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If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey!
My name is Elyse. I am 23, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt freeeee. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American. All I had was a few student loans. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that showed up that month.
For that month of December, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close.
Towards the end of the month, I was cleaning off a bookshelf, getting ready to move (again), and found The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. This $15 book completely changed my life path at the time. Dave describes being debt free as such a rewarding and achievable thing. In his book, he says it will take work and it will be hard, but it will be worth it. He has been right. I call this my “God wink” moment because what I needed came into my life as soon as I needed it.
There have been days were I have completely questioned my sanity. I sometimes wonder why I don’t just make minimum payments forever like everyone else. But I also know that someday, I will be able to travel and just stop to enjoy life because I won’t owe any money towards my house, car, college, or credit cards. Knowing that “This too shall pass” has been the motivation to keep me going this year.
“Sometimes, you have to live like NO ONE else, so someday you can LIVE like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey
If you haven’t read the book, I recommend you go buy it RIGHT NOW. It will be $20 that changes your life completely. I will wait, just be sure to come back to read the rest of the post.
I officially started my debt free journey on January 1st, 2017. Originally, my goal was to pay off my debt in one year. Turns out, I don’t actually even make enough money for that to even be a possibility. Read about how I paid off $15,000 on my $38,000 (pre-tax) income last year. Since then, my goal has continued to change every month. Some months, it seems totally doable to knock it out in just a few short months. In other months, the rest of this journey seems like it is going to last forever.
Even if I didn’t make my original goal, Debt Free At 23 has such a great ring to it. Debt free at 24 still isn’t terrible either.
During 2017, I wrote a monthly update every month. During 2018, I lost sight of the monthly updates. But here is my mid-year review of how 2018 is helping me kill my goals.
In November 2018, I paid off $1,315 on my last student loan account!
I started in 2017 with 8 accounts and $34,000, but here is what my debt snowball looks like now:
|Debts||Starting Debt||Principle Paid To Date||Debt Left|
|Amazon Card||$ 10.99||$ 10.99||PAID JAN 17|
|Mary Kay Card||$ 275.00||$ 275.00||PAID JAN 17|
|Credit Card||$ 649.88||$ 649.88||PAID JAN 17|
|Student #1||$ 2,087.41||$ 2,087.41||PAID APRIL 17|
|Jeep||$ 2,500.00||$ 2,500.00||PAID JULY 17|
|Student #2||$ 3,550.00||$ 3,550.00||PAID SEPT 17|
|Student #3||$ 4,950.00||$ 4,950.00||CONSOLIDATED|
|Student #4||$ 450.00||$ 450.00||CONSOLIDATED|
|Refinanced Student Loan||19,529.00||14,530.00||4,999|
After November 2018, I have less than $5,000 remaining in debt!
Reflection of November 2018:
November was the last full month of paying bills for my old apartment. I am officially moved into, half settled in, and working on creating a new budget for my new home. In case you missed it, I moved out of my apartment that I was leasing in October and into a house that my friends were renting.
My friend and her husband have graciously welcomed me into their home to rent from them! I am saving about $200 a month with the move in just housing expenses. That doesn’t include all of my groceries and gasoline expenses going down. We have been sharing a ton of food lately! I have been cooking for them when I am off work and they leave me leftovers when I am at work. Easily one of the best decisions I have made on this journey! I am so blessed with this friendship. Their cat has adopted me, so I have someone to cuddle with all the time too!
I did purchase a new phone in November, which was in the budget but it became necessary when I dropped my phone. It completely shattered and made the touch screen glitch out. I got it on a Black Friday special for $99 for an iPhone 6! The phone is paid in full, so it didn’t add to any of my monthly expenses! I went two days without it and I was late almost everywhere I needed to be! I didn’t realize how much I do actually rely on my phone until I didn’t have one.
November was the first month that I put money aside for Christmas. I have been focusing on using the best deals of the year for Christmas shopping! I try to combine gift cards I have with online deals, Ebates, and any other coupons that I can stack!
November also meant saving for Jeep tires. They have been needed for a while, but with the Nebraska winters, they are needed even more. I stashed $200 away in November for new tires and I am constantly searching for deals while I put the rest of the money away.
Overall, November was a good month with $1,315 going towards my student loans while still starting on Christmas and a few other savings goals. I always wish that I could consistently hit over $1,500, but any money towards debt is better than none! I am officially under $5,000 in student loans for good!
Also, Big News!
Through all of the budgeting changes, I almost forgot that I accepted a new job during the month of November! I went through 3 interviews for this position and I am still a little unsure of what it is all going to include, but I am very excited to jump in after the new year! I have accepted a position through Modern Woodmen as a Financial Advisor. There are still a lot of things up in the air. I don’t know how this is going to change my business, but I am beyond excited about the new opportunities to help people change their finances! It will definitely be a change compared to bartending. It will include a lot of networking and community involvement.
As if all of the moving, job changes, and budget changes weren’t enough, my dating relationship also ended during the month of November. While it was tough, I know that timing played a huge role in it. I am 23 and just focusing on myself. He was great, but I am still too selfish to change my goals for someone else’s. I know that as I mature more, it will change a little, but not right now!
Looking Forward to December 2018:
As I am writing some of this, we are already almost halfway through the month! Better late than never I guess! December is always a busy month! It is the busiest month of the year, but it is always an expensive month too. I have my vehicle registration due on my Jeep before the end of the month. My website also expires in December, so I have to pay for that. Also, I just found out that my alcohol sales permit (for bartending) expires at the beginning of January. Because I have so many other big expenses, I am trying to focus on minimizing any additional spending. I have been focusing on working more and just spending less!
My birthday is also in December. I am continuously trying to limit the things that I buy myself during this crazy holiday season, but there are a few things on my list of things that just keep piling up! I know that it will all work itself out in the end, but right now I am a little over stressed about it!
December 2018 Goals:
Put $1,300 towards my student loan
Write 4 blog posts (currently failing at this one)
Go to gym 3x per week. (Oops. I ran once so far)
Complete client starter list for new job. (1/2 done)
Schedule Life/Health Exam
Stop using Credit cards without cash
Set 2019 goals
If you haven’t started your debt free journey, what are you waiting for?
I am sure that some of you have been following some of my posts for a while. Maybe you are saying that you should start in the new year. Or maybe you are waiting for a new job. Or more money. Is your financial plan includes winning the lottery? If you are one of these people who says “Wow, I wish I could pay off my debt or save money like that.”
You will be waiting forever if you keep thinking that something in your life is going to change your finances without you changing your lifestyle. If you get a raise, you are likely to raise your spending. When you get your taxes back, you will suddenly need a vacation or new home repairs. Stop waiting on tomorrow.
Where do you want your finances to be in one year?
Follow these 8 Steps to change your finances today.