Monday, December 9, 2013

Now introducing...

Hello dear readers! I write the post with much excitement- I have finally bought my "domain" name for this site! The new domain name will make it much easier to search for the blog (and also to remember!). The new domain will contain all of the same information and posts that are found on this site.

Without further adieu, the updated site can be found at:

Friday, November 29, 2013

One BIG mistake that you and I both might be making.

Okay dear readers, if you find yourself reading this today, you have successfully survived Black Friday. Having spent bookus of money (albeit while saving crazy amounts, too), returning safely from malls and stores without getting trampled to death you decide to power on the old computer device and check your favorite blog from La Tejana only to find out that you might be making ONE GIANT MISTAKE!
Okay readers, if you consider yourself a savvy world citizen, what one word should be focusing on in that last statement? If you just said "La Tejana", try again. While I appreciate your love for your favorite blogger, let's focus on might

Although I am new to the PF blogging community, I've been finding one very common thing among many blogs: Capital One 360.

Stephanie at Six Figures Under, Mr. Money Mustache and Erin at Red Debted StepChild all rave about the services offered by Capital One which made me curious to know what all the fuss was about. 

I currently bank with Bank of America for no particular reason. As a kid, my parents opened a savings account for me with a local bank (having about 4 branches in the area that I live). When I got my driver’s license, I then opened a checking account with the same bank only because I had zero clue and already banked with them. I loved this bank because since it was so small, it was “homey” and they were always incredibly helpful and willing to go the extra mile. They always were excited to see me and (always) remembered me when I came home from college.

Then, I chose to study abroad in Spain. As much as I loved my bank, they suggested that if I were going to be abroad for a significant amount of time, I should get a credit card from a larger bank.

So upon the recommendation of the bank and my father, I opened a credit card with Bank of America. Their international usage fees were probably just as high as my little local bank’s international fees, but their customer service was open 24/7 and they had great international customer service (which came in handy when my card “shut off” once in Madrid).

To make a long story shorter, eventually I opened a checking and savings account with Bank of America and closed my checking and savings with the smaller bank. I like Bank of America, but definitely don’t love them. Each BoA branch is a cookie cutter model and while the staff is friendly, there is no personality or sense of community like there are at other smaller banks.

But back to Capital One. To be honest, I know very little about Capital One, but here is what I found out:
-         Online and mobile banking (meaning no actual store fronts)
-         No minimums: withdrawals, deposits, amount needed to keep in account, etc.
-         Accompanied with MasterCard Debit Card (accepted almost everywhere)
-         No fees: Capital One does have ATMs, but if needing to use another bank’s ATM, Capital One will pay the ATM fee.
-         19% interest rate (wow!)

-         Not enough ATMs. Especially in my area. The closest ATM is 3 miles away. The closest BoA ATM is .25 miles away.
-         No people! I really do like the ability to walk into a bank and talk to a real life person face to face.
-         To deposit a check, you have to mail it in. Although the website claims it is helpful to “deposit in a pinch”.

In comparison to Bank of America:
-         I didn’t realize this, but Bank of America does have checking and savings fees. Luckily, since I opened my account as a college student, I am exempt from these fees, but this could be a deterrent for anyone who is not a student.

Please note- this is a very cursory overview of the services of both banks. There are certainly more pros and cons to each bank. However if I had yet to open a checking/savings account, I would seriously consider going with Capital One over Bank of America, but with where I am now, I think I will stick with what is comfortable (and for me, fee-free).

What do you think? Am I making the right choice or are there things I am missing? I’d love to hear your opinion. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Time

Thanksgiving is here already. The turkey is cooking and family is on the way over. This is one of my favorite times of year!

I cannot say enough how thankful I am for family, friends, and employment. Tejana readers, I am also so thankful for you and the Personal Finance blogging community. Your emails, tweets, and comments have provided so much encouragement and support! Although I am still new to this community, your support inspires and pushes me to continue on my debt free journey!

Have a very, very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And the totals are in...

The face of this little girl perfectly sums it up! This month I spent more than I wanted, but I also was able to pay off more than I had expected.

My October 20-November 19th totals are as follows:

Amount put in Savings: $250

Amount paid to loans: 3,267.87

Number of lenders: 3

Number of loans: 11

Can you believe it?!? I put over $3k onto my loans this month! Wahoo! 

My financial goals for November 20th- December 19th are as follows:

Amount put in Savings: $250

Amount paid to loans: $3,500

Number of lenders: 2

Number of loans: 9

The number of lenders and loans is a bit of a "gimme"- I only have $284 on one loan and $252.77 on another loan, but the $284 loan will completely pay off one lender! 

My only hesitation of setting the $3,500 loan payment is that it is Christmas season and there are always little expenses that pop up. However I have three full weeks off between Thanksgiving Break and Christmas Break to work full time at the restaurant, so I think I will be able to pick up quite a bit extra. 

That's all for now. I'm so excited that I am going to celebrate with an evening of reading and watching hulu. 

What are your financial goals to get through the Christmas season?

Monday, November 18, 2013

What happens when you blow it? Bad?

Let me start by saying how excited I am! I had the opportunity to guest post for a fabulous blog: No Debt Brunette. You can read the article here. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you!

Well, I hate to admit it, but I got a severe case of IDIS last week and its side effects have lingered and have been bothering me ever since. For those that don't know, IDIS is a horrible epidemic that has already swept across America and is only getting worse. I thought that I had rid myself of this terrible disease, but this last week has shown me that I am far from beating it.

First and foremost, let me start by saying that IDIS is not an STD. No, your undercarriage is safe. IDIS stands for I Deserve It Syndrome. In the past seven days, I made two separate purchases because in the heat of the moment, I thought that "I Deserved It"!!


While I still am $69k in debt, needless purchases are not justified by "I Deserve It!". These two purchases were made on separate occasions: the first being a massage and mani/pedi. I had made the appointment several weeks ago, but once I decided to become ultra-serious about repaying my loans, decided to cancel the appointment. However the day of the appointment came, and after a long day at work, "I really deserved that massage and manicure". So, I spent $167.

Later, I got online to re-order face wash, which I budget for in "Misc".  While searching around the website I realized that I needed more toner, and lotion and ... well you see where that ended up. Total, I ended up spending $242.61. WHAT?!?!

These two purchases were completely unjustified and ended up costing me $400. That's $400 that could have been better served paying off a loan. But, no. My selfish side got the best and it is $400 extra dollars I now have to work twice as hard for.

In light of that horrific spending, I picked up an extra shift at the restaurant last week and this coming weekend to make up the money. Ah. Sometimes I feel so irrational.

I know how to get out of debt and I do work hard to meet that goal. However there are times like last week when I fall off the wagon. From here, there's no use in continuing to beat myself up for it, but only to learn from my mistakes. When I am stuck asking people if they need any more napkins or a refill on beer during the extra shifts I pick up, I'll remember that I would have rather had a day off to read or relax, but my purchases required me to work even more.

What is the hardest aspect of your life to "get under control"?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Welcome, EL FUEGO!

A few months ago, I stumbled on a post by Mr. Money Mustache that really caught my attention. If you have never read Mr. Money Mustache's blog, you are definitely missing out. His wit, candidness and very solid "mustachian" ideas are part of the cornerstone of my get of off debt quick philosophy. 

This particular article scoffed at the horribly high amount that we as a society drive cars for incredibly insignificant reasons, highlighting on the fact that Americans typically use their car to drive terribly short distances that can easily be walked or biked to. This really resonated with me, so I searched his website and found several bike articles that can be found here and here

It then hit me--- how am I trying to save money and pay so much on my loans when I am missing one terribly simple way to help??? 

When I turned 12 my parents bought me a blue "Magna" mountain bike. I rode the crap out of this bike until it became super uncool in high school and I received my driver's license (where of course I drove to and from school every day, although the school was only half a mile from my house). However, when I went to college I  brought the bike with me and rode it to and from classes and for exercise. I then moved to Austin, the most bike-friendly city in America and rode my bike non-stop. Austin has bike lanes on all major roads and even most of the smaller ones and in neighborhoods. Not to mention- all city buses have bike racks on the front, which made it nice if you were going a longer distance. 

Alas, when I graduated from UT, I was moving to North Carolina (this was only for a very brief stint). I had no idea if the city I was moving to was bike friendly coupled with the fact that the U-Haul was getting packed to the gills, so I decided to give away the Magna. It was a sad day, but North Carolina proved to be very unfitting for a bike.

Fast forward, and I now live back in Texas, bikeless, driving to and from every location I could ever need. Mind you, where I live anything I could possibly ever need is within a five mile radius. 

Thanks to Mr. Money Mustache, a few weeks ago I saved up some cash from waiting tables and found a bike on Craig's List for only 60 bucks! The bike has been reconditioned and is in great shape! And did I mention the best part? It's a MAGNA! That's right, my new bike is a distance relative of my beautiful old blue Magna, so I know that this baby will last for many years to come! 

As with any vehicle I own, it simply must have a name. After riding this bike around for a few weeks and breaking it in, it has been dubbed... "El Fuego". Why El Fuego? I'm so glad you asked! First, as a Spanish teacher, I love all things Spanish, so El Fuego fits that bill nicely. Not only, but el fuego in Spanish means fire, and this bike is "firing me up" to save money on gas and driving my car.

Okay, that last bit was extremely cheesy, but hey, El Fuego sounds pretty darn cool, so it's here to stay.

Although I had taken el fuego around town for several leisurely rides, it was time to step it up and really start using el fuego to get around town. So today, I took el fuego to the grocery store. For all of you readers out there, let me preface this with the fact that the town (shall I say suburb) that I live in is not very bike friendly, and if you are under the age of 10 you get funny stares when riding your bike. This is by-in-large a horrible societal mindset, because bikes rock and have the potential to save us all so  much money!

Needless to say, I got several funny glances as I rode el fuego to the store with that obnoxiously bright blue and pink basket (and pink u-lock!). All in all, the trip was a huge success. I was a little worried about whether or not the groceries would be to heavy for the basket, which has a limit of 11 pounds, so instead of bringing a purse I brought my backpack to put extra groceries in. The nice thing about my basket is that you can easily detach it and take it into the store with you (it has handles) and it works just like a reusable grocery bag. Before riding home, I only had to take out some of the heavy produce to place into my backpack and the basket fared just fine. 

I was also a bit worried about where I would lock the bike, as my town is not incredibly bike friendly, there are not bike racks at most public shopping centers. However, I was able to ride around to the back of the store and find a ramp with handle bars that I was easily able to lock up to. 

Besides getting to break in the bike for the first grocery run, the best part of this trip was the fact that I only spent $20.44. I saved 10% just by wearing my Cowboys jersey on a game day, too. I currently allocate $120 to groceries each budget cycle. Moving forward, I think I am going to try to cut that budget by $40-50. If I can make it spending only $20 a week, it would be a $40 savings. There will be more to come about the grocery list and a further explanation of why I allocate so much in a future post. 

As for now, Happy Sunday! Get out there and enjoy the beautiful cool weather. I challenge you to forfeit your car for just one trip this week and walk or bike instead. 

Hasta pronto!

La Tejana

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Enjoyable day off?

Here it is, Thursday, and I find myself sitting at home at 1:17 in the afternoon actually wishing that I was at work.

Crazy, right? I stumbled upon this day off by accident: my school district is paying for me to attend a conference tomorrow, and as such, will pay for a substitute. When the district offers to pay for a sub, it is not taken from your Personal Leave banks, but instead is allocated as "Educational Leave" and is essentially a free day off. Being ever so attentive as I filled out the substitute request form, I noted that my educational leave day was set for November 7th (today), instead of November 8th (the day of the conference). As I'm sitting in my classroom during first block, getting my materials ready for the day in walks a woman who informs me that she is my sub for the day.  I immediately called the secretary to clear it all up, but since the sub had already signed the payment paperwork, she was legally bound to get paid for that day. So, what does that mean for La Tejana? That to pay for her day of work, I was charged a Personal Leave day. So, sitting in my classroom, I figured that if I am already getting charged for the day, I might as well go home and enjoy it.

The morning proved to be very productive-- it's crazy how much you can do on a weekday with no work! I was able to pick up my paycheck from the restaurant, deposit it, and even renew my library books! So far this afternoon, I rode my bike to the jewelry store and had a pair of pearl stud earrings fixed (for only three bucks, too!).

But let's get back to the real issue, the fact that I would rather be at work then enjoying a day off.  Let me preface this by saying I LOVE my job and am blessed to teach the kiddos that I do. Today, I was going to introduce a holiday sock drive that my school is holding for a local clothing bank. The class that raises the most pairs of socks will receive a free cupcake party.

Here's the deal, I teach high school and I know my kids would go NUTS for cupcakes (especially free cupcakes). I had this whole introduction planned and had even decided to sweeten the pot by telling the kids that if they won, they could order pizza and that I would preform a reasonable dare decided upon by the class (I was going to try and plug  doing crazy hair/wardrobe/makeup or that I would take them all to the football field and do a back flip).

Alas, instead of hyping my kids up for donating to a good cause, here I sit. Out of errands. And shall I dare say-- bored? So...what do I do? Of course! Pull up Nelnet, login and stare at my loan balance.

With the paycheck from the restaurant and one nigh'ts worth of tips, I put another $218.34 to my smallest loan. With this payment, I've currently paid a whopping total of $2294.86 on loans this month. Sick. I mean that both in the way of "that's a disgusting statement" and as "that's sick awesome bro!".

It's just crazy how much money I could be putting to a savings account each month if I wasn't paying so much on loans. But--- we're making progress. Sick awesome progress, bro. And to that, I will be content knowing that I am working really darn hard to get my debt paid off as quickly as possible.