1. Who am I and why am I doing this? A little background…

Who am I?

My name is Jeffrey D and as of just over one month ago, I am 26 years old.  I grew up and live in the northeast USA and love it here.  I’m into various hobbies ranging from music and guitars to cars, motorcycles, computers, and a few sports here and there.  I would go so far as to say I’m obsessed with music and guitars, and the same could be (and has been) said about cars and motorcycles.  I like to go on vacations and travel to pretty much anywhere, Vegas being a particular favorite (hey, a little video poker here and there never hurt anyone, right?).  I have a girlfriend that I met about two months ago and things are going very well, so that has me in good spirits.  It could be said that I’m just your “average guy” living and enjoying life the best way I know how.

What’s my financial situation?

My current situation is that of many young adults in their 20’s:  I have a college degree but still live at home where I pay cheap rent because I can’t exactly afford my own place at the moment.  I work two part-time jobs that provide enough income for me to “get by”, but I’ve basically been living paycheck by paycheck to cover expenses and spending.  My debt consists of a student loan (about $13,800) and a motorcycle loan (about $4,500); I’ve always made on-time but minimum payments on these.  Besides the motorcycle, I own a daily driver (reliable car with good gas mileage) that I bought new last July but was able to pay it off completely a few months ago when I sold my previous car for more than I paid for it (although I had put quite a bit of money into it, so it was technically a loss).  Lastly, I have no credit card balances at the moment, which probably puts me a step ahead of many people in my age bracket.

A little more on the financial situation…

I have expenses totaling around $1,280 per month (which I’ll break down in further detail in one of my next posts) and my take-home income ranges anywhere from $1,800-$2,360 a month at the moment, usually a little over $2,000 on average.  The reason for the variation in income is because of the type of job I have.  In the mornings, I work 8-1 as an assistant for a fairly small business, which provides me with a steady paycheck of $330 a week net.  In the afternoons on certain weekdays, I teach guitar lessons to about 7 students currently, and this number fluctuates depending on how many students are signed up at any given time and if I get any cancellations each week, which I usually do.

*Note – My degree is in music so one of my goals is to eventually have my own music school and guitar store, although my career goals tend to change on a day to day basis depending on how I feel.  On top of these two jobs, I have recently been asked to start teaching private lessons again at the local music school I used to teach at, so that will provide further income in the near future but hasn’t started yet.

Why am I starting this blog?

I’ve always been very interested in anything financial but have never been too great with setting goals and sticking to them.  I think part of the problem is that I either set goals that are too large and long-term, then lose the motivation to keep up with the plan because I’m not achieving any of them, or I just flat out come up with a plan that won’t work for my situation.  On top of that, I’m not gonna lie:  I enjoy spending money just like anyone else.  I tend to go out to eat a few times a week with my girlfriend, brothers, or other friends, and without any other spending, that could easily be $100 or more a week right there.  It’s just easy to spend money.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not racking up the credit cards or anything.  I keep it “under control” and try my best to limit myself, and most weeks I do a pretty good job of it.

That said, the real motivation for me starting this blog was probably meeting my girlfriend a couple months ago.  She is a year and a half younger than me (so currently 24), works almost full-time, has her own place with no roommates (a small apartment), is debt free even though she still has another year left of grad school, has an “emergency fund” set aside with X number of months worth of income in it, and is now starting to save for a down payment on a condo.  She’s obviously very financially minded and reads all of the financial magazines, watches the “Eye on Money”-type segments on TV, and just does a great job at setting goals, achieving them, and then moving on to the next one.

Seeing the situation she’s in has sort of embarrassed me a bit about my own.  Let’s compare:

ME – 26 years old, graduated 4 years ago, live at home still, owe a significant amount on student loans, owe a smaller amount on my bike, no real savings set aside, living paycheck by paycheck pretty much.

HER – 24 years old, still in grad school, has her own apartment, debt-free, large emergency fund set aside in savings, saving up for a down payment on a condo.

What the hell am I doing with my money?!  Well, that’s what I’m here to find out.  The purpose of this blog is for me to have a somewhat consistent record of where I stand financially.  I want to be able to use the info I post here to analyze my situation, set goals, achieve those goals, and then set the next goals.  I want to be able to go back to this first post six months, a year, two years from now and see the progress I’ve made.  I want to be able to track how my life is changing and improving as I achieve those goals.

I’ve found that I often send emails to my brother, who is also into financial planning, outlining goals I come up with on a fairly regular basis in terms of how I want to handle my finances.  Sometimes it’s just a simple idea that I sum up in a few sentences and sometimes it’s this massive book of an email outlining in detail my entire life’s financial plan…and that plan changes regularly.  To be honest, I’m sure he doesn’t even read half of them,but I remember telling him that it’s fine if he doesn’t, I just needed a way to put the ideas down on paper (or computer) since I think better when I write.  Realizing that I was doing this also made me realize that a blog might help organize and keep track of these thoughts easier than my current method of bombarding my brother with random emails.

In conclusion…

I guess I don’t really care if anyone ever sees this except me because I’m not doing this for anyone’s benefit except my own.  But if someone happens to catch on to my blog and maybe use the info and my experiences to help improve their own financial situation, then more power to ya.  I’m going to try to keep this blog as detailed as possible because I think honesty with myself about how I’m handling my money is going to be important.  I’ll also do my best to make regular updates, hopefully daily but no less than a couple a week (and maybe even two or three a day depending on how I’m feeling).

Next up will be a little more on the story of how I got motivated to start this blog and my main goal, then a detailed breakdown of my expenses, income, debt, and situation as a whole, along with some smaller, first-step goals.

– Jeffrey D –

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About JeffreyDMoney

On a quest for "financial security", whatever that means...
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