Summer’s almost over and the pumpkin spice is all over the place, but I’m not complaining! It’s crazy that 3/4ths of the year has already gone by, but I am pretty pleased with where am with my 2018 goals – especially the financial ones. Pretty cool what you can accomplish when you have a set plan! (says the Project Manager!! lol)
I’ve still been telling myself that I need to start studying for my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. I also think it’s good to brush up your resume every once in a while just to keep it fresh, so that’s now on my to do list. I swear I will get some movement in this area in September!
August was definitely the month of fluctuation. I got down to my lowest weight, but then spiked back up to my heaviest and finally normalized into my current average. I’m sorry guys, I can’t give up my food! I did keep up with the lifting, which is more than I’ve done in the past, and I feel live I’ve seen change even though the scale might not agree. Like I keep saying, it’s definitely the eating, but one of these days I’ll find that balance. I think I’ll start tracking what my maxes are though just to keep me motivated. 😉
Barbell Squats: 125 lbs – yay 10 lbs more than last month!
Lat Pull Downs: 70 lbs
Seated Rows: 70 lbs – 5 lbs more than last month!
I’m extremely happy to report that as of 8/31, I HAVE PAID OFF MY FIRST LOAN! I’ll be sharing a separate post, with more details on how I tackled this loan and paid off ~$10,000 in 6 months but damnit I am pretty proud to be able to cross off a goal on the list. This leaves me at 28% down to the road to being debt free! It’s a pretty hefty accomplishment I think, but I was sitting and looking at the numbers and in reality almost 24% of my payments didn’t go to principal! That’s such a crazy thing to think about because I’m aggressively trying to pay it down – if I paid the minimums every month, that percentage would probably be so much more! Nevertheless, I must keep chipping away because right now debt free is looking like October 2019 and that’s only 13 months away!
I think I must have a one track mind because I’m pretty obsessive about my financial goals, which leaves me with very little motivation on the other goals! As usual, blog goals have been slow and steady. I definitely had less motivation in August and posted way less than I did the month before. Traffic increased a little with my dabbling in Pinterest, but I just haven’t been consistent. Consistency is key in everything! As of today, I’m at 2,967 followers, which is less than 100 more than I had last month, but some progress is better than none, no?
It amazes me how little people in my generation (the dreaded millennials) know about money matters. Who can blame them, though? I went to college and learned about differential equations and artificial intelligence before I learned anything about refinancing debt and 401ks! I’m not a financial guru by any means so you should take what I say with a grain of salt and do your due diligence, but it’s been my #1 goal in 2018 to get out of debt.
I cringe internally every time I see a statement with an interest charge – seriously, pull up your loan or credit card statement and look at how much interest you got charged last month! My auto loan has a 3.6% interest rate and according to my statements, I’m paying ~$50 -60 in interest out of my monthly payment, but when I do the math personally, I’ve paid almost $900 that hasn’t been applied to my principal. That’s f*cking RIDICULOUS, if you ask me.
The good news is, I’m almost 30% of the way to being debt free! I definitely attribute part of my success in my debt reduction to consolidating my debt and refinancing my loan. So let’s get down to it, what is refinancing and why should you do it?
Refinancing is basically taking out a new loan at a lower interest rate to pay off an older loan or credit debt.
Here are 3 reasons why I consolidated and refinanced my loan:
1. Paying one bill instead of multiple
I originally opened my first loan to consolidate my debt. I was paying for 3 different credit card payments with different balances and it was hard to focus on which one to pay off first. Taking out the loan made it more manageable and it was easier to make one payment a month than 3 different ones.
2. Lower Interest Rates
The interest rates on my credit cards were pretty high – ranging from 14% – 19% – and the rates for personal loans were lower. However, my credit score had dipped considerably when I took out the first loan with USAA, I ended up with a 10.5% interest rate. Since I took out that first loan, I had built up my credit score so I qualified for an even better rate. I refinanced last year with SoFi and ended up with a 5.49% interest rate. Of course, I’m losing money dragging it out, but it’s more motivating to see most of your payment going to principal instead of interest.
3. Lower Monthly Payments
This is only true if you’re refinancing a sum that’s less than your previous loan, if you’re consolidating debt it’s definitely going to be higher but we should really be more concerned about lowering your interest rates than your minimum payment if you are serious about tackling your debt.
So, how do you refinance?
You can go through your current bank, a credit union, or just google “refinance loan” and pick from one of the many options out there. I can’t speak for which banks are the best, but I took out my original loan with USAA and ended up refinancing with SoFi and had great experiences with both their customer services. This is going to be a complete shameless plug, but what I loved about SoFi is the process was super easy and quick. I did my own research and shopped rates before deciding, but their process was super easy, there was no penalty for early payoff, no extra fees, and they offered more of a percent discount when I setup autopay monthly. I know a lot of people are wary of using affiliate links and I do get a little bonus if you use my referral link, but you get a $100 welcome bonus if you do. 😉
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I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s August already. Before you know it, pumpkin spice and Christmas music will be everywhere! I never realized how helpful these goal progress posts were til I was re-reading my original goals post and my progress posts. July was a great month for me, but there are some things I need to get on!
One of the things I need to get on is my PMP certification. I kind of put it on the back burner when I got my certificates renewed over the past few months but I’ve been getting reminders about finishing that online course I started so I should really get on it.
The beginning of July was a struggle because I was eating out and going out a lot. I still worked out regularly (as you can see from my calendar above), but the eating always gets to me. I finally sucked it up in the last week and a half or so and got back on meal prepping, started tracking my food again in MyFitnessPal, and surprise, surprise, I lost 2 lbs in a week! Fitness really is mostly diet. 🙁 I’m thinking for August my goal is to eat healthy and meal prep for 4 – 5 days a week. #sorrynotsorry I’m not giving up my weekends! But I have been lifting a lot heavier – maxed squats at 115 lbs, lat pull downs at 70 lbs, seated rows at 65 lbs, and back hyper extensions carrying a 45 lb plate! Honestly, I feel kind of bad ass writing that out lol! Getting up for 5 AM HIIT has been a struggle, but I’m just low key telling myself that I’m working on bulking.
June definitely threw me off temporarily but I got back on track in July. Last month I was at 20% of my debt paid off and this month I’m at 22% debt paid. 2% might sound little but every $1 counts! If all goes well, I’ll be able to cross off my first finance goal and pay off my personal loan by the end of the month!!! I don’t wanna jinx myself so I’m holding back the number but I’m crying inside when I look at the number I started with when I got serious in February. I have a spreadsheet complete with pie charts and line graphs that I update anytime I make a payment and I am still on track to paying everything off by December 2019. Not gonna lie, I’ve had to sacrifice a few trips and it’s killed me cause you know how much I love to travel, but I’m trying to keep my eyes on the prize because I’ll be able to do whatever I want once it’s all paid off. I do have some trips that I really want to go on so I’m trying to factor them in the budget, but we’ll see.
Of all my 2018 goals this is the one that I’ve been laziest in. The good news is, I saw some progress in this area for July. Since my last goals post, I’ve published 6 more posts!! Wayy more than I have in any other month. I’ve been posting every Thursday like I said I would and I think it kind of gave me momentum to post more. Maybe for August we’ll shoot for 2x a week? I started experimenting with Pinterest pins and have seen a mini spike in traffic since then so I think I’m gonna focus this next month on growing that. My Instagram following growth has been slow but steady – as of this morning we’re at 2,887 – still a far cry from 10k but slow and steady, I guess?
2018 is just flying by and I can’t believe we’re already halfway through the year. May was much better progress for me in all areas than April was (read my original goals post here) but I think I might hit a little snag here in the financial area this month because I have trips to Las Vegas and LA. It’s honestly really hard keeping up the motivation in all areas because I naturally would rather bum out on the couch than do anything productive! But like one of my favorite Confucious quotes says, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.” I’m constantly telling myself everyday, Don’t stop. Keep going. It’s coming.
Two of my certificates expire this year, my Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) expired in May and my PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) expires in 2 weeks. I’m such a procrastinator and totally missed the deadline for my CSPO, but luckily they had a grace period. All I had to do was pay $100 for a renewal and it moved the expiration date to May 2020. The ACP cert is harder because I need to get I think 30-35 PDUs (Professional Development Units) which you can get through courses or I think volunteering? I decided to sign up for a self-paced online PMP (Project Management Professional) course so that I can start prepping for that certification, so now I need to get off my ass and actually open the course, but baby steps!
I’m finally seeing decent progress in the fitness area, although I did gain a few pounds and it’s totally discouraging, I’m going to keep telling myself it’s the muscle I’ve been building. I measure myself at my waist, the largest part of my belly (i.e. my problem area), and hips and I’ve lost a whole inch around my waist and belly. This week marks the start of the 5th week and overall, I feel stronger and like my stamina has been building up. Right now my schedule looks like 5 AM HIIT 3 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday), afternoon HIIT Wednesdays and Fridays, and weightlifting in the afternoons the rest of the week. I’ll drop in a hot yoga class here and there when my muscles start feeling tight and sometimes I run when I have to fit something in and I don’t have the time. I hate running, getting up at 5 AM sucks, and the number on the scale makes me want to say eff it, but like I said, I just keep telling myself keep going, it’s coming.
I am really proud of myself in this area because I feel like it’s where I see the most progress. It’s still kind of daunting looking at the total numbers and it really does feel like a huge sacrifice, but it’s really motivating seeing the graphical progress! As of today, I’ve paid off 20% my debt and I’m on track to paying off my first loan in 2 more months. I feel like I’ve been low key obsessive about this goal, but I feel like most people don’t really think about how much money they’re bleeding off of interest rates. For this loan, in February I paid $81.93 in interest, in March $37.70, April $29.25, and May $23.39. That’s a total of $172.27 in interest – which could have been a plane ticket to another city! I’ve consistently put $1000+ over my minimum payment on this loan since February, which is why the total monthly interest charge has been steadily declining, but it really stresses me out thinking about the other ways I could’ve used that money.
But overall progress is great, I can’t wait til I start aggressively tackling my car loan in August/September, but I’m definitely gonna hit a little bump this month because I’m meeting my family in Las Vegas in 2 weeks then meeting up with my sister in Los Angeles the week after. I pay off my credit cards in full every month to avoid interest charges and it just doesn’t make sense to rack up charges when I’m trying to pay off my debt. Also, I’m working on consolidating some of my old 401k and HSA accounts so that I have a better idea of my overall net worth. Jeez, I sound like such an adult!
This area has definitely been slow and steady. I’ve been more consistent on IG posting and I did manage to put up 3 posts in May, but I really have to get grinding here. I think I over think things too much and really just need to churn out the work. My goal for this month is to post more than I did last month (3 posts) and start dipping my toes in Pinterest marketing.
It never hurts to have a few extra dollars in your wallet and when you have financial goals like me, every penny counts. There are tons of websites and apps out there that claim to make you cash, but it’s hard to tell up front which ones are actually worth it. I don’t sign up for these sites/apps thinking I’m going to make a ton of cash, but I am all for passive income – where I’m getting paid back for doing things I was going to do anyway. Here’s a list of 4 websites/apps that I use on a regular basis because I’ve actually gotten payouts from them.
Earn cash back for shopping online by clicking affiliate links on the ebates site.
Payout is quarterly when you meet the $5 threshold; payout through PayPal or actual check.
My favorite website to earn extra cash passively
#shamelessplug Get a $10 bonus when you sign up using my link my Ebates link
Ebates is a cash back website that gives you (r)ebates for shopping their partners’ websites. The way it works is, you login to your ebates account, search for the website you want to shop at, click through the link on their site, and purchase your items. Ebates makes a commission when you make a purchase through their link and they give back a portion of that commission to you. The website tells you exactly what percent of your total you’ll get back on your purchase. The percentage varies anywhere from 1 – 42% and the cash back credit to your account is almost instantaneous. They have a pretty extensive list of partners – some of my favorites are Orbitz, Best Buy, Sephora, and Target. I don’t buy anything online without checking if they’re affiliated with Ebates.
The way the payout works is by quarters. At the end of the quarter, if you’ve reached the minimum threshold of $5, you get what they call a ‘Big Fat Check’. You can get payment either through PayPal (my preferred method) or an actual mailed check. My last ‘Big Fat Check’ was for $14.39 for activity from January – March of this year. Since I joined in November 2016, I’ve gotten over $400 in rebates. Ebates is definitely my favorite website to make a few extra bucks on because the $5 threshold is pretty low and if I’m doing a lot of purchasing online, I hit it pretty quickly.
They’re customer service is also great. If you’re not seeing cash back in your account, you can go through their Help link and submit a claim. You select the store, date of purchase, and shopping trip (they record your click throughs on the site). You also have to enter your Order Number, Subtotal, and copy and paste your order confirmation email. I’ve submitted a few claims and they always added it to my account instantaneously. I think they’ve also added in store shopping features, but I haven’t really looked into those.
If you sign up using my Ebates link, you’ll get a $10 bonus when you spend at least $25 – quick way to get your first big fat check!
ibotta works really similar to Ebates, but the difference is it’s for in-store shopping. I believe they also have some online shopping features, but I stick to Ebates for that. You can either search for the items you purchased or start with the store you purchased it at, add the cash back, then submit a picture of the receipt. If the item is specific, like ‘Coca Cola 12 pack’, it’ll ask for a scan of the barcode as part of the proof of purchase.
The downside to ibotta is the minimum threshold is much higher – you have to hit $20 to get a payout. I’ve personally only gotten paid once because the cash back per items that I usually purchase is really minimal ($0.25 – $1). I have seen them give more cash back, but it’s for items I don’t buy. Their offers do change often and they have opportunities for bonuses.
The way it works is, you search for the item you purchased, the store you purchased it at, add an image of the receipt and sometimes a scan of the barcode for the item, and they add the cash to your account. The threshold to get paid is $20 so it’s a lot higher and I’ve personally only been paid once off ibotta but their offer list isn’t as extensive. The offers change often, but they’re more like coupons instead of a total percentage off. Payment is through PayPal or Venmo. Get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up using my referral link!
Buy/sell new or gently used clothing and accessories that are sitting in your closet.
Payout whenever your item is accepted by the buyer, no mininum threshold; Payout directly to your bank account.
Selling items can be hit or miss.
#shamelessplug Sign up using my code SHER0XX (zero not an o) to get a $5 bonus.
Poshmark is a website/app used to buy and sell clothing. It’s kind of like a Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet for the internet. I wrote a post last year on how I made $1700+ selling stuff on Poshmark, so if you want a detailed walk through of the app, you can check it out. I checked my total earnings today and to date I’ve made over $2300.
It’s super easy to post items on the app and they take the worry out of shipping by providing the labels. The downside is you don’t know what is going to sell and when it’s going to. If you sign up using my code ‘SHER0XX’ (that’s a zero) you get a $5 bonus!
Achievement is a free website / app where you can earn points for doing healthy things. You can connect healthy apps to your Achievement account and it automatically gives you credit for activities that you do. For example, I have a Fitbit Alta HR and I log my weight daily in the Fitbit app. The app automatically syncs with Achievement and credits me points weekly based on how many steps I take and how many times I logged my weight. Achievement can connect to Apple Health, myFitnessPal, Jawbone, Run Keeper, and a few others. You can also get points by doing their surveys, but I’m not really active on that account.
The threshold for Achievement is really high – you need to hit 10,000 points to get a $10 payoff. Of the 4 apps I mentioned, this one is the most passive for me because I’d use my Fitbit whether I was getting points or not, but I’m not going to say no to $10 if they’re going to give it to me for free! If you sign up using my referral link, you can get 100 points credited to your account.
Do you use any apps to make extra cash? Which ones do you use?
Let me know in the comments below!
I seriously can’t believe it’s already May – we’re almost halfway through 2018! I feel like overall, I haven’t been making a ton of progress on my goals overall, but I’m really happy with the progress I’ve been making on my debt!
I absolutely have to get some PDU’s this month because my CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) certificate is expiring. Someone remind me to look at that on Monday!
Now that I think about it, I’ve made some good progress in this area. I’ve been going to the gym regularly and this week I’ve even been getting up for 5 AM HIIT and sometimes doing 2 a days (lifting in the afternoon). The killer for me is always my diet on the weekends! 🙁 This weekend will definitely be a test, but I at least want to be consistent on eating decently and working out hard during the week. I haven’t lost any inches yet, but I’m a few pounds down and I noticed that my resting heart rate (I use a FitBit) has been lowering, so I’m feeling a lot better about myself!
At the beginning of last month, I was at 10% progress, and now I’m at 14% progress! 4% doesn’t sound like a lot, but I love seeing the progress bar on my goals post move, even if it’s just a little bit. I’ve also been tracking my progress in an excel spreadsheet (what a nerd, I know!) and I even made pivot tables and graphs (LOL!). It’s crazy to me how much of my debt payment is going to interest and I’m paying above and beyond the minimum payment. 5.6% of the total I’ve paid so far has gone to interest – I could’ve gone shopping with that money! Last month I paid almost $2000 to my debt and man, it hurts knowing I could’ve booked an international trip with that money, but I know it’ll be worth it to be completely debt free.
Still not much movement in this area either. I did manage to post twice last month about Hawai’i – Kaka’ako Street Art and Wiliwilinui Hike, but I’ve been horrible about growing my instagram. We’ll just say motivation is hard to come by, but I swear I’ll get my ass going one of these days.
I personally dislike making New Year’s resolutions because I never keep them, but I usually set goals I want to accomplish. I know, I know, it’s already halfway through February but I’ve finally finished setting my 2018 goals! 2018 isn’t about “new year, new me,” but more “new year, better me.” I feel like I have a lot I want to do this year, but I think they’re pretty reasonable goals. I broke them down into 4 categories and I’ll keep this page updated regularly and bookmarked on the top menu to keep myself accountable!
I’ve always struggled to find balance in my fitness routine – I’m either at the extreme super fit, no cheat days mode or the “eff it” eat and drink whatever you want mode. I’ll go super hard and get really fit, then I’ll blow it all when I’m on vacation. I know, I’m not overweight but my clothes don’t fit the way I want them to and I really need to find my sweet spot between bikini ready and fried chicken and coke!
Pay off loan
Be debt free by December 2019
This is probably the most personal goal that I’m sharing because nobody ever likes to talk about money, let alone be honest about their finances. I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to live so comfortably after getting my degree, but I haven’t been the best steward of money. There was a year or so that I was completely debt free and it was amazing! But I ended up totaling my car, traveling a lot, and in all honesty, lifestyle creep got to me. It’s not something that I’m really proud of because there honestly is no good reason for me to carry all this debt.
The average American household carries $137,063 in debt – $16,883 in credit card debt, $29,539 in auto loans, $50,626 in student loans, and $182,421 in mortgages. While I fall way below average, just the idea of carrying any debt gives me anxiety and I miss the freedom of being debt free. I still live pretty comfortably and throw some extra money at my debt but it’s time for me to really suck it up and buckle down.
This is more of a longer term goal since there is realistically no way for me to pay off everything by the end of the year unless my salary doubles. I sat down and crunched all the numbers and I can definitely pay off the personal loan I took out by the end of the year. The remainder of my debt is my car, and it’s the biggest chunk. I actually leased it for 3 years thinking I’d want to upgrade to a newer model at the end of the lease, but didn’t really want to lease again so I ended up buying it. It kind of sucked starting over last year, but I think it’s pretty reasonable to put a December 2019 payoff (possibly earlier). I’m not completely comfortable sharing the big number yet, but you can follow this progress bar by percentage until I am! 😉 But I will share it at some point.
Debt Progress – 22% as of 8/2
5,000 views a month on the blog
10,000 IG Followers
I’ve had this domain name for a few years, but didn’t get serious or consistent about blogging until last June. It’s been a fun hobby and I especially love documenting my wanderlust but I’ve also made a few extra bucks on the side! I want to focus on growing my blog this year by creating more valuable content. It’s definitely been a trial and error process seeing which posts get hits (e.g. my Pop Fit Leggings Review is my most visited post), but we’re learning!
Also, my sister and I recently launch what I’m calling my little passion project – XOMO Society. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I tried to do XO Women a few months back but it quickly fizzled out. I got a burst of inspiration at the end of last year, decided to partner with my sister, Mo, rebranded, and relaunched as XOMO Society – a community for strong, ambitious women of color. We make weekly YouTube videos and posting regularly on our Instagram and looking for awesome women to feature – it’s a lot of work! I kind of took a hiatus around my sister’s wedding and haven’t gotten back on the horse but will definitely be doing that soon. I just think it would be so awesome to grow this community – the one I didn’t have while I was growing up.
I’ve got some lofty goals set up for 2018, it’s kind of intimidating but definitely can be done. Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along!