I’m loving the posts that everyone is sharing for my debt payoff series. Come back every Thursday to hear about how others are trying to pay off their debt or how they’re debt free! If you’d like to contribute to this series, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi everyone! My blog is American Debt Project and I go by S (sorry, I couldn’t come up with something awesome like MoneyDawg). I live in Southern California and I have a lot of crazy ideas. Check me out on Twitter because I don’t censor myself that much on there!
I don’t have a middle name, but these days it feels like it’s Debt Repayment. I feel bad for my loved ones, coworkers, people I run into on the street. They all hear me talk about getting out of debt. I can’t help myself!
It really has changed my life. Even though I still have $16,000 left to pay off, the end is in sight. When I got serious in June 2011, my debt felt insurmountable (at the highest it was over $48,000), so allow me to reminisce a little about what I did to get rid of a large chunk of debt.
I started being honest with myself
Look, we all live with expectations. Whether they are our own or the weight of other people’s expectations, it can lead us to make bad financial decisions in the name of appearances or what we “should” be doing. I couldn’t afford extra shopping, dining out or weekend trips, even though it felt like all my friends were doing it.
I started saying no, but also saying yes. Yes to simple activities like going for a walk or working out at home. Yes to having friends over for dinner instead of going out. Yes to learning as much as possible instead of watching too much TV. Once I stopped trying to live up to my own and other’s expectations, it started to get a lot easier to save money each month.
I tracked my spending
This concept was completely alien to me last year. But starting in January 2012, I started writing down every single penny I spent. At the end of each month, I tallied up the results and was amazed by how much junk I bought!
Literally-I was spending 15% or more of my food budget on candy and junk food! I became more careful, more aware, and I think in the past year I’ve been eating a lot less junk (although I’ll never stop loving Haribo gummy bears or Cheetos). I still have expensive months, but knowing that I track all my spending keeps me in check and gives me an idea of how much money I’ll have left over based on my average spending.
I think about what happens after debt
I’m hoping that when I make my last debt payment, I won’t be so stricken with joy that I keel over and die. I still have a life to live, a business to build, ideas to implement, retirement savings to add to. Oh yeah and a first home to buy and a wedding to plan! I have A LOT to do! My list is getting longer and I am excited about all of the opportunities out there.
In fact, I was able to take on a project in January that was only possible because I didn’t have as high a debt and monthly expenses as before. It paid off, and now I have the ability to take on this project again as a nice side hustle. Eventually, I hope to have enough security to start my own business and dictate my own work life.
I’m still a normal girl. I get lost online looking at fashion blogs and cute shopping sites. I’ve been pinning madly for the wedding. I’m just being better with money so I can enjoy it more when it counts.
Is your debt always on your mind?
How do you think life after debt will be?