Finances and the Future

Each of us worry about the two ‘F’s – finances and the future.  Each of our stories are different that effect how we manage our finances and our goals for the future.

I grew up for the first 10 years of my life with a single mother who worked two jobs for many years.  We lived with our grandma to make ends meet.

Years later my mother was remarried and added a little boy to the family.  Things with the economy were bad in 2008-2009 which was commonly known as the ‘Great Recession’.  My parents were losing the house as I was heading off to college for my second year.  Shortly after that my mom and step dad divorced.  Per my family, financial and college circumstances I ended up moving to the metro area.

These simply explained life events molded me in how I viewe finances and my future.

I have almost always had two jobs and just like many other people – it hasn’t been easy to make ends meet.  At age 22 I took out a mortgage for a two bedroom townhouse.  I really did get a good price for it and since the value has gone up.  Although, my luck with work and finances has been a total nightmare since.  I have gone through unemployment for over 3 months to being forced to take jobs that didn’t pay me enough or allow me enough time to work a second job.  I was lucky to have a friend who has been renting out my second bedroom and now that Mike is home (I will explain in another post sometime) and working things are really looking up.

Even though things are looking more positive it is still hard to not be discouraged with the amount of student loans and debt that I have.  I know there are others worse off than I am, but this topic bothers me immensely.

This is extremely personal to me but I would still like to share my story and my continuing journey with you.

Here is a list of my debt as of today:

Left on Mortgage: about $70,000

Student Loans: just below $30,000

Previous Car Loan: $9,271

Personal Loans: $4,200

TOTAL: $113,471

YIKES!

How is someone like me going to pay this off while only making $21,500 a year and with other monthly bills to pay?

It’s crazy to think that someone can gather so much debt in such a short amount of time.  How can anyone get ahead?  And why does it seem that once you get a head things go south again – instantly?  It is super frusterating to me.  I hate seeing individuals who should be enjoying their retirment spend it working part-time to keep up with the bills because SS doesn’t cover their monthly needs.  This makes me sick.

I have read a few blogs and articles about how to save on daily expenses like making my own laundry detergent, shampoo & conditioner and cleaning supplies.  These sound like a wonderful way to go green and to save a few pennies.  Getting down to saving, and paying off debt is so much more though.  I had to look super hard at my fiances and face the hard facts that I needed to make changes.

When I was recently unemployed I had to go through a juggling act of paying my bills with what little income I had from unemployment.  This caused a BIG snowball in my debt to income ratio.  I felt so lost and helpless and sometimes still do.  A few people suggested that I file for bankruptcy.  I was like “NO way! My credit is bad enough”, but I later came to terms with my situation and am now in the process of filing.

Finances are a BIG anxiety and sometimes even depression trigger for me.  I don’t like to admit it but they are.  I hate the feeling of drowning and not being able to support myself.

Everyone likes to think they can fix the system or has the cookie cutter fix to finances.  In reality no one has an easy fix.  It takes brutal honesty, hard work and support from loved ones that will get anyone through a rough financial path.

I wish eveyone luck on their financial journey and I will keep you updated on mine!

Thanks for reading!

Manda

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Earth Day – My Story Part 1

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

This is a very big topic for me and I am super excited to be blogging about it!  A good question is – where to begin?  The beginning is always good I guess…

I graduated from High School back in 2009 and started my first year of college at a local school that fall (Anoka Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus).  I was super nervous and yet excited to be trying something new.

One of my courses that first year was Environmental Ethics.  The first day of class, I was shocked and very uneasy about how hard the course was going to be.  The professor even stated that the reading material would not be light reading and had a strict grading system.  Being the visual learner that I am and someone who is not good with theory, the course was definitely a challenge.  My first few reading quiz’s were pretty bad but I figured out how to study the reading material better.  Once I thought things were going well, one of my papers was ripped apart.  Even to this day I am surprised I was brave enough to make an appointment to speak with my professor about the paper.  I put a lot of work into it but the paper wasn’t my greatest work.

*Note – I am still not a professional writer and not a very good one at that.  But hey, this isn’t school.  This is for fun!*

My professor was kind enough to help educate me on my writing mistakes and give me a chance to rewrite the section I did the worst in.  I took this as a great learning opportunity.  After speaking with the professor, we spoke for a while getting to know each other. Once I left his office I was much more confident and kind of liked the guy as a person not just as a professor.

With things going better in the course I really began to like the class, despite the difficulty and grew to enjoy the professors personality.  Towards the final weeks of the class we learned about Global Warming / Climate Change, as well as a major (local) advocate to educate others about it.

For an assignment we had to write a research paper on Will Steger before we completed a service learning project over a 3 day weekend up near Ely, Minnesota.  After doing some research about him I was talking to my mother about the weekend I would be gone (I lived at home the first year of college).  When I mentioned Steger – she instantly became excited.  Confused, I listened to her say things like – “He’s famous” and “I remember learning about him my senior year in High School and watching his progress on the news”.  For my mom, she said she was jealous but excited that I would get to meet him.

I turned in my paper with pride and looked forward to the weekend of service learning (providing manual labor up on the property).  Being born and raised in Minnesota, heading into the deep woods was normal and fun for me.  The layout of the area we were at was beautiful, quite, peaceful and one of a kind.  I knew right away that it was something special.  Even though the work was hard, I rather enjoyed it as well as getting to know my peers and just being outside.  Meeting Will, asking him questions, hearing his stories and receiving a tour of the Center (aka The Castle) was eye-opening.

The following week of class after being at the center I felt a shift in myself.  I had become super curious about the topic of global warming / climate change, what I could do to educate myself and others.  So, when our professor mentioned starting up a college club that focused on the environment.  I was excited and interested but had decided to transfer to a college in the Twin Cities and would not be on ARCC campus anymore.  I offered any help with the getting the group started but fell out of the loop over the summer months before my transfer.

And once my grades came in for the semester I thought for sure that I would receive a ‘C’ but walked away with an “A”.  I was so excited and proud of myself for my hard work and honesty with my professor.

Fast forward to spring semester of 2010.  After a fall semester at a large 4 year university I went back to ARCC.  I made sure that one of the courses I needed was taught by my former Environmental Ethics professor.  The first day of class he went through getting to know everyone’s names and remembered me from his class the previous year – which was cool.  After that first day of class I asked him about the environmental club and if it ever took off.  When he said that it did I was super excited.  He gave me the day, time and where the first meeting would be and I made sure to show up.

Little did I know – how much this group would change me for the better.

If you would like more information about Steger Wilderness Center and The Will Steger Foundation please click the links below:

http://www.willstegerfoundation.org/

http://stegerwildernesscenter.org/

Also, feel free to check out his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/willsteger?fref=ts

*Professors name has not been provided due to awaiting approval*

Thanks for reading!

*Manda