This weekend was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I spent most of it alone and tried my best not to be bored. But during a routine oil change Saturday afternoon, everything changed.
As the mechanic approached me to report on the oil change, he seemed a lot less comfortable than expected. "Uh...are you aware there is a major gas leak in your car?" No, no I was not. "It's actually unsafe to drive and you're very lucky you haven't blown up." Umm...what?
He showed me the gas leak and it had stained most of the underside of the car - including the area with the exhaust pipe. Ya know, the one that gets really hot and when near gasoline can quickly go up in flames? This leak had obviously been around a while, including an 8 hour round-trip to Wisconsin. Seriously, I should have blown up. It still makes my jaw drop. I am so very lucky and thankful to be alive.
I left my car with them until they could do diagnostics. I continued to be so thankful, no matter how costly this would be.
I got a call this morning that to fix everything, and give myself a new, much-needed, muffler, I'm looking at $1,300. Woof. However, I have more reasons to be thankful. I actually have that money available. Just a few months ago, if I needed $1,300, I would have been royally screwed. I would have had to put it on my credit card and dig myself further into debt.
But a few months ago, I anticipated that my old car would either need help or replacing eventually. And I needed to be prepared. So I picked a number and saved. I set aside $3,000 for a car fund, which would either help with maintenance or get me another older used car if mine were to be totaled in an accident or anything unexpected. On December 31st, I finally reached that savings goal. Talk about timing, huh?
When I heard $1,300, I wondered if maybe I should just buy a different car. After looking at Craigslist, I quickly realized I wasn't going to get much better than the car I have and who knows what issues that car could have. It was worth the investment to fix my reliable car to last me a few more years. Hey, maybe by then I'll even be out of debt!
While it's not fun to see a big portion of your savings gone so quickly, my dad pointed out that $1,300 could be the equivalent of 3 car payments. I'm so thankful I don't have a car payment that sucks out such a large chunk of cash each month! I might not have a fancy new car that would come with these payments but I know I'm being smart financially. Looks like I might not be so clueless after all!
So apparently we're already a whole week into the new year! Cue cliche phrase about how fast time goes. But really, it does fly. Honestly, I haven't even noticed I was on a spending freeze for most of this time. Remember those nerves I had about the sacrifice this would be? So far I haven't even thought about it. Maybe it just was the date after all (which I survived, thankfully! Maybe this here blog will get details one day, but maybe not.)
So what has been the secret to not worrying about a spending freeze? Distraction! And circumstance! I've kept myself occupied with so many things that are free, I didn't have the itch to spend money. Whether it be phone calls with the bffs, working on a puzzle, reading an awesome book, volunteering, watching really good football games (good in the fact they were all nail biters - I wasn't rooting for any teams in particular), or attending a class at my gym, I have found things to do. Yes, there have been some moments I've wanted to scream from boredom, but thankfully I've had this perfect bottle of wine to keep me company.
It has been colder in parts of Minnesota than it is on Mars. I never really thought about Mars being a cold planet but apparently it really is. We've had record cold temperatures this week, you may have heard about them. It even made the international news. So I've been stuck inside with no desire to go out and spend money. And I didn't want to order any food because I would have felt awful to make anyone come out in the cold, and hey, I'm a pretty good cook!
Surprisingly, I haven't really cared to shop online either. I'm realizing I have plenty of clothes and books, which are really all I buy online. However, I will confess I almost caved and bought a plane ticket the other night! I know, not exactly a small cheat purchase either! My mom asked me when my next trip was and I sadly said May - yes, I travel as often as I can and for me, May is a long time to go without an airplane involved. And yes, I know that is a huge reason why I still have debt. After that conversation and mid-hibernation, I hopped on Expedia to see what the possibilities of flying to Dallas on the cheap would be. Turns out my friend's birthday weekend had tickets close to $150, which is nearly unheard of. After an excited call to my friend, it turns out her sister would already be in town that weekend. Blessing in disguise because I did not really need to buy a ticket, even if it would have meant leaving this frozen tundra.
With all this progress, you would think paying off debt has been fairly easy. However, I've had no babysitting jobs due to the cold and no extra income has come in. Additionally, I learned that my pay stub does not accurately reflect my PTO and I took too much in 2013. I was docked pay in my last paycheck as a result so the spending freeze was actually mandatory, rather than giving me a leg up on debt. Not seeing the payoff has been the hardest part so far.
I hope the spending freeze is treating you well if you're playing along! We're 1/4 of the way finished!
Happy New Year! At 12 o'clock I sure was happy to see a brand new year. However, as reality sinks in for what is in store for this year, my stomach has been in knots. Maybe it's looking at this mountain of debt - much higher than I ever expected it to get. Or maybe it's the fact that I asked out a guy today and we're having dinner on Friday and I have to do the first date dance and I'm really nervous and awkward. Either way, I'm WAY outside my comfort zone just hours into the new year!
What better way to continue this dive outside of my comfort zone by freezing my spending? As positive as this will be for my finances, it makes me nervous. I have too many "what if" scenarios in my head of how this will be difficult mentally and socially. They're ridiculous scenarios and I know my priority of paying off debt will be well worth the sacrifice, but yeah, I'm nervous. Maybe it's just getting rid of the credit card safety net that freaks me out. It's hard to live within my means when I don't make that much money. But I can do it and I will. Man, this post is full of rambling, huh?
I was going to go see Saving Mr. Banks today but then I realized I couldn't spend money. Thankfully there's a Happy Endings marathon on VH1 to keep me fairly entertained. However, I'm bound to go stir crazy at this rate.
I updated my budget today and made my first debt payment of $145. It feels good but it feels so small. I'm embarrassed to admit how high my credit card balance is. It's higher than it has ever been and I'm ashamed. I'm freaked out that I have no babysitting jobs on the books for January yet and no resumes to do.
But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Who came up with this anyway? People don't eat elephants!
The best I can do is $1 at a time and do the best I can. And I'll put my nervous energy into working hard and setting up more jobs instead of worrying my days away.
Cheers to new challenges and a new year! If you're doing a spending freeze, be sure to link up with us on February 4th!