Here we are, y’all. Twelve months in and I am so excited to be finishing up our first year of debt crushing! To be totally honest, we started getting serious about our debt on March 7th. But because we’re checking in on the first day of each month, this is our twelfth check-in. So I’m considering it to be the first year.
I am ready to look at some totals!
February was a rough month for me. I switched over to a biweekly pay period with my new employer, making me need to re-balance my spending to accommodate the new system. At least I’m still earning the same amount with my new company as I was with my old company.
If this is your first time joining me on these debt payoff reports, follow my story from the beginning. Or, you can just recap here to see where we’re sitting. I’m on a mission to pay off almost $27,000 in debt in under two years.
Time to Set Some New Goals
As we close this year out, it’s time for me to set some new financial targets. The good news is, I took in a ton of content over the last year and have a real idea of my lifelong financial goals. I also have a good idea of the various avenues I want to take to get there. This year, when I set my financial goals, I’ll be going about it a bit more methodically.
I’ve been trying to acclimate to the new world order of my new employer, and with the transition to a new pay period system. I decided to play it safe and keep all spending at a minimum for February. I did spend about $50 for Valentine’s Day to get my family some little gifts. But otherwise I proverbially kept my head down and my nose to the proverbial grindstone.
We got our taxes back in February. I always pay the car insurance and tag renewal out of my taxes each year so I don’t have to worry about that bill throughout the rest of the year. The balance of our return went into our joint savings account for the near-future purchase of a car.
We plan to move cross-country later this year. We’d like to have a newer vehicle for that trip, rather than driving my Altima the 2,200 miles to our new home in Tennessee. My car still works really well in-town, but we don’t trust it for that far of a drive. It tends to start whining during long trips. We made our regular payments to debt for the month of February, so we unfortunately didn’t end the goal year with a bang. But we did end it on a stable note! I’m excited to share the final numbers for the year.
Here are February’s numbers.
February Debt Ledger
You may have heard that a third round of stimulus payments is in the works. We are looking forward to receiving that check. If we receive it, we plan to put the entire amount down on our debt to pay it off faster.
One of the exciting things about the numbers above is that we are under the $5,000 mark on all remaining debt. (This excludes Kyle’s student loans, which we will be tackling separately using a different strategy.) Additionally, we’re under the $1,000 mark on Kyle’s personal loan. That means we can expect to have that one scratched off the list by the end of March. And then there’s only one debt left to pay off!
I’m looking forward to throwing all of our money at that one debt and watching it get crushed in no time. The other exciting factor here is that we paid only about $80 in interest in February! This is fantastic because our highest interest-accruing month since we started our debt payoff journey was about $370! We have paid an ungodly amount in interest each month, simply for the privilege of carrying debt.
We Could Do This Faster
I keep about $100 per week in reserve for things I didn’t foresee needing to get. Like maybe I need tomatoes for dinner. Or my daughter informs me she only has one pair of pants that fit anymore and needs something right now.
It’s surprising how much that comes up.
Sometimes we just use it to grab dinner out when we don’t feel like cooking, though.
I could absolutely push that number down to $75 or even $50 per week and increase the amount I’m putting on my debt, but I prefer to work with my own psychology and keep that cushion. Plus I find that going too tight on my finances makes me feel like I’m sacrificing too much. And that makes me prone to splurges. Splurges are bad.
I don’t need that kinda stress in my life. So I’m keeping my $100 per week “miscellaneous” fund.
It’s time for some final countdown numbers! Let’s look at where we started a year ago and where we sit today.
Also check out this neat Debt Tracker that helps me visualize our progress!
March is the start of our second year of debt payoff, but we definitely don’t anticipate our remaining debt taking a second year. At the rate we’re moving we anticipate having our debt paid off by June of this year. That will free us up to start saving for our cross-country move.
Moving to Tennessee should lower our expenses somewhat, which will help us save and invest more in the long run. And it has some other benefits, like being closer to more friends and family.
It’s time to see how we did on our annual goals! Here are the final results for the year.
Pay Down $17,000 in Debt
If we include all of the interest payments made over the course of the year, we have paid a total of $25,196 in debt; unfortunately, $3,000 of those payments actually went to interest (boo), placing our total debt payoff at $21,729 (yay!). This places us nearly $5,000 over the goal line!
Even without the stimulus money, we would have hit this goal. Although when I set it I was thinking about total payments and not actually the total debt I wanted to pay off. That’s okay—we more than handled it anyway!
Write 24 Pieces of Content
Earlier in this goal year I hit my goal of 24 pieces of content. I then set a rather aggressive stretch goal of 48 pieces of content, with only a couple of months left to write it all.
Although I didn’t hit my stretch goal, I did end up with a total of 43 pieces of content. I don’t think that’s so bad! Over the course of a year, that’s a new piece every nine days. My original goal only called for one new piece about every two weeks.
Another neat fact about this goal: I didn’t have a word count in mind for my content, but I ended up writing about 70,000 words altogether. That’s about the length of a short novel. For comparison, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is around 78,000 words.
I guess now I can see why it takes authors a year to write the next book in a series!
My original goal was to decide how to monetize my blog. I have a lot to learn about blogging (which I’ll clearly get from just working on my blog), but I do know that the most important thing in the early stages is adding content that will help grow traffic. That’s why the content piece of my goals this year was critical for me. I’ve decided that creating useful worksheets and printables, in addition working on ad revenue, are my two most likely candidates for monetization at this point.
I will begin with those and add other monetization methods as I become more proficient at blogging.
This wraps up another month of debt payoff and rounds out the year. We still have about $4,500 in debt to crush, so it’s not over just yet. I’m definitely watching my financial life shape up, and I have some ideas on how I want to go about setting my financial goals for the next twelve months. So stay tuned for that.
I may also have a helpful worksheet that can guide you into creating your own financial goals so you can come along for the ride and get your financial house in order.
What are some of your money goals for the next year?
View the January 2021 report.
View the March 2021 report.