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

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Winning, September 2017 Edition



It was an uncomfortably warm summer in our second-floor apartment with no air conditioning. The return of crisp temperatures is a massive relief. We're relishing the luxury of thick blankets at night, the tinge of bright colors spreading over the trees, and the coziness of autumn-themed baking and coffee making (remind me to share my favorite homemade pumpkin spice coffee recipe with you!)

After the usual end-of-summer, beginning-of-school upheaval, we've settled into a September routine. The Kiddo is busy with homework and video games. Fortysomething is constantly grading and making lesson plans. I'm juggling my day job and a side hustle. The Very Expensive Feline is sleeping all the time (except when she's supposed to, because nighttime is PARTAY TIME). On the weekends, we alternate between lounging around like slugs and getting outside to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. We're busy, but for the most part, we're enjoying it.

As I've done for the past few months, I want to motivate myself by identifying a few financial wins for September. Because let's be honest: even with our big long-term goals to inspire us, this debt repayment thing is a slog. Without this blog and massive amounts of encouragement from others and myself, I'm not sure I'd be willing to persist. Taking the time to identify what we're doing well is crucial to our long-term success. 

So here it is: three ways we're winning this September:

(1) We're on a roll with side hustling. I started my online teaching gig a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned in a previous post, it's definitely time consuming. The grading itself requires several hours of committed time each week; most of that has to be done later in the evening after a full day at my regular job. But on the plus side, I get to teach science! The opportunity to share my passion makes this extra responsibility more palatable.

(2) As of this writing, we have almost $2K in savings. The pay for the side hustle is decent, and we're putting every single penny of it straight into savings. Seeing that balance grow is gratifying because it shows us that our hard work is paying off, literally. At this time last year, we had next to nothing put aside for a rainy day. Thus, this is a big deal for us. I estimate that our emergency/holiday/sinking account will be fully funded by December. We're already more than halfway there. It's going to feel amazing to travel at the holidays and buy new tires without stressing over finances.

(3) We're finding more ways to entertain ourselves on the cheap. Gone are the days of going out to eat every few nights. Instead, we're making peace with home-cooked meals, offset by the very occasional restaurant treat. We also make every effort to avoid purchasing full-priced tickets for movies, festivals, concerts, and the like. We're constantly on the lookout for free stuff to do - and much to my surprise, there's plenty on offer. One example: last Friday we attended a free movie night hosted by a local nonprofit. This Friday, we're going to a star party at a local park. We're spending more time at the library, too, and participating in picnics and gatherings. Our newfound frugal ways seem to be strengthening our ties to our community.

Bonus win, because it's my blog and I can break the rules of three:

(4) I've been hiking and running more! My leg is almost all healed up (damn, IT band injuries are persistent), allowing me to hit the trails more often and for longer periods of time. I'm up to 5-6 miles of running per session, and I recently conquered one of the steepest hikes in our area.

So that's us! Tell us about you: what are your wins this month so far? What are you proud of?

Disease Called Debt


  1. Those are some great wins! I love entertaining myself on the cheap. My wife and I just went to the annual town festival in the park yesterday (free, of course) and had a great time. We also managed to tame our grocery bills after last month's overage.

    1. Oh man, we are SO over on this month's grocery bill. I think we're going to have to reassess that. And I love free town festivals! Sounds awesome!

  2. Yay for a great September! I'm celebrating that decent chunk of debt payoff, but am bracing myself in case Oct isn't as awesome.
    Beautiful where you live! Pics remind me of hiking in Yellowstone.

    1. Congrats on that debt payoff! That's always great news. :-)

      I really love where we live. It is very pretty (though it can get awfully cold and snowy in winter).