March 2014 Net Worth

Hi everyone! I feel like I’ve been so MIA around here lately. I keep using the same excuse, but it’s true – life is so busy right now! Hopefully I can get back to you all with a more consistent schedule soon, but in the meantime, here’s my latest net worth update!

March 2014

Net worth as of March 31, 2014: $116,926

Overall, my net worth increased by $1,368 this month! :)

After last month’s ugly update, seeing an increase this month is such a relief! Although, I would have loved to see greens across the board. What can I say – I’m a perfectionist!

Cash: $2,502 [MTM ($548)]

This account fluctuates every month, nothing too crazy to note this time around.

Savings: $548 [MTM $504]

Since I dipped pretty deep into my emergency fund last month, these next months will be dedicated to replenishing that account ASAP! $1,000 is my goal for the moment. Also, this category includes my travel fund, which I will be tapping into very soon for my trip to Las Vegas this weekend!

401(k): $8,483 [MTM ($163)]

This is my 401(k) from my previous employer. Since I no longer work there, I have stopped contributing. Currently, the funds are pending to rollover into a Traditional IRA.

Why am I rolling over my 401(k) funds into a Traditional IRA and not a Roth IRA, you ask? Since the money in my 401(k) is pre-tax, I decided to roll it over into another pre-tax vehicle, hence the Traditional over the Roth. If I had rolled it over into a Roth, I would have had to pay taxes on it right now. I didn’t feel like calculating which choice was better for me, so I just decided to keep the money pre-tax. You could argue that I should have taken the time to calculate each and every option I had available but…

Is this meme old yet?

Is this meme old yet?

Roth IRA: $12,572 [MTM $519]

Although I have stopped contributing to a 401(k) for the moment (I am not eligible to open one at my current job until I’ve been there for 90 days), my post-tax contributions to my Roth IRA remain steady. Rock steady, might I add ;) Ah, I bet Future Lisa is just beaming with pride. Or maybe she’s cursing me for not rolling my 401(k) money into a Roth IRA, haha.

Credit Cards: $2,502 [MTM ($216)]

Yes, this credit card debt is ANNOYING. It just never seems to die! But alas, I will not throw ALL my money at this just yet until I get my emergency fund back in place. I recently made the decision to pay off my cc debt over my emergency fund and almost immediately regretted it. I am definitely going to learn from that!

Student Loans: $15,963 [MTM ($58)]

A small change is a change nonetheless. Unfortunately, paying this off at lightning speed is just going to have to go on the back burner until my credit card debt is gone. Again. *sigh*

Car Loan: $19,812 [MTM ($321)]

YES - I finally broke the $20k mark on this loan! Hey, it’s the little victories that count, alright! The next milestone for this bad boy would be to no longer be underwater on the loan. I guess that’s what I get for buying brand new *facepalm*

Mortgage: $277,311 [MTM ($461)]

This will most likely by the last debt I pay off, so slow and steady is the way to go for now. Once all the other debt are gone, then maybe I’ll think about paying it off early. Maybe.

Well, there you have it – another positive jump in net worth for the books! Months like these really keep me going.

How did you do this March?

AMDG,
Lisa

Divide and Conquer

A couple of months back, I wrote Choose to be Different here on LvtL. If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, go ahead and do so! It’s okay, I’ll wait here :)

In a nutshell, I compared what Past Lisa would have done when experiencing anxiety with what Present Lisa did. Instead of stress-eating, distractions, and retail therapy, I chose to eat healthier, sleep better, and pay off a loan. The difference between Past and Present Lisa was the simple decision to be different.

My homeboy Travis from Enemy of Debt left a great comment on the post:

The hard thing to make yourself believe is that change does not happen overnight…and it won’t happen all at once. I can’t wake up tomorrow and say “I’m going to eat perfectly healthy from this second forward.” Change comes gradually, and in steps…..

- Travis (EOD) in response to Choose to Be Different

Travis is absolutely right – one of the hardest realizations about change is that big changes just don’t happen overnight. In my post, it may seem like I made those changes in my life immediately following my decision to be different. But that simply isn’t true.

What I’m trying to say is - it’s easy to choose to be different once; it’s much harder to choose to be different every day.

Big goals like having a healthier body, earning more, saving more, and/or eliminating debt are great goals to have. They are also very daunting and can get overwhelming. But the changes necessary to achieve those goals don’t have to be. All you have to do is divide and conquer.

Divide your big change into smaller changes

Stress eating was a habit I developed early on in life. I knew it was a problem for a long time, and it especially hit me when I looked in the mirror one day and saw a huge gut and a rounder face staring back at me, as if it came out of nowhere. 

I remember that moment vividly. After a few minutes of staring in disbelief, I told myself, “Alright Lis, no more carbs, no more sweets, no more fried foods. Only veggies and fruit from now on.”

I’m sure I did absolutely great that day. But the following days weren’t so easy. I’ll save my rant against complete food elimination for another day, but the fact of the matter is I chose an impossibly huge change. While the very first day was easy-peasy, the next few were a struggle.

Instead of huge, big statements like, “I will eat perfectly healthy from this second forward”, start with “I will drink one full glass of water before eating” or “I will eat slower and watch my portions”.

In fact, look at the big picture and then step back and see what small changes you need to accomplish to get yourself there. For me, these changes are:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat slowly
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Stop buying junk food
  • Reincorporate fun exercise into my day

Why choose smaller changes? When you make big statements like the one mentioned above, you set yourself up for failure. Small, do-able changes are much easier to handle on a day-to-day basis. Once you conquer one small change, you can move on to the next little change.

Conquer – one small change at a time

Now that you have your list of small changes that all work to achieve your ‘big change’, focus on one at a time. I know that this may be difficult for many of you. I know it was for me! I wanted to see big results right away so I tried to do all of these small changes at once. I exercised HARD every single day and I also tried to cut out carbs completely from my diet.

You can guess what happened next. I did alright for the first week or so. But my body started to shut down. Instead of feeling great after exercise, I would feel absolutely exhausted. I tried to force myself to do exercises that I hated (running, Insanity, etc.) and I prepared bland, tasteless food that took forever to cook and had me dreading meal time. After a while, I figured all of these changes just wasn’t worth it, so I gave up and went back to my unhealthy ways.

When you overwhelm yourself with all of these huge, drastic decisions, it will lead you to burn out. You will get discouraged, and you won’t want to work on it anymore. So please, for goodness sake, focus on just one small change at a time! 

Once you completely conquer one of your small changes, it’s time to move on to the next  one.

Move on and keep challenging yourself

How do you know when it’s time to move on to the next change? Many people have different theories about how long it takes for changes to become habits (i.e. the 21 day rule). But really, the time frame is different for everyone! I would say it’s time to move on when you no longer have to consciously make the decision – it simply has become second nature.

My big @$$ water bottle

My big @$$ water bottle

For me, my first “small change” was to simply increase my water intake. I filled up a huge water bottle and made it a goal to finish it by the end of my work day. It was difficult at first. When I first started, I would still have half the water bottle filled by the time my work day was over. I had to stop myself in the middle of a task and make sure a took huge gulps of water throughout the day so I could reach that goal. After about a month or so, it became just another part of my day. I even had to refill that huge water bottle before the day ended because I was so used to the huge water intake!

When your small change no longer becomes a daily decision you have to make, and instead has become just another part of your day, it’s time to move on to the next small change.

Change absolutely does not happen overnight. The decision to change, to be different from who you used to be, is relatively easy to make at first. But it’s a decision you have to make every single day. Make sure those daily decisions are conquerable and do-able, and you’ll be on the road to different you!

What big changes do you want to make in your life? What small changes can you do on a day-to-day basis that will help you achieve that big change?

AMDG,
Lisa

Links Lisa Likes – Financial Carnival for Young Adults

Happy Sunday everyone! For this week’s LLL, I will be hosting the Financial Carnival for Young Adults! There are a ton of great personal finance articles and bloggers featured below.

Want to get involved with the Financial Carnival of Young Adults? Check out their site if you want to host or get your posts featured!

Now, on to this week’s links!

This Week’s LLL – Editor’s Choice

Adam @ Stop Worrying About Money writes Day 6 – Do 1% Better Today (And Every Day) - Today’s topic is a special one, because today’s topic is really the heart of this entire month-long project. Today’s task: Do 1% Better.

Alexa @ Defeat Our Debt writes How to Get Rid of Debt on Your Own - There is no easy way to get rid of debt. You have several options, each come with their own set of pros and cons. Here is how to get rid of debt on your own.

Alexa @ Single Moms Income writes 6 Financial Tips for the Job Search - When you are looking for a job, you get into a financial vicious circle, as you look for a job to have a better financial situation, but you have to be on a budget until you find a perfect working place for you.

Charles @ Getting A Rich Life writes Why Try If The American Dream Is Dead? - For many the American Dream is dead, however it does not have to be that way. Working hard and determination is not enough to get ahead.

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff writes Renewing Our AAA Membership - Read my views on AAA membership and why I renew ours each year!

Jen Perkins @ Master the Art of Saving writes 10 Ways to Save More Money (Even If You Don’t Want To Be A Couponer) - Couponing for the last 5 or 6 years has taught me many things. Things I never really paid attention to before I started using coupons. Since not everyone is interested in learning about coupons or even extreme couponing, I thought I would share some of my enlightenment with you all.

Mark Ross @ Money Saving Dude writes 11 Ways You Can Do To Save Money While Traveling - Want to know how you can save money while traveling? Check this article right here, and know the different things you can do to save money while you enjoy your vacation.

Monica @ Monica On Money writes 7 Better Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund - If you are getting a tax refund this year, it is time to make a plan on what to do with the extra money. Otherwise, without a plan, who knows where all that money will end up.

Mr. 4HWD @ The Four Hour Work Day writes Work is More Fun When You Don’t Have to Work - For a while there, the thing I wanted more than anything else in this world was to retire early. Sippin’ pina coladas on the beach sounded pretty good compared to working 8 hours a day in a tiny cubical. But during the past few months, I’ve had a slight revelation. What fun is early retirement if you have no one to enjoy it with? If all your friends are still working then what the hell are you going to do every day for the 8-10 hours you’re alone? There are only so many activities you

Richard Adams @ Frugality Magazine writes 14 Proven Ways To Pay Less Rent - Did you know that the average American spends 27.8% of their monthly income on housing? In the UK the figure is even worse – with Brits spending on average 43% of their income on rent. In other words, renting a property is expensive. Fortunately, though, there are solutions.

This Week’s Financial Carnival for Young Adults

Debt Guru @ Debt Free Blog writes IRS Issues: How to Deal With Being Audited – Each year, more find themselves facing an IRS audit for back tax returns. Just about everyone is subject to being audited at one point or another.

Crystal @ Married (with Debt) writes Credit Score Curiousity – I monitor my credit score 3 times a year. You can access your free credit report from 3 bureaus once per year, so simply check one every 4 months.

Dominique Brown @ YourFinancesSimplified writes Oops, They Did it Again, Mortgage Servicing Companies Gone Wild! – Should we have seen this one coming all along? Perhaps, but even so the size of this growing problem is starting to look like scenes from the movie Wolf on Wall Street. What the…? Here is what’s going on.

Lindy @ Minting Nickels writes Can LinkedIn Be Harming Your Job Search? Key Mistakes That LinkedIn Users Make – When you want to network in your field, where do you go? LinkedIn boasts over 200 million users with an impressive 35 percent of all users logging into the service. Read these mistakes that many make when using the LinkedIn service.

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes Net Worth Update: March 2014 – A guide to my personal finance at the start of March 2014, listing my investments, savings, and debts, as well as notes on my personal situation.

Tony @ We Only Do This Once writes What’s My Credit Score Calculator – If you want to know your credit score, but you don’t want to pay for it, you can use a credit score calculator or estimator.

JP @ My Family Finances writes Saving Money in the Kitchen – Here are a few homemade tips for saving money in the kitchen.

Mike @ Personal Finance Journey writes Landlords Insurance and why it is the Smart Financial Move – How taking out the right insurance can be important as an investor in tenanted properties.

SavingMentor @ How To Save Money writes Babies Are Free??!! – When I asked a friend how much I should save for a baby’s first year, her answer took me by surprise. She said her baby was essentially free. Free??!! The Globe And Mail estimates that we need approximately $8,000 for the first year alone, which is a much higher amount than “free”. Free in terms of the cost of a new baby is just impossible.

Brent @ PersonalFinance-Tips writes How to Avoid Continuous Scrutiny from the IRS – One thing that can certainly spell hard times for any business is an audit from the IRS. Thankfully, with some hard work and due diligence, your business can comply with the law without any problems. Below are some ways you can allow your business to avoid continuous scrutiny from the IRS.

Don @ MoneySmartGuides writes 4 Basics to Consider When Investing in a Rental Property – Are you interested in investing in rental property? If you are just getting started with rental properties, then you need to know what to look for when

CAPI @ Creating a Passive Income writes Planning Ahead: My Financial Bucket List – If you don’t have a financial plan, now’s the time! There are important financial tasks to get done, and you won’t be getting younger. Read here for help.

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves writes Is It Worth Going To Conferences? – When you work for a large corporation, you don’t have much of a choice about whether or not you go to the company conference.

Lauren @ L Bee and the Money Tree writes 4 Financial Mistakes that Weren’t….. – We all make mistakes. We also all make financial mistakes. Trust me, I read a lot of personal finance blogs and have met some of the titans in the industry, and no one is perfect. With my birthday (March 10th!) just around the corner, I have been in a very reflective mood of late.

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Making Money for My Life: Ideas will Become Plans – Most personal finance is about spending less money; the fact is that sometimes people earn so little that the only way up is to start making money.

Jacob @ AllPersonalFinance writes Tips for Keeping Track of Your Investment Earnings – There are a wide-range of investment opportunities out there. You can invest in cattle farms in Kansas, tech companies in China, a retail outlet in Germany, and a gold mine in Peru. Even with so many different investments, every investor is looking for a return on their investment.

Don @ Money Reasons writes Why You Should Not Own Bitcoins And I Never Will – As a computer guy, there are the reasons why you should not own bitcoins and I never will.

Wayne @ Young Family Finance writes Class Trips: Fundraising Ideas for Your Child’s International Adventure – Class trips these days are to places like London and Costa Rica instead of the local beach. Here are a few fundraising suggestions to raise money for these one-in-a-lifetime adventures.

SBB @ Simple Budget Blog writes I Do…the Budget: How to Save for a Wedding – Weddings can be very expensive. Here’s how you and your future spouse can budget the funds for a memorable wedding.

Hank @ Money Q&A writes How You Can Budget With A Credit Card – My wife and I budget a little differently than most families. We budget with a credit card. We use a credit card for most of our purchases instead of cash and monitor our family’s monthly spending.

Mrs. Accountability @ Out of Debt Again writes Do This One Thing First Before You Get Into Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) – This is a True Confessions post, one wherein I bare my soul and most embarrassing financial moments.

IMB @ Investing Money writes Investing in Agriculture Stocks – Thinking of investing in agriculture? There are several basic reasons why investing in agriculture stocks is sound investment. Read here for information.

Mario @ Adventures in Frugal writes An open letter to every university Alumni Affairs fundraiser from a recent graduate, regarding strategy – A tongue-in-cheek letter to alumni affairs fundraisers questioning the strategy of asking poor, recent alumni to contribute

JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit writes Valuation of PepsiCo Inc. – The Long Case Looks Strong – PepsiCo recently released their 4Q and full year 2013 earnings so what better time to update our valuation and come up with a price target?

Emily @ Evolving Personal Finance writes What’s So Great About High Cost-of-Living Areas? – Contrary to trends in the personal finance blogosphere, I aspire to move to a high cost-of-living area. Because they’re awesome!

Cat @ Budget Blonde writes Awesome Solopreneurs: Women’s Power Wednesdays – In commemoration of Women’s History Month, my friend Shannon from Financially Blonde was kind enough to suggest that we celebrate fellow female bloggers.

Sustainable PF @ Sustainable Personal Finance writes Do You Put Your Ideals Ahead of Your Pocketbook? – There are times when adhering to your ideals is cost-efficient. Not everything is like that, however. There are times when your ideals can cost you money.

Jason @ The Money Makers writes Selena Gomez: Can Child Stars Make It As Adults? – Selena Gomez is no longer the innocent yet rebellious Alex from Disney’s hit show Wizards of Waverly Place.

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl writes My Student Loan Debt Story – It is often discussed how much student loan debt a person has or carries. There are many tales of unfortunate circumstances where a hard working student is left with more debt than some people carry on their mortgage.

Larry @ KrantCents writes Do You Live to Work or Work to Live? – Do you live to work or work to live? This is an important question, but rarely taken seriously!

Aaron @ Aaron Hung writes Is it better to live Debt Free and pay the Mortgage with your 401(k)? – In the quest to become debt free people can sometimes make decisions that might negatively affect their future financial growth.

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes Considering ETFs? Here’s How to Get a Good Deal – ETFs can be purchased practically anywhere you can buy a stock, either through a broker, or a brokerage account.

Marissa @ Thirty Six Months writes 8 Gift Ideas for Different Types of Him – Is it just me, or are boys harder to shop for than girls? Whatever the occasion, most people can use a little help with gift ideas.

Marissa @ Finance Triggers writes Quirky tips for conserving cash – Here are a few quirky tips for saving some cash. Read on to find out how you do not have to turn your life inside out to gain control of your finances.

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes Basics about the new Home Office Deduction for 2014 – There is a new, simpler home office deduction this year that could very well save you a lot of time but, in most cases, it will not save you as much as money as the long form that everyone despises.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes The Secret of Saving for Your First Deposit – Are you ready to become a homeowner and do not fancy a no-deposit home loan? Then the biggest obstacle standing in your way is the first deposit or down payment.

Bob @ Dwindling Debt writes Protect your Tax Refund from Identity Thieves – What could be worse than having to file your taxes this year? How about having an identity thief steal your tax return check?

Lily @ Paying Debt Down writes A Few Reasons that Investors like ETFs – In recent years, ETFs have become much more popular and are actually gaining against some other, more mature mutual funds. The reasons for that gain in popularity are explained below.

Andrea @ So Over This writes Getting the Most Out of Your Children at Tax Time! – When it comes to school, grades and sports, all parents hope that their children will be a credit to their name. At tax time however, this can literally be the case.

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes Why Dunkin’ Donuts is an investor’s breakfast of champions – With Wall Street expecting $.40 in earnings, Dunkin Brands, the purveyor of some of the most delicious doughnuts (and relatively good coffee) in the US surprised the market with fourth-quarter earnings of $.43.

Lenny @ Best Money Saving Blog writes How to Cope With Overspending – There are many reasons for overspending. Some people do it because they are insecure and use possessions as comfort objects. Others use acquiring new things as a quick pick-me-up if they are feeling a bit low.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes Have a childhood savings bond? Here’s what you can do it – Although it was not always a welcome gift, many children got savings bonds for birthdays and other holidays. The goal behind them, in most cases, was to have something ready when it was time to pay for college.

Jack @ Money Saving Ethics writes Moving? Make sure you protect yourself, not just your furniture – Did you know that moving is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 biggest stressful events in a person’s adult life? It is true, but while moving is definitely bad enough, being scammed by your moving company is probably a bit worse.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes Should you consider refinancing a student loan? – One of the biggest debts that the average American has is their student loans from college. Recently there has been a lot of talk about refinancing a student loan. We look at a number of different factors that you should know about before making a decision on whether to do this.

Danielle @ Saving Without a Budget writes Most in US Have No Savings to Speak Of, Unfortunately – The average American continues to struggle when it comes to saving money due to problems like prolonged unemployment, underemployment and stagnant wages.

Jay @ Daily Fuel Economy Tip writes With Winter Comes Poor Gas Mileage – Have you been thinking that your car’s fuel economy has been lower over the last few weeks? If you have, it is not your imagination. It is just the fact that, in winter, your fuel economy usually does go down, at least a little bit and in some cases quite a lot.

Oscar @ Money is the Root writes What Do Americans Really do with Their Tax Refunds? – Surprisingly the IRS has already issued over 31 million refunds in 2014 and the average refund so far is $3200. Despite their best intentions however, the average American finds it quite difficult to save that money.

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes Where exactly IS the Best Place to Retire? – If retirement is approaching for you and you are planning on making a move to spend your golden years in an area of the world where you can stretch your budget, a new report says that you should be taking a good look at Europe.

Thomas @ i need money ASAP! writes Sell Old Electronics – Most of us have a bunch of old electronics around the house. Usually these electronics are still in great working order but have been replaced with newer devices. These old electronics have little value to us but can still fetch a good price if sold.

PFC @ PF Carny writes Does Couponing Really Save Money? – Depending on how you do it and how into it you get, it can be either bad or good. Does couponing really save you money? It can, but it can also cost you money at the same time.

Jen @ Prepping is Sexy writes Food Insurance: Keeping Your Family Fed – I can’t be the only one noticing the skyrocketing prices everywhere. Products, both food and non-food items just keep getting more expensive. So what can you do? How can you ensure that your family will be able to eat if this continues?

Jerry @ Mo Finance writes Which Are The Most Reliable Used Cars? – If you’re a young adult in the market for a car, you’re probably buying a pre-owned one. But which models are the most reliable, once they’ve racked up a few years’ worth of miles?

R.J. Weiss @ The Insurance Protection Blog writes 4 Home Insurance Trends in 2014 that Impact Homeowners – A few insurance companies are beginning to make these changes to their home insurance policies.

Steve @ 2009 Tax to 2014 Tax writes An Important Guide On Filing Taxes Online – An agreement between a group of private companies that produce tax filing software,the Free File Alliance, and the IRS has made it very easy to file your taxes.

Glen @ MCI123 writes Top Car Insurance Companies – Which car insurance company you choose can be just as important as finding cheap rates. Here is a guide ranking the best car insurance companies by pricing, policy offerings, customer service, and financial strength. It is a comprehensive look on how to find the top carriers in the industry.

Jon Haver @ Pay My Student Loans writes Easiest Eight grants to get to help pay off student loans – A grant differs from a loan in one basic way: it’s free money given to you because you fall into a certain category, have earned it through work, or someone wants to support you in your work.

Christopher @ This That and The MBA writes How do I know if I need litigation funding – If you are reading this, the chances are that you are already involved in litigation, and are looking for ways to fund that litigation. You are probably in no doubt that you need help to fund the litigation. Litigation is a notoriously risky and lengthy process.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes 3 Creative Ways to Save at the Store – Save at the Store by taking advantage of price match guarantees, using coupons the right way and by Scheduling your shopping.

Justin @ Root of Good writes Smart Travel Through Geographic Arbitrage – Want to find out how to visit countries where everything is on sale? Check out foreign exchange rates for your top choices and visit the country with the weakest currency right now. Chile, for example, is 17% cheaper than one year ago. Everything is 17% cheaper!

Harry Campbell @ Your PF Pro writes A Review of the Big Short by Michael Lewis – Before I read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, I had no idea what credit default swaps and collateralalized debt obligations(CDO’s) were. But Lewis does a great job explaining what went on during the years leading up to the subprime mortgage crisis and where it all went wrong. I always knew that the economy got royally f’d by the housing market in 2007-2008 but I never really knew why until reading this book. I was in college during 2004-2009 and the economy was really the least of my worrie

Thomas @ Finance Inspired writes WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT YOUR PARTNER’S CREDIT WOES – Entering a new relationship can be wonderful and exciting. But it is one that comes with a huge responsibility as well, especially for two consenting adults. While it is easy to get blinded by love, it is oftentimes wise to first know more about your partner’s financial standing, especially if talks of marriage start floating in the air.

Gretchen @ Retired by 40! writes Aldi vs. Sam’s – Is the Warehouse Club Worth It? – Warehouse clubs are hawked as a money-saver. But are they?

John @ Wild About Finance writes How much are you paying to cover your credit card’s interest rate? – How much are you paying to cover your credit card’s interest rate? Credit cards are almost a necessity for every British household. According to a recent survey, the average loan for a British home is £6,020, and that doesn’t include mortgages just yet. This amount mere pertain to the credit card debts or the personal debts of most adults living in the United Kingdom. Credit cards prove to be very essential when buying high ticket items or for emergency purchases. However, not many people

John @ firststepfinance writes Guidelines For Being A Smart Credit Card Holder – Part 1 – Having a bad credit rating can seriously delay your goals in life. Your financial options will diminish, fewer options will be open to you and you will not be able to take advantage of new credit line offers. There are a few things you can do to improve and protect your credit. If your credit is such that you cannot get a new card to help repair it, apply for a secured one. Most likely, you will not have a problem obtaining this type of card, but you must add funds to the account before you ma

John @ firststepfinance writes Guidelines For Being A Smart Credit Card Holder – Part 2 – You should keep a low balance on your credit cards to improve your credit rating. Paying off your balances will have a perceptible positive impact on your credit score. The FICO system will make a note when the balances are at 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 percent of the total credit available. It is difficult to just forget about negative reports, but writing a statement is useless. It may even draw more attention to the blemish. A terrible credit situation would be having many different debts you

Simon @ strengthenyourshot writes Keep It Simple! Repair Your Credit With These Tips – Part 1 – There are a lot of ways to damage your credit score, from falling for a credit card scam to just being unlucky with the recent economy. Thankfully, there are methods in the below article that can help you mend this problem. If your credit is such that you cannot get a new card to help repair it, apply for a secured one. Most likely, a secured credit card will be easy for you to get, but you have to fund the credit account before you purchase so the bank knows that you won’t miss any payments.

Thomas @ i need money ASAP! writes How To Be A Movie Extra – Being an extra in a movie can be a fun way to earn money. Typically you’ll get free food. You’ll have the chance to meet celebrities. You might even get your name into the credits. If you’re flexible on time then being a movie extra could be the perfect way to earn money.

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes Do You Need a College Education to Make a Decent Salary? – Considering the high cost of college these days, I’m not a die-hard proponent of “all kids need to go to college.”

Miss T. @ Prairie Eco Thrifter writes How Money Can Raise Your Stress Level – Here are some of the ways that money can raise your stress level — and what you can do about it.

Mr.CBB @ Canadian Budget Binder writes Finances are more like moon phases: Net Worth update Feb 2014 – Like moon phases, our finances including Net Worth is constantly changing and this month is no different. There will always be ebb and flow in everyone’s finances, sometimes purely by the choices we’ve made.

Jacob @ Cash Cow Couple writes Amazon Payments – Amazon Payments allows you to get more free travel rewards without any fees!

eemusings @ NZ Muse writes How to deal with a layoff: 7 tips for couples -

I hope y’all are having a great weekend!

AMDG,
Lisa

February 2014 Net Worth

Holy cannoli – February was crazy! A lot has changed for such a short month, and my net worth is no exception!

February 2014

Net Worth as of February 28, 2014: $115,558

Overall, my net worth decreased by $549 this month :(

Not the prettiest net worth update. In fact, this might be my worst net worth update to date! But, like I said, a lot has changed in February – most notably, my job! It’s a great change, but there was a week when I was not working, which really affected my financials.

Cash: $2,657 [MTM ($966)]

Balance always fluctuates, nothing too crazy here.

Savings: $43 [MTM ($969)]

This category includes both my emergency fund and my travel fund. Since I had a week off, and my first paycheck from my new job was a partial paycheck, I had to dip into my emergency fund to help cover my expenses this month. Also, the purchase of my #FinCon14 registration tickets affected this category as well.

401(k): $8,646 [MTM $1,939]

This is the account I had with my former employer. Great gains here this month because I finally got my employer match! Since I have left the company, I plan on rolling this bad boy over into a Traditional IRA. My current employer does offer a 401(k), but I have to wait for 90 days after my first day to actually enroll.

Roth IRA: $12,053 [MTM $848]

Pretty solid gains this month – I won’t complain!

Credit Cards: $2,718 [MTM $2,718]

UGHHHHH. Yes, this does not look pretty. I’m back to credit card debt. Only temporarily though! There was a slight delay in receiving the rent payments from my mom and brother, and I had to fork over some money in the meantime. Also, my commute has changed, which means commuting costs have changed as well. I put all my gas and toll on this card and sometimes I forget to check it. I know - bad pf blogger, bad! I’m hoping to rid of this debt in a few months.

Student Loans: $16,022 [MTM ($523)]

After months of seeing no progress with my student loans, a lower balance is a sight for sore eyes. I try to tell myself that I’m “pretty lucky” because I borrowed much less than the average student, but seeing that $16k in debt just for school just doesn’t feel good no matter how you spin it. I’m not getting rid of this as fast as I’d originally hoped, but progress is progress.

Car Loan: $20,133 [MTM ($334)]

Nothing unusual here. I’m tacking on a few extra dollars here and there, but the truth of the matter is that this isn’t my priority at the moment.

Mortgage: $277,772 [MTM ($459)]

Nothing special here, either. I will be implementing a bi-monthly payment with a few extra dollars each two weeks. But just like my car loan, my mortgage is not a huge priority at the moment.

February was the shortest month, but it was also the craziest month! Just when you think you’ve got this whole net worth increasing trend going, life will prove to you otherwise. I’m not going to beat myself up too much about the decrease this month – a lot has changed and I think I’m coping pretty well. Let’s just hope next month will be better!

My priorities are now to 1) build up the emergency fund back to $1K and 2) get rid of the credit card debt (again). I definitely have my work cut out for me these next few months!

How did your February financials go?

AMDG,
Lisa

Lisa vs. Lent

Last night, I went out with some friends to celebrate Mardi Gras. AKA Fat Tuesday.

Super nomz.

Super nomz.

Which means that today is Ash Wednesday. Which means that Lent is here.

Which means that today, a few hours into work, I’ll be sneaking out of work for a little bit to get some ashes placed on my forehead. (JK, I don’t have to sneak out, they’re totally fine with it.)

I’m the epitome of a Catholic School girl – went to Catholic school from Kindergarten all the way through college and have been involved in ministry all my life. In fact, I have met most of my friends through my church. So every year when Lent comes around, we all feast on Mardi Gras since many of us will be giving up these things for the next 40 (or so) days.

Fun fact: Sundays don’t count toward the 40 days of Lent. Count it!

As we feast, we share what we’re going to be giving up (or picking up) for the next 40 days.

Lisa vs. Lent 2014

This is what my Lent will look like this year:

  • Giving up rice, bread, and pasta - I’m taking these next few weeks to really reflect on healthier food choices. I’ve been working out pretty consistently lately, but I know that that’s only half of the equation. In lieu of these, I’ll be consuming much more veggies and fruit.
  • No eating out with the BF - This one is going to be tough. We love to eat! But we’ve been going out to eat way too much lately. We’re going to be finding some more frugal activities to do together. We won’t be giving up eating together at all. Instead, we’ll be cooking meals at my house or his and enjoying frugal, quiet nights in more often.
  • Taking mandatory breaks throughout the day - Although I am incredibly excited about my new job, it does come with its own learning curve – a very steep one I might add. (More deets on that some other time.) Once I get into a groove, it’s hard to get out of it. With that being said, I’ve been coming home absolutely exhausted. My eye has been twitching for the past few days, and just the other day I almost forgot to eat during work! I’m instilling some mandatory, quick breaks throughout my day to just walk around and give myself (and my eyes) a rest. I’ll be stepping away from the computer and using this time for my own prayer time.

You vs. Lent

I know that not all of my readers are of the same beliefs as I am. But I still encourage you all to give up or pick up something for the next 40 days.

Back in college, I worked with someone who wasn’t Catholic but was bouncing off some ideas with me about what she should give up for Lent. I asked her why she wanted to give anything up at all, knowing that she didn’t believe what I did. I mean, why would anyone give up anything if they didn’t “have” to?

She told me it’s always a good practice to see what you can live without.

I know many of you out there want to achieve something – a bigger savings account, a healthier body, a minimalist lifestyle. I encourage you to jump start those goals today by giving up something for the next 40 days. Lent is a great time – for Catholics and non-Catholics alike – to really reflect on what you can really, truly achieve. If you want to make a big lifestyle change or if you want to achieve huge goals, take that first step today and take 40 baby steps throughout this journey with me.

Here are some ideas:

Give up:
  • Soda – I gave up soda for Lent back when I was in junior high. I rarely crave soda ever since.
  • The snooze button - One year, instead of snoozing, I would roll out of bed (literally) onto the floor and do some push ups until I was awake.
  • Facebook – Stop reading about others’ lives and start living your own!
  • Negative thoughts – For me, this was the hardest. I’m my own worst critic and it was difficult for me to silence my inner bully.
Pick up:
  • Compliment someone each day – Who doesn’t love a compliment?
  • Reach out to a friend you’ve lost touch with – For us introverts, this might be difficult. But your relationships can only benefit, even if all you do is say “Hey. Hope you’re doing well.”
  • Random act of kindness – Pay the toll for the person behind you in line. Help someone bring their groceries to their car. Open doors for anyone walking in/out.
  • Exercise – Start with 10 minutes a day. Work up from there.

 

What will you be giving up or picking up this Lent? I’ll be praying for y’all!

AMDG,
Lisa