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

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Things I Did Not Do In 2017, and Things We Did Instead

I dragged out my list of 2017 resolutions and realized that a) I had too many resolutions and b) I had a 50% success rate:

1. Travel to somewhere out of the country. Nope. Did not happen. Wish it had happened, but I didn't have the money for it... so, probably a good resolution to break.

2. Run an ultramarathon. Nope again. I got injured in February and spent the better part of the year recovering.

3. Earn my running coach certification. I took the class, I aced the test... and then I lost steam and never finished the program. Note to self: stop not finishing things.

4. Spend less time on Facebook. No, though I wish I had. If there's one resolution I want to declare for 2018, it's this. And I'm for serious this time!

5. Volunteer. Be an activist. Participate. I kind of did this. I attended some rallies and made near-daily phone calls to members of Congress. I'm still trying to find my helping niche, one that doesn't deplete me mentally and leave me feeling despondent and depressed. 

6. Maintain a minimalist lifestyle. Yes! We managed to do this mainly because saving money and paying down debt (see below) became major priorities. Reducing credit card balance = less money for random crap at Target.

7. Qualify for good insurance. YES! I did this, too, thanks to the job I landed in February.

8. Generate less consumer waste. Sort of! We're using less plastic now than we did in 2016. I want to take this to the next level and stop purchasing anything wrapped in plastic. That's going to be tough. We'll keep working on it.

What's funny about this list is that none these resolutions pertain to finances, and yet that became the focus of our year once we had our debt epiphany. So although I failed to accomplish all of the things I thought I wanted to accomplish, we actually ended up with a handful of other major achievements that we feel incredibly proud of and that weren't even on our radar a year ago:

3. We made a budget and stuck to it. Well, with the exception of December, when we kind of buried the budget and pretended it didn't exist. But! We didn't go further into debt, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Back on track in January!

4. We paid off over $9000 in debt since June (look for a detailed update next week!)

5. We stashed $6000 into savings.

6. I got a full-time job in February.

7. In July, Fortysomething landed a full-time teaching job that he absolutely loves.

8. I found a higher-paying job better suited to my skills and experience. That's right: the day after Christmas, I received a job offer from the company I've been interviewing with over the last month. It'll be more time-consuming than my current gig, but my salary will be significantly higher, I'll be able to work from home, and I'll get to use my science knowledge and skills.

9. I made new friends, joined two clubs, and became more immersed in my community. 

In other words, 2017 was not what I expected it to be. It surprised me, and we surprised ourselves. So this time around, my only resolutions will be to spend less time on Facebook, pay off our credit card debt, and keep sticking to our budget, all of which I'm pretty sure I/we can accomplish. 

Aside from that, I'm going to play it by ear and let life unfold.

What about you? Did you meet your 2017 resolutions? Do you have any resolutions for 2018? And what surprised you this past year?



  1. Congratulations on all of the awesome accomplishments in 2017, and especially the job. Yay!!!

    Facebook is a tricky beast. I find it's a lot easier to not spend time there if I deactivate it for a few months (I always find some reason to re-activate again though. Facebook, why are you so hard to quit??). At that point I've broken the habit of getting on and scrolling often.

    Not buying anything in plastic is a super impressive and lofty goal. I wish we didn't live in a society where it's so hard to achieve that!

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    2. Thank you! Yeah, I don't entirely know how successful we'll be with plastic reduction, but we'll give it a try. We use reusable bags at the grocery store. Next step: use refillable bottles for soap, shampoo, etc.

      Happy new year to you!

  2. Congrats on the new job - curious to hear about it after you said you weren't looking! :)

    1. I'm working on a blog post about this exact topic! The "I'm not looking" approach lasted all of a week before I realized my job was truly unsustainable for me.