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Single Mom Confession

July 25, 2011

It’s been one of those days.

You know what I’m talking about.

Where everything bad or frustrating that happens is because you are single, and you only have one income, and you hate being single, and if you weren’t single everything would be perfect.

Yeah. One of those days.

Some days being single bothers me much more than others.

Some days it doesn’t bother me at all.

Some days I love it!

Today, though, is not one of those days.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only single parent who ever feels this way. I do feel like I’m the only one I know who ever expresses it, though. All the single parents I know go on and on about lucky they are and how they don’t mind that their lives revolve completely around their children every moment of every day and even if they never meet someone to spend the rest of their lives with they’ll be okay.

Here’s the truth of it, (and I can’t say I’m completely proud of every one of these feelings but they’re mine and they’re real):

Sometimes, I am so lonely it makes it hard to breathe.

Sometimes, I wish there was another adult in this household that contributed to the total income.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have to know anything about any of my bills. That they would be paid on time, by the other adult I wish existed here.

Sometimes, I resent not being able to buy something for myself because I have to buy something of necessity for my child.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have to be the responsible side of the single parent equation.

Sometimes, I wish I could forgive myself for wishing that my ex-husband would just drop dead.

Sometimes, I believe that I will end up being single forever because only a terrible person could think the things I just put into words.

The truth of it is, though, that these days happen to everyone. You may not want to admit that you are lonely, or hate being single, or that it’s just freakin’ hard and sometimes you just don’t want to play anymore.

But you’re not alone.

It’s ok to feel your feelings. Being frustrated with being single doesn’t mean you love your child(ren) any less. It doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your goals. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a person.

It just means that today you need to take a little extra time for yourself so that tomorrow you can get back to being the amazing parent that you are.

Frugal Foxy Friday

July 22, 2011

I think this will be a new Friday thing. Y37546EZTKY5

Not every Friday, but I do love a good frugal beauty buy and every so often I stumble on some amazing products and just have to share.

This week:  Suave Professionals Damage Care Conditioner!

Awesome in a bottle!

Apparently, this stuff has been around for about two years, but I in my usual stubborn fashion have refused to buy anything other than my usual Suave Clarifying conditioner.

Man, was I missing out! I have super thick, frizzy, wavy hair and it just seemed like the regular stuff was giving up on me (the daily heat from blowdrying and straightening probably wasn’t helping either).

So, there I am standing in the shampoo aisle at Kroger and I see this Damage Care conditioner. I’m completely skeptical, and not really sure that I want to spend almost a whole other 50 cents on this product that surely can’t be that different from what I already use. It’s all Suave…

But into the cart it goes. Maybe because with my Plus card it was only a frugal $1.85, or maybe because I was tired and I just wanted to get the heck out of that store.

Either way, this stuff is the cat’s pajamas!

Don’t get me wrong-I can’t tell you it gave me the straight, soft, and silky shampoo commercial hair that I’ve always wanted (no product will ever give me that!) but I can tell you that my hair doesn’t go crazy when I style it now like it did pre-this conditioner.

For those of you ladies that do have that gorgeous, naturally straight (and frizz-free!) hair, this just may give you that shampoo commercial hair.

For around $2, it’s worth a try.

Oh, and if you decide to try it, do let me know what you think! (That goes for you ladies who already use it also!)

Student Loan Consolidation Considerations

July 18, 2011

Back to student loans…so with the incredible amount of student loan debt I have, I’ve been considering consolidating all of my federal student loans into one loan. I had some questions, though, so I started googling. With the amount of money we’re talking, I can’t afford (pun intended!) to make a mistake.

First things first…

Am I even eligible to consolidate my federal loans? Turns out, all you have to have to qualify for consolidation is at least one Direct student loan that is in a repayment, forbearance, grace, or default status.

Which of my loans qualify for consolidation? At this moment, I have 9 separate loans/loan disbursements outstanding. These are a combination of Direct Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized, and Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized. Because these are all federal loans, they are all eligible for consolidation.

What exactly will consolidation do for me? Several things, WoOt!

  1. Go from 9 separate loans/terms to 1! That means just one payment to make, and one lender to communicate with. Can you imagine trying to keep 9 separate loans and payments straight when it comes time to make out the budget and payments? Oy!
  2. Lower monthly payment! Once the individual loans are combined, the new monthly payment is very likely to be lower than the individual payments would have been together. Now, I can’t say exactly what the original separate payments would total but I believe the minimum payment was $50. By that, the minimum on those would be $50 x 9 = $450. I definitely can’t make a monthly payment like that…
  3. Probable increase in credit score! Now, this part is pretty cool…by consolidating, all of the original loans are paid off which will decrease the number of open accounts on my credit report. I could definitely use some points on the score!
  4. Tax-deductible interest. Student loan consolidation interest is tax-deductible and taken as an adjustment to income. I’m all for lower taxes!
  5. No pre-payment penalty. This is great, because I plan to pay this loan off as soon as I possibly can. A second job will probably come into play here, but I’ll deal with that later.

Will I be able to go back to school before this loan is paid off, or will I have to wait? Yes! If I decide at some point that I am ready to go back to school, I can, and will still have the option of taking an in-school deferment. Yay for still having options down the road!

I found the most informative source on this to be the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Information Center website. There are many, many companies offering what appear to be private student loan consolidation loans under the auspices of the government. Scary, and I don’t care to get mixed up in that. I’ll be sticking with the federal government on this, as the loans originated with them.

If you’re thinking about consolidation, I definitely think you should see if it might be a fit for you. From everything I’ve read, I believe it is the best option for me and my single income. Finding an option that is manageable and beneficial all at the same time is exciting!

I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to share what I found should anyone else be interested in the information. If you want to know more, definitely go to the Direct Consolidation Loans site.

Have you consolidated your loans? Was it what you thought it would be? I’d love to hear your personal experiences with this.

Until next time, folks. Have a Happy Monday!

Student Loans

July 7, 2011

I have really been dreading this decision. Namely, the decision of whether to continue on with school and add to the already ridiculously high dollar amount of student loans that I currently owe, or take a break to focus on paying down those loans and improve my financial position and then finish my degree.

I’m sure a lot of you would immediately say, “Oh J, you silly girl, of course you should continue going to school. Education is the great equalizer and you’ll never get anywhere without a college degree”. Don’t worry, that’s what I tried to convince myself of as well.

Forcing myself to add up my total amount of student loan debt was very eye-opening, though.

Are you ready for it?

In Federal student aid, I owe a total of $28,690. Oh, just you wait…there’s more…

Sallie Mae became my friend as well and loaned me a total of $16,992.18

A total of $45,682.18.

You may now heave, because I know I almost did.

Let me tell you what happened, because I know you’re thinking “J, you are clearly not an unintelligent individual. What were you thinking?”

I wasn’t. To be fair, the Sallie Mae loan did finance my nursing education and I am the proud holder of an Ohio Licensed Practical Nurse license. I have gainful employment because of that license, and I proved to myself that I could start something and stick to it.

The Federal money, however, was used to take a lot of classes between several major switches that now do not add up to a degree. I’ve never been able to definitively say what I wanted to be when I grew up, and according to my assigned academic advisor this is common for a lot of students. But while it’s helpful to know what behavior led to an outcome, the explanations are neither here nor there at this point.

It comes down to deciding whether to continue on digging my “debt ditch”, or to climb out of it and fill it in. I’m grabbing a shovel and going at it. I’ve never been afraid of hard work, and I’m not about to start now.

There are several ways to go about paying off student loan debt, what with debt consolidation loans and deferrments and forbearances and whatnot. The important thing is that the decision was made.

Check back soon for the meat and ‘taters of this student loan business!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with student loans. Did you finish your education? If you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you do?

 

 

High credit limit!

July 6, 2011

Haha…well, if you think my brand spanking new limit of $500 is high, that is…

But, this is a serious milestone for a former “late payer”!

The deal was that I had to actually use my Capital One card in three different billing cycles, and with a good payment history (read: no late payments!) my credit limit would be automatically raised after five billing cycles.

Sweet, right?

I agree. Clearly this is offered to all new customers but this is the the really cool part…I used the card every billing cycle, and paid the balance off completely each cycle!

This is a feat for someone who, in the past, looked at a due date as more of a guideline.  A big goal of mine is not to just pay off my debt, but to teach myself not to get into this situation again. It’s baby steps and a whole lot of restraint when it comes to using credit, let me tell you.

So, while I would love to go shopping at Kohl’s because something is surely on sale, I won’t. I’m going to sit here and revel in my new $500 credit limit, and $0 balance.

Do over!!!

April 30, 2011

Ok, well, really there are no do-overs in life but I feel like I got one of the few that are given out.

I found a job, and E and I have found a new normal.

Before we talk about anything else, I have to tell you something-I suck at letting my failures hang out for all to see. Part of the reason this blog will be good for me. I can’t win all the time and I want to be comfortable with that.

That is basically the reason I disappeared.

Well, that, and not having any money coming into our household kind of put a damper on my wanting to talk about anything having to do with my lack of income. It was downright scary!

Now I’m much more aware of how dynamic life can really be and just how it feels to have the rug pulled out from under you, and I am very thankful to have this second chance at managing an income. Part of growing is wiping off the dirt and climbing back on the horse that just bucked you off.

And……GO!