April Updates and May Goals

After a very quick week, I’m here to let you know how I did with my April goals:

1. Make $250 dollars of side income – Done!  I have a pretty sweet side-hustle where I edit papers when I have time.  I can work from home, and I can decline work if I’m too busy.  It’s probably the best side job ever.  In April, I only had a short amount of time to work because I was out of the country for most of the month, but I did make $259.50.  I like to set income goals for myself with this job.  It really motivates me to work harder and to keep pushing myself to take extra work.

2. Complete residency paperwork – Fail.  Big fail.  Well, I’ve actually completed a lot of the paperwork, I just haven’t finished the 83459357 online training modules that go with it or actually faxed the paperwork that I have done.  Is anyone else completely helpless when it comes to the fax machine?  It baffles me how much trouble I have with that damn contraption.

3. Resume training for the triathlon that is coming up soon – You could say that I have resumed my training if you count working out twice in the last two weeks.  I could be doing better.

4. Complete a wardrobe inventory – Done!  See my post about it here!

5. Sell books to the local used bookstore – Nope.  Today though!  It is a May 1st goal.

6. Read up on disability insurance – I didn’t get around to this either, so it will get added to my May goals.

May is going to be an exciting month.  I am graduating from medical school, preparing to move to a new apartment, and will generally be relaxing a little bit before the craziness of intern year begins.  Here are my goals for May:

1. Make $500 of side income –  This will be challenging (because I have several other big commitments this month) but doable.  I will need to set aside time every morning to get some work done.

2. Finish the residency paperwork AND the modules – Stepping it up, folks!

3. Set up individual savings accounts for my different savings goals.

4. Create monthly meal plans with grocery lists to use during residency.  I’m trying to make my life as organized and easy as possible for internship.

5. Hem the new skirt that I got at the clothing swap.

6. Fill out student loan repayment paperwork.

7. Sell books to the used bookstore.

7. Read up on disability insurance.




Sometimes I can’t imagine life before Craigslist; how did we ever sell furniture without it?  As much as I love Craigslist, I am starting to love Freecycle even more.  Are you familiar with Freecycle?  If not, you should definitely pay attention because Freecycle can save you a lot of money and a bit of hassle too.

Basically, Freecycle allows people to post things that they would like to get rid of and request things that they would like to get for free.  The posts are shared on a listserve that serves a particular metropolitan region.  It’s great for the environment because it diverts unwanted items from the landfill, and it’s great for your budget because it can help you save some serious cash if you’re smart.

I’ve had excellent experiences with Freecyle on both ends of the exchange.  When our microwave bit the dust  I knew that I couldn’t fix it and I was less than excited about figuring out how to dispose of it.  Fortunately I didn’t have to!  I posted the microwave on Freecycle (with a clear explanation that it was broken) and someone with mechanical skills took it off my hands.

As a person who hates wasting anything, I find that Freecycle allows me to get rid of things that might be hard to unload otherwise.  For example, I had lots of scrap paper that I didn’t want to toss or even recycle, so I posted it and a woman with young children took the scraps for art projects.  Beauty products, like body sprays, are often popular too.  I am a much better declutterer thanks to Freecycle.

I have also picked up some great items because of Freecycle.  After playing Bananagrams with some friends, I decided that I really wanted to own this game.  It’s compact (great for traveling) and lots of fun.  However, I wasn’t really excited to drop $16 on something that definitely isn’t a “need.”  I posted a request for Bananagrams on Freecycle and almost instantly had an offer.  All I had to do was go pick it up!  I was also able to acquire about 30 Ball mason jars for my wedding using Freecyle.

I am trying to do a better job of turning to Freecyle first.  It is very hard to break the impulse to go to the store to get something that I “need,” but I have found it so rewarding when I am victorious that it is quickly becoming addictive!

Federal Student Loans: A Primer

I will preface this post by saying that I was very fortunate not to have to take out student loans for undergrad.  Therefore, I know very little about the student loan process for college loans.  However, I do have a hefty six-figure balance from medical school, and I will be talking about those loans a lot here on this blog.

I am very fiscally conservative; I always pay my credit card balance in full every month and I’m generally pretty risk averse.  Therefore, my student loan debt is very stressful for me.  I did try to minimize my debt as much as possible by limiting the loans that I took, but I largely ignored the issue during medical school.  Over the last few months I have been much more proactive about learning about my loans.

The first important thing to understand about your loans is where all that money came from.  As you enter the repayment period you need to understand who you need to pay.  Generally graduate student loans are provided by banks or the federal government.  Direct student loans are paid directly from the Department of Education.  Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) student loans come from banks, but are backed by the US government.  For federal student loans these are the two main lenders.

However, when you need to pay back your student loans you don’t called up the Department of Education.  Each loan has a servicer, which is basically a company that performs the billing functions on behalf of the lender.  Sometimes the lender and the servicer are the same, and sometimes they are not.  The servicer will send the monthly bill, and you will send a check to the servicer.

Unfortunately, most students will have more than one lender.  I have 3 different lenders, and I will get individual bills for the loans of each of those lenders every month.  It is really important to know who your lenders are and who your servicers are, and be prepared for all of those bills when they come!

Clothing Swap

Throwing a clothing swap with friends is frequently tossed around as a frugal way to update your wardrobe.  I’ve always been very skeptical of this idea, probably because I didn’t want to come across like a cheapskate/werido to my friends.  Fortunately, I have friends who are much less insecure than me who decided to invite me to participate in their clothing swap this year!

(Side note: Of course I didn’t judge my friends for organizing this. They suggested something that I thought was a great idea, but was too insecure to bring up.  Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to suggest things that seem a little unconventional.  Other people probably have the same ideas anyway and will be thrilled that you brought it up!)

So that was how I found myself full of good food, with a glass of wine in hand, rifling through my friends’ clothing this weekend.  Everyone brought their unwanted clothing, which was spread throughout the house so that others could try on and take whatever they liked.  Everything left over at the end was donated.

Before the swap, I did a wardrobe inventory to identify the clothes that I would take to the swap and to give myself some basic guidelines. My main rule for myself was that I would not take anything that I wouldn’t spend money on.  I’m trying to be more organized and minimalist, so I did not want to use this as an excuse to start accumulating crap that I don’t need.  I chose to focus on dresses because that was what my wardrobe inventory told me that I should look for.

So how did I do?  Do you remember how I said that I don’t need any more skirts?  Of course I chose a skirt.  It was this lovely, hardly ever worn J. Crew skirt.  It went perfectly with the shirt that I was wearing (so I knew that I would have something that I could wear with it), and it fit perfectly.  Well, perfectly except that it is too long.  However, I feel comfortable enough with my sewing skills to hem it myself.  I’m going to put it in rotation as soon as I hem it.  If I don’t wear it, it will get donated!

The second item was a casual button-down shirt.  In the past I have bought button-down shirts but didn’t ever wear them.  However, I noticed that I do wear button-downs if I can roll up the sleeves, if they are long enough, and if they don’t need to be ironed.  The button-down at the swap met all three of my criteria and will replace a shirt that I have in my closet that is too short.  I have already worn that shirt this week, so I’m confident that it will earn its spot in my closet!

I took several items to the clothing swap, so I feel great that I still had a net loss of items this weekend.  I am trying to buy a little more used clothing.  It’s good for my wallet and for the environment.  As I have gotten older, I have noticed that my priorities have shifted some.  Right now, I want to spend less on my clothing and contribute more to my student loan payments, retirement fund, and vacation savings account.  Of course I would love to be able to spend more on clothing, but I realize that I don’t want to sacrifice my other goals to have a perfect wardrobe.