2013 Recap

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this site, so I’m going to just list the major changes or events.

  • Since the start of the year I’ve gotten a credit card which I’ve ranged some pretty big bills on, but I’m still paying it off in full each month. But sometimes it’s like I’m putting my entire paycheck towards a credit card bill which isn’t a good thing.
  • I managed to pay for my first semester in a University without using a student loan or a payment plan. Except for the textbooks I got using an Amazon store card which I had enough books ordered that Amazon gave me 6 months no interest to pay it off which I did several months before it came due.
  • There was a winter storm in December and I slid off the road right into a ditch stopping in a field. So far it’s costed over $1,200 and I have trouble shifting into Reverse now, so not to sure what to think of that mess.
  • Back on college, I found out after this past Fall semester (My Junior Year) that the University I’m going to is closing down the program I’m in and is only promising classes through the end of this year. So I’m considering taking summer classes and maybe even taking 21 credit hours this Fall 2014 semester so I can graduate this December. Which would require a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.
  • My office moved into a remodeled home due to flooding issues with the old office. It’s going to take a while to adjust because of the echo and the location.

2013 has been an interesting year if I had to answer. The part I hated the most about 2013 was just how much I slacked. I slacked on almost everything I could: on paying down my student loans, saving extra for anything, on school work, on my blogs, and even on my business work (I was 4 months behind on a project, if I had just done it I would have finished in two 40-hour weeks instead of only working an hour here, 30 minutes there, etc). So my only goal for 2014 is to not slack. Which to kick that off I’ve already started on my taxes even though I can’t finish till I get all the documents (like Scholarships, Investments, etc) in.

So here’s to seeing how 2014 will be. I’ll see where I stand in February once I get my credit card paid off and college paid for as to not skew the data. Here’s to also hoping I update this blog more frequently and that I stay out of debt and I stop over-using my credit cards.

Where do I want to be financially in life

Through my life what I’ve desired and wanted has changed and went back and forth several time. When I was young I used to say I was going to be a millionaire by the time I’m 21, sadly that only leaves a year and at the rate I’m going that’s way off. As I’ve grown older I’ve came to the conclusion of being more practical. Mainly to be more in line with what the average is, or about $42,000 a year. Now does this mean my desire to be one has gone away? No, just coming to conclusion it’s unrealistic.

So when I am old(er) and I look back at all I done here is the main financial goals I want to have accomplished,

  • Own my own house, which is paid off - This is your stereotypical American dream item, only without the mortgage. The greatest thing that could happen in this regard is to pay with cash, but as I’ve said in another post I would really like to pay cash, but that may not be an option.
  • Run a successful Business paying good wages - This is my biggest dream is to have a decent company with several employees that will provide me with income for years, plus I’d be doing what I love.
  • Have rental properties in the Black - This may be pushing it, but if I manage my money right then it could happen. This would only help to safe guard me against slow months.
  •  No Debt - When I am looking back I want to be in no debt, although I know I am in debt right now with my Student Loans I want to be out of debt and besides a house and/or business I don’t see myself getting into any more debt.
  • Fully funded Retirement - I’ve gotten started with a Traditional IRA from ING Direct (now Capital One 360) and if I can just max this out each year and maybe even look into some type of 401(k) or the likes for my company I should be well off in retirement.

If I get those goals in line then I don’t see myself having very much money problems, now those goals coming true is an entirely different thing.

College spending plan

With several state FAFSA deadline coming up its important to start preparing for the upcoming college semesters. I know myself that I’m waiting on the university I plan on transferring to for them to update their prices so I can plan around that. Maybe take one less class if It just won’t work.

In addition this builds on me working more hours as I am expecting to pay about $1,400 this coming semester. So I best be getting my expenses under control and finding ways to increase my income. For myself I plan on attending Western Kentucky University, which hasn’t released the Fall 2013 rates yet. But I plan on using the Spring tuition for calculating what I may owe. Which for what I am going for and the fact that it is mostly online, it means I have to pay $424 per credit hour, plus an “online” fee of $71. So it will be $495 per credit hour, or $1,485 a class.

I plan on taking three classes so it will be $4,455, I have applied for a scholarship for $2,000 a semester and I feel pretty good about it. I also have a scholarship that’s funded by the state lottery that works out to about $1,125 a semester I think. So this works out to me owing $1,330, which should be doable.

With classes starting in August I have $500 saved up and 5 months to go I need to ensure I’m putting back $166 a month. Which I am having my business save back a little bit and so far I should be on track to having the needed amount. So long as my plan works out then I will not need to take out any student loans nor will I have to pay the payment plan fees.

So if your going to school, do the math and see how much you need to save back.

Getting back on track part 3 – The Action Plan

Now that we know the issues for going off track it’s time we make an Action Plan to correct it. Which can go above and beyond just fixing the issues. Here’s my action plan:

  • Control my spending on the new Credit Card - The reason I say to control vs get rid of is I do get points and the card comes with no annual fee. Yet I need a balance and that is I can only spend if I have the money in the bank and I need to start paying it off every week, as to not cause a balance.
  • Increase hours - I need to manage my time better and I need to get my work done vs browsing the internet or playing games. I also need to work after hours if I have no homework or any other work I need to do until I get my Emergency Fund back to where it was when I had car repairs done and from the excess spending.
  • At least follow a basic budget - Until I get my finances back into shape I need to stick to a budget and not overspend. I also need to allow some wiggle room in the budget so a small issue won’t dip into my Emergency Fund.

In addition to the list above I added a goal to increase my Education Fund, figured it would be appropriate as it would fit in nicely with Increasing my hours. Now it’s just a matter of time to see if my plan is working and if I have made any improvements by the end of the month.

Getting back on track part 2 – Identify the issue

The biggest issues besides laziness that made me get off the path I was on was

  • Getting another Credit Card – Yep I applied to get one for gas purposes and what did I do on the very first weekend of owning it? Took my significant other out of state and spent money I didn’t have. Making me pay more for expenses that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.
  • Reduced hours - Somehow or another I never did increase my hours after my Fall semester ended and now that it’s started back up I’m lucky to even get 18 hours in a week. This has caused my income to go way down making it harder to pay more on my new Credit Card.
  • Not sticking to a budget - I used to have an alright budget and I’ve totally thrown that down the drain. I don’t even have enough money coming in because of the above to even meet all of my budget categories. Which had I sicked to my budget me getting a credit card wouldn’t have mattered in the slightest.

So now that i have identified the issues I need to find a way to correct the issue for both the short-term and the long-term. Short-term I need to correct my income problem and long-term I need to stick to a budget.

Getting back on track

As many of you have noticed it has been a while since I’ve posted anything on this site.

What the heck happened, you asked? I’ve gotten lazy and went off the path and plan I had. I have started to loose papers and came close to almost forgetting to pay my insurance. Spent almost all the money in my checking account on fast food cause I was to lazy to fix lunch. The system I had I wasn’t following it and it was fixing to only get worst with needed repairs on my vehicle pushing me into using all of my emergency fund, all 200 of it and putting the rest on credit.

So now it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong. I also need to make improvement with the system I have, it got to me the most since my business uses my system and I was starting to loose paperwork, the wake up call. Which to be honest I should have seen this coming moving the box of the stuff to do.

Now on the plus side I have done my taxes and I did meet my gross income goal for 2012. I will be getting a personal income tax refund of about $1,000. So at least that part of my plan did good. I do plan on saving my refund for my college expense as I’m expecting to pay over $1,400 for the 2013-2014 school year so every penny will help. Which I’ve half way kept on my college savings plan, but its way short of the $300 a month I was wanting to do and it consists of saving at the gross income level of my business.

So look forward to March being a month of articles and ways I need to improve. How often I do not know although my spring break is in a week or two so that will be a full week. As always if you have any ideas you would like to share just drop me a comment.

Getting out of small consumer debt – Some ways how you can do so

The following is a guest post from Martha Jackson, a contributing financial writer working for debtconsolidationcare.com. Since I myself have a student loan this article from Martha is about getting out of small consumer debt.

Consumer debt is the debt that results from any money owed due to buying goods or items for personal use. This debt usually arises from credit cards, installment loans and other kinds of financing. They may take up a huge part of your income every month. You can get out of debt problems if you want to enjoy a debt free life.

6 Ways to get out of small consumer debt

Read on to know about the 6 ways how you can get out of small consumer debt.

  1. Purchase goods with cash – You should try to purchase goods with cash only. Skip the idea of using credit cards since this will lead to increase in debt problems. It is advisable that you need not carry credit cards with you when you go out to buy something. Keep in mind that credit cards should be used only to meet your necessities.
  2. Make more than minimum payment – You can reduce your credit card debt by making more than the minimum payment. Start with small payment and then try to double your minimum balance to eliminate the credit card bills. As your income increases with time, you should make more than the minimum payments on your credit card dues so as to get rid of them soon. You may use fund from the employment bonuses or income tax returns to come out of consumer debt.
  3. Request for a decrease in interest rate – You can negotiate with your creditors and request for decreasing the interest rate on your credit card dues. The creditors will assess your credit score at first and then find out if you can qualify for a better interest rate. Thus, the debt payments will become easier for you.
  4. Look into your personal savings – Managing your money wisely means you will never touch your personal savings at any cost. However, if you are handling high consumer debt and high rate of interest, you may use your savings to wipe away your credit card dues. Once you get rid of credit card bills, you will be able to enjoy being debt free.
  5. Try to make some sacrifices – You may assess your monthly expenditures and try to cut down the unnecessary expenses to as much as possible. Go through the credit card statements very carefully and calculate how much money you can spend on entertainment, shopping and dining out. Make use of the extra money to pay off your credit card dues.
  6. Suitable ways to boost your monthly income – If you are finding it difficult to pay down your consumer debt with your monthly income, you may look for suitable ways to improve your earning capacity. Take up some part-time jobs that you can do during your leisure hours and boost your monthly income. Earning extra dollars will enable you to pay down the credit card debts with ease.

By following the above ways, you will be able to get out of consumer debt soon.

Opened an IRA, and prepared a budget for next year

I have finally opened an IRA at the ripe old age of 19, well maybe not that ripe. When I told my parents about it they expressed wishes of doing the same when they was my age. Told my significant other and just got a just another account response. But why open one now?

For starters it was super easy since I have an ING Direct account it took less then 5 minutes to setup and fund a new Traditional IRA. Which I didn’t choose the Roth IRA since the Roth isn’t tax deductible, instead when you withdraw the money you don’t pay taxes. This is opposite of the Traditional IRA where you deposit money tax free and what you withdraw is taxed at your current tax rate, which is hopefully lower. Now if my income rises then I see myself opening a Roth IRA also to balance it out.

In addition I believe I have at least a draft of my 2013 budget. The biggest change will be the addition of a college/WKU category. I believe if all my math is correct that saving back $470 each month between now and May of 2015 I should leave Western with about $60 in the account. Unless I can get some scholarships which I’m in the process of applying for.

I have also combined a part of my business income/expenses inside of my budget since what I’m paid is proportional to my business’s income/expenses. The only things I do not have included are infrequent like once or twice a year expenses, but so long as I have a general plan is what matters at first. I can always improve it if I need to.  Which if I can increase my income in 2013 to pass this year’s income then I will be able to pull off my budget and my WKU savings goal.

 

What’s your time worth?

Coming from a self-employed standpoint this topic is rather important to me. Only I used to view this strictly in terms of income. I’ve been asked the question “How much are you paid per hour?” quite a lot but now I see the other side of the equation. Which isn’t all about work ether.

Now when I look at what’s my time worth it consists of

  • Am I using my time wisely - Take looking at comics, far too often I have other projects, or even homework to be doing. In this case I’m valuing the time to look at comics vs. what should be a priority. And by not doing work when I should be it’s similar to saying the comics are worth the time I could be working.
  • Will this be beneficial to me, or a time waste? - This I have been bad at and going back to comics I get a time waste, so long as I have other, more important tasks to attend to. I will also spend countless hours during a week doing tasks or sitting idle.
  • Am I going in with a plan, or doing it as I go - This isn’t so much about time, but when I do not make a plan first, I often spend time re-doing items that I didn’t get right the first time. So not only do I spend more time working on the project, but I get hit twice as it’s time I could be using to do other tasks.
  • If for money, is it worth my time? – What I mean by this is say I could do a website for minimum wage ($7.25/hr), will it be worth the effort and time to put in the project when I could be doing other income producing tasks such as marketing my business or doing side projects. Now to be honest I have done tasks for low pay when I run low on money.

So to me I’d rather spend my time doing tasks that will benefit me the most, and pay my bills, or get me closer to paying my bills such as doing my homework. Which in some side projects I do a fixed fee, so planning is essential in that case and with a proper plan will do both the planning and making it worth my time. It will also give me an incentive to work as fast as I can to get the project done right, doing it wrong means fixing errors and taking too long means I am not utilizing my time right and that what I could have been paid an hour goes down.

Paying for College pt. 2

With the $300 extra dollars I mentioned earlier I decided to leave it in my business, earmarked for ether a bad month, or for college expenses come Fall 2013. I feel like this is the best choice as it pushes my business reserve to the one-month worth of pay and advertising expenses. Plus by the time college starts I should have enough in my reserves to at least pay for half of a class and two months, hopefully more but I’d rather be realistic.

I have decided to make a new website live. I plan on posting several guides and just general information about programming topics and once I get it build up I’ll start to monetize it, all in the hopes of paying for my college first. Plus it is a subject I am passionate about. I’m hoping that by doing this that Western will be more in my reach.

Here’s my only goal in terms of generating money for college, to not take out a student loan to pay for it. If I can make enough to at least do a Payment Plan (where I pay through the semester) then I have succeed in my goal. Which I am going to try to set more money back from my business, just for college, serving double duty while hopefully being unused.

Well I better be wrapping this article up. I have a 11 am class I need to be getting ready for. I feel excited and nervous at the same time, hoping that this will work out. But I do suppose that at the end of the day, every little bit can only help.