Life After Debt: The Next Steps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve paid off debt, what did you do with your money immediately afterward?
“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW Archives)