It’s called the $30k2015 Challenge, and you guys….
I’m all over it.
But before I talk about how we arrived at this goal, let’s backtrack a little, shall we? Our journey is not entirely made up of debt repayment. When our debt is gone, it will not be the end of the line for us, or this blog. We’ll still have a long way to go.
As I’m sure you can tell by the name of this little blog of mine, paying off debt is only step 1 in our 3-part plan to Retired by 40.
- Step 1) Pay it all off except the mortgage.
- Step 2) Invest wisely.
- Step 3) Retire early.
Like, really early! And if retiring by 40 isn’t an aggressive goal, I don’t know what is.
So as you can see, I’m all about setting aggressive goals. Right now since we’re in the payoffdebtasfastaswecan phase, that means setting big, crazy goals, that leave people shaking their heads. But if you’ve been following my Inspiration Tuesday posts (FYI I’m taking the summer off from these, if you’ve been wondering where they are) then you know I love to leave people wondering what the hell I’m thinking.
Actually, I thrive on it!
Which leads me to how I landed on the #30k2015 Challenge.
Each month, I keep track of our total debt, broken out by account. And each month, I total the debt, subtract it from last month’s debt, which gives us the total debt paid off each month.
In our case, this amounts to $1,144 per month in regular debt payments.
And in truth, I chose $30,000 as the magic number well because it’s a nice round number that comes out to $2,500 per month.
Or $1,356 per month over and above our regular payments.
So yeah, that’s a lot!
But we’re doing several things to make it happen:
We’re tracking our progress visually
In case you’re new here, or have been busy (because you know, ya’ll have lives) I use this sweeeet thermometer debt payoff tracker. I freely admit that I cannot draw a straight line, but I don’t think this is too bad!
I periodically post updates and pictures of this tracker on Instagram, as I like to update it once a month, and it hangs on the wall in my office where I can see it every single day.
So many financial gurus talk about the importance of tracking your goals visually, but if you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s why it works:
The psychology of visual reminders is simple. We are super busy people, and in order to make our lives work and meet all of our obligations we have to adopt routines. Just like morning routine of brushing your teeth, showering, hair, makeup, breakfast, and then out the door, every other daily process involves a routine to keep life from imploding.
Because we adopt routines for almost every area of our life, kicking ourselves out of them is hard. Paying off debt (i.e. breaking routine) isn’t really that hard. After all, we have all of the tools to make it happen, it’s remembering to actually hang the laundry up rather then throwing it in the dryer, remember to plan for dinner rather than eating out, etc, and finding ways to incorporate saving money and paying off debt into our already established routines.
So, I’m using this awesome reminder that hangs on my office wall, and The Big Guy and I take turns filling it out every month. We tend to have a drink too, because really, what we’re doing is worth celebration, isn’t it?
We’re finding ways to bring in more money
This blog. My other website, The Pinterest Assistant. Freelance writing. Mowing Lawns. Secret Shopping. Wellness Rewards. I could go on all day about all the ways we’re finding to make extra money.
Sure, some of these things may not seem like very much money, but it all adds up. And let me tell you, when you have 10 side hustles, the money adds up quick!
- Blogging: I intend to make $15,000 from the blog this year. I’m doing that through a combination of ad sales, sponsored posting, and affiliate sales, I am aiming to make at least $1,500 a month this year. I still have to pay taxes and expenses though, so I’m hoping to clear $1,000 a month to put towards debt.
- The Pinterest Assistant: My newest venture, The Pinterest Assistant provides affordable Pinterest marketing services and tons of free Pinterest resources for bloggers, businesses, and brands. I learned so much about Pinterest Marketing growing my blog, and I’m aiming to make $800 a month with this business by the end of the year, for a total of $5,000 this year.
- Freelance Writing; Somehow, the more I don’t seek out writing jobs the more they find me. Which is totally ok, but I’m definitely going to be very careful to manage my time to allow for these extra jobs. I’m shooting to make an extra $300 a month from freelance writing, for a total of $3,600 this year before taxes.
- Lawn Mowing: The Big Guy really loves mowing lawns. Well, not so much the mowing, but the way the lawn looks when he’s done. I know, I don’t get it either…. But he has built up quite the portfolio of clients, and we’re hoping he’ll bring in $400 a month from this side job!
- Secret Shopping: Not only does secret shopping pay for our oil changes, I actually get paid to do them! I don’t really spend a lot of time doing these, but getting an oil change for free + $35 isn’t a bad way to spend an hour! (Interested in never paying for an oil change again? Then you need to read this)
- Wellness Rewards: While I haven’t delved into this one a lot quite yet, I do have the paperwork for it. Basically, my husband employer offers bonuses of up to $250 for my husband and $150 for me for reaching wellness initiatives during the summer, and I am to get every penny of that money!
See what I mean? We have about sixteen side hustles, but they work for us and if we make the money we’re really working to make, that extra $1,356 should be a piece of cake.
We’re focusing on balance
Recently, I quit my day job to stay and home and watch after our kiddo. Why? There are several reasons:
- Better family/Work balance: some would call this mommy guilt, I call it doing what’s best for our child. I literally felt guilty every single day when we dropped her off at daycare, and seeing as The Big Guy makes almost as much as I did, we decided to see what it would take for me to work from home & for myself.
- More freedom: I was really sick and tired of working for “The Man.” Not any man in particular, but I was tired of working from someone else and never seeing my family. Doing this puts us one step closer to the nomad lifestyle and ultimately debt freedom and early retirement, which is our end game.
- More Money: What it came down to was that I could make more money inside the home than The Big Guy could, so we decided to do what it took to make that happen.
Balance certainly isn’t easy to find, and we’re far from perfect, but with my new work at home schedule I’m working on it every single day.
Even though paying of $30,000 in 2015 is really important to our overall goals, it will mean nothing without family, and the balance to appreciate our family.
We’re Doing Weekly Budget Meetings
Remember last October when we did Weekly Budget Check-Ins? Well, they worked so well for us that we’ve been doing them almost every week since.
But while we found that weekly budget meetings were working for us, we found that we needed a paper method of writing down budget problems, successes, and our plans to fix it.
So, I created this sweet printable workbook for your that is 75 pages of pure awesome, including 52 worksheets that will guide you through how a successful budget meeting is supposed to work, monthly printable budget templates, a debt paydown tracker, and much, much more!
But more than I wanted you to have a pen-to-paper budget meeting (and a place to keep them all!) I wanted you to be inspired to come into the meetings with a “we’re going to work together on this” attitude, an open mind, and a productive outlook, which is why I created two different introductions: one for the saver and one for the spender.
They are designed to help you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, think like they think, and then come together to make your budget work!
It’s all there and more, for free! Simply sign up here and I’ll email it to you!
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