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

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Holiday Sadness and Money Wins

The Holiday Blues

Whewwwww. Two days after Christmas, and I'm kind of ready - okay, no, very much ready - for this holiday season to be over.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy many aspects of the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years trifecta, including the lights, the food, spending time with my immediate family, more food, and yes, the presents (this is the time of year when I get new running clothes, so I can't help but feel excited about the gifts under the tree).

But parts of it were just... a lot. We had visitors over Thanksgiving, which was exhausting. My workload has been relatively high (for me): I had to take advantage of extra hours while I could, which meant working 7-8 hours every day this week except Christmas Day.

Most blah of all, this season has felt lonely in a way that I was not anticipating. I'm sure part of it has to do with the isolation of working from home, but after three years of living here, I feel like we should have more friends, or at least friends that we see on a more regular basis. I feel like our social fabric should be stronger than it is. We should be out visiting! And partying! And celebrating! With other humans! And... we didn't. We weren't.

I visited cats. We partied with a laser toy. Does that count?

I found myself wondering whether it's worth it to stay here. As much as I love the physical beauty that we appreciate every single day, this place is freaking expensive, and people can be a bit shut off. Do I want to pay this much money to feel like a social outcast? Would it be worthwhile to move to a more affordable and larger city with more job and social opportunities? And how great would it be to live in a place with a personal finance/FI community? (Yes, I know I could create one, but I don't want to lead and organize a group. Been there, done that. No thank you.)

Absolutely zero decisions were made. If I had to make a bet, I'd wager that no decisions will be made anytime soon. I mean, maybe I just have a touch of seasonal depression, and maybe my outlook will change when the days get longer.

But those were the things I thought about, and it kind of sucked.

Obviously, turning the page on a new year doesn't make those questions and issues disappear, but we need to be able to consider them without the extra pressure of the holidays. Now that they're almost over, I'm already feeling like I have a little more breathing room.

Next week, my work hours will drop to half time. Although that means less money coming in and a tighter budget than we've been keeping over the past three months, I'm looking forward to giving some space and time to my creative side. I'm excited to figure out what I want to focus on in 2020 and develop some goals. I need to put together a training plan for the TransRockies Race. I'd like to get more involved in local trail and environmental organizations (which might help with the whole I-have-no-friends thing). We're also gearing up to fill out some home loan paperwork, just to see what we qualify for (does not address the friend thing, but it might help with housing costs, if we're lucky).

And if finances gets tight and I need to find another job, well, I'll have some extra time to get that sorted out.

Winning, December 2019 Edition

Fun fact: this post was supposed to be about December money wins.

I'm way off track.

To get this post back to where it's supposed to be, I'll share that we did have some good financial stuff happen this month:

(1) Now that our campground membership is gone, we can devote another $100/month to the student loan. In December, we paid $508. It's still a very long, slow road to loan payoff, but at least we picked up the pace a little. I'm hoping we can continue paying this much. If our rent goes up again in May (sigh), we might have to reconsider.

(2) We increased Fortysomething's retirement contributions by 1%. Happily, his paycheck decreased by only about $20. After we let the dust settle on the holidays, we'll revisit retirement contributions and possibly increase them by another 1% in the new year.

(3) I convinced one of my petsitting clients to abandon Rover and pay me directly. Man, it was NICE to keep that 20%. I made $200 from one booking over the holidays! I'm going to check with my other regular to see if she'd be willing to cut out the middleman (middleapp?) as well.

What about you? How was your holiday? Do you ever have the blues during what's supposed to be a festive and celebratory season? And what about your December money wins?


  1. I can’t see why your regulars would have an issue ditching the app! Especially because that means they get first dibs on you.

    1. The app has some nice features, but yeah, I can't see why it'd be a big deal! She's currently booked me through January so I'll try to catch her before she books the next round.

  2. I know what you mean about the lack of a friendship group. I felt that way when my ex and I broke up 2 years ago and I lost her entire (and very large) friendship group. It has taken me 2 years to slowly rebuild it, and a lot of the rebuilding has been with women I've gone on dates with and subsequently become friends with (yay for queer women!). I don't know how important location is - for me, it has been a matter of identifying potential friends and then holding on for dear life! (But in a socially appropriate, non-stalker kind of way.)

    1. I think there's something unique about social dynamics in small towns. We've experienced it elsewhere, too: people are friendly enough, but they have their groups and they're not always inclined to let new people in. I've been in my book club for almost three years and I still feel like I'm kind of on the outside (though I like the women in it) because everyone has known each other forever. And then we had a couple who we'd see fairly regularly, but a few months ago they kind of stopped talking to us, so I don't know. I just need to find a new venue for making friends.

    2. I can see that! I looked up where you live, and it's about 1/10th the size of my city. I can imagine the dynamics would be quite different.

  3. Having a nearby social circle really makes a huge difference in quality of life. A lot of my choices this year have revolved around improving my connections with the different friend groups I have in my local town. We are here for the long haul, methinks. Though I still get the wanderlusts and "what-ifs" of different cities.

    1. Thank you, Diana! I think a strong social circle is so important... It's frustrating to feel like I'm getting nowhere on building one. LOL. CentsPositive was such a boost for me because it reminded me that part of making connections is having something in common. That might be one of my issues here... I haven't found people with whom I have that much in common.

  4. I know what you mean. Getting sick made my circle very small and primarily virtual. I hope, this year, to find ways to be more in community, but also just generally happier in whatever ways I can control.

    With respect to money, I upped my retirement contributions by 0.1% starting in January and this seems kind of silly but it's the principle of the thing, I suppose.

    1. Congratulations on increasing your retirement contributions!

      My virtual community has been so important to me. Looking back, that's been the case for me for a long time. It's just easier for me to get to know people online; there's less pretense, and it's easier to find common ground.

      I hope both of us can develop a stronger community in 2020!

  5. I can relate 100% to living in a small town and the lack of a social circle. I've been in Santa Barbara for over a year, and the little contact I've had with a handful of people has dwindled down to zero, even after my attempts to hang out more regularly. I also find myself wondering if being here is worth it anymore, since I work remotely now and don't HAVE to pay thousands of dollars in rent while also having no social connection.

    However, moving = money. Plus I'm lazy, so I doubt that a major decision will be made any time soon either. It is a thought that creeps up from time to time, especially during the holidays.

    1. I don't WANT you to feel this way, but at the same time, reading this was kind of comforting. You totally understand where I'm coming from. Every other day, I'm like, WHY am I spending this much money to feel isolated?!

      But yeah, moving is so expensive. Big changes are expensive. So... ugh. No idea.

  6. I hear you on the holidays being tough. If you're ever in the market to move a few miles south, I hope you know you'd have some more friends who'd be very happy to hang out. :)

    We often feel the other side of this, wanting to move away from the Phoenix metro to try out a new city or country. But the bonds we have here in this community, our friends, make us think twice. I am not sure we'd easily build new friendships, as deep or as many, if we started over now.

    1. You could move two hours north! LOL.

      Truly, if it weren't so dang hot, Phx might be an option. We know more people there - that's definitely a plus.

  7. I also felt extremely lonely the past 3 months leading up to the holiday season, and I finally started to feel good when I arrived in Italy. I know how it feels to be surrounded by people and still feel like you don't belong. It freaking sucks! I am so proud of you for simply living the day-by-day and making decisions as they come. I'm so over the massive money moves we are (or feel like we are) expected to make every year as people in the PF community. I am slowly reaching a place of contentedness with the route I am taking to pay off debt and invest. There is no "gazelle intensity" to any of it and I am so much happier for it.

    I hope 2020 is your best year yet, friend! I look forward to reading, as always.