On my Facebook page, I posted that Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” was my theme song for 2008. Take a moment to read the lyrics and then, come back to read this post. 🙂 phew. That is one powerful song. So much happened in 2007. Where do I begin? For starters, I quit my PhD program for personal reasons. Shortly after, I got married to a really sweet man. 4 months, I got a job that fits me to a tee. So here I am, almost a full quarter later and a new year to boot! What have I learned? I need to trust in myself and ask for higher pay!! Okay, in all seriousness, I do need to trust/believe in myself and know that I am a premium addition to any team. However, I will cut myself some slack and say that I fell prey to the “first job” syndrome. I am not too worried at this point because I have my eyes on the long-term prize i.e. gaining invaluable laboratory experience which will allow me to proceed in my career goals which are still a gooey mess in my mind, but will solidify into discrete items with time. 🙂 I have also learned that I cannot live in an island. No matter how gun shy I am or no matter the baggage I’m carrying, I need to communicate. Thus far, I’ve been horrible on that front especially with relatives and even worse with friends/acquaintances. I hope to do better.
So many things are running through my mind. For starters, I’ll talk about the consistently-cropping up bee in my bonnet: financial security. Only this time, I’m a little more obsessed about it. 🙂 Hear me out and don’t laugh. I know my pay right now is pitiful; Matt’s just as pitiful. Even combined, our pay is pitiful. 😀 However, it’s never too late to get a reality check or merely do a self-check/assessment. I’m not very good at accounting and I frankly detest having to balance books. However, in order to be able to save money or not live from paycheck to paycheck, you need to know what’s going into your bank account and what’s leaving from it. The main issue that I am wrestling with is balancing the need to save money versus paying off debt versus getting things that we need (or perhaps want). I’ve got so many ideas in my head that I truly feel overwhelmed. However, M & I have come to the consensus that before we do anything major, our debt needs to be paid off. Specifically, our credit card debt which as off now, is under $2 000. That’s right. As of today, I have paid off my Bank of America credit card which wasn’t a lot to begin with. Once the payment goes through, I shall be giving the good folks at the Customer Service Department a call to renegotiate my annual APR which is a hideous 20.74%. Here are a couple of things that are going through my head right now:
- We need to clear out debt which will happen in the first quarter of this year via ordinary payments or from our tax refund windfalls. My conservative estimate is we will receive at most $1 000 total between both of us. If I deduct all I can possibly can while preparing the taxes, at least $1 000 will be expected. Nevertheless, I’m not leaving my eggs in that basket.
- We need to have an emergency fund. Now, I will say that I went “Huh?” when I first heard of this concept. However, after reading and subscribing to a bunch of financial blogs, I find that it makes absolute sense. What is an emergency fund? Ideally, it should be cash or money sitting in a readily accessibly savings or checking acct that earns interest and should contain ~ 3 – 6 months worth of money that you can live off of in case of an event like being fired/laid-off, etc. Now, at any given point in time, I think I have ~ $200 that I can scrounge. That amount obviously is not enough to even get us through 1 month. Another obvious item I’m leaving out is Matt’s income which can actually sustain both of us under our current living conditions of ~ $370 (rent + utilities). However, I prefer to think in terms of my income solely which will help me be more aggressive about being frugal. My first thought when it came to saving was to think of the piggy bank. Sadly, this was before I read about actually making your money earn money for you i.e. putting money into savings accounts to earn interest. So, I’ve got over $100 in my piggy bank/money pot which I still keep going, but I just won’t put big bills in it anymore.
- Funding a retirement account. Thankfully, my employer has > 9% matching and an automatic system where I contribute 5%. I would like to contribute more, but I can’t go over 5%. So, my options are a tax-deferred savings plan i.e. 403(b) or 457(b) which employer-approved providers. I essentially need to sit with the employer-approved providers and ask them important questions like if they’ll let me rollover to a different account with no or very minimal fees, etc. I hope to make a move or decision on this before the end of the first quarter this year.
- Getting an additional income source via a part-time job preferably on weekends or at worst, 3 hrs nightly. I think it’s doable. I used to come in to work on the weekends throughout last year. I never did full 8-hr days, but I think I can stand to cut back on coming in on weekends except when it’s specifically requested of me. CS rarely does weekends, but earns over five grand (grossly) more than I do. We are on the same academic footing, but I guess times were much better when CS was hired. 🙂
That’s about it for now. I started this post last night, but M made me go to bed. Now, I’m out of ammunition. Have a blessed day!