May Check In

English: Central Park Bridges (view from Bridl...
English: Central Park Bridges (view from Bridlepath looking southwest), Gothic Arch, Spanning bridlepath south of tennis courts at nort, New York City, New York County, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 🙂

I Did Something Impulsive Today

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I impulsively paid off a credit card this morning…And it feels AMAZING.

Settling into a crazy week after a happy weekend celebrating my dear friend Stacy’s wedding has been somewhat depressing and I craved the high that I normally get from shopping.  After some morning meetings, I returned to my desk, looked to Learnvest for a little bit of financial inspiration, browsed my accounts and balances and saw that I had $275 in my SF account, and a $250 balance left on my MasterCard.  Figuring I won’t need the SF money for another month, I decided to transfer that money over and pay off the MC balance.  How’s that for a new Little Win!

Little Wins

budget

I recently had a boss that held monthly “little wins” meetings to build motivation while we worked toward a common goal of pleasing our client.  After my first month of keeping my budget, I’m starting to feel the withdrawal from shopping and going out for drinks and dinner, so celebrating “little wins” are going to play a role in getting me through this process.

Here are my little wins for this month: 

  1. One full month of no credit cards!
  2. Started my blog!
  3. Paid off my loan from Mom and Dad!  Total debt paid off this month =$2700
  4. Saved $200 toward my emergency fund and $276 toward San Francisco (more than half my plane ticket!)
  5. Started making extra money on the side

This month I feel a little bit short so I’m going to have to pull in and limit going out for the next few weeks.  Here is the breakdown of my April 15-May 15 budget:

  • April 15: 
    • Pay: $1413
    • Bills:
    • MasterCard: $337
    • Visa: $100
    • Discover: $80
    • Loan to Mom and Dad: $160
    • Dress Alterations: $56
    • Cell Phone: $60
    • Cable: $57
    • Electric: $25
    • Total Remaining: $538
  • April 30
    • Pay: $1425
    • Rent: $1100
    • Total Remaining: $250

Expenses I’ve budgeted for so far include $100 of copays, $100 for food, and $100 for a friends birthday to go wine tasting. I’ve also moved $125 into my SF fund. leaving me with $363 of discretionary money for the month.  It’s going to be tight!  But I think I can manage for the next few weeks.