Wedding Guest?

To go, or not to go? That is the question.

I'm at an age (late 20's, 28 to be exact) where a ton of my friends are getting married. But on average it costs me about $300 to attend these babies. Yikes! That's about 2 months of interest, for one weekend. Huhmm....

The latest and greatest are two friends in Ohio. I've never been to Ohio, but apparently the universe thinks I should go there. Twice. In the same month. Ya...I didn't really have my Ohio geography straight either until I googled it like 10 seconds ago (A = Columbus, B = Cleveland).

My roommate from grad school is getting married the first weekend of August in Cleveland (We still have LeBron - don't hate), and another is getting married the third weekend of August in Columbus. I *really* want to attend both. But ran some numbers for both...

$62 = Travel there - Go sky miles! Yeay! Track your sky miles people! Would've been $200 otherwise.
 $0  = Travel back - I have a work trip the next day so am flying straight from Cleveland. #win
$60 = Lodging - Staying at a hostel (with 3 friends! yeay!) to lower costs.
$30 = In city transit - This is just a wild guess based on a taxi estimator.
$40 = Food - $20/day
$23 = Entertainment -Cleveland Orchestra b/c Experience > stuff. Besides I budgeted $50/mth for this.

$214 = Total

I would've looped this in with a Chicago work trip but that didn't work out so was going to cover the Chicago travel costs.
$200 = Travel there - Flight to Chicago and gas from carpool
$200 = Travel back - Flight to Miami from Chicago and gas from carpool
    $0 = Lodging - I'd ironically stay with the bride & groom from the Columbus wedding
  $10 = In city transit - low estimate for inner city transit
  $40 = Food - $20/day
    $0 = Entertainment - none.

$450 = Total

...and just can't afford it.

That'd be $664 in one pop. Uff.

Weddings are once in a life time events, and I love these two couples, but I just couldn't afford going to both and still reaching my goal. Boo. Sad face.

Aaaand...I'd actually booked the first part of the Cleveland trip before I found out about the Columbus wedding.

But in addition to that, there were many conflicting feelings I had to wrestle with in order to really decide on the Columbus wedding - namely, a once in a lifetime event vs. a couple hundred bucks. But when it comes down to it, that's really every personal financial decision relating to an event or experience -- all the other ones are a once in a lifetime event vs. stuff (but I hate stuff so those are easy). And we just tend to put each one off because it's just a couple hundred bucks, or a few dollars, and it just builds up and we keep pushing it off and pushing it off and pushing it off. The credit cards rack up, the loans get put off, and before you know it, you're deeper in debt than you wanted and have been paying your loans off for 10 years. But not I! Oh no sir.

I must live within my means, and for now, spending $400+ on a weekend is just outside of my means. I don't want to be in debt for 10 years, and if that means weighing decisions like this for the next two years, then so be it.

I am grateful to be attending at least one of these and that's just all I can afford. Period. I will still get a gift (that's within my means) for the one I can't attend, because, truly, I am grateful to them and wish them all the very very best. <3

Cheers to love, friends, Ohio, and getting out out of debt! Woot woot!

Magic Trick

How do you turn junk into cash?! Sell it! Voila!

I posted a bunch of old books on Amazon and some random stuff on Craigslist (anybody need -- ehm, want -- a leopard print makeup bag?).

I did find out I have one book about French nationalism that's worth over $100 because it's a rare print. The irony isn't lost on me though; have another student go into debt by buying one of my books so I can get out of debt. Sigh.

Also, I found two bucks in To Kill a Mocking Bird, which I was apparently using as a bookmark in my high roller days. Already a win.

I also found out that you can trade in CD's for Amazon credit. At $7.00, 2Pac's Greatest Hits CD beat out the Smashing Pumpkins' classic Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by only $2. It was a tight race. My formative 90's music heyday is now worth just over $15 Amazon bucks. Not bad considering you can get all that music for much less online, but sure! I'll take it! I'm going to buy something with the Amazon credit and then sell that! Voila! More magic.

Stay tuned for an update on how I turn all this stuff into cash. #magic


Home Sweet...Hole in the Ground?!

My fab little apartment.
Hammock > couch because it's cheaper (and cooler!).

Dear Rent, 

We've had a really great run. But I think it may be time for us to part ways. I know we have to be together for the next 9 months, but after that, I think we may need to go our separate ways. It's not you, it's me. I need to not give so much to you, and you just take take take. And now, at $900+, you're taking more than ever! Just 6 months ago, while I was in Chicago, you were only $500. Sigh. I know, this is a tough one for me too. I don't know if I should take the plunge with a mortgage either, but it's definitely in the cards. 

Stay tuned,

p.s. Here are all the cards:

A. Move back to Chicago where rent and the cost of living are *way* less than in Miami. 
Down side = snow + far from fam. boo! Upside = I'd be in Chicago :) 

B. Keep renting in Miami, but get roomies... ugh...when will it ever end!? I've been spoiled from living alone. Roommates do have an upside're never lonely, and it's cheaper! 

C. Buy a place in Miami. This is what I'd be doing with my hard earned dough if it weren't going to my loans. I have to really think about this one -- both with my head and my heart -- to see what makes the most sense in the long term. I've officially been in debt since I was 18 (when I entered college) and will be through age 30 (when I plan to eradicate my student loans), that's 12 years - the span of primary school (minus Kindergarten). Ugh. And the thought of incurring more debt to extend that from 12 years to potentially 27 years (if I get a 15 year mortgage) may feel a little like I'd be tripping over my own untied shoe laces just a few steps before the marathon finish line...and then getting up to find out that I just ran a marathon and need to run like 10 more right away. Come on? Do I really want to run like a million miles like that... :/ Breathe. This'll get it's own post. For sure. 

D. Live on a farm. Yes, I said it. And what? I'm set to volunteer at one this weekend and can't wait (eep!). My best friend from college did this in spurts all around the world for years after college, and after planting a ton of stuff on my balcony jungle, it's just totally awesome to nurture seeds to maturity. It's the closest thing to magic that I've ever experienced. The awe and joy of tending to a plant is wondrous. I love it.  And besides, I've always wanted to live in a ballroom/farm/communal living situation anyway, so why not? 

E. Live at home. :::sound of screeching tires::: The wha?! I'd rather live on a farm. 

July '13 Update (aka Interesting Interest)

This month's update is dedicated to interest...

...for those who need a refresher or (just a fresh lesson) on what interest is (both simple and compounding) here's all you need to know -- but skip the video if you know what interest is and how it works:

But back to the news...In 5 days (6/29/13 through today, 7/4/2013) my largest loans (two loans that total ~$32,000) accrued (grew by) $18.00 in interest. Wtf?!  At this rate I'd accrue $108 of *only* interest over a month!  (calculation: 30 days divided by 5 days = 6, and 6 days x $18 = $108, and $108 = wtf?!)...oh but wait, it gets better. That's for just one loan, and does not account for compounding interest. UUUGGGHHHHH!

If I account for my other loans (of about $6,600), and the daily compounding interest, then, in 11 days (the next time I will make a payment) I will accrue $70 -- in 11 days. @_@ (You can use this calculator to calculate your interest.) That's more than I spent on my weekly groceries today, enough for a new pair of shoes that I need, and also less than I'm paying for a flight to friend's wedding; a $62 flight that I'm booking with mostly miles I already had. Yes, so my loans will accrue $70 for just sitting there!!

Breathe Ani. Breathe.

In 11 days?! Really guys? Come on banks.

This daily compounding thing is total nonsense. It's like going 500 steps forward and 70 steps back. You *MUST* make payments greater than your interest. Repeat. You *MUST* make payments greater than your interest. Could you imagine? If I just paid the minimum ~$400 that I was required to pay last month, rather than the ~$2,000 I actually paid, then it would be like taking 400 steps forward and 120 steps back. Ew. No way. I'm getting this done asap! I also paid $133 more than I'd budgeted towards my loans. Yeay!

I'm more determined than ever to get rid of these now $39,000 chains. Here are a few schemes (aka brilliant ideas) in the works:

1. Track like a boss: I started using an iphone app that tracks my expenses like a boss eating pie (charts). That, plus my favorite budgeting spreadsheet on the internet (designed by Joe Mihalic), ain't no penny going unturned!

The June 2013 expense pie chart (not yummy):

1. The big green slice (you guessed it, the loan slice) = 45.69%
2. Rent = 19.85%
3. My business = 11.55%
4. Utilities = 4.94%
5. Dining out = 4.43%
6. Money I owed my mom = 4.29%
7. Entertainment = 3.68%
8. Groceries = 1.7%
9. Parking & Gas = 1.47%
10. Misc = 1.14%
11. Dues = 0.82%
12. Gifts = 0.44%
13. Tracking like a boss = priceless

2. F* rent: My rent is too dang high -- a little over $900. It's the most I've ever paid for rent. Even though I adore my little apartment, when my lease is up in 9 months I'm either going back to getting roommates, living at home for a few months and then getting a cheap studio, or living on a farm. Not gonna lie...but I think I'd really like to live on a farm! Tee hee! I'm going to check out the place this weekend and maybe start volunteering. It would just be wonderful to be surrounded by plants and animals. Just so wonderful to tend to a nice big garden and be in the sunshine. Ah. Glory. Stay tuned...

3. Make it rain: I'm growing my little side photography business and have made some upfront investments (11.55% of my June expenses to be exact, for those keeping score at home) into my wonderful little endeavor. I still get work from the film arm of it, but want the photography part to grown. It's happening ya'll! Get an umbrella, cause it's 'bout to pour!

4. Use protection: If I liquidate my retirement (:::cringe:::) I'll get about $8,000 clean; after the penalties. But then I'd liquidate my retirement (:::cringe:::). If worse comes to worse -- my goal date comes around and I'm significantly short -- then this will be a more viable option. For now, this is definitely off the table. I'm also still making a monthly contribution ($100) that my job matches. This is also off the table. Like come on, it's free money, and my only liquid asset. There's no way...right? I'm not cashing it out.

But...what I am going to do is focus on abundance more. I check my student loan balance at least once a week. And then I go and write about it on the internet. But what about my investments?! I should be checking on those guys just as much too. Right? I'm trying to change my mindset a bit so I focus more on abundance and investments, rather than just harping on my debt all the time. Tune in next week for more on abundance! Woot woot!

Happy Independence Day America! Here's to achieving financial independence!

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