I bought a grill recently from Home Depot. The grill itself was 199, then the propane was around 40, then we needed a cover for the grill.  I had a $25 gift card from our realtor months ago that I never used. Altogether it came to around $250. My bf got the grilling accessories.


Mosquitoes aside, I am really enjoying the grilling process. I find it easier to cook than in the oven. The food generally has more flavor too. We will be grilling on average once or twice a week. The meals we make are cheaper than eating out and much healthier too from a caloric perspective.

Did I really want to drop $250 on a grill?  No, but I also wanted to make my bf happy and it’s something he has wanted for quite some time. I gain enjoyment from it and our friends do too. Also we are both meticulous about making things last and I would expect 3 years out of this easily.

On the health front, i have regularly been attending my local Gold’s gym and watching my overall caloric intake. Keeping my alcohol consumption to a minimum. No more than 2 drinks in a night if I can avoid it. If not, drinking lite beers. I really think I’ve found some sense of balance without doing any crazy diets. Today I had a crazy intense workout for me, lifting weights and spending an hr on the treadmill. Thought about so many things, my grandfather’s triple bypass 2 weeks ago, my 2nd grandmother’s passing in July, the anxiousness of wondering if my job offer will go through. No one said the necessary steps in life were always going to be the easy ones.

I try to live in the present each day, it helps me get through a lot of obstacles in my way. I also read articles written by others who have dealt with similar issues. One video you should watch is

TEDxEastsidePrep – Scott Young – Can you get an MIT education for $2,000?

Scott just finished his MIT education in a year and documented it in a series of videos. Here is the grand finale video. Definitely inspiring, especially to me as a business major who has always been interested in computer science.

I also just broke 700 views on my site. Some might be bots, or people who have no interest in getting out of debt, but it is inspiring to know so many people have taken time to read parts of my story. It’s not the most elegant and I clearly wasn’t born with the silver spoon in my mouth, but one thing is for sure… My motivation level is high and  this story is uniquely my own.

iPhone 5 / Work Update

Got my iPhone 5 earlier this week. I’m totally loving it, didn’t think I would notice the overall responsiveness of the user interface but I do. Even playing simple games like Word With Friends or loading up e-mail.  The 5 second lag or so I used to experience is completely gone.

I also experimented with the talking maps feature for the first time. It really isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be.  Apple’s CEO did make a public apology about this oversight by a company with such a high attention to detail.

The other weekend, I was at a bar with some friends and one of them accidentally knocked my phone out of my hand and the screen cracked. He’s a nice guy and I was not holding the phone particularly well, plus my case was pretty crappy so I agreed we should split the bill. So far he gave me 3/4 of the $40 owed. I could be a dick about it, but why blow something simple out of proportion right?

I sold my iPhone 4 16gb AT&T model on eBay for $225 to a guy in Austin. He paid me less than 12 hours after I listed the item for sale and I dropped the item off at FedEx the same day. This amount is far more than the $160 or so I had expected to get. So money out, money in. Slight net loss after the activation fee, cases I bought and the connection adapter but worth it.

Had some good news on the work front, but being loose on the details until I have been given and accepted an offer. Super excited about the opportunity though. If it happens I can pay my debt off in 2 years as opposed to 3 while still living comfortably and paying half the mortgage.

The Edge of Glory

Where oh where do I start. I don’t smoke or use drugs, never spoked weed. Considered it at one point, but I was always super paranoid and didn’t see the benefit. Took a hit at a hookah joint and my lungs tightened up immediately.

One of my coworkers from about 10 years back has been fighting cancer and was recently moved to hospice care. I was crying and sent her a final heartfelt goodbye message. I am a realist and I’m not sure she will be alive during my visit to New York next month. I really am not fully sure what the future holds but each experience reminds me to treasure every moment.

My grandfather had open-heart surgery this week to eliminate one of the blockages in a valve and he is currently in a state of recovery. He has not been in good health for quite some time now, but keeps on fighting. My great aunt is also battling cancer and gets a blood transfusion every week or other week. I really don’t know the cause-and-effect, but one theme for all is they all smoke cigarettes at some point in their lives and for a decent period of time.

Social Security age is currently 67 years of age for those born 1959 and later. If the system still exists when I am of age I highly doubt, I’m sure the full retirement age be pushed up to 70 at the minimum. Those depending on the government to look after them are in for a rude awakening. My father was living on SSI for most of my life while he was alive. In cases such as his, it was very difficult to make enough income to be able to support themselves without government assistance. I see some can become dependent on that income over time and lose the desire to work.

Psychologically I was a bit confused every month seeing a check with both my father’s name as custodian and my name on it from the federal government since my father wasn’t working. I loved my father immensely, but his financial situation was dire for 20 years if not longer. It all stemmed from him dropping out of high school and getting a GED to help support his siblings as a teenager. I think my parents genuinely loved each other for quite sometime, then years of hardship and lack of a financial plan is what lead to divorce. My mom is the most patient, loving person I know. I really don’t know how she was able to put up with it for all those years.

I know this post is all over the place but everyday is a reminder that life isn’t all getting out of debt or buying things that get a person into debt. It’s about using some of that money to enjoying life while at the same time be strategic.

Bad Home Depot Experience

Home DepotEarlier this week I went to Home Depot to buy some filters for our house. You should replace them every month or so apparently and ours haven’t been replaced since June, possibly longer.  While walking around, I decided to check out some grills. We’ve been postponing  purchase of a propane grill for most of the summer as other expenses held higher priority. Specifically a bed for guests, some basic IKEA furniture, rugs, food, mortgage and me paying my debt off.

A good grill runs about $199, then propane is $40 and once it runs out a replacement will be given for around $17.  I also have a $25 gift card and a friend with a Ford pickup that can help me move it into our home.

Why is someone trying to pay off debt buying a $200 grill? My boyfriend enthusiastically has spoken about getting a grill for us to cook outside for over a year now. Paying off my credit card I think sparked some debate. He makes several times my income but has 13k in credit card debt. After a few months he could have it paid off, but I do take some responsibility in that total. Whenever we eat out, he pays, for the most part he buys the groceries, takes care of the cats, for now is paying the mortgage. A $200 grill isn’t going  to break me and it’s only fair I put him first once in a while.

Back to the story though.  I filled out a survey, giving my name address and phone # out to a friendly rep who was asking me about water testing. Compared to the underground aquifers of Long Island, the water here tastes much more like minerals. The lady on the phone kept asking about my wife and said she had to be home when they tested the water. First I told her I don’t have a wife, then she said oh do you have a girlfriend or  significant other? I said yes I have a significant other. Then the rep said oh, well she needs to be there as well. I said ‘she was away’ and would be back next week. It’s not because I’m gay that this bothers me. It’s the ignorance of the rep on the phone. I could have owned this home myself or was single. I also could have corrected her. With a recent hate crime fresh in my mind,I really didn’t want to rock the boat too much.

Home Depot is a gay-friendly organization and Lowe’s not so much. During my research I found an interesting Buying Guide for people looking to buy from organizations that support gay rights. I’m not that extreme though, I’ll take a good deal and quality product over their stance on these issues. Maybe when I’m debt-free I’ll be more likely to take a stronger stance on my $$$.  As with the Green Mountain Energy example a few posts back, it sometimes can cost much more.

Interview Lined Up!

Stoked about the opportunity to interview for a position that could help me shape my career into a different direction and accelerate my debt payoff efforts in the very near future. I have no expectations though, just want to put my best foot forward and if it’s meant to be it is meant to be.  In the meantime I’m prepping as much as I can without stressing about it. I’m feeling empowered little by little. We’ll see what happens.

Credit Card Paid Off & iPhone 5 Preordered

Celebrating each and every victory. At the beginning of the year, I had $3353 of credit card debt.  In June 2011 it was about $1300.  I hadn’t made any large ticket item purchases, but things link a cell phone bill, tv / internet and food added up after a while.


Thursday night I logged into employer’s electronic paystub system to see what my paycheck was going to be the following day. I try to automatically assume I get the same pay on the 15th and 30th of each month. When there are 3 week pay periods it’s almost like getting a bonus since I don’t factor in those extra hours into my calculations. Today, my balance is 0.00. It’s been a long road. Constantly debating how to save money on even the simplest of purchases. Chipping away 50% of my paycheck or more week after week. No emergency fund.


Not having credit card debt is really liberating. I was once completely debt free minus my student loans back in 2007. I’m starting to get a little taste again and it brings back good memories. Being able to save every other paycheck and have enough of a buffer to not feel stressed out about money.

Last but not least I just preordered the new iPhone 5. I was already paying $101/mo for my iPhone 4 and I use this device a lot. Email, games, Facebook, map directions, research, all kinda of stuff. By my estimates I can get 75-100% the cost of the new model from my sale of my current unit. I get unlimited data grandfathered in through AT&T, figured I might as well take advantage of it.

Graphics are like 17x more powerful and CPU is 4x more powerful. I could go with a ghetto track phone but that would not make my life any easier. Sometimes paying a little extra money is worth the added convenience.

Last but not least, big shout out to Joe at No More Harvard Debt.  He’s going out with a bang and on a high note. I’m in Dallas, he’s in Austin. Maybe our paths will cross one day?

Choosing My Path

Life is a series of decisions. Good ones, bad ones, ones that sounded good at the time. An educated one based on as much input as is available to me is my personal preference. Even with the most education, events can happen that one never would have predicted. We do our best to predict, but variables are constantly at work outside our control.

Today I am actively exploring new paths in life. I’m not moving or doing anything crazy aggressive, but I am looking to work for a company willing to pay me a salary that will allow me to accomplish my goals. At the beginning of the year I started working at a company making 35000/yr, offered benefits, a good work/life balance and was really close to home. Today I make slightly less, but still have everything else. I’m willing to give up a little bit of the work/life balance portion to move up and make up the 6 months I was unemployed last year.

Suze Orman talks about living in your truth. Can I pay off 42k of my loans in 36 months on my current salary. Yes, but only if I continue putting down about 50% of my current net pay. I’ve been super committed so far, but I’m not sure how long I can be this aggressive with my getting out of debt plan. $50 15 to my name after paying my recent cell phone bill and buying groceries. Once I start paying the student loans again, I’m not seeing a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel.

Intentionally avoiding specifics, but there may be a promising opportunity that comes my way in the coming weeks / months that will allow me to more rapidly get our of debt. I’m a realist and know that a job doesn’t make you happy. Especially one where there is a high volume of work involved. If it doesn’t happen, I will accept the situation for what it is and move on.


Finally broke down and bought Diablo 3 on my debit card. 64.94 total, digital download.
Completely in love with this game, my best friend from NY plays it too and helped me progress much more quickly than I would going solo. I will get hours of enjoyment from this purchase so I really don’t feel bad about buying it. The game also was released about 3 months ago and after mulling it over I decided I had waited long enough.

Watching Hoarding: Buried Alive and it reminded me of something mentioned in Destroy Student Debt: A Combat To Freedom. These people have low self-esteem and they don’t place a high amount of value on the items they own. It essentially fills some type of void. I too have struggled with similar issues of my own over the years. Having horrible gapped teeth (think Michael Strahan), a disabled parent who rode a bike and took public transportation to get around, and a family with a fraction of the money I saw others with. In high school I saw kids with almost brand new BMWs, VW Jettas while I made 5.15/hr part time and rode a mountain bike around.

Around 2004 I splurged on getting my teeth straightened.  I was super self-conscious about this aspect of my life. The cost was $4000 which I paid after getting two discounts. It would have been $6000, $1000 off for being in a dental program and another $1000 for lump sum payment. If I didn’t have money from my father’s life insurance policy, I would not have been able to afford it.

Teeth before braces
Teeth after braces

I wear my retainer almost every night because I never want my teeth to go back to the way they were. I still am afraid to smile in pictures because that insecure kid with the messed up teeth lurks within.

Over the coming weeks I’m going to replace some faded, holy or otherwise worn down clothes in my wardrobe. The man makes the clothes, but the clothes also make the man. I don’t need designer labels, I just want to look good. Along with that I’ve hit up the gym 3 times over the last 3 days. Feeing better about myself each day I go and being more careful with my workouts to avoid injury.  Even a minor injury puts me out of commission for a week.

OT: My car’s fuel economy has completely sucked lately. High temps, short work commute and running a/c almost all the time. 20mpg when it’s rated for 23/32, but I have been a bit aggressive with my driving and the tires psi needs to be increased. It’s a lil depressing the car is worth around 12k and I originally paid around 25k for it. Closer to 30k overall if you include maintenance and upgrades. I do get the itch to upgrade to something new every couple months, but I know that would be financial suicide based on my income.

Those 219/mo leasing deals are tempting until you do the actual math and realize you have to give the car back at the end or end up buying it for more than you would’ve paid at the beginning. My friends in NY and their friends / family keep on leasing.  One is on his third lease in four years and is getting tired of his car, looking to turn in the car early and get into *another* lease. I really try to focus on value rather than instant gratification.

I’ve been stressing about money again. Came up with a pretty sensible plan on earning more money. Going to look at job postings again and apply weekly to any positions that interest me. My next gig I want to earn at least 40k/yr. This will allow me to meet my self-imposed 36 mo student loan payoff and allow me to build up some savings. The 1000-1200 a month I pay on credit card is really the main reason for being stressed. It’s the equivalent of a mortgage and I’ve been doing it for 2 months. My student loan payment will also run around 1k/mo. It’s clear that I won’t be able to sustain that payment rate long-term without making any changes.  :::Keep Calm And Carry On:::