Sometimes it feels like we’ll never be debt-free. I’m having one of those weeks where I can see the path ahead, and I’m tired of walking it. I know that we’ll be challenged to keep paying off debt over the summer. But instead of bucking up and feeling more resolve, and that “gazelle intensity” Dave Ramsey and his fans talk about I feel like I want to curl up in the fetal position in the bed and stay there for 6 days. Coincidentally the same day I leave on my trip.
Usually, my solution to this feeling of bleak pessimism is to run some numbers. Seeing our net worth grow, and our debt decrease, over the course of the next month always puts me back on track. But I don’t see that happening in the next month.
We have our trip coming up, and while my ticket is paid for and our other expenses are within the budget I set, we will be putting our debt repayment on hold for a month or two. We won’t be making an backwards progress (I hope), but we won’t be moving forward by much either.
We also have several other things on the horizon that will cost major moolah, so I’m trying to figure out how we’ll fit those into the budget.
The Big Expenses
1) Our trip: estimated cost $1,500
Hotel is the highest cost here. While I’m a bit of a foodie, I will likely buy lunches at the restaurants I want to try and we’ll eat at some of the cheaper restaurants or cafes while we are together. (for part of the trip I get to be solo!) The exception will be one nice dinner which we aren’t paying for. The other expenses include public transportation costs, any activities we decide to do (I’ve budgeted about $250 for this), and gifts for the kids. The temptation is to throw caution to the wind and just spend whatever, so I padded the budget by $300 just in case.
2) Car Maintenance: estimated cost $600-$750
I need new tires and new brakes for my car. We just did this for the hubby’s car, and I don’t think we’ll have to do it again for another 2-3 years, thank goodness. I plan to shop around, but this will still be around $600 at the least.
3) Gym Membership: estimated cost $289
In an effort to get more fit, lose a bit of weight, and have access to a pool for the summer I’m contemplating joining the local YMCA which we can walk to. It seems like a no-brainer since the summer membership is only $289 for our family of 6, but that’s still a lot of money. I just have to wonder if my health and sanity is worth it? I will likely add swimming lessons for the kids as well, since the 7 and 5 year old are super close to learning how to swim.
4) Camp for 2 Kids: estimated cost $300
There is a camp I want to send the 2 littlest ones to for a week. It’s at my youngest’s preschool, and I think it will be good for her to take her little brother and show him around before he attends next year.
5) Fence for the yard: estimated cost $5,000
Fencing in the yard is high on our list of home improvements mainly so we can let the dog run around without him being in danger of running into the street. I was hoping we could do the work ourselves, but we likely won’t have time until Fall. Then again, that gives us plenty of time to save up!
The kicker is if we were debt free none of these expenses would hurt as much as they do, but I guess that’s the point. I wonder if everyone who goes through paying off debt feels this way? It’s not easy for me, I really just want to be on the other side of it talking about how we succeeded. I think mainly my fear comes from knowing in the past we’ve paid off all our debt in the past only to rack it back up again. This is a major lifestyle change, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
Trying to look on the bright side, here’s what we’re doing right. Listing it out makes me feel slightly better.
What we’re doing right:
1) Paying more than the minimum.
We’re focused one one debt at a time, but we’re not paying the minimum on anything. I just round up slightly. Every little bit helps.
2) Not adding additional debt.
We have not been adding to our debt (other than using one card to pay for expenses and paying them off at the end of the month). No plans for any large purchases, and our spending is (mostly) under control.
3) Keeping expenses low, while maintaining some money for fun stuff.
I have always budgeted too strictly in the past, so my current plan is to pad things a bit, and have a “grace” category. That way any little things or unexpected expenses are taken care of. We also include eating out in our food budget, allowances for everyone, and entertainment. (once a month movies, and Netflix)
4) Keeping tabs on future expenses and planning for them.
I keep a spreadsheet with known, expected expenses like the fence, the bathroom remodel we’d like to do, and other things on it. It helps keep me focused, and it gives me a timeline for when those expenses will be possible.
When I posted about how I was feeling on twitter, I got some great responses. (this is why twitter rocks!)
@GetOutOfDebtGuy Don’t give up. It’s OK if you take a step back from time to time. That’s life. Baby steps.
How do you maintain a positive outlook, or positive focus while you are/were paying off debt or saving for a goal? Any and all tips are appreciated.