I am probably echoing many others out there, but I can’t believe we’re nearly a week away from Thanksgiving. This year has been the fastest to date and I feel dizzy with how much has happened.

I’ve been on the hustle, continuing to make sure that my self-employment is a viable and lucrative option. Because of this, my own blog has taken a backseat and for that I am remorseful. I want to try to build both things concurrently as I truly love the blogging community and writing in this space.

Somehow with securing new clients, writing until my wrists are sore, and trying to maintain that elusive work-life balance, I’ve neglected to update you all about my debt repayment journey!

As happy as I am with self-employment, it does affect my ability to consistently put over $1,000 to my student loans. This is not necessarily an income issue, but a cash flow issue (when payments get received). Also, I had some extra expenses this past month that I’ll go over.

In total, I was able to put $698 to my debt in the past month. My current debt totals are:

Undergrad $5,882.94

Grad           $29,377.73

Total         $35,260.67

This is so much better than the $81k total I have amassed — and much easier to handle than the $68k that was staring me in the face after I graduated from NYU in May 2011. I’ve paid off $33k in about 3.5 years — while making a low salary.

After all this time, it finally feels like I’m making progress. I will be happy once my debt total is below $30k.

So, what prevented me from putting $1,000 to debt?

Well my 30th birthday was part of the culprit. As some of you might remember, I initially wanted to go to Iceland Airwaves, a rad music festival in Iceland for my big 3-0. Well, with FinCon, and job changes, I just couldn’t justify it. Instead of traveling, I went a few hours away to the Oregon desert (I didn’t know it existed!) and spent a weekend away with my sweetie. My mom also decided to come up for a few days. In total that cost around $200.

Then I also had a scary situation arise, where my computer decided not to turn on. I have an oldish Macbook from 2010 and it had been slowing down, then one day it decided not to turn on. I immediately started to freak out. I now make my living on that thing! I was paranoid all my work would be lost and I’d have to drop mad cash for a new computer right then and there. I took it to the Genius bar (so clever aren’t they?) and they diagnosed the issue and I forked over $160. It was a hard drive issue — I later found out I could have fixed the hard drive myself, but I’m just so bad with that kind of stuff, I just let it go. I was seriously thinking the worst, so $160 to fix my computer wasn’t bad. Bonus: I didn’t lose anything!

Then after reading this and this post, I decided I needed to be an adult and get renters insurance. After having my computer snafu, I was determined to protect myself. Not only that, but my partner is a musician with tons of instruments and equipment, so it seemed too risky to not have renters insurance. Without his stuff and my laptop, we’d both be out of making a living, so I forked over another $167 for a year of renters insurance. I instantly felt better.

So that was $527 that was unexpected. Because I live on a bare bones budget and throw any excess towards my student loans, unexpected expenses like this just means I have to lower my payment a bit. I have decided to start a ‘Computer’ targeted savings account with Capital One 360 though as I imagine I might need a new one in the next few years.

Aside from that, I’m getting into the groove of self-employment. My inner night owl is in full flight and I enjoy the flexibility it gives me. I’m excited about trying new things in 2015 and really trying to make Dear Debt even better. I want more dear debt letters, to create an e-book, and ramp up my side hustle coaching. I’m also interested in doing more Twitter chats and hosting events with brands and bloggers.

Yeah, I have a lot of dreams! So I better keep working on my own goals, while still creating kickass content for others.

In case you missed it, here is a sprinkling of my writing around the web.

Conferences: How to Make Them (Literally) Worth Your Time via FeeX

5 Alternatives for People Who Can’t Go Home for The Holidays via The College Investor

The Art of the Follow-Up: How to Get a “Yes” Without Being Pushy via Careful Cents

When Being Frugal Backfires via Retire By 40

5 Things to Consider Before Taking the Leap into Self-Employment via NarrowBridge Finance

How to Have a Cute Wardrobe in Any Weather via Money Saving Pro

What I Learned From Getting My First Credit Card at 28 via GoGirl Finance

What’s new with you? Tell me: what are you enjoying spending money on or feeling guilty about spending money on? Or tell me new and exciting ways you are making that money!


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 DearDebt.com.

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.

Latest posts by Melanie (see all)

35 responses to “A Late Update: State of My Debt”

  1. moneystepper says:

    Nice update Mel – keep on keeping on and all that!!

    I recently went on a bachelor party to London and, whilst it was fun, keeping the spending down within the budget was not easy.

    Need a few quiet weeks before Christmas to make up for it now!
    moneystepper recently posted…Claiming Refunds on Delayed FlightsMy Profile

  2. Hey girl! I must’ve missed the bday post: happy, happy belated birthday! Otherwise I’m just too swamped and can’t remember that I already wished you a happy birthday, LOL. 🙂 Smart move on the renters insurance, and you are kicking on the debt, girl!!!! Keep up the awesome work. 🙂
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…10 Tips for Smart Long Term Food StorageMy Profile

  3. You go girl! It’s great that you have accomplished so much. I have finally decided I am going to start taking my writing more serious and start looking for freelance jobs, in hopes to be self employed too. Seeing your progress over this year only motivates me.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…When Debt Finally Meets Budget – HumorMy Profile

  4. I still think that’s a great amount because with freelancing it isn’t easy. I’m so with you on the computer thing. I freak out when something isn’t working right because not only do I see major dollar signs, but also everything I do requires a computer. And not just a PC, but a mac. So I get it!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Answering the Question: Why Am I Really Doing This?My Profile

  5. Kassandra says:

    It’s hard being a solopreneur and still maintaining your own blog – I have the same issues. I did decide to take a entire week off from blogging because I really need a mini-break but I remain committed to my blog. I am constantly amazed at your efforts so congratulations Melanie!
    Kassandra recently posted…5 Sure Signs of a Shady Financial CompanyMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      We all need a break from time to time. It’s hard to keep up with your own writing when you write so much for others. But I’m committed to making it work as Dear Debt is my baby 🙂 Good for you for taking some time off. Rest up! Thanks for the compliment, I’m a hustling machine!

  6. There’s a desert in Oregon?! I did not know that. Wow! Anyway, this is my first visit so I’m not up on what’s going on yet, but it sure sounds like you have a solid plan for getting out of debt. I look forward to following your journey. Nice to meet you Melanie! 🙂
    kay ~ lifestylevoices.com recently posted…SPRING CLEANING FOR MINIMALISTS Challenge Part 4 ! 😀My Profile

  7. Congratulations on your progress, Melanie! I know for me going from $206k to $156k has been HUGE because it means I’ve paid off $50k in 3 years! This is so exciting for me. I have a plan to pay off $32,400 next year by completely decreasing my expenses (assuming my job and living situation stay the same). I can’t wait for my loans to drop below the $100 mark; it will be amazing!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…6 Steps To Organize AnythingMy Profile

  8. Computer breakdowns are SO scary!!! I don’t even have an old one; however, it froze up on me, and I thought I would have a heart attack. Since then, I am obsessed with backing everything up like a crazy person. I know you didn’t reach your $1,000 milestone; however, $698 is nothing to sneeze at. You are doing awesome!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…5 Bad Investing HabitsMy Profile

  9. anna says:

    I think it was a smart move to get renters’ insurance, especially with your partner’s equipment! I think you did awesome this month, Melanie, and that’s so amazing how you’re now down in the $30k’s!! Can’t wait to see you cross that to the 20’s! 🙂
    anna recently posted…Star Wars Baby ShowerMy Profile

  10. Kara says:

    I agree that 2014 just FLEW by! Amazing work paying off your debt! It’s very inspirational 🙂
    Kara recently posted…The Work Ethic Experiment ResultsMy Profile

  11. Computer crises are terrible! My old laptop finally reached the point at which it just wouldn’t turn on anymore–I figure at least I know I used it to the bitter end. Renter’s insurance was a great decision, you’re smart to get that settled!
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted…The Ultimate Bike Commuter’s Guide to Winter CyclingMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I feel so much better with renters insurance! Just today there was a false smoke alarm — nothing happened, but I was relieved to think that if it was a real emergency, I’d be covered.

  12. I only have one freelance client that I write 2 posts a week for and that alone makes it tough to keep up with my blog. I’ve done a good job so far, but it’s not easy.

    Congrats on getting your debt so low! That’s a huge improvement over the $81k you started with. I’m still paying minimum on my loans, but hopefully I can start pushing more towards them once I pay off our car loans…
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How to Overcome Your Fear of Side HustlingMy Profile

  13. Gina says:

    I really hate those months when unexpected expenses come up. Last month I had to buy new tires which was an extra $200. 😛

    Good job on still putting a big chunk toward your debt though!
    Gina recently posted…{Currently} NovemberMy Profile

  14. It does feel like 2014 has gone by unusually fast! $700 is still amazing, and spending on your birthday, computer, and renter’s insurance are all worth it. We had to get renters insurance when we signed our lease, and we had the option to pay it monthly, but it was a lot easier to just pay it all at once and “forget” about it. I’m also really glad to hear your laptop is okay! Computer problems are the worst.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Being Grateful: Fiftieth EditionMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I’m trying to keep everything in perspective — $700 is still good given those extra, and necessary expenses. We paid our renters insurance in full too because it was cheaper that way. I hate computer problems too, but glad everything is okay now 🙂

  15. Great job on your debt repayment! Sorry you didn’t get to go to Iceland, but I’m glad I got to meet you at FinCon!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Is It Tacky to Use a Groupon Twice?My Profile

  16. Ben Luthi says:

    I’ve neglected my blog quite a bit the last two months too 🙁 Too much work! Awesome job on the debt destruction, though! I’m impressed!
    Ben Luthi recently posted…How to Earn Thousands a Month WritingMy Profile

  17. Lisa says:

    $160 to fix the computer may seem like a lot, but if I were in your shoes I would have done the same thing. I’m so bad when it comes to fixing my computer, printer, or anything like that!
    Lisa recently posted…I’m Not PerfectMy Profile

  18. Taylor says:

    I know how you feel. After going solopreneur I feel like my blog is turning into a ghost town! It can be so overwhelming keeping up with assignments plus a blog. Glad you’re doing well :)!
    Taylor recently posted…File Under Strange Ways to Make Money: Selling Breast Milk?My Profile

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