Debt Snowball Progress for July 2015

The snowball is getting bigger! This month, I rolled over the payment from Credit Cart No.1 into Credit Card No. 2. I also added a bit more to the amount each month so that I’m not paying a small bill in December.

It was so odd and disheartening to see such a large amount of money go to one creditor. I’m excited for the day when that money will come to me and no one else. Those dollars will go toward retirement, other investments, savings or big purchases I’ve longed to make.

I can’t even remember what I purchased with the credit card. Isn’t that a shame! Whatever I bought probably wasn’t worth the aggravation it’s giving me now. I’ll remember this feeling so I won’t go into more credit card debt when I break free. By this time next year, I will be free. God-willing, I WILL BE FREE.

Debt Snowball Progress July 2015

How to Spend Guilt-Free While Not Living Debt-Free (Yet)

I subscribe to the EZ Bugdet or Anti-Budget from Dave Weliver’s MoneyUnder30.com. (I love that site. Don’t you?)

This spending plan is pretty simple. Dave instructs you to:

  • Total your fixed monthly expenses (your Nut).
  • Figure out your net (take-home) pay, per month.
  • Subtract your Nut from your take-home pay.
  • The remainder is what’s left to spend. On whatever you want—food, gas, beer and travel. For the purpose of this post, I’ll call this amount “the leftovers.”

ez-budget-napkin-money-under-30

The plan is supposed to help you take care of the most important stuff through automated payments, so you can spend the remainder—no matter how large or small—guilt-free.

My fixed expenses include the basics (rent, utilities, cell phone bill, etc.), and the extras:

  • savings
  • premiums for extra insurance not covered by my employer’s plan
  • Roth IRA contributions
  • aggressive debt repayment

The amount I spend toward the debt payoff is about $350 more than the combined minimum payments of $60. I’m sacrificing a large chunk of take-home pay each month to the debt snowball. So why do I feel guilty if I spend the leftovers on something cool?! I guess I’m fighting the felling that I should be doing more.

After I paid off a credit card in June, I took advantage of a Groupon sale on top of the 50-percent discount to buy a cooking class I’ve been coveting for months. The class was a reward. And it helps me achieve another goal of constant self-improvement. I paid $79.20 for a 6-hour cooking boot camp valued at $199. That’s 60-percent off!

I paid for the purchase outright. But I felt guilty! Why couldn’t I just put that money toward the next credit card?!

Shouldn’t I go ahead and pay off that medical bill?

Shouldn’t it go toward my savings?
I’ve read so many of those posts with outrageous headlines, like “How we paid off $1 million dollars in debt in a week!” Shouldn’t I cut every corner like they did?

No. Personal finances are personal.

I should do what’s right for me. I don’t want to put every single penny into debt repayment because I want to have some fun, too. And that’s OK. There’s no fun in only spending the leftovers on gas, food and household items. I don’t thrive on deprivation. Also, interest isn’t accruing on the medical bills or the credit card debts because of the balance transfers.

Dave Ramsay fans are probably screaming his quote, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

Yeah, yeah. But I am living like no one else. I’m not out here looking for a new apartment (which I want to do), buying new furniture (which I’ve wanted badly for two years), looking for a new car (which I’ll need pretty soon), buying new, sexy shoes (which would be nice to have), or taking a big trip (which hurts my inner globetrotter). I’m putting at least an extra $350 toward debt repayment for goodness sake!

I must deal with this guilt. I found these tips from Divine Caroline via Intent.

Tips For Dealing With Spending Without Guilt:

  1. Acknowledge your money fears, however irrational. Just like the post’s author, my irrational money fear is that if I spend a big chunk of money today on something for myself, then I’ll encounter some terrible financial misfortune that’ll cause me to regret spending money on said item. If that’s the case, then I’ll end up never spending money on anything fun. I’m not advocating for going overboard, but I must find a middle ground.
  2. Make sure your personal finances are in working order. Check! Since I’m taking care of my monthly Nut before spending on anything else, then my finances are in order. The bases are covered, so go ahead and swing for the moon.
  3. Set aside fun money that you absolutely MUST spend on yourself. I haven’t create a Fun Fund, so maybe I should do that now. I should plan to spend an allotment amount on self-care or fun.
  4. Save for big splurges ahead of time. I already save monthly for annual expenses I have to pay for, such as, renter’s insurance, professional organization fees. I should start another savings account to pay for a vacation or furniture.
  5. Give away some money to a good cause regularly. The author writes:Superstitious or not, I truly believe that giving some money to a good cause on a monthly basis makes for good money karma (and of course good life karma overall). When you are in the position of helping others in need through financial donations, you are always in a state of abundance no matter how big your paycheck is.”
  6. Be on the lookout for good deals on things you want to spend money on. I totally agree with this. Hence, my Groupon and LivingSocial obsessions.
  7. Prioritize what you want to spend money on and know what makes you happy. Right now my priorities lie in lifelong learning and self-care. So I will no longer feel guilty for buying the cooking class in June, or paying for the second part of wedding planning class, a pedicure or those classic dresses I bought on sale from one of my favorite designers at Dillard’s this month. These things make me happy and feel better about my self. They’re investments.

So, guilt, be gone!

It’s Not About the Money: Can Discovering Your Money Type Set You Free?

I had double jaw surgery just over a month ago. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. Recovery was the perfect time to continue reading. While spending time in my hometown for the Fourth of July weekend, I came across Brent Kessel’s 2008 book It’s Not About the Money: Unlock Your Money Type To Achieve Spiritual and Financial Abundance in the library. I’m soooo glad I found this gem and my lil’ ol’ library.

Kessel is a renown financial advisor and yogi, so he offers a unique perspective on money. He discovered that people need to understand their core financial story in order to make meaningful changes. The book helps people identify themselves in 8 money Brent Kessler's 8 Money Archetypesarchetypes, provides information on how each archetype can revamp her finances, and provides exercises and meditations to inspire a fresh approach to her relationship with money. Meditating and looking at financial decisions more objectively can help you detach from emotions and make better decisions.

The exercises and meditations in the book are so helpful, in my opinion. Kessel asks tough questions to really help you understand your conditioning and motives for your financial behavior. He proposes that our “Core Story” was developed in early childhood and created money scripts that you subconsciously play out today. For example, growing up with little food and parents who worried about how to pay the bills could force one to try to make as much money as possible (like the Empire Builder) or worry about every cent that goes in and out of the home (like the Guardian).

The archetypes include:

  1. The Guardian is always alert and careful.
  2. The Pleasure Seeker prioritizes pleasure and enjoyment in the here and now.
  3. The Idealist places the greatest value on creativity, compassion social justice, or spiritual growth.
  4. The Saver seeks security and abundance by accumulating more financial assets.
  5. The Star spends, invests, or gives money away to be recognized, feel hip or classy, and increase self-esteem.
  6. The Innocent avoids putting significant attention on money and believes or hopes that life will work out for the best.
  7. The Caretaker gives and lends money to express compassion and generosity.
  8. The Empire Builder thrives on power and innovation to create something of enduring value.

Before reading the full descriptions of the eight archetypes, I realized that my money archetypes and philosophy have changed (for the better) over the years. Before getting serious about debt repayment and saving, I was the “Pleasure Seeker” and the “Innocent.” My pleasure-seeking lead to racking up credit card debt without regard to the future impact. The “Innocent” in me made think everything would work out even if I didn’t have a plan to reduce debt and set goals. Why did I think this way? Well, my mother exhibits this behavior. Apple. Tree.

Wow. It’s all just conditioning. I don’t have to act like that anymore. — Brent Kessel

Now, I’m much more vigiliant, realizing that being irresponsible wouldn’t help me in the long-run.  The “Guardian” and the “Saver” best describe me. I aim to become secure and wealthy by shedding debt, being careful and accumulating assets. This quiz on Kessel’s website can help you determine your archetype(s).

There are bad sides to each archetype, too. “For example, Savers rely on their habits to feel secure and safe, and Guardians turn to compulsive behaviors, constantly analyzing their financial affairs in the hope of finding some reassurance.” In the past week alone, I called about my loans, tweaked transfers and so on to try to gain the least bit of edge. My wheels are always spinning. It’s as if I’m become obsessed with my finances after years of apathy as a Pleasure Seeker and Innocent. Kessel wrote: “Often it is the archetype we reject that we most need in order to create balance and freedom in our lives.” He encourages you to find the “Middle Way”, a balance, among the archetypes to create a fulfilled life. We move toward balance “when we are not caught in the mind’s strategies to become secure or happy.”

…with just a few of the right tools, no matter what your history with money has been, you can earn and keep money, and even grow wealthy if that’s what you want. — Brent Kessel

What makes It’s Not About The Money awesome is that Kessel gives specific tips for each archetype on the following topics: cash flow and budgeting, investing, insurance, taxes, gifting and estate planning, and philanthropy and generosity.

Kessel suggests that you suppress the “Wanting Mind”, which constantly tells you that you are not enough or don’t have enough. That feeds the negative part of the Core Story. He spends most of the third part of the book talking about generosity. He wrote: “…when we are focused on the greater good, we are not as consumed by our own self-involved Core Story, and hence more is possible.” When you look to help others, you often forget about your own hang-ups and move toward balance and freedom.

We are free when we move from a focus on getting love, abundance, peace and freedom to being love, abundance, peace and freedom. In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels sufficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort. — Brent Kessel