Week Three – Take a Step Toward Financial Freedom

 


It’s no secret that things have been financially tough for a lot of people lately. I’m not independently wealthy, but I’ve felt pretty blessed to have a steady job and even a few small extra streams of income. With that said, there are lots of expenses to meet every month, and I think I can do much better with how I manage that income. My goal for week three was to do something small to help me get into a better financial situation.

I think there are a lot of available resources out there to help people financially. For instance, I went to my bank’s website and there was an informative web seminar posted called “Stay on budget for 2010” that I listened to. (If you have a minute and are interested, you can check it out at https://www.zionsbank.com/webcast_0110.jsp?zid=1776.) They also have an online budgeting tool (found at www.zionsbankezbudget.com) that you don’t even need to be a bank client to use. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Aside from listening to the seminar and starting to formulate my own personal budget (which I plan to implement ASAP), I wanted to take concrete and measurable action this week. So, I focused on Lucy.

I drove around for years in a blue used ’89 Toyota Corolla I named “Waldo” because I was constantly asking, “Where’s Waldo?” when I was trying to find him in a big parking lot. Sadly, the day came when Waldo had to retire and I was faced with my first purchase of a car on my own.

Luckily, my roommate’s father worked for a car dealership and gave me a screamin’ deal on Lucy (named because she’s a redhead and I love her). I was surprised that my years of never using a credit card worked against me, because I didn’t have much of a credit history. They did the best they could to find me a car loan, but the interest rate I ended up with was pretty high.

This week, I decided the time had come to stop throwing money away on interest. I went to a credit union my friends recommended and met Marie. I had done my homework, so the process went pretty smoothly. On the first visit, I gave her a lot of information and documents that I had collected. Then Marie got the loan approved and I returned to finish the deal. She handed me a check to pay off the loan to my former creditors and got me set up to pay the remaining balance to them. The bottom line is that I went from paying 9.79% interest to 4.99% and cut my monthly payments pretty much in half.

Marie, The Hero of the Day!

The process was pretty painless, and I wish that I had done it sooner. But truthfully, I don’t know if I would have taken the initiative to refinance the loan if it weren’t for this experiment. It has helped me shake up the way I use my discretionary time. It’s offered a shift in perspective and a fresh curiosity about life. It’s been great to have goals, motivation, and accountability to explore new things. And this week, it feels good to have taken a few small steps toward financial freedom.

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4 thoughts on “Week Three – Take a Step Toward Financial Freedom

  1. Sarah Washburn says:

    Good job, Carrie! I’m so proud of you.

    The same thing happened to me when I bought my first car. Because I had no credit cards and no loan or credit history, the credit union was pretty iffy on giving me a loan in the first place. I mean, I had paid off school without any debt and without a single student loan. I had zero debt, and I had $5,000 for a down payment for the car…but because I had no credit history, they weren’t very willing to help me out. They only did it because my dad co-signed on it with me. Credit is such a load of hooey.

    Then, of course, because I paid my car off two years earlier than the loan stipulated, it didn’t really benefit my credit as much as I thought. I had to get a credit card in order to get a good credit score–and that took at least a year before that affected my credit. Blah!

    You can take it a step further and, if you want to and can afford to, continue paying your original car payment for awhile. The difference will all go towards principle and you will pay off your car in even less time–and end up paying less interest in the long run. Just a thought! Just don’t pay it off as quickly as I did…stupid credit!

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