I recently read an article online that talked about how a couple managed to pay off $44,000 in student loan debt in just one year. That’s an incredible feat, don’t you think? I myself have made some financial goals for the year. I am in a unique situation where I’m staying with family as I sort out my living arrangements related to a new job/new city etc. So I’m a bit stalled on that financial plan until I get a few of these details squared away first. That said, I was drawn to this particular article because 1) I think it’s incredible and, 2) I think that we can all learn from this couple.
$44,000 is a lot of money. They are two people, which means two incomes. This sometimes makes it easier, but even if I could pay half of that in debt, or apply it to savings, I would be thrilled. This particular couple has a different life than I do. They indicate that they eat out about 3 times a week and they have a dog. I don’t necessarily eat out, but I tend to buy higher quality products from places like Whole Foods. Additionally, I tend to buy specialized products like protein or collagen powder to help with some of my health goals. I also tend to spend money on convenience food. It’s still healthy, and it comes from the local supermarket, but it’s often a bit pricier due to the fact that it’s ready to go.
As I read about the things that they cut back on, I wondered if I could do the same. I think the answer is yes, but by how much and what is another story. For example, they say that they eat out about 3 times a week. I do eat out on occasion, but it’s lunches and usually because I’m on the go at work. Since I’ve changed jobs, however, I will be at my desk a lot more so bringing a lunch is going to be much easier. Not only is this a cost saving, but it’s also healthier. I can control what I’m eating, and when. When it comes to where I buy products.
I think I will ease up on my Whole Foods shopping. Not because I don’t love it (and I truly do), but because I can get most of those products elsewhere. I have been buying a lot from Amazon lately, and while I spend money on Prime, there’s still a savings for me.
There are different thoughts on savings when it comes to that daily cup of coffee. Do you go to Starbucks, or do you brew at home/office? I think that Starbucks can add up, for sure. I stopped drinking coffee about a year ago, but I do enjoy a chai latte or two on the weekend. I’ve started making them at home, as you can buy the concentrate for like $4, whereas each latte will cost you that and more. Milk is something that I have in my house, regularly so this isn’t an added expense. I was finding that I was spending about $20-$25 a week on Starbucks in a week. It wasn’t just lattes, though. I love their smoothies as well. Again – this is something I can make at home.
Truth be told I hate managing my finances. I would rather change my nephew’s dirty diapers all day than to have to think about my money. That said, I had to get real with my finances. I am in my early 30s and I can’t live in debt forever. I own a home, and I have a good job, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t overspend.
If you’re anything like me, my only advice to you is to bite the bullet and just figure out what you’re making and what you’re spending. That’s maybe the easy part. You can see what’s coming in and what’s going out. From there, though, comes the hard work. How much do you really need that latte from Starbucks? Or do you really need it at all? It’s about changing your mindset. I’m getting there, slowly. I tend to see something and think – that’s something I really need. When, in fact, it’s something that I want and I convince myself that it would be beneficial for some reason.
I’ve also taken on the attitude that if I don’t have the money for it now, but I want it, I’ll have to find a way to save for it. I guess my perspective is now about sacrifice. If I really want something, I can get it if I give up lattes for a month or two. (The tooth brush is better for me than lattes anyway, but that’s not the point). We all have our things that we think we “need”. When in fact, we determine our needs by justifying our wants. When I say we, I’m definitely talking about myself.
All that said, 2018 is a year that I plan to get more serious about my spending. It’s going to be a long road, but I know it’s important. I’m not sure that I can afford to be as aggressive as the couple in the article, but my goal is to be as aggressive as I can be.