Procrastinating by thinking about the future

I'm currently procrastinating from writing a paper, so that's the reason for the flurry of posts. At least I'm being semi-productive. Better than hanging on The Purse Forum all day!

I've been thinking about what I want to achieve in the next couple of years, in all aspects of my life. I want to pay off my debt, graduate from school and get a good job, exercise daily and lose 20 lbs... Those are the desires that nag at me daily. I also want buy a house in the city where I went to undergrad (40 miles south of here), but I know I won't be able to do that for awhile. I'm aiming to have this accomplished by the time I'm 33. Anyway, one step at a time.

I would like to have zero credit card debt by the time I graduate. By 2011 (a year later), the car debt will be gone. I need to give serious thought as to how I'm going to first pay back the cc companies, and then work on getting the 10k back to my bf.

I'm going to tackle the Mastercard first, since it has the highest interest and the lowest balance. I'm selling a bag on ebay next week that will hopefully get me at least $2100. And I have about $600 of stuff to take back to the store. That should leave me a balance of roughly $2000. I can pay that off entirely as soon as my loan funds come in at the end of August. Meanwhile I'll pay the minimum on my Visa ($150).

I have no idea how I'm going to bring the Visa to $0 from nearly $9000. When my loan funds come in, I should have about $12k in my bank account. I'll get another $10k in January. My monthly expenditures are: rent (1050), gas (120), food (?), cell (150 - this is for both my bf and I, but it's the only utility I pay), and car (370). Assuming I'm not missing something (which I probably am), that adds up to $1690/mo. That's $6760 for 4 months. That leaves me $5240 for food/whatever else I'm missing. Oh, and if I pay the 2k off the Mastercard, I would only have $3240.

Would this work? $1000 in September '08, '09 ($2k)
$150 in Oct/Nov/Dec '08, '09 ($900)
$1000 in Jan '08, '09 ($2k)
$150 in Feb 08-09-10/Mar 08-09-10/Apr 08-09-10/May 08-09-10/
Jun 08, 09/Jul 08, 09/Aug 08, 09 ($2700)

That would be $7600 in total payments. If I'm doing the calculations right, in the course of two years, I'll be charged roughtly $1000 on interest. So I'd still have $2400 left to pay by the time I graduate.

I'm going to try to stick to this payment scheme. If I sell some other stuff on ebay, maybe I can still get it completely paid down. That would leave me the car payment, and I can start payment to my bf. Around November 2010, I'll have to start paying back the loans. But that point in time is a little fuzzy -- who knows, I might go back to school for a LLM... then I'd get the loans deferred for another two years.

More Debt - UGH.

I have to adjust my debt totals. I checked my Mastercard account this morning, and somehow, it's increased by nearly $2000! That number SHOULD decrease by $2100 next week (I'm selling something that will hopefully return a profit) - but I'm really shocked by how quickly that number went up (in less than a month!). I'll have to review my account to see what's going on.

Updated breakdown of my current debt:
Visa: $8,952.00 (11.24% interest) (+$88)
Mastercard: $4,323.00 (24.99% interest) (+$1,800)
Car Loan: $10,961.00 (payments @ $370 per month; done by 5/8/2011)
BF Loan: $10,000.00 (interest free)
TOTAL DEBT = $34, 236.00

So, after checking over my account... yes, I did really spend nearly $2k in under a month. And ZERO necessary purchases! I can't even remember buying all this stuff. I'm going to list them to shame myself -- I can't keep doing this. I'll definitely be taking some of these back.

Mike & Chris Leather Jacket $1,032.63
Yellow Maxi Dress $130.00
Purple Maxi Dress $82 (on sale)
Botkier Purse $330 (on sale)
Ugg Cardys in Black & Brown $200 (on sale)
Magenta Dress $120 (on sale)
Deposit for Rebecca Minkoff Purse $300 (on sale) --> I was accidentally charged twice, so one $300 will drop off in a couple days
Tano Purse $198

At least most of the things I bought were on sale and returnable??

New Goal

I've decided to to set two new goals -- in addition to paying off my debt, I want to try to save up for trips abroad and shopping.

I was REALLY hoping to go to France/Germany next summer with my bf, but I need to work for that. No more free usage of my credit cards, not until my credit cards get under control again.


I have this friend (we'll call her "G"). She and I used to be closer than we once were, I think. (Or maybe I should say - I think our relationship used to be healthier) We went through undergrad together, and we would study in her room, or she would crash on my floor. We would talk about boys, grades, future plans. We were both (relatively) poor, and sometimes she would cook for me, or we'd go out for cheap eats - In n' Out, Del Taco (our splurges were gourmet pizza and sushi). Then we graduated. I officially graduated early - 6 months before her, and moved in with my boyfriend and began working within a month. At that point I had zero rent (we were living with my bf's parents), and I was making a salary that excited me. I had no debt and a respectable amount of savings. Grad school started 8 months later. The stresses of my job (which I was, by then, actively disliking) coupled with the stresses of living with my bf's family jump started my spending habit. Both fortunately and unfortunately for me, I worked right next to a mall. I would go out everyday at lunch, eat a $15 meal from the food court, and shop at the department stores.

A little over a year ago, G got married, and found a full time job. In some ways, she has a similar temperament to me. Stress is a big part of our lives (and probably helps us thrive in some ways); we're not the type to let comments "roll off" our backs. We have significant others who are the polar opposites. Oh, and... we both love to spend.

Around that time, my best friend and I stopped speaking to one another, and G and I started seeing each other more often. In the beginning, we frequented Ross, then Loehmanns. She bought a pair of Chanel sunglasses. I began looking for a designer pair myself. The habit was pushed to the next level.

Eventually, she ended up quitting her job, and began working at various jewelry stores part time while she sorted out her grad school application. Even though she was making much less, she continued to shop with me, and she introduced me to certain (expensive) brands at the boutique around the corner from her house. She wiped out her savings.

Fast forward to today - we're in reverse positions. She took back her full time job, and I quit mine. And we're both still shopping. To give you an idea of how far this habit has escalated, we now shop on Robertson Blvd (in Beverly Hills). She had been obsessed with a Chanel purse for months, and we ended up spying it at Neiman Marcus this past weekend, and then both of us bought Chanels. I spent $2800 on a purse - a chain flap, basically the size of a large clutch.

Before you call me crazy, I took the purse back yesterday. But what is kind of amazing to me is how nonchalant I felt about the purchase. I suppose it's that my mind keeps adjusting, adapting to the pricier and pricier purchases I've been making. There must be a psychological principle that explains that. In any event, it's not helpful to me, at least not right now. How can I get back to the "Ross level", or below?

I haven't articulated to G that I'm trying to save and pay off debt. Maybe that's the first step.

She and I have gone back and forth saying "these are our 20s; we need to enjoy them. Our 30s are for saving." Even my mom, in some sense, agrees. If I am still able to eat and pay for a roof over my head, but my debt grows by nearly 3k, is it justifiable?

No. It's only justifiable to make the purchase if I have the actual money for it. I need to stop viewing my credit cards as money.

My bf would say a $3000 purse would NEVER be justifiable (he doesn't believe $300 is justifiable for a purse either). Maybe there's something wrong with me that I think it could be?

Part-time Job!

I got a part-time job for the fall. It's only 10 hours a week, but it's on campus, and I think I can organize things so that both school and work will fall on the same two days, thus saving me money on gas (and probably food too - this way I can just eat at home 3 days a week). It pays $14 per hour, so I estimate I should take home about $500 per month ($125 per week).

I'll be getting my loan funds in at the end of August, so I'll have an additional $10,000 to live on. Also, my relative has promised to give us $600 this month and next month for rent. Then (supposedly) she is planning to leave. (I have to admit that this will in some ways really suck for us. She helped us a lot around the house - cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. She has definitely paid her keep in a lot of ways. But it's also putting a strain on my relationship with my bf, which is definitely a problem. So, I'm torn about how to feel.)

The next two weeks I'm going to clean out my closet and look for things to sell on ebay. There might be one or two purses I want to sell - some of the infrequently used ones. I also have some clothes and shoes I'd like to get rid of.

I'm hoping to replace my shopping habit with a (much healthier) exercising habit. I'm going to try to do aerobics or yoga at least 1-2 hrs every day. I have a gym membership (about $35/mo) that's going to waste. We have an exercise bike and Wii Fit at home - maybe I should cancel (or freeze) the membership and try to work out at home?

Even though I want to curb my spending, there are a few things I'm not sure I can cut back on. Namely, getting my eyebrows done and a pedicure once a month. Is that excessive? I figure I still need to allow myself some pleasures... But I should probably pick one or the other (pedicures, hands-down).

The Journey Begins

Inspired by reading several other awesome debt blogs, here's my stab at things. To give a little background, I am a grad student with a couple years left before I enter the (real) job market. I worked full time during my first 2 years, but recently quit so I could focus on school and pulling up my grades. My primary income is now student loans -- roughly $24,000 per year (10k in January, 4k in May, and 10k in August).

I am in a committed, long-term relationship with my live-in boyfriend and he has been very supportive thus far. Right after I quit, he gave me a $10,000 loan to help pay off my credit card. He has said I can pay it back once I graduate, but has mentioned the loan a few times in a way that's made me feel bad, i.e. 'That money could be used to start paying me back' (admittedly, only when I make purchases that I probably shouldn't be making). I would like to start paying him back ASAP. We have always been been even where finances are concerned -- each paying half of the rent, bills, furniture, etc -- and I really hate having this 10K "cloud" hanging over me. It's depressing. At the same time, my grades were really suffering as a result of working full time; I know I can't go back to that. At most, I can try a part time job -- I'd like about 16 hours a week, if possible.

To elaborate on my aforementioned "purchases" -- I love purses. And shoes. And clothes. I'd like to think this is the only way in which I'm a stereotypical woman. My love for these things has really skyrocketed in the past 2 years (FT job plus nightly school did NOT equal a happy girl). They've been the things I've turned to when I'm stressed. Yeah, in a way -- shopping is my crack (or my nicotine, or my alcohol -- neither of which I use or abuse; at least I save money in some areas!). It was fine when I was working; I could shop as much as I wanted and still get every bill paid. Now it's a bit different. I have school only now, but I've been stressed in a different way -- stressed over being productive (constantly running through my head: must study, must get exercise), not having enough money, the absolute NEED for great grades (to justify quitting my job), and family stress (since my relative is living with us -- "just until she gets a job" -- of course, that's been almost a year now). And that stress has fueled a few new purse purchases.

I've been trying to shop smart (as in, only buy stuff that's discounted), but I've been in denial about what I think is the reality -- I need to stop shopping altogether. I need to keep my eye on the prize; in 2 years, hopefully, I'll get a great paying job as an attorney, and I can go back to buying what I please. Until then, I should be frugal, and not only make sure all my extraneous debts are paid down, I need to prepare for the inevitable student loan payback. gulp.

I'm hoping this blog will help me stay on track; remind me of my debt and my income (or lack thereof). And maybe it will inspire some other people along the way? The first step towards a (meager) income was signing up for SendEarnings which allows me to earn essentially free money while on the web. Please click on the link to sign up if you're interested -- I earn a little bit from referrals, and every penny counts!

Here is a breakdown of my current debt:
Visa: $8,864.11 (11.24% interest)
Mastercard: $2,494.65 (24.99% interest)
Car Loan: $10,961.00 (payments @ $370 per month; done by 5/8/2011)
BF Loan: $10,000.00 (interest free)
TOTAL DEBT = $32, 319.76

(I'm separating out the school loans, because I won't have to start making payments on them until 2 yrs, 6 mos from now, and because I really can't think about them now and remain sane. Sadly, this number is only going to increase.)
Student Loans: $10, 301.14 (govt) + $114, 700.23 (private) = $125, 001.37

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