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

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Winning, July Edition

Throughout what is sure to be a long, winding, and probably tedious journey towards total debt repayment (again, the goal is five years or less for car loan + credit cards + student loans), I want to take time to acknowledge our achievements. Congratulating ourselves on our victories, however small they might be, will motivate us to keep going.


Three wins as of late July 2017:

  • We've stuck to a budget for almost four full months. We started budgeting in April, and although that incipient effort was rife with rookie mistakes - for instance, it left no room for the purchase of toilet paper or kitty litter - it served its purpose by getting us on the right track. The budget has evolved since then. The one we're working with now takes into account all of our regular payments and expenses (toiletries included!) and gives us permission to pay ourselves (i.e., save).
  • Our grocery bill has decreased substantially. Back in April, we allocated $225/week for food. Last week, we spent $130. Granted, part of that had to do with Fortysomething being away on a business trip for which he received a per diem for meals, but some of it also has to do with the fact that we're being far more discerning in our choices. We've stopped buying the stuff we think we *should* eat but that tends to go bad in the fridge, and we've started to rely more on items we know we will consume. We've largely quit purchasing expensive boxed mixes, frozen meals, and craft beers. We're simplifying what we eat, and in the process, we're spending less. My ultimate goal at this point is $150/week - and I'm pretty sure we can make that work.
  • We've majorly curtailed our consumption of mindlessly-purchased junk. These days, we carefully weigh every purchase. Gone is the era of wandering into Target empty-handed and emerging 45 minutes later with bags full of stuff we weren't planning to buy (is it just me, or is that something of a modern American pastime?) As a result, we're seeing fewer cheap toys, clothes, gadgets, and decorations make their way into our little apartment. Our living environment isn't hip, but it feels airy and uncluttered.
These are achievements - big ones, for us. That's a tremendous amount of habit change and mindset shifting in less than half a year.

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10 comments:

  1. Congrats on your progress! Those are three huge wins! We've been at this for almost 7 months and still make mistakes with our budget! When this happens, we don't beat ourselves up. The fact that we are trying our best to budget is a step in the right direction! I'll be eagerly watching your progress as you tackle your debt. My hunch is you'll pay it off much faster than 5 years!

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate that encouragement Re: the timeline, I certainly hope so. If I can snag a reliable side hustle and boost my income, that will make a big difference. I'm inspired and encouraged by your seven months of debt repayment. Seeing other people do it makes me feel like we can do it, too.

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  2. Congrats! Those are three major turnarounds! It's those little things we have to do over and over--budgeting, buying food, avoiding impulse purchases--that end up making a huge difference!

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    1. Thank you! At this point, we're feeling pretty great about our progress. Now to maintain the momentum over the long haul...

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  3. Great job! But so sad to largely cut the craft beer consumption. ;)
    Make sure you budget in your sinking or annual funds (i.e., car insurance, holiday funds, etc...). It took me some time to get it down, but think I finally have a solid budget.

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    1. I KNOW, I love craft beer! Good point about sinking funds... I need to incorporate those into the August budget. Thanks!

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  4. Oh yeah, been there, more than once.
    It's important to remember that a budget needs to be a living document...you'll have to review and update a few times to get it right in the beginning, and then again as things change.

    And yeah, it's amazing how much I saved when I stopped buying what we should eat and stuck to what we did eat. Plus, we throw way less stuff away. I was telling a friend on Facebook the other day that switching from the fancier grocery stores (Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter) to the more basic ones (Food Lion, Aldi)where I did fewer impulse buys probably saved us $300 a month on groceries.

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    1. Thanks, Emily! It's amazing how clueless we were about budgeting when we started, but I think we're finally getting the hang of it. It's working! It's working! :-)

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  5. Good job! I will admit I had to chuckle about the toilet paper and kitty litter (yes, we've all made mistakes like that), but you're doing great. Target is a dangerous place, so I don't go in there anymore without a list!

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    1. I just try to avoid Target altogether these days. Way too tempting!

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