Finance Snapshop – May edition

So I said I was back, and I am! It’s actually taken a lot of thought to figure out where I wanted to go from here, you know, fresh starts and all that jazz 😉 So after outlining a few ideas of traditional posts I’ve done that I like and figuring out new things to push my comfort zone, I’m starting with the basics. Where I’m at. It’s hard for me to look at myself, because the knowledge of what to do and what not to do is in my grasp, in my head even! And yet, here I am.

Not quite in financial ruin yet

Pretty Much

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So I am in no way in financial ruins. Every time I look at my bank account and get a frog in my throat, or open my wallet with a shudder, I try to put things into perspective.  The well-being of others does not rely on my financial success; I am not bankrupt, I am not homeless, hungry, or sick. I’m just a broke college student with no one to blame but herself who needs to make better life choices and actually stick with them. So where am I at right now?

  • Discover: $1,401.49
  • Checking: $155.01
  • Savings: $0
  • Cash: $100.05
  • Loans & Interest: $13,753

This puts me at a cool –$14,899.43 as far as networth goes. Well, looking back at it almost a year ago, I’m down by $4,752.43 from –$10,146. I was really confused until I remembered that I anticipated $3750 in loans that I ended up not taking out that were accounted for and that I valued my car at $5000 (it has since had some…problems); however, I really tanked my savings and cash (plus I got that…credit card). And even in writing this post I wanted to mislead myself and look at my networth as having “gone up,” when it really didn’t at all. I never had the loans I was taking into account, so my networth was never that low in the first place. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, y’all.

Of course, I’m not exactly pleased about this, but a great quote by Thoreau is “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” Of course we should always learn from our mistakes (like don’t charge Christmas to your card, and when you get reimbursed for expenditures, treat it as a reimbursement and not as “Ooooo free monies!”). Or, in my case, even though I KNOW KNOW KNOW that credit card money is not actually my money, to not say “I have $400 left of my limit! That’s $400 I have to spend!” And curbing emotional spending. And hobby spending (knitting can get expensive). And not just avoiding my finance-related life out of shame. I really love the PF atmosphere and am genuinely interested in it and getting better. I need self-control. And I need it soon.

As of right now, I’m living with my parents until I leave for an internship in Pensacola, FL on May 24. There, I will have free housing and meals, and a $3000 stipend. That last bit is pretty important because as of August, many things will come to a head.

  1. My Discover Card will have an interest rate (est. 17-20%)
  2. Tuition. I dropped my 2 minors in order to drop my tuition from $3200 to $1500, so that helps, but at least half of it is due the first week of August…so $750 bones…
  3. Rent & deposits on my first ever big girl apartment
So the plan is to get an additional job while in FL (the internship is 30 hours a week, so I would have the time) so that I know for sure I can take care of all of those financial obligations. The next step is building up my EF  and savings. And loan interest repayment…but I’m getting into another post entirely here 🙂


Start your Emergency Fund … Now!

An Emergency Fund…you know, I had the best intentions of having one. You can even read earlier posts if you don’t believe me. I had reasonable budgets drawn up and had resigned myself to the student loans necessary for tuition now that my 4-year scholarships are up. I had it made in the shade so to speak. I had even looked at cutting my work week (at one of my jobs) down to 15 hours from 20 because I was taking more classes than usual. I had started getting my financial ducks in line.

This could have been me.

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[Background: In the states, you apply for financial aid through something called FAFSA. It has your (or your parents’) income, general info, etc on it and determines whether you are eligible for need-based aid or just regular loans]. Mine is generally filed by my mother, but it was filed a few months late (another story for some other time). I got a confirmation email Monday stating it had been sent to my school, so I should be expecting some sort of offer. I knew the loan amount I needed and since it was not need based, I knew I would be eligible. Day 1: No info, Day 2: No info, … Today: No info. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I started looking under every single tab. This is my 12th semester here [I did a lot of summer school], so I know what I’m doing by now. Under an arbitrary tab I’ve never seen before, it says “Form Required: Grade/Loan Appeal.” There is no link, no further information. To Google! So I find out that I am not making “satisfactory academic progress” (More Backstory: Fall ’10 was a rough semester for me. A lot of family tragedy and bad grades). Now, more context: I am 3, that’s right, 3 classes away from completing my math degree. So I have to fill out an appeal. I look all over the site for the form, and it is nowhere to be found. Then I find a single line that says it was mailed to me.

It's unsustainable & takes too long

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Why am I not happy about that? Well, for one thing, if it was sent, it was sent to my campus address (I haven’t been on campus since May, Canada remember). It wasn’t sent to my home address (so my parents couldn’t give me a heads up), and under that single line it says: Please mail back within 3 weeks of receiving. I have NO idea of when it was sent. The time-stamp under the tab was 8/2/11, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t mean anything. So why am I really unhappy about this, and what does it have to do with an Emergency Fund? (I swear it’s not just mindless ranting!!!)

I deferred payment waiting for my loan offer, so I owe $473.66 by the 11th of August (not a big deal, I can handle that); however, I owe $1171.66 x 3 [due October 1st, November 1st, & December 1st]. My income is not large enough to be able to pay this without loans. I can’t. I’m not being pessimistic, I’m being realistic. I make $7.50 an hour and can work a maximum of 20 hours a week. I have another job based solely on commission, and donating plasma will get you around $50 a week. I have a starting amount of $1145. I have no fear about my appeal not getting accepted (I have a good reason and proof that my grades improved by leaps & bounds), but it’s a matter of how long will it take:

  • For the appeal to be approved
  • For the appeal to process
  • For the loan offer to process
  • For the amount accepted to process
  • For that amount to get sent to the school

So I am crossing my fingers that it would be taken care of by November 1st (or I’m SOL anyway). And so, this means I need to make sure I have at least $1171.66 on October 1st (unless it processes before then, then it’s just moot). Oh, and I have to buy textbooks & eat during this time, and buy my prescriptions, oh and pay for gas. So, this means a very tight budget.

The currency is obviously pesos

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The end all, be all point is that it wouldn’t be as big of a deal if I had an Emergency Fund or any amount of savings. I am going to have to scrimp, save, sell my body, & be very uncomfortable to guarantee to myself that I can pay for school at least through October 1st (I imagine if my appeal is approved, everything will process by then). If I had an emergency fund, my food budget for August & September wouldn’t be under $100, I wouldn’t have to sell plasma, and I probably wouldn’t be as frustrated. I know, when this is over, I really will pay myself first (a common PF thought) and have an EF. If you don’t have one, I suggest working on it. You never know when you’re going to need it (I guess that’s why it’s an emergency fund ha ha).

-L.