My Biggest Financial Mistake

We left off on my last post in 2005, driving a gas guzzling 2001 Dodge Durango while commuting an hour and gas being $4 a gallon. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Go back and read Part 1 if you haven’t, because there’s lots of entertainment there that I can look back on now and say..what the?! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Back to the Durango part of the story..I had just started Financial Peace University and had also just started dating my now husband in 2007. I really wanted to do the debt snowball and keep the Durango and pay it off. But I was young and stubborn..and well..still financially irresponsible and just flat out stupid. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Sooo..long story short..in 2008 I traded that ole Durango in for a gently used 2007 Nissan Altima. I couldn’t qualify for a car loan with under a 16% interest rate on my own, so my boyfriend (now husband) co-signed. Why are y’all out here enabling my bad decisions by co-signing..can we say enablers?! While I am absolutely grateful for the help on the loans, the now wiser older version of me is like..well..that was a sign I shouldn’t be getting a loan..period!!! If I wouldn’t have had that option, then maybe I would have figured out a different solution that didn’t involve another loan and $300 car payment. ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ

With marriage, my husband brought a 2002 Nissan Maxima that was paid for. We ended up deciding in 2015 to trade it in for a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SUV that we “needed”. So we did make that Maxima last a minute, and we even kept the Altima after we paid it off. (and my husband is still driving it today with over 200k miles) It smells weird and has different sounds, but it runs and that’s what our requirements list looks like for a car these days. ๐Ÿ˜œ

We ended up selling the Pathfinder because it had transmission issues and pissed me off at the wrong time on the wrong day. The Altima was also causing some troubles, so I decided it was no longer safe to commute in. We ended up doing some minor repairs and my little brother used the car for a year or so. Fast forward to 2017 and impulse buying my 2015 Infiniti Q50..cause I need a luxury car that my kids can spill their drinks and empty snacks all over in, and slam the doors into anything that is there when they open them. It’s also important to have premium gas for a commuter like myself. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Happy ending though..sold the Infiniti and replaced with a paid for in cash 2013 Nissan Altima with 124k miles on it. So we now have NO car payments and two Nissan Altimas to get around in.

I think it’s time to analyze the overall effect this financial mistake of having a car payment for 18 years had on my overall financial wellness. Hopefully this will help prevent it from happening to others in the future. If you take an average of $350 a month over that 18 years, that’s $75,600.

๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

I could have easily had one or two cars last me through that timeframe for under $10,000. What would life be like had I taken that money and invested it or saved it and used it for down payments on 4-5 rental properties? I could have used the cash flow to pay for a car of my choosing. Also, did having to ensure I could cover that $350 every month make me less of a risk taker on chasing dreams and playing it safe for a steady paycheck? Deep thoughts and questions we will never know the answer to.

What I do know is that I drove myself down a road paved with bad decisions for 18 years, but better late than never to realize it’s time to take a different road. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m curious..what is your biggest financial mistake and what did you learn from it?

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Haircuts At Home

Well..against several peopleโ€™s wishes ๐Ÿคฃ I went for it and cut a little over an inch off using the Unicorn method. ๐Ÿ’‡๐Ÿผ ๐Ÿฆ„

BEFORE:

My thoughts ๐Ÿ’ญ ummm..I wish I would have tried this sooner!! I havenโ€™t looked at the back, but my husband said it was straight, and he has to be seen with me, so pretty sure I can trust him. I feel very accomplished trying something that terrified myself and many others for me to try. It was actually so super easy, only took about 5 minutes, and was absolutely FREE. (my husband had scissors so I didnโ€™t have to buy anything) โœ‚๏ธ

AFTER:

Just kidding ๐Ÿคฃ..

THE REAL AFTER:

My family may be a little scared of me venturing out to their heads next, but going to try and earn their trust through โ€œgentleโ€ persuasion and possibly bribery . ๐Ÿ’โ€โ™€๏ธ

With a family of four averaging $25 per cut, that adds up to around $900 a year and $15k over an 18 year period. This doesnโ€™t include color, which I already stopped all together 9 months ago, or eyebrow maintenance, which Iโ€™m still trying to navigate on my own, literally one tweeze at a time (had a bad home wax incident of 2013 Iโ€™m still recovering from). ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

The verdict: Go get you some nice shears, watch a few YouTube tutorials, put on a brave face, and go for it! If it goes well, send me a shout out. If it doesn’t go well, take comfort in knowing it will grow back soon. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

What can you do with that $15k I just saved your family? Feel free to Venmo it to me. ๐Ÿค‘

What else do you do at home or what should I try next on my new DIY kick?!

(Disclaimer: I am not a cosmetologist and your results may vary, so you have been warned that it’s all on you whatever actions you decide to take after reading this)

My biggest financial mistake

Y’all might want to grab some popcorn. ๐Ÿฟ I promise you will experience a wide range of emotions when reading this, including disappointment, anger, humiliation, sadness, confusion, and hope. At minimum, some good laughs as you get a glimpse into one of my biggest financial mistakes EVER.

I still remember 18 year old me getting my first car back at the turn of the century. ๐Ÿ‘ต I remember it to the day..because it was on September 11, 2001. I became the proud owner of a 1997 Geo Prizm that I signed up to get a loan on, and since I couldn’t get the loan on my own, my boyfriend co-signed for me. ๐Ÿ˜ณ I was a full time college student and was working part time delivering pizza and taking the max in student loans that I could. ๐Ÿ• I remember my car payment being $225 and my car insurance being just as much. So I was paying $450 just for my car and insurance. That Geo started me on the road to bad choices..so buckle up and come along for the bumpy ride. ๐Ÿคฃ

When that boyfriend and I had a bad breakup two years later (shocker), I wanted him out of my life completely. Now that I had two years of payments, I really showed him by walking into a dealership and buying a brand new 2003 Chevy Cavalier off the showroom floor with..wait for it..ground effects. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ Everyone please take a minute and reread that and laugh WITH me. It’s best to get a visual, so imagine me delivering pizza to you. But stay with me..it gets even better. I rolled in a few thousand bucks from that Geo Prizm that I traded in because I was “upside down” on that loan. My payment was now $364 a month and I can’t remember insurance cost, because I likely blacked that out of my memory.

I somehow still had friends for the two years I drove that thing around, so thank you to those who stuck with me through the hard times. ๐Ÿ‘ญ Luckily my brother was driving that thing one day and totaled it. (don’t worry..he was fine) Also lucky me that the dealership saw nothing but dollar signs on my naive ass and sold me GAP coverage, along with everything else they sold. So I was now free and clear of that additional $10,000 that I was “upside down” in with car and old boyfriend baggage. ๐Ÿงณ

This is the part where you started fresh..right..Mindy..right..please tell me..oh geez. One may have taken that clear break as a sign. I took it as a sign to get that SUV with the third row I always wanted..as a single full time college student..still delivering pizza and now also working another job at a video store just to get by. ๐Ÿ™„ The year was 2005 and that 2001 Dodge Durango cost me $293 a month, and I’m still blocking insurance costs out, but we can assume around $125. I eventually got a job that was an hour commute, and this was when gas was $4 a gallon, so I was basically working for free. But that job also introduced me to the coworker who heard my bitching about money on the daily and sponsored me starting the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes at her church.

What do you all think I did next? What would Dave had done? ๐Ÿค”

Stay tuned for Part 2..

6 months down!!

What better day than Amazon Prime day to give an update on how my No Spend Year is going. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for my coworkers. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ While shopping holidays like today have never really appealed to me, I will say the No Spend has been a bit of a challenge the past few weeks. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Timing was just right that I had a really amazing friend gift me some clothes that I absolutely love and am so grateful for (my new fave skirt..it has pockets!). I did end up buying sunglasses a few months back because mine broke, which I considered a need for eye protection. I also bought some stuff, including a T-shirt for a fundraiser for a friend, but I don’t count that since it was for a great cause. I’ve been battling with buying a pair of sandals for work. I can technically wear flats that I have, so not sure this qualifies as a “need”. Do my feet really “need” sandals when it’s 100 degrees out, but still frigid cold in the office? Probably not. Lastly, I bought a new AppleWatch and new Nike running shoes, but these I can explain..I promise. I work for a great employer, and both were FREE as part of my employee benefits package. Yes you read that right..and yes we are hiring. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall, I’m SO PROUD of myself for the amount of restraint and growth I have experienced this first half of the year. I would like to thank the former “consumer” in me for knowing her weaknesses, and avoiding emails by unsubscribing to everything, and staying out of any of my “trigger stores”. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I would estimate that over the past 6 months, I have likely saved upwards of $2,500. This is just an estimate based on my previous patterns. My old consumer self went to Target 2-3x a month and would average around $100 per trip, along with usually having my hair colored every 10 weeks at about $85, and don’t forget buying some makeup here and there, shoes, and at least one big “seasonal” shopping trip for new clothes around $500ish total. Don’t forget the little random purchases here and there also. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

I’m really looking forward to continuing to save and invest my money for the second half of the year, which will help keep me on track. Besides the savings of time, money and not having extra clutter, I definitely have a different mindset about money. Knowing that every day I’m trading my time for money, reminds me that each purchase, no matter how small, has to be bought with hours of my life. That’s a powerful translation of currency that will always stick with me going forward. ๐Ÿ•ฐ ๐Ÿ’ต

This is us

I thought with all the new followers, itโ€™s a good time to re-introduce the magic behind mysemibasiclife (you read that right..I totally referred to myself as the magic). To celebrate, my daughter humored me with a photo shoot, and my favorite was one of the bloopers. ๐Ÿ˜œ

Sometimes life is more about what happens behind the scenes, between the โ€œperfectโ€ pictures, when youโ€™re trying to pose and get the best lighting, hide that lazy eye, those wrinkles and those frizzy grey hairs. She captured all of these things, all of my imperfections, including crows feet I didnโ€™t even know were there. How fitting to show my imperfections to all of you who have been following along on my imperfect journey to financial freedom. This is me..always laughing at my own jokes, never taking things too seriously, currently staring off into space like only a true dreamer can do. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

This is the entire family that puts up with my latest crazy schemes, understands the bigger picture behind those crazy schemes, sometimes appreciates my hilariously witty comments and penny pinching ways, and packs in the car with me for that fifth trip to the library in a two day period. ๐Ÿ˜‚

You weren’t there for the early years, the dark debt days ๐Ÿ˜ฌ where we were living beyond our means and got ourselves into a financial spot where all of our paychecks were going towards debt. But you have now followed along as we ditched the debt, got rid of car payments and paid our last student loan off, which puts us at a grand total of $165,000 in consumer debt paid off!! Youโ€™re following as I am feeling weak, but holding strong and halfway through my #nospendyear. You followed along as we bought our first rental property and are following along now as we now search for the next one. ๐Ÿ‘€

We are excited to continue sharing our life after debt journey, including our ever changing goals, working on growing our net worth, celebrating the success, overcoming the setbacks, and the blood, sweat and tears along the way as we define what financial independence looks like for our family. ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Enough about us though..I want to hear from you..whatโ€™s your story? What topics that Iโ€™ve covered have helped or would help you along your journey?

What questions do you have for me?

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

Be a Goal Getter

I donโ€™t care who you are..you need goals. Think of the old cliche saying that totally applies here..how are you supposed to get where youโ€™re meant to go if you donโ€™t know where that is? I firmly believe that if you take everything else out of the equation, mindset and goals are the biggest drivers of if you will or won’t do something. It also doesn’t matter if youโ€™re on a different path than me and think Iโ€™m crazy for my recent FIRE movement ๐Ÿ”ฅ, you still need goals and the right mindset for whatever your movement is, whether financial, personal, professional, relationships or health related.

Donโ€™t be a flake and say something vague like โ€œI want to pay off my debtโ€ or โ€œI want to lose some weightโ€. If thatโ€™s your goal, then you may as well replace it with โ€œI donโ€™t want to accomplish anything ever” and just get excited about carrying around those extra 15 lbs and all that consumer debt for the rest of your life. We wouldn’t have paid off all of our debt and bought our first rental by being flaky..period.

Instead, set yourself some SMART goals for whatever you are trying to achieve. Stop and brainstorm your life, past present and future state. I know everyone is “busy”, but sometimes you have to make it a priority to stop and reflect. Think about tomorrow, end of the year, two years from now, and maybe even think even farther, like 5-10 years from now. With us being halfway through 2019, itโ€™s also a good time to look back on the past six months. What do you see? Do you like what you see? What will happen if you continue the way you are? Will you get where you want to go?

After you think about your path and your big picture, which will be different for all of us, think about 3-5 micro goals over the next 6 months that will help you get that much closer to your big goal. Get all high tech and write them on a post it and put them on your fridge…where you see them every day. ๐Ÿ‘€ (bonus points if they fall off all the time so you have to look at them even more when you pick them up off the floor)

As you can see, I have crossed out and updated a few of mine when my priorities shifted and opportunities came my way that altered my original timeline. Be ready to adjust as life comes at you, but even when things don’t go as planned, don’t ever give up. Remember to set your goals high enough to push you while making sure they are also attainable with some focus and hard work.

Donโ€™t forget to stop and celebrate your successes as you hit your goals. Then make sure you continue to set new micro goals to get you that much closer to where you want to be! We need to think bigger and get some new goals since we’ve already paid off the student loans, currently looking for our second rental and also pretty sure we have increased our net worth by $25k just in the past few months. So I’m curious..what are some goals you have crushed and what are some that didn’t go so well?

$113,108.34 The true cost of our education

In the above picture from eleven years ago, I see a couple of crazy kids having fun at Mardi Gras without a care in the world. This was pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre debt-free lifestyle and pre-multiple bad hairstyles, including a year with bangs. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

The crazy kids above had been in the job force for several years, although I’m not really sure what Matt did then or what he does now even, but I had begun down the insurance career path. Along with entering the job force, I had adopted a lifestyle of debt and had been led to believe that’s just what people do, and student loans are just something you pay back for the rest of your life. So we had around $50k combined student loans and our “almost degrees” to show for it, meaning we each had enough credits to qualify for a bachelors, but didn’t actually have a bachelors degree to show for it. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Matt had been at least paying the minimum on his loans..I was too busy saying I couldn’t afford my monthly payments, yet I could eat out and go party all the time wearing new clothes and driving a new car. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Things changed shortly after the above pic when we found out we were pregnant with our daughter. We both made the choice to go back to school and get those degrees wrapped up. We paid cash for my last few classes, which I finished up online, while working full time and having a baby at home. It was tough with Matt also working full time and taking night classes three days a week. ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ‘ถ ๐Ÿผ

We weren’t paying on our loans during this time, or the interest that was just stacking up on those already high principal balances. To top it off, Matt’s new career change into a Computer Science degree from a for profit university added another $40k to our already giant mountain of student loan debt. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Fast forward to about six years ago, when we finally started paying the minimum monthly amount on our loans (only because we had to get them out of forbearance). So if your name was Sallie Mae, Mohela, Nelnet, Fedloans, etc., you were on our payroll for the past six years. The amount we were paying in minimums was around $1500 a month, which was more than our mortgage at the time. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ

I often wonder what else that money could have been doing..for us, for investing, for our kids, for donating, for the economy, etc. It would probably make me sick to run any actual math on what we missed out on not investing the money, and how much total we paid in interest. ๐Ÿคข

We decided to get serious and use the debt snowball method, and continued throwing every extra penny we had towards them. I skipped eating out, meal prepped, bought used clothes, and budgeted like a badass. It felt like the slowest process, and that we would NEVER pay them off. Some of these loans had 6% interest, so a lot of times I was barely even touching the balance when I made a payment. ๐Ÿ™„

We set a goal of being debt free by August 2019, because that’s when my son would be starting Kindergarten. It was always a big goal, and even through each of the setbacks, I knew we would just have to adjust and keep going. I would like to say there was some big secret program we used, but we literally just made a goal and made the necessary sacrifices on a consistent basis to crush it. I can’t even say how good it feels to finally write this post, and even ahead of our goal. ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€๐ŸŽ“ ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“