$2,000 loan payment .. and 134 months to go.

I just made $1,000 for a side project and spent $2,000 on repaying a small part of my grad school loan. Since all of my debt is now essentially student loans, I’ve been quite aggressive to try and pay them off as soon as possible. My goal is to do $1,000 per month (notwithstanding the $155/mo I’m already paying on the undergrad loan). According to calculations using a conservative 6.8% interest rate as the bulk of my loans are that + some lower interest rate federal loans, I should have it paid off in: 130 months or 10.8 years..

Now I think I’m doing well in my plan, but it is certainly a daunting task. I plan on using any extra money I make to pay these loans back as soon as possible, but I have to also keep on saving for my other goals.

Personal Finance take on Life Satisfaction and High Achievement

In a topic that’s a little bit away from the usual personal finance blogosphere, but highly relevant is having life satisfaction and a high degree of achievement.

Having recently read the New York Times article on this topic, “What if the Secret to Success is failure?”, it made me wonder and reflect on my own life. The article summarizes educators’ mission to improve the graduation rates and predictors of success in life of their students. It was observed that those students that succeeded in college, were not necessarily those with the highest placement test, but in fact they had other characteristics that allowed them to persevere in college. This is rated in what they call a Character Grade. Among the top characteristics were: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. These characteristics, taught and impressed on young children would then help them build the necessary tool set to deal with stresses later on in life.

It’s a radical way of thinking, and I like it. I think these characteristics apply to life in general, and certainly to personal finance. This is my take on how each of these characteristics would apply:

  • Zest – meaning great enthusiasm and energy
    • keeping up the energy to deal with the bills and to keep on track for debt freedom. nothing helps more than a good attitude.
  • Grit – courage and resolve
    • having the strength to deal with your issues head on and not giving up. the start is a little daunting, but gets easier as you move on.
  • Self-control – The ability to control oneself
    • pretty explanatory, developing the skill to control our desires and wants can help us achieve our true goals.
  • Social Intelligence - the ability to use one’s brain to navigate and negotiate complex social relationships
    • it helps with careers tremendously. being able to relate to others, or understand when it is appropriate to bring up issues is crucial.
  • Gratitude - the quality of being thankful
    • i can’t tell you the number of times saying thank you has helped me somewhere down the road. it’s the polite thing to do, but it also helps lift someone’s spirits, thereby improving your social intelligence. Being thankful for what we have currently is a great way to take stock of your life and analyzing what your goals truly mean to you.
  • Optimism - hopefulness and confidence about the future
    • When you’re in debt, you have to have this optimism to get you through the days. It’s a tough road, as great debt doesn’t easily disappear, but you have to be confident that better days will come.
  • Curiosity - a strong desire to know or learn something
    • Start with knowing your debts, but continue by learning about the topics you’re most afraid of. I was afraid of personal finance and retirement at the beginning, but the more I learned and read, the more comfortable I got. That’s how I got started with this blog, with just a strong curiosity to learn and improve myself.

Do you apply these charteristics to your life?

If you don’t use it, you lose it

The maxim holds true in so many forms. Whether it’s exercise or financial control, it is so relevant. As one example, the other day I received travel rewards for a flight I took all the way in January but forgot to put my rewards number for.

Apparently, I was right on the line of not being able to count that trip towards my miles as they have a 9-month after travel expiration date. So check your recent trips and rewards plans. If you don’t have it applied, you might be out of luck.

This applies to purchases made at specific stores with rewards programs as well. A little known fact, at least at the store I frequent, is if you keep your receipt you can later call in to have that reward applied to your card.

Networth Update: 9-10-2011

-Updated Networth-

Total Assets: $77,951.80
Total Liabilities: $108,742.01
Networth: -$30,790.21

The more recent economic downturn has led to a lower retirement account and stocks. In addition, the deposit from my previous apartment¬† (about 3000 due) + moving costs (600) have added up to remove from my current asset base. Starting this month, I’m also contributing more towards my home downpayment fund rather the emergency savings, with the option to use the downpayment fund as backup as well.

Cheers!

-1step

Why it pays to check your credit card statement

I just wanted to share this with you all as I was just the victim of a wrongful charge. I wouldn’t have been privy to it had I not looked at my bank statement.

In this automated world that we live in, often times we tend to ignore our bank statements. But I think it’s good to review them to keep ourselves grounded and to determine if any errors have been made.

For me, it was a large error made by the dental office who made a mistake and charged another $720 for work I had already paid for in December of last year. I called them up and they confirmed they will remove the charge.

This concept applies to everything from bank statements, to apartment leases, to gas bills. Computers and people make mistakes and we have to be on top of it when they occur.

Resume Tips – Dos and Don’ts

Recently in my job search I had to redo my resume and make it more relevant. Along the way I gathered quite a few tips that I wanted to share here. I will keep updating this list from time to time, and will tack on any additional tips if you have to share :)

[Last Update: 9/8/2011]

Do

  • Keep things consistent, such as how you display dates, and where.
  • Highlight through examples and numbers where possible.
  • Bold numbers where you’ve earned a company money or improved operational efficiency. Any other accomplishments that you can think of with impact.
  • Try and limit it to one page, font size min 10 pt. But 2 pages are ok if you have relevant experiences you want to share.
  • Use an action verb to start off every bullet point for a job description. It’s what professional resumes have.
  • Use past tense action verbs when starting to describe your experiences ( i.e. led, authored). Use a current tense action verb to describe your current job (i.e. lead, manage)
  • Take out all the fluff and include relevant experience to the job you’re applying to.
  • Take a look at the job description and try to customize and highlight what the employer is looking for.
  • Keep things chronological, usually from current job to last. But it depends if you want a chronological resume or not. Most are.

Don’t

  • Use larger font sizes because you don’t have enough experience. I wouldn’t go over 14 pt. 12 pt is probably the max I would use for any of the body text and 14 for the heading (your name).
  • Use different fonts. It’s distracting.
  • Make grammatical mistakes. It shows you’re not prepared. Have someone with good English grammar command proofread.
  • Go over 2 pages if you’re just out of college, you don’t really have that much experience.. and if you do, you should highlight the important stuff – no babysitting duties need remain at that point.
  • Use your gmail/yahoo email account when you have a school account you can use. (i.e. a graduate school account is much more professional.) It’s ok if you don’t have one, but if you do, use it.
  • Include extraneous information (i.e. hula hoop champion.. j/k but you get my drift.)
  • Make false statements about the work that you do, these are grounds to get you fired if anyone figures out you’ve falsified anything.