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Reflecting-on-2015-and-Looking-Forward-to-2016
Personal

Reflecting on 2015 and Looking Forward to 2016

Reflecting-on-2015-and-Looking-Forward-to-2016

Wow, 2015 was an incredible year for me. I landed my first “big girl” job as a 5th grader teacher in May, graduated with my masters in August, and started my first year of teaching in September. Of course, I also started this blog. When I started this blog back in July I was truly planning to mostly post about my first year of teaching. I figured it would be a nice outlet for the stress I knew I would be dealing with. However, in the last year, I have found a passion for personal finance and have found myself blogging much more about that. Especially when I have this massive amount of debt weighing me down each day.

I did create a solid plan to pay down my debt this year once I started working, which has helped me almost double my monthly loan payments so far. In 2015, I was able to get my largest loan with the highest interest rate down to 78% paid off. I have been working towards paying off that loan since I was in grad school, so seeing that high paid off percentage is very motivating!

I have a lot planned for 2016, and it might be a little too much to be honest. My plan is to make 2016 a productive year for me. I want to find myself always actively doing something, whether it be school work, blog work, being with friends, whatever it is, I don’t want to be complacent. I want to push myself harder and do more than I ever have before. My goal is to make $2,700 loan payments each month, which is a bit of a stretch for me. This requires me to figure out ways to save and make more money. Which is another goal I have for this year.

I strongly believe in goal setting and I feel that it keeps you motivated knowing you are working towards something. Whatever it might be, I suggest making mini goals to reach your big goal, this makes it more likely that you will succeed and make the task less daunting. For example, I picked $2,700 a month for my loan payments because I want to have my loans completely paid off by the time I turn 31. This might sound crazy since I still have about $185k in student loans, but it’s possible if I work hard and keep my goal in mind. So, what are your goals for 2016 and how do you plan on accomplishing them?

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Money Management, Personal

I Switched to an Organic Diet and Saved Money!

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I never thought I would switch to a mostly organic diet, I never thought I could afford it. I mean, organic food is so expensive, right? Its difficult to swing that on a tight budget, and I can just eat the other, cheaper options. I used to always say this, food is food, so who cares if it’s organic or not? While I was in grad school, I knew I couldn’t afford it. I was making roughly $1,000 a month and trying to put as much of it towards my loans. Right around this time, a few of my friends started changing their diets to be organic and take out certain food groups, and their health issues went away. This intrigued me.

Some Background Info

You should probably know before I really dive into this post that I have awful sinuses. I’ve had issues since I was in middle school with sinus infections and migraines. I have gone weeks where every day was ended with a migraine. It’s not fun, and would require me to take a lot of medication. I had sinus surgery when I was in college, this helped a lot, but my migraines would still randomly come and I still got the occasional sinus infection with a cold. At my absolute worst, I was taking a strong decongestant and nasal spray every single day, and would still get the headaches now and then. I was spending at least $30 a month just on my allergy medicine and nasal spray. This doesn’t include the additional decongestants I would take when I got a headache. I didn’t want to live like that anymore, taking medicine everyday, only to still feel awful. I was curious to see if I just started eating healthier, more veggies and fruits, and organic, if my sinus problems would get better.

Was an Organic Diet Worth It?

Lemme tell ya, I felt so much better after making the switch. I still got the very random headache, but I was able to stop using the nasal spray and take a much more mild allergy medicine. This allowed me to save a lot of money on medicine. Once I calculated it all out, the additional cost of groceries was about even to what I saved from stopping my old medicines and lowering my allergy medicine. Personally, I would much rather pay more for groceries, and take less medication that costs me a lot of money each month. I now spend at most $18 a month on my allergy medicine, usually I can find the Rite Aid brand to be even cheaper and I get 20% off everything with my Plenti card. This allowed me to put additional money towards my grocery budget in order to afford organic choices.

Stepping It Up

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research on how our diet effects our health. Some people in the past have mentioned how cutting out dairy completely got rid of all of their sinus problems. This seemed completely impossible for me, I love dairy. But, what I have found online supports what people have told me. So, I’m slowly cutting dairy out of my diet to see how I feel. It’s definitely hard, but I think cutting things out slowly will make it more manageable for me. I’ve only made switches so far, like almond milk instead of milk, almond milk yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, but I have already noticed differences. For one, I unexpectedly lost the 10 pounds I gained in college after eating organic now for about 4 months and making those minor switches for about 2 months, I was shocked. But, my sinus problems have also greatly improved. The only times I feel congested and get headaches now is the day after I eat a lot of dairy. I still take my allergy medicine, but I’m hoping if I completely cut out dairy, I’ll be able to stop taking that altogether.

This little diet experiment blew my mind, I’m so happy I made the changes I did and continue to do so. I feel so much better and now understand why it is so important to fuel our bodies with the best foods for it. We shouldn’t have to take a ton of medicine each day just to get through it. By making healthier choices and creating a diet that was specific to my health problems, I am now able to live a much happier life, almost medication free! Did you change your diet for health reasons? What was your experience?

 

Personal

Moving Back Home After College

Part of my debt payoff plan consisted of finding a teaching job close to home, so that I could move back home. This was hard for me. If you had asked me 5 years ago when I started college, I would have told you I would never move back home after school. Of course, that was before I knew I would be in this much debt. When I figured out my total amount of student loan debt, it was no question that I would move back home. My parents live in New Jersey, where the cost of living is much higher, making my salary higher. When I began the process of looking at places to apply, New Jersey had some of the highest salaries. As I did more and more research and went through all my options, going home to New Jersey kept being the best option.

When I first told my parents that I wanted to come home after I graduated, they told me I would need to pay some rent. Of course, this would still be a lot cheaper than living somewhere else paying rent, utilities, etc. I was sold and put all my effort into applying to school districts in the area. Luckily, I got an interview very quickly with a district 20 minutes away from my parent’s house, and they offered me a position.

Once I knew I would be moving back home, I began brainstorming ideas and talking to my parents about ways I could live “rent-free” at home. We agreed on me paying for my own groceries, doing work around the house, and helping them get the house ready to be sold. By living “rent-free” I can now put all my extra money at my loans and pay them off even faster than I originally planned.

Now that I have moved home, I have had to move my sister out (she lives in Philly now) and move myself into her old room. I forgot to take pictures of the room before I began moving my stuff in, it was basically a completely empty room, but I took some pictures when I actually thought to. It’s a total disaster and I contemplated not even posting them because they are so bad, but here they are 🙂

 

I’m super excited to move everything in and get it to be how I want it. I wish I could get rid of that rug and paint the walls, but it doesn’t fit into my budget right now.

Did you move home after college? How did you make your decision to move back home or move out?