Around the same time, I started watching re-runs of Til Debt Do Us Part and Money Moron. While I didn't want to put myself in the same category as the people being coached/yelled at by Gail Vaz Oxlade, the truth was that I could fully relate to their choices, experiences and fears. I saw myself in them. I devoured as many of these episodes as I could, taking note of the advice on budgeting and debt repayment plans. Then I announced to Fortysomething that I was ready to make some changes.
Last April, we finally started the long, slow process of turning this ship around. We've made an enormous amount of progress since then. Here are some of the highlights:
April and May 2017:
- We took a full inventory of our debt.
- We made a debt repayment plan.
- We opened a savings account.
- We finally made a budget. Here's what it looked like:
(At the time, our debt included our car loan ($300/month), our student loans ($600/month), and three credit cards on which we were paying the minimum, for a total of $700/month).
- We started this blog as a way to track our journey, record our story, and engage with the personal finance community. Check out our first post: Introducing the $76K Project.
- We took an inexpensive vacation.
- I figured out how to buy running shoes on the cheap.
- We paid off the first of our three credit cards!
- I debated the pros and cons of high deductible health plans.
- We took an impromptu, affordable trip to the desert.
- I wrote a post about debt and mental health that ended up on Rockstar Finance! Funny story: I didn't know what Rockstar Finance was until my post started getting retweeted.
- We re-evaluated our goals and discovered that we had accomplished things that weren't even on our radar at the beginning of the year.
- I started to seriously worry that I might have to quit my job before finding a new one. I didn't write about it, but it was on my mind constantly.
- Our very affordable living situation became unbearable, and we started exploring our options: stick it out? Break our lease? Keep renting? Buy?
- We paid off our second credit card.
- We moved to a more expensive rental, and I kept my sanity. This all happened very quickly.
March and April 2018:
- We weighed the financial pros and cons of things like entering a race series and visiting family across the country.
- We brought our total debt down to less than $60K, meaning we have paid off ~$17K in the last 12 months.
So there it is: one year of persistent, sometimes frustrating financial work! I'm amazed at our progress and by how much we have learned, and I can't wait to see what we can accomplish in another year.