Creating A Five Year Plan – Part 2B (Debt – Mini Goals)

Two weeks ago, I figured out my three main pathways to crushing my current debt problem, then I worked out a number of goals to set me on those paths. Today, I’m going to break up those major goals into smaller, measurable goals. After that, I can work on tracking the steps I take to achieve each of those mini-goals. As I’m typing this, I can’t believe that I have to go through this time-consuming (and ultimately quite soul-crushing) process for each of my major life goals. I’m so bored. But we only get where we’re going by sticking with it, and this is me doing just that. Sticking with it. Being annoyed at the whole idea of sticking with it. It’s do or die time, folks. It’s ramen or air time. It’s have a roof over my head or lose my apartment time. You get the picture. OK, it’s not quite that dire. My rent is paid up for the month, at least.

So my main goals are to:

  • Make More Money
  • Spend Less Money
  • Pay Off Debt

And the sub-goals I’ve devised are to:

  • Earn more money at my job.
  • Sell things that I own.
  • Keep a budget document.
  • Stop overspending on food.
  • Switch to Simple.
  • Pay bills first before spending any other money.
  • Cut back on expenses
  • Pay more than the minimums on my CC’s.
  • Make a plan (with dates) for paying off my debts.
  • Put all of any secondary income into my savings account.
  • Cut back on life.

Let’s take each of those sub-goals and start thinking of how to make them happen, shall we?

1) Earn more money at my job.

  • Talk to my boss/major client about getting a raise. I’ve done this already, and have been promised a raise if we get a couple more major clients to fully commit. This business (especially in NOLA) is feast or famine, so I’m not that hopeful.
  • Get a second major client. This is happening. I had a phone date last week with an old employer about a part-time gig. It’s going to be a long-term position that should substantially increase my income and give me a way to start putting a nice, solid chunk into debt repayment, plus eventually saving for my pilgrimage (finally!!!).
  • Take on more small clients. I have a few people for whom I’m doing little one-off jobs now and then. Typically, it’s a lot of stress for a little paycheck, so I waver between loving the money and hating how the job makes me feel. But I might have to just to suck it up for a little while.
  • Start my origami business. I’ve been dreaming about making origami professionally for years. My ideas are solid, and I think I should just go for it. It takes money to start, though – I’ll need paper, books, and eventually some better lighting.

2) Sell things that I own.

  • I started selling stuff around my house over the course of the last couple of weeks, and it’s going pretty well. I’ve sold about $75 worth of stuff on Craigslist, plus another $100 worth of stuff on Ebay and Amazon so far, and I’ve got a decent collection of other stuff to sell after I’ve shipped off this first grouping.
  • One unexpected byproduct of selling off stuff is that I’m taking this time to think carefully about my possessions, and what they mean to me. Turns out, not very much at all. So I’ve decided to start culling my collections (books, craft supplies, jewelry I never wear, and the collectible crapola that I buy, appreciate for a second, and never look at again, etc.). My goal is to have all of my possessions fit comfortably in my apartment, and for the overall apartment to look chic and minimalistic.

3 – 5) Keep a budget document / Stop overspending on food / Switch to Simple

  • All of these goals are pretty closely related, so my subgoals here will be a little more interconnected than with the other goals, I think.
  • I’ve been keeping a budget document in Excel (and now on Google Drive) for years. It lists all of my bills (reoccurring and one time), the dates they’re due, the amounts that are due, the dates I paid, the amounts I paid (if I pay more or less, I need to keep track of that) and any other notes I need.
  • Pay more attention to my bills and repayment plans in Mint. I joined up a few years ago, and it’s terribly useful, but I’m also quite lazy and haven’t been using the program as well as I should. If you aren’t familiar with Mint and how it works, it’s a website that brings together information on all of your financial accounts in one place, allowing you to track due dates, payments, and charges, and giving you a framework to whip you into financial shape. Click through the above link to go directly to their “About Us” page, which has a helpful video and more info on how to use the service to your benefit. Best of all, it’s free! (No, I wasn’t paid by Mint to advertise – I just think it’s a helpful site.)
  • Stop bringing my debit card with me to work. Most of my impulse food buys are made when I’m tired of being at my desk at work, so if I stop bringing money, the problem will be (mostly) solved.
  • I’m going to deposit my next check into Simple, and gradually move my entire checking account over after that. Like Mint, Simple also helps you set goals. Unlike Mint, it includes no-fee internet banking with photo direct deposit, and the phone app tells you when you’re out of “safe to spend” funds. Basically, it’s a card that’s set up for savings-challenged folks like myself, who need a gatekeeper to remind them when they should be paying bills instead of buying another sandwich. I’ve read a few different reviews on how well Simple works, and my boyfriend has been using it successfully for awhile now. It’s time to make the switch. (BTW, I’m not getting paid to advertise Simple, either.)

6 – 7) Pay bills first before spending any other money / Cut back on expenses

  • I’m already not doing too well at this. I bought a few things when I got my last paycheck on Friday, but they were all things that I needed: underwear and a shopping cart type thing to take my clothes to the laundromat (about a mile away by foot, which is a little far to lug 45 lbs of laundry – yes, I’ve had it weighed). I also bought two tickets to a concert I really wanted to attend on Friday. Oops. I’ll do better.
  • One thing I can do re: cutting back on expenses is to seriously consider how much I need something before I buy it. For instance, I could have continued to lug those huge bags of clothing to the laundromat every other Saturday, but one of the bags rubs a raw spot in my shoulder. Without the laundry cart, the only other option I’d have for getting to the laundromat without serious injury would be the bus, which is $1.25 each way. The cart cost me $40, which is the equivalent of 20 laundry days. Plus, now I can take it with me to Costco if I need to, eliminating the need to take a cab to/from Costco, which is a huge savings. I think it was an OK purchase. As for the concert tickets, I didn’t NEED them, exactly, but it’s a band that I really, really dig, and sometimes a girl has to splurge. It was a relatively tiny purchase in the whole scheme of things, and the show’s going to be great (hopefully).
  • Cancel some reoccurring payments. I have a few memberships and reoccurring payments that can be cut, like Massage Envy, my storage unit, and a monthly membership to a dance school that I never attend. If I quit all of these, I’ll be about $100 ahead each month.
  • Stop getting my nails done and getting waxed. Honestly, I’m not sure how long I can last with not doing either of these things. There are some small treats that I need to have in my life, and having my nails done on a semi-regular basis is one of those treats, as is getting my hair tamed. I’ve already cut back substantially (I used to have my nails done every two weeks or so, and now it’s happening about every other month), so we’ll see. It’s just that I seldom feel very feminine or pretty, and these little treats make me feel like I’m at least passing as a woman. The bigger problem there is my wardrobe, but since I haven’t had money to buy new clothes in years now, that’s not getting fixed until the debt is gone. Ugh.

8) Pay more than the minimums on my CC’s. 

  • In general, I’m already doing this. I always try to pay at least $5 to $10 more than what I owe, but I can probably start to do more than that soon.

9) Make a plan (with dates) for paying off my debts.

  • I’m logging on to Mint as soon as I’m done with this blog post. Will provide more info on how it advises me to pay off my bills as soon as I’ve figured it out. Also, if you’re looking to pay off your CC debt the same as I am, here’s a great LifeHacker article that provides step-by-step directions on how to get out of debt.

10 – 11) Put all of any secondary income into my savings account / Cut back on life

  • Secondary income is for saving, not spending. I’m not going to touch a dime of any secondary income that I make outside of my main client. It’s all going straight into my high-yield savings account at Barclays. At the end of the year, I’ll pay my 2014 taxes with my savings. When that’s paid off, I’ll use whatever’s left to pay off my 2013 taxes. Any leftover funds will go to paying off credit cards.
  • Put life on hold for a little while, as much as it hurts. If all goes well, by January of 2015 (five months from now), I’ll have my taxes and back taxes all paid off. I’ll still have a few more months before I need to refile paperwork and increase my student loan payments, and if I’m socking away as much as possible then, I’ll be able to save for taxes and probably pay off all of my credit card debt in the early months of 2015. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have any money to play with. I’ll still have some spending money from my regular paycheck every couple of weeks to buy a bottle of wine or go to a concert now and then. I just can’t go crazy and start buying new clothes or planning fancy vacations.
  • Plan meals and shop wholesale. My waistline and my wallet will thank me, I know it. I’m just the worst at planning ahead for food, though. How am I supposed to know what I’m going to want to eat a week from now? It’s time to learn.

OK, I could keep making up subgoals from now until the cows come home. It’s taken me over a week to write this one post, just because I kept thinking of more things to say. Right now my immediate goals are to keep cleaning out my house and selling off pointless crap, to start making money at a second job, to figure out how much money I’ve been wasting each month on food / stop wasting that money, and to get my budgeting goals set up in Mint and Simple. I’m headed off to start building the goals out in the apps right now, and will let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

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