Financially Fit

Saturday, December 18, 2021

 Thanks to COVID I gained about 13 pounds, lost 7, and then gained back about 5 more. But I also dropped 130 pounds when I decided to end my 4 year relationship and start my life over back from my childhood bedroom. Depressed, unemployed, and with pennies to my name, shit was well...shitty. But my weight wasn't the only thing that wasn't fit- so were my finances.

I really can't explain it but once I moved back home I had this realization that I would never live in a luxury building again- especially on a fashion salary. Living is so much more affordable when you split rent. Ya girl isn't a people person and at 27 you wouldn't fucking catch me with a roommate unless its a boyfriend that I see a future with. And with a high energy hot dog , mini cooper insurance, and 17 THOUSAND DOLLARS in student loan debt and 3 thousand in credit card debt- I felt completely and utterly fucked. I felt like my childhood bedroom would become my life yet again for the next 25 years to come.

Maybe life decided to throw me a big bone because two weeks after my grand coney arrival- I had finally received a job offer. Consistent work and money! The thing with being an adult is that you have the freedom to spend as much as you want, and that's what makes it so easy and dangerous. Maybe it was due to a random TikTok I had scrolled across on my FYP, or my fear of living with my parents forever- something really told me I needed to start preparing for MY future- one that involved me and absolutely nobody else. With a mild shopping addiction and enjoying the "finer" things in life like natural lighting, washer/dryer in unit, gym in building, yearly international vacations, and a beautifully curated space; I really needed to make moves. So this is exactly what I did:

  • I read a fuck ton of books on finance and personal budgeting at the library. Yup, made use of free resources. You should too!
  • Started listening to money podcasts on the way to work (Financial Feminist was an N ride fave)
  • For the first time in my life, I grew a pair and asked for a 10k raise at my job ( I was so confident but got shot down two days later. It's all good though, I found a job that gave me a title promotion  that 10k increase,  AND IT'S MOSTLY WFH !!!!!! ) But here were some other really helpful things:

In the beginning, I tracked my spending.

Keyword here is tracked- not budgeted. Went on good ole Google Docs (something I haven't avidly used since college) and created a chart of the month, and tracked how much was spent per day, and what it was spent on. From there, I could see where I could cut corners in order to start saving better. Goodbye one-way $70 Ubers from Williamsberg on the weekends and daily $20 spent on breakfast/lunches.

Almost my entire paycheck went towards my student loans.

My loans were going to get paid off regardless of me moving back home, but being home put me in a situation that I had to use to my advantage- paying them off ASAP. As during COVID payments were put on hold for a year, likewise the interest- my personal goal was to pay them off completely before entering the repayment period. Let's say I made $4,768 bi-weekly, I would make a $4,700 payment for one check and live off of $68 for the next 13 days. (Note I do NOT make this amount- one day though, and more at that.) This sounds completely fucking crazy and unrealistic, but it worked. You'd really be surprised how well you can stretch your money this way. For months my checking was looking like a few sad Benjamins, but that loan amount was drastically dropping.

I only ate out on the weekends, but packed my lunch during the week.

Honestly, this was the hardest tip to incorporate. Like Cardi B, I also don't cook or clean- I don't enjoy either. Spending an hour cooking for something that will be devoured in 15 minutes is the biggest waste of my time, so buying food out and not having to meal prep and do dishes is a convenience I would gladly pay for. Working by Central Park was gorgeous and offered tonssssss of food options- shit was so expensive though. I really was spending $20 a day (I'm looking at you: fresh n co, Daiynobu, and Poke Spot.) $100 a week x 3 weeks? Not including brunch and eating out on the weekends? No longer an option.

Learned the difference between needs and wants.

Ugh once again, also really fucking hard. The "treat yourself" mentality had to go. I shopped when pieces I loved were on sale, hunted for promo codes, and just didn't buy clothes if some sort of good discount wasn't involved. Did I need a pair of $200 Jeffrey Campbell boots, or did I need to make a loan payment? Sometimes you just need to put yourself in check.

I joined random facebook groups about other ways women were improving their financial situations. I checked them daily. Women of all ages, life situations, and different career paths gave me intel of a life I wanted, life I wanted to steer clear from, and motivation to keep going.

And then it happened. In under half a year I successfully paid off my loans in full, eliminated my credit card debt, purchased my car in cash, and raised my credit score to be "excellent" (just a few points away from being 800!) I WAS 100% DEBT FREE. I still am. So here's what I did after becoming debt free.

Opened an HYSA.

This was a really good call. I had 3 savings accounts at my bank for 3 different reasons- checking, savings, and emergency savings. I was being charged $5 a month per account in order to have these! So I closed the two savings accounts and transferred everything into an HYSA. (Saved a nominal $10 a month and had a higher interest rate.) My absolute favorite part of my HYSA is that it has "buckets." You can name these buckets and save accordingly! I have 3 buckets- vacations, emergency fund, and condo downpayment. Money that I transfer to my savings I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TOUCH- merely just watch that number grow. It's been really difficult to not dip into that account, but I'm so happy to finally have savings to my name. 

My next step: Opened a Roth Ira

Every month I put money into my Roth IRA. You can either max it out at $6,500 a year (I do $500 a month) , or keep it sitting there until retirement. Or you can put in money to invest and grow. As I don't have a 401K (which I plan on maxing out my contribution once I'm eligible) this was my temporary backup for retirement. 

My next goal is my biggest one to date- saving a hefty amount for a downpayment on a condo. When I say I have 15 hour work days some days, I really do. I have my full time job, do remote work on the side, and freelance whenever the opportunity comes up. I write papers, flip clothes, sell coquito, make custom gifts and wedding sings- you name it. I have become so fixated , and safe to say even obsessed with making this happen. Especially with covid surging again- now's the time to be indoors and grind.

By May I hope to have a niceeee number saved, and at that point, will begin to window shop. (Granted it's something I do every night on Zillow as motivation to keep going.) One day in 2022, Bruss and me will be living  in a  gorgeous Condo somewhere in Brooklyn, and I can say I really fucking did that.

Now I just need to find a way to stop working multiple side jobs lol. But everything is a process.

Hope this was helpful to anyone! I am very fortunate to be living with my parents- which has allowed me to save and aggressively tackle all my debt. The goal is to leave the nest (for the third and final time) financially secure and ready to take on life on my own.

At some point in 2022 I will be getting a personal trainer. Just wait till I'm physically fit too ;)

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