Happy May, everyone! Here’s my monthly update for April, followed by a new mini-goal for debt payoff:
Debt payoff numbers update: As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my goal is to put at least $1000 per month towards my loans, and more whenever possible. (This is a self-imposed goal; my loan servicers aren’t asking for nearly this much.) Here are the amounts I’ve put towards my student loans each month since I graduated in January:
- January: $157. Hahaha! Fail. But I’m giving myself a pass because I was unemployed, oh, and because I hadn’t actually created the $1000 goal yet.
- February: $1,406. I got a job in the middle of February and immediately threw most of my remaining savings at the loans. Good idea/bad idea? Doesn’t matter, cause I can’t take it back now!
- March: $1,000. I had a lot of expenses that month so just hit my minimum goal.
- April: $1,800. Wahoo! It’s a record! Though I should say that this had a lot to do with the fact that I liquidated my Betterment account and put most of that money towards the loans.
Also, guess what: The amount I owe is officially under $53,000!! (See progress bar in right sidebar.)
Debt payoff emotions update: If you read my post about the longest two weeks in the world, you know that I’m working on being grateful for each day I have, rather than impatiently wishing away the time between now and the next paycheck. I’m trying to notice particular moments/hours/days when payday is far from my mind so that I can create even more moments like those. From what I’ve observed so far, it seems that spending time outdoors is an extremely effective way to keep my mind focused on the present moment and away from my paycheck and loans and budgeting spreadsheets.
Debt payoff magical thinking update: Everyone who has student loans should seriously be entering this sweepstakes (go to Menu –> Sweepstakes). You can enter once per day from now until May 8th. If you win, you get $25,000 to put towards your student loan balance. I literally have a calendar reminder to enter this sweepstakes every morning.
Extra income update: This month I made extra income from a few sources…
- Freelance writing: $250
- Research studies: $80 (Want to learn how to do this? Read my guest post on my friend Kara’s blog.)
- Texas Hold ‘Em: $37 (Don’t judge! This is a fun social activity for me. And just FYI, if I’d lost my original $10 buy-in, I would have just entered it as an “entertainment” expense in my spreadsheet and been happy that a fun evening with friends only cost me $10.)
- Total extra income in April: $367 — not too shabby!
Free work update: I don’t think I’ve talked about this on the blog before, but I actually do a fair amount of research-related work for free, outside my regular full-time job (which is not a research job). This may sound odd, because why would I do work for free when I could do work for money? However, if I do decide to pursue a research career in the future, it will be imperative for me to prove that I’ve been engaged in research activities on an ongoing basis. So, the free work I’m currently doing consists of:
- Finishing/revising/submitting scientific articles that I wrote and/or submitted for publication during my PhD program.
- Reviewing other people’s scientific articles that they have submitted to journals for publication. Basically this means that I read the manuscript super carefully and give extensive critiques and suggestions. Neither I nor anyone else *has* to do this, but it is considered a sort of service to the scientific community.
Emergency fund update: Ok, this is still at $516. However, I will be increasing it to $1000 this month. I’m still contemplating what my target amount is for this fund. I think it would be smart to get it up to at least $2000, but it also feels weird to put money in savings when I have debt sitting around accruing interest at a rapid pace.
Retirement update: I hit my retirement goal for the month: $500, split between my Roth IRA and my 403(b).
Car-free job update: Still no car! For those of you new to the blog, the fact that I have no car is notable because my job requires me to travel around the city all day.
Extraneous purchase of the month: I temporarily joined Netflix so I could watch Season 2 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and it was SO WORTH IT.
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Ok, so as for my new mini-goal:
I don’t know when I’m going to have all my loans paid off, and I am still not interested in setting a goal date right now because it is simply Too Far Away For Me To Handle. However, I decided that I do like the idea of setting a mini-goal, one that is a bit of a stretch, but that miiiiight be possible. In other words, I’m starting small. And my mini-goal is…dum da dum dum:
I want to get my loan balance below $50,000 by the end of June.
This goal is meaningful to me for two reasons:
- $50,000 is a nice round number, and I like nice round numbers. (Fun/weird fact about me: I strongly prefer to eat small foods in multiples of 2. You will never catch me eating 3 pretzels, 5 M&Ms, or 11 grapes.)
- Although the total amount of my debt in January was just under $57,000, the amount I had borrowed was slightly under $50,000. The rest was interest that had accrued due to years of loan deferment and income-based repayment. So once I’m under $50,000, it’ll be like I just have my original loan back and the interest never happened.
Right now I’m just under $53,000, which means that in order to reach this goal, I need to find more than $3,000 in the next two months (“more than” because the loans are accruing interest daily). I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do this, and honestly I don’t know if I can do it or not, but I thought I’d put it out into the universe anyway.
So stay tuned for updates on that.
And wish me luck!
What about you: have you had more success with mini-goals or great big goals?