Financial Tracking for the Week of April 5, 2020

Hello!
It has been a LONG while.
I’m not even sure what kept me from posting..
Probably a mix of discouragement, losing motivation, and literally just being so broke that I felt like there was no point in tracking anything – just flying by the seat of my pants and hoping that everything will fall into place.. per usual but more so than usual.

Things sorta have fallen into place (Clearly, since I am still alive and well with a roof over my head and food in the fridge – I am blessed) but sorta hasn’t (I’m still flying by the seat of my pants).

Before I get into the nitty gritty details of my financial situation and update, I want to try this new thing and give my financial hardship to God first.
Maybe this prayer is unnecessary to you. You can definitely skip it.
But maybe you can pray this over for me or pray it for yourself as well if you are struggling right along beside me.

Either way, it’s happening. Let’s pray:

Prayer

Hi God,
I just wanted to first thank you so much for all that you have provided for me recently. My kids and I are healthy and safe. We have a home. We have food. And as silly as it sounds, we have toilet paper. My circumstances could have been far worse when I reflect on the course my life has taken but I am here and, compared to the many directions that my life could have gone, I can see now that this is the best path to be on with everything that’s going on. I am grateful for your divine intervention and protection.
God, I just wanted to pray over my finances. I feel that every time I move one step forward, I am placed in a position to take ten steps back. I pray that no matter where I am, I continue to place my faith in you and your provision. I pray that you will take over my debt and eliminate it. I pray that you will turn my financial struggles into financial blessings. I pray for an overflow of abundance so that, not only am I living comfortably in excess but also be in the position to bless others and honor you.
I pray that you will help me make wise financial choices and help me build healthy money habits. I also pray that you will lead me out of this season of financial uncertainty and hardship. Help me keep my eyes on you and stay faithful to you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen

God is good. In so many ways ❤

UPDATE

Stocks

Okay, so let me just go on to say that I did a thing.
I invested in stocks.
Wise? Ehhh….

Wise in the sense that I feel like I jumped at a good time while everything was low.
Not wise considering that fact that I don’t have the expendable money to invest.

Objectively wise. Subjectively dumb… or just not the best choice.

But, wise or not, I did learn a handful of things.
Like what dividends are, what diversifying means, some good stocks to get into, how it generally works, etc.

Was it the best time for ME to join personally? No.
But this was such a good learning experience for me that I kind of appreciate this failure.
It’s something I can see myself using to help LEVERAGE my finances in the future.

With that being said, I decided to sell MOST of my shares of the stocks that I invested in.
I’m staying invested in three because they were kind of a hefty investment (for me since I’m poor.. you might think $1,000+ is a hefty investment but for me, 10% of that is more than pushing it).
So I’ll be holding on to them until I know I’m getting a decent return and also for a little more experimental learning curve as well.

I added the total amount of how much I invested and it turned out to be a little over $300.
Keep this number in mind (or don’t..because I’ll be bringing it up anyway.. lol)

Financial Changes + Obstacles

Welp, in the past few weeks, some major financial changes have gone underway. I’m a little sad because it’s just going to make things harder.

For one, my car lease has finally ended! Yay!
But not yay because I decided to purchase it and since my credit score blows, my monthly payment went up… by about $100. (Insert ugly crying here)

That’s the biggest change, really. And because it’s more permanent, it’s the most suckiest.

Obstacles:

1. New debt

With my tax refund money, I’m happy to announce that I used most of it to pay off a debt with a payment plan that was KILLING me. And maybe about half in a couple of others.

The thing about that is..and I’m not sure which is better.. to save yout refund or using it to pay off debt.
Well, in this case, paying the high interest debt is definitely better. But year after year, I always put all my tax returns into my debt.
And I don’t get much left over.

I was catching up with my friend and she said, “Yeah, I put a little bit into my debt but I’m saving most of it and using some of it for a vacation. I’m always going to be in debt so I never put all of my returns into it.”

LIKE WHAT?!
“I’m always going to be in debt.”

GIRL, SAME (seasonally speaking – May God take and release my debt and replace it with financial stability)! So why am I throwing all my money into debt when my income doesn’t even cover my bills so I end up pulling new loans out anyway? In which returns the vicious cycle of not being able to afford the payments…

I don’t know why I didn’t think like her….
There’s always next year…I’m keeping my money this time.. lol

Anyway, point is, I paid off a couple of debts off but I’m in debt to them again. (Insert ugly crying..again). Thankfully, the interest rates are MUCH lower so it is not as back breaking, but I’m not exactly “getting out of debt” like I wanted to for this year either.

2. I had to open a new credit card

My dog got a huge cut on his paw and it required stitches. Didn’t have the cash for it so I had to apply for a credit card. Silver lining: I qualified for $500 and the vet bill was $300 so I was able to take care of my dog. Hopefully, the remaining balance will be enough for the follow-up appointment.

The not so bright side.. I’ve accrued yet another monthly payment to be mindful of.

3. Car registration

At the end of April, I’ll have to fork over about $300 to renew my registration.
I did have that saved and reserved knowing that it was coming. But I ended up spending it. Not for my own pleasure but on necessities.

I’m so broke that I literally can’t even save money for future bills…. haaaa…

4. This pandemic sucks

I am currently undergoing a massive financial cut.
My part-time job was scheduled to close the end of March (owner’s choice).
However, because of Corona, it shut down early.

My ex-husband got laid off so child support has also stopped coming in.

To make up for the difference, I’ve tried applying EVERYWHERE. But no one is hiring. I was welcomed to “apply anyway” though.

My current plan:
Donate plasma (first appointment in forever is scheduled for tomorrow).
Apply to work at Amazon warehouse mid-June.
Why mid-June? Because I worked there last year but hated it so much that I didn’t come back after my lunch break…. so I have to wait a year before I can reapply.

If I hated it so much, why would I reapply? Because the money was decent. And this time, instead of full time hours (four 10-hour shifts), I’ll be going in for part-time hours. Hopefully, it’s less painful when it’s shorter hours (it’s mind-numbingly boring.. I need something that’s challenging and keeps me on my toes). If the hours aren’t what I’m looking for (i.e., if it’s two 10-hour shifts instead of, let’s say, five 4-hour shifts, it won’t work with my schedule), I can try picking up some of their other job positions like being a shopper. My friend does it and enjoys it and says the hours are flexible..so maybe..

But until then, I am banking on my May paycheck (biggest paycheck of the school year because April doesn’t have any extended weekends or breaks), plasma donation, and the stimulus checks.. which even then.. after crunching the numbers, won’t be enough… but hopefully enough until I can get a job from Amazon (prayers please: this is the only job that I can think of that I can work around my non-negotiable, non-flexible schedule as a single mom, student, and “full-time” worker).

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s jump in with the nitty gritty financial stuff.

This Week’s Finances

Friday the 10th:

Rent (They gave us an extension AND a 5% discount! AMEN!): $1300

Capital One CC: $25

Blue Trust Loans: $105 (final payment – may or may not call to defer payment)

Comcast: $116 (technically late.. but also might not pay it anyway for now until stim check arrives)

Advance America: $98

Earnin App: $100 (to read more about what this app is, go here )

Money Tree: $200 – payment has been deferred until May 10th. It is also the second to last payment

Speedy Cash: $86 – Payment has been pushed to April 24th

Saturday 11th:

Vet Bill: Unknown – I know it’s not really a “payment” that’s going out but I wanted to just place it here as my own reminder

WordPress: $96 annual premium plan renewal – this may or may not happen.

Next week’s payments to prep for:

Total Visa CC: $40

Color Street: $10

Disney +: $13

VS Angel Card: $45

Prime: $7

HOW MUCH I NEED THIS WEEK

What I have in my account: -$200 (Insert ugly crying… so much ugly crying)

Cash: coins in a small piggy bank (I’m at a new level of low, y’all.. LOL)

What I need to pay my bills this week: $1,944 (this includes the -$200)

How much I need for next week: $115

What’s coming in:

Estimated paycheck: $1,450
Plasma: $75 (hopefully more because they generally give a little more as a “thank you for coming back!” if it’s been over 6 months since your last donation)
Selling stocks: approximately $300 depending on how much they get sold for.

After seeing the breakdown and doing the math.. what’s coming in is clearly not enough for the bills I have to pay so I will be making phone calls tomorrow to defer payments where I can.

Praying on this stim check to come soon, though. Like real talk.

For an updated list of my debt, go here
If you’d like to help me out financially, you can shop here

As grueling as this process was… I’m so glad I typed everything out. In a strange sense, sharing my finances, as horrible as my income/outgoing ratio is, is both therapeutic and helpful to type it out and talk about it.

Blogging about my finances has given me the space to vent while also organizing and planning – it’s different from just writing it out in my notebook while letting my thoughts get lost in anxiety in it’s cycle of, “How am I going to pay for everything?”

Thank you for reading, encouraging me, and motivating me ❤

This concludes the financial breakdown for the coming week.
I hope you guys are staying well!

See you guys next week!

Financial Tracking for the Week of January 12, 2020 + Life Update

Oh my gerrddd!!
First of all, sorry I didn’t post last week!
It was one heck of a week!

The day after my car accident, my bathroom ceiling started to leak… HEAVILY.
Between making phone calls with the office to get it fixed and making phone calls with the insurance company.. it was just too crazy!

It was also the week I started my classes and resumed work from winter break so it was just overall overwhelming for me.

First of all though.. some PRAISES are due!

My school refund money came through and I received more than I anticipated! I’m not sure how I did my math wrong but when I double checked, everything was accounted for so it was not a mistake!

Second, I received $500 from my friends and family from my GoFundMe campaign and I couldn’t be more grateful for such supportive people in my life!

Third, about a month ago (I had forgotten that I did this), I applied for a COF waiver. It’s essentially a fund for college when you are a resident in Colorado. I had already used mine up for awhile. But recently, I got an email stating that my financial aid is running low. After my Fall 2020 semester, I won’t have any Pell Grants to use. So I panicked and applied for the waiver.

On Thursday, I was notified that my waiver was approved! It will be applied for this Spring semester as well my Fall semester.
So financial aid for Spring 2021, my final semester, is a little iffy – not sure how I will be able to afford it since it is the semester where I will be doing student teaching and we don’t get paid for that but I’m placing that in God’s hands.

For now, I just want to celebrate the fact that I got an additional $1,700 from my COF!

RIGHT in the nick of time as I haven’t been able to drive for Lyft while my car was in the shop getting fixed, that I also did not have to spend a dime on.

GOD IS GOOD!

All that being said, lesson I learned is that I need to CHILL.

God has never steered me wrong so far.

I’ll be put in tough situations but He has always come through for me.
A book I recently read stated that hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

I need to keep my hope alive in HIM and worry a lot less.

Anywho, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Weekly Budget

Monday 13th:

xcel: $205

Capital One CC: $25

Wednesday 15th:

Total Visa CC: $40

student loans: $100

Thursday 16th:

Disney+: $13

Friday 17th:

VS: $45

Car payment: $361

Saturday 18th:

BB: $17

Total due: $716

Major payments coming up the following week:

Lendgreen loan payment: $208

Car insurance: $200

Golden Valley Loan payment: $400

Needed: $808

How much I need this week:

What I have in my account: $452

Cash: $1,200

What I need to pay my bills this week: $264

How much I need for next week (including other bills): $867

So I know some of you guys think I’m crazy but I’m going to try REALLY hard not spend any of my cash.

Reserving it for NEXT MONTH’S rent so that I won’t be behind again.
So driving for Lyft is still very crucial to me.

I also got a SUPER part-time flexible job (like 6 hours a week). It’s a little strenuous putting in the time between school, being a mom, and my day job, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

I’m trying to decide whether or not I should make that income as “unusable” and just cash it in and putting into my envelopes… (or put it towards my bills..to finish my thought because I’m about to go on a tangent).

Which reminds me.
I decided to use the envelope system!

I am using my envelopes as a form to pay my rent on time and save up for different things (my kids’ college tuition, fun, house, emergency, etc.)

Whatever is in my bank account is for paying bills.

Anyway, back to my budgeting. It is a hefty amount that I owe next week but it is also the week that I get my first paycheck from my new job and child support comes in.

I don’t think I necessarily need to drive for Lyft either but I will be.
Goal is to earn $250 next weekend (or more depending on the following week’s bills).

Since I am sort of getting “ahead,” with my bills, I want to start saving an additional $100-$200 from my main income depending on how much I make (I get paid hourly and since I work at elementary school, there are extended weekends to be accounted for).

I also started a home business working with a network marketing company called Color Street and I absolutely LOVE it.

I’m going to make a separate earning page for it soon.

I think I will also start sharing the books I read (52 books in 52 weeks) and use Amazon’s affiliate program to earn an extra income that way as well.

Another WIN for me is that I paid off TWO of my installment loans so far!

So goodbye MoneyTree and Speedy Cash!

I need to update that on “My Debt” page!

I am SO excited that they have been paid off and even though a part of me SOMETIMES gets the itch to borrow again, I refuse to. I just cannot keep living in this vicious cycle of debt and I don’t want to.

It is hard enough as it is without the extra payments.

Right now, I feel like I am still staying “afloat” financially.
But eventually, I would like to get to a place where my extra job, home business, and driving for Lyft not only covers my bills but I will be able to pay off my loan debts.

According to my notes, if I am following the snowball method, Bright Lending would be the first one I’d like to pay off. I called for this month and they deferred the payment of $236.54

I owe a total of 8 payments with that payment but the payoff amount is $483.77
Crazy right?

Those interest rates are RIDICULOUS.

I have a couple other loans that will be paid be off  next month and March per payment schedule so I’m excited for the extra breathing room!

Once those are paid off, Advance America is the next to go using solely my “own money” (income, Color Street, Lyft – whatever it takes).

What I mean by that is at some point, I’ll be getting my tax refund. The only debt I plan on paying off using that money is Golden Valley (large principal + high interest).

After that, I only have my AmerAssist collections payment to worry about but the amount is too large. Even if I could cover it with my tax refund, I’d rather keep my money because (to my knowledge.. I should call and check) it is not accruing interest.

I’d rather keep my money for the summer months that I do not get paid, a required class that I need to take over summer, 2020-2021 winter break, and finally, my 2021 student teaching months and then the next two summers (though I’ll get a tax refund for next year too.. but I’m just planning ahead).

Not to mention whatever is left over after rent and bills to cover with my refund, I’d like to put the rest into my cash envelopes – mostly my house one.

There has been some definite victories over this past week and many more to come.

I just gotta keep my head down and keep grinding.
I think the first six months of this year is going to be HARD.

19 credits, a side job, a home business, this blog, Lyfting, reading 52 books a week, working on my fitness…I’m a little all over the place but they all have rhyme and reason.. a purpose.

I’m excited to work hard and embrace the year of sowing.

Happy New Year to you guys!! ❤

 

Consolidating Plan vs. Debt Management Plan

What a week of financial headaches!
Last week, I mentioned taking the route of consolidating my debts.
I decided to go a different route and instead, sign up with a company that helps create a debt management plan.
The reason for that is because the agent that I spoke with about consolidating debt was that ALL of my debts would have had to be calculated for the loan.
The goal is to build my credit score and I’m always hearing different things about how to build it and I wanted to keep control of my payments rather than going through them to pay all my debts off and then paying them only.

I’m not sure if that makes sense but I mostly wanted help with my loan payments and by signing up with a debt management company, I was able to do exactly that.

But going that route had it’s own set of learning curves.
As I was finalizing my plans there were a few things that I learned:

You have to call the individual loan companies to cancel your automatic payments.
When you do that, they no longer work with you but through another third party company.
This means that if you miss a payment, they won’t be the ones working with you but the third party collections agency will.

From my experience, most loan companies will work with you whether it’s pushing your due date back, giving you a lower interest rate, deferring a payment, etc.

Not only do you lose their customer service but you also lose your business with them. Meaning if you hit another financial snag and need a loan, you can’t loan from them again.

The lady I spoke to with one of the loan companies I borrowed from also said it’s similar to filing bankruptcy because you’re paying such a low balance (for example, $10 month) for a longer period of time.

So I went back to my notebook and crunched some numbers again.

Initially, these were the loan companies I had added to my debt management plan:
Advance America
Check into Cash
Speedy Cash
Money Tree
LendGreen
Golden Valley Lending
Blue Trust Loans
AmerAssist

(I know.. it’s a lot >.< )

After what I’ve learned, I revised it to just these three:
Golden Valley Lending
Blue Trust Loans
AmerAssist

The reason is because Golden Valley Lending and Blue Trust Loans has ridiculously high interest rates and I don’t mind not being able to loan from them again.
Like seriously, grateful for the loan equivalent of a cock block.
The amount they offer is seductive but I always regret it in the long run so I’m fine with cutting ties.

With AmerAssist, the pay off amount is high. I don’t believe there is an interest rate and I got to set my own payment plan but I figured I’ll just add it to the debt management plan (DMP).

With my initial plan, it was $699/month. I admit I was sort of hesitant to go with it but it was lower than what it would have been if I paid all my loan payments separately.

After adjusting to just the three that I mentioned, my monthly payment is now $353/month with the last payment date being February 2022- much more doable and less anxiety-inducing.
I am also able to pay more than the amount due without any fees or penalties so that is also a relief because I plan on putting in some extra fund when I do have them into the plan.

So what about my other loan payments?

I have budgeted enough for the month of December to get by for those payments.
Money Tree
I skipped a payment in November for Money Tree (with their approval so there’s no late fee or anything) and paying both November and December this month.
After that, I have one more payment left – no reason to cut ties with them by putting them through a debt management plan, especially if I need to borrow from them again.
Their interest rate is reasonable and I get a decent amount from them.

Check into Cash
Same thing here as Money Tree. I also recently refinanced with them so my payments are lower as well so the payments are doable but I do have about 4-6 months before I am done paying them off.

Speedy Cash
Speedy Cash lets you borrow up to $500. I took my child support off as a source of income so I only qualify for $200 but the payment is low and the interest rate is reasonable. I also have a couple more payments to go with this company.

Advance America
I qualify for the most with this place and the payment plan is not bad at all.
Interest rate is pretty low for the amount that I am borrowing. I had a few payments left before this was paid off as well but I got it refinanced – November was a tough month.

LendGreen
LendGreen is a loan company I wouldn’t mind cutting ties with either. You get a large amount to loan but the interest rate is high. I would say it’s not as bad as Golden Valley or Blue Trust Loans but it’s right behind them.
I was tempted to add them to the debt management plan but I am two payments away from paying them off and there is no need to extend my payments any longer than necessary by paying less through the debt management plan.

The Game Plan

The pay off amount for Money Tree and Speedy Cash are reasonable (ranges from $150-$250) so ideally, I’d like to pay them off in December by driving for Lyft.
After paying them off, I want to implement Dave Ramsey’s snowball effect and pay off Check into Cash by January.

After that, I have Advance America and LendGreen to worry about but by then, LendGreen will be paid off in February anyway and I’m not sure what I would owe Advance America during that time so it’s something to revisit in February.

I could technically implement the snowball effect into my debt management plan since there is no penalty for more than the minimum amount but I live on a paycheck to being-in-the-negative-until-my-next-paycheck basis and I don’t really like driving for Lyft more than I have to so I kind of want to just cruise along with my payments there on.

I’ll only pay extra if I get extra money or if I had the motivation to drive for Lyft.

But what about your credit card debt?

Because I am trying to build my credit, I did not want to include my credit card debt into my debt management plan. Paying them through a debt management program, I’ve learned, does not help your credit score. Like I said in the beginning of this post, you are paying less than the minimum amount due and it’s similar to filing for bankruptcy in that sense. No thanks.

I’ll keep my credit card debt and chip away at them and raise my credit score.

On that note, that was my experience with setting up a debt management plan, what I’ve learned about consolidating debt, signing up with a debt management plan, and what my thought processes were as I was setting mine up.

I hope this was helpful to anyone who was thinking about getting a debt management plan!

Financial Tracking for the Week of December 1st, 2019

Blegh.
I always dread the first week of any month because it’s time to pay rent.

I cheat the system

Here’s the sad truth – I never have enough to pay rent.
Rent is due on the first (at the latest, the third) but I get paid on the tenth.
Since I don’t make a lot of money to begin with, I never have enough for it.
Not to mention the fact that my hours cut so it makes things even harder.

So how do I pay rent? I put myself at a negative. I make sure I have some money in my account (I usually do) and use that to pay rent. But I can’t do partial payments so I pay the whole $1200 ish and I’m at around -$900 until I get paid.

Estimations for the week:

Monday 2nd:

  • Wells Fargo Payment: $63

Tuesday 3rd:

  • Rent: $1135

What I have in my account:
$348

At this point, I don’t due further calculations.
It’s just a risky waiting game hoping that I didn’t forget any other bills or payments.
For the most part, I’m on top of things, but I’m human and sometimes, I forget one or two things.

Estimated pay that I will be receiving is $1600 but I also have lots of payments going through on the day I get paid (that’s how most personal loan payments work – they are automatically withdrawn on your payday).

Ideally, if I was smart and not lazy, I would drive for Lyft just to help myself financially but I don’t like driving for Lyft unless I absolutely HAVE to.

Anyhow, that is all for now!