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

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June Goals: Win Some, Lose Some

June didn't work out quite the way I'd planned. Oh well.

I'm starting to think that unless we're making financial goals - on the whole, we're pretty good at meeting those - I should stop making goals at all. Or perhaps a better approach would be to label things as goals AFTER I've achieved them, similar to the way in which I create to-do lists that consist mostly of tasks I've already completed so that I get the satisfaction of crossing them off.

I don't think I'm doing goals or lists correctly. Can anyone relate?

Here's how I did with my June goals:

(1) Dry June: You may recall that I decided to stop drinking for a month. It was a really good idea for multiple reasons, one being that May was boozy and my liver needed a break. Unfortunately, this effort was a total failure. Okay, not a total failure: I made it about two weeks without imbibing. Then Anthony Bourdain died. I'm not sure why his passing hit me so hard; I've always liked him and respected his work, but I've never been one to get obsessed with celebrities. Like when Prince died, I just did. not. understand. why some of my friends were so upset about the death of someone they'd never met. Now I get it.

Anyway, Anthony Bourdain's death seemed to warrant a toast consisting of several beers. Right after that, the shitty news really hit the fan: I was beside myself upon reading that kids were being separated from their parents at the Mexico/U.S. border. And then the end of June brought the revelation that a Supreme Court justice is leaving, possibly endangering Roe vs. Wade... I'd already been panicking about the state of the country, but this month really put that panic into overdrive. Cue that glass of wine with dinner.

In short, I didn't meet the goal. On the other hand, I did drink significantly less than I did in May, so... yay?

New approach: instead of cutting out the booze completely, I'm going to adopt the approach of only drinking on the weekend. That's a goal I can meet.

(2) Paying off Credit Card #3: We planned to pay off our last credit card by the end of June, thanks to a handful of bonuses, a side hustle, and a family gift. As of today, we have a balance of $1500, but we'll pay that off tomorrow when the last bonus hits our bank account. So we didn't meet the goal exactly on time, but... we're still meeting the goal. I'm calling this a win.

(3) Increase in running mileage: This was not a clear, set June goal. I made it up just now. Turns out that I was super consistent throughout all of June, hitting the trails five days a week and logging a total of nearly 150 miles. My highest-mileage week was 40 miles. I suspect the fact that this was a difficult month played a role here, too. Running helps me process and compartmentalize information, and I was in serious need of processing and compartmentalizing. Running helps calm my mind, and since my mind seems to be in a constant state of worry these days, I'm running more.

I also worked on my goal to be more involved in the running community. I volunteered with the Couch-to-5K group on most weeks, except last week when I had to get my kid to soccer practice. I'll be volunteering with this program again in the fall.

Goals for July (if I dare to make them)

My main goal for July is to just enjoy it. I think I can handle that. Next week we're heading out of town for a mini-vacation, and I can't wait. I need a change of scenery. We're taking our son to a place in the mountains where Fortysomething and I have some history and where I feel inspired. When we come home, we'll be outfitting our house with some much-needed kitchen gear. What we won't be doing this month is obsessing about our debt: we'll make the minimum payments on the student loans, but other than that, our disposable income will be used for fun stuff. 

That said, another July goal will be to develop a strategy for debt repayment moving forward. Do we put the student loans on the back burner and build our emergency fund? Do we blaze forward with the loans and leave our little emergency fund as is? Do we try to split the difference? We need some time to think it through.

Lastly, running goals: I'd like to ramp up my mileage a little more (mostly via longer long runs) and select an ultrarun for the fall. For some reason, I've been very hesitant to actually sign up for a race, but given that I'm doing all this training, I need to go for it.

What about you? How did you do with your June goals, and what are your goals for July (if you do goals)? 



  1. I haven't really set monthly goals for myself, but I'm starting to think I should. Even if you don't meet them all exactly, it's a good idea to at least be focused on some improvements.

    And I hear you on the panic. I spend a lot of time (too much of my time) watching the news and it's definitely getting to me. It's great that you've been doing so much running and that it helps to calm your mind. Perhaps I need to set a walking goal for July.

    1. I really need to make myself walk away from the news. I firmly believe that it is my responsibility to know what is going on, but there is no need for me to be checking the headlines every hour. Once or twice a day would suffice.

      I need to figure out what my strategy is in all of this. Constant worry is not a good approach.

  2. I think just enjoy it is the best goal. I am trying really hard to be more present now that I'm halfway through summer break. It's definitely a struggle to balance the blog and my real life ;)

    1. Summer flies by, always. I remember being a kid and freaking out about how quickly it all happens - and now I see my kid doing the same thing. Yes, going to slow down this month and take it in!

  3. I TOTALLY understand about goals. I'm terrible at "goal setting" and SMART goals will make me actively work against what I want! Have you ever done the Gretchen Rubin Four Tendencies quiz? You might be a rebel...

    Rebels (myself included) are driven by desire and identity. We have to want something bad enough. We wake up in the morning and think, "What do I WANT to do today?" instead of "What do I HAVE to do today?" Yet, I can accomplish a lot as long as I want it badly enough, and do my due diligence of shifting my mindset to make me ready to go after it.

    1. That makes sense! If I feel pushed into something I don't want to do - by myself or by someone else - I have no trouble walking away from it.

      In order to accomplish my goals, I have to be all in and pretty much obsessed. Otherwise, I lose interest.

  4. About the politics -- I agree that obsessive checking the news is really counterproductive. Once a day suffices. I'm considering getting a paper newspaper again! But I would also say that you will feel better if you do something active about the situation. You live in a swing state -- do you have a plan to volunteer on voter registration and turnout? Even if your local town is very blue, every senatorial vote counts, and you can probably also text-bank or get a bus on the weekends to a redder area to door-knock.

  5. It's disheartening when you didn't make your goals but the important thing is that you made good progress the entire months toward these goals.

  6. In the name of self-care, I left Facebook (for good, hopefully) last month. I made sure it would be onerous and tail-between-my-legs inducing to go back (instead of just deactivating my account, which could be reversed in a single click). Honestly, I feel like it has completely changed my relationship with the news. Instead of hearing it, and immediately emotionally reacting, posting something on FB about it, steaming over comments from the opposite POV, spending far too much time having unproductive arguments, getting glimpses I don't really want to into how some of my FB friends feel about issues and resenting them for it, I now absorb the news and try to figure out what I can actually DO to counteract what I am seeing and then move on with my day. More time to read financial blogs - win, win! LOL

    As for July's goals, I only have three:

    1. Increase my retirement contribution by 1% (My annual raise kicks in on July 1, so I do this immediately before I even notice more money in my paycheck) - Just signed the forms at HR this morning.

    2. Reign in discretionary spending a bit. We just returned from a wonderful, but expensive vacation, where I put a lot of expenses on a credit card in order to get the best exchange rate and avoid foreign ATM transaction fees. I intend to pay that balance in full at the end of this month, so I'll need to watch our spending in the meantime.

    3. Pay more than the minimum toward our remaining, outstanding debt. I have slowed down debt repayment this summer in order to free up cash for other things, but I still want to move forward. My end of summer goal is to have the debt below the $4k mark by September 1.

  7. I think I shall try to enjoy more of July and stop trying to write that ONE post that will make my blog explode! :)