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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:36 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
Thank you for the kind words arzu! I think you'll be in a fine position. Biomedical engineering sounds like one of those careers that won't be going away anytime soon. That's the best thing you've got going for you. But not only that, it sounds like it's not easily outsourced. It feels like a psychological strain now, but once you get that job, it'll feel much better.

And thanks Eagle, good lesson. A tough skin really is worth its weight in gold.

Short update again. I'm heading off for a much needed vacation to the Nerd Mecca that is the San Diego Comic Con. It's a yearly pilgrimage for me and I love going. I always try to make time for it. Although it basically has turned into one giant advertisement over the years, it's still fun. Total cost will run me about $600 or so between hotels, food and gas and not counting any goodies I might buy for myself. And another $600 in lost wages from unpaid vacation time...only the staffers get paid time off :( . But hey...I love Comic Con and it's so worth it :D.

Also, my lasik bill has not arrived yet. I'm a little weirded out by this. It should have been here by now. Maybe if I don't mention it, it'll go away :|. But they're most likely waiting till the whole healing/checkup/touchup routine is done and over with first. I bought some fancy sunglasses in the meantime. I think I chose fashion over frugality here...although the cheap sunglasses were warping my vision and making the world look wobbly. Justified expense!

More expenses I need to take care of in the near future: Car air conditioning (still), I'm losing a good deal of weight and need new clothes (woo!), new shoes to replace my 7 year old sneakers...basically a cheap new wardrobe until I reach my target weight. I put on some old jeans the other day and they looked like clown pants. I was a bit shocked. Actually I think I just had bad taste in clothes back then. Speaking of...I'm starting to get the hang of dressing better...except it gets spendy :( . But, I'm finding that it's becoming more and more important to me. I realized...I'm growing up. DAMMIT.

Ok, off to comic con. Time to be a kid for 5 days :D. WOO


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:45 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 959
Good will or consignment shops.

I have had the same "problems" lately.

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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:34 am 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:05 am
Posts: 1005
Just read through the whole thread. Wow what a journey! Have fun on vacation! ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
Haven't posted in a while so I figured I should! Anywho, cash will be tight this month. Not due to expenditures or any emergencies...but some unforeseen work events. Everything's fine but I was asked to keep it on the DL. So, because of that, I won't be getting much income this month. I should be ok and won't have to dip into my emergency fund. Actually...I loaned out about $1000 a while back and I should be getting it later this month so, I'll totally be fine.

So lately, I've just been eating a lot at home, reading, playing games and doing things that don't require lots of money. But I've got this urge to be spendy. I was actually thinking of taking up violin lessons. It's something I've wanted to try out for a few years now but never had the chance. And to be honest, something hit me the other day and it hit really uncomfortably close to home. It was from the unlikeliest of places too:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2722

I realized I wasn't doing enough to "better" myself or at the very least, make me a more interesting person. I spend far too much time playing games that really don't do much to stimulate. D&D and WoW at least are outlets for socializing. So, I realized that I really should focus my time on things that would improve me and give value to my life instead of playing another round of Civilization V or looking at another cat pic on reddit.

I don't feel "drives" like this often. I think the last time I felt it was when I was in Pensacola. The need to leave that place was overwhelming and I had to listen to it. But the good thing is...every time I've felt these urges, it usually worked out for the better. Mostly because I refuse to accept any other outcome. The difficulty lies in figuring out what I can afford. But I want to tap this urge before it goes away.

Violin lessons + violin rental is about $150 a month, 4 30 min sessions a month. Not too shabby. That's in the realm of possibility. It gets a little hairy when you want to *buy* a violin and when you consider all the other things I'm adding to the bucket list(Am I too young for one of those?). I also want to learn piano, learn another language, write a book, fail miserably at writing a book, write another, travel the world...etc etc.

I've been debating with myself to not accelerate my student loan payments in order to free up more to use now. I had a thought that always accelerating loan repayment might not be the right choice. Not if that excess money can be used to better myself. And then I thought, "Isn't that what loans are for? To give you the means to increase the value of something?".

I don't think I'll go as balls-to-wall as I did with my HESAA loan. I paid like $300-500 extra a month on that thing. But the leftover loans are huge...it's a slow and steady race when it comes to those. I'll add a little extra, but I don't think I'll be attacking them quite as viciously. If I did...it'd be a long miserable slog. I think I estimated it would take 6-8 years of all my discretionary income(retirement/savings included) to wipe it all out. 8 years of that would not be very fun.

Anyways, please excuse the "writing out loud". I think I've finally come to a point where I have a direction with my personal finance other than repaying debt and watching my pennies. Thanks for reading :)


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:49 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 959
I always enjoy your postings!

I joined meet up groups in my area...it's only as expensive as you make it.

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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
Thanks fantasma, I always try to keep things interesting :).

Two months is far too long between posts. Guess it gives me more to write about though ;). A couple things have changed since I last posted. Pay schedules have changed from a biweekly format to a bimonthly. Kinda neutral about that change since each paycheck is a bit larger...but I was kinda excited for that 3rd paycheck I was supposed to be getting this month. I feel like the $2000 I would have been getting in the 3rd paycheck has gone "missing" though. Another big change is with my IRA. I'm going to stop contributions and put that towards my student loans so I can pay it down faster. It's conservative for me to do so but getting a 4% return right now seems pretty nice.

I've had a few major expenses lately that I felt was worthwhile. I joined a gym which sapped me out of a little over $600 for the first month because it included the first 2 months of membership, 1 month of personal trainer time and some supplements(which I should not have bought at the gym, lesson learned). I've steadily been losing weight and I want to keep that up. I'm down to 145 with about 20% body fat. A few months ago I was around 160 so it's kinda nice :). I think the last time I've been this skinny was 15 or 16 years ago. I do feel the personal training was a bit lacking. Being prescribed a diet that includes beer and Subway sandwiches is...uh...nonconformist to say the least. So needless to say, I think I'm going to try a different plan.

Some other expenses lately have been preparations for my trip back home to the northeast for winter. Luckily my family helped with flight costs so I only have to worry about clothing. Last year I felt miserable because I wasn't prepared enough for the cold. So, this year I'm spending a little extra on clothing to keep me from not losing my senses. Boots, hat, base layer stuff, flannel...I made sure to get things that I can re-use in California cold. Uniqlo was a lifesaver here because of their affordability.

On the horizon, I feel the need to get a tablet now. I've been eyeing a small Nexus 7 which would set me back about $220. I've tried to rationalize it by saying it's for job searching purposes since it allows me to put a demo reel on there and show it to others really quickly without the bulk of a laptop. There's a job fair/convention in town next week that I'm attending and I think it'll be nice to have a small tablet for that. Other than that it's mostly a toy.

Not much else going on, besides my general hatred over the new servicer of my federal student loan. I can't pay extra and apply it towards my principle because the way they word it sounds like they apply the extra towards a future payment. Which defeats the whole purpose of paying extra. I'm pretty peeved about that. Maybe a nasty letter is in order. Yeah.

Ok till next time :D


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
Well...I had a feeling this day would come. Looks like some heavy layoffs are coming soon and I'll have to find a new job in about a month. We were told right before Christmas break that there wasn't enough work to keep us busy. I've been looking since October for a variety of reasons but mostly it was because I knew the writing was on the wall. Jobs aren't too plentiful right now unfortunately and those I have applied to have told me that I'm not experienced enough yet. That old friend, catch-22, rears its ugly head again. I need experience to get a job and a job to get more experience. Ahh well, I had a good run. 2 years and 4 months is a pretty long time in my line of work.

Because of all this I've been in "money-saving" mode since a month ago. I've stopped all automatic contributions to savings and investments. I will also have to call my loan providers and see about going into forbearance. It's not something I want to do but I can't afford the $660 a month right now. As soon as I get my official end date, I'll apply for unemployment. From what I've heard, I should get about $450 a week. That will be enough for me to cover rent, utilities, phone, food and gas. I'm still on the fence on whether I should just get taxes withheld from that from the get go.

This whole ordeal has brought to light something I didn't want to admit to myself. That I was in essence, wasting a lot of time. My job wasn't allowing me enough opportunities to grow and I was complacent with that. It's part of the reason why I wanted to look elsewhere and also the reason why I needed to do more outside of work. But alas...I've thought about taking some "advanced" animation classes online to keep my skills up and to actually force myself to do more. I'm having a hard time justifying the $2000 expense for a 14 week class though. I would be all for it if times were better and I knew I had a job for the next 6 months. It's on my to-do list though. Right now, I have to stem the bleeding.

Health insurance is another big question. Our health plan is pretty generous so I'm going to assume COBRA coverage will be completely unaffordable. I may have to get a high deductible individual plan just to cover extreme emergencies.

And to keep with tradition, my current net worth at the start of the year compared to previous years:

Start of 2011:
All Assets: 9382.39
Debts: 101,494.69
Net Worth: -93,348.30

Start of 2012:
All assets: 15,921.08
Debts: 94,676.77
Net Worth: -78,755.69

Start of 2013:
All assets: 21,011.65
Debts: 89,010.32
Net Worth: -67,998.67

Well, the good things are goin up at least! And wow...a +$26,000 change in net worth since two years ago! I pretty much automated everything in 2012. I didn't pay much extra towards my loans but I did finish off that HESAA loan thankfully. I played it safe this year and saved up. Which actually was a good decision looking back. These next few months may not be pretty. At this rate I'll probably pay off my loans in 18 years...ugh. Here's a detailed look at loan balances:

Loan Balances (Start of 2011)
Citibank loan #20 19,824.62
Citibank loan #21 19,102.00
AES 21,774.58
Direct Loan Consoldation 35,418.03
HESAA 5,648.42

Loan Balances (Start of 2012)
Citibank loan #20 18,565.15
Citibank loan #21 18,544.36
AES 20,860.86
Direct Loan Consoldation 35,005.57
HESAA 1,778.05

Loan Balances (Start of 2013)
Discover loan #20 17,962.79 (Originally Citibank owned but sold to Discover)
Discover loan #21 17,184.13
AES 19,914.23
Direct Loan Consoldation 33,949.17
HESAA 0!!!

Still enormously large numbers. They kinda move like molasses...but at least it's moving. My direct loan was also sold to another company and they altered the terms of my loan...now I have to pay more a month and with a shorter repayment term. Good and bad, it gets paid off quicker but it's still an extra $45 out of my pocket a month.

Anyways, it's not the best post to start the new year off with. But, I've been through worse. 2009/2010...*shudder*. Anywho, till next time.


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:24 pm 

Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 7:40 pm
Posts: 67
Soula,
Sending positive energy and warm thoughts your way. Just keep hi hopes, a level head, and strong determination. You can and will find solid income and can keep annihilating your debt. Your progress over the past two years is inspirational and keeps me motivated as well :) Stay strong and keep us posted on any new jobs and progress.


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
My company has declared chapter 11 bankruptcy as of 2 weeks ago and wouldn't ya know it? We even won the Oscar last night for Best Visual Effects! Sort of a bittersweet month this. We've cheered, we've cried and we soldier on. It's been an emotional rollercoaster lately ever since I've had to see many of my friends be let go. But as for me, my last day will be this Friday. It's been a good 2 and a half year run and I've managed to stay longer than most. I had a feeling this was coming so I wasn't too surprised by it.

My biggest worry right now is health insurance coverage. I just want to find something that will cover the emergencies for now. I honestly wish I were part of the IATSE union and worked for a union shop so I could get some portable health coverage. But! That's a whole other matter.

So since this is my first time handling unemployment, I was hoping for some suggestions. Here's what I'm doing now:

- File unemployment starting next week.
- Place all student loans in forbearance. (I might lose my interest rate benefits)
- Talk to some recruiters and send reels out. I've been sending out feelers for a couple months but nothing yet.
- Take a long break and relax

I haven't had a real vacation for a while. One without stress I mean. Definitely planning on resting the first week to clear my head and shake off this weariness. But after that, it's just being as frugal as possible while looking for work. Though with the way things are looking in LA right now, I might even have to move. Ugh...let's hope it doesn't come to that. But anyways, enough negativity. For now, we celebrate our big win! Till next time.

Oh and DebtGrad, thanks for the kind words! I'm glad I could inspire in some small way :)


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:27 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
Woohoo! I was watching and trying to figure out which movie was yours. That's great that your company won an Oscar, but sucky that it cost them the business.

I don't know much about putting your student loans in forbearance, but if it's just a phone call then I guess it's not a big deal, but what if you get employed within the next few weeks? If you lose your interest rate benefits, that would suck. Maybe you can keep your loans "current" for at least a month, and see how things go with employment.

I also hope you don't have to move out of LA. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 959
Did you file your unemployment compensation yet? Hope things are ok.

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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:58 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
So update, I'm employed again :). But I have to move to San Diego :(. Kinda sucks but it's a good time for it to happen since my current apartment lease is expiring. Also, the job is only guaranteed for 3 months. Not the best situation but I wasn't finding much else. But hey it's a job! And a pretty good one at that. I get to work on some Playstation 4 games :). Anywho it's a bit difficult figuring out the logistics of moving to another city for a short term job. The cost to me is going to be pretty high what with storage and short term housing. I'm looking into sublets so hopefully there will be some available. I'm not keen on the idea of getting a room at an Extended Stay Hotel for any longer than a week or two. At $1800 a month, it becomes ludicrous. Also while couchsurfing is a lot cheaper, I'm not too comfortable doing that what with the computer equipment I'll be bringing. An extended stay hotel, while not ideal, is the best option if I want a little security.

As far as loans go, one is currently in forbearance, the rest are still in repayment. I actually couldn't put one into forbearance because I had used all my allowed time between 2009-2010. Eesh. I guess I'm stuck paying that until it's gone.

I have filed unemployment and I just recently got my first check. It's only $405 since there's a 1 week "waiting period" where I don't get any money at all. I should be getting the full $900 in another week or so. It's not much but it's nice to know it's there.

The good news is that I'm getting a pay increase to 40/hour!...but it's sort of offset by the moving costs and the short-term contract. Hopefully I come across something a little more long term and stable. But for now, adventure!


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Cali
Wow, it's been 6 months since my last post. A lot of things have changed since then. My contract ended a couple months ago in San Diego and I've been spending the last two months looking for a new job. Things were pretty few and far between until a week ago when things just started coming left and right. I guess it's true what they say, when it rains, it pours. I didn't want a repeat of what happened with a job opportunity a few months ago where I turned down something in the hopes of getting a job I really wanted. I was willing to accept the first offer for whatever was livable. And that's exactly what I did.

So, I'm in the middle of selling most of my furniture to move up to the lovely San Francisco Bay Area to take a job that will pay me $45k a year salaried(talked up from 38k). Definitely not what I was hoping for but, I stuck to my goal and accepted it out of fear that I was not going to get another opportunity. Funny enough, a recruiter from the biggest, arguably most prestigious studio in the US, and possibly the world, called a week later asking for my availability. Ugh, I just can't win can I? I guess I shouldn't kick myself over it, there's no way I would have known. But I have a job now, and for the foreseeable future, it's stable and has some mind-bogglingly good benefits. I'm hoping for raises along the way but for now, it's somewhat livable. I may have to be more frugal than I have been before to make things work but, that's life. Until I get some raises, this job is about surviving, not thriving.

Moving costs will be the big one. I'm trying to get rid of as much stuff as I can but I'd really like to keep the quality stuff. Fortunately I can get reimbursed up to $1000 for moving expenses which lightens the load. I'll have to see just how attached I am to everything.

I have to admit, I'm quite anxious. I worry about being able to eat decently, being able to afford the exorbitant prices up there, being able to build a future. I really hope things get better but, at the end of the day, I'm still excited. I had some bad vibes from other places I've interviewed with but not these guys. So, onwards to another adventure :)


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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:00 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 959
When it rains it pour, hope everything is going well with this job.

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 Post subject: Re: Fixing old mistakes, student neck deep in $100k of debt
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:20 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
Sorry to hijack the thread, but FANTASMA! Where have you been, chica?


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