Medical Emergency

I busted up both of my knees and have to got to physical therapy for 6 weeks. Uggh. And not only that, but it's cost me $300 (with insurance!) so far to get some routine visits and tests. By the way, $300 is almost the gym membership that I forewent on the logic that running is free...and for the same running that busted up my knees. #irony 

$300 :( And I haven't even started physical therapy yet  X____X

The knee replacement I'm trying to avoid. aka It could be worse.
This, my friends, is why we need to have an emergency fund rather than just paying everything we can towards our loans, and then some. I must -- wait, let me capitalize that -- I MUST have an emergency fund. I've paid the $300 on my credit card (who's balance was previously zero), and will pay the balance off with my next paycheck. But what if it would've been $3,000 instead of $300? Then what (the f*@!%) would I do? I'm really not trying to live off of credit card debt to fund my student debt. That would, of course, make absolutely no sense. 

So here's the new debt zapping strategy -- Instead of putting as much of my income as possible -- almost 50% right now -- towards my loans, I'm going to:

1. Divert my income towards my savings until I have three months worth of savings, which is about $4,000 and will take me just over 2 months to squirrel away.
2. Only pay the minimum amount towards my loans in the mean time.
3. Cash out on the savings once I'm $4,000 away from annihilating my loans. Bam! 

This way I'll have an emergency savings fund, which (of course) I'll hopefully never have to use, and most importantly, will give me a bit more peace of mind. Having only $200 -- and living pay-check-to-paycheck -- is like trying to walk a tightrope while juggling, blindfolded, and over a pit of venomous snakes. No...actually...it's probably worse than that. It's like busting up your knees and having to pay $300 from your credit card to not even have them fixed yet. Ugggh!

Another plug here though should go to insurance. If you don't have insurance (medical or dental) I highly recommend paying for it. Because without insurance you've pretty much jumped into the pit of snakes at that point. Not having insurance would be WAAAAYYYY worse than this. It would've cost me well into the thousands without insurance. And if you think you can't afford it, ehh, wrong! While I was living in Hawai'i as a freelance/part-time photographer I made about $12,000 that year and paid for my own insurance. It cost me about $600 to be insured that year. Those $600 would've fully covered any emergency; volcano lava accident, surfing mishap, and even a venomous snake pit. But most importantly, it gave me the peace of mind that not only would I be taken care of if I had an accident, but that I wouldn't go bankrupt if I did. If you don't have insurance, next time, instead of going to facebook, do this: go to google and type "individual medical insurance plans" -- and start reading my friend. You know it'll make you feel better to just know you have it. Do it! 

Okay, I'm done with the insurance PSA. Back to debt zapping! {{insert laser zapping noises}}

I have to give credit to the always fabulous tips from NoMoreHarvardDebt for the saving strategy idea. Here's Joe M's tutorial on this strategy -- watch it!



Also, here's a sweet little slideshow/article from LearnVest.com on saving:
You’ll Never Believe How Much I Saved ... and How

Bike = $200. Transportation = Priceless.

Before I get into our bike theme for the day, here's a great resource you should check out: http://www.learnvest.com/category/life-and-money/

It's a personal finance site with tons of tips and articles. They also have a daily digest email that I've signed up for and online courses. I'll share anything that strikes me. More on that front to come...

Back to the topic/crisis at hand...I need a bike.

The city I live in (Miami, FL) has almost no reliable public transit right now, and having a car is really the way to go. I've gotten by with sharing cars with my mom and sister since I started this debt killing journey because I don't have to commute for work. But having some form of transit to call my own would really be great right now.

So, I'm about to make a hefty purchase on a bike. Although I'm saving thousands on forfeiting a car purchase, I'm still going to drop a few hundred on a bike. And any purchases I make during my little debt annihilation is going to be dang well worth it! It's going to be something that lasts me a LONG time and worth the investment -- as all purchases should be it'd argue. 

I've calculated that I can drop $200 tops on a bike. So I'm going to get the best bike I can for my money. It's also going to be great to just ride around the city. I love biking and had been commuting on entirely on bikes throughout the past 2-3 years. It's awesome. 

And thus, that brings me to the bamboo bike...


It's about $200 and just seems cool because it's made of bamboo. I can order it online and build it myself, also cool. But nonetheless, I'm going to look into some bike collectives here that may be able to steer me (or should I say peddle me - haha!) in the right direction. 




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To Gym or Not to Gym

My family's signing up for a gym membership and want me to go in on it. But at $30/month that's 6 days of interest each month (at ~$5/day in interest). Bottom line, is a gym membership worth 6 days of interest?

My answer no. In fact, a gym membership isn't worth any days of interest.

Why? Because running around the block is FREE. Yes, you don't have to go to a gym (at you probably won't go to anyway) to stay in -- nor get into -- shape.

Back in 2010 I lost 20 pounds without a gym membership. Thanks internet! I watched fitness videos by a personal trainer on youtube and counted calories on livestrong.com. As you can see (from the graph below) I went from 142 to 122 in about 4 months. I just ran around the block people and ate sensibly.


You can even do the entire Insanity work out without a gym membership because there are video online for FREE. 

Again, FREE.

The only caveat is participating in sports and activities that require specialization or another person. For example, ballroom dancing, scuba diving, fencing, team sports, etc. Those are the only things worth paying for because you can't do them alone otherwise. 

For me, that's martial arts. I did kickboxing and tae kwon do consistently from ages 8 to 23. And have always wanted to pick it back up again. Considering it's about $350-500 per year for a yearly membership to a good martial arts gym, then I'm going to have to add this to my list of deferred items until this post loan apocalypse is over. In the mean time, I'm lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement...for free.

I Made 5 days on Amazon!

I sold some stuff on Amazon!

lucifer effect (book) = sold for $29

lonley planet (book) = sold for $4

tupac's greatest hits (CD) = sold for $7



2 books and a CD! They came to $37, minus $9 in postage = a net of $28. At about $5 of interest per day, $28 translates to about 5 and a half days of interest...also known as 5 days of my life back! #win

It's time people. If you have stuff you haven't used (nor read) in over a year, it's time to turn it into cash! It's super easy to sell stuff on Amazon. All you have to do is search for the item, and it will come up (Amazon has everything), click on the "Sell on Amazon" button (see fabulous illustration below) and follow the prompts. Every few days I get a day-making-email that tells me something sold. So yes, while I sleep, my junk is turning into cash. #genius




If you're not already selling all that junk you know you aren't using, and you know exactly what pile/box/bag I'm talking about, then remember, the only one stopping you from turning that into a pile/box/bag of cash is you! What are you waiting for?!


Aug. '13 Update: GRRRRRR!!!

                Why does it feel like I've been paying these loans FOREEEEEEVER?! I only really started to aggressively pay them three months ago (when I got a job). So why does it feel like it's more drawn out than ever?! Answer...come on, you know why, right? Yep, you got it: Interest (aka The thing financial nightmares are made of).                    Because of my insane interest, I've paid only barely at 9% of my balance from when I started this blog. At this rate, to reach my goal, I'd have to pay over $1,900/month *plus* interest for the next 20 months. Ain't no body (aka I) got time (nor resources) for that?!
               That's it. It's time time to buckle up and put this thing to rest. My insane rent is a big part of why this is taking so long. But until my lease ends in 9 months, it's time to make some money money money. I have a little side gig that brings in about $100 a month, and my photography business is really picking up. I'll be focusing more on the latter this fall and hope that'll really put a big dent (or giant axe blow) to these financial shackles.
              I'm also going to look into consolidating my loans. I called my lender today for the two bigger loans (the $32k+ ones) and asked how I could get my interest rate down. They laughed in my face...just kidding. They were actually really nice and told me that using auto-pay (which I already use) is the only way to get the interest rate down. But that only shaves off a pathetic .25% and thus leaves me at a suffocating 6.44%. {groan} Soooo, consolidation it is. I'll be calling my other lender, the one with the 1.14% interest rate, next week (I'd do it tomorrow but my job is insanely busy and I'm traveling over the weekend...to the wedding in Ohio from the last post) to look into my options for consolidation. Stay tuned...and keep up the loan zapping!

p.s. If you're not already following Joe Mihalic's budget clinic series, I suggest you watch it, memorize it, recite it to your dog, tell your mom about it, and watch it again. Here's the first episode to get you started:

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