Happy New Year! 2017 will be a hard one to beat for our family – so many amazing things happened! Tom scored his dream job as a history teacher in the same high school as me (and he’s killing it, by the way), we found out we were expecting, I’m teaching my dream classes, we fixed up our house a bit – things were pretty awesome. And for one of the first times in my life, I stuck to my New Years Resolutions.
I made it a goal of mine to better separate work life and home life, as well as to leave school at a decent hour every day. If you’re a teacher, you know how hard those two things are! Being goal-oriented is definitely important, but setting too many, from my personal experience, makes it that much harder to maintain them all. We’re all busy people with tons of things on our to do lists, so I chose two and made them a serious focus. Did I fail sometimes? Absolutely – but I managed to leave school by 4:30 most days and only rarely brought my work home (I’m pretty sure it’s completely unavoidable sometimes). I had to come to the realization that labs WOULD get graded – just maybe not today – lessons WOULD get planned, but not every day was going to be the most amazing, life-changing lesson to every student. Once I was able to come to terms with those things, my work life became a little less stressful!
I’m going to stick with what worked for me this past year: choose just one or two and make them a focus. This year I’m determined to work on finances. My husband and I are both CHEAP – I mean thrifty – people, but we still have major financial goals. I have pretty hefty school loans – nearly $800 a month! That’s more than our mortgage! I’m really hoping to be able to apply for loan forgiveness for my federal loans after another two years in my current position (title 1 school in a high needs area). This will help significantly, but I still have two other school loans with pretty high interest rates. My goal is to pay off the one with the highest interest rate by the time the next school year starts – that’s $7000- and then pay off the second highest interest loan by next New Years – that’s another $6000. This is going to be tough, no doubt, but knowing that at the end of the year I’ll be able to pocket an extra $300 a month should keep me going!
Here’s how I plan on *hopefully* accomplishing this task:
- A tight budget
- Meal Planning
A Tight Budget
Even though I consider myself a thrifty person – I have my weaknesses. Clothes are one of them – and the other is FOOD. Good lord do I love to go out to eat. Both of these are NOT necessities and need to take a backseat while I focus on these school loans. Not to mention, we have a baby coming! I analyzed my spending and figured out where I could make some cuts and what my “necessities” were, and typed everything up into a Google Sheet to keep track (I freakin’ love Google anything). Listing everything out also helped me figure out what I could cut and what I was spending too much on.
If you aren’t familiar with the Ebates app/chrome extension, I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s a program that pairs with most major retailers and gives you cash back on your spending. When used appropriately – meaning only buying things that you actually need – you can get anywhere from 1-4% cash back daily. Then they have specials where you can receive double or even triple cash back! I use it every time I do any online shopping. They recently added an in-store option, but I haven’t explored that yet. I have been using Ebates for a little over a year and have already received $130 cash back. Every time I get a quarterly check, I plan to apply it directly to my loans.
- If you use this referral link, we BOTH get money – so give it a try!
This is a new one for me. I’ve heard a lot of people using it to help pay off and save for smaller things, but that it can be used to save for larger amounts as well. It’s an app that analyzes your spending habits and pulls out small amounts of money up to a few times a week and keeps it in a secure account for saving. It’s basically a tool meant to help you save without you really having to think about it. You can withdraw from the account at any time and you can also approve or deny of the saving amount that is being taken from your main account. It has awesome reviews so hopefully this is something that can work for us! The only “downside” is that after the initial trial period, it’s $2.99 a month. From what I’ve read and heard from friends that use it, the savings seriously outweigh the cost in this case, plus you can cancel it at any time!
- Use this referral link – totally free to sign up! I’ll be sure to post an update when my trial period is up to let you all know if it’s really worth it!
Tom and I have been carpooling to work and splitting the gas money. By only using one car and splitting the money that one of us typically set aside for gas, it has cut our gas budget by over half. The extra money I used to spend on gas is now going towards the school loans.
This is something I only recently started doing and the monetary savings I’ve seen already are incredible. We shop mainly at Aldi and then go to Walmart for whatever Aldi doesn’t have. By only buying what we need for certain meals, our grocery bill has been drastically slashed, as well as food waste. I’m also trying to ween myself off coffee, which will have inevitable savings as well. Whatever extra savings I can slash from the grocery budget can be put towards the student loans.
This is definitely not going to be an easy task, but if I can make this my one major priority (you know, aside from raising a human) and REALLY be a stickler, I am confident I can do it! Do you have any other money-saving techniques that you’ve used? Have you had success sticking to a resolution? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to learn and hear from you all!