Sunday, January 10, 2010

J-Money and her Special Sauce

I know a lot of people are probably REALLY tired of hearing me say "I can't afford to... [insert ANYTHING here]." I also know I'm not the only one who's had a rough year (I didn't get laid off; thank GOD, but I did take a pay cut, have benefits revoked, and been on two mandatory unpaid furloughs). I ALSO know that being in debt is my own fault, I'm not even close to being alone in my mess, and a whole slew of other facts that can simultaneously make me feel guily and hopeful.

Here's something more concrete though. I have just made myself a nice, orderly little budget to be debt-free-- COMPLETELY-- by the end of 2011. I know that's 2 years from now. I wanted to make a goal I could keep. This budget actually gives me a month of jiggle room, because I think I'll be done in November of 2011. In fact, this budget is assuming I will make exactly what I make now for the next 24 months, meaning any extra money I come into can make it even sooner.

I have 4 outstanding balances. I actually had 5 in 2009 and paid off one in November (the one that included my college loans). Best feeling EVER. I can't wait to feel it again in April '10, June '10, August '11, and November '11-- in each instance "the best feeling ever" going up exponentially. Everything is laid out in a nice little grid, aptly entitled "My Spreadsheet of Doooooom".

Luckily two of my creditors are family and thus have been very flexible with pay-back schedules and interest rates. The other two, not so much. I will be finished (hopefully) with one family in April, and the other in June. Each time I pay off a debt I will reallot my money to pay the maximum amount to the remaining debts.

I have two non-work trips to take in 2010-- one to Dallas in March for Amy's birthday, and one to Tulsa in April for Emily & Justin's wedding. Both flights will be purchased with miles, and both trips' "spending money" will have to be saved up and carefully doled out.

Other than those two-- nothing. No more eating out*. No more taxis**. No more new clothing***. I've already basically been doing this since August so it shouldn't be too terrible. I've changed my shampoo from Lush to Fructise. (My hair hates me.) I got rid of the fancy cable. I put out some feelers for some catering work for when I'm in town. I changed my Netflix to the sad, one-at-a-time, 2-max-per-month option. I WILL do this.

*at home. Obviously, I travel for work and I still have to eat when I'm on the road. If my hotel has a kitchen I will get groceries and eat in the hotel; if it doesn't I will stay within the confines of my per diem.
**also, obviously, at home.
***if I really REALLY need something (ie: a dress for the wedding) I will get it at the thrift store or on a major MAJOR sale.

I know I have friends who read this blog (or maybe they don't anymore; I actually have no idea) who will roll their eyes, shake their heads, think to themselves (or tell me to my face) that I've been here before, and dudes. Don't you think I know that? This post is not for them. This post is for me. When I can lay out something so concrete and can SEE my finish line, it helps me. It gives me hope. It pumps me up. It reminds me that I have a plan. It urges me to make my deadline. I don't need any negativity in this pursuit. I need to know that it can be done, that I can do it, that I have the support of my friends who won't get mad when I have to cut Sunday Funday out of my week or go to the first matinee of the day because it's $6 instead of $8.

All this means, in effect, that I can start grad school in 2012. Meaning I'll have my Masters by the time I'm 38, which is a rather respectable age to start a career, n'est ce pas? By the time I'm 40 I'll be working half the hours and making twice the money that I do now.

And honestly, that doesn't seem all that far away.

9 Comments:

Blogger Julia said...

Congrats on your plan! Stay strong and stick to it girl!!

January 10, 2010 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go girl! Proud of you making some concrete goals to get out of debt! You will be all the happier for it...I believe in you! xoxo, Tonya

January 10, 2010 5:42 PM  
Blogger charlemagne said...

lady, this is AWESOME. T would throw you a parade! Even if you don't meet the exact deadline (not to say you won't--i think you've got a lot of willpower stored up in that red head of yours), the fact that you're looking at what you're spending and planning all the way to 2011 to create a doable plan for being debt free is HUGE. this is way more grown up than anything i've done. I'm still using saran wrap to hold the symbol of my most-grown-up act on my finger, for heavens' sake.

January 10, 2010 6:26 PM  
Anonymous krysten said...

\o/ you can do it!! love you!

January 10, 2010 6:52 PM  
Blogger J.T. said...

Consider me on the "FOR" list, on this.
I think anything we can do to get out of debt is a step TOWARD living the best possible kind of life.
Working on a similar process myself, that does not include student loans. I can't imagine how good it must have felt to unload THAT burden.

Good luck. Be strong. Eyes on the prize, ma'am!

January 11, 2010 7:53 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Good stuff, Jamie!!! Way to go!

January 11, 2010 8:54 AM  
Blogger dw said...

I don't know what you've tried before, but this plan sounds good, and you sound positive about it. I think the feeling of relief you felt when one debt was paid off maybe gave you a hint of what's to come. Great start! You can do it, J... keep posting and we'll keep you honest!

January 27, 2010 12:26 PM  
Blogger 健康保寶 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 23, 2010 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Zach said...

Hey, I understand what your going through I have no tv, barely have the good internet, barely pay the rest of the bills, and still have a house to live in. Times are tough and these times have called for desperate measures in my eyes... fortunately I'm not on my own however sometimes I feel as though I'm close enough to it... Having a full time job and 2 part time jobs really suck but you got to pay the bills somehow right?

Keep up with your budget and don't let it out of your site. Another thing if I may suggest is that you make a "Marketing Income Goal" which pretty much tells you how much you would like to make in a year and gives you an idea on how you will try to do it. Let me also say that it's never a bad idea to ask people to donate to your cause as long as they know what you're using their money for...

Some people aren't in as bad of a shape as someone like you and I and they are also generous people. I wanna say take advantage of these people but that wouldn't be the right way to word it... But allow them to provide support and you can help them when they need your help the most later on :)

Zach

March 17, 2010 11:59 PM  

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