Last month I declared my big, crazy, audacious goal for all to see. I was fearful of pressing publish as so much can happen in a year. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. But I knew that I wanted to keep myself accountable to paying off debt.

Even if I “fail”, I promise to always be honest and forthright with where I am at and what is going on.

I know I am not alone struggling with debt. Many of us are fighting tooth and nail just to survive and reclaim our money, time, and financial lives.

It’s hard and it’s a journey full of ups and downs. Now, with this goal, I find myself on another journey.

In my last debt update, I said starting June 1 I was going on a cash budget and giving myself $100 in fun money each month.

I am proud to say that I’ve stayed within my budget, but at some points it has not been easy. This past weekend, it was so nice out and my boyfriend and I just hung out at a park. We were driving back and I asked him, “Should we be bad and go to happy hour right now?” (a summertime favorite of ours).

Luckily, he had the strength to tell me “no.” While I felt frustrated at first, the urge to go out waned as we settled back at home and relaxed.

Making any big change is all about knowing your spending triggers. I constantly want to go out on nice days. In Portland, it’s gloomy so much of the year, my inner party-animal just wants to release.

But I’m learning to channel that energy in other ways with walks, and bike rides, and wine from the grocery store (lol). I am also trying out new recipes and making sure I always have food in the house. Half of the time when I want to go out, it’s because there is no food in the house and I’m too lazy to go to the store. Now, I start monitoring the food situation, so I can anticipate when I need to go to the store and be proactive, rather than reactive.

This past month, I am also happy to say I have met my goal and put $2,000 to debt. I am actually hoping to put another couple hundred, but am waiting on some payments.

My current debt total:

Undergrad loan: $5,331.64

Graduate loan: $21,530.92

Total: $26,862.56

I love how close my graduate loans are to being in the teens! The good thing about paying this amount is that I actually see the progress I’m making. Even when I was paying $1,000 per month, it felt like the debt was not going down that much. Then again, at the height of my student loans, I was paying around $300 in interest per month.

Things are moving along and I am working hard to just take it month by month, day by day. I don’t want to overwhelm myself, but I also don’t want to lose sight of my goal.

I am so ready to be done with this debt.

 

How are you doing with your financial goals?

Melanie

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.

45 responses to “The Beginning of a Journey”

  1. Kirsten says:

    Congratulations on the progress! I’m excited for you πŸ™‚

    We go out a lot when time is short (actually, with small kids we order carry out and eat at home). I need to do better about having freezer meals or something so there is never an excuse. We always have food on hand – but when the kids are hungry and I’m getting off work late…
    Kirsten recently posted…Last Minute Father’s Day Gifts That Save MoneyMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks! πŸ™‚ Oh gosh, if I had kids I would never want to cook! I don’t know how you manage work, kids, blog and everything, but you are a rockstar in my eyes!

  2. Yes, you’re right, you’re not alone in fighting with debt. I can’t really wait the time that I will be debt free, hopefully by next year.
    Kate @ Money Propeller recently posted…An Income Boost – Blog Earnings and Stats for May 2015My Profile

  3. You’re getting so close, Melanie! How exciting!!!
    Kara @ The Daily Whisk recently posted…11 Ways to Exercise For FreeMy Profile

  4. I can remember days when I lived in Seattle and after months of gloomy weather it would be glorious and I would feel the exact same way you felt. You just wanted to be out ALL DAY! You are getting so close with your debt repayment. Hang in there and you know I always have your back and I’m cheering for you!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…One Simple Move To Make You HappierMy Profile

  5. Liz says:

    This is so awesome! $2000 a month is huge! I would love to be able to put $1000 a month on debt, but that’s going to be a bit before I can make that happen. I can’t wait to watch your journey unfold!
    Liz recently posted…The Financial Perks of Being in a CoupleMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      You do what you can, with what you have. A few years ago this would have been unheard of. I was only making $2k a month! Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement πŸ™‚

  6. Chonce says:

    It’s great to see you making so much progress! I am in a similar boat and I’m trying to keep all my dining out and entertainment expenses to $110/month or less. We just moved so money is already tight and I’m determined to maximize my debt payments this month and next month. This post was definitely for me πŸ™‚ I actually had a similar conversation with my bf over the weekend we he requested we go grab some food somewhere but I turned it down since we already had food at home. Oh and I ended up grabbing a bottle of wine from the grocery store that night, haha. I agree wholeheartedly with your idea of channeling your energy in other ways that don’t require you to depend on spending your money to have a good time and enjoy your day. It makes a big difference.
    Chonce recently posted…What a $150 Bi-Monthly Grocery Budget Looks LikeMy Profile

  7. Mrs. FI says:

    Congrats on getting closer and closer to your debt-be-gone goals! My sister just graduated from college with a MOUNTAIN of debt. I’m hoping to direct her to blogs like yours so she can get started on her journey towards freedom as well. Wish me luck and good luck to you on your journey this year!
    Mrs. FI recently posted…Fun in MayMy Profile

  8. Kara says:

    Go Melanie! Having a plan is key to big payoffs. Are you following the avalanche or snowball method? I found focusing on one loan at a time made for even faster progress.
    Kara recently posted…It’s Been Six Months With No Clothes Shopping- But That’s About to ChangeMy Profile

  9. Anum says:

    I feel so excited whenever I see other people getting closer to reaching their personal finance goals. Thanks for sharing!I really like your idea of having the $100 cash budget – I’ve been going over my entertainment budget the past few months, and this might help me curb my spending a little better.
    Anum recently posted…How to Build Credit While You’re in CollegeMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      It’s definitely been tough, but it makes you reevaluate everything. $25 per week can mean several coffee dates, 2 happy hours, 1-2 movie dates, and 1-2 nice dinners.

  10. Michelle says:

    I love seeing the numbers shrinking!!! Keep up the good work Melanie.

  11. It’s great that you have a boyfriend that is strong enough to keep you both on track when you get a little weak. You probably would have felt bad the next day if you went out and had a couple of Martini’s. (Had to put that in there) Your blessed to have someone in your life that supports your financial dream. Besides if I had a boyfriend I’d rather snuggle at home with him too.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…5 Top Must Have Financial HabitsMy Profile

  12. What wonderful news, Melanie! I love your “crazy audacious goal”. The news of your increased income is fabulous! And I’m sure that your experience of limited income served the purpose of encouraging/forcing you to spend with a high level of conscious frugality – just so that you could go gangbusters at a time like this! I wish you very, very well in pursuing your goal of complete debt elimination within a year : )
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Reflections From My 90-Year Old MotherMy Profile

  13. Yikes! I responded to your “audacious goal” above – as I did via e-mail. Sorry! I love your account of that little episode of temptation. Going out of something to eat is a constant temptation for me too. Even when there is perfectly good food in the house! Even when it’s already prepared! What’s with that? SO great that your bf held strong. My husband and I have to keep each other on the straight and narrow too – though we don’t always succeed in doing so. I can relate to your statement “I actually see the progress I am making.” When the debt is smaller and the repayments are larger, it’s a huge percentage of the total that you’re killing. But all of those smaller repayments over the years – the ones that didn’t seem to make much of a difference – put you in this advantageous position now. Way to go Melanie – and Melanie’s bf!
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Reflections From My 90-Year Old MotherMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha no worries. Yes, I know the struggle with food. I feel like other people just make it better! It’s nice to have someone help me remember my goal (but I also help keep him in check, too). Making larger payments feels awesome!

  14. Congrats on the $2k payment! and the self control this month. Nicely done!
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted…WhatҀ™s the state of your Network?My Profile

  15. Way to go! Our living expenses are pretty high thanks to health problems (convenience food and medical treatments). But we’re trying to trim down. Our goal is for his oral surgery: $25,000. We have around 10 months for the next $11,000. Not great — especially since something is constantly breaking in our house — but it could be a lot worse.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…The benefits of chronic illnessMy Profile

  16. You always seem to make such awesome progress no matter what. I love your determination! I totally hear you on the food situation. We usually have food in the apartment, I just hate cooking and never feel like doing it. That’s why I try and make enough to have leftovers! Or I have simple and easy back-up meals (like an omelette) that I can usually force myself to make. πŸ˜‰
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Being Grateful: Sixty-Eighth EditionMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Aww, thanks! I am so determined this time! I always was, but was so burnt out. That vacation really did change everything πŸ˜‰ I hate cooking too and usually make mediocre food, lol. Which is why going out seems so nice. That and the fact we don’t have a dishwasher, so cooking always seems like an ordeal. I know, first world problems. Eggs and toast are a nice easy meal for me!

  17. Dane Hinson says:

    Incredible progress on your debt goals. Whenever you get discouraged or have a setback take some time to look back at all of the progress you’ve made. I always say that personal finance is a marathon not a race and everyone is on their own journey.
    Dane Hinson recently posted…How to Become a Financial SuperheroMy Profile

  18. Way to go, Melanie! I hope that sharing your journey is helping – I know it has helped me. And the more I pay off my debt, the more excited I get. Is that the case for you? I’m down to $131k (starting from $206k) – truly amazing but still so far to go. I’m ready to be done, too. I think the next couple years will do it for me. Good luck and keep us all posted!!!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…6 Strategies to Help You Control Your TimeMy Profile

  19. This is SO awesome Melanie!!!! It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you make something a priority. You are totally proving the value of a vacation while in debt because it has given you such a big push to get rid of this debt for good. Congrats!!!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – I Can See Clearly NowMy Profile

  20. Great job Melanie! I’m so glad your BF stood up to you and said no to happy hour.
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays Ninety Fifth EditionMy Profile

  21. Taylor says:

    That’s awesome Melanie!!! Sticking to a strict fun budget is tough especially in the summer. I’m glad it’s been working out for you. We have so many events in the next few months to attend, wedding etc. we have to be really careful not to overspend.
    Taylor recently posted…#Mcchat Twitter Chat Recap: Making Room For FunMy Profile

  22. Go get ’em Melanie! The hardest thing is making the choice to commit. After that, it’s just a matter of keeping the ball rolling.

    Keep it up!
    Kevin Shryock recently posted…Make Double the Minimum Wage (With No Experience)My Profile

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