It’s been too long since writing here.
I was building momentum. It felt incredible. I had a $1500 emergency fund, and $100 in what I call Getting Ahead savings (money left over from budgeted items, that can be used for any unexpected expenses.)
I took $500 from the emergency fund and bought myself some IKEA furniture. I hadn’t had a dresser in five-and-a-half years, nor a desk chair in one-and-a-half years. I also bought two nightstands and two lamps, so my girlfriend and I have a place to put things.
The room feels more like a home now, especially when compared to last year, when I slept on an air mattress, and used plastic totes to both store my clothes and serve as a computer desk.
It wasn’t an emergency, but I think even Dave Ramsey could get behind buying some basic furniture.
The Getting Ahead savings turned out to be a better in theory than practice. I found it would build up with $50 or $60, and I’d just use it to buy fast food. It wasn’t getting me ahead. So I decided to abandon that idea. Any excess budgeted money will either stay in the budgeted areas (always good to have a little extra for utilities,) or it will be moved to one of my savings for the trips I’m taking this year.
There are three trips left: Florida in June to visit my girlfriend’s mom, Pennsylvania in July for a wedding, and Colorado in December for my brother’s wedding. The savings is a little strange - I’m going to save the budgeted amount for Florida, then save enough to buy a plane ticket to Colorado, then save for the Pennsylvania wedding, then save the rest of the budgeted amount for Colorado.
The debt snowball has been put on hold for this year because of these trips. I’m okay with that. Last year was long and tough and I’m not going to say a break is deserved, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’m still making more-than-minimum payments and on-track to meet my goals for this year.
A few weeks ago, I went through the process to consolidate my student loans. I was going to last July, but I started to worry what consolidation might do to my mindset. Would I be less encouraged to pay them off quickly, with the new, lower monthly payment? Will I pay more interest, and is that cost worth it?
The consolidated loan adds ten years to the repayment period, and doubles the amount of interest paid. But that assumes I pay the new, lower minimum payment. Adding the consolidated loan into my debt snowball will result in nearly identical interest payments and payoff date (give or take a couple hundred dollars and one or two months.)
This will allow me to pay off the student loans my mom took out for me a little bit quicker than I could otherwise.
Speaking of paying things off more quickly, I’ve been toying with the idea of a second job for awhile, but don’t have any idea what I might want to do. Another retail job would be easy, but likely not fulfilling. Jobs I may find interesting would likely require I leave my current job, which I’d really hate to do because I really love my job now. All I know is, $350 more a month would cut my debt repayment by three years.
Debt is such a scourge, and it has made my life worse than it needs to be. I think a lot about my debt-free list. I want a comfortable savings cushion, and to start saving for a home and maybe a car and retirement. I don’t want to think about how going to the doctor messes up my budget. I want to be able to travel and see my family whenever I want. I want to feel empowered to make the right decisions for me and my life, and not worry as much about social and professional implications.
So consolidated loans. And furniture. And a few trips. This is 2013. It’s comfortable, less frantic than 2011 and 2012. It feels nice. Thinking about a second job and my debt-free list make me both hopeful and anxious, so maybe it’s best not to. In the meantime, I’m doing alright.