Alaska Pictures Part 1

As you all know, I was fortunate enough to have my job send me to Alaska.  I was arrived on a sunday (around 6pm, after traveling for 12 hours) and was on the job until that friday at around 1pm.  After that, I decided to stay and use that as a bit of my vacation.  The conference was in Anchorage, and after it ended I basically just hung out around the hotel.  I was pretty beat from a week of super long days, and couldn’t muster the energy to go much of anywhere, especially given the fact that I had to be ready to go at 8am the next morning to meet a shuttle down to Seward, where I’d take a wildlife cruise and go halibut fishing, then spend a few days.

I got to hike quite a bit around on the trip, and was able to see some amazing things.  Anchorage has what they call the coastal trail, which is just what it sounds like – a trail along the coast.  This is a bike/multi use trail that runs along the coast.  I headed here 3 of the nights I was in anchorage, to get in my daily workout.  There are some great views of the Knik arm and downtown Anchorage, and I got a few pictures.That’s what they call the sleeping lady.  If you look at it right, it looks like a woman sleeping.  I can see it sometimes, though this photo doesn’t really show it.  There was also a very close and very quick hike up flat top mountain.  I didn’t really plan to do this, but saw it on a whim in a guide book and decided to get it in before my conference started.  Great hike, very quick and I was able to run down the last 2 miles.

That’s a view from the top of the mountain (it was somewhere around 3500 feet – nothing that big) and a good, quick hike.  Those were basically all the pictures I got in anchorage – I was working a lot, and I didnt have much time outside of the conference to do anything other than eat and head to the conference.  I did visit a lot of microbreweries, and if you’re really curious, you can email me and I’ll show you pictures from them.  After Anchorage came Seward. I got a lot of great pictures there, and did a lot of things.  There was a lot of walking (I probably walked across town 10+ times) and a lot of fun to be had.

I went on a wildlife cruise, a fishing trip for halibut (more on that later) and did quite a few hikes, one which has a long back-story.  Before I left I warned H that if I came back engaged to a glacier, she shouldn’t take it personal and that it was just the way that things had to be.  She said she understood, but I’m not so sure she meant it – who can be OK with getting left for a large sheet of ice (aside from me)?

You can see the glaciers rather easy in this photo – they are cirque glaciers, and not attached to any larger ice sheets. I also saw a whole rock full of lazy sea lions.  All these guys do all day is lay on that rock, sun and make tons of noise – sounds like a professional blogger (j/k!).

The bear glacier – this thing was huge and when we got near it, you could feel the effects that it had on the local temperature – it got cold.

That is all the pictures that I’ll share for now – there’s still quite a bit more from the fishing trips, the hiking and just the general walking around.  I took about 400 pictures in total (2 of them have people in them) and I’ve got a few more posts to put together with more of the pictures.

Readers – have you ever been to Alaska?  Did you enjoy it?  Where did you go and what did you do?  Why did you go there?  

Also, this will be the first of two or three posts – I’ll probably post them all on Wednesdays.

Year End Goals Review

It’s the end of the year, and it’s normally a good time to review the goals that you set for yourself at different points in the year and see how you progressed.  I’ve got a post that details my financial progress throughout the year and how I fared against the financial goals that I put up on my goals page in June, so this will just be a quick review of the other goals that I had listed on the page (sparse, I know).  If you’d like to read my 9 month review, head here.

Health Goals:

I don’t know if I’d call this an epic failure, but I failed at this.  I was able to join the gym, and after 3 months, It wasn’t looking good.  I got onto this big project at work and ended up not going to the gym for almost a month.  After that, I got back on track though, and have been making it at least 2 times a week, although most weeks it’s more.  It’s not the 4/5 times that I had hoped for, but it will work for now.

Environment Goals:

These seem to have fared slightly better.  My first goal was to walk to do more things around town.  During my 9 month review, I was skeptical of the progress I’d be able to make for this because of the winter snow.  I’m happy to report that there has been hardly any snow (thus far) this year.  I havent been walking as much as I was, but I’ve been riding my bike to meet friends and whatnot, so I’ll consider this one a success.  I’d like to keep this up for next year, as well.

The next goal was my compost heap.  There was very little progress made on this goal at all, and while I can say I now know you can toss almost anything in there, I still dont know how to make it work faster/better.

How did you do on your goals from last year?  Where would you like to improve for next year?

How to Payoff your Nelnet Student Loan

A student paying her Nelnet Student Loan

Well, it’s time again to do one of my favorite things: Write up a post on making a final debt payment. I did one for when I finally paid off my last credit card here and now I can do one for my Nelnet Student Loan.  (I’m talking strictly about the steps needed to take to pay off the loan. If you want to know how to pay off debt, check out this post.)

This loan and I have kind of had a rough history. When I first had to start paying back my student loans, I thought I only had 2 and didn’t know about this one until I got a missed payment note in the mail. Whoops! I remembered taking it out, but I had figured that it had been lumped in with my other loans. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and that is one thing that really bothers me about Nelnet student loans. Many students have payee’s coming out of their hind parts, and consolidation isn’t always the right move. It wasn’t for me because I was planning on paying them off in a few years, and once I did that, it wouldn’t matter. I also had some very low-interest rates on my student debt, and some were subsidized as well. I would rather just pay 1 person, but that’s just me.

Change Your Nelnet Loan Pay-off Schedule

With this loan specifically, I’ve gotten questions on it before regarding the payoff schedule. In short, a reader wanted to know what Nelnet did if extra was paid on the loan. Short answer: They moved your next due date forward to get their (interest) money. He also asked me what happens when you pay off the loan. Here’s what I did to pay it off. (I tried calling, but was told to go online)

First, you need to log in to your Nelnet Student Loan account. You should already know how to do this if you’ve been making payments to your loan thus far. Once you’re logged in, go to the My Account tab, and you should see this:

Nelnet Student Loan Account Summary Page

As you can see, after I made the big payment at the beginning of this month, it pushed my due date into 2014. I don’t want this stupid little thing hanging over my head (and accruing interest) until then. I want to pay it off. Above the box, you’ll see I’ve circled the “click here” to obtain your 10-day payoff quote. Once you do that, it will take you to another page that will tell you how much you need to pay them in the next 10 days for them to consider the loan paid in full. It takes into account interest that has accrued on the loan that is outstanding, estimated interest over the 10-day period (I’m assuming this was more relevant when people paid bills by paper check and snail mail), and the current principal balance on the loan. Here’s what mine looks like:

Nelnet Student Loan Payoff Information Page

So, I can happily say that I submitted the online payment on 10.21, and it cleared the bank.  Since this is the first Nelnet student loan that I’ve ever paid off (but not the last!) I was curious as to what would happen next.  Would I get a letter from the servicer saying that it has been paid off?  (Not sure, but I don’t think so)  Would my credit report score improve? (Don’t know about that, either.) Would I have not sent the right amount and owe them something ridiculous like .32 cents? (Not at all.) After the payment clears the account, here’s what my “My Account” section looks like:

Screenshot of the Payoff Information My Account SectionNo Outstanding Balance!

I now have a $0 amount outstanding – it’s awesome!  Here’s another shot of the group summary.  This is what you’ll want to see when you’ve sent them the final payment.  Notice on the “status” it says PIF by the borrower, Paid In Full.  Not sure why it still shows me needing to make a 38 dollar payment, though.  Here’s the shot:

Nelnet Student Loan Payoff Information Payment Summary Page

There is a process to pay off your Nelnet Student loans.  Make sure to keep your focus and you’ll be here in no time!  Good luck, and if you have any questions, contact me or leave them in the comments.  I’d be happy to answer them.

How to be Poor and Environmentally Conscious

The following is a guest post from Kyle over at 21andbroke.  Kyle writes about life and advice for the real world. This is a site for current students, recent graduates, and other young people who are in that strange phase of life where everyone expects them to suddenly be adults.  I know the feeling and the group of people that Kyle is trying to reach, because I am one.  Enjoy!

A. H. Allyn Mansion by cliff1066™.
[Image Credit: Cliff1066 on Flickr]
After my newfound friend Jeff and I decided to swap guest posts this week I was left with the classic blogger’s dilemma. An empty, white, and very blank word processor taunting me. What was I going to write that was both sustainable and relevant to poor college students? That’s when it hit me. College and early adulthood can be the most sustainable times of your life. In fact, being frugal often leads to increased sustainability without even trying.
Think for a moment about all the reasons Americans are chastised for not being “Green”. That big SUV driving from the suburbs to the strip mall, endless rows of McMansions costing thousands just to heat, massive boats, and the list goes on. Students don’t normally have these things because they can’t afford them. Many students don’t drive at all, choosing instead to walk to class or work. And you might knock it for the comfort, but few things are as efficient as cramming 20 students down a dorm room hallway. That meal of ramen they had earlier this week? It didn’t put out nearly as much CO2 as that five-course steak dinner being served for the business executives downtown.
I’m not trying to say that the key to sustainable living is eating noodles every night. There’s no need to “rough it”. After all, I wouldn’t want to spend my whole life living in a dorm. But if more people thought like starving students the world could be better off. Okay, maybe not thinking like the students who have the front yard-turned-landfill every Sunday morning. I’m talking about these hypothetical smart and sustainable students. Thinking like one of these students can save the planet and your pocketbook.
Think of all the ways you can be frugal and sustainable. Pretend you don’t have a car and take the bus. You’ll save on gas. Stop buying paper plates and do some dishes. You’ll save that cost too. Use those thin plastic bags, buy only the living space you truly need, cut back on the Coke and drink a little more water. That last one could even help your health. It just keeps getting better. By cutting life back to the essentials the most important things become abundantly clear.
If you’re a student right now, try to avoid the lifestyle creep that so often comes with that first job after graduation. So often people’s expenses will raise evenly with their income but this doesn’t have to always be the case. There’s no need to go out and buy a new car right away or upgrade to a fancy apartment. Treat yourself, then take that extra income and save it. Put it towards retirement. Pay off that student debt early. Buy some stocks. Live well within your means and you won’t regret. A few years of living life on the cheap now can pay off huge dividends down the line.
While your friends are paying off their credit card debt, their boats, their giant homes, and just beginning to worry about retirement you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom. All this because you took a little time to think like a student.
For more ways to “save like a student” be sure to visit 21andBroke.

October Budget

I hope that you all had a safe haloween and a prosperous October.  Mine fared pretty well, with me only going over budget in 2 categories, by a total of less than $15.  Here’s the breakdown.

I was $1 over on my fast food, and $12 over on my restaurant budget.

I also realized that I way over allocated for gas last month, which is a relief.  I have lowered it from a high of $300 recently to $170.  Lets hope it stays here, although I was supposed to have 2 extra days of work that would have resulted in an extra tank of gas that got snowed out, and I didnt need the gas. AWESOME!

I was also able to begin a separate savings account for a home, and have set up automatic funding for that for $50/month! I hope to up the contribution at the start of next year when I will have more free income due to lack of debt.

September Budget Review

Well, the month is finally over, and now it’s time to review how I did on my budget for the month of September.

Everything was going great as far as my budget goes until I had car trouble last weekend.  You can read about it Here.

That being said, I was able to keep on my budget in every other part, and if I can sell the car soon (as planned) everything will be nice and rosy.

For now, my net worth took a hit and my monthly budget was consumed mostly by car stuff (eek).  See the graph below.

September Budget

All of this is pretty self explanatory as far as categories go, and I only went over in 1 category.

Mortgage & Rent: 375  This amount wont change for a while.  It’s for the roof over my head.

Gas: 302 of 320 – I dont like one bit that I have to spend this much per month on fuel.  My car gets ~23 miles to the gallon, so Im not wasting, I just have a 50 mile (1 way) commute.

Groceries: 80 of 120: This is just for food used to cook at home

Fees: 62 of 70: Interest on credit cards

Mobile Phone $52 of 52 – Cost I pay to verizon every month

Auto Insurance: 33 of 33 – To keep me safe in accidents

Fast food: 40 of $25   I blew this one, or maybe my fast food budget is too low?  I’ll have to look into this for next month.  For now, Im thinking of an increase to $35 per month

That’s all she wrote folks.  The reason that auto took up 60 some percent was because I had to put the new car on a charge card.  As soon as the car sells, pay off the card and rest easy.


This is my first attempt at blogging. I have decided to write this blog because I am very interested in all aspects of sustainability, and would like to share that interest with others.
I have also begun this for other reasons, one of them being that I am a terrible writer, and am hoping that more practice will make my writing better. So to that end, began to think of things that I could write about, and decided to write about sustainability in all aspects of life.

I intend for this blog to cover sustainability in the following areas, but will not let these limit my blog.
– Environmental Sustainability
– Financial Sustainability
– Mental Sustainability
– Personal Health

I am expecting that there will be plenty of things for me to discuss in these topics, and will also be answering questions by email at [email protected]