The Road to Debt Payoff: July Didn’t Go Quite As Well As I Had Budgeted
The summer mood, out-of-state trips, and an unexpected dental emergency throw Michelle's continuing saga of debt payoff slightly off track.
It’s not easy to be money savvy in the summer. I can attest to this – summer has long been a time of self-sabotage for me. It’s far removed from the new year, when I am geared up to conquer my goals, and it’s full of pricey things to do like vacations and barbecues.
This summer, even with my goal of paying down $20,001 worth of debt, has not been an exception to that trend.
It’s hard to write out a confession like this, especially when I talk about good money sense all day long. But as much as it pains me, I also think it’s important to address the elephant in the room and the weight on my shoulders: we haven’t been that great with our money this summer.
I’ve spent most of the last three months at airports and hotels. I’ve gone from Chicago to New York to Philadelphia to Denver. And while I’ve saved up for the majority of those trips and budgeted them down to the cost of airport food, I can’t say I’ve been the best at managing my expenses.
While I was trying to save, little things popped up.
For example, an $8 souvenir book for my daughter that I couldn’t say no to (though I knew better), or a $35 dinner out with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in ages. There were trips to get my nails done that I could have saved $40 on. There were $30 dresses that I actually didn’t need for an event.
And those “little things,” as I call them, turn into one big problem after another. Mainly, they come back as debt.
I’M ASHAMED TO WRITE THAT OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS, WE’VE TAKEN ON MORE DEBT THAN WE’VE PAID OFF.
Little things were big factors. But I also committed the cardinal sin: I didn’t restock my emergency fund. If you remember back to past months, we had car issues and medical bills that plagued us in the late spring. I was so proud of myself to have had an emergency fund that took care of that stuff. But I failed to take the time to put money back into those accounts. So when I was hit with an insane dental bill (despite having insurance), my only option was the credit card.
It would be easy for me to beat myself up over the new debt, but I can’t. Looking back and punishing myself distracts me from the job at hand.
Instead, I used the end of July as a springboard for the next five months. It started with restocking our emergency funds back to $1,200 by using savings from the platforms Digit and Acorns.
Once I felt more secure with our money, I made a mega-payment of $1,251 towards killing off one of our two credit cards.
I’ve been holding onto that small debt for what seems like ages now. I am so glad to get it off of my back. That card is now going in a locked box, and will only be used again when we need the travel points from it (there’s about $300 accumulated for our big trip next year).
Then I paid off the majority of my new summer debt, including the dental bill. That was a total of $1,925. While I went back and forth on whether to do so, I am going to include this in my total, since debt is debt. It doesn’t matter when or why you got into it.
That brings us to a grand total of $3,176 in debt payoff for July.
Over the last seven months, we have paid off $16,447. That leaves us with $3,554 left to go until we hit our magic number of $20,001 of debt payoff by December 31, 2016.