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

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Mental Health and Money Mondays: I Spent Money and I Liked It



Preface


I wrote this post and immediately was like, WOOOOOOO I have so much financial confidence! Look at me go!

Then, later, I re-read it and started having doubts. 

First of all, I worry that it sounds braggy, which isn't my intent, but still. Sometimes what a writer wants to say and how the reader interprets it are two different things. 

Second, I feel like The $76K Project is going to give people whiplash. One day it's like, LET'S PAY OFF ALL THE DEBT! And another it's, The system sucks, everything sucks, people can't get ahead! A few weeks later I'm saying, SCREW DEBT, who cares.

And now I'm gleefully writing a post about spending a significant chunk of money. So.

Yeah.

I'm giving myself whiplash.

Look, people, it's a roller coaster: not only the process of paying off lots of debt, but also the task of overhauling your money mindset and learning to trust your newfound financial know-how. And for some people, like me, money is a very emotional thing. 

So what can I say? My money journey is rife with ups and downs, and the blog is reflective of that.

Please keep that in mind, and buckle your seatbelts.


Our October Spending Spree


When all was said and done, October was a spendy month in the $76K household. Having met our emergency fund goal in September, we celebrated by dropping much of our disposable income on fun things:

1. Hotel + food + transportation for CentsPositive: $500

Relaxing in the room before CentsPositive began

2. Going out to eat + coffee: $110

3. Aquarium gear + fish for Kiddo (and let's be real, for the cat, too): $100

Living her best life with her new fish friends/prey

4. Birthday celebration (homemade cheese tray + wine + movie rental): $60

This. Was. Delicious.

5. Birthday present for me from Fortysomething (a hammock! I love it!): $110

New favorite activity

6. 25K race fee: $92

Spent almost $100 to nearly lose my cookies on this hill

Total spent on fun: Almost $975

Whoooosh. Not a typical month. Very little money went into savings. (I feel obligated to add that no money was removed from savings, either.) 


I Have No Regrets (For Once)


In the past, my ability to let go and sink into such a financially freewheeling month would have been compromised by the little voice in my head telling me that I/we don't deserve it, we should be putting every extra cent to student loans, I'm being selfish, I'm being short-sighted, I'm being stupid with money, etc.

In other words, guilt and shame would have undermined my financial confidence and diluted my enjoyment.

But after some reflection, I can say that I have no regrets about our October spending spree. Every dollar spent represents something that made or will make our lives better in some way. Every dollar spent represents an investment in things that we value: being together as a family, communing with likeminded friends, being outside, challenging ourselves, learning new things. 

And as we were spending this money, I felt... good about it.

Not guilty.

Not ashamed.

Not ambivalent.

Not stressed out about whether we could afford it.

I literally delighted - DELIGHTED! - in every expense.

Spending money sans negative emotions? Who am I?


Good With Money


Good is a word I'm not used to associating with money, but last month, I felt unapologetically good about our finances and good about investing in things/experiences we care about. I felt good about my ability to manage and deploy money. I felt good about setting ourselves up well enough that we could afford to let loose for a few weeks. I felt good about crossing the finish line of that expensive race, setting up that aquarium, inhaling that fancy cheese (and wine), sitting in the woods in that crisp new hammock, and getting a solid night's sleep at that downtown Seattle hotel.

Obviously, not all months can be like this, and we're dialing it back in with our November budget. Although our plans leave room for some frivolity, we're also earmarking a chunk of our earnings for our savings account. Time to get back to our goals.

But October showed me what a healthy relationship with money can be like. It gave me a taste of what financial wellness feels like and how liberating it can be. 

Going forward, that's my objective: financial wellness. 

What about you? How would you describe your relationship with money? And is there anything you've bought or invested in lately that made you feel like, YES, this was the best decision? If so, NO SHAME AND HIGH FIVE.
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6 comments:

  1. I'm having a very expensive month this past month. Some from investing in discounted gift cards, some from three months' worth of charitable contributions (I forgot one month so doubled up in October, and the credit card statement is spanning part of November as well), some from repairs to the guest house (again). But there was a level of frivolity with a very pricey Halloween night out. And while I wince at the number, I feel good about the spending because it's been MONTHS since I went out with friends to anything other than trivia. It was good to bond -- albeit drunkenly -- with folks again.

    That said, this Friendsgiving I'm hosting should be a much cheaper affair, coming in around $30-40 and hopefully providing me with a bunch of leftovers.

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    1. For us, October - December are just expensive months. Every year, we try to avoid it. Every year, we end up spending. This year, I'm just going to build it into the budget.

      So glad you had a chance to go out and enjoy! Sounds like such a fun night. And Friendsgiving sounds perfect.

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  2. I'm so happy that you found this mindset, friend! I still kind of beat myself up when we go 'over' in a month and have to carry a negative figure into the following month. It's silly because these months, this border of time we've devised, are totally arbitrary (and they don't all have the same number of days or paychecks). But, still, I've never been good at being kind to myself when I miss a goal.

    So for now I'll just be happy for your mindset! :)

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    1. Thank you! It feels good. I wonder how long this feeling will last, though. LOL. I think October was an anomaly.

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  3. My relationship is probably a roller coaster. We're up, we're down, there's some screaming involved.

    We ARE able to pay our regular bills but if we stick firmly to our savings targets, it can get really tight some months. Since NOT saving isn't an option, we breathe shallowly when it's tight ;)

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    1. Same. SAME.

      In October - December, we tend to go off the rails a bit: two birthdays, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It is REALLY hard not to spend instead of save!

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