Getting Honest with My Debt

It’s December 1st and I turned 28 last week. My best friend gave me the gift of the lovely Mindful Budgeting Planner designed by one of our mutual favorite bloggers - Cait Flanders. I’ve been pretty dissatisfied with a lot of things in my life lately, namely things related to work and money. This has led to a mostly healthy obsession with debt-free-living, budgeting, early retirement, minimalism, and frugality blogs. I just can’t get enough. And yet, while my thinking is burgeoning with so much new information about personal finance, it hasn’t actually translated into action. That’s where this post comes in. I’m tired of my debt, tired of working in a job that I don’t love only to scrape by financially. So where do I go from here?

As I move into the new year, I think it’s important to get honest about my debt. Here’s where things stand:

$58,393.83 in student loan debt. About $10,000 of which is from undergrad and the rest is from grad school. Yikes. My $158 payments each month aren’t even making a dent in that mammoth number. This debt feels sort of weirdly justified. Like because it’s educational debt that puts it higher up the debt hierarchy or something. “I received a good education for that nearly $60K thank you very much!” But at the end of the day it’s still money owed and I’m thinking of transitioning into a career path that doesn’t use my graduate degree, sooo there you have it.

$7,425.07 in credit card debt. I’m chipping away at this, but when you spend more than you earn (as I did for several months out of the year in 2016) it’s hard to feel like you’re making progress. This debt probably carries the most shame for me. This was totally self inflicted by shopping too much, spending outside my means, and doing things like going out to eat a lot. In essence, this emerged from not taking very good care of myself and not being very mindful - two things that, if you know me, you know that I tout all the time. So $7,425.07 later - where does that leave me?

$3,500 in debt to my mom. My mom helped me pay for some major professional development earlier this year and I’m slowly paying her back. Luckily this is the one bit of debt that’s interest free. Phew. But it’s also, for me, the most important debt to pay off. My family and friends are so generous and I don’t want to ever take advantage. This loan from my mom was a huge help in pointing me in the direction that I want to go professionally so priority number 1 is paying her back.

If you’ve been tallying as you go, you’ll see that I’m currently pretty up to my ears in a total of $69,318.90 worth of debt (aka way more than I make in a year before taxes).

You may be wondering what I’m planning to do with all that debt. Some of my ideas are soon to follow in posts over the next couple of weeks. But the short story is that my plan is to start actively paying off my debts on January 1, 2017, which is sooner than I realize. So this month it’s all about planning and taking stock, but come next month, my debt won’t know what hit it.

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