#23 – An Update

Back when I started my list, I had the grand idea to put $30 in savings for each item that I accomplish. Unfortunately with my student loans, my current budget, and my once-a-month paycheck, this was really not a realistic goal.

Let’s take my first goal, for example. Eat a lobster dinner. Well, in order to prevent a recreation of “Annie Hall” in my kitchen, I’m most likely going to a restaurant to accomplish that one. My monthly restaurant budget is $100. That lobster dinner plus the $30 I would put in savings would wipe almost all of that out!

I’ve decided to put $10 away for each item I accomplish instead. If I accomplish all 300 goals, that would mean $3000 saved which is still a decent chunk of change. I’ve reworked my little savings account already and used some of the original money to go towards student loans and other bills. Yes, it kind of sucks that I won’t have $9000 saved…but I’m still saving something and I’ll have a little bit more to pay down that debit AND to accomplish all 300 things on my list.

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How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

This time last month, I was eagerly counting down the days until I had a whole, glorious, twelve days off from work. I decided that I was going to take an ACTUAL break during the holidays…but didn’t tell anybody. Oops. Sorry for going off the radar! To be fair, I was supposed to be back “on” the radar three days ago, but as of typing this post, I have not had a healthy day in 2014 (more on that later). I was hoping that MAYBE I’d be able to accomplish #15 (go a day without internet), but the closest I got to that was that I brought my laptop to Connecticut but didn’t once turn it on. Baby steps.

The Good

You may have noticed that #54 on my list was to get my parents a big Christmas gift and that for the longest time it’s had (December 2013) next to it. Well, I actually bought the gift months ago, but obviously couldn’t write about until after Christmas. So what was their big gift? A new TV!! The last time my parents bought a TV, I don’t think flat screens even existed. They had been mentioning getting a new TV for quite some time, but something else always seemed to come up. Unfortunately there was no easy way to smuggle the giant box into the house, so my parents received their present two days early.

My parents BIG Christmas present!

My parents BIG Christmas present!

I got to hang out with my older cousins for a bit on Christmas Eve. I’m smack dab in the middle of my family – there are thirteen years between me and my next oldest cousin and thirteen years between me and the cousin younger than me. Clearly there’s not much in common when we’ve got this thirteen year spread, but now that we’re getting older, it’s easier to bridge that gap.

Anytime I go back to Connecticut, I try to see all of my home friends. I did a decent job – one night at Biscotti’s, one night out to dinner with Lexie (great food, crappy service), and WHERE THE HELL WAS RENO?! Earlier in the holiday season, I texted my usual group of girls and suggested something new – doing a group gift exchange instead of individual gifts. We wound up doing a bottle exchange – one bottle of wine, one bottle of nail polish. We were talking about other types of gift exchanges and I think next year we are going to do a “My Favorite Things” exchange!

Gift Exchange 2013

Gift Exchange 2013

The one home friend that I got to see more than anyone else was Elissa. I was glad to have time to catch up with her and we celebrated another New Year’s Eve with one another. It was tame by twenty-something standards, but it reminded us of our “glory days” of middle school…including the winter break that Elissa slept over my house for four or five nights in a row!

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

The Better

On Christmas Eve, I went to take the dog out only to find out that it was snowing! That’s two years in a row with a nice Christmas dusting!

The view from the top of my driveway.

The view from the top of my driveway.

Since I was all too eager to go off the radar this break, I spent a good portion of it curled up on the couch in front of my parents’ new TV streaming Netflix from my Wii. I think my mom was pretty bummed when I took the Wii back to Reading with me, but my dad is looking into getting a Roku or some other sort of streaming device so my mom can watch Netflix on the TV.

The Bad

Unfortunately break wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It started on a pretty sour note – my car failed its inspection (and the inspection itself took nearly two hours longer than it was supposed to). Now I get to research tires and brakes and all those other fun things.

Spending time with my older cousins came with a price – a MAJOR hangover. It’s true what they say – you really can’t keep track of how much you drink when your drink keeps getting topped off.

My student loan payments were due at the end of my little vacation. That was expected, but the change in my minimum payment was not!! It was my hope to fully pay off one of my student loans in the near future, but with the minimum payment change, it’s not possible. This just solidifies that I need to find a financial advisor (#118!).

The BLECHHH

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t had a healthy day since we switched calendars. 2014 started fine. Since Elissa and I had the tamest NYE celebration this side of high school, there was no pesky hangover to worry about. One per vacation is enough, thank you. But by that afternoon, I wasn’t feeling so hot…I was at a party with TONS of food and I wanted NONE of it. Anybody that knows me can confirm that’s not normal. I shrugged it off and went to sleep early, only to wake up at 11:30 feeling incredibly sick. I’ll spare the nasty details, but let’s just say I did not leave the bathroom until 7:30 the next morning. The next (same?) day, I couldn’t get off the couch for anything. All I wanted to do was sleep, but all I could do was lightly doze. Luckily, the day after that was MUCH better. I could get up and move around, but it left me exhausted, so after I drove back to Reading, I crashed HARD. I woke up at 9:30 to find my apartment freezing. Broken heater. Great. I woke up at 12:15 to let the facilities worker in that graciously brought me a space heater. Woke up later in the night because my neck was itchy. Removed a necklace and went back to sleep. Woke up at 7:30 itchy all over and discovered I had some terrible rash. Benadryl is taking care of that, but I still have no energy. I’ve been trying to unpack, but I keep having to sit down and rest. I cannot wait to get better!!

Oh and BLECH that it’s 2014…I was just writing something down and wrote 2012. I’m not one year behind like a normal person…I’m TWO years behind. To quote Blink 182 – “Well I guess this is growing up.”

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I'm looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 - once this plague is behind me!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I’m looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 – once this plague is behind me!

31. Get the balance of my student loans under their original amount.

The day I’ve been waiting for since 2009 is finally here…I can actually start paying my loans DOWN now.

At 17 when I was signing off on my first student loans, I understood that I was going to have to pay them back at some point in my life. I even understood that there was something called interest which meant I’d actually owe more than what I had borrowed. I just never realized how MUCH more I would owe. 6% tax on a $50 sweater isn’t much. 6% interest on loans on loans on loans IS.

When I first got out of college, I was working three (very) part time jobs. I couldn’t afford the original monthly payments, so they were lowered based on my income. Even though I was putting a little bit of money towards my loans each month, the amount I owed was going up because my loans were accruing more in interest than I was able to pay each month. Ouch. Now that I have a “real” (full time) job, I pay MORE than my minimum payments so I can pay these loans off faster. I know that I won’t always be able to do that – someday I hope to have a house and a family and if I wait until my loans are paid off to do so, that “house” will be a nursing home!

It was incredibly frustrating to feel like I was getting nowhere with my loans…hitting this point is like just being able to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The next milestone should come in a month or two – I will have paid off one loan in full!

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Looking at the List #4

31. Get the balance of my student loans under their original amount.

Like most twenty-somethings out there, I had to take out student loans in order to fund my four five seven years of higher education. I pay a lot towards them each much so I can pay them off as soon as possible, but I swear it seems like I haven’t made a dent. I currently owe more than I took out in the first place thanks to interest. It’s hard because at this point, my payment isn’t much more than the loans accrue in interest each month. Every month I look to see if my loans have gotten below that magic number and I plan on celebrating once this happens…maybe a $12 bottle of wine instead of a $6 bottle!!

37. Buy the rest of my bedroom furniture.

Many entry-level student affairs positions require that you live on campus. Mine is one of them. Most schools provide furniture for your apartment. Mine is only sort of one of them…when I moved in, the only furniture was the same type of furniture that you find in a dorm room – desk, dresser, and a twin XL. My boss told me that I could have this furniture removed and bring in my own, which I promptly did. I spent a wonderful day at Ikea picking out everything I wanted for my apartment, but only left with a few things. Currently, I have the bed and the vanity from my bedroom set. I still have the school-provided dresser in my apartment and probably will until I leave (which will hopefully be sometime before I’m 30!). I can’t wait to have the matching dresser and nightstand!

I already have the vanity on the left…can’t wait to have a matching set!

42. Be a bridesmaid. (October 2014!)

While I’ve had plenty of friends get married, I’ve never been a bridesmaid. The closest I’ve come is being a flower girl when I was seven (no I don’t have pictures). Next year, I will get the chance to be a bridesmaid! Ashley, my friend that I met the first day of kindergarten, asked me to be in her wedding! I’m super excited for her and super excited for the wedding!! We’ve already picked out our dresses and shoes – now comes the fun part…planning the shower and bachelorette party. The other bridesmaids are Ashley’s sisters and some of our other friends, so there won’t be any crazy Bridesmaids-style drama.

Trying on bridesmaids dresses for next year!

Trying on bridesmaids dresses for next year!

44. Visit a farmer’s market.

When I lived in Rochester, I was lucky enough to have the Public Market a short drive away. On Saturday mornings, I could head out and pick up food for the week for a fraction of what it would cost me in the grocery store. There would be farmers selling fresh fruits and veggies, Mennonite families selling baked goods, and plenty of stands on the side where you could get crepes or empanadas so you didn’t hungry-shop. Apparently there’s something similar in Reading, but I have yet to check it out. Maybe this weekend…