Ahhh! Just when I thought things were going to settle down to a nice, uneventful 2016…
First, I’m stressed and distracted because of some drama at work. Basically, a team member is not doing his job and making me look bad in the process. We had a bit of a dust up (not physical!) on Friday and managers ended up getting involved. Yes, I’m being vague on purpose, sorry. Unfortunately, this is a high profile project with executive visibility. My reputation is important to me and I don’t want problems with this project to jeopardize my job. I’m trying to enjoy this weekend but it’s hard to relax. Next week will be tense. (Perhaps I need to start applying to other jobs in order to feel better about having options? … If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that, because of past events, job security is a sensitive issue for me.)
Second, I’m stressed and distracted because I’m also in another type of jeopardy – housing jeopardy. The mental stability of my landlord is not completely alarming at this point, but it is becoming increasingly concerning. Because of certain changes the landlord is pushing for us in the house (yes, I’m being vague on purpose), my housing situation and roommate dynamic will be changing in the near future and not for the better. One roommate is leaving in 2-3 months. Another might be leaving even sooner. The third roommate and I want to stick it out as long as possible. Add to this that the landlord (LL) has recently made comments about only continuing to landlord for another year or so at max.
So, I may have, at most, a year left to stay where I am. I always knew that this rental situation was temporary, but now it is concrete that it could be ending sooner rather than later. Moving anywhere to rent another room will raise my rent by 60-100% (I checked Craigslist), because what I have now is a super great deal.
Now I feel like I have been wasting time over the past 1.75 years that I’ve been here. I know I haven’t been wasting time because I’ve been paying down credit card debt, but I don’t know… If I hadn’t gotten sick last year I could have made so much progress on the student loans. Now, just when I’m almost ready to FINALLY start attacking them, i’m dealing with housing and income instability.
This housing tension and work tension has lit a fire under my ass. Or I guess I’ve found my own bear. I can’t keep living like this. I have to make some headway to get this student loan debt down. NOW! I may not have access to (relatively) low living expenses for much longer and then it will be harder to gain any traction against this enormous education tab. My goal is to keep living here as long as I can tolerate and to focus on paying down this debt. The sooner I kill this student loan debt, the sooner I can stop feeling trapped. I can stop making decisions out of fear. To do this, I will need to make sacrifices.
What sacrifices am I talking about?
ONE. I am sacrificing 401(k) savings. Don’t freak out! I’m not touching my existing savings. I will also continue to contribute to my 401(k) up to the point of the employer match, but I won’t be investing beyond that. Too bad given that the stock market looks as though it will be on sale this year. Ha!
TWO. My already tiny Roth IRA contributions are stopped.
THREE. I have an Health Savings Account (HSA) of about 5k that I wanted to max out my contributions to this year. Nope. I will add enough money this year to make it equal the out-of-pocket maximum for my high deductible health insurance plan so that I’m covered in case of an accident or another illness. I will not contribute more than that this year.
FOUR. I will start looking for a part time job / side hustle. It would have to be something I can do on the weekends. Given what happened the last time I worked a part time job, I worry about the impact of this on my health among other things, but I will look into it.
FIVE. Find a way to lower my food budget. I’ve got room here to reduce my food budget (which has gotten out of hand over the past several months) by a good $200 per month if not more.
Beyond these things, I really don’t have much else to cut. Once I rid myself of this last bit of credit card debt, I can start preparing myself (again) for the next phase of debt battle. A new spending plan is on the way. Finally, it’s time to roll up my sleeves again!