Hey guys! So I’m back on this blog to do a little bit of a different post, kind of based off and expanding on the one I made last year about finances. The horrible, ugly, yet fun, and exciting thing that keep us alive everyday. So, if you’d like some background for this post you can check out my long and old one HERE where I talk about how I graduated college debt-free, bought my cars outright, and basically how I was keeping myself afloat after recently moving into my own apartment.
But now that some time has passed, I’ve experienced a bit more on the financial front (both good and bad), I thought it was time to update with some more recommendations and what I’m doing to ensure that I don’t have to sell all my belongings in order to live. And most of all because I think financial planning is FUN! There, I said it, you can all shame me for the loser that I am. But, luckily having interest and enjoying financial planning is something that helps protect me in the long run. So, let’s start out with some changes that I’ve made the last year.
I have a 401k
I’m old now, yay! I had been at Disney for a year before I started to realize that a 401k was an option available to me as a part-time worker. I never had one at my original library job, and since I wasn’t sure where my career was going with Disney I hadn’t ever thought about it. But now that I plan on being with the company until at least Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary, I’m in it for a long haul, so I need to start prepping now for my future.
I have to say that sitting down and looking at my options was daunting. I didn’t know what half of it meant, but I ended up researching a bit and picking a collection that I thought was safe and easy. Disney also matches your 401k up to a certain percentage, so every week I’ve been contributing the matching sum. Because, c’mon, that’s free money!
I found a doctor and a dentist
Health Insurance is kind of a big deal right now, but luckily I’ve been researching for when I need to enroll outside of my parents plan. On the notes not related to health insurance, I found a doctor and a dentist where I live so I could transfer all my information and continue going regularly. Now I have a relationship with my care centers, I get my perscriptions easier, checkups regularly, and have recently been getting all my shots updated. I feel a lot better now that I know I have somewhere to go if I need something and that I’m keeping my health in check. And it really wasn’t too hard. I used recommendations for friends, set up a new-patient appointment and was happy with my first choices.
my car broke
The top two changes are pretty good! They’re not really expensive and invest in my future. This one on the other hand was a bit of a hit. January of last year my car started making screeching noises everytime I stepped on the break. It went on for a few days before I decided to take it to Sears to see what was wrong with it.
After spending 2.5 hours in the store, they told me that my break rotors needed replaced on both sides and other minor issues. They quoted me at about $800. I was annoyed but had luckily saved up some emergency money. However, this was the first time that I had to fix an issue on my own. I decided to take my car to another local store with good reviews and get a second opinion. After 20 minutes they gave me a quote, suggested some other fixes, and quoted me at $400, HALF the price. I brought my car back immediately and they had fixed the entire issue in less than an hour. I was stunned, thankful, and now I go to this auto repair store for EVERYTHING. So in the end, it was a win, and I learned a lot.
i’m a florida resident now!
Also related to my car, I officially became a Florida resident this summer! This was originally spurred because my mom found out that the car insurance that I had under my family’s plan was not actually covering my car since I was living in the State of Florida. Which was a bit of a rock considering I had no idea and any incident could’ve been really terrible. Since that was something on my mind, my parents suggested it was time to get my car insured with a Florida company and that to do that, I would need to become a Florida resident. One thing spurs another, I suppose.
But considering I had lived there for over a year, I was due. I ended up calling and quoting multiple companies before I decided on State Farm. My rate was pretty decent for the year of my car, and my agents have been very kind and helpful. Once I was able to secure that, I made an appointment and had all of my information changed to Florida, including my tags, license, and registration. It cost me a pretty penny, but yearly it is cheaper in Florida to renew my tags, and now I can rest easy knowing I’m covered.
Something important to mention here, is that my bill recently went down from enrolling in their drive and save program. I install a little button in my car that’s linked to an app on my phone and tracks my driving information. It gives you scores based on multiple instances like time of day, turns, and speed. My bill dropped $140 after my first 6 months. Now I get to use that money I save for investments!
i have a credit card now
A terrifying, satisfying, and helpful new thing is that I now have a credit card. I had been weary about credit cards my entire life, thinking that they were inherently bad, before I moved out on my own and started learning more on how to use them. I originally had a Credit Card from my bank from home to purchase gas and other items, but hardly ever used it. Once I moved to Disney I decided to apply for a Disney Chase Visa. Obviously, the pros for this card include Disney rewards points and other perks related to Disney. This made the most sense, since half the money I make, I put right back into the company anyway. I use my card for gas, and other small items, and then pay off the balance in full every month.
That is something that is super important to me as a CC holder now. I refuse to pay interest on items that I purchase and I know the dangers of living with debt (despite never having been, I’ve seen it). I keep my usage under 30% and recently had my limit raised which helps my credit score. There have been times, however, where I’m surprised by my bill. I still pay it in full, but that’s when I know I need to step back and check myself. So far I’ve earned a lot of points, and my credit score has slowly been on the rise!
As I’m writing this, I just called Betterment to set up my investment account. A lot of podcast and sites I read (and trust) have taunted Betterment as the best investing site out there and learning so much about finance, I feel like I NEED to start putting extra money somewhere. I already put back a certain amount every month for my savings, but I feel like I’m out of the loop by not investing. I’m young, I have a pretty stable job that I do well, and it’s time I start making some risks to see what happens. I need to jump in, in order to see how investments really work. And luckily now that my car insurance bill dropped, I have some extra money to play with and hopefully start making money with.
how i’m staying on track
In my last post I gave you guys some recommendations on how to save money and stay on track with your finances, but now that I have more on my plate and have been introduced to some more sites and tips, I want to share them with you. Some will be repeats, and some will be new!
savings apps + Coupon
In my last post, I listed some apps, and unfortunately most of those have gone downhill. Target cartwheel has integrated into the regular target app with it’s pros and cons. Cons being they don’t have as many groceries listed. The same happened with Ibotta, where I don’t see as many items anymore. Mobisave as an app, I recently deleted because every listing needed a special code.
But even if they aren’t as good as they used to be, still use them! I recently cashed out $20 to my bank from Ibotta from grocery savings, and since I buy a lot of Target brand items, I get 5% off and I use my Redcard to save even more. Make sure to also add the Ebates chrome extension so you can save a percentage on your online purchases.
Of course, you can pretty much trust coupons. The type and value are going up and down every week, but they definitely save me the most on my groceries and a lot of times you can find them on the target app separately.
split your subscriptions
I laugh while I say this because I actually don’t help pay for any of my roommates subscription services, I just use them free of charge. But you can split a Netflix subscription between 4 people pretty cheaply and get your entertainment fixes. I personally subscribe to the family version of Spotify which allows me to listen ad-free and add up to 4 friends and family members. Some of them pay me monthly for a part of the subscription which means it’s cheaper than it was for me in college. And Spotify is super important to us as entertainment.
My roommate also just signed up for AMC Stubs since we go to the one near us fairly often and we found out last night that she gets $5 movie tickets every Tuesday until Christmas. Since the signup fee is $15 for the year, she pretty much already saved enough to pay for the entire membership. Now we are more likely to go to the theater every Tuesday as a cheap and easy entertainment option.
write it down and use budget trackers
I’ll go on about mint all day, but I know that it has it’s own cons that really drive me crazy sometime. However, until a better system comes around, I’ll always hype it. It’s the easiest place to gather all your personal earnings, budgets, and transactions. I recently added my investments to it as well, which helps me see growth without having to log into my investment account every couple of weeks.
I also purchased a notebook a few months ago and have been writing down all my transactions and what they were for every time I make a purchase. Sometimes I’ll go a few weeks without writing things but I can pull up my mint and refresh my memory. Seeing it on paper helps me see exactly what I bought and keeps me more motivated to save money.
go zero waste
What’s changed the most since my last post is that I’ve decided to go more minimal and zero waste. I’m not gonna ramble on about how great it is because I do that in enough blog posts, but I cannot tell you how much money I have saved changing some of my habits. I no longer purchase bottled water or parchment paper since I bought reusable replacements. Since I almost exclusively shop at Goodwill for clothes now, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars are perfectly beautiful pieces. I’m actually wearing a shirt and vest that I bought that cost $6 altogether.
I have also switched to bar soaps, make my own cleaners, and have started to use more of my stash of other supplies so I can go on to replace it with cheaper, more natural products. Once I’ve used all my disposable razors, I will be switching to a safety razor which will save me a ton of money since I just have to replace the super cheap blades. And since I don’t like to waste money on food or the plastic it comes with I make all my food in bulk for work. Once I’ve finished with this post I’m actually going to get all my meals ready for the week so it’s easy to pack in the mornings.
Find some free entertainment
I’ve become even more obsessed with our local library than I was last year. I usually have about 7 books stacked up at a time and we have watched probably 30 movies that we checked out from the library which saves us a ton of money. If we don’t want to spend the money at the theater, we just wait until it shows up at the library.
Something else we love doing is playing boardgames, particularly Truth Bombs, What do you Meme, Cards Against Humanity, and Munchkin. Super fun, can last an eternity, and free (after initial purchase of course).
YOUTUBE IT UP. Youtube is definitely my favorite free resource since I could spend all day watching someone vlog from their house or learn how to make halloween cookies.
And thus we have come to the end of this long-winded, utterly boring post. But wait! I have just a few more recs for you if you want to start learning more about personal finance.
By far my favorite podcasts to listen to every week. I’ve never learned so much in my life if not for Thomas and his co-hosts. They’re funny, and intelligent, and so many good resources. 80% of my knowledge comes from these shows.
Produced by Hank Green, this channel is all about your own personal finances. There is a lot of good advice and I’m glad it’s in video form. Some great ideas, but be just a bit weary because sometimes the advice seems more targeted to wealthier communities and I find some of it to be a bit out of touch with the reality of being broke.
I’ve only read through this site a couple of times, but was reminded of it this morning from the Financial Diet. Some of the posts are interesting, but it is another resource for you to use.
This guy is super hardcore about money and savings, but I really respect that aspect about him. Just know going into this blog that it’s pretty hardcore with a no BS attitude, so not the place to go for handholding, but a lot of GREAT financial advice. I find it kind of funny and a challenge.