Wow, it’s been a hot minute since my last post! Four months to be exact. I actually had to go back and re-read it to figure out where I left off back in APRIL (I suck.) So far, not so good with the whole Blogger thing. Guess I probably shouldn’t quit my day job just yet.
In my last post I had JUST become debt-free and was languishing over how in the 6 month process of paying off my $12k in credit card debt, I had managed to accumulate something else… a little bit of excess fluff around the midsection. Well, midsection… hips… thighs… arms… you get the idea. Fluff everywhere.
Well, I am happy to report that I believe I’ve stymied the flow of Fluff Buildup, and am swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction toward Fluff Reduction. I’m ALSO happy to report that I followed through with the financial goal I laid out last time – save $6,000 by August. Actually, if I may be so bold as to toot my own horn real quick, I *crushed* that goal and saved $7,300 instead! Some thoughts from that process:
- It’s actually fairly easy to save a shit ton of money when you’re not throwing a shit ton of money at credit card payments every month
- It’s actually fairly easy to save a shit ton of money when you’re not spending $500 a month on crap you don’t need
- It’s actually fairly FUN to try to figure out ways to save even MORE money by pursuing alternate means of income when you get to keep that money for fun stuff
As for #3, I find that I’m more motivated to make extra cash through side-gigs now that I am actually getting to *keep* that cash. I sold stuff from around my house and put the proceeds toward my CC balances during my Debt Paydown phase, but over the past 2 months I’ve gotten into what I’m considering a full-blown side hustle. I’ve actually started buying cheap furniture from the used/secondary market (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.), cleaning it up/painting it/giving it a facelift, and selling it for about 100x the price I paid for it. I’ve netted over $400 in just over 5 weeks doing this! I’m lucky because my parents live a mile away from me and are both retired. They’ve been helping with this little side-gig (riding along for pickups, helping with some of the painting and stuff, etc.) and it’s been awesome to spend more time with them while making some extra cash. It’s been great, even if my dad does call the “business” Painted Trash, Inc. He’s not totally wrong.
The Craigslist side-hustle has me extra motivated because all this money is going into my “fun” savings account, meaning it’s separate from my growing emergency fund and can be used for guilt-free spending on big ticket items like vacations, furniture, etc. I’ve decided this is a nice compromise to keep myself from feeling deprived while trying to maintain relatively frugal spending habits on a day to day basis – if I’m going to spend on something big and unnecessary, that’s fine. I just need to work a little harder in my downtime to pay for it. That also makes it a lot easier to prioritize what I do or do not actually want to spend money on and avoid impulse buys. For instance – is this new couch worth the 17 dressers I’ll need to flip to pay for it, especially since that work will all be done in my “free time”? (answer: yes, and I’ll be buying it on Black Friday BITCHHH!)
Along with my new Craigslist racket, I’m keeping my cash savings rate high from my *real* job, too. I’ve been averaging $1,200 per month in cash savings from my full time job, and all of that money has been going straight to my Emergency Fund. I want to get that to $10,000 and then I’ll divert that money toward my car loan. Projections right now have me crossing the $10,000 threshold in early November. $10,000 will be 4 months of bare-bones living expenses, which I feel pretty good about.
So, where does all that leave me for my August check-in?
- Credit Cards: $0.00 (yay)
- Cash Savings: $7,300 (yay!)
- Car Loan: $11,945 (blegh)
- Monthly Spending: $602 (shit)
God, that monthly spending is GROSS. Granted, that includes any non-essential spending (everything outside bills, groceries and gas), so it covers anything from dining out to clothing to home décor items to vacations, but still. Gross. During my aggressive debt paydown phase I was running at about $300 per month, and even THAT was more than I *really* needed to be spending. I’m up to double that now! *kicks own ass*
The car loan is also gross, but I’m not as upset about it as I used to be. I will have it paid off by mid-2019 (at the latest) and will keep this car until the engine falls out on me… should be 10-15 years easily. I know cars are not an investment, but I’m choosing to look at mine as one, and will take meticulous care of it in the hopes that I will get many years of comfortable, reliable transportation out of it. The $10K EF goal should be reached in early November, and then every dollar that was previously going to the EF will get siphoned toward the car loan. Between almost $1,500/month in payments ($219 monthly payment plus $1,200 re-routed savings to accelerated payments) and some additional money from my annual bonus in January, I’m hopeful that the loan will actually be dead by March.
As for my next goal (hit $10,000 in the Emergency Fund): it would be sooner, but I’ve got a big “surprise” expense in September that I’m actually super excited about–I’m having the exterior of my house painted. It’s been a long time coming (and necessary… the joys of home ownership!) so I’m trying to look at the bright side instead of dwelling on the $2,000 I’m about to spend.
- This is necessary maintenance to keep my siding from deteriorating. Avoiding this would be penny-wise and pound foolish since replacing the siding on my house would be way more than $2,000 (like, at least 10x more)
- This has kicked off some other long-neglected items like replacing some rotten wood, etc. My dad has been helping with this so it’s been super cheap so far, I’m learning new skills, and I’m getting to spend quality time with my dad doing something we both love—home improvement projects. Win, win, win.
- I LOATHE the color of my house now and can’t wait for it to look adorable like a postcard (yes I’m obsessively scanning Pinterest every night for inspo)
- I actually have the money to pay for this, have budgeted for this expense, and am prepared for it
Phew. That’s a pretty good place to be. I found myself thinking I should open a new credit card and pay for these expenses to get some cash back, but I think that might be a little too fancy for where I’m at in my journey. Probably best to just stick with the cash for now.
Alright, that’s probably all I have for now. Maybe my next post can be about my house painting! I always enjoy reading about people’s home improvement projects and seeing before and after pics. Want to see a pic of my ugly exterior paint color now?
What even is that color? Is it yellow? Is it beige? It’s like earwax.
So yeah, maybe I’ll post an after pic here. Or maybe I won’t post again for another four months.
Just kidding. (Maybe.)