Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!). To learn more, read our full disclosure policy.
I was running some numbers the other day – you know, because I’m always calculating and recalculating – and I realized that I cannot continue this aggressive debt paydown strategy.
In January, I thought I could offset the big expenses by making some long-term savings goals and attempting to live on $12/day (for gas/groceries/fun). I always knew 2019 was going to be an expensive year, but even with my estimations, I was way off.
Some things, like car maintenance, education, and Motley care, were worked into the budget, but grossly underestimated. Stuff like new uniforms and future PCS costs were omitted completely because they didn’t seem close enough to plan for. Keywords: close enough.
Now it’s almost June and I have no idea where the time went. Despite some spending sprees and spontaneous travel – I’ve done well. However, there is no way I’m going to meet my debt goals this year and be able to comfortably pay for everything coming up.
It just isn’t realistic.
Let’s revisit my original goals. I wanted to pay off the treadmill and car by June, then kill the AmEx card and AES student loan by December. All in all, it was going to be about $12,200. Based on my annual salary calculation and very strict $12/day budget, that would leave me with about $2,800 to pay for new tires, education stuff, travel, and Motley. Even with windfalls like tax returns and stipends, my expectations were unrealistic.
My estimates didn’t include new uniform purchases I’ll need when I commission, unexpected education costs, or saving for PCS related expenses coming in March 2020. It also doesn’t include international travel. After looking at the numbers, I realized I need to set aside around $700 a month MINIMUM to cover everything. Even though the expenses will be rolling, I cannot pay for it all as it comes due if I don’t start saving now.
Everything felt so far away, and now June is right around the corner. I didn’t expect the time to fly so fast. I have six months of big expenses coming. That’s not a long time to save thousands of dollars when you’re also trying to aggressively pay down thousands in debt.
I’m overwhelmed and burnt out.
I’ve been tackling my debt since 2014. Even though I haven’t always done a great job, it’s always been at the forefront of my mind. But I am tired.
Those who have been following my story know that even though this journey started in 2014, I didn’t really make progress until I got divorced. Since then, I’ve been nose to the grindstone with the debt, but the money is always going somewhere else.
I’m overwhelmed by the constant battle of saving for upcoming costs (so I don’t take on more debt) and the feeling that I need to pay the debts I have like a maniac.
I want to relax.
I’m sick of living on the edge.
Because I’m always battling where my money should go – I never feel like I get ahead. Even when I pay off one debt, there’s another big unexpected bill looming and I never seem to have the funds to cover it.
Dave Ramsey tells you to have $1,000 set aside until you’re debt free, but that shit isn’t realistic. A thousand bucks is nothing nowadays and it won’t go far. I want to have $10,000 sitting in my savings, and then I want to double and triple it. I’m tired of not having cash on hand to deal with issues or purchase something big if I want.
Even when you’re actively handling your money and paying off debt, if you don’t have a lump sum of cash in the bank, you can be blindsided. A grand isn’t always enough to deal with the problem.
I’m tired of feeling guilty about spending money.
This is a big one. Every purchase I make fills me with guilt. I believe it is self-inflicted because I want to be out of debt and I’ve been trying for so long. No one else ever tells me I should pay more on my debt. It’s all me. Even though I’m making progress, it never feels like enough.
I believe moving away from this idea that I have to be debt free by a certain time is ruining my ability to live in the now. I am young and some of the best days of my life are happening. I never want to look back and regret not living in the moment and appreciating the opportunities I have right now.
Embracing the present is something I’ve struggled with since I was a kid, and it’s time to make a change. I’m not talking about YOLOing everything, but I’ve got to let the idea go that being debt free is the end-all be-all.
Life is happening all around us and I’m tired of holding myself back all the time.
This is only temporary.
Of course, I want to be debt-free. It’s still a huge goal for me and I don’t want to be in debt for the rest of my life. But it’s time for a break.
It’s time to save money and build a buffer. I want more cash in the bank. I want to feel secure – like I’m not always right on the edge of needing to use my credit cards. I want to buy things I’ve been putting off for years and not feel bad about it.
I’m not going to just stop focusing on debt, but it’s going to take a backseat for awhile.
What will this look like?
The treadmill will be paid off next month, and then I’ll be focused entirely on saving for the expenses I talked about above. YNAB allows you to set money goals with target dates, and I’ve made one for each big expense coming up. Instead of paying extra on debt, I’m throwing extra money into savings and my target goals.
I’m going to continue paying on the car and should be able to pay it off by the end of year, but the other debts are going to be minimums only.
I know this isn’t necessarily the “right” thing to do when you’ve got a lot of debt like myself, but this is what I need right now. It’s important for me to stop berating myself and feeling guilty for purchases that make me feel good.
As always, thank you for reading, and if you have comments, please do share. But if you plan on telling me this is a dumb move and I’m making some huge mistake – save your fingers because I don’t want to hear it. I know what this decision means and I don’t jump into anything haphazardly.
This is an intentional choice that I’ve been thinking about for a while.