In June I tossed $715.90 in debt's face, and added another $930.00 in the month of July, which brings my total put toward debt since January 1, 2015 to
As a reminder, I embarked on Spending Fast® for 2015 (inspired by Anna Newell Jones). I'm casting aside my Wants, and instead, focusing on paying off student loan debt. Click here to read my pilot post.
It's still amazing to think I haven't bought any clothes, shoes, or DVDs, or songs on iTunes. No pedicures, no mindless trips to Target -- heck, I've only been in Target 3 times since January 1! We've continued our price matching and used a few coupons for grocery shopping in the past 2 months, I'm still doing some freelance writing on the side, and for these last few weeks of summer, I am teaching a drop-in bootcamp fitness class 1 night a week. It's been fun sharing my passion for working out with others...and getting paid for it. Two weeks ago, I made $20 for just an hour of doing what I love!
There's this little update box on the loan company's website reminding me of my progress. It's absolutely validating to see that I'm ahead by a significant amount!
The first offense was in June. I was feeling drab, bland, stale, -- you get the point. I flirted with the thought of buying some new clothes. Just a shirt, or maybe a dress to freshen up my wardrobe. I pondered a pedicure -- ooh how good it would feel to have the cuticles clipped, callouses roughed away, feet massaged, and nails coated with a summery hue. My third daydream -- a hair cut and highlights -- proved to be the winner. I hadn't had a cut since October 2014 and hadn't had any highlights or coloring since March 2014. My mop was a flop, my 'do was overdue!
The cut and color made me feel fresher. And, I had a nice chat with the hairstylist/salon owner and told her all about Anna Newell Jones' Spending Fast®, and how it inspired me to embark on my own Fa$t. She shared some of her own personal finance woes, victories, and current state. It was a healthy conversation, and I could tell it gave her something to ponder. That's good Spending Fa$t karma, right?
My second, bigger splurge was the last week in July -- a road trip to Grand Tetons National Park. I went with my uncle and cousin and had an incredible time. I came home and went back to work feeling rejuvenated. This was a trip I could not pass up. I had been wanting to do a hiking and camping trip for years, and now seemed like the best time, seeing as next year will be mostly wedding and honeymoon business!
Plus, this type of trip is affordable. Nothing luxurious about it (and I wasn't complaining). We drove (vs fly), we camped, ate Cliff and Luna bars, fruit cups, beef jerky, and pasta, and our days and entertainment consisted of hiking in the mountains and catching glimpses of wildlife. We covered 52 miles in 4 days, saw 2 black bears, 4-5 moose (including a cow with her calf), plenty of elk, a few badgers, 1 fox, and a number of birds. The total cost of the trip? Fuel 90 + Camping 30 + Food 35 = $155. The experience and the memories? Priceless!
However, I purchased a few things before leaving: hiking boots & socks, a daypack with hydration bladder (both at $100), a quick-dry towel, and camping pillow (around $25 each).
I considered using a retired pair of running shoes instead of buying hiking boots, but am glad I did not. The traction and support from the boots was much needed, and the wicking of the socks kept me comfortable -- not a single blister until our last day when we did an 18.4 mile hike. I tried to find a hydration daypack to borrow, but no luck. Hindsight, I could've purchased just a bladder and put it in my backpack. But the size and support straps of the one I bought worked out so well; I often forgot I was even carrying a pack. The compact towel and pillow made for added comfort. I only used the towel once (showers were $5 for 7 min!), so maybe could've done without. But the pillow was a must. I didn't have to haul my nice feather down pillow with me (where it was subjected to moisture, dirt, and my hiker hair -- yuck!). It was such a great experience, I plan to take similar trips in the future and have no doubt all the items will be used again and again.
On a more Spending Fa$t-aligned note, I borrowed an inflatable sleeping mattress and gear pack. And, I did not buy any new clothes. Pre- and Non-Spending Fa$t Chelsea most certainly would've gone out and bought super-cool, high-tech, convertible pant-to-shorts bottoms, fancy hiking tops, and likely a headband or hat or 2. I survived just fine in my running shorts and shirts, jeans, and zip-up fleece.
As I was hiking, I thought about the Spending Fa$t a lot (and personal finance/financial goals) and drew a parallel between hiking mountains and debt dumping/saving. I'm on a path that's taking a lot of focus, energy, and effort. I'm trying to reach the summit, to enjoy the reward of a beautiful debt-free view, fresh debt-free air, and the satisfaction of putting debt behind me. Though I thought I could, I can't start at the bottom and hike straight up the mountain, the route that is theoretically the shortest. It's too intense, too steep.
As I learned in the Tetons, any well-made hiking trail has switchbacks -- sharp turns and sideways jaunts that gradually take you higher (looking like a zig-zag pattern). It may seem like wasted time and may seem inefficient, but in reality, it makes the journey up bearable/doable, and it protects the trail and mountain from complete washout. So it is with this Spending Fa$t journey.
I needed to go sideways a bit, so now I can better climb higher.
We're well into the second half of 2015 and the Fa$t will continue as planned. I'm not adjusting my Wants and Needs list and I'm not planning or foreseeing any lapses, but should I need a short switchback, I'll take it.