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Finances, Lifestyle

The Downgrade to Upgrade

 

I recently withdrew from my Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program because I did not know if it was the direction I wanted my career to go anymore. It was a difficult decision, but one that gave a sense of peace once I went through with it. A few weeks went by before the reality hit that my monstrous amount of student loan debt would be in repayment. During my undergraduate studies, I took out loans. Some I needed, some I could have gone without. I paid for my entire nursing license with student loans…so.many.student.loans. I attended a private school that had an accelerated direct entry master’s program for people with non-nursing degrees. I wanted to go the community college route and pay WAY less, but the admission process isn’t the best. So I went for my masters; something I knew I wanted anyway.

Fast forward to a year out of school, I decided it was time to go back and get my nurse practitioner license, since that was the end career goal when I started this journey. I could have (and should have) only taken out the amount needed to books and tuition, but I allowed myself to receive the full amount; adding more debt to my already large amount. Now, in January 2018 MOST of my loans are going into repayment and it is a scary time. If you have student loans, you may understand my pain. The amount they want you to pay…the amount the THINK you can pay is ridiculous. I guess they assume I’m still living at home. A lot of millennials are, but this one is not thank you very much (but trust me, if I could and stack my coins, I might consider it). Bottom line, I could not afford to pay what they initially wanted me to pay. Let me just say, if this was years ago, I might have just ignored them. I used to do that. I used to think if I didn’t open the mail or answer the call, they would just go away. I had a real ostrich mentality when it came to my finances. As I have grown, I realize the only way to deal with these matters is head on, so I called my loan provider…2 days before the payment was due, but I called. After explaining that I could not afford to pay what was showing on my screen, the man on the other end began to tell me my options. What he said almost brought me to tears. I went from a $1,027 payment to a $700+ payment to a $494 payment. May I remind you, not all my loans are in repayment yet. I sat in my living room sweaty thinking about what I could sell around my apartment beside my own body to make these payments. Now I can hear some of you now. But you’re a nurse, you got money. You are right. I am a nurse. I make a pretty decent amount of money. But I am also a single woman with no tax breaks living in California. This rent is nothing nice and gas is rude. I work at a hospital that pays pretty well for it’s location, but does not pay me more for my degree as some locations do. Also, there is not specialty pay, but I’ll save that for another post. What they take in taxes and benefits most of the time equals what I used to make bi-weekly at some of my jobs. Heck, it’s what some people currently make bi-weekly. I also have many expenses. Some I have created over time and some that are just a part of life. When I got off the phone with the man, I sat in my chair in my two bedroom apartment for a minute with an instant headache. What was I going to do? I had already realized I needed to work more in order to continue living my best life (see my post The Borrowed Life), but this was going to have me working all the dang time.

After a rant in my group text, I went to work trying to figure out my options. In order to get the lowest payment (which doesn’t include all my loans, so the number WILL go up), I would need to consolidate all my loans. On the surface, that does not seem like such a bad idea, until you consider some of the loan forgiveness programs available to healthcare providers. There is a Heath Resources and Service Administration program. This program forgives 60% of the loans taken out for your nursing degree in exchange for 2 years in a particular type of institution. That program is amazing, and of course very popular. Two things: if you combine your non-nursing and nursing loans together, you are disqualified and you must work at facility that fits their criteria. My reality is that my hospital does not qualify and in order to make my payments manageable, I need to consolidate. I could get a new job at a qualifying facility and suffer through the payments until the next application cycle, but I may not be selected. Ain’t nobody got time for all that. There is another program called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. With this program, the applicant must work for a qualifying facility and make 120 qualifying payments. The program then forgives the remaining balance. This means 10 years of minimum payments, then boom! The rest is forgiven. There are a few downsides to this program. The biggest one is 10 years of payments. Who wants to do that? Really? Also, this is all based on Congress approving the program. At any moment, I could be making minimum payments and in year 9, Congress could decide to no longer fund this program. Seeing all the things Congress isn’t doing and is allowing, I put nothing past them.

After researching all my options, I realized it was time to come up with a plan and be honest about where I am in life. I not only need to make more money, but cut my expenses. It seems like an easy fix, but let’s be honest. It will take a LOT of work and many hours to reduce my debt. That’s not a bad thing, but sacrifice is hard for me. The thought of being tired because I’ve been working already makes me tired. Using my days office to catch up on all the things I used to be able to do during the week doesn’t sound pleasant at all. BUT it is necessary in order to be financially responsible, so it will be done. I have to keep my life goals in mind. I want to buy a house within the next 2 years. I DO want to be debt free. I want to travel and have money in my savings and checking accounts. So, it’s time to downgrade my life in order to upgrade. My largest expense is my rent. I live in a really nice two bedroom with a designated room for crafts. That is such a blessing to have. When I finally became a nurse, that was the one thing I decided I was going to upgrade. I wanted a space that allowed me live and play. But in order to upgrade my life in the future, it might be time to downgrade to a less expensive one bedroom. I will miss the extra space, but I’ll be OK. I realize this is going to be quite an adjustment for me, but it has to be done. I must adult. It’s time to get my financial life right and I am the only one who can make the changes to do so.

Have you ever had to take two steps back in order to move forward in life? What adjustments did you make? Share in the comments below.

 

xoxo, Panda

 

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I have paid off my car, downsized my living situation which means a downsized payment, and am on track to pay off my revolving debt by July 2019, if not sooner. I will be consolidating most of my student loans, which will make my payment more manageable. I started reading the Dave Ramsey book, The Complete Guide to Money and it lit my spirit on fire to change my financial situation. Some of the tools and methods he discusses in the book I knew about, but it was not until I was actually in the space to want financial change that they began to resonate with me. So remember, change can’t happen until you are in the place to receive it. Also, read the book by Dave Ramsey. It’s great! K, bye!

Finances, Lifestyle

The Borrowed Life

 

Sometime last year, a friend said to me that I must be a great saver because of my future and recent travel plans. I remember smirking and telling her I actually wasn’t. I had a dirty little secret. I was living beyond my means and sadly living my best life on the excess money from my student loans. I knew that this was not the best financial decision. I knew that at some point I would have to pay back the money. I knew that I should have taken out just the amount I needed for tuition and nothing more. As you can see, the things we know we don’t always do.Continue reading

Home life, Lifestyle

5 Inexpensive Ways to Elevate Your Home Life

 

Have you ever just looked around your apartment or home and just felt blah? Now, of course you’re thankful to even have a place to live, but you just aren’t excited about your home life at the moment. Now that spring has sprung, the décor could use an update, but you don’t really have the funds. You actually need more space, but again, funds are scarce. I am in the same rut at this moment, BUT I came up with five ways to revive your space without spending tons of dinero. Some of these you can implement as soon as you’re done reading this post…but only after you read this post, HA!

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Guest Posts, Lifestyle

Black Business Spotlight!

Kyra's Shea Medleys
Today, we are highlighting Kyra Young of Kyra’s Shea Medleys! With wonderful products that can be used on your skin AND hair, her products have you covered from head to toe. Organic, cruelty free, and vegan. What more can you ask for? Oh, superb customer service is standard with this business, so you’re taken care of on all fronts. Also, they give back to the community in a BIG way! For every purchase made, products are donated to local nonprofits, homeless shelters, charities, and clinics in America. That’s major! I have no doubt that you will be a fan of Kyra and her products very soon.

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Guest Posts, Lifestyle

Black Business Spotlight!

February has the honor of being crowned Black History Month. A time for people of color to celebrate all the wonderful contributions made to the world through our very existence. We have overcome and prospered in the face of adversity and many hurdles towards building a legacy of our own. I wanted to start highlighting some black own businesses that not only provide quality products, but are shining examples of our inherit tenacious and enterprising spirit.

Yum Yellow Cake

My first spotlight will be on the owner of Yellowcake Desserts, Lasondra Wilson. She is a California native, residing in Concord, CA by way of southern CA. She has taken her passion for food and turned it into a budding bakery that offers out of this world flavor combinations with quality you can taste.

Read her interview below to get to know this business owner, then place your order! And while you’re at it, leave a comment below wishing her a happy birthday. She’s a Valentine’s Day baby, so she gets twice the love!

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Lifestyle, Updates

5 Tips to Get Reacquainted with Your Home

The holidays can bring frequent travel. Packing, unpacking, and repacking can seem like all you’ve done the last two months. I know when I travel, I miss simple things like the natural sunlight that shines through my windows. I don’t realize how much I miss waking up in my own bed. It can surely feel like a treat. With all the time away, you may feel the need to get reacquainted with your home. Here are five tips I use to get back in the groove of being home and falling back in love with my place.

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Lifestyle

DIY Friend Gift Guide

Listen. DIY is life. Well, at least my life. It is very satisfying creating something with my hands. I am sure we all have a friend that says, “I can make that for WAY less,” once a week. Bulk up their supply closet with the necessities. Every good craftsman needs good tools. This gift guide will guarantee they help you with every diy project you end up tackling. I’m sure of it.


Gifting just got easier! The links below will send you directly to the merch itself or a narrowed down list of the item listed. Get ready to be the best gift giver this season!

  1. Liquid leaf paint
  2. Cutting mat
  3. Scissor sets
  4. X-acto knife
  5. Pompom maker
  6. Silhouette
  7. Bonus: Another machine for variety that is just as great- Cricut
  8. Craftsy
  9. Black & Decker tool set

 

xoxo,Panda

Lifestyle

Bookworm Gift Guide

I remember when I longed to just read for pleasure when I was in school. Then I remember when I was so turned off from reading so much in school, I vowed to never pick up a book again once it was over. This guide is not for people like me. This guide is for people who take their book on vacation and read on the beach. A good night consists of a book and a glass of wine. Those who prefer books over people deserve great gifts too. Use this guide to be added to the list of people they like outside of created characters.

Gifting just got easier! The links below will send you directly to the merch itself or a narrowed down list of the item listed. Get ready to be the best gift giver this season!

  1. Twerk a Book tote
  2. Audible
  3. Knowledge is Power tee
  4. Kindle Fire HD 8 with Alexa
  5. We Were in Power for Eight Years
  6. Book light

 

xoxo, Panda

 

Lifestyle, Updates

Last Minute Friendsgiving Tips!

In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, you are probably invited to a few Friendsgivings celebrations. These gatherings can usually be a little more fun and lighthearted. No explaining to your family why your still single or why you haven’t upgraded your entire life yet. Most Friendsgivings are potluck style and unless you are great in the kitchen, it can be hard to know what to bring. Here is a quick list of items that can be easily made or fairly inexpensive to buy.

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Lifestyle

Woke Friend Gift Guide

Being woke never looked so good. We all know that person who thinks casual conversation starts on the topic of PTSD (post traumatic slave disorder) and ends with reparations. Or maybe you just surround ourselves with people who want the best for their community. This guide was created with them in mind.  Gift them one or all of these dope curated items to keep them fresh and enlightened while pursuing greatness.

Gifting just got easier! The links below will send you directly to the merch itself or a narrowed down list of the item listed. Get ready to be the best gift giver this season!

  1. A Seat at the Table
  2. Maxine the Maverick tee
  3. Black by Popular Demand windbreaker
  4. The Color of Law
  5. Essential Soaps
  6. Soapy Faith
  7. Respect, Protect, Love Black Women tee

 

xoxo, Panda

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