Archive for April, 2010

making plans

I suggest playing this while reading this post:

I have plans. I was about to write “big┬áplans”, but actually, on the whole, I think they’re pretty small. But by small I just mean simple, and relatively easy to accomplish.

I’ve been thinking about this kind of stuff a lot lately because I just started school, again. But I don’t even feel like it’s really a case of again because it is so different this time around. Elementary school, middle school, and especially high school – these are all requirements, things you have to do, places you have to go for set amounts of time during the day, for a set number of years. By the time I was done with high school the thought of spending yet another 4 years in school just was almost sickening. But I went anyway.

I will never regret my time at college. I learned a lot and grew a lot, but a majority of that learning and growing happened outside of the classroom. I left with a strange potpourri of various bits and pieces of knowledge – I’ve read Foucault, sure, but I really can’t recall much of it and I’m not sure I knew what any of it meant at the time anyway. I am, however, somewhat of an expert on movie musicals and some aspects of ethnography and anthropology. In short, you probably want me on your trivia team and I am the go-to person at work for “what was that one movie with that one guy called?”-type questions, but I walked away from my college experience with very little (it could be argued no) practical or marketable skills to speak of.

I’m going to cosmetology school right now, studying hair design. Going to a trade school and going to a liberal arts college could not be two more disparate experiences, especially considering the college I went to (Bennington shout out, woot!). There’s some book work and route learning (which, first of all, was largely absent from my college education), but most of my schoolwork now consists of practical application – you are shown how to do it, and then you do it. I’m so much more invested in being in school now, which is surely in part because I am older, a little bit more mature, and paying my own way this time around, plus I chose the path without any outside pressure, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that there’s actually a light at the end of this particular tunnel. I know that when I’m done with school I will have a skill, a trade, with which to establish myself in the larger world – a real, honest-to-goodness, thing I can do. That I couldn’t do before I went to school! Imagine that!

So I’m excited. But it’s all part of my plan. The main goal of my plan is to reach a point where I am truly financially secure, financially independent, and able to enjoy what I do and, in turn, enjoy my life a bit more. I really kind of hate that everything and everyone needs money. It’d be so much simpler if we just didn’t. People always say that money can’t buy happiness, but I would argue that it can, or, that, at the very least, not having money can hinder happiness. Less money = less options = less happiness, in my opinion. Simplified completely, I am out to have more options and, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure more money is what’s gonna get me there.

OMG, I have a “five year plan”! I think. It basically goes like this:

1.) Go to school for two years. During these two years, life will just have to pretty much continue as it has been for awhile and I’m just kind of planning on learning to be okay with things the way they are and extract what joy I can from the situation while I wait it all out.

2.) Once out of school, I will start really aggressively paying down my debt, something I am unable to do right now, and which will be greatly aided by the tips I will receive (no matter how paltry they may be as I’m just starting out with no client base whatsoever). All of this is also aided by the simple fact that, even if I pay only the minimum payments on my credit cards the whole time I’m in school, that’s still gonna be at least $1600 of each credit card balance paid down by the time I’m out of school anyway. So I’ll have started before I’ve even begun, in a sense. I’m hoping to be completely out of credit card debt within five years from now, but even if I’ve just substantially diminished it by that point I will be satisfied.

3.) Also, in about five years from now I will have made my last car payment, which will also wipe out that particular debt. Once my credit card debt is paid down/gone and once my car payment is gone, even if i was making the exact same money I am now (but I’ll be making more because of tips, and also because I assume I’ll get at least one more raise during this five year period), I would pretty much be on easy street. A lot of what is making everything feel so unbearable right now financially is because I have so much debt. Once freed from all that, I would have much more money with which to truly gain financial independence, and with which I could just plain do more of what I like.

4.) Ramit Sethi’s book “I Will Teach You to be Rich” is a favorite of mine – despite the dumb, kind of misleading title. It’s actually just a great book with really sound financial advice and information for newbies like me, not a manual for some kind of pyramid scheme. Anyway, he says to create savings accounts (high-interest savings and IRAs or 401-Ks) and to just save whatever you can, whenever you can, even if you don’t make very much. So, I already have a savings account, and until I took on the car payment, I had a small monthly transfer going into it. But now I have nothing at all, because I just can’t afford it. Maybe I can afford $5. Maybe I’ll literally do $5 a month right now. Anyway, the point of all this is that as soon as I’ve freed up all this money by paying off all or most of my debt, the trick will be to live almost the same lifestyle I do now and use the additional money not only to gain financial independence but also to start really aggressively ramping up my savings.

I’d also like to start a joint savings account with Trevor at this point so that we can start saving for things we might want as a couple, whether that be buying our first home or going on a vacation.

5.) Assuming it’s going to take me at least 5 years from now to pay off all my debt and get on better financial footing, let’s also assume that within this five years things may steadily be improving, but they aren’t going to be vastly different from things as they are now. I think we can safely say that until these 5 years are up I probably won’t be having children, or moving into a house – which are two goals of mine. Well, one of them is a maybe-goal, but the house is a definite goal.

I think most stereotypical five year plans include either a corner office, a husband, a baby, a house, or all four.┬áSo, in the end, it’s kind of funny because my five year plan really is just a plan to get to the point where I can make a five year plan. haha.

In some ways, five years is not long, especially given how time has seemed to speed up for me with each passing year. So having this clear end point, once again this light at the end of the tunnel, is such a comforting thing for me.

But, on the other hand, I’m, “five years?!?”

But then I think, “in five years I will have been married to my husband for six years!” And that’s pretty exciting to me all on its own.


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