What’s the first thing you think about when you land a new job? Let me be blunt: your salary, right?
When I landed my first job out of college where I earned $15 an hour, you can imagine how excited I was to be making money. I didn’t put too much thought into the fact that my job was at least 40 miles away from my home, which created an 80-mile round trip commute each day – or a 400-mile commute each week.
At first, I thought it wasn’t that bad, but then it started to take a toll on both me and my car.
I started at the job in July, and by December that year, I was beginning to burn out. Whenever 4:30 p.m. rolled around, I would jump up from my desk and run to my car to get a head start on traffic.
I had to rush so that I could get to my son’s daycare before it closed at 5:15 p.m.
If I didn’t make it to the expressway by 4:40 p.m. each day, I’d be late and end up paying a late fee. And even if it weren’t for that daily stress, I didn’t like the fact that my son was so far from me.
I was also having issues with my car since I was putting so many miles on it each week. On top of my car loan, I had to pay for repair and maintenance expenses, along with higher insurance, more gas and fuel, and interstate tolls.
All in all, I think my car costs reached five figures during that year – in large part, it was due to my commute.
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A Silver Lining
I was often cranky, stressed, and on-edge at work. I knew my work-life balance would be much better if I could eliminate the almost two hours that I spent each workday driving.
The one thing that kept me going was knowing that my job was helping me pay off my debt at a rapid rate. Though the cost of living was lower in my hometown, there were fewer job prospects, so I knew I would never find a job that paid as much near my home.
And just about the time that I was considering a change, my boss offered me a sizeable raise!
At that point, I made the decision to move closer to my job for my sanity, since there was no way that I could stick around and run a car that I was still paying for into the ground by driving an average of 1,600 miles each month just to get to work.
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Moving For Debt Payment
Usually, when people decide to move to continue making payments on their debt, they choose a more affordable area. Not me.
Since I was leaving a pretty affordable small town for a larger one, my living expenses spiked.
My rent went up, but only by $105 a month. And my new apartment also came with a water bill, which was not an expense that I had to worry about at my old place.
But the slight increase in living expenses that I endured was nothing compared to the sudden decrease in car-related expenses. I started to put the savings towards paying off more debt.
I added a mere $60 to my minimum monthly student loan payment of $140, and the rest went to my car loan. First, I started by putting an extra $300 toward that. Then I increased it to $400. And then $600. Six months after my move, I had paid off an additional $5,000 of debt!
What works for me may not work for everyone, but if you’re on a debt repayment journey like I am, make a list of your current expenses and pinpoint anything that may be hurting your wallet. After all, you don’t want your hard-earned dollar going out as exhaust fumes.
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