Here we are in mid-March, the third month of my year long debt elimination adventure. I am a bit behind in my posts for a variety of reasons, but here I am, still plugging away. I have to be honest, the last few weeks have been tough, and at times I have had my doubts about my commitment to limits on my spending. However, nothing worthwhile is easy, and I just need to remind myself to find ways to stay motivated and inspired.
My overall rundown of my spending in February is that I spent way more than planned, and going forward, I can certainly make some improvements. As I mentioned last time, I’ve had some unexpected vet bills for my cat who has had some eye issues. The good news is that he had his last recheck yesterday, the ulcer has healed, and his last antibiotic dose is tonight! Unfortunately, I also ended up spending waaaay too much on groceries. I have two reasons for that; first, since I don’t have a personal vehicle to trek into Eureka for the discount grocery stores, I ended up stopping after work a few times a week at my neighborhood store with my work truck on my way home. While I try to buy generic and sale items, the local store is quite a bit more expensive. Second, the one trip I did make to the discount stores in Eureka was with a friend, which proved to be a pricey mistake. While it was great to hitch a ride with her, I didn’t do a very good job of sticking to my list and overspent. Who knew peer pressure could extend to buying tahini and hazelnut milk?! This month, I am attempting to limit my trips and stick to my grocery list.
On the flip side, I did pay off another $546.89 of debt. It was quite a bit less than what I had hoped thanks to the aforementioned expenses, but it’s something.
As for March, I am off to a good start, since I sent off my first payment to the Department of Education’s Direct Loans for my six loans from them-the first payment toward rehabilitating those loans. It felt great to send that off and get started in the right direction. If all goes well, I’m hoping to send off a bigger payment toward my credit card debt at the end of the month. As I mentioned in my first post, my wages are being garnished weekly for that debt, and it has the highest interest rate, at $1.66 a day. Therefore, I think it makes the most sense to pay that off first (while still making minimum payments on my other debts) and then focus on my other balances in earnest. I just need to figure out where to send those extra payments, as it’s being handled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. Yep, that’s what happens when you default- the law gets involved. Ugh. Anyway, that is my next goal-talk with the law and give them money. Double ugh.
In the meantime, I’m keeping up with my other goals of continuing to educate myself on financial matters. About once a week, I pick up a free copy of Bloomberg News or Kiplinger’s at the library and read whatever looks interesting. I figure the more exposure I have, the more I’ll absorb and begin to act on in my own life. I’ve also been checking in with two of my favorite sites/blogs. First is The Crazy Man In The Pink Wig, a.k.a. Mike Finley. It’s refreshing to find a financial literacy site that isn’t also trying to sell me stuff. He is teaching a great course in what he calls financial happiness, which he is filming and posting on YouTube, and he is incredibly accessible and helpful to anyone who wants to learn more. You’ll have to watch week 1’s video for yourself to find out the story behind the pink wig. The second is Mr. Money Mustache, a blog written by a man who was able to “retire” at age 31 through careful money management. His sense of humor, common sense and badassity (Yes, it’s a word, damn it!) make his writing entertaining as well as educational. I truly appreciate both sites not only for the information presented, but also for their ethic of living a fuller life with less, rather than wealth as an exercise in materialism and greed. It’s something that really speaks to my own ethics and to my relationship with money, which has been fraught with anxiety, stress, guilt and mixed feelings. Check ‘em out, give ‘em some love and tell me what you think!
I have to admit, I’m feeling a little uninspired with posting just my updates on spending and what not, so I think I’m going to work on some other related topics for future posts. I have a few ideas in mind, such as the varieties of ways I save money while also attempting to help the planet and live a simpler, more authentic life through cooking, gardening, saving energy, make/mend/do, etc. If there is anything you’re curious about or would like to read about, I encourage you to leave a comment below or send me an e-mail, and we’ll see where it goes!
Here’s to a new season, new leaves emerging and flowers blooming all around! Be well, and don’t forget to give thanks for today!