A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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Career Break Life In Numbers

It occurred to me yesterday that I haven't written a blog post in more than a week. Honestly, I just haven't felt like it. Like I said in my last post, it's kind of boring to write about money when you don't have it and/or when every cent is already earmarked for something essential.

On the other hand, I hate when other bloggers suddenly disappear, so I'm going to throw something out there. It won't be particularly well written, but you know what? Sometimes messy writing is accurate, honest writing.

So here we go: my current life in numbers.


Our current debt balance. It's been a while since I've posted a debt update, so as a reminder, this represents our one remaining student loan (or as I like to call it, THE LOAN THAT WILL NEVER DIE). You can find our detailed debt numbers here.


Number of days I've been on my career break. It doesn't feel that long, but I suppose time flies when you're doing things you mostly enjoy: reading, learning Italian (Il mio cavallo mangia caramelle! Thanks for the applicable phrases, Duolingo), running, watching multiple seasons of Survivor, pet sitting, baking cookies.

Not that it's all roses and rainbows. I still have to deal with the anxiety that is the cosmic background radiation of my life, and if I'm not careful, I can waste hours worrying about future job prospects. I try not to.


Number of days since I've consumed alcohol. Last year, I tried to make it through June without drinking. I was cruising along nicely until Anthony Bourdain died; his passing hit me hard, and the beer (okay, beerS) I drank in his honor put an immediate end to my dry month. Now I'm trying again. This time, I want to see if not drinking alcohol will improve my running performance. Although the verdict is still out, abstaining has definitely improved the quality of my sleep.

However, if I'm being totally transparent, nothing sounds better right now than a cold, crisp glass of rose.


Dollars we spent on our cat's healthy pet visit and rabies shot. Fine. Ugh.


Dollars we spent on an oil change and air filter replacement in our car. FINE. UGH.


Total number of petsitting bookings I've had via Rover.com. Not too shabby considering that I can't offer doggie day camp (the most efficient way to make money as a petsitter) and I'm still getting started.


Amount of money I've made petsitting over the past six weeks. Again, not bad, although I'm realizing that I really need to factor the amount of time I spend driving to/from these visits into the total cost. My plan is to maintain my current rate through the beginning of August, snag a few more five-star reviews, and then increase my rate again. I don't want to scare away potential clients, but a) gas is expensive and b) I give my all with every client, and I'm worth it. I don't want to undersell myself.


Number of job applications I've submitted since quitting my previous job.

  • Unicorn Job #1: Company received 2000 applications (!) and did not select me for an interview.
  • Unicorn Job #2: Government job. I doubt I will ever hear from them because they rely on bots to select their candidates, but I can still dream.
  • Job #3: Part-time freelance work of questionable quality. Will give it a try and let you know whether it's worthwhile.
  • Job #4: Part-time, at-home, well-paying gig that promised to get back to me within two weeks "because that's our culture!" Did not get back to me within two weeks.
I posted this on Twitter, but it's worth repeating here. This is me sifting through job ads:

Pay me. Respect me. Communicate with me. Don't make me jump through eight million hoops just because you don't know how to conduct an efficient job search.

Not having a full-time salaried position isn't making me feel any better or any more hopeful about the current state of work in the United States. It's just giving me time to contemplate how exploitative and dysfunctional much of it is. Unfortunately, most of us are tethered to it because it's one of the only ways to obtain reasonably priced health insurance and because freelancing is expensive.


Amount I'd need to earn per month after taxes in order for us to break even (expenses = income). That's with our cheap, temporary health insurance. Once the Kiddo and I have to move to my parter's plan, I'll need to earn about $1300 per month.


Current average daily running mileage. I'd really like to train for a specific race, but race fees are so expensive, and I get overwhelmed with the number of choices available.


Average hours of sleep per night.


Amount of money we plan to transfer from savings account this month (thanks to Fortysomething's bonus + Rover earnings). Woohoo!


Number of trips we're taking this summer - one to Disneyland (generously covered by a family member, because otherwise there's no way we'd go) and one back east to see family.


of the things I've been thinking about lately:

I wish I hadn't been so obsessed about paying off debt last year. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad we worked so hard to ditch our high-interest credit card debt, and I'm glad my student loan is gone. However, there were some things we chose not to do that we could have done, and now I wish we'd done them (e.g., attend a close friend's wedding last fall) instead of dumping every extra cent towards student loans. I wish I could go back and tell younger me to chill out and have some fun. 

Like... when you have money, yes, do smart things with it. But also do some fun things with it.


The next installment of Finances After 40! Guess who's being featured.


Okay, I won't wait to tell you. It's One Frugal Girl, and I'm thrilled because IT'S ONE FRUGAL GIRL! Stay tuned - that post will drop in a few days.

So that's it for now! What about you?


  1. Some tidbits to share for your running goals:
    If you are a fan of Harry Potter, Doctor Who or general fandoms (these rotate)- you can find a running home with Random Tuesday. They do "fanthropy" running events that are themed. It's all done virtually, so no need to travel. You can run "with" the group through their FB groups and Charity Miles.
    If you want to run one of their races (cool medals!), but don't have the cash- they have sponsorships.

    More info here on the concept and programs: http://rantue.org/programs/

  2. I love this post. I've been doing a lot of thinking around debt repayment (since I really want to get out of debt), but I think I also felt a lot of stupid guilt about spending money on things like an awesome trip to visit family in Korea and redoing our backyard garden so we can grow veggies. Most of our credit card debt is now on 0% cards and for some reason (probably paying off the cards), my credit score keeps going up. If it takes a bit longer to pay it off, but we feel more balanced with our financial priorities and less on the edge just to hit a huge payoff number each month, it's ok. Thanks for the hindsight encouragement.

  3. I'm loving the format of this post, friend. That 750 break even number jumped out at me. That's kind of rad: an achievable number for a break even.

    I hope one of those four applications pans out. Let me know if I can help with anything. (Like maybe finding cool unicorn jobs down in the Phoenix area?)