Getting Rid of my Debt, Part 8: Questions I Ask Myself

Sweet Virginia, who was just adopted this past weekend from the ARL of Boston!

Sweet Virginia, who was just adopted this past weekend from the ARL of Boston!

If you are a faithful reader of my blog, first of all, thank you. But you may be wondering how I could go from Part 6 last week to Part 8 this week. Simple. I can’t add. I looked back at my posts and realized last week was actually Part 7. I’m home sick today but had most of this post already written so I thought I would go ahead and hit that old “publish” button. (And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go lie down and take a nap.)

I wanted to start off this year with a clean slate. No more consumer debt. Even if I had to take money out of my savings to get that damn personal loan paid off. That personal loan which helped me to pay off my car loan for a car I haven’t had since early July 2013. Well, now the car AND the loan are gone. Yippee! However, now the amount in my savings is lower than what I wanted for the end of the year, causing me to feel a bit anxious.  I realize this is part of my make-up so I do what I can to get control over it.

This is what I have found works for me: sometimes, I will sit there with pen, paper, and a calculator, and try to figure out how much I can save on a monthly basis, or even a yearly basis. I’ve even sat there and figured out, “ok, just how much is the minimum amount that I can spend in a year, so if I have to eventually take a pay cut, I can do it on xx salary.” I know there are lots of software programs out there that can help me do this, but there is something about the tangibleness of seeing it on old-school pen and paper in front of me. Looking at things on a yearly basis actually helped me this week, and I’m going to tape that sheet onto my wall. I’m a visual person and it really helps me to see things like that in black and white.

So, what’s so different with my monthly calculations from my yearly calculations? Well, I get paid 26 times per year, but my monthly finances are worked out on the basis of 24 paychecks. So twice a year, I feel like I get a “bonus” that I can use to make huge chunks of progress. For last year, I used the first ‘bonus” (that three-paycheck month of May) to pay off debt. Same thing again in November. This year, I think I will most likely put that “bonus” into savings for my “tiny house.” There is just something about seeing that budding account slowly gain steam that feels really good.

This weekend, as I wrote in my journal, I realized there are a few questions I have begun asking myself when considering purchases, even of the garden-variety type like groceries, to help keep me focused.

  1. Is this purchase or item worth the amount of time it would take me to earn the money needed to pay for it?
  2. Is this item worth the amount of time it will further delay my obtaining my dreams?
  3. Do I already have something at home that can serve the same purpose just as well?

Unless it’s food, I find that usually the answer to number 1, is “no.” Same thing for number 2. But the answer to number 3 is, lately, more often than not, “yes.” I no longer care if I have the newest and fanciest things, or trendiest things. To me, it’s much more important to have my health, and for my animals to have good health and plenty of food than for me to have multiples of everything.

I have a stickie on each of my monitors at work (yes, I love having two!!) that says “Animals, and tiny house.” When I need to focus and prioritize, it’s usually about those two things. Reminds me to take a deep breath and just plunge ahead with whatever I’m working on. And, if that doesn’t totally do it for me, well, there’s youtube with its plethora of videos on simple living and tiny house living, and the like.

I know I have the type of personality that can sometimes give in to impulse buys, especially at the grocery store. And, to be honest, at this point, I know groceries is about the only thing that I can manage to cut down even more bare-bones than I already have. That, and “pet food groceries.” So this weekend, I placed my first order with Peapod Home Delivery with Stop and Shop and between the specials and promo codes  I found online, I saved myself over $42 on my first order. That more than paid for the delivery charge. I also chose to have my groceries delivered on a Wednesday because in my area, that saves you $5. I’m not gonna starve, waiting two days won’t kill me. 🙂  And, if any of you have ever done grocery shopping via mass transit, you know how difficult it can be to carry several bags at once. The cold only makes things worse. (Yes, I know, such first-world problems. Stop complaining, Terri.)

I also signed up with a website called Chewy.com, which provides lots of pet food options and pet-related products. I noted that they were charging less for my pets’ food than what I have been paying at my local store. Now, I can have it delivered to my door, and I get to save money.  As long as I order $49 worth of stuff, shipping is free, and guess what? My first order already arrived, and it only took two business days! (When you have as many as I do, it’s easy to get that total up to $49. It’s also easy to do impulse buying for them at the pet food store.)

Just thought I would share these last two with you as I know we are all trying to save money every day on items big and small. If you have any other suggestions or thoughts on this, or any of my posts, please hit Like or leave a comment below!

9 thoughts on “Getting Rid of my Debt, Part 8: Questions I Ask Myself

  1. Those “bonuses” are really going to help us out, too. My partner gets an extra paycheck this month AND his quarterly bonus (an extra $1,500 that we wouldn’t otherwise have) and we are happy to have agreed already to use it to pay off our entire CC debt and a bit of my college bill. Those boosts are going to look even better when we can start putting them into the emergency fund!

    • That’s great you guys had already decided to put it before you even get it! You are going to feel so good when you can cut up that credit card (or if you’re not doing that like I did), getting that bill that says your balance is $0!! Right now, I still have the student loan debt, of course, but it’s really nice knowing I have no more consumer debt hanging over my head. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog! (Btw, I live for those three paycheck months!)

  2. Very interesting thoughts! I love those 3 paycheck months too. Where I work our commission checks come in the last paycheck of the month usually it’s the second but when it’s a 3-paycheck month, it’s the third one. I cannot believe how many people at work were so mad that it wasn’t the 2nd one in May and November because they were relying on that commission check. I like it because I can use the first 2 checks for bills and the last one in May went to bills for the next month and the last one in November (part of it) went to Christmas gifts.

    I am also interested in tiny houses! Well, houses in general. I don’t think I could live in one but definitely looking into a house that is less than 1000 sq ft.

    • I wish I got commission checks! But in a way, I guess I will be now with the freelance work I’m doing. When I get a section done, I send an invoice and then will get paid. I’m planning on all of it going into savings. When people get mad like that, that’s when you think to yourself how good it is to have an emergency fund or some sort of buffer.

      As for me and tiny houses, not sure I can live in one of the tiny, tiny, tiny ones just because I have five cats and a chihuahua. They need their space. But I definitely don’t want to have a huge space – something that’s even open like a studio would probably be just fine for me. I’m looking into all the options, and planning to make it a reality within about 2-3 years. That’s my plan and I”m sticking to it!

  3. I really like the 3 questions. They help us think and put our purchases in perspective. This concept is emphasized in the book “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin. I read it last year. Your “Getting Rid of my Debt” posts are always a good reminder and encouragement to stay focus and kept going on my own personal debt reduction journey. Congrats again on eliminating the personal loan and on the freelance gig. Keep going!

    • I love that book by Vicki Robin!! Seriously, that’s what drives those three questions that I ask myself all the time. How long would it take me to earn the money to pay for something I’m considering? If the trade off sounds worth it, then good. If not, then no. And thank you, Kelvin, it feels SO GOOD to not have that personal loan anymore! I can’t wait to get a letter from the bank telling me it’s CLOSED! I want to frame it! I’m really glad you like those posts. I like writing them!

  4. Pingback: Getting Rid of my Debt, Part 9: Changing Cell Phone Carriers | Chasing Simple Dreams

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