“I’ll start my diet on Monday”, “I’ll start paying debt down next year”, “I’ll start working out next month”, and “Ugh, I missed 2 days to my exercise program so I might as well wait until next week to restart.” All of these are excuses I’ve used to excuse myself from doing something NOW. That comment about starting to pay off debt? I made that in a February and wouldn’t allow myself to see the silliness of the comment. After all, I had missed the New Year’s “deadline” to create goals so I would just save it for the next year. Which, in case you were wondering, went by and this was not one of my goals. Instead, I waited another few years to start doing something.
Just this past week I found myself starting to do this cycle of waiting all over again to re-start something. It started out simple enough: I missed 3 days of work outs and when you add this to the 3 days I had missed the previous week, I really wanted to just say “I’ll wait for…”. But thankfully I recognized the cycle and on Sunday, I got my butt out of bed early and went for a run. Granted it was a slow jog and I didn’t feel nearly as great as I normally would have but I at least did something. And yes, on Monday, I was a little bit sore as I re-started Insanity week 3 (missed all but 2 days of this workout the previous week) but I feel better already!
With finances, I try very hard to stay in my routine. If not, I’m afraid I’ll go back to the old ways. So yes, I might check accounts every day or look at my budget, but I want to stay on top of things. And last year, I finally started repaying my debt but I started in September. It at least got me some momentum going and I was able to come up with a loose plan of attack. The “scariest” part was a few months into following my budget and I didn’t write it down to carry with me. I hadn’t memorized it yet so didn’t realize how much money was for what category-but we spent anyways. Thankfully we managed to switch some savings around and stay in budget but I did have a moment where I wanted to say I would start again next month.
The point to all of this is I had no real reason to wait. There is no time like the present to implement a change. Waiting to start it a few days probably won’t help you out-it might even hinder you farther.
First, let me be honest. I’m a worrier by nature (read about wedding worries and baby showers issues) and will stress myself out over the oddest of things. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because I’ve panicked about random worries (which could be something as weird as not remembering if I sent out a bill or as crucial as something like I don’t know how I’m going to eat. Thankfully the latter worries have not come back for a while!) and have suffered insomnia due to this. (The insomnia is one of the reasons I have set schedules that I try not to change a lot-I do better sleeping on schedules)
A little over a year ago, this led to some issues with my health and thankfully it was nothing major-only an ulcer. First, I was doing a workout program on top of riding a bike to work (no car at the time) and making a quarter above minimum wage at a place with no regular hours-both in shifts and in the amount of hours per week. Second, we had no real budget or plan-we paid bills to our roommate and made sure we had some food but that was pretty much it, the rest was gone. So there I am, getting up early to do a workout with poor nutrition and very little sleep and wondering why instead of feeling stronger, I’m getting weaker. But I’m also a stubborn person and persevered through it, plus the workouts helped relieve the stress of being broke. Not my brightest decision.
Due to the way my body was aching and me skipping lunches at work (I needed as much time as possible and would rather not eat if it meant getting an extra half hour. These added up as this place would start to send people home if it wasn’t busy so I needed all the hours I could get.), I started to take ibuprofen to counteract the headaches and soreness. Funny thing-I couldn’t take them with milk as my stomach would get upset. So I took them with water on an empty stomach and kept it up for a few weeks. Woops.
Sure enough, I started to have really bad stomach pains-these blinding, ripping, stabbing pains. I went to the ER and finally to a clinic (they worked with people with no medical insurance) where they finally got me on medicine and calmed down the raging stomach issue. The bad part? It took 2 and a half weeks to get this figured out so I ended up missing a lot of work-or rather, was sent home from work a lot and add the small paychecks to the medical bills and my normal bills? Ugh. That did not help my stomach issues out as the more stressed I became, the worse the pain ended up being. I did get financial assistance for those medical bills though so that’s a plus.
That was one of the reasons I wanted to be out of debt and wanted to have a budget. I didn’t want the stress of “OH MY GOD! The electricity is due…but we have no money! How could we forget!?!?!” that I’d been having. Instead, I like it much better when I get an outrageous bill and can say “hmm, I think that is a mistake and I’ll be calling but if not? It’s budgeted for.” It’s partially why I tend to overestimate things. Now that I have that budget and my plan, my ulcer has stopped flaring up and I sleep a lot better. Oh, I still worry but I can open my computer and look at the pretty budget. My insomnia, while not going away, is much better than it was previously.
What did having an ulcer due in the long-term? I can’t take anything with an NSAID in it without my stomach cramping in pain, I cannot eat as much of the spicy food that I love as I used to or have it as hot as I liked and I have to make sure that I have medicine on hand in case it flares up. Not fun at all. But it was also that nice kick to the butt to get a budget in place. While I would never wish an ulcer on someone, at least *some* good came out of it. And thankfully, I didn’t need surgery!
Thank you to everyone for the encouraging words yesterday. I do feel pretty nifty about getting to start paying on that loan for real. And sadly, we have basically made up our minds to stay where we are for a year (read about the dilemma here). There’s a bunch of stuff that’s going on (that I don’t want to get into on a blog where some people *may* find it) that sort of made this choice for us. But we’re going into it knowing what’s up. We’re continuously looking at our ceiling for any spots that look like they might fall and thankfully, none have turned up.
In the long run, another year and 2 months won’t hurt here and might actually help us out by being able to save more money. I do think that we will try to ask for a 6 month lease instead of a year lease though. This way we can slowly save up the money rather than stretching ourselves pretty thin when it comes to money. It doesn’t change the fact that we are going to be living paycheck to paycheck for a while but it does change the fact on where our money is going to go. But a 6 month (if the landlord goes for it) will help with my sanity (knowing that if we can save up money we can leave) with the small exception of the wedding planning. If we found something in June (which is when a lot of rentals become available around here) it would mean moving a few weeks before the wedding. I am pretty sure I can handle it as we moved into this house in one day (packed the night before and that was it).
We’ve come to terms with it like I said and I’m sure it will only make us stronger and more committed to better managing our finances.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m on a display with people wondering why I do what I do. Partly it’s my own fault (I’m WEIRD in all capital letters for serious) and partly it’s because of what I’m doing here. I don’t tell many friends that I blog—kind of because I tend to like the idea of being completely honest and sometimes I’ll share conversations on here. And when I do tell friends I blog, and they find out what I blog about, I get the question “WHY do you want to get out debt so quickly? You have your whole life to do this.” Seriously. No, really, it’s an actual comment (okay paraphrased from many comments) that I’ve received.
My answer: because I’m smart. Oh wait, that’s implying they aren’t smart and isn’t very nice at all. Okay, new answer: Because I have better uses for my money than letting it go to debt payment for years on end. But that’s still not really why and kind of sounds uppity. Okay, final answer: because I don’t like the thought of owing someone a lot of money when I could be doing fun things with that money. That’s not bad. And it’s true! I know that I could go on a vacation on credit and that would be “fun” but it’s not going to be fun enough to continue paying years down the road. (And yes, I’m implying that I wouldn’t be paying that vacation of in full when I received the statement. Just the minimums)
And yes, money is a little tight right now (for instance, I’m saving up to go to a concert for a date in September because our normal date money won’t cover it all instead of just being able to rearrange the budget to give us more that time) and sometimes I feel like there is no end in sight. But I know it’s going to be worth it. And maybe it’s just pride getting in the way, but I really hate owing people money. Not that you can tell if you look at the sheer amount of debt I’m in but I really don’t like it. And truthfully, it’s only stretched tight because we are saving up to move, saving for a wedding, saving up for a efund and we’re trying to get out of debt. Not many normal people do that.
So yes, student loans (one of the contention issues) might be structured to be paid off over the long-term, but when I can, I plan on starting to knock those suckers out. This is partially because I defaulted on them for a while and am a few years behind but also just because I really don’t like them hanging over my head. The future plan is to go after the baby one and just get it down as fast as I can. Of course, we also have to take care of my fiancé’s student loan. So that will in actuality be the first to go as it really is a baby. Point is? Debt has got to go. And yes, if I get a house, it might come back but that’s far down the road.
In conclusion, people can stare at me like I’m on display all they want. I’ll eventually be debt free and a lot happier and I am also comfortable with my incredible weirdness.
So last night after getting tired of working on work at home (trying to play catch up after I kind of deleted some things I shouldn’t have. Oh and there was no “undo” available) I decided to play around with my budget. Specifically I have done my budgets up until next July. (Notice I said budgets plural) Why? For the following reasons:
First reason: wedding planning! Okay, this was the more fun reason. I’ve got a post that will be coming here shortly on my wedding budget but in order to figure out what I could save for my wedding, I’ve had to also figure out my pay schedule and budget. I know they are estimates but I tend to estimate high. I figure excess is good while being under is bad. (Oh grocery fiasco, I’ll never live you down!) So I’ve figured out what we can roughly afford to put aside and have based a wedding budget of off that. (Not going to lie, right now my wedding cost exceeds what I can put aside but some of those things in my budget aren’t for sure and I’ve just put them down as a “maybe”.)
Second Reason: Debt planning! Minus the excitement of the wedding planning. And it’s more like “debt repayment planning but whatever. Not much more to say on this subject-I don’t have a time line or anything. Instead, I’m just fantasizing paying off one or more debts by the time the wedding comes along. I think it’s doable but we’ll see!
Third Reason: new rental house planning! Our current house, as I’ve mentioned, is a bit small. It doesn’t seem like it when I describe it: living room, kitchen, backroom/washer and dryer area, bathroom, small office/bedroom, and a “master” bedroom. But we’ve agreed that for us, a slightly bigger house would be ideal. The trick is finding one that is in our price range. The living room is roughly the same size as our bedroom and there is just very little storage space. Not to mention that the closets? Well, they aren’t really awesome. They were kind of added as an afterthought. And is it weird that we are trying to plan out when/if we have a baby? Right now our “second” bedroom is where you have to go through to get to the bathroom. And it’s packed full of computer goodness and bookshelves. You’d think it’s my office but as we have no desk, I just typically use my bedside stand as bill holder and so on.
Fourth Reason: Christmas planning! Both for this year and the start of next year. We started saving up in May this year a very minute amount from our paychecks and I have a budget (of course!) that shows what we want to spend on people, and the doodads that we would like to buy; as in wrapping paper, postage, etc. Also—this is our first Christmas where we are in our own little place. The previous two were spent in a roommate situation.
So there you have it. I have my budget planned until next July. I know it might change (what with any potential raises or new expenses or even some expenses disappearing) but at least I have a hint of what is to come. Insane? Maybe. Probably. Most likely yes. What do you think?
I might have already blogged about this and if so, sorry! But I was outside running the other day and thought back to something a coach told me in high school. I had just finished running a 5k and was extremely disappointed in myself. When I had been running the course I felt great and then I finished and learned what my time was. It was about 2 minutes worse then what my PR had been. I was bummed out and just generally beating myself up over it.
I was sitting alone, finishing out my stretches and figuring out what I had done differently to make myself suck so badly. He came up to me and asked me how I did. Well, I rattled off the numbers and was going on to say that I would be practicing even harder in the next week. He told me he was glad that I was going to practice harder but also let me know he didn’t care about the numbers. What he wanted to know was how I did. I gave him that blank stare that high schooler’s excel at and rattled off the numbers again. He then sat down next to me and explained the best advice I was given (okay some of the best advice).
He wanted to know how I felt about the race—he had the numbers but what really mattered was how I felt. Did I feel like I had given it my all? Or did I feel like I hadn’t given any effort at all to it? When I said that I had given it my all and couldn’t have given any more, he nodded and said, “That’s what matters. Time is just a number. If you had beat your PR by 5 minutes and could have done better-then it didn’t mean anything. You ran your heart out and feel like you couldn’t have done any more. It’s a new course—different hills, a different temperature today than it was two weeks ago, and other factors affect that time. What it doesn’t affect is how you feel about your run.”
For me, this is perfect advice. And it applies to so much more than just running. Are you saving as much as you can? Or do you know that you could do better? Because while you can lie to yourself, you’ll usually be able to tell that you are lying. (I always knew that my justifications were worthless but I said them to myself anyways to make me feel better). I feel great about saving for my wedding even though I’m not out of debt. I’m slowly saving, slowly paying off debt, but I’m still having fun.
It’s advice that I wish I would have remembered after I was out of high school. It might have saved me some money in the long run!
How about you? Any advice that was given to you that you still remember and refer back to?
I know that sometimes you feel like you aren’t doing nearly enough—or are spreading yourself too thin. I just wanted to let you know to keep it up! You are making progress slowly but surely. You just forget to include everything that you are doing when you think of how you are progressing.
Think about it—you have paid of $375 worth of bank debt and will never make the same mistake again with a bank now will you? You couldn’t have done that a year or two ago so that is some progress right there. You are SAVING money and not just spending it on anything that you want. Instead, you are practicing delayed gratification and isn’t it just an amazing feeling? Now instead of some credit card company owning your stuff until you get it paid off, you buy it with your actual money and own it right away!
Two years ago, you were making choices of whether you should eat dinner or buy gas to get to work. Now you are making choices of what to pay off next and what you want to save up for. How awesome is that? Eventually you will be making a choice of what you are saving up for and if you want to save up for a house or continue to rent.
It’s okay that life happens and you can’t save or pay off debt nearly as fast as you want to. Would you like to know why I’m saying that? Because you are still saving and still paying off debt even as you save for a baby coming into the family or your wedding. You haven’t given up and gone back to your spendy ways! Very cool.
You also found an amazing guy and an amazing kitty. And the guy has the same goals as you—which is very helpful. So keep up the good work.
Sometimes I really don’t feel like I’ve done very much–but I have to try to remember that I’ve changed my ways and change does take time. What do you do when you start getting frustrated?