monthly updates, numbers

Towards Zero

october-update

Fun fact: Towards Zero is actually the title of one of my favorite Agatha Christie books. But it also works as the title of this October updates post.

So here they are: the numbers for October! Including one number that I haven’t ever shared before (Oooooh, the suspense!).

Debt payoff numbers update: I put $2,000 towards my student loans in October. This is a personal record – wahoo! My student debt is now down to $45,876, which means that I’ve gotten rid of roughly 20% of my initial balance of $56,753. The reason I was able to put so much toward my loans this past month was definitely because of my second job. I’ll be getting second job paychecks in November and December as well, so those should also be big payoff months.

Debt payoff emotions update: I’m feeling a vague sense of accomplishment, I guess. That’s about it. The positive feelings I have about paying off a portion of my loans are nowhere near as strong as the negative feelings I used to experience about having loans. Negativity bias is weird.

Extra income update: Well, in a sense my second job paycheck counts as extra income. But I also participated in one research study in October, sold some stuff, was given a couple of gift cards which I used for things I would have bought anyway (namely groceries), and got a $250 cash-back bonus on a new credit card. I’m going to just go ahead and call all of that random stuff “extra income”. My extra income for October, not counting my paycheck from my second job, totaled $465.50.

Cash savings update: Right now my cash savings is at $1,375, up from $1,200 last month. Until today, I had been calling this pot of money my “emergency fund”, but the word “emergency” is pretty ambiguous, and I recently realized that I wasn’t actually sure what I meant by it. One the one hand, a lot of the possible emergencies faced by other adult Americans don’t apply to me, since I don’t have a house, car, pet, or kids. On the other hand, there are lots of potential situations–some emergencies, some non-emergencies–that I want to be prepared for. So from now on, I’m just going call this money “cash savings”. My cash savings is available to use for anything large and important that I can’t pay for out of my regular paychecks. Some possibilities include:

  • Buying a new computer if my computer dies
  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Moving expenses (I may want to move in the next 1-2 years)
  • Backup cash if I lose my job. I’m actually not too worried about this because I’m fortunate to work in an extremely high-demand field where there are always jobs available. Even if I were to get laid off from my current job—which is unlikely—I would probably not be unemployed for an extended period of time. But still, it’s good to be prepared.

Retirement update: I contributed $716 to retirement in October: $216 into my 403(b) and $500 into my Roth IRA. I would really love to put $500 into my Roth IRA every month (well, 11 months out of the year, to max out the $5,500 yearly contribution). It probably won’t be possible to keep contributing that much per month after my second job ends, but we’ll see. Right now, putting money into my Roth IRA feels just as productive as putting money towards my loans because…

Net Worth Update (first time ever!): I’ve actually become pretty interested lately in tracking my net worth. In fact, I’m probably a little more interested in tracking my net worth right now than I am in tracking my loan balance specifically. And so I’ve decided that I’m going to share this number here on the blog, at least for now while it’s still negative. As of the end of October, my current net worth (Retirement savings + cash – debt) is -$34,607. For comparison purposes, the lowest my net worth has ever been, at least since I started tracking it in January, was -$47,411. I’d really like to get to Net Worth Zero by the end of 2017. I think it’s possible.

Travel update: My travel fund is at $319. This is down from last month because I rather impulsively decided to ditch my Digit account and just put my Digit money towards my loans. The remaining $319 consists entirely of rewards points from my Capital One Venture card. Interestingly, I’ve actually purchased two domestic plane tickets this fall–one to visit friends in Minneapolis and one to visit my mom in Florida–but didn’t use my travel points for either one. I think I want to save these points for some big (possibly international) trip someday.

*               *               *

Some thoughts about jobs:

I’ve now had two jobs for two months. The first is my regular full-time job, and the second is a short-term, pretty stressful job that will end in mid-December. This is the first time in my life that I’ve worked two jobs at the same time, and I’ve been learning a lot from it. Some of the pros of having these particular two jobs are:

  1. I’m making more money (obviously).
  2. Both jobs challenge me, but in different ways, which is a really positive thing. I’m learning and getting better at both of them, and I’m improving skills that I wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to work on otherwise.
  3. Both jobs give me an opportunity to have a positive impact on the people I work with.

Some of the cons of having these particular two jobs are:

  1. I don’t get nearly enough sleep. A cliché complaint, but true.
  2. I’m literally counting down the days until Job #2 is over. I don’t like being in a counting-down mindset because it means I have less gratitude for and appreciation of the Right Now.
  3. I’m not quite as focused on my health or fitness as I usually am. I pack the exact same thing for lunch every single day (a hummus, cheese, and kale sandwich on multigrain bread) because it’s easy and filling and I don’t have time to think about creative/healthy cooking. I go to a yoga class once a week at most because that’s all I have time for. I definitely walk a lot during the day, so that’s good, but I still feel a little less healthy and less fit than usual.
  4. My social life/relationships are suffering. I simply have not been devoting as much time to relationships with friends and family as I would normally want to. I’ve stopped going to my book club, which is something I usually LOVE. I haven’t been initiating hangouts with friends. I’ve declined hangouts initiated by others because I had too much work to do or was too tired. I’ve been reeeeeeally slow at responding to friends’ emails. All of this makes me sad.

Overall, I’m feeling like taking on a second job has been a positive experience, and I’m glad I did it, but I’m not necessarily sure I would do it again if the opportunity arose. I like making more money and being challenged, but I’m not willing to compromise my health, relationships, and quality of life on a long-term basis.

That’s it for now, I think. Happy November! Also, happy upcoming end of the U.S. election season! I’m feeling pretty terrified, personally, but at least we’ll have an answer either way in a few days. #ImWithHer

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27 Comments

  • Reply Mortimer November 5, 2016 at 5:07 PM

    You are making fantastic progress. Your goal of net zero by the end of next year seems extremely doable, especially if you keep up the hustles/side income, despite giving up the second job. Keep up the great work. I’m rooting for you!

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks, Mortimer! 🙂

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach November 5, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    I imagine it’s pretty tough juggling two jobs, but it’s nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I admire your dedication! Really! I know it takes a lot of sacrifice to make as much headway as you are!

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks, Tonya! There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

  • Reply Norm November 5, 2016 at 11:07 PM

    It doesn’t sound easy, so I admire your perseverance!

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks, Norm!

  • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure November 6, 2016 at 12:57 AM

    Well done! And net worth zero is a GREAT goal! Balance is always tough. This week, I calculated our anticipated taxes and I think we’re going to owe quite a bit. So then I’m all freaking out that I didn’t maximize efficiency there, but my husband had to remind me that it was pretty great year. We can pay the taxes and move forward. The second job is helping you get a financial boost (and you don’t seem to totally hate it), so that’s good, but it all goes back to that delicate dance of trying to find balance… so tricky!

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 10:53 AM

      Hooray for having a great year! The good news about owing taxes is that you had a chance to do something productive with that money throughout the year, so it’s kind of like you got an interest-free loan from the government. But I totally hear you. My taxes are going to be more complicated than usual this year due to multiple jobs/freelancing, so I’m not even sure what to expect.

      • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure November 7, 2016 at 1:51 PM

        Self-employment income is the worst! I’m mad we haven’t been maximizing our taxes like the ER community emphasizes. Maybe we’ll do that next year a bit more…

        • Reply S.N. November 7, 2016 at 8:43 PM

          It’s tough to know how to navigate tax stuff…On the bright side, you made extra money! 😀

  • Reply Fervent Finance November 6, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    I think it’s a great idea to track your net worth. Since you’re saving for retirement AND paying down debt, you’re net worth will be moving much faster than just monitoring your debt pay down. Great for the feels 🙂

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 1:34 PM

      Yeah, exactly. If I ignored my retirement accounts and put everything towards my debt, it would be a bit different, but I really want to take the opportunity to contribute to my Roth now — I think it will pay off in the long run.

  • Reply Michelle November 6, 2016 at 6:01 PM

    Great job on putting so much towards your student loans and earning extra income. Finding ways to make extra money outside of my day job really helped me to pay off my student loans much more quickly.

    • Reply S.N. November 6, 2016 at 6:57 PM

      Thanks, Michelle! It definitely feels good to make bigger payments than I was able to before.

  • Reply Jef November 6, 2016 at 11:25 PM

    Good to hear from you Sarah! Congrats on all that you’re progress on there and sure you’ll hopefully have some more time to catch up with friends once the second job finishes 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

    • Reply S.N. November 7, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      Thanks, Jef! 🙂

  • Reply Vee November 7, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    loves it! nice work! We hit zero net worth earlier this year and zero never felt so good. You’re doing amazingly well! Keep it up and take care of yourself in the process 🙂

    • Reply S.N. November 7, 2016 at 8:42 PM

      Thanks, Vee — the reminder to take care of oneself while paying off the debt is so important. And congrats to you on hitting zero net worth earlier this year!

  • Reply Our Next Life November 7, 2016 at 3:19 PM

    It’s incredible how much you’ve paid off so quickly! It’s so awesome. I hope you’ve stopped at some point to pat yourself on the back for all of the loan paying and saving! (Like for real, give yourself an actual pat on the back!) And this has been the most stressful year of all time — but like you said, the election will be over very soon, and then we can at least stop worrying about the outcome and deal with whatever it turns out to be. #Imwithher xoxo

    • Reply S.N. November 7, 2016 at 8:46 PM

      Ok, pat on the back complete! 🙂 And yeah, it’s so true that whatever comes after the outcome is probably going to be pretty dramatic (and possibly scary and depressing…), but at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with.
      So excited to go vote at 7am tomorrow!! (Didn’t get it together to vote early, but I’m actually kind of looking forward to being part of the energy at the polls on the actual day.)

  • Reply Emily Jividen November 8, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    I’m impressed with your numbers, but glad that you have figured out what you need to do to have a healthy balanced life before it got too out of whack. Remember, the debt pay down will accelerate as your balance (and corresponding interest) go down. Good luck on the Quest for Zero!

    • Reply S.N. November 8, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      Thanks, Emily! Yes, I’m excited to watch the interest slow as I make more payments. Onward! 🙂

  • Reply Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life November 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM

    Second and third jobs are absolutely dampers on having any kind of social life but great for the big picture, especially since you’re not planning to keep working the second job continuously. I think that’s a wise call, for your sanity, if nothing else. I hated the hours back in college but I was grateful for the extra shot in the budget that the income provided – it meant graduating without debt and even having some savings set aside. Considering where I was with my parents’ debt (neck deep), having no debt of my own was hugely uplifting. I’m trying to decide where I stand on Mortgage Debt Zero. Part of me wants to eliminate it ASAP but there’s that whole opportunity cost thing.

    Stay sane today! 🙂

    • Reply S.N. November 8, 2016 at 5:42 PM

      Yeah, I agree, sanity is key (both in terms of the election and in terms of not driving oneself crazy with too many jobs!). The end of this job can’t come soon enough, but I know I’ll be really glad I did it after it’s over with. I think it’ll motivate me to find other ways to earn more in the future too.
      Good luck with the mortgage debt decision — that sounds like a tough one. Opportunity cost is real.

  • Reply kalieb November 9, 2016 at 10:30 PM

    Congrats on a good debt payoff month. I hope you reach your net worth zero goal–that’s exciting that it’s possible. I’m also glad to hear that you’re seeing benefits of working two jobs, but have an end date so you can finally get some sleep! And exercise & quality time with people.

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