Diving into debt free

There’s no easy way to learn how to dive. Well, at least there wasn’t for me. There were countless belly flops and water up the nose. Over the course of the summer, and what felt  like ‘forever’ in the mind of a child, I overcame. Once I mastered the skill, I could dive, dive, and dive again. It was a dually amazing and effortless feeling to reach my goal.

Similarly, there’s no easy road to debt free. I’ve ‘belly flopped’ through high food expense weeks, hell months(!). I’ve had ‘water up my nose’ every time an unexpected emergency expense occurs. But, I’m proud to say I didn’t give up.

This Friday I’m officially diving into the Debt Free pool… Continue reading “Diving into debt free”

Wisedebther Weekly Spending 1.14.18- 1.21.18

Another week has come and gone ! Inching towards the end of January means that new year, fresh feeling is starting to wear off. The realization that no long weekends or extended breaks are to come for some time has also led to the “Sunday Scaries”. At any rate, I’m currently warding off by eating some Mango Gelato, decluttering/cleaning[have barely scratched the surface], and recommitting to resuming my weekly expenses. I do say this somewhat lightly, as I feel blessed to be in a position where I actually enjoy my job.

BIG big week in spending, but in a good ‘kinda way. The number was huge due to paying off another LOAN, leaving me approximately $3700 from Debt FREE!!!

Continue reading “Wisedebther Weekly Spending 1.14.18- 1.21.18”

Debt Free Diet Part I

 

Food has been my Achille’s heel on my debt-free journey. Certain things have been easy for me to sacrifice, mainly clothes shopping + “going out” to restaurants /bars. But, ‘food shopping’…man that was the bill that was getting me good, until now that is ! What changed? Basically, it was a lot of trial and error.

Per usual, I’d like to back pedal to HOW I got here. It’s more about the journey than the end point, right? In fact, I realized in writing about this, I have a lot to say about food. Hence, I decided to break this post into two. One with my food buying history and Part II with my  current food budgeting solution.

And now, for a trip down memory lane…

Back when I was single, circa 2011-2013, I was able to keep my food bills SO low, like $30-60(?) per week low, with the occasional spike or dip. One big meal, like a stew or chili, could feed me for days. I brought cheap, bag lunches to work such as PB & J with a fruit, or yogurt , nuts, & crackers. Looking back towards those days, it was not the most fulfilling part of my life, neither professional nor personal. Yet, damn I could learn a thing or 2 from my former self !

The inception of grad. school in 2013 coincided with the beginning of my courtship. Some may say this was perfect timing, or others absolutely horrible timing. Whatever it was, it happened! And like that, my food bills slowly crept up. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even that slow. I was mainly consumed with the following and not necessarily in this order: 1. not failing out of school, 2. adjusting to my new city, Miami, and 3. being in a new relationship <3.

Thus, my spending, particularly as it relates to food was not a priority. Not only did my weekly food shopping expenses go up, but so did my outside of the house food expenses. I was buying more food to feed a man + making more meals per week to feed said man. During our first few years of  dating, he always paid for our meals/drinks/treats outside of the house (90%) and I picked up more of the grocery costs (70%). By the way, these percentages are total educated guesses ! I was also going to Starbucks on the reg and buying salad lunches as “needed” ($5-8). I did occasionally bring my lunc (it came and went in spurts), but if I haven’t been clear enough already, food budget was NOT my priority !

To add some more fuel to the spending fire, my weekly shopping trips were haphazard. Nothing for dinner? No problem ! I would stop by one of my neighborhood’s 2 pricey grocery stores and drop anywhere from $20-30 on a ‘few’ items. Sure, I would make lists every week, but they were so disorganized and not always well thought out. Meanwhile, my partner was eating out for lunch EVERY day…yup every day. He doesn’t do this anymore, by the way.

Finally, add in dining out for coffee and/or dinner at Least 1 X per week. We lived in a fun city, we were young, we were tired, and the WORST — We deserved it. The excuses and the $$ were flowing…

Unfortunately, I can’t access my credit card statements from back in those days. Am I not trying hard enough? Not sure, don’t care! I know it was bad and I sure learned from it!

Now, to present-“ish” day. 2017 was my first full year in Tampa. The area I reside in currently is nothing like my former Miami neighborhood. We live much further from the majority of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops aside from those located in our little suburb. Unknowingly, we moved to the “baby raising” part of town without having any babies of our own, as of yet.  We immediately slowed down on our eating out expenses. To be candid, it was forced more than an active decision.

Food shopping expenses, however, did not slow down. For example, in Winter 2017 I enrolled in Hello Fresh for approximately 4-5 weeks. Bye, $300! Additionally, my haphazard shopping trips although decreasing in frequency, still prevailed. My partner would comment at times, “you are spending too much. Or, we don’t use all that we buy.” Mostly, I would bark back too stubborn and proud to listen.

I was still filled with excuses, and they sounded something like this: We need to eat healthy, We are ‘saving’ more than going out to eat, and the very familiar– We deserve it. Every time I left the register at the check out line, I would get a pang in my stomach. How in the world did I spend so much?

Here are some food expense numbers, directly from my Mint app:

-October 2017: $815

-November 2017: $455

-December 2017:$305

-January (up through January 18th): $236

Seriously, what the hell was October? Looking back at the receipts it was a few crazy high expensive weekly trips, with some  of those ‘rando’ trips for a few items spurted in. This was also one of our trickiest months as a household–Post Hurricane-Irma, Maria, Partner working at a commission based job). I was doing our household a HUGE disservice by not having my food budget/spending together !

Nevertheless, I had my “wake up call” in realizing that I was severely hindering my debt-pay off through spending so much on freaking Food! In the next post, I’ll outline what I *think* has been our “Magic Bullet” in reducing food expenses. Stay tuned …

 

Half Marathon Prep Part III

 

Lots of radio silence on the blog lately, but I’m back! And with Part III to my half marathon prep. You can see Part I and Part II here. To recap, my first half-marathon will be the last weekend of February. I’m no natural runner, so this has been quite the feat. What in the world does running have to do with debt/personal finance? Quite a lot, I think ! So much so, that I’ve aptly subtitled these posts “Improving Habits & Overcoming Obstacles”. The question is with just 6 weeks of training remaining how am I doing?

The short answer: pretty good !

Here’s the long winded response broken down by goals that I set out in Part I:

Saving Money on Group Fitness Classes: I’m still sticking to my bootcamp classes, which were prepaid in December, so no more costs on that ‘til I complete my 20 class package in the next 2-3 months(?). My only additional group fitness class cost came in the form of 2 Groupons for yoga to the tune of $46 and $24 = $70 total (see more below).

I’ve avoided cycle classes due to my constant cardio sessions of running and so yea, I’m feeling like “mission accomplished” in this department!

More time for yoga: I am, albeit 3 months into training, accomplishing the goal I set out for yoga 1 X per week. The only exception was the week prior to Christmas (when of course I probably needed it most!). The Groupon has helped exponentially ! I’ve only been a few times so far, but I’m loving it. I think after over 5 years without a yoga home, this may be the one 😉 Joking aside, yoga is one area of my life where I’m willing to shell out a few bucks. Not in a crazy sense though. For example, I don’t have fancy yoga clothes or accessories. But, for a good class and teacher it’s worth the benefits. I have this membership until Feb 5th and then another Groupon  at another studio to use for 2 weeks ($24). Physically, it’s helping me counter all the running. Mentally, it’s an amazing reset button. Namaste !

Habits, Habits, Habits: This was an area I initially struggled with. In retrospect, I think I made the training plan too long. But hey, c’est la vie. As a recovering Type A, I always err on the side of caution ..

At the beginning of December, I had only made 17 out of my 24 scheduled runs –WOMP WOMP . Letter Grade : C-

Now, at mid-January I can say I have made 15 out of my 18 scheduled runs –WOO HOO! Again, I got off the wagon during pre-Christmas week. Letter Grade: B. By the way, pretty sure I can bring that Grade up to an “A” before the actual half-marathon 😉 . But hey, who’s counting?

The other aspect of my running I should be completely candid about is altering some of my short runs to be  shorter mileage –e.g. 6 miles to 4 miles, or 5 miles to 3 miles. I’d say that pretty consistently my “work week” runs are either 3 or 4 miles, with the occasional 2 or 5 miles. What I HAVE been consistent with is keeping a longggg run for Saturday. This week’s run will be my first 10 ! Getting to the double digits baby !

Other than running, I started back to consistent, 1- 2 X day per week strength training (i.e. Back to the Bootcamp that FORCES me !) the week after New Years. I can say last week was my only “perfect” week when it comes to the recommended mixture of running, strength, and yoga. I’m aiming for more “perfect” weeks, but as long as I have some combo of running + yoga/strength I won’t be stressing.

In terms of impact to financial habits, I think my biggest takeaway would be that a LONG run just takes a lot of damn time, especially if being a slow , small, turtle runner as I am. This means I have less shopping urges/energy, because I’m usually pretty zapped after running. As an example, I have not gone clothes shopping since the New Year, with the small exception of a $13 sweater pre-cold front in early January. I am also not someone who LOVES to shop or ‘prizes’ clothing, so it hasn’t been too hard to refuse. Therefore, my biggest expense aside from rent/loans, has just been food/drinks. I’d call that a win !

Initially, I set the bar REAL high. I thought I might change some other habits too, like say meal prepping, journaling, meditating. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For now, I’m happy to be exercising consistently + saving money. I also have some fun New Year’s resolutions, but no other changed habits so to speak.

Overcoming obstacles. Yup, yup, yup ! That’s what my half-marathon training is all about. The last mile of my weekly long run is without fail , a JOY ! Now, this isn’t saying I enJOY every step ;), but the end is like “Yea girl, you got this”. And, “not only do you got THIS, but whatever it is fill in the _______, you got it”. This includes of course the D word , D-E-B-T!

In the beginning of my training, anything more than a 5 mile run felt daunting. In fact, my first 6 mile run I even had to stop for a walk break.  Hmm… reminds me of how last year my remaining debt, $22K(ish) as of Feb 2017 felt daunting. In fact, in May 2017, I almost wanted to give up trying due to tons of work /personal travel that got me off track. Let the metaphor continue….Last week I ran 9 easy miles. Last month I paid off another loan in full, leaving me approx. $8K from Debt free. EVERYTHING is relative. This in health , personal finance, relationships, you name it !

In my last half-marathon prep update, I had the awesome and somewhat WILD idea of paying off all my student loan debt by the weekend of the half-marathon. I’m still unsure of that. I can do it, but it might give me a little anxiety to see my emergency fund dip that low. I think what I’m waiting on is to know what my tax refund will be. IF it will keep my emergency fund around(ish) the $15 K range give or take $1K or so, I think I’ll jump the gun. Otherwise, I’m fine to drag it into March / April.

I’ll be honest, there would be a pride point of February–$22 K paid off in 12 months. (Disclaimer: by the way, I’m fairly confident in that number say 95%, but I could be off by a grand or so. Will obviously double check before my World announcement ;0). But, if it’s not  in February, it will be 13 months in March , or 14 months in April. No matter the month number, the outcome is the same ! Same goes, for my half-marathon time ;).

Well, there goes my updates from training so far. My last installment will cover the final weeks of trainings, any unexpected expenses ( there were a few small ones), and any other gems of wisdom learned. This is after all a journey about becoming Wise from debt..

‘Til next time, Wisedebther to live better…or ahem, run better 🙂

 

Life’s a beach- Resolutions for 2018

 

Ahh the start of a New Year. Nothing like it. I love it ! In fact, New Years is one of my favorite holidays. I know it’s a ton of hype and usually overpriced. Yet, aside from a few rare birds, the majority of NYE celebrations in my adult life have been loads of fun.

This year I went to my neighborhood wine and beer bar, which is an honest to goodness a one minute walk from my house. Relaxed, low key, and no driving required. A few glasses of white wine and a champagne toast was perfect. It’s calm nights like these where I sense I’m heading (happily) into a new phase…my 30s!

2018 on the calendar started Monday. But mentally in my own little world, 2018 began yesterday when our holiday houseguests headed home. As an introvert, lives in a 2 bedroom apartment, and also happens to works from home—when I say that I breathed a sigh of relief, that is an UNDERstatement.

Now, I’m ready to jump into the year full force ! In the past, I’ve been pretty darn unsuccessful when it comes to resolutions, but it never stops me from making ‘em. Usually they are something related with health & fitness. I think the key part of the failure is making them far too broad with no specific processes to reach that outcome. “Lose X Pounds”, “get in ‘shape’ “, you get the idea…

This year, I’m taking a new approach. My initial plan was to make a financially related goal, but so much of my current goal setting revolves around that. The BIG one being debt free by end of 2018. (which by the way, I’m far exceeding < 20 weeks to go !). This isn’t to say I won’t have more finance goals that come up throughout the year, but really no need to belabor it more. I’m already focusing a ton of energy on this area of my life.

OK, so what about health and fitness? Turns out , I already have a goal for that too! I’m running my first half marathon the last weekend of February. My first 8 mile run EVER was this afternoon–woo hoo ! So, I’m feeling decent in that department too!

What’s left for a resolution then ? Totally kidding…a TON. One big realization for me throughout 2017 was just how much my mental and physical well-being affects my financial behavior. Therefore, I wanted to make a goal that would enhance my health and thus, indirectly positively impact my finances. So… I made 2 relatively easy, attainable, and FUN resolutions.

  • 1. Make it to the Beach at least 1 X per month –This kind of resolution ain’t for everyone, but I live 30 minutes from a beautiful state park called Honeymoon Island. Living near a beach and palm trees was one of my dreams as a child, so it’s just darn sad that I haven’t been making this more of a priority in my life. I’m sorry to say that I went to the beach less than a handful of times in 2017.

What’s been holding me back? Waiting for other people to want to go with me, waiting for the “perfect weather”, and just waiting to make a whole day of it. Enough of the waiting, time for action!  This resolution isn’t just to honor my former child.  The beach gives me this feeling of clarity and calmness that’s hard to describe to any non-beach lover. Basically, it’s mental health in the form of sand and water.

This all sounds a bit spoiled and ludicrous to state this resolution as much of the country is being hit with a bomb cyclone (?), terribly cold temps, and loads of snow. But trust me, I don’t take a mild climate for granted. I set the goal of once per month to make it attainable and measurable. For example, If I just said, “go the beach more in 2018” I wouldn’t do it. The time I spend at the beach is not important–It could be an hour, half day, whole day. I can lounge, walk, run, swim, whatever I feel like in that moment. I can go by myself, with my partner, friends, or family. The point is to go in with an open mind and above all to Enjoy !!

  • Read at least 25 books: I love to read ! As I have mentioned previously, I have been reading sooo much more since graduate school ended  in 2016 and I have reignited my love of the library since moving to Tampa. So, why make this a resolution if I’m already doing it? I want a way to monitor my progress, and shift some of my attention away from screens in the evenings/weekends and on to what I enjoy (RE: Reading). Again, more enjoyment= better mental health= better financial habits. So essentially everything leads back to health & wealth ! Also, I’m sure I’ll read at least a few personal finance books, so that’s a win win for any Wisedebther ;).

Here are some resolutions that did not make the cut:

  • Learn ‘how to blog’--Let’s face it . I have NO idea what I’m doing. Nor, do I really care. I’m pretty content (at least for now) with my blog being a personal diary of sorts. It’s offering me accountability on my own terms and having a Twitter account solely dedicated to the PF world has been enlightening and inspiring.
  • Get a side-hustle— I’ve mentioned before my fails at securing some freelance income here and here. Again, for now I’ve realized I’m OK with that. I’m not saying that it won’t happen someday in the future, maybe even this year! As of now, it just hasn’t panned out. Currently, I’m enjoying learning how to live within my means based on my full-time salary and getting some R & R on the weekends. To each is their own as the saying goes…
  • Take an international trip–Oh boy, this one was hard to keep off. I’ve been itching to get out of the country for a few years now. Not taking this dream off the table, but there are other considerations…particularly our savings to take said trip. Where do I want to go ? Everywhere  ! Asia is one of my top picks because I’ve never been–Signapore, Thailand, China, the list goes on and on. Also, Europe is so so special for me <3. However, we have some work to do in getting our financial base stable before we just go ahead and take a YOLO Asia and/or Euro trip. As a result, I’m being realistic that this trip may be this year, or maybe it will be in 2019. However  it ends up… it will be WITHIN our means.

Overall, I’m pretty jazzed up about 2018. Big things are a happenin’ : Debt free, Half Marathon, Beachin’, Reading, and TURNING 30! Here’s to learning and enjoying the year’s ride. Cheers to the NEW YEAR !

2017 Debt Reflections

 

Excited to announce that I entered 2018 with approximately $8,761 of student debt to go. Debt Free Day is becoming R-E-A-L!

First, the numbers:

-Total Debt paid in 2017 : $18,706.  

-Extra Debt payments beyond monthly payments: $15,625.

-Monthly Debt payments Feb/March 2017 vs. January 2018: $228 DECREASE. $376 was required monthly payments after all loans came off of deferment between Feb. and March 2017. Now, heading into the new year monthly payments are down to $148.

-Average Debt paid per month: $1559 [for reference, that’s almost one biweekly paycheck, meaning about 50% of take home pay has gone towards Debt].

-Month with HIGHEST $$ Debt $$ paid: June $4111, followed closely by October $3941

-Weeks ‘til Debt free: Modest goal , 20 weeks. Stretch goal, 9 weeks. That large discrepancy due to unknown amount I’m getting back for taxes, plus annual review at work coming up in a few weeks. The stretch is a REAL stretch, but anything is possible!

Second, the reflection behind the numbers.

Numbers are great, but hey they don’t tell the whole story. In the last 10 months I have made some aggressive strides in improving my financial well-being. Although this was a peaks and valley kinda year (what year isn’t?!), I like to think the debt piece was a peak ;).

Blogging about debt pay off is rewarding and a great way for me to track progress, but I’m trying to catch myself from turning this into a ‘Highlight reel’. On that note, there were some “behind the scenes” expenses that deserve a shout out–

  • Moving (most costs were incurred at end of 2016, but some did linger into 2017, or at least that dent in the wallet lingered)
  • Weddings (3!) This was by FAR the biggest additional cost of the year, given that all were destinations. Looking towards 2018…only one is a definite. Love to see my friends in love, but ahh a sigh of relief :).
  • Household: Due to some unforeseen circumstances there were a few months particularly during the Fall where I shouldered additional household expenses including rent, food, and supplies (e.g. paper towels, detergents, etc).
  • Hurricane season: Irma (personal, only travel/supply costs) & Maria (family, monetary donations for recovery)

I mention these other expenses, as a way to demonstrate that it wasn’t always a smooth ride. I’m not special, I’m actually quite lucky and acknowledge the privilege I have to even attempt paying off this debt. But, I am proud of myself for not giving up. Before I committed to the debt free journey, one or 2 of these events would have completely derailed me. Now, I give myself grace as I fall down, brush myself off, and try try again ! Same approach for my spending tracking, and all other things personal finance related.

On the personal front, this was a big transition year in my career. I moved out of academia (as a former graduate student) and into the non-profit sector. Although I have been gifted LOTS more time since finishing my degree, I did not push as hard as I could have in getting a side hustle. I’ve unsuccessfully applied to freelance stuff on UpWork, but other than that did not make much of an effort. Thus, relying on my income alone to get to debt free is working just fine, but definitely makes the process a bit slower.

Finally, the Debt-free bug appears to have worn off on my fiancé ! He is documenting his spending daily (which he says works best for him). In addition, he has created spreadsheets that document projected expenditures and earnings for the upcoming year. It’s nice to feel like this is turning into more of a team effort and to have an accountability partner in the household.

2017 was my wake up call. It was the start of my debt free revolution! It was a year of creating goals, educating myself about personal finance, and dreaming about the future. There’s always more to grow in this new year, but actually visualizing the numbers and the progress I made feels pretty gratifying. However, I’m wise enough to know (see what I did there ;), that the feeling is fleeting. In 2018, I hope to better articulate how this debt free journey has helped me to live my best life going forward.

Wisedebther Weekly Spending 12.11.17-12.17.17

Wisedebther Weekly Spending is back!! I falsely reported
earlier this week that my last weekly spending report was around Thanksgiving… it was in fact the first week of November. Funny how the mind plays tricks on ya.

Anyway, I’m a bit distracted over here because I just put a bid on eBay for a wedding dress that costs, wait for it… $86!!!!!! I can’t even believe it myself. It’s long, lace on top, but not too fancy either (I’m planning to elope). If all pans out AND the dress fits, I’ll be sure to report more!

Sooo spending this week. I’ll just cut right to the chase. Here it is:

Continue reading “Wisedebther Weekly Spending 12.11.17-12.17.17”

Half Marathon Prep Part II

Long time, no blog—like REALLY long time! Work deadlines, family visits, a quick trip to Orlando for FUN, and more Holiday cheer ‘round the corner got me feeling like it’s time to get back on track.

Speaking of, my weekly spending reports went right out the window around Thanksgiving(ish) week. But, I am so so so happy to report that despite this lapse, ALL my spending has been withdrawn from ONLY my checking account, Small $ WIN! I do attribute this to the mindset that the previous weeks tracking my spending has put me into—Spend only what is available (i.e. no Savings account dipping!), Save as much as possible, Extra $$ goes to loans. Needless to say, I am going to get back on the spending tracking wagon for the following week!

Meanwhile, in my personal life I’m training for a half-marathon! And so far, mostly so good. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I continue to recognize the parallels between my health habits (both physical, mental) AND my financial habits. Here are some highlights and lowlights of my training so far based on the goals I initially set out in this post:

Continue reading “Half Marathon Prep Part II”

Wisedebther Weekly Spending 11/5/17-11/11/17

It seems I have developed the nasty habit of moving this weekly spending to Monday instead of Sunday as originally intended! In my defense, I ended up working most of Saturday, which meant Sunday was my day for errands, cleaning, and of course chilling. Below is my spending for last week. Don’t mind my horrid handwriting. Normally I would input a neat and orderly table, but I just thought the way the colors lined up was cool—like a rainbow! Maybe that rainbow extends to a debt free land?!

 

I’m proud of last week’s spending—ESPECIALLY where it comes to food. I kept it under $100!!! Little bitty baby steps ! I’ve got a new system down that I’m excited to share in another post entirely.

I did however make 2 money mistakes. The first being that I neglected to follow-up with my 6-month bootcamp class membership. I assumed when the 6 months I was up, Poof! there goes my membership. I was wrong. I was slightly dismayed to see a charge for $144.95 on my credit card. Apparently, if you don’t cancel they start charging you month to month until you give 30 days notice of cancellation—tsk, tsk. I really like the classes though and they are only 2 miles from my house, so hey I gotta make the most of it. I wouldn’t consider the situation ideal by any means, but I’ve been so on top of my spending that I was able to address the issue right away. So, money win? Money lose? Probably something in the middle…

Audible membership ($14.95) was money mistake #2. I put it on “pause” a few months prior as my obsession with podcasts, grew, and GRew, and GREW! However, I forgot about said “pause” and the membership resumed on Saturday…womp womp. I was initially bummed, but seeing that I’m on the waiting list for several podcasts/books at the library, I’m going to take it as another money mishap gone Right!

With the holidays around the corner, I expect it may be difficult to find low spending weeks like these in the near future. This isn’t because I plan to go on a wild holiday spending spree, but I won’t skimp on holiday dinners, nor donations. Also, I still have about $2-3K I hope to pay off by years end. We are hosting both Thanksgiving (my brother + our friend) and Christmas (fiance’s mom and aunt) this year, so boat loads of fun (and $$ stories) to come.

‘Til nex time… Wisedebther to live better xo

Total Money Makeover?

I finally read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and my oh my was it inspiring! Love him or hate him, I have to say I was impressed by Dave Ramsey’s Baby steps and the amazing success stories featured in the book. When I realized that I in fact already had enough for Baby Step #1 $1,000 emergency fund + Baby Step #2 Pay off all debt using snowball approach (except house), I was almost ready to make a huge leap and just get it over with. But, I hesitated. Ultimately, here’s what stopped me from going all in and pursuing my own Total Money Makeover:

Very little buffer room : I do think I have “gazelle-like intensity” as Ramsey describes it in pursuing destination debt free. However, if I get to 0 balance today, I’ll be left with a little less than $5 K in my emergency savings. That’s doable, but it makes me antsy and nervous. Again, this is all relative and for others I understand if I sound foolish. Rather, I feel more comfortable chipping a way at it bit by bit every month or so. In fact, I should be achieving or even exceeding the goal I made in the Summer to pay off $7-8K by year’s end. I’m even proud to be at the point that I will far exceed my goal of end of 2018. I’d say by the time I get my tax return, I’ll be done for good!

Finally, once I get to Debt Free Day I want to celebrate! With Champagne and strawberries and friends and I definitely don’t want to be thinking about what little I have left in my bank account…

Experiences > Debt/Money: 2017 has been a year of experiences by far! More about my summer adventures here . I’ll be rounding out the year with a trip to Orlando for a friend’s bday celebration at Epcot + a work party at Universal. Theme parks are always a grand time, but they pack a punch to the wallet. Since I don’t go very often and have the luxury of driving as opposed to flying, I can make it well worth the admission fee. Paying off all my debt now, could mean sacrificing some of these experiences. Now, I don’t mean to sound like an entitled snowflake, but I do think as a young professional sans kids I have the personal choice to relegate some of my money towards fun experiences (AKA “Funtivities” as we call them in my house).

Partner’s job: Currently, my fiancé works at a commission based job. Although this stuff tends to balance out in the end, it makes most sense for me to keep my emergency savings a bit more padded should a “rainy day” occur.

Fear of the unknown: This one is the hardest to admit. Clearly, I’m just not ready to take the dive. What will I do with my money once this is done? How will I invest my money? What the hell is a Roth IRA? This and many questions like this tumble through my little head.

Paying off debt has become rhythmic. It’s easy. It doesn’t require much thinking, honestly and truly. I’ve scrimped and sacrificed (again a very relative experience!), but I still feel SO SO behind in my money knowledge. I’ll always remember this quote from Breaking Bad in which Gus is speaking to Walt, “You are a wealthy man now, one must learn to be rich, to be poor, anyone can manage”. Now, I should have prefaced this by saying the context of this does not apply for me. I’m not a meth drug dealer, nor would I consider myself “wealthy” or “poor”. But, it struck a nerve. We are always comfortable with what we know. And to scrape by becomes natural and normal. Debt becomes the norm.

Now, I’m not silly enough to stay in debt just because I’m accustomed to it. That would be the antipathy of everything I’m currently striving for. But, I am a bit relieved that I have a little time on my side. Time to learn to budget my spending better-a HUGE work in progress, especially when it comes to food! Time to research the best options for retirement. Time to dream a bit on how I will achieve my goals AFTER debt.

The funny part is that I thought this blog would be a time bound project—documenting my journey from in debt to debt free. However, since so much of my financial development was stunted by my imaginary shackles of debt, this journey, I am now convinced will extend far past my date of debt free.

I may lack the guts to get my “Total Money Makeover” the Dave Ramsey way. I will get there though and it will be on my terms. I can’t wait to look that girl in the mirror!