May has come and gone and I’m one month closer to paying off my debt. Since I started this process my debt has decreased from $10,500 to $7100! The other morning I was thinking “wow, in two months I will be 50% toward paying off my credit card debt. When I first made this commitment, I was scared of the period that I’m in right now, the in between period. I envisioned myself getting bored and depressed in my new life style and throwing away this quest altogether. Despite some peaks and valleys and fall backs it hasn’t been that bad.
Here are some helpful ways to stay on track if you’re in the same boat:
Stopped Impulsive Buying
This has been easier than I thought. I don’t buy coffee, takeout, or shop for cheap clothes (a la H & M, Forever 21) and I don’t feel devoid or deprived of anything. Often times I would get an afternoon craving for a snack and buy a cookie from a bakery, often paired with a second coffee. But in order to satisfy that craving, I go to the dollar store a block away and stock up on some snacks to keep in my desk. I used to find that if I didn’t bring lunch, I wouldn’t end up leaving the office during the day. Instead I’ve started doing errands instead, such as going to the bank or post office.
Popcorn and Movie Night
One weekend it was the end of my budget and I couldn’t spend money. I still wanted to see my friends so I sent the following email:
Hi Girls! So, you all know that I’ve put myself on a tight budget and vowed to pay of my cc’s in the next 12 months. My budget doesn’t start again until Monday and I’ve kinda run out until then. I have the apartment to myself this weekend, and in an effort to not be antisocial this weekend, would any of you be interested in a movie night with popcorn and wine tomorrow evening? I know it sounds really low key, but I’m too new into this life change that I don’t have the will power to go to a bar and not drink just yet.
Most couldn’t attend on short notice, but to my surprise they were all welcome to the idea in the future. My friend Aline came over and we drank a bottle of wine and ate popcorn. I’m going to start a series of entertaining on a budget so stay tuned for ideas and inspiration for at home gatherings!
That same weekend, I mentioned to my friend Lindsay that I was going to go to Buffalo Exchange to sell some clothes. She wanted to come too. So I was able to find other ways to see my friends that aren’t expensive like going out to dinner or to a bar.
Plan for Spontaneity
Two blogs that I follow, The Debt Breakup and Budget and the City, both wrote recent posts about planning for spontaneity. I’ve tried to buy ahead of time when possible and plan nights out. To me, this means purchasing experiences on daily deal sites, prepaying and budgeting for known plans ahead of time. I purchased some Bloomspot deals a couple weeks ago for a Saturday night out and a Central Park bike rental. Be careful with these purchases though and plan to use them carefully so they don’t expire and go unused. (I’ve learned the hard way that I shouldn’t purchase fitness classes because I never use them in it’s entirety). On the other hand, I always buy the $7 Central Park bike rentals when they’re available, and split the bottle service deals with 4 or 5 friends.
After I’m done paying off my debt, I’m going to put that money toward savings accounts for various leisure activities.
Find a Support System
Special thank you to my family and friends who have been supportive and encouraging through this process! You’ve been so understanding and this would be so much harder if you weren’t. Also, some other bloggers who regularly comment and cheer me on have been great. They are going through the same process and I know we will all get there. (Re)Creating Carly, The Debt Breakup, Budget in the City, are the folks that I regularly turn to. Cait from Blonde on A Budget, is the veteran who really motivated me to start my blog in the first place. I first read her story on LearnVest and after two years she is debt free 🙂