Monthly Archives: June 2012

Weekly Round Up – Friday June 29

Today I am posting 2x. I have been pretty behind on posting, and am trying to catch up, and be better! Well it has been a pretty crazy week. It’s Friday and I am almost finished with my first week of work. I was definitely pretty busy this week. I came into the office at 8 am and did not leave until 6 pm. I then either went to the gym or babysitting, so my day ended around 10 pm. I barely had a lunch break because I was in and out of meetings. But at least I am getting paid, right? I can’t wait to see my first paycheck! I really love my company. I already have a coffee mug, hot thermos, and water canteen with my company’s logo imprinted. I will pass these gifts to my family since they love to have things that say my university’s name and now my company’s name. I also arrived Wednesday to see a special package: a tin of cookies from my company! :) I am also getting a Samsung Galaxy phone. They will be paying for my phone bill :) I will finally upgrade from MetroPCS talk and text only! I feel so grown up :)

On Wednesday, I also received great news! The apartment below the apartment we leased became available. So we are moving in sooner than August 23rd. Actually we are moving next weekend!!! So excited! My summer hopes were just revived!

We still have that pesky loan we have to take care off, but unfortunately we do not have the money to clear it right now. I will have to re-do my budget to include the monthly car payment, and come up with a plan to pay it off. Also, his parents are giving my husband $1,000 as part of his graduation gift. They said they will give it to us after the loan is paid off, but I really think they should give it to us now. That way interest won’t accumulate on the $1K. How do you think we should approach this?

Here is a round up on some great personal finance posts. My goal is to publish a weekly round up every week. :) I need to come up with a better system of documenting what posts I really like. I read a lot but always forget to link em. Is there a link generator out there?

This weekend is going to be pretty busy: suit shopping with my husband tonight, date night tonight, baby sitting tomorrow, softball game Sunday, interview practice with my husband, and who knows what else.What about you?

SavvyFinancialLatina

Weekly Round Up – Friday June 29

Today I am posting 2x. I have been pretty behind on posting, and am trying to catch up, and be better! Well it has been a pretty crazy week. It’s Friday and I am almost finished with my first week of work. I was definitely pretty busy this week. I came into the office at 8 am and did not leave until 6 pm. I then either went to the gym or babysitting, so my day ended around 10 pm. I barely had a lunch break because I was in and out of meetings. But at least I am getting paid, right? I can’t wait to see my first paycheck! I really love my company. I already have a coffee mug, hot thermos, and water canteen with my company’s logo imprinted. I will pass these gifts to my family since they love to have things that say my university’s name and now my company’s name. I also arrived Wednesday to see a special package: a tin of cookies from my company! :) I am also getting a Samsung Galaxy phone. They will be paying for my phone bill :) I will finally upgrade from MetroPCS talk and text only! I feel so grown up :)

On Wednesday, I also received great news! The apartment below the apartment we leased became available. So we are moving in sooner than August 23rd. Actually we are moving next weekend!!! So excited! My summer hopes were just revived!

We still have that pesky loan we have to take care off, but unfortunately we do not have the money to clear it right now. I will have to re-do my budget to include the monthly car payment, and come up with a plan to pay it off. Also, his parents are giving my husband $1,000 as part of his graduation gift. They said they will give it to us after the loan is paid off, but I really think they should give it to us now. That way interest won’t accumulate on the $1K. How do you think we should approach this?

Here is a round up on some great personal finance posts. My goal is to publish a weekly round up every week. :) I need to come up with a better system of documenting what posts I really like. I read a lot but always forget to link em. Is there a link generator out there?

This weekend is going to be pretty busy: suit shopping with my husband tonight, date night tonight, baby sitting tomorrow, softball game Sunday, interview practice with my husband, and who knows what else.What about you?

SavvyFinancialLatina

9 Tips for Paying for College

Student debt is nearing nearly $1 Trillion dollars. Our current generation is going into debt to attain a better lifestyle, and in turn burying themselves in mountains of consumer, government, and private debt. I have several friends who graduated with over $40K in student loans and are earning less than $40K a year. I have other friends who are making a good living $65K, but are still paycheck to paycheck because of their thousands of student loan debt. The pie chart below illustrates how the average family pays for college. Parent income is the number one source, followed by grants & scholarships, and student borrowing.

Here are 9 Tips for paying for college:

  1. Start saving for college early: I had nearly 3K of my own savings to start off freshman year. I saved all my money from my part time job in high school and some cash competitions I won. This allowed me to buy my computer and things for my apartment room. I think my parents had saved up several thousand.
  2. Work with high school counselors to find scholarships:I worked with my school counselor and registrar to find scholarships. Through the applications they gave to fill out, I earned nearly 8K in scholarship money to be used for my freshman year expenses.
  3. Make sure you know, and meet deadlines for financial aid: It’s surprising to see students lose out on financial aid because they did not turn in their application early enough or they simply forgot to apply, or follow up with financial aid department. Believe me nothing will happen unless you push financial aid to answer your questions. I had a high school classmate who delayed college for a semester because he missed financial aid deadline. Financial aid is also on a first come, first serve basis. I, also, saw another student miss aid because he did not turn in the right documentation.
  4. Lessen costs by starting at a nearby community college and living at home: I went to straight to university, but I know a lot of students who saved themselves lots of money by doing their basic at a community college. I took 5 classes during the summer at a community college to advance in my degree. The classes were easier and cheaper!
  5. Earn your degree faster by taking summer courses OR taking more classes during the semester: Like I said before, I took summer classes. I also took 21 hours every semester. In many universities, after 15 hours, students don’t have to pay for additional classes. This is how I finished my bachelor’s in 3 years.
  6. At some colleges, you can take 15 credit hours as the same cost as the typical 12 hours. Or 21 hours at the same cost of 15 credit hours. Just make sure to balance out tough classes with easy classes. If you are taking 21 hour, make sure no more than 15 hours are heavy duty, intense courses. You do not want your GPA to drop due to taking on too much of a load.
  7. Get a part time job off or on campus: I worked during summers or vacations. It helped me reload my savings fund. I definitely recommend finding an on campus job like campus patrol. The jobs are easy, you don’t have to spend gas to get to them, and they tend to be flexible with your school activities. If you can’t find one on campus, find one close by. I had a friend who did not work all the way through college, relied on student loans, had no scholarships, did not concentrate on school, and did not graduate by one class. After 4 years, she is looking for a minimum wage job. Does not make any sense.
  8. Many community groups and often your parent’s company have scholarships available. But it’s up to you to find these sources of money: I got a lot of local scholarships! Look around and call the organizations to see if they have any. If you move to another city for university, look for scholarships in that community. I did, and got $2000 in local scholarships.
  9. If you have a scholarship, don’t blow it by getting bad grades or acting up:Pretty self explanatory.

Do all these tips pay off? Yes. I received a total of $93,000 to pay for my 4 years of education. My parents paid $11,000. My 4 year education cost a grand total of $109,000. If I had not had scholarships, I would have had to pay $93,000 out of pocket. My parents would not have been able to help me, and I would have graduated with $93,000 in student loans. Since I knew my education was very expensive, I decided to get 2 degrees in 4 years (bachelors and master’s). Did it mean I had to work very hard? Yes. I did have to sacrifice activities with my friends, etc. But it was worth it.

Did you get scholarships to pay for college? Do you have any recommendations?

SavvyFinancialLatina

Choosing the College Path

There has been a lot of discussion in the personal finance world in regards to the benefits of a higher education, especially when considering the increasing cost. Some pf bloggers have gone as far as saying a college education is just not worth it. I just wanted to write my own experience in acquiring a higher education. Gathering different perspectives is very important in trying to decide whether it’s worth it to continue with your education or even help your child decide if it’s the right choice for him/her.

My background:

I come from a low income community. My parents immigrated into this country when I was younger and despite having college degrees from their respective country, could not really do the same thing they were doing there here. Why did my parents immigrate? Their country was going through a high unemployment period for young adults at the time, sort of like what’s happening now. My dad has graduated from a top private university, had several years of experience, but still could not find a job that could feed our family. My parents came only temporarily to ride out the storm, but decided to stay after they realized life for their kids (my brother and I) might be better here, even if life for them was harder. So they traded their office jobs in their country to come work in harder conditions in a foreign country.

I definitely went through the “system.”Bilingual classes are never top priority for schools, and many kids get discouraged and often drop out. I was lucky to have my 4th grade teacher notice that I was bright and recommend me to the talented and gifted program. Despite achieving high scores, I was not allowed to join the program because I needed to have 1 year in an all English classroom. I spent fifth grade in an all English classroom; this class was where they put the majority of the problematic kids. My teacher was great and was the only that could handle such a special group. I was finally allowed to join the program in middle school.

Differentiating Myself: I think it was extremely important to separate myself from the crowd. When your peers are all motivated and aspire to go to college, it kinds rubs in you know? As of now, only 2, including myself, have graduated from college from the kids in the bilingual program in my grade. There were about thirty of us. I did spend most of my time in middle school catching up to my peers, and finally in high school I was able to surpass my classmates. I graduated at the top of my class and went to college.

I honestly don’t usually share my struggles with people. Most people think I was just a normal kid who had parents that put her in special classes so she could advance. My husband is definitely one of those kids. He went to one of the best elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Which I think was great!

I definitely think my experience led me to have a higher appreciation for higher education. First, I realized acquiring a higher education was probably the only and easiest way to advance and help my parents. Second, I always had the goal to improve and a higher education of course contributed heavily in accomplishing this goal. College for me was not a party. Yes, I did have fun, but I saw the experience differently from most college kids. Most students see college as a place to explore and find themselves. I definitely saw it that way too, but channeled the exploration and experiences in my field, so that I could advance in my career. Focus is definitely important. I went through both my undergraduate and graduate degree in four years, when it usually takes six years full time.

College has increased my earning potential. Which means I will be able to have and do things that I couldn’t do before. I will outline how I paid for both of my degree and how you can pay for your degree in a later post.

My message is simple. Education is crucial to living a good life. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Persistence and delayed gratification are your best friends!

Why did you go to college? Has it been beneficial? Please share with other readers that might be considering making this leap of faith.

SavvyFinancialLatina

Life Update: New Job

Hello! It’s been a while since my last blog post. Life kinda took over and left me without breath. Last week I went to see my family and basically took care of my mom. She hasn’t been feeling well (stress), and the doctors gave her muscle relaxants to help with her back pain ( life pain?). I did not really have a chance to sit down and write my thoughts down, but I did have time to catch up on some blogs! I love reading about personal finance! :) I am such a nerd.

Guess where I am typing this blog post up? Just guess :) In my office cubicle :) I have a cubicle!!! A nice open concept cubicle. Today, I finished my second day of work, and so far so good. It’s a little intimidating, as any new experience is, but everyone is really nice and helpful. I hit the ground running with lots of training and meetings with co workers explaining me what they do. On my first day, I met over 50 people.On Monday, I was in the office from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm. Today, I was in from 8 am to 4:30 pm, and came back around 6 to take care of some random stuff and get some time alone.

I, also, found out last night that my husband’s car loan is not being paid off completely as his parents said some time ago.Side note: The agreement was that his car loan would be deducted from his paycheck and it would be part of his compensation. My husband is currently working for his dad’s company. His parents decided to change their minds claiming that now we have money coming in (I got a job), so we can easily pay off the loan.We really cannot fight this since everything was verbal. Sigh….both him and I are upset. I haven’t told him how upset I am. My husband had an opportunity to join a great company but turned it down because he wanted to help his dad. He is being underpaid, but wanted to help out the family business. His dad also knew about this opportunity and did not encourage him to pursue it. I understand his parents did help pay for his tuition…but…I don’t really know how to explain my feeling towards this. Part of me feels like my husband was cheated. Is it wrong for me to feel like this? Thankfully, my husband is looking for a better job, and hopefully will land one by August- September. Well back to the point. So, I think we owe about 5 grand right now on the car. Need to get more details. We have debt :(

We signed our lease on an awesome apartment! The closet is huge. It’s four minutes from my office, and right next to great highways, just in case my husband has to travel.We move in August 23rd, not soon enough if you ask us. Remember when I said we were going to move in with my in laws during the transition period. I didn’t know where I was going to be working, and we were running low on funds. Well, I learned my lesson. His family is nice, but I miss our apartment. Neither one of us enjoys being there, so we find things/excuses to get out. We are going to start paying rent in July-August ($200-$300). I don’t mind paying rent, but my husband feels its a double standard because his sister and boyfriend have been living rent free plus food and gas for almost a year. I just want to get everything on to our account, and not want to owe anybody anything. So I don’t mind paying. It’s less than rent at an apartment. However, his parents are constantly reminding us how much help they give us, and then ask for certain conditions in return. I don’t know what to think. Part of me just wishes we would have spent our money on rent. The other part of me tells me to buckle up and deal with it. I am really grateful for their help, don’t get me wrong.I am alone in this?

So that’s what been happening in my life. I am really excited to move into our apartment. The next two months cannot go by fast enough! :)

SavvyFinancialLatina

 

Apartment Choice: Do you pay for location and amenities?

Yesterday, I wrote about how far $3,000 takes you in Dallas, Texas in My $3,000 Budget. I got some great feedback from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents, Joe at Retire by Forty, Daisy from Add-Vodka, and Erica from NewlyWeds on A Budget. Beach & The Budget and Military Income Millionaire have also joined my great support group. Thanks guys! A lot of the comments revolved around my transportation and cable/internet costs. We have really good insurance and it is expensive to insure two 22 year olds. I am, also, hoping to have lower gas expenses. I am going to be working close to work, and my hubby will be the one doing most of the driving. As far as cable/internet options, I am hoping it is lower! This is just an estimate. I am going to be getting rid of HULU PLUS. It’s not worth it. I got it primarily because my grandparents visited me for a week, and HULU PLUS has an awesome Spanish video collection. Way better than Netflix’s collection. I keep Netflix because my little brother uses it.

I was inspired by Joe’s Retire by Forty’s “Prioritize Your Spending” post. Rent is one of our biggest expenses in our budget (28-29%). I have been looking at apartments within a 5 to 10 minute driving distance from my work, ranging from $700 to $900. You can see below the breakdown of our budget based on the cost of rent. 

All the apartments are within 5 to 15 minutes driving distance of work depending on traffic. The farther away, the cheaper it is. Makes sense right?

We are going to be renting an apartment on the high end of this range. Here are the reasons why:

  • It is within walking distance of dozens of shops, restaurants, and a movie theatre.
  • It is 4 minutes away from my office.
  • The community is full of young professionals and couples.
  • It has that city life in a suburb without the downtown price of an apartment.
  • The community has fitness classes everyday including pilates, yoga, cross fit, kickboxing! All classes I enjoy. Plus, all I have to do is walk downstairs and go to the class. No need to drive to a gym!
  • We already lived in a super cheap, small apartment with no cable. We want a little more.

All the apartments had similar layouts and square footage (698 sq. feet).

We could easily give up location and amenities for an extra $200 in the budget. But we will be living below our means already, and want to splurge a little on our apartment.

Would you pay a little more for location and amenities? How much more?

SavvyFinancialLatina

The $3,000 Budget

How far does $3,000 go in Dallas, Texas for a couple?

I cannot believe how much has changed since April. Remember my post “Working on our First Post School Budget?” I did not have a car, a job, or anything really! After working some numbers, I believe I have our first budget. Here it is:

Let’s just say it’s pretty tight. Despite the fact that $3,000 is a lot of money, it doesn’t seem to go very far! :( And I live in Dallas, TX, an affordable city! I totally feel for the PF bloggers living in pricey cities! We have a $111 buffer, which I believe we may spend sooner rather later during the month. I am hoping the gasoline bill is not as high as I am predicting. We are going to be living 5-10 minutes away from my job, and I hope my hubby finds a job nearby! Everything is also five minutes down the road.  I, also, don’t know if my company will pay for my cellphone. I hope they do, at least partially.

Line Items:

  • Rent is an estimate. I have been looking at apartments and they all range between $700 to $900 depending on location and amenities. The cheaper the apartment, the more buffer.
  • Cash Allowance- I have budgeted a cash allowance for my hubby and I. Right now, I plan for a $50/ a week for each of us.
  • Car maintenance fund- I have also budgeted $100 for car maintenance. This should help pay for tires, oil changes, etc.
  • Christmas fund-  I am putting away $100 a month for Christmas gifts, so when the time comes we won’t go over budget.
  • Vacation Fund- Budgeting $100 a month for vacation expenses.
Some thoughts:
  • I am not sure how families do it. $3,000 for 2 people seems like a lot, but then it just disappears on rent, car insurance, etc. Hats off to the families who can. I know my mother always managed to find the money to pay stuff, and her budget was/is LESS $3,000 per month for 4 people.
  • I am so grateful to NOT have loans of any kind. I don’t know if I could pay off additional debt and stay under our budget. This is motivation for me not to rack up any debt.
  • You might notice that I say “I” or “me” when I talk about the budget. I am married, but  in the end I am the one who handles the finances. My hubby doesn’t like setting limits or paying bills or setting financial priorities. He leaves it to me.

What do you think? What is your budget like? Do you stay under it usually?

SavvyFInancialLatina

Negotiating First Salary

The salaries do not reflect real numbers. 

So, I recently negotiated my first salary. When I first got the offer, I could not believe my eyes. I actually repeated the number in my head and was just amazed. I talked to two of my advisors and they said that the salary was beyond expectations especially in this job market. Not to mention that the company currently has a hiring freeze, and I was hired. The thing is, I am pretty sure I could have held out for another 5K. My Vice President in an informal discussion said he could push the budget to offer me a higher salary. It would have meant another 5K. Sigh. So why didn’t I?

  • The offer is above average for my experience and age.
  • I got really excited, and considering other offers, this offer blew everything out of the water.
  • I was grateful for such a high salary.
  • It’s really hard to know my actual worth. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s and some work experience. But I have never been paid a salary. There is also not much information out there on salaries. It’s all based on the average person.

I sat down with coffee with one of my previous employers and he said I could have easily gotten 5K more. I am not sure how I feel about this. Did my negotiation skills fail me? Although, I am earning more than my age peers. However, I have also worked harder. Am I being too greedy? It’s like buying an item, and later finding out I could have gotten it for sale.

I know I have a lot of work to do this year. I have to prove myself that I am worth the money, deserve a high bonus, and a high raise. Next time I am considering a salary negotiation, I need to:

  • Know my worth
  • Research more
  • Actually negotiate and say a counteroffer

Learn from my lesson. Do not take the first salary you are offered, even if it sounds great. I have been told this many times. Too many times to count. DOesn’t hurt to ask right?

I, also, need to get away from the age mentality. The people I am working with obviously don’t think I am 22 years old, so I need to stop thinking I am 22! :) Hard to do.

I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity! I will prove myself in the coming year!

How did your first salary negotiation go?

SavvyFinancialLatina

Saving For Retirement

I was born in 1990, back when people still relied on pensions for their retirement. Remember those days? I don’t. So I digged up an old picture of a protest. Check it out. Fair pensions for all!

By the time I retire, there will be no social security and I will have to depend on my own portfolio if I ever want to retire.Young adults face some major challenges on our way to financial independence. High student debt and a weak job market is making it hard to increase our piggy banks. I have a friend who has 40K+ in student loans and doesn’t even have any job prospects.

Retirement is at least thirty to forty years away but thanks to the personal finance blog world, I know that if I start early, I will have more! Time is on my side here. And putting money away prevents from having lifestyle inflation. I think its, also, awesome that I am part of a DINKS couple! One of the many advantages of being married is combined retirement funds.

So, I am going to be aggressive on my retirement goal. I plan to max out my 401K. Yes, I am going to be putting $17,000 away. I, also, plan to max out my ROTH IRA ($5,000). I hope to use my bonus to fund my ROTH IRA at the end of the year. This won’t leave much left for my check, especially after taxes and my SPP contribution. It’s going to hurt this coming year, but that means any raises in the future can be all mine. I will not have to worry about increasing retirement contributions! This is a pretty aggressive move. I am not sure if I will regret it or not, but I think I need to do it. I can do this because we currently have no debts (school or cars). Some of the advantages of this plan are:

  • Paying less taxes now
  • Taking advantage of compound interest
  • Meeting retirement goals

Some of the disadvantages of this plan are:

  • Not being able to save as much for a house down payment :/
  • Not being able to buy more clothes or shoes (…maybe this is good)
  • Not being able to break away from the student broke life. It might improve a little bit.

Hopefully, I can become a millionaire sooner too! Because according to Northwestern Mutual, I am going to need more than $1 million to retire some day.

So what do you think? Do you max out your 401K? How old where you when you started? If you haven’t, do you want to?

SavvyFinancialLatina

College Lesson II: Join An Organization

I hope everyone is having a great week!As part of my college lesson series, I wanted to talk about joining an organization during your college years. By being in organizations, I was able to grow and develop myself beyond my peers’ abilities. You are probably wondering why would I join an organization? I am already going to school, maybe working, and overall, trying to manage my first adult experience. Joining an organization has many benefits. Here is how you can benefit:

  • Develop relationships with your peers
  • Gain professional skills
  • Make friends
  • Advantage when applying for scholarships
  • Potential to take on leadership roles
  • Stand out in employment and graduate applications
  • Great addition to your resume
Here are some organizations you could join in college:
  • Student government
  • Residential Council
  • Honors Program
  • Toastmasters
  • LULAC
  • Sorority/Fraternity
  • Professional Organization
  • Religious Organization
  • Volunteer organization
I was part of Toastmasters which helped me improve my public speaking skills. Many people often comment on my great public speaking skills especially for my age. I was also in an Honors program which allowed me to take small classes and to develop great relationships with my professors. My professors helped me by advising me throughout college and graduate school. If I had a question on anything, I could easily reach out to them, and ask for their advice. I, also, volunteered all the time. I made friends, gained professional skills, got scholarships, and stood out in the employment search. Employers love to see a high GPA with volunteer and work experience.
Where you in organization in college? What was your experience?

Quick Update:  It’s been pretty slow on my end. I am currently going through the background check of my job, and will start working at the earliest on June 25th. So I have decided to concentrate on this blog! I hope to be posting regularly, and to have more organized content. Hopefully, I will have new changes this summer! I, also, want to concentrate on getting some side income. Maybe I can baby sit or tutor? Any tips? As far as our personal expenses go, I need to start working on our budget; a task, I unfortunately, find unpleasant. It always breaks my heart to see how much we actually spend on eating out.

SavvyFinancialLatina

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