Life After Debt: The Next Steps

Giving Thanks

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I had/have a lot to be thankful for.

My 7-year blogiversary was about a week or so ago! I think this post is a good celebration of all that I set out to do all those years ago.

But now that my debt is gone, I’ve gotten questions about what my next moves will be. Truth be told, I’m still figuring things out, particularly in the long term, but here’s what’s up right now.

What’s Next

I’m keeping things simple for now. I want to avoid making any major financial (educational, housing, etc.) moves for at least 3 months. I feel like the first months after any significant life change (e.g. paying off a large debt, getting married or divorced, losing a loved one, etc.) are a time of vulnerability with many temptations to jump into a situation that may lead someone back to debt. For now, I just want to enjoy building a sense of financial stability.

My Life: Treat Yo’ Self!

One day will not be enough for me, though. For me, I want it to be “the best year of the decade”. How will I treat myself in 2020?

New clothes and shoes for work. They are sorely needed. It’s beyond time for me to un-frump myself. This will be hard to do. Firstly, because I don’t particularly like shopping for clothes and secondly because I’m not used to being able to afford it. Oh, and I have almost no fashion sense, hence the Frump. Sigh. This will happen slowly over time.

Planning an international vacation. Awwww yeeeaaahhhh!! This is definitely happening next year. Time to dust off the passport. I’ll cash flow payments on plane tickets, hotels / AirBnBs, etc.

A mini-staycation at a local Airbnb. I want to get away from my roommates for a while, have space to myself, and pretend for a couple of days that I have my own apartment. I’m hoping this helps when I get flare-ups of “apartment fever”. This may be a birthday gift to myself.

Well, that’s a good start. I’ll add more to the list as I think of things. 😉

My (Short-term) Savings Goals

Rebuild the Life Fund to $5,000. I’m going to keep my “Life Fund” for now. I may likely bring back my individual sinking funds (health, travel, gifts and family obligations, etc.) in the future, but for right now, I’m going to keep things simple.

Max out my Roth IRA for 2019. I have about $3,150 remaining to contribute before I max out for 2019. Fortunately, I have until the tax deadline next year to complete this so I don’t have to worry about trying to do this in the next few weeks.

Increase my Emergency Fund. Since my living situation is not settled or stable right now in a long term way, it’s hard to calculate what the right dollar amount is, I’ll start contributing until I figure that out. Right now I’m targeting $25-30k as a starting point. By the time I get that much saved, I should have a better idea of what my fully-funded E-fund total should be.

 

My Housing

I’m not making any major financial decisions for a few months and that includes housing. Plus, I need time to build up cash before even thinking about moving. As much as I would LOVE to have my own place, the rents out here are INSANE. I’ve gotten used to the cheap rent I have now. I’m going to keep looking for places over the next several months as I build my savings.

 

My Work

I know I said I wasn’t going to make any major decisions for a while, but this one is the exception. As of last week, I got offered a pay raise and an increase in benefits at my job. My manager wants me to stay. And … I’m planning to do so.

cat with surprised expression

I know! I know, Surprise Cat. I can hardly believe it either. The job is still stressful, and not the best fit by any means, and I still have moments when I struggle in the role, but I’m feeling a bit better about my team. At least, I don’t think they hate me anymore. LoL.

And the money will be good – like, really good. With this pay raise, I’m going to make 22% more than I was making at the old job that I got pushed out of. Take that, Newish Leader! 😈

I plan to work this job and stay in my current housing for as long as my housing situation lasts (~1 more year max? before the landlord finally kicks us out for good). This will let me save much more money than I could otherwise.

I can’t walk away from having the chance to have a great savings rate while it lasts. I’ll also have more time to explore other jobs/careers/cities in the meantime as I figure out my long term plans.

The commute is still a pain, but there is a silver lining. Thanks to a coworker, I recently found out about an alternative public transit route that drops me off even closer to my office building. This route is calmer. I get to sit down the whole way instead of standing up and being smashed in like a sardine. So even the commute (while still being very long and tiring) is now better and not as stressful as before.

My Blog

Hmmm. I still don’t have an answer for this yet. This blog will stay here. I might post from time to time, though I’ll likely take a bit of a break first.

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If you’ve paid off debt, what did you do with your money immediately afterward?

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW Archives)

20 comments

  1. onevictoryeachday · 13 Days Ago

    I hope you find time to continue blogging- I e really looked forward to your post all these years 🙂

    Like

  2. Kelsie Lou · 13 Days Ago

    Very smart lady. Hopefully this time next year I will be celebrating too. As of now, when my student loan is paid off I will pay myself back. After that, I will put all that extra dinero towards my mortgage.

    I love the idea of taking that 90 days to decide what to do. My normal treat yoself moments are about once a year when I buy a designer bag. I’ve put that on hold until my loan is paid off.

    Like

  3. Cathy Edwards · 13 Days Ago

    You are one smart cookie! This all sounds awesome!

    Like

  4. kimncolumbia · 13 Days Ago

    The job – that is excellent news. I feared you were enduring daily drudgery just to keep traction on the debt. Glad it has improved. Your plan sounds smart. Glad you are keeping the lifestyle about the same (with a few splurges) so you can fund other goals. My most recent financial situation that would be similar was paying off my home. I then took that payment and set aside the necessary amount for real estate taxes and home insurance, and then invested the rest each month. Amazing how it builds up. You have to endure some 2008/2009’s, but if you just leave it alone if works. Hope you’ll keep checking in once and awhile. Go get ‘em, “nodebtsinglewoman”.

    Like

    • Double Debt Single Woman · 8 Days Ago

      Ha ha! NoDebtSingleWoman. I like it!
      My job is not sunshine and rainbows by any means, but I am willing to tolerate it for what I’m going to be getting paid – at least for now.

      Like

  5. Angelica · 12 Days Ago

    I found your blog a few months ago and caught up on your journey. Amazing work! Regarding professional clothes, I’ve found some good stuff through the ThredUp Goody Boxes. It’s resale so cheaper than retail and you can send what you don’t like back. I like trying stuff on at my house.

    I also like subscription services like RocksBox, for maybe 3 months (if you like jewelry).

    Like

  6. ASL · 12 Days Ago

    I think your plan sounds great, and congrats on the job! I paid off my student loan a few weeks ago and am splurging on a couple of things in celebration. But I’m also going to build up my emergency fund so I can leave my current job. Last week I received my first paycheck post-debt and it was so odd to have all of this money left over after paying bills after years of immediately putting it toward student loans. I ended up putting it in my emergency fund because I’ve gotten used to only having a limited amount in my checking account between paychecks.

    I look forward to updates when you feel like posting. But enjoy your newfound freedom!

    Like

    • Double Debt Single Woman · 8 Days Ago

      Congrats on the debt payoff! Ha! Yeah, I know what you mean about being used to having a small amount in my checking between checks. And yes, paychecks are strange creatures now. They stick around instead of scurrying away as soon as you get them. 🙂

      Like

  7. Maria · 12 Days Ago

    That is AWESOME you got a raise and better benefits. And found a somewhat better commute aswell. Your plans sound great! With your even better income and the discipline to stay with roomates for awhile longer, you’ll soon be in even better shape financially and enjoying a much more pleasant lifestyle. 🙂 I’m very glad you will be treating yourself a bit too though!

    You gotta do what’s right for you of course, but I’m another fan who hopes you’ll keep us updated from time to time. 🙂

    So happy for you (whether you continue blogging or not)!

    Like

    • Double Debt Single Woman · 8 Days Ago

      Yes, I’m very happy with the raise and will put on my big girl pants to deal with this job for as long as it is worth it.
      I’ll certainly have an end of year post and after that I may post from time to time for a while while I’m figuring out what to do with my life now. LoL
      And thank you! 🙂

      Like

  8. SharonW · 12 Days Ago

    Any situation is better when it is our choice to live in it rather than have no options because of debt. You may find that things that drove you crazy before don’t seem so awful now that you are electing to stay where you are at work and at home. Congratulations on your raise and on paying off all your debt!

    I’m not a clothing person either, but I do admire the capsule wardrobe approach. Project 333 says to use 33 pieces of clothing (including shoes and accessories) for three months. It focuses on classic looking, well made pieces that work as separates, and 33 items doesn’t seem insurmountable when you have to acquire everything from scratch. Especially if you live somewhere that doesn’t have big seasonal clothing changes, those 33 items can work year round.

    Like

    • Double Debt Single Woman · 8 Days Ago

      Yes, exactly! Now that I get to keep my hard-earned money, I’m less inclined to start giving it away again – at least not right away!
      I’ve heard of Project 333 before. Sounds like it would suit me as an efficient approach to wardrobe building. And I can combine it with other commenter suggestions (Thredup)! Thank you! 🙂

      Like

  9. JD · 10 Days Ago

    I hope you continue blogging! I am equally excited to see your goals reached towards building your emergency fund and what comes next. I don’t think there are a lot of single bloggers and it’s inspirational to watch you get your goals!

    Like

  10. C@thesingledollar · 9 Days Ago

    hi! I’m so happy to see how happy you are 🙂 I think it’s very wise to not do much right now. You’ve been at this for such a long time. Of course you need time to just exist before making any bigger decisions. I’m super glad that work has settled down too. I mean, if you were miserable you could quit now! But you might as well stick with it as long as it’s that much better (and that much better paid, heh.)

    My domain is expiring next week so I’m going to let my blog go, after a couple years of obviously not posting on it. I guess it served its purpose for me as I got my financial life together. I’m a little sad, but it doesn’t seem like it would be worth the couple hundred dollars a year to leave it up for posterity’s sake. I do hope you keep writing sometimes though, especially as you think through your brand-new financial life. I’ve so enjoyed following you and I would love to hear occasionally what’s going on.

    Like

    • Double Debt Single Woman · 8 Days Ago

      Thanks so much, C!
      Awww! Yeah, it’s sad to let a blog go, but there comes a time to move on. I’m rarely on Twitter, but I’ll stop by more to see what you’re up to.

      I’ll likely post from time to time for a while longer, so I’m not disappearing. 🙂

      Like

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