Day 196 | $67,506 paid | $23,211 till freedom

My good buddy from grad school–my former partner-in-crime–is in town for the week. Craig’s the Entertainment Director at one of the major phone companies (e.g., Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.), and he’s in town to make sure the SxSW event he planned goes off without a hitch. 

He invited me to hit up SxSW with him–first to the Bravo tent where he had a connection, then to the event he was putting on for work. We haven’t seen each other in a couple of years, and it was great to catch up. It was an awesome night of reminiscing, talking about future plans, and drinking for free.

We talked a lot about the student loans, and like me, he graduated with $100k, but he’s gotten it down to only $90k so far. He’s paying about $700/month and will be doing so for the next 12 or 13 years since he got a 15-year note. He didn’t know about my little challenge–we’ve done a horrible job of keeping in touch–but when I told him, he was completely shocked that I was able to make so much headway on it in such little time. His shock then turned to inspiration after I explained to him how I did it. He’d been trying to save up around $100k and potentially start his own business, but now he’s thinking about paying down his debt first so he can avoid the interest.

Interesting sidebar: Pedi-cab drivers were out in droves last night, and whom did I run into? Joel, the guy who trained me to be a pedi-cab driver!  I was walking down the street and I recognized his distinct whistle from the training over six months ago during that one night back in September. I flagged him down to say hey, and it took him a moment to recognize me. Once he figured it out, he tried to get me to pedi-cab during the upcoming week for SxSW, saying I could make around $700 a day. I declined–I was still seeing a lot of empty pedi-cabs last night, and I don’t even have a bike.

Residuals: Landscaping Customer
I got an interesting note in my inbox today:

You were recommended by a neighbor of mine. I would like to discuss a landscape project and hopefully receive a quote. What do you need from me?

Now, typically, Michael and I would have been ecstatic to have received an email like this, and we would have quickly dashed off a note to get this guy’s on-site consultation on the  calendar as soon as possible so we could quote him, book him, and execute the job.

Instead, my email went a little something like this:

Thanks for your interest. I’m afraid we’re exploring other avenues at this time and are not currently providing landscaping services. Should we resume operations, we will reach out to you immediately. Best of luck.
Thank you,

We’re no longer in the business of giving free consulting advice, which is what our business had come down to during its last few days. The unfortunate part of this is that this guy might have been the real deal, but we’ll never know.

Loose Ends
On Friday and Saturday, I took the time to edit past blog posts and add a progress tracker to every post. You can see it at the beginning of this post: It’s in gray-color font and calls out–at the date of the post–how many days of the challenge have elapsed (e.g., Day #196) and the debt remaining “till freedom.” My hope is that it will give folks who are new to this blog  and read some of the earlier posts a better sense of where I was at any one point in time. So the header tracker is real-time and the trackers in each post are historical.  

I also took the opportunity to re-read a few posts, and I wanted to take a moment to clarify I couple of things.

  1. I reported that Fadi was selling the motorcycle he bought from me because of the starter issue. He actually ended up buying a different brand battery and that has appeared to do the trick. He now tells me how much he loves the bike every time he sees me.
  2. At first I said I was going to pass on Luke and Faith’s wedding, then after going to Natalie and Navneet’s wedding and being so moved, I said I wouldn’t miss Luke and Faith’s wedding for the world. Well, I didn’t update the blog when it happened, but I actually RSVP’ed in the negative to the formal invitation when it came in the mail a month or so ago. The emotion I was feeling from Navneet and Natalie’s wedding that made me want to go to Luke and Faith’s wedding had worn off by the time I got their invitation in the mail. For the sake of my financial goal, I guess I’m glad there was a cooling-off period. So the words I said I would have to eat from the post where I lashed out at folks for telling me to go to the wedding and see my family for Christmas will not have to be eaten after all.

Sam Is Here
Sam got here yesterday! He’s completely moved in and set up. He walked into the kitchen with his phone held out in front of him while I was making my meals for the week. He was video-chatting with his girlfriend and he introduced me to her, then he walked around the house showing her his new digs. After the call, he brought me his phone and showed me a message he had typed to me: “Nice house. I really love it!” That comment brought a smile to my face. Sam had sent me $910 in the mail in February without even seeing the house or meeting me, so I’m glad it’s met his expectations.

Having Sam here has showcased a really helpful side of Patrick. Sam doesn’t have a car, but Patrick has been extremely helpful by driving him around. Last night, he took Sam to get sheets for his bed and other odds and ends, and today, he took him grocery-shopping. Patrick knew when he recommended that Sam live here that he didn’t have wheels and that Patrick would need to chauffeur him around, but he still made the suggestion for me to take Sam. I think Patrick is happy that he has somebody around that he can communicate with.

So we’re back to a full house, but of course, the volume level has stayed about the same–which is to say, pretty darn quiet. And the guy who can hear is the minority in the household! I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little awkward this morning when we were all in the kitchen together fixing our breakfasts and they were signing to each other. I had no idea what was going on and sort of felt like an outsider. In fact, I probably felt how they feel every day when they’re out and about in the hearing world.

Man, I really need to take some ASL classes!

More DIY
I wrote in Keeping Up Appearances that I’d have to buy some blinds for the living room after paying off my student debt because the  current blinds were sagging in the middle due to broken support rod. I finally got sick of seeing the sag every day, so I got my ladder out and investigated to see if there was anything I could do about the problem in the interim.

The support rod was actually two pieces of wood joined together by a finger joint, and the finger joint had become unglued. I unscrewed the two wing nuts holding the blinds up and took them into the garage for an operation. I broke a fresh paint-stirring stick in half that I had gotten for free at Lowes awhile ago, put a piece on each side of the rod positioned both pieces over the break, and attached the whole combo with three zip-ties. Voila! A splint for my blinds. And no more sag.

And this isn’t just a stop-gap measure, either. The valence obscures the repair job and makes it completely invisible. So that’s a fifty-dollar expense that I’ll completely avoid–now and after NMHD.

Bonus Decision This Week
This week is kind of a big deal: my boss tells me what I’ll be getting in terms of a bonus in my paycheck at the end of the month. I last mentioned the bonus in the Month 6 Progress Report and said that it could make or break my entire challenge. If it’s $8k after-tax, I’m golden and on track to meet my goal. If it’s significantly lower, it might be time to start looking for extra work–I might have to take Joel up on his offer, after all.

Drum roll, please! I find out on Wednesday.


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6 responses to “Reunion

  1. Did I miss that you already got your tax refund? It is completely possible it was on a previous post. Any comment on the tax affects of this plan would be interesting. (Or a discussion with your accountant – you stopped retirement savings, huh?)

    On a funny note, I told HubbyJD about your blog and the pedi-cab attempts. He now refers to your blog as the ‘rick-shaw guy.’

  2. Sarah

    There was an HBS reunion at the Driskill on Saturday night did you go to that as well?

    Seems like the number of people you inspire grows exponentially each week. People inspiring people it’s powerful stuff (Wedding Crashers, revised) 🙂

    Glad that you added the tracker it makes it easy to see how you’ve grown in such a short time

    Totally random but don’t some of your friends have kids? Maybe they’d let you babysit? If they have kids who are school age (6+) it would be an easy gig as kids that age are pretty independent. You’d basically just watch tv with them. I babysat during undergrad and made about $500/yr at $10-12/hr and only did it during xmas break and summer. I probably should have mentioned this back in September when you were looking for gigs.

    P.S. Thanks for recommending Breaking Bad, it’s my newest obsession behind NMHD about to start season 2.

    • Sarah

      I think you will definitely get the bonus you want, babysitting was just a suggestion in case you don’t. Good luck!

      Also since you liked Breaking Bad you might also like Weeds.

    • No, I sure didn’t. Sounds…expensive. 🙂

      Lol–LOVE the Wedding Crashers reference!!! Nicely done. That was a hilarious part. “But she thinks you’re deaf!”

      Not many of my friends have kids–babies, yes, but not really kids. Great idea, though.

      Glad you’re digging Break Bad! 🙂 I’ll have to check out weeds.

      Sorry my reply is so late, but thanks for your confidence on the bonus–looks like it was well-placed.

  3. Hey, great blog. Found from Yahoo. I am in a similar situation trying to get out of debt now. Debt is slavery. Don’t listen to the haters on Yahoo, a lot of people are bitter. BTW, you should have monetized this blog !

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