Archive for September, 2007

Time Poverty is Killing My Debt Snowball

Friday, September 28th, 2007

OK, it’s confession time.  I have been eating out WAAAAAY too much recently, and the culprit is time poverty.  Right now I do not have a single evening during the week where I don’t have something I need to be doing.  Mondays and Wednesdays I have physics class from 6-9:30 PM.  This is after the 1:25-2:20 organic chemistry lecture on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Tuesdays and Thursdays my son has football practice from 5-7 PM.  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays I am working delivering pizzas from 4 to whenever business slows down at night.

The monster is convenience!  And convenience has its price.  Last night was a typical example: I picked my son up from football practice at 7, then we needed to head to Wal-Mart for groceries and to replace the Swiffer that broke Wednesday night and get more cleaning supplies.  There is simply no way I will walk into any place that sells groceries without eating first (NEVER ever shop for food when hungry) so we stopped at Subway on the way from football practice to Wal-Mart, got their two footlongs special, and both “waddled” around while shopping stuffed to the gills.  I can rationalize the Subway purchase of $12.86 by saying we would have impulsed much much more if we had been hungry, but the problem is this was the second grocery trip this week (as usual with a growing teenage boy in the house) with the exact same problem.

I know one solution would be to cook up a mess of food beforehand and make homemade freezer meals.  The problem is: when?  I feel like I am going in 12 different directions right now, but then I feel like a hypocrite for not getting a tighter grip on the spending even when we do the 99c value menu at Wendy’s.  It’s adding up, and it’s getting ugly.  It’s also complicated by the fact son is still in this vegetarian phase that started in the spring.

I know I can’t be the only one having this problem, so what are the ways y’all have handled this?  How can I keep this problem from eating up my debt snowball during this semester?

Student Loans and Professional Degrees

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Right now there is a bit of a debate going on at the My Total Money Makeover forum about whether or not a person should take on student loans to go to law school.  This has sparked a lively debate, with the diehard Dave Ramsey fans saying “no student loans for anything!” and others (like me) who want to get that professional degree saying to save up what you can, apply for every bit of scholarships and grants possible … then if there is still a shortfall to take the smallest student loan possible.

Now let me start out by saying I believe no one should take on student loans for any undergraduate degree.  With some planning and a budget, undergraduate tuition and even the outrageous prices for college textbooks can be easily saved up, as long as you don’t try to do a private college.  I know this because I am doing it.

While my plan is to go to pharmacy school next fall without needing student loans of any type, I am thinking hard on the old army saying: “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”  Therefore, in preparation for the worst case scenario, hubby is selling his 2005 Chevy Colorado and we will be saving up over $20,000 for the first year.  If the absolute worst happens and I don’t get Pell grants, we will need to take on a small student loan, but the vast majority of the tuition will be funded by us.

Some of the most interesting anti-student loan comments in the debate are from people who actually did use them for their professional degrees.  Some are still paying for their degree years and years later, with loan debt tallies ranging from $30,000 up to over $100,000.  And just yesterday Dave Ramsey took a phone call on his radio show from a guy in Florida who had $275,000 in student loans alone!  Then the caller admitted he wasn’t even working in the career he took all those loans to get … and makes only $35,000 a year.

This is a very sticky subject, and I am hoping to get through and be able to ask the man himself about the whole how to pay for a professional degree when you are not yet financially independent to the point you can cash-flow it.  The biggest sticky point for me is this pharmacy degree will more than TRIPLE my personal income earning ability, and quadruple our household income.  That’s a huge jump which seems to make it worthwhile to actually be worth going into a LITTLE debt again.  So inaddition to trying to call Dave today, I am going to throw this debate out here in the public forum.  Comment away!

When is a Part-Time Job Not Worth it?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Most of y’all know I work a part-time job delivering pizzas on the weekends.  Recently, I have had to wrestle with the question, “When is a part-time job just not worth it anymore?”  This will also explain my silence over the recent weekends to some extent.

Four weekends ago, we got in a new manager because our previous manager was pregnant and felt she should step down as she was not able to put in the hours the job required anymore.  Our new manager is a guy so we don’t think he’ll have the same problems. 

Instead, he has some very disturbing other problems.  He refuses to speak with us delivery drivers if we call the store while on a delivery.  In fact, on Saturday he specifically said he “didn’t have time to talk to drivers…if the customers want to talk to me they can call themselves.”  Well, the problem with that is often he does not even come to the phone when a customer calls in with a problem. 

This is causing the store to lose business.  In fact, the “customer” in this case on Saturday was the local VFW post…with a couple hundred members who hang out there on a very regular basis.  The idea that the manager was refusing to come to the phone - not for a problem, but because they wanted to work out a discount for a large order - caused every person in the VFW to say they will boycott the store…and then tell all of their friends, family and neighbors to do the same.  The weekend before, I had two different customers tell me they also would never order from our particular store.  Business has been declining since the 4th of July, and now the customers are telling us directly and often angrily.

I have spent over a week looking for another pizza place to deliver for, and I will find out for sure if I have a new job on Thursday afternoon.  The reason I give on the applications and in the interviews is: “Business is declining and I do not see it making a turnaround anytime soon.”  There are also other reasons.  The new manager is causing all kinds of stress in the workplace.  He is immature and insecure, which are bad enough traits in coworker but intolerable in a manager.  He plays favorites and is not subtle about it.  Most disturbing is that neither of the two regular closing drivers (both female) want to work with him anymore.

So back to the question of when a job (part-time or even full-time) isn’t worth it anymore.  My answer is simple.  It isn’t worth it when it takes away from your time off the job in the form of stress, dread about going in, worry over whether tips will be enough or not, dread about getting chewed out by unhappy customers…AFTER they have either spoken to the manager or attempted to speak to the manager, and hours of phone calls discussing concerns and worries with coworkers.  Since I do not quit one job before I have another one lined up, I have to go back into this store for at least one more weekend, but as soon as I have confirmation at another place this rat is jumping off this sinking ship.

My $600 purple truck

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Just wanted to post a picture of my $600 purple truck :) Hey hubby! This is yours and it’s waiting for you!  And yes it really does run LOL

Cost of truck: $600

Tax, title tranfer, and tags: $123

Insurance for 6 months: $177

Being able to get out from under the truck note on the 2005 Chevy: PRICELESS!

my $600 purple truck

Of Credit Cards and College

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

For anyone who thought I had given up my anti-credit card railings … think again LOL  I’ve just been busy studying for my physics test last night and my organic chem test tomorrow afternoon.  While taking a break from studying, I came across this excellent four part series over at Business Week online about credit cards and colleges:

I’m not going to recap these articles because that could end up resembling an e-book LOL  But I do have these thoughts:

  • College students are prime targets for the credit card companies.  I’ve probably mentioned this before, but according to college student credit card accounts have the HIGHEST interest rate…several points above bad credit accounts even.
  • College students are often naive or simply ignorant about personal finance!  Add to that their impulsive natures (especially the guys when it comes to dating) and you have a recipe for financial disaster that too many students seem to be following.
  • I’m really not sure how this can be “fixed” given the options in the 4th article linked above.  Congressional hearings will bring more attention to the problem, just as the last round of hearings on credit card companies’ practices did.  I just don’t particularly like the idea of Congress meddling in things too much, because no matter how good of intentions they may have somehow things always end up a mess.
  • I do think the best option for fixing the problem, which ironically wasn’t mentioned in the articles much, is to educate college students BEFORE they start getting hit by all the marketing.  Teach your kids before high school even that getting into debt over your head is a very VERY bad idea.  I personally am teaching my son that debt in general is a bad idea, with credit cards and auto loans being the absolute worst kind of debt you can possibly get into.
  • These articles don’t even touch on student loan debt…just the credit card debt college students are getting themselves into before they even have a career or in some cases even before they have an actual job!  In fact, I heard on the Dave Ramsey Show recently that more young adults are declaring bankruptcy than graduating from college.

OK, so these articles outline the problem and even suggest some solutions … but it’s still up in the air.  What do y’all think?  Does anyone have a good solution for this growing problem?

Cigarettes, physics, and a link round-up

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I so want a cigarette right now.  Actually, it’s been like this all morning.  I’ve been approximately 46 hours without any cigarette (since 5 PM on Monday evening) and have heard from various sucessful ex-smokers that the first 72 hours are the hardest.  Most of the ex-smokers who have sucessfully quit say if you can make it past that 72 hour mark without breaking down and sneaking a cigarette, then you have such a better chance of quitting for good.  What I don’t remember them mentioning is that temptation launches a full-on assault during this crucial 72 hours.

Now for the ultimate irony.  Monday about two hours after I slapped the first nicotine patch on my arm, I received a phone call from a survey place at the mall calling me in to do…a cigarette smoking survey!  This particular survey pays $140 for two weeks of trying various cigarettes, with the unmarked packs of cigarettes being provided free.  Talk about a TRUE test of how serious I am in this quitting smoking idea!

I have a physics test this evening…and I really hate physics LOL  I also have homework due in 3 hours, which I have actually done 1/3 of (I am a horrible procrastinator…but I can only break one bad habit at a time!).  So I’ll be crawling underneath some paper and the physics book until after the test tonight.

So, to give y’all some fun stuff to read, here’s a few interesting blog posts from around the M-Network:

Enjoy the latest articles from the M-Network…I will NOT be enjoying physics homework, the physics test, or these long hours of no smoking a cigarette!

Slow and steady progress

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I just updated my “debt reduction chart” over at No Credit Needed Network, and am (not so) patiently waiting for the update to go global.  Now, I am not begrudging NCN a life, I am just by nature impatient…and the no cigarette since 5 yesterday afternoon bit isn’t helping that LOL.  What really makes it hard is that all the remaining debt you see on that chart in the sidebar is just one thing: hubby’s truck (the 2005 Chevy one, not the 1993 Ford I picked up the other weekend for next to nothing!) and he has promised to sell it when he gets home from Korea in November.

“Slow and steady wins the race,” is what Dave Ramsey keeps saying.  He then quotes some study (my mind isn’t functioning properly today) that says the average millionaire takes 15 years to achieve his/her first million.  But I want it NOW!!!  LOL

Sometimes people say, “Well you didn’t get into debt overnight, so you’re not going to get out of debt overnight.”  Umm, we kinda did get into debt rather quickly.  What is frustrating is that it is taking longer to get OUT of debt than it was to get into debt.  I mean come on…it doesn’t take long at all to sign away five years of your life on a car lot.  But it DOES take forever to pay that bugger off.  It also takes forever to get out of negative equity in it (upside-down)!

So, does anyone want to buy a 2005 Chevy Colorado crew cab in November?

Trying to quit smoking…take 3

Monday, September 17th, 2007

OK, the package from the VA pharmacy arrived today, and I have embarked on my journey to stop smoking…again.  This is the third time this year that I will be doing this, and third time will be a charm!

Some of y’all may recall I tried this back in July, using some nicotine patches my coworker gave me after he ripped a patch off his arm and went to the convenience store next door to buy a pack of cigarettes.  My plan was to start off with the hand-me-down patches and get the rest from the VA outpatient clinic.  Well…the patches never showed up from VA and eventually they scheduled me an appointment for this month on the 6th.  Yes, sometimes it really does take 7 weeks to get an appointment with the VA clinic, especially for non-emergency things.

So, the patches are finally here: 4 weeks of “step one” with 21mg of nicotine seeping into my bloodstream over a 24 hour period, 2 weeks of “step two” with only 14 mg of nicotine, then 2 weeks of “step three” with only 7 mg of nicotine.  I just put my first patch of step one on about one hour ago.

I still have one cigarette left, and it is sitting on my computer desk.  My organic chem professor suggested I shred up my last two cigarettes, instead of smoking them, and my son thinks I should hold onto this last one a keepsake, sort of “This is my last cigarette that I just didn’t smoke.”  After 80 minutes since my last cigarette…right now I am leaning towards lighting that puppy up and smoking it!  But I know I will never get anywhere that way…because then it will be “just one more” and so on ad infinitum.  So as of now, it is still sitting on the top shelf of my computer desk.

Maybe I should go clean all the ashtrays in the house…I haven’t done that since spring, when I tried to quit the first time.  It really is pretty yucky to see all that crud on the bottom of the ashtrays.  Oh, for those of y’all who are already (or still) non-smokers, here’s a fun series over at Dough Roller, the newest member of the M-Network about personal finance and the game of chess.