Friday, November 4, 2011

Setting a game plan

Although I haven’t been diligently writing about my efforts this week, I have been working hard on figuring out how to tackle my debt.  I would really love to be debt free in five years but that seems like a pretty high bar to set since it equates to paying off over $1000 a month in debt!  I figure if I shoot for that and don’t succeed I will still end up in a better than I am today.  I always find it easier to take on a big challenge if I set clear goals and objectives so that’s what I’ve been working on this past week:

Goal One: By the end of 2012 pay off all credit card debt (~$14,000) and maintain a $1000 emergency fund so I don’t have to reach for the cards every time something goes wrong.
Goal Two: Pay off the car (should be around $8500 left of the loan by then) and increase savings to $2000 by end of 2013.
Goal Three: By the end of 2016 pay off my student loan (should be around 35k left at beginning of 2014) and become debt free for the first time in my adult life!!

I’ve come up with a financial to-do list to increase the amount of money I can use to pay down debt each month:
1.       Thoroughly examine my monthly budget for any reductions which includes the grocery budget, pet care, utilities, cell phone, etc.
2.       Give up (or at least substantially reduce) some of the non-essential things that I regularly waste money on which will include my Mountain Dew addiction, eating out, beer *sob, and anything else I uncover along the way!  I have a feeling once I really calculate the cost per month that I spend on non-essential stuff it’ll be easier to say no to these things but I know myself well enough to know that this is going to be the hardest change to stick with!
3.       Spend less on the things that I do need like clothes, shoes, haircuts, car maintenance, etc.  I’m sure if I work at it I can be a lot thriftier than I am now.
4.       Sell any junk I have lying around… I don’t know if this will really make an impact on my debt but it will definitely reduce some of the clutter around the house!
5.       Make more money!  The most preferable would be to do a really great job at work, impress my new boss, and get a ridiculously huge raise but obviously I can’t count on that so I’ll be looking into part time work and side jobs that can add a little to the pot each month. 

It’s strange but for the first time in years I’m feeling kind of empowered when it comes to my finances.  Even though I’m way down in a debt hole, I feel better having finally acknowledged it and setting a game plan for getting back out of debt.  I know I’ve got a loooong way to go and some seriously bad habits to overcome but for now I’m going to let myself feel good about taking the first tiny step towards becoming debt free!

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