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

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I Won A Plutus Award!


A few days ago, on the last day of FinCon 2019, The $76K Project won the Plutus Foundation's Best Debt Freedom Blog award, presented by Sandy of Yes, I Am Cheap.

Thank you so much to Sandy, the Plutus Foundation, the people who decided my blog was worth nominating, and the panelists who made the final decision. Oh, and JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly, who accepted the award on my behalf. You guys rock.

The win meant a lot to me. Because I wasn't at FinCon (I mean, how do you maintain your credibility as an in-process debt freedom blogger while shelling out hundreds of dollars for a conference across the country) and had a bunch of stuff going on at the end of last week, I'd completely forgotten about the awards ceremony. I found out about the win while I was out on a run; my phone started pinging like mad. You can bet that news put some extra pep in my step.

The weird thing about winning this award now is that I've been feeling rather conflicted about The $76K Project. I don't know if it's useful for anyone. It's supposed to be a debt freedom blog, but... I rarely give advice on how to tackle debt. I can tell you what we've done, but I cannot in good conscience prescribe a specific approach for getting your finances in order because (a) everyone's circumstances are so different and (b) what do I know. We still have student loan debt, and given that I recently transitioned to a part-time job with no benefits, we're gonna be hanging onto that debt for a while. A long, long while.

If someone were to take a quick peek at our finances and offer advice on how to press the gas on this whole process, I'm pretty sure I know what they'd say:

     Get a higher-paying job!

     Move to an area with a lower cost of living!

     Find a cheaper apartment!

And although the sentiment behind the advice would be appreciated, I'd apply none of it - because that advice doesn't mesh with our current circumstances:

      I had a higher-paying job. It made me depressed, stressed, anxious, and mentally unwell.

     For the first time ever, we live in a place we love, in a community we adore. Plus, the sunshine helps my mood, and that is no small thing.

     If we moved to a cheaper apartment, my partner would have to drive a long way to work and we'd be sharing walls. No more wall sharing.

People can think what they want, but at the end of the day, we have our non-negotiables, and we're not sacrificing them to get out of debt faster.

Because money isn't everything.

If all you're focusing on is your finances - whether that's paying off your student loan as quickly as possible or banking a few million bucks by the time you're 35 - you might find that you're pretty damn unhappy.

Personally? I don't think it's healthy to obsess about money for years on end, and I'm not going to. Our approach now is a blend of "Plan For The Future" and "YOLO".

All this to say: unsolicited advice is a tricky thing. Frankly, it is often completely useless (yes, I'll go there), usually influenced by the advice-giver's own unique experiences, and sometimes harmful (looking at you, Schmave Schmamsey). I don't like getting unsolicited advice. I feel more than a little squirmy giving it.

Which is why I question my efficacy as a debt freedom blogger. I'm not sure I'm a good example, and I can't tell you How To Get Out Of Debt In Ten Easy Steps! (You'll find some advice on this blog about budgeting and tracking expenses, but all of a dozen people have actually read those posts. As it turns out, budgeting and expense tracking are effective but also extremely dull, no matter how many ways the talking head money guys on cable television spin it.)

So. The plan moving forward is to continue with the blog but just keep telling our story. It may be boring, and it may be long, but hey, if you stick around for the next ten years, there might be a final chapter worth waiting for.
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20 comments:

  1. ALL of this is exactly why what you’re writing is so relatable and so important. It’s real.

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  2. Congrats! And I'm glad you decided to keep on telling your story :)

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  3. DITTO what Angela said 100x over. I can't read debt freedom blogs that are all sound bytes and glitz. The real journey is what we're here for and that's why I can appreciate your journey whether we're on the same page or at two totally different places in life.

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  4. I 100% agree with Angela and I've said this every time you've written about questioning the point of your blog.
    There isn't anyone that I have seen that is blogging the way you do.
    Everyone is either, already out of debt and focusing on FI or RE or both. Or they are in debt and writing about how to get out of it at the expense of their happiness.
    The world needs people like you who are writing about real life experiences. The ups and especially the downs of trying to get out of debt and still have a life. Writing about the non-negotiable aspects of your life.
    Ultimately, it's your call what you do with your blog and whether or not you keep it going, but personally, I find it refreshing to see real life experiences, not some fluffy nonsense because that is what Social Media says we should be talking about.
    Well done on your award, you deserve it!

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    1. Thank you, Glitter Girl! You have always been so encouraging.

      I have no itention to stop blogging, in part because people like you have encouraged me to keep going.

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  5. I agree with everything Glitter Girl has written.

    To be completely honest, I don't read your (or anyone's) blog for advice. I read it because I enjoy hearing about people going through a similar experience as I am. I don't expect you to have the answers to any of it. I just enjoy reading your experience, cheering you on when I can, and throwing my $.02 in when asked.

    Also - just have to comment with regard to this:

    Personally? I don't think it's healthy to obsess about money for years on end, and I'm not going to. Our approach now is a blend of "Plan For The Future" and "YOLO".

    All I can say is yes. this. absolutely. 100% is how we're "doing our life", too.

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    1. Thank you, Deborah! It makes me really happy to know that you enjoy the blog. It really does.

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  6. As long as you aren't adding more to your debt, you're making progress. I find your willingness to examine your priorities and your honesty very inspiring. Thank you for writing!

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    1. Thank you, Diana! Not taking on any additional debt is a top priority.

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  7. You so deserve the award - your blog is real and relatable, that's why everyone reads it and voted for you!

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    1. I am so glad to hear it's relatable! Sometimes I really don't know.

      Congratulations to you on your award as well. Your blog is so inspiring and the message is so important.

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  8. YES! Please just keep telling your story! That's why I read your blog. It's why I read most PF blogs. If I need help with a concept, I ask.

    Now, I am invested in my blogger friends lives! I am invested in your life (from afar and in a non-creepy stalker way) haha! Technically no one should be reading my blog either because I'm giving out bad information half the time. But I think people stay for the personal story.

    But I want you to stay and keep telling the story!

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    1. I absolutely LOVE your story and your blog. I'm excited to read more about your personal happiness project!

      I'm staying! I'm so attached to this blog now. Plus, every time I consider quitting it, someone tells me that they've gotten something out of it.

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  9. The only reason I'm here is to continue reading your story and make sure you know there's a community of people here supporting you! You've given us all a lot of motivation this year as you've tackled the dark side of pursuing more money, and we're all a little better off because you've given us courage to fight back against bad job situations, whether we stick with them or not.
    And if The 76k Project has slowed down, it just means we all get to follow along for longer. I'm not going anywhere 😉

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    1. Awwwww, thank you so much, Josh. You are a real encouragement, and I appreciate you so much.

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  10. Please keep sharing in the beautifully-written way that you do. From one high country dweller to another, I appreciate you!

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