Diversion of interests

With the restful break from school, my mind found the energy to think of things unrelated to high school. Namely, finances and fitness, my two F’s on the report card of ’07.

Wait, did I just say “things unrelated to high school”? Nevermind.

Finances

I wracked up a lot of credit card debt in the summer of ’07. Now, it’s nowhere near the $37, 000 that some had when they decided to turn things around, but it’s enough I’m like, “Really? No.”

I don’t want to be my father, hiding from phone calls and cycling through credit cards. I still also owe around $25,000 on my student loans, and some to a few other organizations.

Needless to say, my net worth is low. Negative. …Just about negative the amount I owe, as a matter of fact.

So the best way to get a positive net worth, it seems to me, will be to pay down that debt aggressively.

And I do mean aggressively. Y’all know how I can be.

First, of course, some research and some personal info-gathering. My debt reduction chart shows my initially-calculated debt. This is the debt that I’m snowflaking, despite it including my student loan, which is currently more than 50% of my annual income. (Not for long, though, since my income will be increasing.)

Ah, snowflaking. I like the idea. More on that in a minute (or go read that link). For it to work, really, though, I have to know my spending habits. That’s what PearBudget is for. Almost too simple, it’s a budgeting dream, in many ways. With very little work, I can see how much money I have available in each of my spending “categories”.

I’m using Zen Habits’ “How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck” article as a resource in broad goals. I’m not freezing my credit cards, but I certainly ain’t using them. I haven’t in months anyway, so that’s not a habit I have to break. I’m using the envelope system for variable expenses like food and gas.

I, am, in fact, switching to using cash. There’s a lot of debate about the advantages vs. the disadvantages of using a cash-only or mostly cash system, and I’ve read a lot of it over the past week. For now, though, that’s what I’m going with. Debit cards make it easy for me to fudge numbers on how much money I have left to spend. Cash won’t.

Which brings me back to snowballing. It’s an idea proposed by Dave Ramsey (and as soon as the library gets a copy of the book in, I’ll be reading it) and modified by many. Paidtwice wrote the primer to snowflaking (one such modification) I’m using as a basis for my plan of action. Good reading, as it also explains snowballing.

In the past week, with budgeting and laying out what money has already disappeared since my last paycheck and what I’ll be spending in the next few weeks, I’ve already managed to pay more on my debt than I have in months.

On the positives of money (i.e. income), Moolanomy wrote a great article titled “Six Streams of Income“. In looking at my income, I have two streams and one up-and-coming drip-drip-drip. The first two are my main job and my second job at the hospital. The third is crocheting. I’m currently making a blanket for a friend of mine, who has agreed to pay the costs of the yarn plus a little extra. (That extra will likely go right into paying debt.)

That’s a tempting idea to pursue. Crocheting is fairly quick, makes cool-looking bags and blankets, and could earn me a pretty penny.

So money’s big on my mind, but surprisingly not depressingly so. Once the debt gets sliced and diced, it’ll be time for serious saving and investing.

Fitness

Ah, fitness. I let my body slip when I started teaching. I haven’t gained a single pound, but I’ve lost almost all muscle definition. I’m… gushy. Bleh.

So I made an investment in myself over Chrimmus break. I bought a set of dumbbells. Not the silly plastic ones, but dumbell bars with standard weights that you rack on yourself. Expandable as I gain strength.

I’ve made myself a reasonable fitness plan. I have too much else I want to do to dedicate more than a half hour a day to exercise, except on Saturdays. So that’s what I’m doing. Whether it’s a 1/2 hour of weight-lifting or a 1/2 hour of running (etc.), I’m getting in something to improve my fitness level 5-6 days a week.

Yes, some of it’s for looks. I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can carry a decent amount of weight on my frame as muscle. That’s pretty cool for a woman, and very nice at my mediocre height. I have a particular fetish for nicely cut upper arms, too.

The rest is that I’ve noticed how not-strong I am. If my classroom window gets stuck, there are times when I have to ask a student to pry it open so that we can have some airflow. (Especially since I’ve had no air conditioning or heat in my classroom since, oh, September.) I don’t like that. I want to be able to move stacks of textbooks easily and pick up desks with no strain. Whatever I need to do, I want to be able to do it.

I’m rather uninterested in my bathroom scale at the moment. That number’s probably going to stay the same as I shift body composition again.

I’m setting small fitness goals for myself, much like the finance ones: build the habit, lift a little more, run a little faster. It’s all functional, though, rather than revolving around numbers. Numbers are for finances right now.

To bring it back home

Leaving this blog unattended for two months has kind of hurt my soul. I miss the internet as a creative outlet and a place to vent. I didn’t want this place to become a teacher’s haven, when I come just to bitch about school, but now I’m kind of getting a second wind. I’m becoming a real nerd again, with the energy to be interested in more than one thing. I make no promises, but I am sitting here now, on a Sunday afternoon, taking the time to write here instead of grading papers.

Not yet balanced, but definitely more so than before.

  • Andrew

    Thanks for the lead on overcoming the crushing burden of transition debt! I’m hoping that within two months I will have achieved some sort of steady-state income. The cash thing worked great for me while my income was steady.

    Also bravo on making cash through quilting. I’m impressed by your willingness to work in something not directly related to your degree. Too often people are unemployed because a job is beneath them, when there’s plenty of work available, and it’s fulfilling skillful work.

  • 1: Amazon on your page knows me… it’s trying to sell me something i just bought!

    2: w00t nerdiness and w00t balancing life in so many ways: school, fitness, finance, creativity!

    3: I want a crocheted thing… hmm, what what I make look best (-; a scarf? a hat? i dunno, i will photoshop somethings onto me and maybe i can get in line for a cool item?

  • Hi Pookie! Welcome back to the nets.

    Good luck getting the cash flow worked out. I may be hitting you up to make mine work out soon…seems I’m impulsive and made some bad decisions recently. Oh, well. It’ll equal out ‘fore too long.

    Loves.

  • Andrew: Student loans are a killer. And I consolidated early to get a good rate, which nixed my grace period! Oi.

    Michael: Yeah, the Amazon thing is a bit of an experiment. Clearly, I have to post more before it could possibly become profitable. As far as me crocheting you something, I think I’m best at big stuff like blankets (I like finding fun afghan patterns), but if I can find a pattern for it, I can do anything. Just let me know what you’re interested in.

    Luke: Just poke at me for info. The impulsiveness is the killer. I can do fine, paycheck to paycheck with impulse buying (teachers make enough money for a single gal like me), but it doesn’t work for paying off debt — it just stays stagnant. You really do need to live below your means.

    Thanks to all y’all for chiming in so quickly. Yay for RSS. 😛