Oh My God

A Good & Bad Days

Easiest way to explain this is probably to go in chronological order. I preface this story with the fact that I was flying to Philadelphia for a job interview.

Thursday / Friday

I work during the day and leave at about 4 to come home for purposes of getting last minute packing completed, walking the dog and briefly tidy up the house. Right before I leave, my friend asks me what’s on the floor and I tell him a hairball. I think little of it as I’ve seen it before.

Friend picks me up from the airport around 4:45, I have one carry-on bag, a messenger bag. We arrive at the airport before with time to spare. Initial scheduled departure time 7:25 PM. American Airlines has a series of delays and I don’t end up leaving until 10:45pm Central Time. During this time I have several conversations with a recruiter about what will happen should the flight get cancelled. Would the company be reimbursed and if I do need to reschedule for the next day should I even bother as my landing time would be significantly delayed. The key figures at the company would not be available and it would be just a waste for all parties involved.

Flight lands at PHL Airport 3:01am and my interview starts at 8:30. My limo driver was a super nice guy who talked about the meaning of service both in his current day job as well as for his daughter. He knows a lot of people who work at the company and speaks very highly of them. In all his time driving people around he says not one of them had anything bad to say about the owner. I appreciate the heads up information, but am also cranky as heck and would’ve preferred to sleep in the Lincoln Town Car instead. Even at over 315k miles, the car rode like a dream.

I get to the hotel, an older man at the front desks asks who I am, gives me a card and tells me about the complimentary breakfast. Come 4:45AM I get to my room, complete with a king-sized bed, free wi-fi and granite countertops. Brush my teeth, set my iPhone Clock Alarm and wake up at 7:00. Recruiter was hopeful I could sleep in a couple hours, but everything stayed on. I iron the extremely wrinkled suit, dress shirt and slacks.

Meet with several executive in the company, they are all very approachable and had several questions about my background. I also asked them questions to get a better understanding of what some of their short and longer term goals were. Two things I did notice right off the bat. Not one minority (as a black man I like to see at least one other person of ‘color’) other than the cleaning people and most of the people there were older. By older I mean what would be my parents age or older. It’s great that a company retains its talent for long periods of time, but it can be a bit intimidating when the gap is soooo huge. The slightly updated 1970s vintage headquarters did not impress me and felt more like a makeshift office than something completed. Our rented office in Dallas looks 10x better than it. I was treated to lunch, then met with a realtor.

The realtor was probably the youngest guy I met, I would put him at early 40s. He showed me a couple different properties in the suburbs as well as they numerous places to go shopping. The only place that really wowed me was on the higher end of our price range. A good 70k more than our current home, though it was complete with modern furnishings, energy efficient and brand-spanking new. The only problem is the place couldn’t be built until October. I would have to use their lender to top it off. Something about the area didn’t click with me. Maybe the lack of a night life, the key highlight of the area being some of the shopping spots like Wal-Mart, WaWa and Pep Boys. I get a thrill from variety and this place didn’t really do it for me. He was kind enough to take me to the Verizon store for a phone charger and allowed me to use his corporate discount.

Kind of awkward timing, but while meeting with the realtor, I get a call from a place I interviewed with weeks before and they made me an offer right back in the Dallas area. The offer was very competitive and more than I ever made before. A few hours later in the day I get another offer from the company I interviewed for. Not horrible but 24% less than my other offer. Two offers in one day, that has never happened to me before. I’m used to going through an entire interview process and not getting any offers.

That night It’s pouring down heavy rain, I walk to the nearby Mexican place to grab some enchiladas, head to bed finally and get a good night’s sleep for once.


I miss the cut-off for breakfast since my limo driver is 15 minutes early. I do fall asleep in the car and before I knew it I was at the airport early. Grab a big breakfast, plane takes off and lands on-time.  No issues. Friend picks me up, stop at another friend’s house, grab dog and get to relax for a bit.

One of our two cats has gotten progressively worse. She won’t eat or drink water. At this point I’ve grown concerned. I’ve seen her sick before but never this bad. I thought about the vet, but get very emotional about these kinds of things. I record video of the cat drinking water and show what she looks like. I put food up to her face and she just turned around and wouldn’t eat it. Her regular vet was closed and I really wasn’t sure what to do.

Sunday Night / Monday:

Spend the day cleaning up the house. Cat still isn’t eating or drinking. I get even more nervous. I pick my bf up from the airport at 1am Monday morning. I’m tired at that point but am trying to be supportive so I did it without complaining. He sees the cat and says immediately we need to go to the Animal Hospital. We go to a local place, me riding with her in the back seat. She was meowing a lot, I could tell there was something wrong with her. Temperature is low (~96°F), blood work done and given some subcutaneous fluids to put some nutrients in her body. They give us some appetite boosting medication. We leave the vet around 5 and come home.

I’ll spare the details, but less than 5 hours later next day we lost her.  Probably the most emotional day ever of our nearly 3 year relationship. I was powerless to do anything to make him feel better about what happened. I drove to the pet clinic place to pay out final respects. I wonder if I could’ve caught it sooner. I did try to feed her several times even putting her face right on top of the bowl and nothing. Try not to cry when I see pictures of her. Maybe she’s just a cat, but a cat that I’ve bonded with and looks the same as the one I grew up with from around birth to age 7. Below is a picture from almost 2 years ago when we first moved to Texas. I’m really going to miss Odie.


Monday Evening
Asked a question about compensation and ended up getting a bump over my original offering. 5% in the door without working I’m down with that. The last 6% I got from my current employer was only after nearly a year on a much smaller base. I’m focused on doing good work and maintaining excellence in everything I do. This development may allow me to actually stay true to my goal of having no more student loan debt by the age of 32. I plan to put $1k a month toward it, max my Roth IRA and do 401k up to the match. Have about $200 in my Roth now and really not sure how to invest it properly. Getting a 50%+ bump in salary, can’t complain even though parts of the job will be new to me. I call it a work in progress once I can figure all this stuff out. ..

Looking Back on My Student Loans

At times, the money spent on my student loans seems like it’s been put in a giant black hole, never to be seen again. I went back and took a look at my transaction history.

My first student loan payment was made on November 6, 2007. Monthly payments at the time were 289.79, not the 452.76 I currently pay. So my payments are technically 56% higher than they were when starting this loan and my monthly income is close to the same. Closer to 93% more if you consider I’m paying $600/month now. That’s sort of insane.

I’ve paid a total of $18,170.48 in payments, 8002.31 of which went toward interest during that time. 10,168.17 toward the principal. Original Loan disbursement amount was 46,769.87. Current balance is 38,887.89. I’ve paid 7881.98 of the principal down. Quite frankly I’m tired of keeping these loans around. 

Putting the numbers all together one sheet makes things much clearer. I advise others to do the same. It raises awareness of actual cash outflow and the sense of urgency.

So I have this friend…

More like an acquaintance. A couple years younger than me, has an expensive habit. Automobiles are his addiction of choice.

  1. Dodge Magnum
  2. Nissan Altima
  3. Nissan Armada
  4. Jeep Cherokee SRT8
  5. Dodge Charger Super Bee

all within a 6 year period. I tried to get him to see how the impact of his decisions were affecting him financially but it fell on deaf ears.

He has a full-time job and also does car tinting jobs on the side. I joked with him last year that he’ll be selling his car again. He’s taken a number of financial hits just for the sake of this hobby of his. Both in terms of how the money could be applied to any consumer debt and used to purchase assets that appreciate in value. Last month he did as expected.

I need to get some financial stuff in order and make some new priorities and have decided to look heavily into a 2014 jgc limited“. I’m not sure if getting a 2014 model year vehicle with an msrp starting at 35k is true to that vision. He put 17k worth of work into it and is looking to sell the car for 38,500.

He’s laid down massive amounts of cash on the current ride:

400 New lock pick with cables and two cameras
250 afe intake
1100 mmp s2 manifold shaved and painted
70 catch can
100 New 2012 front and rear badges
400 Predator and tune from johan
350 mangaflow mid pipes
800 slp lm1 with install
800 oem vented fenders
9000 repaint with all plastics smoothed and blacked out/color matched
1000 grip bumper on the way
1400 sniper hood in my shopping cart ready to go
900 new oem (not replicas) hid headlights
100 hid fogs
200 limo tint”


$16870 on a depreciating asset, not including the acquisition costs. Ouch!

To his credit, he is working 60 hours a week as manager for a popular retailer presumably earning more than I make now at 40-45 hours a week. Difference is much smaller once cost of living is factored in. I’m pretty much over working in a store or at a bank for a couple years. I’d do the corporate offices of a company with stores across the country, but working in the store each day is not my cup of tea. Unless they want to pay me a handsome increase in salary…

So more variables at play on the job front. Still no offer from the place I did over 5 interviews at 2 weeks ago. No update as people were on vacation. Another company my bf has been interviewing at in PA may possible want to fly me up there to interview for a separate position. My gut says PA isn’t the place to go though. Looking at lots of other states such as Colorado and NJ. As once said in the year 2000… Too soon to tell.

Need to have an intervention with my McDonalds friend with a Bachelors. One of these days… One of the challenges to making a switch when you’ve been in retail so long is companies are reluctant to hire for anything else. Get pigeon-holed into a corner and competing against more qualified candidates is damn near impossible. I still have hope though. $8-9/hr with student loans in deferment and thinking about going back to school is just getting him deeper in the hole.

For your entertainment here is the car being put up for sale. Low mileage and exclusive, but not a practical buy in the slightest. Last but not least thanks all who have been reading my blog and learning about my journey. Up to 6k visits so far since April 2012. Surprised there’s that level of interest to be totally honest.


Month 15 Update – 38878.85



Paid nearly a $1000 down in a month. Percentage-wise only about 2.5%, but it’s better than the 452 I typically pay. It’s been a struggle not going to lie. I feel like the debt is the equivalent to modern-day slavery. Instead of a race of people oppressing us by denying what are now considered basic inalienable rights…as long as I have this debt I’m missing out on opportunities to invest and build up my overall net worth.

Still under $39k is progress. I keep the original amount in the name of this blog for the very reason of reminding me how far I’ve come. On the principal amount I had about $1800 of interest last year. It may not sound like a not, but if you’re looking at 5400 worth of payments in a year roughly, the interest at this stage is about a 33% of that. Then with Income-Based Repayment all that interest for the last year got rolled back into the principal amount. So it’s like a vicious never-ending cycle.

Still on track to pay the $600/mo I’ve been paying and more as my budget allows. That still puts me close to 6 years (age 36) before it’s paid off. I’m not going down without a fight on this goal of being  out at 32 though. Fight, fight, fight! 😉


Expensive Weekend

Often the moment I have extra cash in the bank comes some unexpected expenses. This weekend was a perfect example of that.

  • Took my car into a local dealership I’ve gone to for 2 years for a couple of different jobs. Inspection, oil change, tire rotation, rotor resurfacing (due to longer break times / slight grinding coming to a sudden stop) and emissions system recall. My serpentine belt / drive belt needed replacement. Hasn’t been done since 2010 so I didn’t make a huge deal about it.

Drive Belt: 25.34. Labor 115.00 = 140.34
Rotor resurfacing: 100 per axel x 2: 200.00
Basic Oil Change (Conventional Oil): 34.95

Tire Rotation: 0.00 (they charged me 19.95 for this).

Texas State Inspection for One Year: 40.45.

Total = 455.69

Less 19.95, as they agreed I shouldn’t be charged to rotate my tires since I bought them there.

435.74. At least the car got washed. The experience is even more proof that I need to do things a-la-carte from now on from reputable service shops. The service advisor also said nothing to me about recall work not being done on account of an problem with their CONSULT system after talking with me twice on the phone and in-person. Not very professional if you ask me. I will be trying another dealer closer to me from now on. They also seemed to have an attitude when I asked about charges on the receipt after signing it.

Today I went to Target and spent 155 on various items. An outfit, food for the week so I don’t eat out for breakfast, lunch or dinner, dry and wet cat food, personal hygiene products, etc. I could easily spend $30 a day on food that I feel guilty about eating so I think the money spent was well worth it.

I closed my car door, applied pressure to the brake pedal and pushed the push-button start. No ignition start. Dash lights just flickered a bit. Called a friend to give me a jump. A good samaritan with a CJ-styled Jeep offered to give me a jump but couldn’t figure out to pop the hood open… My friend showed up about 30 seconds later. After 10 minutes I was good to go.

My Duralast Gold battery was originally purchased at Autozone April 2010 after my car wouldn’t start at a friend’s house when I had the heated seats turned on, but the engine off for 30 minutes. So about 27 months on the OEM Nissan battery died on me. Drove 5 min to Autozone today, explained the issue with my battery. They asked me to remove it myself in the excruciating heat and provided me tools. Not a big deal though, as I had to do it before. The DLG is good for 5 years under warranty. The employee at the desk said they could charge it if I waited for an hour. As far as I’m concerned charging isn’t a reliable way to deal with the problem. Last thing I want is to be stranded miles away from home with no one around to assist me, or unable to get anywhere at the worst possible moment. Picturing first day of the job or a late night trip out with friends. This is the third time I’ve been stranded with battery problems and my aftermarket stereo system isn’t helping with the added drain of sub, two amps, higher wattage batteries, etc.

Long story short. about 120 for the battery, less $65 pro-rated credit for the battery, so out of pocket about $85.

2008 Nissan Altima 300k miles

Looking at forums, one guy with a 2008 Nissan Altima just like mine managed to rack up 300k without any major problems other than a CVT replacement early on its mileage. I will be tired of my car long before then but it’s nice this thing could last me another 5 years with routine maintenance.

All of these expenses were paid on my debit card, in part due to the life insurance policy I cancelled out and received a cash surrender of $1k for. I used half of it to make an additional $500 student loan payment and the rest stayed in my checking / was eaten up by my car expenses. My 20-year term policy is almost done being setup, had a physical on Friday and the money was pulled from my account.

Emergency fund isn’t where I want it to be but I am doing what I can to accelerate the debt snowball.

Cars cost money to run but hopefully I don’t have to chalk any more money up other than an oil change for the next 12 months. Lastly, happy 4th of July to all my viewers in the states! 🙂