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

 

 

 

Is there a price tag on your freedom?

There is a lot swirling in my head today. I mean  – a lot. It’s like have a million tabs open and being so excited to dive into all of them but I can’t pay attention long enough to read a full article and I just keep opening new tabs. That’s how I feel today.

I slept in this morning; not on purpose. I have been finding it happening a lot lately. I’m losing interest in my job. I have also lost my gusto to work somewhere that I feel under appreciated. I’m exhausted. I work a lot, therefore I am tired a lot, but also I take on a lot of projects because I just feel like I need to create something. I am determined to create something. I am determined to have more. I do not have to let my past life define my current life.

I think it is super important to talk about freedom. Because right now, in my current life, I feel like I don’t have a lot of it. I feel like I am somewhat trapped in a place that I don’t really want to be. And, I just have a hard time accepting things because it is  something I am “supposed” to do.  I have never felt that in my life. I mean you don’t end up half way around the world camped out in a hostel without really living outside the box a bit.  Recently though, I discovered that there is a price tag on freedom. See a good friend of mine recently moved back to Korea. And while I realize that I could do that too, I also realized that my life wouldn’t be the same if I moved to Korea. It wouldn’t be the same because there is a price tag on my freedom. That prices tag is around $42,000.00 give or take a few dollars.

It is a huge burden. And, its holding me back. I have other friends in my life that moved abroad to teach and  obsessively talk about paying off there loans. I don’t know any one that successfully paid off there loans while living abroad teaching. (if you are one of those people – holla below!)  I knew it would never happen making minimum wage. And I know first hand 3 jobs can be a bit of a demon. Two is soul sucking enough and not really a long, long term plan.

I know nothing comes easy, there is no quick fix to all of this drama. There is no such thing as the 4 hour work week. we need to hustle – but I think it might be about picking the right hustle. Just for a moment in my adult life I want to feel what it is like I have some financial freedom?

Do you feel like there is a price tag on your freedom? How much is it?

What are you doing to change it?

 

Income Tax.

Guys, Gals, Friends ….

I have a confession to make. I am one of those people that get secretly excited about doing my taxes. I don’t know what it is. It is like it is the massive math puzzle that I must put together and the better I get at it the more money I get back. I am not even joking.

THE SEASON IS AMONG US!!!

The t-4’s are rolling in, the tax credits for student loans, this year I might be able to claim some things I did for a tiny house conference I was trying to build. But it is here, the joyous time when the day comes I spend plugging numbers and making magic happen. I already updated my tax software. I am ready to go. I am excited to get into my tax folders and find all the things I can write off, all the receipts I can use to claim. It’s like Christmas for the mathematically inclined.

I must say – I am a bit of a math wiz. I mean, I do do a lot of stuff with numbers (building plans and all) during the day, my mental math ability is pretty strong. And if any of you know anything about the Multiple Intelligence Theory – I am totally a logic type. Even my Meyers Briggs test puts me in the high percentile for mathematics and logic.

Anyway – this years taxes are going to be exciting and challenging because there is a new category for me with my growing attempts at small business. I am pretty excited.  You never know what you are going to get.

Are you a tax type person? or do you run over to H&R block or wherever to get someone to do them for you? Are they so complicated with all your side projects that it is not worth the personal trouble?

Do you hate tax season?

Comment below – tell me your feels about tax season.

Like, Subscribe.

Lets talk about it,

xoxo

C

no spend, no buy, just no no no day

I spend money every day. I tap my debit card or my credit card so many times a day it’s crazy. Recently at work some one said to me they can only use 12 debits a month on their debit card. I was literally in shock. I think sometimes I use 12 debits a day. One might think out of control. I have been working hard at not spending money and following my no-buy rules …  really, everyday, I am learning new tricks to get out of my house, do free things or get those projects done  – but not spending is a fucking challenge for me.

Last week I caught a post on Mixed Up Money’s twitter of a recent blog post & YouTube video about a 72 hour No-Buy – fucking crazy right?! ….

And then you can see what happen:

idea-born

If you guys are into some sassy ass, money saving awesomeness  – you should read her stuff. I literally promise she has nothing to do with this, I am not getting paid or being sponsored. I am not that internet famous yet. That will be next month. jk’s. Just dreaming big. I digress.

So while I strive for minimalism, organization, and a weekend I SOOOOOOOOOOO needed to relax after all the work I have been doing. I successfully completed a full day -no-buy and I vlogged the shit out of it.

How d’you like them apples?!

xoxo,

C

ps; You can follow me on Twitter here <3!!!

What’s the actual cost?

Financial Literacy.

What – the actual – fuck?!

Do any of you even believe this phrase is a regular part of my vocabulary these days? Are you financially literate? Do your bill payments, car payment or mortgages own you? Or have you taken control and showed that ass who is boss? What the fuck does this phrase even mean?

Well Peoples, I had no clue what it meant to be financial literate so I googled the shit out of it. I figure since the actual truth is most of us are pretty goddamn illiterate when it comes to money we should learn a few things about of my journey to kick my student loans to the curb.

See here is the thing – I have had lots of conversations recently about money. People are offering me suggestions, people are telling me what works for them, people have just straight up told me they can’t budget because they don’t make enough money so there is no money to budget, I even had some tell me that their bank or credit card lists all the transaction so there was no need to really look at the spending.

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“Financial literacy is having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. Knowledge refers to an understanding of personal and broader financial matters. Skills refer to the ability to apply that financial knowledge in everyday life.”

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There are a lot of resources online. The government of Canada has an entire section of there website dedicated to it. I mean there is also banks, financial advisors and I am sure we all know people that are killing it with their finances. I will openly admit that I have been a HUGE spender over the years, mostly on plane tickets and travel. But none the less spending money on things and not paying more than the minimum payment on my bills. I don’t regret it. I just want to focus on different things now.

So lets look at a couple basic things that you really need to be honest with yourself about:

Budgeting: This is a big one for me. I would always get my paydays, pay my bills and spend the rest on crap I don’t need. I make enough money to cover my costs so I just went with it.  For a few weeks now I have been writing down everything that goes in and out of my bank accounts and I am excited to see how much more money I can dedicate to paying off my loans. Your bank statements and credit card statements are probably not an accurate enough picture of where you are spending if you are wanting to cut cost and corners where you can. If you want to improve the numbers, you need to get real with the numbers. Even the daily coffee habits, iTunes purchases and everything in between.

Student Loans: Everyone says that this is “good” debt and that you shouldn’t worry about it. Debt is debt. You still need to pay this shit off. Taking a closer look at student loans you can see a low interest rate but for me it is on a large amount. So let say on my Canada Loans alone (not counting Alberta & Nova Scotia) – that loan is accruing interest at $4/day. That is costing me about $1460 extra/year times 10 years – now I am paying an extra $14600 on that loan alone. Guys, I could get a great vacation with that, a round-the-world plane ticket, a nice deposit on my dreamy container-ship home  – you get my point. What are the interests rate on you loans? Have you really taken a look? is a 15 year repayment plan really worth it?

Car Loans: The interest on my car loan is even higher than my student loans. I needed a car. I also had to factor in I had zero budget for repairs and I have no one to borrow from if something were to happen to my car. So I bought a used car, that had 5000kms on it when I bought it. And it still had some factory warranty. It is fuel efficient and in my price range. My point, are you driving an affordable vehicle? I have been told that if you can’t buy it out right you shouldn’t be driving it. I get that. Not possible for me.

Credit Cards: These are a holy hell of nasty. I know. I have a balance on my credit card (don’t worry it’s in my budget to pay off) but credit card interest rates are anywhere from 19-33% depending on the card. You really should not be spending on this if you can’t pay it in full at the end of every month. On time. Leave that shit at home. It is not money to be spent. It is a high interest loan that fools you into easy money.

If you want to get serious about paying off some bills, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about your spending habits.

You need to be honest about where you can cut corners and what can work for you. I knew I was bringing in enough to be paying my bills I just really needed to restructure how I was spending. I think it is incredibly important to have realistic goals, a budget that allows for treats, clothes and weekends away. If you don’t budget with a vengeance you will experience debt fatigue and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Have you taken a look at what you are spending your money on? or how much interest you are paying? What is motivating you get get real with your money?

xoxo,

C

 

1 Step Back, 5 Steps Forward!

Confession: I had a slip up and bought things that I shouldn’t have …

Gawddamn!!

Here is what happened:

I made a budget. I schooled that bitch. I went super fucking old school and started writing everything I spend in this notebook (note: notebooks should be on my no-buy because I have a back stock of journals – that can be for a no-buy amendment). It is pretty detailed. By day, by receipt, a full week spread. At the end of the week it is totaled into categories so I can accurately track my spending. Last week I made a list of everything I pay for each month included bank fees, CraveTV etc  … It is everything,  everything that leaves my account – I went as indepth as I could and I actually adjusted it for a few days because I kept being reminded of things to add. Then I listed my paydays, 4 per month, the amount they are and then assigned certain bill payments to each pay day. Leaving me with x amount of money for food and entertainment. Pretty basic stuff. But I needed to make sure I have money for food, entertainment – random spending.

Anyway – Tuesday came. Payday #1 on the new plan. This pay period I had a couple of sick days, so it wasn’t a full payday. My work also didn’t pay me for a chunk of December so I got behind with some student loan payments. Already the budget is going to be tight because my payday is a bit less and I need to squeak in an extra National Student Loan payment (the big one).  I have to try and catch up so that when I go to apply for interest relief I get approved again. I digress. I paid all the bills aligned for this pay period. Most of my payday was eaten up. Right on track, right?! Then Tuesday night I had to go and run some errands including a doctor’s appointment. The clinic ended up being closed so I went onto my next errand. Lush. And, friends, this is where I came unglued. I went in for face lotion which I actually ran out of – it was on my errand list, buuuuuut 75$ later and a new body wash in tow I was headed to the bookstore. Thank fuck I stopped myself before a book buying bender. Then to top it all off last night when I was working we got this new pretty coral mug in stock and I was like – I must have it & I bought it. Jesus motherfucking Mary of spending breakdowns and its only week one … this shit is gonna be a challenge!

Truth, I can’t even make this self sabotage up!

I thought I would share my lessons here:

  1. I realize that when I work a lot sometimes I feel like I have earned things. Because I don’t go out that much I feel like I  am allowed to treat myself to other things. Mugs, lotions, thrifting, ebooks  … things. I need to get better at doing other things. Cue pinteresting a million list of things you can do that don’t cost money!
  2. Just because I slipped up doesn’t mean I have screwed myself over, this is a learning process and we all fuck up.
  3. I am thankful my freezer is full because my grocery budget is pretty tight for the next week. One slip up shouldn’t derail EVERYTHING in my budget.
  4. Always shop with a fucking list & only buy what is on the gawd damn list.
  5. I am going to need to continue to buy things I like from time to time because when I give myself a hard no, that’s when I fall off the bandwagon. It’s like when you tell yourself you’re on a diet then eat an entire container of cashew ice cream! New thought: I chose to spend my money on debt repayment.

 

How do you curb your spending? Tips or Tricks – let me know in the comments!

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

 

debt debt debt debt debt debt debt debt

It is all consuming!

Student Loan debt.

It’s the bane of my existence.

Have you ever dumped “student loan repayment” or “student loan debt” into Google and seen all the personal bloggers talk about the enormous amounts of student loans that need a monster pay off.  It is crazy the amount of student loan debt that people carry. CRAZY! Some of those blogger around 100k … how does a school, government or country even allow this shit to happen?! It is appalling the price we pay for education which for a lot of people lands them a job teaching English in Asia trying to figure out a way to pay it all off. Or working multiple jobs trying to crush that debt so they can move on with their lives.

I am know different. I have had student loan debt since 2003 when I moved to Nova Scotia to finish my undergraduate degree. I then acquired more debt starting in 2012 when I moved to Alberta to do a diploma in hopes to find work in Canada that paid a decent salary.

Currently, 2017 …. I moved to Edmonton about 18 months ago with a seriously large amount of commercial debt (on top of student loan debt and with an addition of car loan debt). My biggest spiral that caused problems mostly came from NSF charges from my bank accounts. I wouldn’t be able to get a stop payment in or it wouldn’t be possible and then because my credit isn’t good enough for an overdraft I would spiral. Then all of the sudden I am living in a dire situation. Anyway – my point is. I moved to Edmonton, found some cheap housing and I fucking hustled. I paid down all that excess debt with the exception of my car and my student loans. I, like everyone else, experienced fatigue; working 2 jobs is soul sucking. I experienced debt fatigue; I booked some trips abroad to feed my soul. Fell back into a debt routine. But that large debt – it is still looming, 10 years after graduating with my degree and 2 years after SAIT and it is still holding me back.

So here I am on Blue Monday in January of 2017  – the most depressing day of the year – and realize I need to figure out a way to move forward with student loan repayments. So I am on the internet looking for ways I can make this the easiest, quickest, most painless way to get my debt paid down, and feel the freedom and a zero debt balance.

I think I need some accountability for debt repayment. I need a no buy. I need to put my foot down and move forward with full on annihilation of Student loans. So I am starting with asking you, the interwebs, for your best tips and tricks and how you did it? How did you power through 50K of student loan debt?