Keeping Positive and Focused When Paying Down Significant Amounts of Debt

Staying Focused and Positive While Paying Down Massive Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water

By Patty Moore, a writer and blogger who happens to love her family, finances, and career. Patty isn’t afraid to tell you what she thinks @WorkMomLife on Twitter. You can also follow her story at Working Mother Life.

For many people, paying off a debt can feel like the longest goal of a lifetime. However, it’s definitely a must if you want to eventually start creating wealth. In addition, it’s also the only way to stop feeling stressed over the debt.

Some people use anger to pay off their debts, but there are plenty of other healthy ways to get out of the financial burden. If your interest bills make you mad, or even sick to your stomach, consider the following methods to get out of debt once and for all.

Staying Focused and Positive While Paying Down Massive Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water

Think of Your Future

Once you’re out of debt, your life will change. Whether you’re paying off student loans or credit card debts, eliminating these monthly bills is the only way to be free and create wealth.

In the future, it’s possible you could get a new job you love, pack up and travel to where you want to live or visit, work less hours, or simply sleep better. Take some time to write down some ways your life will change and focus on your reason “why” when paying down debts.

Review Your Goals Every Day

In order to achieve a large goal, you must stay laser focused. In order to keep your focus, it’s important to read or mentally visit your goals every day. This could mean looking at a list, a picture, or something else that reminds you why you are working so hard.

One method may be to write down your goals on your smartphone’s home screen so you see them several times a day. Other people write their goals in the bathroom mirror. Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, wrote down the same phrase 10-15 times a day until it came true. For affirmations, write down positive phrases (I will be financially free) rather than negative phrases (I want to get out of debt).

Create Support or Accountability

If you really want to achieve your goals, find a way to create accountability. It’s easier for couples to stick to a diet if both are committed, and the same fact is true for any other goal, including paying off a large debt.

Can you find a friend or loved one in a similar debt situation? Talk to this person and tell them you’re looking for some ongoing help to pay off a major goal. In a way, you’ll be doing it together. If you can’t find someone you know, look for support groups on Reddit, Mr. Money Mustache’s forum, Facebook, finance blogs, Twitter, or other forms of social media.

It’s possible to even find a modern day pen pal, given the reach of the Internet. Either way, this accountability partner will keep you motivated and vice versa.

Try to Remain Patient

Make sure to remain patient throughout the process. Everyone has a different number they need to pay off, but worrying doesn’t help anyone. Instead, make a plan and stick to it.

More than likely, it took you a few years to accumulate your debt, so it’s going to take a few years to get out of it. The key is to chip away at the debt and pay off larger amounts when you get the chance. With your accountability partner and a laser focus, you’ll be debt-free before you know it.

In addition to your laser focus, make sure you are always up-to-date on new information. It’s possible that new methods or regulations could come from the government or even from your own financial standings that could mean thousands of extra dollars in your wallet.

If your credit score has improved, look into refinancing to see if you can get a better interest rate on your debt. One study found that the average Millennial was overpaying their student debt by about two percent. The majority of consumers do not know that refinancing is possible! When you have debt, you need to constantly do your homework. Opportunities for low interest rates are here today, but may not be tomorrow.

Rewarding Your New Debt-Free Life

After you get out of debt, you can live those new experiences you’ve been dreaming about. This could mean switching to a new job you love for less income or simply packing up and going on an amazing trip around the world.

The freedom of a debt-free life is something many people will not experience. However, because you’ve created a list of principles to focus on your debt-free life, you can achieve this goal.

If it still seems overwhelming, figure out a way to reasonably reward yourself for your ongoing hard work. Let’s say you’re paying off three credit cards. After the first, treat yourself by doing something in your budget. Maybe book a round of golf or a trip to the spa to celebrate this milestone.

If this rewards-based incentive sounds like you, make sure to put it on your calendar so it’s earned for the task.

While paying off debt may seem impossible, creating small goals and living by these tips can help with motivation and perseverance. What tips do you have for staying focused on your debt pay-off journey?

Staying Positive while paying Down Large Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water

5 Things To Do Before a Spending Fast

5 Things to Do for a Successful Spending Fast | Rose Colored Water #money #spending #finance

Last week, I outlined exactly what I spent money on during my September Spending Fast. Even though things went well, there were still some things I wish I would have done beforehand to help with the transition and guilt when it came time to spend money on non-essentials. The next time I participate in a Spending Fast, I’ll make sure to prepare so I’m not regretting my decision two weeks in.

The next time I participate in a Spending Fast, I’ll make sure to prepare so I don’t regret my decision two weeks in.

5 Things You Need to Do Before You Start a Spending Fast | Rose Colored Water #spending #money #debt #finances #savings

1. Buy non-essential items you’ll need in advance.

For example, my mom’s birthday is in September, so I bought a card for her in August. Unfortunately, I forgot about Grandparents’ day, which I always send cards for. If you know there are things you’ll need in the month you are fasting, purchase it the month prior. This could be cosmetics, special hair products, or gifts for friends.

If you need a haircut or want a manicure, do it before the month begins. These are niceties you are not allowed to spend on during a fast.Then you won’t feel guilty when the time comes around.

2. Go out to eat the day before it begins.

This is a tip from Anna Newell Jones, the original Spend-Faster. Say goodbye to eating out by spending some time at your favorite restaurant. Consider it a “Fat Tuesday” of sorts. Toast to the next 30 days of spending nothing on anything frivolous. You won’t feel so bad the next time you want to eat out, and you’ll know you only have to survive four weeks.

3. Tell your friends and family.

I don’t have any family in Colorado, and I still told them about my Spending Fast. I also let my friends in on the secret, which was a huge help! They were my biggest supporters and would often buy me a treat (I have the bestest of friends), just so I’d go out with them. I hope you have friends like mine. One paid for a movie ticket; another bought me coffee. This is not why you should tell your friends, though.

I never asked my friends to buy me stuff. That’s just how they are. I told them about my spending fast so they would help me fight my cravings and urges. CRAVINGS and URGES are my weaknesses. They knew not to ask me out for spendy fun and instead would come over and play card/board games with me. This was a huge help because I never felt like I was missing out and we still had fun together without spending money.

Your friends will make or break you during a Spending Fast.

4. Make a budget before the month begins.

Confession time. I suck at budgeting. There. I said it. I have a very rough budget on Mint, but it’s more of a guideline than a steadfast rule. This has been my downfall time and time again. The struggle of sticking to a budget is REAL. Therefore, it is crucial for you to create a strict budget before beginning your Spending Fast. If you have no idea how much you make or spend in a month, push your Spending Fast month back so you can take the month prior to track your expenses and income. See where the bleeding occurs and find a way to stop it.

Ask yourself how much you can cut out from basic expenditures. For me, it was eating out and buying groceries. For you, it might be clothes shopping and manicures. To each their own. Just know that this is where money bleeding occurs. And put the credit cards away. That will just make everything worse. The Spending Fast should be a cash/debit diet so you are not tempted.

5. Forge a list of fun things to do in moments of weakness.

Note that fun is underlined. This would have bolstered me against the boredom I felt during the weekdays. A little planning can go a long way. All I had to take my mind off fun was Microbiology homework. Definitely NOT FUN. For example, I have a 1000 piece puzzle I never completed. Just the other day, I decided to try it again, and it has taken so much of my time! I love piecing it together and I have already saved money in October because I’ve been busy with homework and working the puzzle.

Maybe puzzles aren’t for you, but renting a book at the library that’s been on your to-read list could also help you reduce spending. Whatever your thing is, use it to help fight boredom on a Spending Fast, especially if it’s wintertime!

A Spending Fast doesn’t have to be overwhelming and guilt-ridden. With a little planning, you can save hundreds of dollars and still have fun, as well as show your family and friends how much you care. Plus, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The great thing about Spending Fasts is that you can do them over and over again.

I plan on doing another spending fast in January after my budget stops hemorrhaging from all my holiday spending. What are your tips for a Spending Fast?

5 Things to Do for a Successful Spending Fast | Rose Colored Water #money #spending #finance

My Debt Pay-Off Journey | Third Quarter Report

#debt Pay-Off Journey | Rose Colored Water #personalfinance #money #debtfreedom

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Read my full disclosure here.

When I wrote my last quarterly debt report, you had no idea I had decided to separate from my husband. There were no clues that my finances were being rocked and ransacked for various expenses. Since it is no longer a secret that I am getting divorced, I can be open about how my finances have changed and where my priorities are now.

Becoming debt-free is still a priority. Since I am managing my finances alone, I have more power over where my money goes, and I believe my debt pay-off journey will be easier and faster. Losing my ex’s income was difficult, but now I can prioritize my needs and wants – making hard decisions and living drastically different without worrying if another person is on board.

On another positive note, I have a roommate splitting the bills with me. This has been life-saving and allowed me to continue making extra payments on my debt. Still, my debt payments are smaller than they were before. Not accounting for possible raises and promotions, if I stay vigilant, I should see financial freedom in 2.5 years. 

#debt Pay-Off Journey | Rose Colored Water #personalfinance #money #debtfreedom

First, a look at the old and new numbers!

At the end of June, my total debt was $65,202. I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with that number, but as I said above, my life was in a rough place, and Mike and I were just beginning to separate our finances.

As of today, my total debt is $61,636. I have made progress, though it hasn’t been much. By the end of the year, I will be less than $60k in debt. I am so excited for that day.

3rd Quarter Debt Report | Rose Colored Water #money #debt #finances

1. I paid off the Discover card.

As I mentioned in my Spending Fast review, I was able to pay off the full amount of my Discover card. It is officially done for and I will never charge on it again. I may take advantage of a balance transfer offer if a good one comes along, but for now, this account is non-existent. I am so happy!

2. I went on a Spending Fast.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about September being a no-spend month for me. This was partially successful. The first two weeks, when I was dog/house-sitting for a friend, I spent $0 on non-essential items. The last half of the month had me spending like crazy, with and without my credit cards. I need to cut up my credit cards – especially the Quicksilver. I’ll post the full review of my spending fast next week, but ultimately – I spent money on items that I could have purchased later.

3. I restarted my TSP contributions.

Since deciding to get a divorce, I have re-evaluated my priorities. I never wanted to stop my retirement contributions, but I did so there would be more money in my paycheck to pay off debt. However, my debt interest rates are all at 5% or lower, and saving for retirement has always been a top priority for me. That being said, I changed my TSP contribution to 15% for the Traditional TSP. I plan on increasing that again by putting 5% in my Roth TSP in the new year when I get a raise. Putting 20% in my retirement every month is worth the smaller paycheck and slower debt pay-off journey.

4. I’m changing my debt plan to the CFI plan.

You know I change my debt plan all the time. I have switched from snowball to avalanche back to snowball. Now, I’m changing it up again. I recently read a post by Abandoned Cubicle that talked about cash flow index, or CFI. I had never thought about this before, but the gist is this: Each loan has a CFI, or cash flow index. To find this number, you take the amount of your loan and divide it by your minimum monthly payment on that amount. Do this for each loan. Whichever loan has the lowest number is the one you would start to pay off first.

For me, it is my auto loan. This loan sits at 4.95% and has a monthly payment of $340 over the course of 72 months. Crazy, right? I already know my choice to finance the vehicle over 6 years was a bad idea, but I’m fixing that now. Ultimately, this means that most of my cash flow for debt is going to the car. If I could pay it off first, it would open up way more cash for my next debt than if I paid off my piddly student loan from AES at $25/month and a 3.5% interest rate. Make sense?

So, not only am I underwater on my car, but it’s taking a lot of my monthly cash flow. This is my new debt priority and my goal is to pay it off by August 2018. That would be 3.5 years early.

5. My emergency fund is low.

I dug into my emergency fund to pay off the Discover, so now it’s at $500. I haven’t prioritized bolstering it again because I have a large chunk of extra income to play with every month. Typically, I put it towards debt. However, if a small emergency did happen, I would have plenty to cover it in my regular income. I still have an automatic savings plan with Capital One 360 (get your own free checking and savings account here!) that puts in $100 on the 1st and the 15th. So, it will grow, but not quickly. This is my trade-off to continue contributing to my retirement funds.

So that’s what the next three months look like for me. 1) Save for retirement. 2) Save $200/month for emergencies. 3) Make big extra payments on the car loan. Rinse. Repeat. The holidays are coming, so that’s going to put a dent in my financial plan, but I’m still going to throw extra money at the car. What do you think? Are you working hard on your financial goals?

My September Spending Fast Review

September Spending Fast Review | Rose Colored Water #spendingfast #saving #money

Last month, I embarked on my first spending fast. If you haven’t heard of a spending fast, you can head over to the blog, And Then We Saved by Anna Newell Jones. She coined the term (I think). She used an extended spending fast to pay off a massive amount of debt, so I decided to try a one-month spending fast, just to see what would happen.

The results varied. I saved and spent, but I know where everything went wrong. When I do this again in January 2018, I’ll be ready. Below, I share where I failed and succeeded.

September Spending Fast Review | Rose Colored Water #spendingfast #saving #money

First, let’s talk about what I spent money on. Some were unforeseen items, while others were me being undisciplined. Still, I am proud of myself as a first-timer.

Things I Spent Money On

  1. Transcripts & application fees ($50) – A necessary evil since I’m in the middle of applying to nursing school and the NECP. Transcripts are pricey, and I went to several colleges.
  2. 6 cans of Coke/RC ($3) – My kryptonite. When I get stressed, I head straight to the vending machine.
  3. A new straightener ($11) – This was the dumbest purchase I made because I thought my old straightener died. I tried it on numerous outlets across the apartment, but no luck – so I tossed it. Then, I found out that the circuits needed to be reset… I was so upset. An awesome straightener went to an early grave.
  4. A tip at a restaurant ($10) – My friend took me out to dinner, so I paid the tip.
  5. Testing fee for ATI TEAS a.k.a nursing entrance exam ($115) – This exam was necessary because it is required to apply for admission into the University of West Florida’s nursing program. More on this later.
  6. Mushroom & Swiss burger & Oreo Frappe at DQ ($9) – Just me being weak.
  7. Dinner with a friend x2 ($45) – A repayment to the friend who took me out to dinner, and a celebratory dinner when I paid off the Discover card. I know… what an oxymoron.
  8. New bedding ($125)- I gave our expensive bedding (we bought it in April of this year) to my husband since he’s the reason we bought it. I was sleeping under an assortment of blankets and throws. Even though I was warm and comfortable, I could never make my bed properly. Making the bed and keeping my bedroom minimal and tidy is important to me, so I didn’t want to wait on this. Plus, my home office is in my bedroom. I do my best work in a clean, organized space, so the random blankets had to go.

Conclusion

Overall, I did well. I’m kicking myself about the various food purchases, but it was much less than the prior three months. My friends were encouraging and helpful, never pressuring me to spend money when I didn’t want to. I ate a lot of peanut butter and jellies. I also found myself running to the commissary to pick up little things when I was craving more substantial food. Meal-planning was tough during the dog-sitting because I wanted to lay low and keep the house clean.

The larger purchases were necessary (minus the bedding). I might have planned better, but my life is crazy right now. Planning for anything is tough.

With this spending fast, I paid $1,650 on my Discover card, reducing the total to $650. Then I pulled the rest of that money from my savings account and PAID IT OFF. Woopee!

The Discover card is officially gone.

The Spending Fast was an eye-opener for me. I know I spend too much eating out and buying coffees, but this reminded me that once upon a time, I hardly ever did those things. It felt good to eat minimally. I may have lost a little weight too. With winter coming on, I have no doubt I’ll spend less because going outside will be awful. 

What were your biggest weaknesses during a spending fast? If you’ve never completed a spending fast, would you consider it?

Quarterly Review #3 | 2017 Resolutions

Quarterly Review #3 | Rose Colored Water

This is such an odd post to write because many of my resolutions for the year have changed since separating from my husband. It’s kind of like an awkward dinner party. “How was your anniversary trip to New Mexico, Liz?” Me: “Oh… It was… swell – even though hubs and I were in the middle of ending our relationship. Ha. Ha ha.”

Bwah, bwah, bwaaaaaaaah… Awkward.

Image result for spongebob awkward fish

But yeah. Life Goals. In January 2017, I made some hefty goals for myself. A.K.A. 2017 New Year’s Resolutions. It’s one of my most favorite times of year because everything seems possible. Some of my resolutions have been total failures, and I know they won’t be successful, even though I still have three months to complete them. Still, I have been successful in other goals, and some have been dodged bullets.

Let’s review below.

Quarterly Review #3 | Rose Colored Water

1. Pay off the cars.

Ha. Not happening. What a complete failure. Not only am I stuck with my husband’s truck bill (which I have actually reduced to about $5000), but I have made little progress on my Terrain. Ain’t it fun paying two car payments when you only own one of them? I really wrecked myself on that deal.

Anywho, we’ll say the truck loan sits at $5000 on a 0% credit card, and my Terrain sits at $15,275 at 4.95%. At the beginning of 2017, I owed around $9k on the truck and $17k on the SUV. So, I guess it hasn’t been a total failure. That being said, neither is being paid off this year. My goal over the next three months is to pay more on my Terrain because its value is around $11,000. There is a good chance I can get the loan down to its actual worth by the end of the year, but it will take sacrifice and planning on my part.

2. Buy a house.

I made no secret that the housing market in Denver is insane. We did not buy a house and what a blessing that has been. I can’t imagine how difficult my divorce would be if there was such a massive asset and debt to contend with. This was the dodged bullet I spoke about.

3. Finish my CCAF.

I took a DANTES management course to fulfill 3 of the 6 credits I need to finish my CCAF. Unfortunately, I took another DANTES test to fulfill the remaining three and failed. There is hope for me though. I can sign up for a management course through CCA, the college I take my pre-reqs at. This would be an accelerated 8-week course. I could finish my degree before the end of 2017. However, it will put more pressure on me as I am already in Microbiology and have a lot on my plate applying to nursing school and the NECP. I may let this goal slide until the beginning of next year.

4. Earn A’s in my nursing pre-reqs.

YES. Every course I’ve taken this year has resulted in an A. Microbiology may be the death of me though. I believe it will be the one that got away. Still, I am proud of myself on this.

5. Complete my 2017 reading list.

Reading for fun isn’t happening for me anymore. If it’s not on audiobook through my library, I can’t seem to make time to read it. I have two books on my shelf that are on my reading list, and I just can’t sit down to read them. This is the problem with being in college. Also… fun reading for me goes in waves. I burn out quickly. I was on fire the first half of 2017, but the last half has me dragging. Maybe over Christmas break?

6. Be smarter with my time.

This resembles my reading list. The first six months of 2017, I killed it. Then my divorce happened and non-important things (like reading) fell by the wayside.

It is essential that I rekindle my time management tempo because the next three months are going to be intense. There is much to do in a short period of time, and I cannot dally.

7. Take one big vacation with Mike.

See awkward introduction paragraph. 

I did take a big trip with Mike. It just wasn’t as fun as it should have been. Still, we made some memories and I gained a deep love for the enchanted land of New Mexico. This trip to New Mexico was eye-opening and cheap. I planned on writing more posts about what we visited, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Do check out my review of Roswell and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

8. Purge more junk.

I’m about purged out. There’s little else I can purge. I’ve actually been addressing my wardrobe situation and making a point to buy high quality, classic pieces. It’s been a healthy transition.

9. Get a 90 on my PT test.

My PT test is October 11. I’m on track to get a 90 and be set for another year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

10. Spend more time outdoors.

It’s been in the low 40’s to high 70’s in Denver. Fall is officially here and I am drinking it up. Note: I hate pumpkin spice lattes. Still, it has been beautiful as the days fluctuate between cloudy, dreary, and perfect blue skies. I have had all the windows open with fresh air and light shining in. Motley and I go out a lot, so I hope the weather doesn’t become too frigid too soon.

Am I a failure? Not quite. Things could be better, but they could be worse. The money is flowing; my friends are supportive; I’m healthy and happy. Life is good. Cheers to the last three months. Let’s kill it. 

How are your goals going?