Debt Sux

Just sucking it up and moving on to kill $31,500 of student loans.

when debt is not yours

It’s difficult to shell out your money for it, right?

Warning, this post is a tad emotional. Maybe because it’s Friday.

It was difficult to motivate myself to pay more to the debt because it isn’t mine. Because I know that paying more would mean that I’d be contributing to it.

We have joint finances—our paychecks go to one checking account and everything flows out of that, i.e. bills, savings, food, etc. The debt, though, well, that was another story.

Maybe it’s easier for others to accept debt as a way of life and move forward. Maybe for others it’s not a big deal to share the load and pay more to get rid of it faster. But not me. It took me so long to commit.

It was hard to justify taking money from my salary that I earned from my no-debt education to pay for my spouse’s student debt.

My goals in life didn’t factor doing that. I had big plans to build my wealth as I got older.

But I met someone who I truly love, who had to get into debt so he could earn his degree. He didn’t have the opportunities that I had. He didn’t have parents who had the capability to pay for his education.

As a partner, do I simply accept that some years of our life together would mean putting my wealth-building goals in the back-burner to help this person who I chose to be with pay off his debt?

It took me so long to figure this out, but the answer is yes.

I’m not the kind of person who chooses to be with someone for money. And, because I don’t hurry when I’m making up my mind, it took me so long to realize that that also applies to money in the red and not just in the black.

The person I love is not irresponsible, and that in itself matters and makes a difference in my choice to be with him. Even if he was financially irresponsible, people can change. My wealth building goals in life don’t just include me, it includes him too. The wealth I want to have is a means to a life I want to share with him. Even if I have a massive amount of money, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable if not shared with him. Cheesy I know, yet it’s true.

For better or for worse, right? There’s a lot more to relationships. To be shallow about it, this debt is the worse I’ve dealt with so far in our relationship. It’s true. There’s nothing outside of this financial worse-ness that I’m dealing with. Maybe to some people, that’s really bad; but for me, there are plenty of things that could be worse.

I’m honest to say that I resented it. Part of me still resents it, the ego part. The resentment stems from the fact that my needs are not being taken care of—the wealth-building need. Boy, do I have a spoiled-brat attitude on that! You wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity of when I start rattling about that.

But the thing is, I want to stop rattling about it. I want to stop resenting it. My hope is that tackling the debt with him will help alleviate the egoistic pull of my desires and wants, at least for a while. I argued that my wealth-building goal is not entirely selfish, but ignoring my spouse’s needs in favor of my own desires is selfish.

At the end of the day, my goals in life aren’t just focused on money. I’m continuously working on being a better person in as many aspects of my life as I can. Before I go to sleep, I don’t calculate the money I saved or spent but the amount and quality of time I spent with them. There’s a whole other level of regret when I don’t do well on the latter.

My wealth-building goals will come to fruition. I mean, it’s happening right now, just not fast enough for me. I’m learning to be okay with that. When we’ve paid off the student loan, I’d be there celebrating it with him. I don’t think I’ll even consider it as a success on my part. I’d just be so happy to see a load off of my husband’s back. And a big smile radiating happiness. That’s enough.

big step to paying debt

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re going to start a new debt payoff fashion. Instead of just paying the student loan $150/week, we’re upping it to $250. $150 just ain’t gonna cut it anymore. We want to get rid of the student loan as fast as we can. This process of paying student loan is taking so long. Sure, we’ve paid 50% of it, but man, we’re still doing it after so many years. Neither husband nor I want to be in this situation anymore. We’re truly getting tired of it.

It does feel impossible sometimes, but

At $150/week, it would take 168 weeks to get it to zero. With $250, the timeline is shortened to 96 weeks. Our plan is to get it down under $7k and then pay the rest off in one swoop. Next year is going to be great.

Will we be saving at all?
Yes, we intend to fund our goals and the future ones we’ll make. I expect that there will be months that we’d dump as much cash into the loan just so we can experience what it’s like to pay debt very aggressively. Our savings goals are and will be secondary to paying off debt.

Hell, yes! We’re going to be parting with a large sum of money on a weekly basis. That is a commitment that we’re hoping to make consistently. Although it’s going to be the first time we’ll pay the loan with a big amount, I realized that we’ve been paying our card a much bigger amount for nearly a year now anyway. Also, we’ve freed up money in the budget—no more tuition for the kid and our cellphone bill dropped. It’s all just perspective.

Of course, there’s doubt. This is a huge undertaking. While I’ve factored in some unplanned spending each month and have savings for insurance renewals and gifts, some things still happen unexpectedly. I also did not remove eating out completely, instead I lowered the budget for it. There are so many unknowns but I can’t plan for any of it until it’s in front of me.

What’s the take away?
Well, apart from the obvious debt payoff, I’m seeing this weekly habit will lend itself to saving more. We’re now accustomed to parting with $150/week, and I’m pretty certain we’ll get used to parting with $250 in a few weeks. In the future all of that money will be routing to savings accounts instead of debt. I see a bright future coming. This is the week it’ll start. Good luck to us!

This week’s spending. We’re close to using up half of our grocery budget. There’s still plenty of food in the fridge and freezer. No worries there. It just makes me stop and think about our spending habits at the grocery store. Also, I had to buy a new keyboard and monitor (both on sale). :-( My eyes can’t take staring at my laptop for long periods of time; and while I could increase the resolution, the apps I work with aren’t optimized when I do that. It makes for a challenging work situation every day. Sigh. Getting old sucks.

Yay of the week. I opened a long-term savings account using part of our rainy day fund. It will count as part of the rainy day fund until such time there’s enough (maybe $10k) to categorize it differently.

We’re going to the coast and going to a 6th birthday party this weekend. Lotsa fun! Enjoy yours! x

september is

1. when the school year starts (at least in Oregon)
2. when I celebrate my first year at my job
3. when we start paying so much more to the student loan

There went August. I still can’t believe it has been a month since we decided to start being mindful about our money. For September, we’ll continue being mindful, of course. There’s still so much debt to tackle that requires our focus.

School has started here. Not long after will fall soon follow. The nights have been crisp here in Portland. We’ve turned off the a/c at night. In line with being mindful with money, I’m planning to change the frequency my son eats cafeteria food. I’m thinking 2 days each week he gets a break from mama’s packed lunch for him.

By mid-month, I will have been working at my job for a year. What this means is that my employer is going to finally contribute 4% to my 401k. Yahoo!

Despite good intentions and planning, some things just have to happen that will change the direction of things. There’s a very good chance that our plan to pay off card this month is going to be deferred to October. The reason is because we are seriously considering painting our house exterior in October. We only have a little saved for the house improvements, so we’ll top that up with all of September’s cash flow and part of October’s. It’s looking like the card balance will be zero in November. Maybe even in December, but hopefully not. Yikes!

Per verbal quote, we’re looking at $3,300 for it. As much as I would like to hold off another year, it might not make sense to do that at the risk of increasing the cost. Here’s why:

When we were negotiating with the previous owners of our house, we wanted the roof fixed. Per inspection report, there were areas in the roof that had been rotting. Gladly, they agreed so yay for us! A big area of sheathing, a few fascias (trims) and all shingles were replaced. The total cost for that was $6k. Imagine if we had paid for that. The new sheathing boards and fascias have been untreated/unpainted since we moved in January 2013. If you’re familiar with Oregon’s winter, it’s 6 months of wetness, and sometimes with 1 or 2 snow storms even. We don’t want those untreated parts of our roof to go through another winter as they might start rotting. Unfortunately, I didn’t really see us doing it this year; and to be honest, I mentally put it aside.

But there’s something positive happening this month!

We are going to start paying more to the student loan. I’ll write more about this in the next post. It’s a little nerve-wracking to do this, but we must do something different to get out of debt sooner than much later.

So this is my September for ya. What is yours looking like?

PS: themoneyjourneyandshit, thanks for the message about cookies. I’ve made a mental note do that next time we prepare for our travels.

reflecting on a mindful month

It’s end of August—the month we HAD to be mindful of our money. We had to change something to get a different result.

My husband helped me a lot in planning meals with me. Teamwork is awesome! But you know, we bought some luxurious items, like ice cream and juices. So it wasn’t exactly a monk-like lifestyle. Although that would be interesting to try. We ate out once as a family using a coupon that paid 90% of it. I look forward to eating out again as we still have a discount coupon and a gift certificate. Grand life. Needless to say, we met our budget for this month AND made an aggressive move to pay a good chunk of card debt. Great job on us.

There will be a month or 2 left of sunshine and I look forward to doing more activities, such as hiking, where we can pack our food and enjoy each other’s company and the activity itself. I’m feeling pretty good about life nowadays. My mental space is spacious as the card is going to be paid off with a strategy in place. After the card’s paid off, what else can my mind obsess about? I was telling my husband that it’s boring managing money when I’m not doing my magic tricks (moving money around). Weird how overspending can plant its effects on one’s psyche.

I feel that being mindful will bring upon changes. No idea what those are yet, but I sense it. The other day, I was not up for a long walk with the dog (aka workout) but I did anyway. I came home feeling great because I even beat a previous personal record. I seem to have more mental power to kick my own butt. Now I compete with myself. My runs are twice as far before I walk to catch breath and relax the muscles. All these will translate to something I can tell.

On that note, here’s an article about why my/your budget isn’t working. I swear the author was talking about me.

This week’s spending. Well, we got a bit lax and bought extras on groceries that we’ve not consumed yet. I expect the first week of September to have only 1 or 2 small grocery purchases. I came across 5 Dollar Dinners, and will try a number of its recipes to see what they would do to our budget.

Nay of the week. Last summer week before school starts. It felt so short.

Yay of the week. Took the kid to his dentist and wellness visits. I like that I’m able to do those things as planned. No procrastinating in that department. :-)

Enjoy the long weekend! x

wandering in december

We’ve paid the card whatever amount we budgeted for this month. It feels awesome. Aside from groceries, there are no other anticipated expenses for the rest of the month. The card balance will be gone by September. Yay!

This week, we decided to buy our tickets for the December trip. I don’t know when I checked for airfares last, but the one we were eyeing was much cheaper then (probably late July, early August). I couldn’t risk the increase again so we just bought them.

We didn’t spend all of the savings for this trip. Hurrah for that!

Again, it feels great to pay for something large, like trips, with savings. I used the card so we can earn points and then paid the card the next day. We were actually looking into redeeming our points for a return trip for 1 adult but the total cost of doing that against buying all 3 together was hundreds more. So, husband and I thought that he could use the points for visiting his dad in the fall.

I’m wondering if we should get another card for better travel points/miles. Our card does a $1=1 point conversion, and we could get more if we click the merchant links on the website. All cards serve a fundamental purpose and that’s what I’m after. There are plenty of travel hacks out there, but I don’t know if I will exert the effort.

This week’s spending. You’re probably bored that all I say here is groceries, but it’s mostly true for this week. I, however, bought 2 cute dresses for a friend’s daughter as a gift.

Nay of the week. Wishing that I had bought the tickets sooner. Urgh.

Yay of the week. We volunteered to repack food. That was such a great experience, although tiring after 2 hours of constant mind-numbing activity. The kid started with swim class again. I may really have to put him in classes until he can swim. It’s not the money that turns me off from doing this, it’s the commitment in doing it, but we must! We’ll see.

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