Mountain Lion / House / Cat

I was very tempted to be impatient and automatically upgrade to Mac OS X Mountain Lion when it was released Tuesday of this week.  Only $20 yes, but it goes against my philosophy of buying things unnecessarily to get deeper in debt.  Especially when I’m get an upgrade code for free as someone who recently purchased a new Mac. I waited almost 72 hours for my update but saved $20…

Had a bit of an emergency today.  While my family was visiting, the downstairs shower and toilet both got backed up.  Turns out several feet of roots from the tree in our front yard got inside the pipes and were obstructing the flow of water.  Our handyman / plumber charged us $120 to get it temporarily under control. Altogether to do the job right and replace the piping / concrete it would run us around $1800.  We can probably wait a good 6 months before getting this work done again or getting it fixed properly.

Cat has also been sick.  I’ll spare the details but it was $120 for the visit and I hope she is better now.  Bf paid both bills as I’m net negative for the week. This is probably the toughest month I’ve had since starting this process. Turns out I’m getting my bonus in another two weeks rather than my next paycheck.  Kind of a bummer… Two of my coworkers voluntarily left the company today. That makes 5 since I started in March. All of them were really nice people and I truly wish them the best of luck in their careers.

A Tale of Two Electric Companies




Alright time to vent real quick.  I’m all about supporting the environment, but two recent electric bills I’ve received have caused me to reconsider.  The rep at our apartment complex suggested Green Mountain Energy as a service provider last year.  During the summer, the bills have been absolutely brutal.  I kind of assumed our rate was competitive, then I saw the rate for the townhouse.  12.83 cents per kWh vs 8.4. That’s about 34%.  Once you include the overall inefficiencies of the hvac unit in the apartment, poor window insulation and the fact that it was on the third floor I’m sure that it easily would add up to over 50%.  I hate overpaying for things and electricity is no different.  Just more proof to me that you need to shop around.



Was supposed to go out with a friend tomorrow (the one with a expensive taste in restaurants) but the group of people at this event are really on the superficial side. Talking constantly about trips they’ve gone on, fancy places they’ve gone to eat at, etc. I personally don’t think we click much and would rather us not spend money to be with that group.  We also went to a fun birthday party that ran a little over $100 for the both of us.  I had 2 drinks after being pressured for drinking water with lemon, but the food and service were both top-notch.

My folks are coming in from NY this week, so we made a last minute Ikea run as our guest bedroom has no bed or other furniture . Store was mobbed, but we did pick up a bed frame which was strategically placed on the roof of our Honda. By strategically I mean I was holding it on the roof with one hand, while my bf pulled on some strings that were tied to the roof. The high today was 106 and sweltering. Of all days to do it, this was probably the worst. I chipped in $150 of the low 200 bill.

Next we went to a Mattress store.  I am fine being gay, but at the same time the guy staring at me and my partner while we were trying out beds made me a lil nervous. Once we told the salesman our budget, we went from the $2000 mattresses to the 3-400 models.  We found a super comfy pillow top for about $433 shipped with tax and free delivery.  This guy was straight and to the point, said he’s been doing it for 18 years and didn’t try to sell us what we didn’t want.  I don’t know if it’s a southern / Texas thing but I have a lot more respect when people have that kind of approach. The salesman got our business and my bf paid for the whole thing.

Totally unrelated, we have been having issues with gnats and found a giant roach underneath the cat litter box.  It freaked me out to say the least, hope the roach doesn’t have any relatives nearby.  We don’t leave food out and run a fairly clean house, so I’m a bit perplexed how it even got in the house. Called pest control guy our realtor referred us to and left a message.  Hopefully it’s not too expensive for them to come out every few months.

Super tight week for me.  Between 99 HoA fees coming out, 93 owed to eBay for my laptop sale, food, gas, 150 for furniture, $297 for Verizon I don’t have cash for. Running negative this coming week and looks like a transfer from my Line of Credit will be in short order. Getting paid in 9 days and I don’t’ think cash-only is an option.

Expensive Dinners & Exercise!

Not for me personally since I didn’t pay, but for us, meaning my partner and I.  We went to an art gallery crawl with some friends, then went out to dinner.  For lunch we easily spent around $40 and dinner at another expensive place came out to over $120.  We both agree that is a lot of money to spend on food.  It’s more than our entire grocery budget for a week.  I think we need to screen out places our friend picks out. Just because he has a six figure income and is single, doesn’t mean he should invite his friends places where an entree is $30-40, not including appetizers or any alcohol.

He has expensive taste and detests eating at the more affordable chain restaurants someone on my income would frequent.  I’m thinking we should start screening the places he wants to go to for dinner before agreeing to attend. Not sure what excuses are considered socially acceptable.  Could just be honest.  ‘Sorry but I owe thousands in credit card debt and my bf has over 40k in loans, we can’t afford to drop $100 on a meal tonight’ I would totally say that, but my bf probably not.

In other news, it’s my first time exercising before work since starting February. I’ve been up since 630, stayed an hour late at work and have an energy reserve.  Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself, but I didn’t have the spaced out low blood sugar crash that would always hit several times throughout the each day. Wrote down my goals for the day the night before and it helped me stay on track.

Too much debt is a burden and for many it takes a toll on their health.  It’s good to focus on other areas of life and really enjoy all the wonderful things that exist in your reality.

Lastly, I applied to a string of jobs for 6 months last year and for a month this year.  Noticed the position I interviewed for at a startup was eliminated, even though it was a seasoned Project Manager who held it. This points out one of the inherent downsides to working for smaller companies.  Lack of funding or job security. One week all is rosey and the next you’re on the chopping block.  On the flip side, people don’t stay at companies for a very long time anymore.  Jump from one to the next after a few years to move up the corporate ladder.   Thoughts?

Small World

Just saw someone I chatted with many moons ago on a dating website on the Suze Orman show.  Mike, who went to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University has 166k of debt and went to school to become a pilot.  He’s presently a customer service rep making 12.50/hr. I have a lot of respect for him for taking his story public.  I’m still not sure if he will get out of it anytime soon.  Like myself, he has taken advantage of the Income Based Repayment program to postpone making payments for a year.

I’m very grateful to have a job right now and my salary though not my ideal, it is far far from the worst and there is a lot of upside potential. I can also use the experience I’m gaining to go into a number of different companies in my industry. I viewed this page on Employee Benefits and it really gave me perspective on how much benefits are really adding to my gross salary.  6-10k easily versus being a contracted worker that has no benefits or working for myself and paying small business taxes.  Just something to think about.

Also thinking about holding myself publicly accountable on health and exercise as I have with my money.  So far 217 visits to the blog since April.  It is a big paradigm shift when there are other people reading what you have written, ready to call you out when you are full of it. I’ve been going to the gym on and off since 2003 and my weight has been pretty much the same with a 10 pound swing. 5’9, 212 now, have been dreaming of the days when I was 185 and 22.  Is it possible? Yes I know my blog is about paying off debt, but larger picture it’s about feeling great and in control. Maybe forums or somewhere with lots of people o encourage me, hmm.

Under 2k on Credit Card!

$140 – AT&T Bill, they overcharged me and are supposed to be giving me a refund in the next 5 days or so. I’m thinking around $50 back since having service for about 2 weeks.
$300 – Verizon bills. 6/16 to 8/3, approximately a month and a half worth of service and some installation / activation type fees. 
$100 – Water Bill, includes a 75.00 deposit that wil be refunded to me at one point.
Big question right now is the electricity bill. I predict around 140, hopefully it’s never as bad as it was last month at the apartment..

Total: $540, not including whatever leftover amounts from having the A/C running during our move.

On the plus side despite this temp influx of bills, I’m still making progress. At $1995 on my credit card balance, I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. I really am looking forward to the day when it’s 0.  Been working myself extra hard.  Not including this weekend I’m up to 44 hours. Holding off any large luxury type purchases 

There may be new opportunities coming at my company in the not too distant future. I’ve heard it from multiple sources, so I legitimately think there will be chances to add value and earn a higher salary.  I’m thinking a 15% increase in the next 6-9 months. Kinda miffed that one of the guys who started the same day I did is leaving. If it’s a better fit, I really can’t blame him.

I hear people at work talk about getting better with their money.  Some have shopping addictions, others are spoiled by eating out constantly. We are a savvy bunch, using tools like Mint to assess / establish budgets and see how reality compares.

Been a little burned out lately.  Gotta recharge my batteries and remember to have fun.  On the flip side I am a little more sociable at work and with the few friends I hang out with. The less I analyze and just embracthe the moment, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. As a gay black / native american former New Yorker living in Texas. Over the years I realize we as people attach a lot of labels on who and what we are.  We’re a lot more the same than we think once those labels and ideologies attached to them fall by the wayside.


Another Tight Week

Just paid off one of my credit cards.  Hooray!  Sort of at least. 1600 that was mostly the purchase of my new laptop. Extra motivated now to put in some more overtime.  $2455 left on the other one at 0% and I’m sure I can crank out 4 hours at some point in the next 18 hours to help accelerate my payoff. I’m kinda done with credit cards.  No desire to have them looming over my shoulder.  Been sitting on this balance for the better part of a year now.  Enough is enough… Leaves me with a couple hundred left for the week. Less than I would like, but having a stack of money in an account at 1% interest vs a credit card at 13 or 0 now that can go up to 20% is kinda silly.

Car Update: Only $40 To Fix Her Up!

Just a quick update on the whole car situation… 

This morning I took my car into a muffler shop that was somewhat out of the way (8 mile drive) all in the hopes of getting my exhaust system fixed without spending a fortune. I’ve gone and thinking I’ll be paying a few hundred dollars but was pleasantly surprised when the service representative said I only owe them $40. They welded a pipe within a matter of minutes.

After that I went to a Firestone shop with the hopes of getting an inspection done, the guy says a 2 hour wait. To me time equals money and who the heck wants to spend 2 hours waiting on a Saturday for a simple inspection? Drove a few minutes more and found a local shop, the guy seemed friendly enough, clearly a foreigner and said it took 7 min. for inspection. 39.75 later I was out there on my way.

 My exhaust is much quieter and is not making annoying rattle noise  I would hear while cruising around town.  between the tires and exhaust, it almost feels as though it’s new and not 54 months old.

Total cost = 79.75 vs what easily could have been 300, 1000 or 1200.

The moral of the story is when your gut says a product or service is overpriced, most likely it is. Always get a 2nd opinion and shop around.

4 Month Progress Update


No student loan payments and my credit card debt is up to 4056.11. Student loan total is 42154.04.  Combined that’s 46210.15.  On the plus side, I have 4 new tires on my car that are good for another 3 years at least, a new 2.96lb computer I don’t mind at all blogging on that will easily last me 2 years, and I am a homeowner. Depending on how many bones I rack up and the pending car repair, my credit card will be paid off around the end of the month and at the latest, by the time I get paid after that. Clarification: I also have 2k in savings right now, something I didn’t have in April. So assuming I put aside all my cash toward debt today I’d be at $44210.

OT, I did something stupid a few days ago.  Dropped my iPhone onto concrete, face down and the screen cracked.  Almost 2 years without any big problems.  A young chinese man in Dallas fixed it for $81.00 and had it done in about 20 minutes.  I thought it was $35 originally, but that was only for the 3G/3Gs models. For me it was worth it. Way cheaper than an Apple Store and supporting the little guy.

Eating out less this week than last. It helps to have a functional kitchen.  $20 a pop at Panera, etc and $5-15 between breakfast and lunch was starting to get to me. Really need to integrate the gym back into my routine.  The workout room in our complex is a minute walk from our front door and I’m pretty sure there is at least one track nearby. Biggest obstacle for me has been inflammation in my knees (tendonitis).  Started taking Flax Seed Oil, Vitamin C and orthotics (yeah I’m old) a day ago and it seems to be getting better.

Go figure the #1 item listed on Things I Wish I Knew in my 30s pertains to Joint Health. 🙂

The Blog On My Spending Habits

Just got payment for my 3 year old laptop.  Have it all boxed and ready to ship out tomorrow. Had to put in a claim with eBay before the seller sent payment.  Took 5 days altogether and numerous I’ll do it soon type e-mails.

This blog is having a positive effect overall on my spending habits.  I’m shopping around way more than I used to.  I previously would throw down a grand on my car easily without asking too many questions about whether the price I was quoted was reasonable. Today I don’t want to spend money unless I really need to.

Had a neighbor pop up on us unexpectedly asking to walk through our house.  She seems really nice so we agreed.  She asked what our place was appraised at (144k) and what we bought it at (142k).  I’m pretty sure the woman said she wants her place to be appraised at 150k. For this area and not having much work done to the place in a decade, including foundation work I think her hopes are a bit far-fetched. Basically she wants to refinance, take advantage of the low interest rates and presumably take out some of the equity on the home.

Looks like I will be getting a bonus at my job come the end of the month.  Don’t want to get too hyped up, but every dollar helps. Overall our company has been doing great.  Even with some temporary hiccups along the way with workloads / staff, most of our sales team and our customers are happy.

I was watching a video earlier that reminded me of my past.  What drove me to go to college and eventually pursue an MBA. I need to start doing more things that excite me in life.  Not to say things are boring now, but I think much variety can be added.  Mostly a home body right now and have frequent bouts of social anxiety. I want to ask my friends to do things, but often feel like I’m being annoying since I don’t really know them very well yet. Maybe I need to make new friends or just stop obsessing.