Friday, January 31, 2014

Mortgage and taxes

I plan to prepare and file my taxes on Monday.  I should receive my W-2 on Friday when I receive my paycheck.  I already have received the tax documents from my mortgage company and my student loan companies.  I believe I have everything I need in hand in order to prepare my taxes.  This will be an interesting year because this is the first time that I will file my taxes and be able to claim the mortgage interest deduction, etc.  I purchased my home last May and I made the first mortgage payment in July of 2013.  I have done a little research online to determine what deductions I will be able to take as a result of purchasing a home.  I also did a few of the free online tax return estimators.  It appears that at most I will receive about $100 back.  I ran the calculations out for future years and it appears that in 2015 I will receive approximately $1,200 back if nothing changes.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Debt Background

This is my second time drafting this post.  I accidentally deleted my first attempt, geez! Well hold on to your hats cause this is a long one!

I have been a mess, financially, for quite some time.  I got my first job as an attorney in mid-2005, working as an attorney for the State of Florida.  I had a salary of approximately $46,000 a year.  Definitely, not my dream job or salary.  However, I was 23 years old and did not have a clue about money management and I decided since I was an attorney I needed to spend like one.  Let's just say it didn't go well, I made all of my minimum payments on my credit cards and student loans.  I also charged what I felt like charging on my credit card.  By 2010 I decided that I needed to get my finances in order.  I had been paying on my student loans for almost five years and there was no end in sight.  The first thing I did was take stock of my situation, I realized I had a lot of debt and too little income.  By then, I was making $57,500 a year at a small law firm doing personal injury defense.  Mostly, auto accident defense work.  I decided to ask for a raise after 2.5 years of working at the firm.  My boss seemed pleased with my work, but had never offered to increase my salary.  It was well known through the firm (and the community) that my boss did not like to give up money if she did not have to.  She was also very misogynistic, she disliked women and often expressed her preference for working with men.  I knew I had a hard battle so I decided that I would ask for a very small raise and then look for a new job ( I had previously looked for a new job, but due to the recession there were very few openings). I emailed my boss and asked to speak with her about a raise, she ignored me for about 2 weeks.  I finally spoke to her and tried to get her to state a number first, but she wouldn't so after 45 minutes I grew tired of the game and I asked for a $5,000 raise.  She quickly acquiesced, but made it seem like it was quite a struggle.   I was elated that I was finally making over $60,000 ($62,500 to be exact!), but I knew that I was being underpaid.  I used the extra money towards paying off one of my smaller student loans.  It was the first time that I ever felt that I could get ahead of my finances.  It was still slow going, but I could actually see the progress.

It took me about 8 months, but I finally found a new job at the firm I am currently at now. I knew going in that I needed to make at least $65,000, but that number could go up or down based on the benefits offered.  (I got hosed when I left the State because I did not realize that the small firm I went to did not cover 100% of the insurance premiums like the state did.  I was paying over $300 a month pretax for insurance.  I got only 5 days of vacation a year compared to about 80 vacation/ sick days with the State, etc.)  Anyways, my current boss offered me $70,000 year and I took it readily.  The firm covered all, but about $25 of the insurance premium per month, we got 5 vacation days and 5 sick days for the first year of employment, 10 vacation days after the first year and 15 vacation days after 5 years.  The increase in my income was unprecedented.  Just the extra $300 a month that I had been paying to insurance made a huge difference to my income.  It was like I had gotten a instant $10,000 a year raise.  I started working there in mid-2011 and I paid off the smallest student loan very quickly within 2 or 3 months of working there.  I paid off another small student loan within a few months thereafter.  I also had an outstanding car loan that I had paid a little extra on over the past few years.  I was able to pay that loan off by December of 2011.  Life was pretty great.  In January of 2012 I decided my main goal for 2012 was to pay off my credit card debt.  By 2011 I had pretty much stopped charging things on my credit cards, but I still had a large total balance.  When I calculated the total in 2012, it was over $19,000.  I think at one point it was over $23,000.  Nevertheless, I cut my spending, I got on a budget and I set about paying off the debt.  I cancelled my credit card protection plans and every extra dime I could muster up when towards debt payoff.  Things were going well too well, I fretted and worried at every turn that I would not be able to get those cards paid off.  I had never had that kind of luck or progress with debt my whole life.  I used a balance transfer from Chase which offered 0% interest for 15 months for a 1% fee.  It helped tremendously! However, by November of 2012 I paid off every single one of those cards! I actually became credit card debt free!  Additionally, in December of 2012 we got 2 weeks pay as a Christmas bonus.  I put that money into my savings account for a house.  Because of all my good luck and progress I decided to help my sister with her credit card debt.  I transferred $6,000 of her debt to my chase card.  I paid it off in March of 2013.  I also got my 10% raise in January of 2013 (it was announced to me in November of 2012).  After I paid off my sister's $6,000 worth of debt I saved like crazy for a house. Then in May 2013 I closed on my home.  It took most of my savings, but I put 5% down.  In June of 2013 I took another $6,000 of my sister's credit card debt and transferred it to my chase card.  Then in October of 2013 I paid off yet another student loan that was originally $9,000.  We also received another Christmas bonus in December of 2013.  (It was for about $2424 after taxes, I gave $500 to my mother and $500 to my sister).  That takes us to the present.  I will set forth my present financial situation in a separate post as this one is already super long!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hodge podge

I get paid on Friday so I will do a rundown of the debt payments sometime this weekend or early next week and also give a status on where I stand financially. 

 I found a job that I am interested in applying for in the same city where I now live, unfortunately I don't have any experience in the area of practice.  I don't know that I am super ready to leave the firm I am with now, but I guess that's a decision that I will let a higher power decide.  I don't like the way that I feel when I go to or think about work.  I would really like to stick things out though and find a place to ground myself.  Good things have happened for me since I started worked there, but I just don't think I'm happy. 

The thought of finding a new place to work excites me.  How much should I ask for salary wise?  Is there an opportunity to increase the speed of my debt payoff.  In all likelihood I won't ever get an interview, but sometimes it's nice to dream, isn't it? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Whine about work

I've been practicing law for almost 9 years now.  It's a tough job, it's a lot of stress and you take a lot of abuse from other lawyers, judges, clients and, of course, your boss.    I've been at this particular law firm for 2 years and 9 months and at first I loved the firm.  The people were nice, the pay was great and the work was interesting.  However, as with all jobs, true colors have started to show through.  My boss is extremely lazy and barely shows up in the office. This does not particularly bother me, however, he retains all decision making power so it slows up (and sometimes makes it impossible) to get any work done.  However, this leaves me with no help in preparing all documents (motions, pleadings, discovery responses and correspondence).  I also, take on a significant portion of all hearings and depositions scheduled by the office.  He fosters a bad environment by barely coming into the office and failing to enforce any rules or consequences.  For example, his assistant now barely comes into the office anymore.  She comes in late just about everyday and she now loves scheduling last minute half days to stay home with her step kids.  Again, this would not be problematic, but we are a small law firm.  The staff consists of one partner (my boss), his assistant, me (associate attorney), my assistant(who's part time), a paralegal, and a runner (part time).  Much of my time is spent answering the telephone as his assistant is not there to answer it and much of my time is spent finalizing and filing documents because there is no support staff present to do it.  She also has stated that she knows how to manipulate him and does so as necessary when she wants to go home early.  She has gotten about four raises in the three years she's been there.  In the same time period the paralegal who has been there for over 20 years has gotten 1 raise.  I have gotten 1 raise.  My assistant has gotten 1 raise in the 6 years she has been there.  I fear this manipulation is taking on an extremely duplicitous flavor.  I actually do like my boss' assistant, but I think now it's time to have a talk with him about this situation, not I need away to address it without throwing anyone under the bus, but getting my point across that I have work to do.  I have no intention of mentioning the manipulation, just the lack of support staff presence.  I'm blogging about this because my income comes from my job.  It's important to me to have a place to work (a place to draw my income from) that does not bleed me dry emotionally or mentally.  I always arrive at work an hour early, I typically work through my lunch breaks and occasionally stay late.  I simply cannot add an additional job to my already bulging basket.  Any way, I'm not quite sure how or when to address this with the partner.  I will post on this blog when I finally figure out a way to address the situation and what the result is.  My guess is that nothing will come of it, but I've been there for almost 3 years.  I guess if things continue to get worse I will take this as a symbol from the universal that it is a time to move on. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Well hello out there world wide internet.  Welcome to my little corner of the web where I hope to blog a little bit about my struggle to be debt free. So, let me introduce myself.  I am a 31 year old female residing in northern Florida where I earn my living as an attorney.  I currently earn $77,000 a year at a small law firm in the area.   For the last three (3) years I have received a Christmas bonus equating to approximately two (2) weeks pay (last year 2013 it was $3208-gross and approximately $2414-net).  Also, last year, we received a Labor Day bonus netting $500. 

I have the following debts:
$28,350 student loan
$1,121 credit debt (I decided to assist my sister with her debt-more on that later-this represents the remainder I have to pay off.  It should be paid off in February of 2014).
$800 credit card (This is the balance from my eye appointment and contacts earlier this year as well as my car registration.  This is 0% credit card until December of 2014.  I use this card mostly for gas and big purchases because I earn 1.5% cash back.  I will soon add the $550 renewal charge for my home warranty to this card.  I may also have to add some expensive dental work to this card as well.)

I plan to blog about my debt, my income, my expenses, my budget and my job.  I may also post about weight loss from time to time as I am also working (unsuccessfully) on dropping about 30lbs.   I hope that this will be an very informative and helpful blog to others in my same situation.  I do follow several other debt blogs on the internet and find it consoling to read about others struggling with debt as I do.  I just need a quiet place to share my frustrations, my struggles and my jubilation.  I am on a journey to be a better person, but I need a place to vent, scream and share my childlike temper tantrums from time to time.