I'm happy it's 2016.
Here's the recap, and the much-anticipated GRAND TOTAL.
Shocking • Restrictive • Uncomfortable • Slow • Difficult • Creative • Worrisome • Impatient • Resourceful • Studious • If Onlys • Humbling • Focused • Anxious • Illuminating • Freeing • Encouraging • Stringent • Disciplined • Strict • Harsh • Demanding • Fast • Happy • Reflective • Hopeful
As you can tell, it was a roller coaster.
It was hard. I think the most difficult was the first few months -- not that there weren't other tough moments -- however, the initial change and adjusting my habits was the most difficult part.
It got easier as I went. Things like cooking meals, packing lunches, and coffee from home became routine. 'Just Because' trips to Target, and shopping in general, seemed like a distant memory. I think I stepped foot in Target a total of 5 times.
That doesn't mean temptation ever fully went away, or that I didn't cave. If you recall, in June I broke down and went to the salon for highlights and a cut. At the end of July I went on road trip. When we had our engagement photos taken, I purchased a few new clothing items and had my hair touched up. Novio and I went to an NBA game on a whim in December -- we had to see Kobe Bryant (Novio's first true love) play one last time. I'm sure there were other offenses.
But for a majority of the year, I stuck with my plan. And a few things happened.
$ - Most obvious, my debt shrank! At January 1, 2015, my debt total was nearly $42,000. Today, it's $27,106.12. That's progress.
$ - I learned to "make do" with what I had, and I realized I had quite a bit. Especially clothes...which is something I tend to buy a lot, and buy because it's on sale, or a really good deal (even when I don't LOVE it). Going forward, it's going to be quality over quantity. When I started the Fa$t, I was worried about getting bored because of lack of outings, or feeling deprived because of not going out to eat. I admit, I felt like that at times. But overall, I wasn't bored nor was I deprived. I ran, rode bike, played tennis, played volleyball, went for walks, talked to friends on the phone, spent time at my parent's cabin, played cards, tried new recipes, cooked with Novio, had friends over for bonfires, grilled out...my year was fulfilling.
$ - I picked up some thrifty habits. Novio and I were pretty good about planning meals, making one trip to the grocery store a week, packing lunches, etc. Well, we became very good this year. We got better at taking a look at our schedules and choosing recipes accordingly. We'd make time to eat at home before hitting the road to head North or on other trips. I was better about packing snacks. That saved us a ton of money!
$ - I learned some nifty tricks... like how to make our laundry soap (for 2.5 cents/load!) and how to price match for groceries. I honed my negotiating skills and learned to ask for deals (the worst a salesperson can say is No...but I'm surprised at how often they're willing to work with you...especially when you have cash!) Specific to debt repayment, I learned that making frequent payments vs. payments once a month means you pay less in interest. I also learned I can contact my lender and direct them on how to apply my payments, attacking my smallest debt(s) first to gain momentum and eliminate their interest.
$ - I realized the freedom of not spending. Ever buy something and then regret it, you know, buyer's remorse? Or, when you're out shopping, ever hem and haw over something and go back and forth on whether or not you should buy it? OR, get home from a shopping trip and decide you don't like something you bought, or bought the wrong size and now you have to take the time to return or exchange it? Yeah, I didn't really have that. And it was NICE.
$ - I was blown away by how fast money comes and goes. I still can't believe I paid out/put away nearly $22,000 in one year! Money adds up fast... it's just a matter of where it goes, or rather, where I tell it to go.
$ - I was reminded of how darn lucky I am. So lucky. Novio was fully on board throughout the whole year. Holding me accountable, helping with meals, reminding me of my goals and our goals, treating me to a dinner out...he even took me out to see a movie! My family was very supportive, too. My brother and sister-in-law treated me to a day at the State Fair as a birthday present. My parents and Novio's parents sent us home with leftovers a number of times. A few friends treated me to coffee or other indulgences. My boss is very generous, and treated my coworker and I to coffee. When we got together with friends, they went out of their way to make meals, or even pay for a meal out. I could go on and on! More importantly, family, friends, and coworkers asked how the Fa$t was going, and provided encouraging words.
It wasn't easy, and it wasn't that much fun, but I think it's one of the best things I've done. Most importantly, I proved to myself I could do it. I buckled down and survived.
So now what? The year came and went, and I still have $27K+ to take care of.
Well, January is a lax month. I have already put over $300 toward debt, but I've also let loose a bit. On the 5th day of 2016 I went on a shopping spree. I bought clothes and some decorative things for the house. Over the weekend, I got my hair cut and highlighted. I would like to point out, though, that when I went on the shopping spree, I packed a lunch :)
Come February, I'm back to debt dumping. Not a full-on Fa$t -- I'll spend a little on wants here and there -- but it's still my goal to get rid of the debt by time I'm 30 (just 19-1/2 short months away). I'll have to refocus and employ my new habits and tricks. And once Novio and I are married, I'll really kick things into high gear!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support throughout 2015!