May 24

Putting Your Wallet in Your Back Pocket

You might read this post title and think I’m trying to come up with some clever expression, but that is not the case here. I am literally talking about putting your wallet in your back pocket. This might be slightly off topic from my normal blog topics, but I had to share my new found knowledge with you! And hey, some of your money does have to go into your wallet doesn’t it (probably not as much as we’d like)?

Some of my coworkers and I had a discussion about wallet and key placement in pockets at work a few days ago. Super exciting conversation, right? I had never thought that anybody really did differently than me. It was one of those things where I just assumed that most everyone always put their wallet in their back pocket without even thinking about it.

Sure, when I visited a crowded city or went to a concert I would move my wallet to the front pocket – but this was only a temporary solution. Right after this, the wallet went right back to it’s normal location. But as I found out – ost of the people I talked to during this conversation keep their wallet in their front pocket, and someone actually mentioned that you could have a lot of problems later on in life with your hips, legs, back, etc. from years of sitting on your wallet.

This part of the conversation intrigued me, and I decided to do a little bit of research. I spend most of my day sitting in an office as well as driving in a car, though I don’t always sit directly on my wallet. A lot of the times it is somewhat off to the side, but I’m sure this still makes a difference. I’m not completely level on both sides in that case (especially because my wallet is so fat – I wish!).

The first article that I stumbled upon was this one from the BBC. It doesn’t really give any numbers or statistics, but they do recognize it as being an actual thing and the wallet in the back pocket being the cause. It definitely stresses the back pain part, and I know that my dad deals with that on a daily basis so it’s definitely something I’ve been trying to avoid.

The second article I found was in the NY Times. It once again re-iterated the chronic back and hip pain, and that definitely gets my attention. I also found several discussions on forums and other articles debating whether this is just an old wives tale or not, but it definitely seems to have some validity behind it and the logic makes sense.

Since reading these and talking with my coworkers, I have made an effort to start putting my wallet into my FRONT pocket all of the time. It just seems to make too much sense and if it can prevent problems down the road, it seems like a simple change. It is a bit frustrating for me though, as most people now have smartphones so they put that in one pocket and their wallet in the other. I, on the other hand am still rocking my ‘dumb’ phone so I also carry my iPod around with me for quick googling on WiFi. I also use it for listening to music in my car and the extreme cold in the winter is not good for the battery, and the extreme heat of the inside of a car is not good for electronics in general. So that’s why I keep the iPod in my pocket, forcing me to have slightly crowded pockets with the wallet moving to the front. I think this minor inconvenience is worth avoiding potential pains!

If you keep your wallet in your pocket, where do you keep it? Front or back?

Photo Credits for this post: Pixabay

May 22

Student Loan Progress – May 2013

For some reason I was looking forward to making progress on my student loans this month, instead of just hiding from them. I couldn’t wait to throw a huge amount of money at it, and show you and myself that progress can be made and that progress can hopefully be made quickly too. Now don’t get me wrong though, I definitely was not looking forward to the parting with my money!

Let’s dive right into the numbers and see what I did this month. First I’ll start with what my loans looked like last month:

April 2013:

Loan  Loan Amount  Interest Rate
Private 1  $ 27,220.04 7.92%
Private 2  $ 20,097.38 7.92%
Private 3  $ 3,067.54 7.92%
Private 4  $ 3,588.77 7.35%
Gov 1  $ 22,041.66 5.22%
Gov 2  $ 7,704.42 6.80%
Total  $ 83,719.81

Here’s what they look like this month after my payments were made this month:

Loan  Loan Amount   Change  Interest Rate
Private 1  $ 27,131.22  $ (88.82) 7.92%
Private 2  $ 20,037.32  $ (60.06) 7.92%
Private 3  $     $ (3,067.54) 7.92%
Private 4  $ 3,561.09  $ (27.68) 7.35%
Gov 1  $ 22,118.82  $ 77.16 5.22%
Gov 2  $ 7,566.56  $ (137.86) 6.80%
Total  $ 80,415.01  $ (3,304.80)

I made a huge payment this month, taking some money out of my huge emergency fund and I plan to do that again next month. I’ll break down exactly how much I paid and how much I took out of my savings account when I fully complete my monthly spending and budget. I completely eliminated Private Loan #3 and it felt really good to see one of my loans change its status to “paid in full”. It was a good psychological motivator to pay it in full and it was also one of the highest interest rates, so it sticks with my avalanche payment plan.

I’m also a little a lot pissed off at the government loan minimum payment being set lower than what even covers the accrued interest. I’ve never made a minimum payment before, but with my new strategy of targeting the higher interest loans first I decided to do that and put all the extra money towards higher interest ones. I guess I will have to be more careful from now on, but I still took a loss of $77 on that which annoys me. Imagine someone that can only afford to make the minimum payments each month and they are making zero progress? At least there are income based repayment programs for government loans, though these can pretty much make the loan last forever.

The next step for me will be to completely pay off either Private Loan #1 or #2, though I’m not sure which one I’ll be targeting first. They both have the highest interest rates remaining so I want to get them out of the way as fast as possible. I think I might go for #1 first, so that when I do finally finish paying that one off the 2nd one wont really seem as big.

May 21

Weekly Spending – 5/12/13 – 5/18/13

It’s that time of the week once again…let’s see how I did! My weekly spending for this week consists of the following:

Sunday 5/12:
Mother’s Day Dinner – $15

Monday 5/13:
None

Tuesday 5/14:
None

Wednesday 5/15:
None

Thursday 5/16:
Gas – $17

Friday 5/17:
Train Tickets – $30

Saturday 5/18:
Parking – $10

Total Week Spending: $72

My total spending for this week ended up at $72 , under last week’s total of $88 which is always a good trend. I split the bill for going out for dinner with my Dad for our Mother’s Day celebration, we ended up using one of the gift certificates that I had touched on a previous post which is what kept the cost down.

Spent $17 on gas to fill my tank on Thursday, and then $30 on train tickets to visit my girlfriend as well as the return trip. I also chipped in for $10 in parking as we went to the concert that I had bought tickets for last month. I’m aiming to keep my total ‘extra’ spending for this month under $350, so let’s see if I can meet that goal. With basically two full weeks left in the month, we’ll see how it goes.

Photo Credits for this post: Pixabay

May 20

Recent Student Loan Developments in the News

Recently there have been some developments regarding student loans in the news dealing with both the current and future interest rates. The current rates for subsidized student loans are 3.4% and unsubsidized loans are locked in at 6.8%, with many private loans coming in at rates even higher than this. Right now the 3.4% interest rate loans are set to double as of July 1, though there are bills on the table to prevent this rise from occuring

Then there is other end of the spectrum – Senator Elizabeth Warren is actually campaigning to get the rates on student loans lowered.

http://www.warren.senate.gov/
As you can see from the above image, she wants students to be able to get loans for the “same rate as the banks”. I personally find this a bit ridiculous, as the 0.75% rate is the overnight lending rate to the banks. These loans are not being held for 4+ years and it would be impossible to even break even at these rates. Trust me, I am no fan of the banks but I just don’t see this strategy being feasible or sustainable. Whoever is loaning you money needs to either profit (private), or be able to break even (government or non-profit).
I’m not 100% sure about all these rate changes, because I’m not sure how much subsidized loans actually come back to the taxpayers but I do agree that student loans should be able to pay a competitive rate. You can get a mortgage around 3% in the current environment and car loans and other loans can also give much better rates when compared to the current student loan market, especially on the private side of things.
I know there is a lack of collateral behind student loans when comparing it to mortgage or a car loan, but there is also the fact that student loans are very rarely discharged in bankruptcy – they are with you for life! A better campaign would be to try and keep the subsidized loans at a rate of 3.4% in the current environment, and focus on getting the rest of the student loan rates below 5%. I think this would be a fairly reasonable solution and would help out a lot of students. Of course, we all know what happens when reasonable and Congress are brought up in the same sentence. We end up with two extreme stances and have to hope they somehow to end up on that reasonable solution.

I still personally believe the biggest thing that needs to be done about student loans is education as I had said in a previous post. General education on personal finance, taxes, and credit in general would be great too! This topic in general is of great interest to me, because the interest rate on my student loans is what really makes me want to get rid of them. The fact that I’m losing so much extra money each month on top of the money I borrowed is what really is driving me to pay them off as soon as possible.

What is your opinion on the current state of the student loan interest rates? Do you think lowering them is the correct solution? 

Further reading on this topic: 
LA Times – Elizabeth Warren Proposal
NY Times – Preventing Student Loan Rate Increase

May 13

Weekly Spending – 5/05/13 – 5/11/13

It’s that time of the week once again…let’s see how I did! My weekly spending for this week consists of the following:

Sunday 5/05:
Mother’s Day Gift – $12
Oil – $6

Monday 5/06:
Gas – $20

Tuesday 5/07:
None

Wednesday 5/08:
None

Thursday 5/09:
Haircut – $20
Fundraiser – $10

Friday 5/10:
Gas – $20

Saturday 5/11:
None

Total Week Spending: $88

My total spending for this week ended up at $88 which is pretty good. Not as good as I did last week, but I doubt that’s going to happen most weeks! And it’s problem not going to be nearly that low as the summer months approach.

I bought a charm for my Mom that she had been wanting to put on this bracelet she had, I also chipped in on going out to eat on Mother’s Day (but that will be on next weeks spending).

I spent around $40 in gas, I didn’t fill up the week before so this carried over to this week. I also visited my grandma so that was extra mileage compared to usual.

I got a haircut for $20, which I know adds up over the course of the year. I plan on learning how to cut my own hair and saving that money once I move out. Unfortunately my barber’s son has been fighting cancer, and it had been in remission but it came back. I bought two of the 50/50 raffle tickets to support him because I’ve been getting my hair cut at pretty much the same place for 10+ years. I always see an opportunity to help someone out as money well spent, you never know when you might need that help yourself.

Photo Credits for this post: Pixabay