A whirlwind of a month for me this year. In our family, July brings two birthdays—my husband’s and my son’s—and this year it also brought me five paychecks in a single month. This was one of those months where I get an “extra” check because there happen to be five Fridays in the month.
A number of factors collided to get us to exceed our goals for this month, but there was also a disappointing setback that I wasn’t prepared for.
If this is your first time joining me on these debt payoff reports, you can follow my story from the beginning or just recap here to see where we’re sitting. I’m on a mission to pay off almost $27,000 in debt. Anyway, back to this month’s report . . .
Originally, I’d planned to use the extra money from this month’s fifth paycheck to pay for my husband’s birthday celebrations.
When I get an “extra” check in the month I always have to put money down on groceries and gas (my weekly consumables), but I’m free to use the rest of the check on whatever I please since I make all my other bill payments using the other four checks in the month. This is one of the beautiful things about using the partial payment budget method.
Typically, when I have these extra checks, I know they’re coming in advance and I set aside a use for them ahead of time depending on what is going on at the time of the extra payment.
I got lucky, though, because with my kids visiting their dad for the summer, I’ve been able to put aside a little extra money on each check. This is money I’m not spending on groceries and clothes.
Because of this, I was able to buy all of Kyle’s presents that I wanted to get him and place the remaining $175 as an extra payment on our second joint card, which I have been focusing on since I paid off my personal credit card.
Since I already had the money set aside in advance for Kyle’s gifts, I was also able to make a full extra payment on that card, which ultimately led to paying off the card!
In addition to these payments, we also had a small windfall of cash available because of the way we pay our car insurance. I pay both of our car insurance off my tax return each year. I pay the first 6 months when I receive my tax return and immediately set aside the same amount of money into a separate account so that I can pay off the next six months when the bill comes due.
Our auto insurance carrier credited our account with a one-time 15% deduction on our car insurance, allowing me to place an additional payment on our Joint Card 2.
I had been anticipating paying off our second joint card toward the very end of August, but these extra payments allowed me to nearly double my payments for the month of July, finishing the card off almost a full month earlier than originally anticipated. I will admit to indulging in a happy dance when I made the final payment that took us to a zero balance on that card.
When we went over our debt on the first of the month (our designated date to see how we did and whether we’re on track to meet our goals), I went into it full of excitement about putting another zero on our spreadsheet balances. Then I got a shock. See if you can find it.
July Debt Ledger
Have you spotted it? Perhaps not. I have the advantage of a full spreadsheet that compares numbers month over month.
I’m nerdy like that.
Despite our total debt going down steadily over the last four months, we saw an increase in the amount of interest we owed in the month of July. This was unexpected, and I believe it was due to Kyle having made purchases using his PayPal credit during a promotional period.
Just look at the numbers. Despite being the second-lowest debt on our ledger, it incurred the most interest. Once the promotional period ended, since the balance was not paid off, the interest hit all at once. This was incredibly disappointing, but I am trying not to let it overshadow the joy of having another debt paid off.
Every month I look at that interest and I am resentful that we have to pay money for the simple “luxury” of owing money to someone else. I’m not saying it’s not fair since we were the ones who took on the debt, but I am saying I do not enjoy it.
From this point I’m going to be working on Joint Card 1 with Kyle—since he’s not planning on stopping his $150/month payments, we can expect to pay a total of $990 per month on this card alone. We do expect the interest rate to go down over the months, but assuming that it stayed the same (around $85), we can expect to have this debt paid off by January of 2021.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on the second round of CARES funds, and it looks incredibly likely that a second stimulus check is going to be coming around October.
Obviously, we aren’t counting on the money to come in, but Kyle and I talked about this in the event that it does happen, and we’ve decided to reserve part of it for Christmas spending and use the rest to pay down/off his PayPal account. We figure that by the time it comes in it will likely finish off that debt, at which point he’ll join me on paying off Joint Card 1.
This means we’ll likely pay it off a bit sooner than January. It would make a great Christmas gift to ourselves! It seems to be slow going right now because we’re spread out everywhere, but we know that once we get more individual debts paid off, our monthly interest will go down and our payments will get bigger, paying off debts faster as we consolidate payments over time.
Each month I take a look at how I’m doing on my goals. If you’re not familiar with them, you can read all about them on my goals post.
Pay Down $17,000 in Debt
The deadline on this is the end of February 2021. So far, we’ve managed to pay down about $10,600 in debt in five months, when I set the goal. If we adjust for interest paid (because more money than I’d like has gone to interest payments), we’ve paid down about $8,400 in debt.
That means that over five months, on average, we’ve paid about $1,700 toward the principal each month. At this rate we’re on track to pay down 20,300 in debt—on the principal!
And actually, we can expect to pay down more than that as we continue to chip away at the interest rates—assuming, of course, we don’t get any more nasty surprises about promotional rates. We can also expect to pay down more assuming the second round of stimulus checks makes its way through congress and past the president’s desk.
Write 24 Pieces of Content
As of the time of this writing, and including this post, I have 20 posts written. What I’m really happy about is having my e-mail opt-in freebie written, which I wasn’t expecting. I’m still on track to hit this.
My biggest concern on this was wondering if I’d have enough to say in the personal finance space. I can only share my journey, as I don’t consider myself an expert.
I just keep reminding myself that nobody is an expert in the beginning, and we all struggle with knowledge gaps and sucking at things at first.
Likely there are people out there who know how I could knock out my debt five times faster and with less interest, but one thing I know about my own psychology is that I have to add new methods slowly, and I have to be excited about the methods in order to follow my favorite life/growth enhancer ever, Do it scared.
I do things scared, but I also move slowly so I know my footing is good.
Right now I’m in a learning phase, so most of what I can offer is what I’m learning. This month I decided I could share my journey by sharing what I’m learning.
I mainly learn through other blogs and books, but mostly books, so one way I know I can deliver quality content is through book recaps and reviews, sharing the overview of what I’m learning as I learn it. This way others can learn from it too.
I’ve talked about this goal a few times, and honestly, until I have a fair amount of readership, this won’t be high priority for me. I have other income goals alongside my blog that are more passive in nature, so building this blog slowly is fine by me. I don’t need to race to the finish line.
Still, I know which types of monetization will work with my personality and strengths, and that’s what is important to me. I do also know that building an e-mail list is important in order to keep my readership with me no matter what happens with Google or social media platforms.
Ultimately, I am comfortable with my decisions in this space and consider this complete If I learn something new later that changes my mind, that’s okay. I’m continuing to patronize other personal finance blogs to keep my eyes open for tips and news about monetization methods.
Five Months In
That wraps this month’s update. I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as I am. I love seeing my numbers progressing downward! Hopefully, watching me eviscerate my debt helps to inspire you to crush your own debt.
Until next time, keep crushing those financial goals!
View the June 2020 report.
View the August 2020 report.