June Round Up

juneToday’s round up features 5 posts that I enjoyed this month.

Michelle from The Shop My Closet Project gives us A Reintroduction.

Ken from Off The Leash tells us about A Night at the Drive-In.



Aja from Principles of Increase shares with us How Her Family Got Out of Over $120K in Debt.

Chonce from My Debt Epiphany tells us How to Find the Energy to Side Hustle.

Mike from Young Adult Money shares 5 Hobbies that Will Improve Your Mind, Body, and Skill Set.

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June 2016 Debt Update

June 2016 debtHello, everyone. I hope everyone has had a good June so far. Today’s post is my monthly debt update.

My debt went from $68,342.92 to $68,105.91. That was a decrease of $237.01. You also probably notice that my Wells Fargo student loan is gone. I paid it off at the beginning of the month! It feels great to have one less debt. Since I am doing the debt snowball method, I now shift my focus to my Bank of America credit card. It should be paid off by November. I might be able to do it sooner, but I’m not really sure. My best friend is having a destination wedding in August. I’m honored to have been selected as the best man. I have to save money for the wedding, so I may not be able to apply any extra payments to my debt for the next month or two.

Below are my current numbers:

Loan 2 – DOWN from $5850 to $5840

Bank of America – DOWN from $908.14 to $897

Chase – DOWN from $1910 to $1885

Navient – DOWN from $24,700.53 to $24,611.30

Nelnet – DOWN from $34,874.90 to $34,872.61



I love the fact that all of the numbers are getting lower. As I stated earlier, my focus has now shifted to the Bank of America credit card.

Previous Debt Updates

January 2015 Debt Update (The Beginning)

March 2016 Debt Update

April 2016 Debt Update

May 2016 Debt Update

How is your debt repayment plan going?

Debt, Motivation , ,

10 Great Wedding Gift Ideas

One of my best friends is getting married in August. I can’t believe it. He chose me to be the best man for this fantastic occasion. I’ve been in several weddings, but this will be my first time being the best man. I’m looking forward to the responsibilities of being the best man. That also means that I have to get a nice wedding gift. I’m not sure what I’m getting them yet. Below are ten items that I am considering as wedding gift ideas.

DIY Wedding Photo Album – $9.88

Wedding scrapbookWith the DIY photo albums, pick the happiest, most joyful, unforgettable moments. Create a great album with scrapbooking supplies that were carefully selected.

HOST Freeze Cooling Wine Glasses – $23.99

Freeze wine glass The Freeze is perfect for all wines. It keeps your drinks chilled for hours.

Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set – $54.95

15 piece knife setThe Cuisinart Classic Stainless Steel Cutlery 15-piece Block Set includes an 8″ Chef Knife, 8″ Slicing Knife, 7″ Santoku Knife, 5.5″ Serrated Utility Knife, 3.5″ Paring Knife, 3.5″ Bird’s Beak Paring Knife, 8″ Sharpening Steel, All-Purpose Household Shears and Block to hold them all.

American Pale Ale Craft Brewing Kit – $45

American Pale AleThe American Pale Ale home beer brewing kit is a great wedding gift for beer drinkers. It makes a crisp, hoppy and bitter pale ale with light malt flavors. This starter kit comes with all the home brewing supplies you need to be a master brewer.

The Cheesecake Factory Gift Card – Varies in Price

CheesecakeThe Cheesecake Factory offers more than 200 menu selections including steaks, pasta, specialty salads, pizzas and fresh fish. Don’t forget to save room for one of their more than 50 decadent cheesecakes and desserts.


Char-Griller 2828 Deluxe Pro Deluxe Charcoal Grill – $124

Charcoal GrillThe Char-Griller Pro Deluxe 2828 Charcoal Grill has 580 square inches of primary cooking space and a 250 square inch warming rack. The cast iron cooking surface has four lift-able sections for easy access to coals. The charcoal grates are adjustable, and the ash pan dumps easily.

Personalized Pillow – $24.99

A_412X380_PILLOW_SHAMAnother great wedding gift is this personalized pillow. This cotton-woven sham turns an ordinary throw pillow into a unique piece of decor. It features your custom photo on the front and an envelope-style opening in the back for inserting a pillow.

His & Hers Towels – $42.99

hisandhersThe Mr. & Mrs. Towel Set is the perfect gift for the bride & groom. These Beautiful soft and plush towels are perfect for Beach, Pool or Bath! It is a practical and fun gift for the newlyweds.

Wine Club Membership – $69.99

X05016_LWhat good are the wine glasses above without having something to put in them? With this gift, you receive 12 bottles of wine plus a gift.

Vitamix 5200 Series Blender – $449.98

vitamixWith a Vitamix, you can create every course of your home-cooked meal from frozen drinks to creamy desserts in minutes. The Vitamix 5200 is the universal tool for family meals and entertaining.

These are ten great wedding gift ideas. I may end up grabbing something off this list myself.

 

Add heading (1)Image by Dean Chambers

Do you have a particular item you would give to someone for their wedding?

This post contains affiliate links. Feel free to view my disclosure here.
Life, Random , ,

How I Got Here and How I’m Fixing It

how i got hereThe following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.

You ever wished you could go back in time and fix some of your mistakes? I know there a few things that I wish I could go back and change. Surprisingly there are a few mistakes that I wouldn’t go back and change. Honestly, some of them that helped me become a better person. As crazy as it may sound, my debt situation is doing that. In today’s post, I want to share with you how I got in this situation and how I’m fixing it.

In college, I didn’t fully understand loans and credit cards. I didn’t take out my first private loan until my sophomore year. I didn’t get a credit card until my junior year. My problem wasn’t the initial amounts of the credit card and student loans. My problem was not making many payments on them after I graduated.

I graduated from college in 2008, which was right at the beginning of the recession. My mindset was much different back then. I didn’t look for a full-time job until the summer after my graduation. For one, I was just happy to graduate. I had a couple of trips lined up, so I was ready to celebrate. I also had a part-time job where I was making decent money. I also figured that the $50,000 job would be easy to find. Boy, was I wrong.

The decent money that I was making at the part-time job wasn’t so decent anymore. I moved off campus and started to have a lot more bills. I wasn’t really prepared for that. Also, in November of that year, it was time for me to start paying back my student loans. I damn near panicked. I had no choice but to do what I had to do. I deferred what I could and ignored the rest. I made small payments when I the money to. I eventually found a full-time job working with a bank almost a year and a half after I graduated. I was making a little more money, but with bad money habits, I couldn’t tell. I continued to pay when I felt like it on the loans. Some months I’d make a small payment then others I’d flat out ignore them. I kept this cycle up until 2013. I got to a point in my life where I was ready to face my debt. Because of late fees, interest, and a dumb decision to take a year worth of classes, my debt had ballooned to over $72,000 at its peak. I realized that I didn’t want to live a life full of debt. So I started making some changes.

In late 2014 I started getting my debt in order. I began to bring all my debt current. For some of the debt that was a struggle right there. I had to get used to seeing more money come out of my account to towards debt. It took a couple of months, but I got used to it.

I also took the time to understand interest rates and late fees finally. I can’t believe how much money I was giving these companies just a few years ago in fees. I was paying fees because I didn’t take the time to care. That was a dumb mistake on my part.

I also created a plan. My plan was to start paying off my debt using the debt snowball. The debt snowball happens when you make the minimum payment on each debt. You then add any extra money to the smallest debt. Once that debt is paid you use the extra money that you now have available to start paying that debt. As you pay off more debts the payments will get bigger and bigger, thus creating a snowball.

As of this writing, my debt is $4000 smaller than it was at the beginning of 2015. I should be more, but with anything there have been speed bumps, but I feel like I’m in a groove now. I have a strong feeling that by this time next year those numbers will be 4-5 times that amount. As long as I stay focused, that will happen!

Continuing to get my expenses in order is crucial to me. Are you trying to get your money right? If you are in the ATL on June 29th, you should check out The Road to Financial Wellness Pit Stop #17. It will be a unique event to network and improve your relationship with money. For more information you can view the website here.



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How I Sold My Car on Craigslist

CraigslistMy first car was a 2000 Chevy Malibu It looked very similar to the one in the picture above. KITT, as I went on to name it was a great car. I purchased KITT during the summer of 2007. That car got me back and forth from Savannah to Atlanta plenty of times during the six years I had it.

In 2012, KITT blew a head gasket. I debated on getting another car but opted for my mechanic to fix it. He was able to put another in the car for me. That fix lasted for about a year until the head gasket broke again. There was no way that I was going to pay another $1800 – $2000 for another engine. I decided to get another used car, which I did. The Malibu was still sitting in my parking spot, and I needed to get rid of it. I had a decision to make. Should I give the car away or should I sell it? The hustler in me decided to sell the vehicle.

KITT was too big for me to sell on eBay, so I decided to sell it on Craigslist. Since the car wouldn’t drive for too long without shutting down, I didn’t wash it or clean the inside that much. I did do a few things to get it ready to be sold.

Took Pictures

I took nice pictures of the outside and the inside of the car.

Details

In the Craigslist ad, I made sure that I listed all of the details about it. I stated that it had a blown head gasket and a couple of other issues. I also included info about the CD player that I had installed in it a few months earlier. I did that hoping that it would get a little more money for it.

Price

I listed the car for $1100. I knew nobody was going to pay that much for a junk car, but I figured what the hell. I didn’t have anything to lose.

Title

I made sure that I found the title and had it readily available once I found a seller.

Bill of Sale

I wrote a makeshift bill of sale. If the car had been newer and working normal, I would have typed one up.

During the 1st week that my car was listed I received a few e-mails from people saying that they were interested and that they wanted to see it. Nothing came from those e-mails, though. The people flaked. The next week I got a message from a dude in Mississippi saying that he was interested. I ignored him. I thought to myself who would come to Atlanta from Mississippi for a messed up Malibu? He e-mailed me again asking if the car was still available. I replied to the e-mail this time even though I still had my doubts about him being serious or not. He stated that he was thinking about coming to Atlanta in a few days and that he wanted to check out the car. This was on a Tuesday evening. I e-mailed him my number even though I really didn’t think he was going to show up.

I got a call from him Friday evening saying that he would be in ATL early Saturday afternoon. I was shocked and happy at the same time. I was close to having KITT sold!

On Saturday around noon, the buyer came to my apartment with a dolly. He told me that he’s a mechanic and buys cars to fix them up. He stated that Chevy Malibu’s were his favorites. He checked the car out and even drove it around my block before it had the chance to cut off. He wanted the car but asked if I could lower the price. I asked him to make me an offer. He said $300. SOLD! Making $300 is better making $0.

For me, the process of selling a car on Craigslist was relatively easy. I’d probably do it again.

Have you ever sold a car on Craigslist before?


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My Experiment: Getting Free Stuff From Companies

My ExperimentMost people enjoy getting free things from companies every once in a while. I know I do. I read this article on Thrillist back in late January where this person got 14 companies to send him free stuff. My interest had been peaked after I read that article. I figured that I might as well try this experiment and see what the outcome would be. I chose ten companies that I like and sent them each a short hand written letter. Each letter was customized.

Here is what I wrote to one of the companies (Delta Airlines):

To whom it may concern,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy Delta Airlines. I typically fly with your airline at least two-three times per year. I’ve never had any problems with you guys. The prices of your flights are always affordable. Your flight attendants always do a good job. I hope you never change.

P.S. Keep up the good work!!

The letters sent to all ten companies were similar.

Here are the results.

Delta Airlines

How long it took to respond: 10 Days

What I got: A thank you e-mail

An email was ok. I showed that someone at least read my letter. A discount code would have been great, though.

Southwest Airlines

How long it took to respond: 20 Days

What I got: An e-mail

They didn’t send a discount code either.

Kroger’s

How long it took to respond: 20 Days

What I got: A letter

Kettle Brand Potato Chips

How long it took to respond: 15 Days

What I got: A coupon for a free bag of chips. This was clutch. I love Kettle Brand chips. I’d take a free coupon from them any day.

kettleMarriott Hotels

How long it took to respond: 14 Days

What I got: A letter

Marriott is my favorite hotel brand. I didn’t get a free room, but the letter was nice.

Trader Joe’s

How long it took to respond: 37 Days

What I got: $5 gift card

I shop at Trader Joe’s at least once per month. The $5 gift card will be put to good use.

For companies haven’t replied back yet. They are Jimmy John’s, Walmart, Jack Daniels, and Aloft hotels. I’m really hoping Jack Daniels sends some coupons 🙂 .

The experiment showed me that companies will still reply to their customers if contacted. Some will even give you free stuff.

Was the experiment worth it?

It only took me a couple of hours to write each letter and send it off. I did get a couple of freebies, so it was worth it in my opinion. I may even send letters to 10 more companies before the year is over.

Have you ever tried anything like this? Would you do this?


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Month in Review: May 2016

Month in Review-What’s going on everyone? I hope you had a productive and good month of May. May went well for me. I made a little less in side hustle income than I did in April. The good thing is that my eBay sales rebounded. This month I plan to send out more pitches and promote my eBay items even more. I need to get to that $1000 per month extra side income soon.

I would have never started making money freelancing if it wasn’t for my blog. If you’re interested in starting a blog of your own, check out my step by step guide creating a website with Bluehost.

Top Posts of May

Side Hustle Series: Eugene’s LLC

May 2016 Debt Update

Side Hustle Flops

Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I Want to Go

10 Gifts for Dad #FathersDay

This month I also plan on working on some more designs on Teespring. I’m probably going to do a “how to” type post for people that are interested in selling shirts on the site in a month or two. On May 31st, I made my last payment on my Wells Fargo loan. Another small win for me. My new lowest debt is my Bank of America credit card. I will discuss more about that in my June debt update coming towards the end of the month.

How was your May? What do you have planned for June?




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