Here we are at another start of another month. A new beginning. A fresh start. I’m excited to try to rock November and make some changes in my life so I can be happy, rested, creative and fulfilled.

October was not bad, it was just stressful and seemed to drag on. I felt like I didn’t have my head on straight. It was hard to focus and hard to stay in the moment.

I was always thinking of the future, or dwelling on the past, or letting Larry David get too far into my head. I’m trying to practice more mindfulness and gratitude and let go of perfectionism and OCD. It’s so very hard, but I know that’s what I need to do. Let go.

I think I have too much mental clutter. Though I espouse the benefits of minimalism and live with very little stuff, I seem to have a lot of mental clutter that needs to get disregarded.

I suppose some of it was exacerbated by the fact that October was an emotional month for me. It was my birthday month, which always gets me reflective in a certain kind of way.

In addition, there’s been some big changes for my family. My 93-year old grandpa recently moved from Michigan to live with my parents in California, after his wife passed away. That of course is a huge transition — but the good news is that I will now be going home for Thanksgiving for the first time in nine years, so we can all spend time together. I cannot wait as this will be the first time my partner will meet my grandpa, who I think is the coolest person ever.

In addition to that, I received some bad news about a friend that has affected me deeply. My friend is suffering from cancer. I am just in shock as they are not much older than me and it feels so wrong.

It’s in these moments that you really start looking at your life. I’ve been filled with questions that I can’t answer.

What is my purpose in life?
How can I live every day to the fullest?
Am I doing everything I can to be happy?

Yeah, I’m in total existential mode — which is why I guess I’ve been a bit quiet. I don’t know what to say. I don’t have the answers. Focusing everything on money seems silly when Real Problems arise.

But I’m moving along. I’m making things happen. Trying to find some balance in the hustle and enjoying all that life has to offer while keeping up with my debt repayment goals.

This month I put $3,300.02 toward debt. The two cents was to kill off the final interest on one of my loans! My current numbers:

Undergraduate loan: $4,791.52
Graduate loan: $9,171.08
Total: $13,962.60

I’ve been using the avalanche method of focusing on highest interest debt first. For me, the math just made sense. My undergrad loans were relatively small at 2.3% while my graduate loans had nearly triple the balance of my undergrad loans, with interest rates of 6.8% and 7.9%. In short, it was costing me too much money! At its highest, my interest was costing me $11 per day, so I knew that I had to knock this thing down.

My goal for the next two months is to continue paying off my debt at this pace and learn to relax and enjoy life. Try to be happier. I guess I also have a case of the blahs — the rainy season has officially hit Portland and the constant gray really does a number on me. Also, I’m not excited about it getting dark so early, but I have to remember that seasons change.

It’s time to turn a new leaf!

What are your goals this month?


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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41 responses to “A New Season (and a Debt Repayment Update)”

  1. Wow, congrats on your debt repayment numbers! This gives me hope for my own debt repayment future, which will start after next month when I finish my PhD.
    On a related subject, my goal for November is to be mindful in my job search. I do feel some pressure to have a job lined up for immediately after I graduate, but I also don’t want to end up taking a job that isn’t right for me just because it’s offered or just because I’m scared of not finding a job at all. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much the job I get (and, more to the point, the salary I negotiate) will impact my debt repayment process. It’s a pretty important decision.
    Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless recently posted…October Challenge: Complete!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Congrats on almost completing your PhD! That’s a big deal. I know it’s so stressful to try to find a job after school. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and figure out what’s best for you. And yes, be sure to negotiate!

  2. Wow, only $13,000 left–that is so within reach! And $3300 in one month is great progress.

    I really enjoy hearing PF bloggers talk about how life is not all about money. We spend a lot of free time with friends and volunteering. This means we don’t have time for “side hustling” or blogging quite as much, but it brings us so much joy (and hopefully does for others too).
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Fuel Your Way to FIRE with Free FirewoodMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Kalie! Although I talk a lot about money and side hustling, I know money is not everything. It’s important to have down time, relax, and spend time with the people that matter. That’s so great you’ve realized that early on!

  3. Tyler says:

    Hi Melanie I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother and your friend. I’m currently going through something similar a friend of mine who I work with just left on disability after a year long fight with cancer that it now seems she is going to lose after being told she was through the worst of it 2 months ago. I know it does put things in perspective especially when you think of others problems in comparison to things like debt repayment (which is a huge problem for me to)

    My goals for November are simple. Start my own blog, increase my side hustle income, find an additional income source. Well I think those thing are simple to write down but to execute will be a little more cumbersome. Anyway looking forward to hearing how your month goes.

    • Melanie says:

      I’m so sorry about your friend 🙁 That’s so tough. Let me know when you start your blog. Share it with me. You know I’m all about that side hustle, so get that $!

  4. Mel says:

    Ahh, it’s been way too long since I’ve made it over to your blog but look at your crazy debt repayment progress you’ve made!! Especially from the perspective of someone who hasn’t checked in in a few months, that’s so huge. Congrats!!

    My grandpa was one of my favorite people on the planet. I remember when I broke up with the boy I was dating when he passed away, it actually really freaked me out to know that he would never meet anyone I dated again. I hope you all have a terrific visit over Thanksgiving.
    Mel recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #114My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, the past few months I’ve been blazing through this thing 🙂 Nice to hear from you again Mel! I hope you come to FinCon this year. Yeah, it’s really important that my partner meets my grandpa, so I’m glad it’s finally happening.

  5. That’s a huge amount of debt! Congrats! And so excited you’ll be here again and hope I see you. I wish I had been geographically closer to my grandparents after I moved away at 25. Those are moments I’ll never get back. Hope this is an awesome month for you!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Real Money Stories: Getting Financially FitMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I’m very excited to go back to LA again! Sunshine, yay. 😉 Also, can’t wait to see my grandpa. I’ll be in LA on Thanksgiving until the next Monday. Let’s get together!

  6. Oh my gosh that is amazing! $3,300 sounds wonderful. You are so close. Congratulations!!!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…The Top 5 Personal Finance Books You Should Read in Your 20sMy Profile

  7. You already know I think you’re rocking it. Way to go on the progress! Today has been so dreary and blah and it’s definitely not making me feel productive.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. That kind of news really does make you stop and think. I’ve been in existential mode lately, too (and I’m right there with you on too much mental clutter), and it can be rather overwhelming when you have so many questions and no answers. Here’s hoping November rocks!
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Being Grateful: Seventy-Eighth EditionMy Profile

  8. Nicole says:

    Wow, you have paid off so much debt in so little time. It’s amazing! I am right there with you on birthday reflections…my birthday was in October, too, and I always get kind of “quiet” and a little down around that time. It seems silly, but birthdays aren’t really fun for me anymore. Now it’s all about adult stuff and a reminder of my mortality etc. But hey, it’s over! Back to being somewhat care-free and plodding on with goals. 🙂
    Nicole recently posted…Is Season Sensationalism Busting Your Budget?My Profile

  9. Wow your debt is nearly payed off! That’s so great, congrats!! Sorry to hear about your friend 🙁 I find myself pondering those same questions that you mentioned. Best of luck for November!
    Life We Learn recently posted…Wallabies through to the Rugby World Cup Final!My Profile

  10. At that rate you are going to be debt free so soon! I’m excited for you. 🙂
    Cat@BudgetBlonde recently posted…5 Ways to Save Money on Holiday ShoppingMy Profile

  11. That’s wonderful that Thanksgiving will be with your family. I’m trying to still figure out my plans but hopefully I can make it to both my mom’s and my bf’s family dinners. Lots of food! My goal for the next two months is to appreciate the time given to me. It’s been really hectic these past few months and I don’t want them to go by without me spending time with my loved ones, near or far. They all have meant so much to me this past year.
    Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…Spending Week? Let’s Just Start Again…My Profile

  12. Hannah says:

    Money is like blood. It’s necessary for life. It needs to be healthy for you to thrive. But blood isn’t ever the point of life. It’s a means, not an end.

    I sometimes go through introspective stages (both circumstantial and not), though less so since I’ve started this current blog. It’s helpful to reflect on the big questions, and to tie your life actions to as much truth as you can find.

  13. Michelle says:

    I am 100% convinced that you’re going to beat your debt repayment schedule.
    Michelle recently posted…Getting (Gently) Called Out-Actions Reflecting My ValuesMy Profile

  14. I had a similar October to you Melanie and I’m thankful to move beyond it. I have free time right now because of a failed project and rather than Larry David myself about it, I am forcing myself to enjoy this space and appreciate the world around me. Times will get busy again as they always do and I want to stop wishing I enjoyed the downtime and just do it. Congrats on another HUGE debt repayment!! You are SO close to the finish line you can almost smell it! Great job!!

    • Melanie says:

      I am trying to enjoy more of my free time, too, but it’s hard. I know times will get slammed again too, so I’m enjoying the break. Thanks for your encouragement and I know we’ll work on more cool stuff too! 🙂

  15. Gina says:

    OMG you’re getting SO close to paying off your debt! I’m so excited for you!
    Gina recently posted…On Three Years of MarriageMy Profile

  16. “Focusing everything on money seems silly when Real Problems arise.” I’ve definitely had moments like that, and it’s absolutely right to switch focus. In the end, those moments just make me realize how tied to every aspect of our lives our money management is. Be there for your friend. Don’t shy away from an awkwardness. Cancer is often a long road. You’re being equipped to take on the challenges in life. They’ll keep coming – along with deep rewards.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Frugality & Mindfulness (which isn’t always frugal) in Our RenovationsMy Profile

  17. Sounds like an emotional month for you, but the debt repayment stayed on track, congrats! Enjoy the visit home with family for Thanksgiving!
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted…Millennials and Student Loan DebtMy Profile

  18. Great job on your huge debt payment. That’s awesome!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Italy on Credit Card Rewards: Part TwoMy Profile

  19. Chonce says:

    Woah, congrats on the debt payment Melanie! You’re almost there. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I feel like I have way too much mental clutter lately and I need to get reorganized.
    Chonce recently posted…How to Slow Down For the HolidaysMy Profile

  20. You’re so close! $3000 towards debt is a monumental amount of progress. Congratulations.
    Alyssa @ Mixed Up Money recently posted…6 Things to Look For When RentingMy Profile

  21. Janet Fazio says:

    Awesome job with the repayment program. Sorry about your friend though. That’s aa tough one all around.
    Janet Fazio recently posted…New Packaging has Launched!My Profile

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