work well for scheduling my life.

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The secret to surviving while working this much & to staying human: I take the same one day off, every week and do not work! That is my Carol day. It is needed and earned and Jesus fuck a girl needs her sleep, and to get shit done, be social and just be.

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Pros & Cons of the Starbucks Side hustle:

  • if I want extra hours I can usually get them at my store or from any other Starbucks in the Edmonton area
  • Usually it is easy to get rid of a shift or book off time if I am feeling like I need a normal weekend (by that I mean 2 days) or I need a break
  • My income from that job varies but is anywhere from $400 – $1000/month working anywhere from 12-20 hrs a week!
  • I have worked on and off for Starbucks from a long time, it’s routine, it’s easy and – hell moonlighting as a Barista gives you lots of opportunity to meet pretty interesting people
  • Sometimes I get super exhausted and Friday night is literally me, tea and documentaries if I can actually stay awake long enough to get through it
  • The perk of 1lb of free coffee or one box of tea every friggin’ week!
  • Pretty decent employee discount when I want new go cups for my ever growing collection AND partner shopping days
  • Working with young people keeps me young
  • Two jobs can be soul sucking because you are working or you are sleeping
  • It eats up social time, gym time, life time, dating time, finding a husband time etc
  • It eats up my writing time
  • People sometimes talk to you like you are a sack of shit and uneducated and stupid and it makes me want to scream in their face  because lets be real – you aren’t drinking Starbucks on the daily if you are on any kind of debt repayment plan – that shit is expensive!

I think there are tonnes of things you can do for a side hustle. It is my opinion that a second income stream is likely your best bet. I was reading on Budgets are Sexy yesterday an entire post about all the different things you can do as a side hustle. I have some research to do to get to the next level.

With that friends, it is Saturday early afternoon, I am drinking my coffee while I write this, I have eaten,  tindered, I washed and cleaned my kitchen is preparation for meal prepping tonight, I powered through writing this blog post, I just need to get dressed, get my myself funky and get myself to work.

That’s how we do it in my world – thank Zeus for free caffeine!

xoxo,

C

 

 

Mo’Money #1

Okay since my initial (but actually I bitch about this all the time) post I have realized I want to be one of those crazy fools that power through paying of my loans. It might happen, it might not – but right now I am feeling hopefully as fuck.

This is an update of things that I am doing to propel myself forward:

  1. Bitch about it social media hoping a Sugar Daddy will pay for my student loans – JK’s but actually I just wanted to see if anybody had any suggestions for things they did in order to pay off their own personal loans.  Some suggestions were obvious, some were not, some just not even a thing – but I appreciated some input. (comment below with more ideas!)
  2. Call student Loan and get real with some numbers. How much do I actually fucking owe? What are the hard numbers? What do I think could be a realistic paying off goal for 2017? Can I get any sort of interest relief or paying off of loans in 2017? You guys will be happy to know – I thought I owed 1000’s more than I do, I guess this is a good thing.
  3. Start logging everything I spend my money on. GUYS – THIS HAS ACTUALLY BEEN TERRIFYING BUT SO SO SO SO SO SO USEFUL. I successfully tracked everything I spent last week and kept all my receipts. I used one of my pretty lavender notebooks and started a weekly logging system. I broke it down into categories so I could see where I am spending. I need to do this for a few more weeks before I can start making some serious changes in my spending. But it was a scary eye opener,  a reality check, and something I plan on continuing because when you can’t account for a couple G’s a month – that is a problem.
  4. I fucking crunched some numbers. I looked at what my over-all coming in from both jobs, the mandatory going out and then realized I needed a vacation to India.
  5. Realized that I likely was not being successful at weight loss because of a Diet Coke addiction – it’s my last vice – but its got a death grip – this isn’t a thing but it is … because of a weekly spending habit of the drink it is costing in $100’s/month. Overall picture, People!
  6. Made a no-buy and a to-buy list – I think I have enough shower gels and soaps to last me until Christmas. Unreal, right?! A no-buy is needed to curb my spending and make use of that money in other areas – budgeting perhaps …
  7. Started listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts and instead of watching TV watching YouTube ’til debt do us part – to get some ideas on how budgeting, finances and over all how can I get better with my money
  8. Start reading other financial blogs on how people conquered their Canada Student Loans.
  9. Downloaded a spread sheet to track  debt repayment progress – still need to fill it out. But working on it. Cuz car loan also people
  10. Last but not least I have decided that it is okay to discuss numbers with people and instead of hiding behind my crippling student loan debt see what actually works for people.

 

With that guys –  I am unsure if I want to publish actual numbers on this blog for privacy reasons, that might change later on. But I will share that I currently have 3 student loans: Canada Loan (which is the largest), Nova Scotia Student Loans (Resolve) and Alberta Student Loan (the smallest and the loan I want to pay off first).

My very first debt repayment challenge is simple: Every time I spend money on Diet Coke for the month of February, I must then pay an equivalent payment onto my Alberta Student!

For example – I bought a medium diet coke from McDonald this AM – when I got back to the office I made a $2.40 payment to AB Student Loans. If I bought a diet coke everyday at an average of 30/month, that is $72.00/month and $864.00/year ( Just doing the math now has made me realize the 1000’s a spend a year on soda) – So February challenge launched. Which me luck!

 

And with that people – I will get an update to you next week with the progress of this journey. Till then I will be trying really hard to curb a Diet Coke habit and maybe start spending my free time in the gym.

So many 2017 goals!

All my Love,

C