Uniquely American: Life and Debt

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
-Warren Buffett

What a depressing quote. Warren Buffett seems like he’d be great at parties. /sarcasm

Turning away from Buffett’s dourness, this update will be about removing the chains of indebtedness and improving my financial well-being. I started this journey 9 months ago when I made a resolution to pay off my debt, mainly because I believed this was a more easily completed goal than “….pie-in-the-sky changes like volunteering more, losing weight, being a good person, etc.” And, seeing that I have done well in the debt department, I’d have to say that my younger self was correct in the above assumption. Also, I still need to lose weight.

Here is a run-down of the debt I laid out in January:

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.53.40 PM

Now these numbers look more like this*:

debt-10-2016

*Credit to JuanPablo for showing me, yet again, that his Excel skills greatly outpace mine.

As you can see I have managed to cut my debt substantially by more than $20,000 in little less than a year. I figure the car will be paid off by year’s end and that the credit card (with its 0 percent interest until October 2017) will be paid early 2017. After this only my Sofi student loans will be left. I’d like to see that number be around $15,000 by next year’s end.

Methods of Saving

Looking at this past year it is actually kind of impressive that I have managed to pay off so much in 9 months. If you do the math that’s more than $2,000 a month!

How did I manage to do this you may ask? I accomplished this through the most American (U.S American anyway) of endeavors—working a second job. Also, I’ve cut out non-essentials and we have decided to not take a vacation this year. It has not been easy, and we will definitely go on vacation next year, but it has been worth it for our family’s bottom line.

As I stated, I work a second job, which is, as President Bush II once very disconnectedly said, uniquely American. My side-gig consists of security at movie theatres. It is simple, easy, and, for now, provides me a steady income that doesn’t take up that much of my time. I’ve managed to make around $500 bucks a month extra by working security, which goes a long way. Next year I plan to look into teaching at the local community college (and putting my MPPA to use, finally).

Also, Digit has been very useful in helping me have an extra source of savings. Seeing that Digit works by taking small amounts of money whenever I receive a deposit, I never end up feeling the pinch. Currently I have around $1000 in my Digit account and should there be an emergent need for funds, withdrawals take as little as a day to go through. Tres convenient.

Before this year I had a multitude of student loans all at very high interest rates with some reaching 7%. I used SoFi to consolidate my loans into one 5 year loan at 4.74% APR. This will save me thousands in interest through the life of the loan and the process was easy and simple to complete. I recommend SoFi to whoever is struggling with high interest loans as they do more than just consolidate student loan debt.

So there it is and I hope to be completely non-mortgage debt free by 2018.

Don’t let your bad habits dictate how much you can accomplish!

– Pierre

 

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