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

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September 2018 In Review: Budget, Savings, and Debt Payments

Current status: I'm sitting at my kitchen table on my day off, sipping coffee out of my favorite mug, admiring the blazing red leaves on the tree right outside the window and watching fog roll across the hills on what is supposed to be a very rainy day if the weather forecast pans out. The forecast here is usually completely off base - by this afternoon it could be 80 degrees and sunny again - but for now I'm enjoying a moment of unquestionable fall. I grew up in the northeast and still miss a traditional autumn.

Reflecting on September, it was a month of running, obsessing about work, and depression. September is a month for depression. Something about the changing of the light. It freaked me out until I remembered that I go through this mindfuck every year at around the same time. I think I'm on the upswing, but I can't say for sure. My approach is to take it day by day.

September was also a month when we took a careful look at our current financial strategy. As Simplistic Steph pondered in her recent September-in-review post, "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing with our finances. Does anyone ever feel 100% confident in their money decisions?" And for us, the answer is a definite no. Last month, for example, we found ourselves wondering whether we should pull back on debt repayment and dump more into savings. In the end we decided to increase our automatic investments a smidge but otherwise stay the course and keep throwing money at my interminable student loan. Said loan will be paid off by February if we don't alter our plans.

Here's a breakdown of our September finances:

Budget: Although we stayed fairly well on track overall, we were off our September budget in a few categories. Our grocery bill was partly to blame, as usual, but we also had a couple of surprise expenses come up. The Kiddo had an eye exam and discovered that he badly needed glasses, so that was an unplanned $240 (I adjusted our planned loan payment by a couple hundred dollars to accommodate this). Then there were some books for school and a couple of unnecessary restaurant outings. Oh, and a $310 car repair, but that came out of our emergency fund. On the savings side, the Kiddo decided not to play soccer for his school, something that would have cost $150.

Debt repayment: After a slow summer, we're back in business with our debt repayment plan. I paid a total of $1300 to my student loan, bringing the balance from $9,800 to $8,570. With Fortysomething's usual $400 payment, our total debt dropped from $48,776 to $47,361 - a total of $1415!

Investments and HSA: Although we didn't add much to our regular savings account in September, Fortysomething and I both increased our 403b contributions to 6%. He has a 3% match from his employer and I have a 6% match from mine. All told, we're putting about $800 a month into our collective investments. We're also putting $500 a month (including my employer match) into our HSA, though much of that money is getting funneled directly to medical bill repayment. Thus, while it might not feel like we're saving much right now, in actuality we're making some progress in that area, too.

What about you? How was your September, financially or otherwise?



  1. WOOOOOO! Look at that decrease on your debt. My sept was just ok... my net worth and finances didn't do as well as I'd hope, but I'm trying to stay positive.
    And I can't thank you enough for the shout-out! You're killing it financially, and it def seems like you have it all figured out, but I feel better knowing we all struggle.

  2. You had an awesome month! Inspiring...!

  3. I also don't know what to do about my own money situation. I feel like I never know where to put the money, and right now, I don't have as much as I'm used to, and I hate that!!! UGH. You are doing an awesome job though. I miss the fall weather so much it hurts here in Florida, but I know I'll love it in December when it cools down enough to wear cute outfits again.

    So glad you're feeling a bit better. Hugs!

  4. I agree with the feeling of never being 100% confident about our decisions. I feel like it's a lot of guessing and then adjusting, which is always a bit scary. I'm sorry about the September blues!

  5. Hello 76k!
    Not sure how I can across your blog in the coarse of searching the internet here but I love it!

    I'd like to add a comment you made about your southwest card. You should be able to cancel it and keep any points.