In February-March I saved $$ toward closing costs for my home refinancing instead of paying extra on debt. And in April my extra earnings went to pay for the rewiring. All well spent, and now I’ll get to focus on paydown again.
I’ll be teaching my class in June and September (having just done so in April). That always gives me a nice chunk of extra $$. And in between I will have plenty of freelance editing to do; two companies are feeding me book projects pretty steadily, and the literary journal managing editor sends me at least one short piece to edit each week.
Because my refi involves a 15-year mortgage in place of the 30-year one I was paying on, and because I’ll need to carry mortgage insurance for a while, my monthly payments will be a little higher even though the interest rate will be much lower. So the financial benefit there is long term and won’t contribute to immediate debt paydown.
Still, I’m hopeful that within three years, or even sooner, the only debt left will be the mortgage. That will feel fantastic!
The program coordinator ran the schedule for the 2013-14 academic year by me this past week. Indeed I will teach again in the fall, and also in the spring and summer of 2014. So if enrollment continues stable, I will have good freelance income for debt paydown in the coming couple of years.
This weekend the other guy’s insurance company sent a check to cover the damage to my car in the Dec. 26 accident. That will go straight to the credit card account to which I charged the repairs. I’m supposed to get something soon from my mechanic and his supplier too, as the part that failed had just been installed in July; hopefully that will pay off the rest of the repairs.
And selling my ring provides $130 more that goes to general debt paydown.
Yay for shrinking debt!
I decided to use New Year’s Eve afternoon/evening to assess my goals and make a budget. I’ve done a spreadsheet and entered my best estimates of expenses and income, but I’m sure I’m still missing a few items. Over the next month or two I’ll refine it to make it more accurate.
Basically I want to be even more frugal in the coming months. I am not making a category for clothing, for example; laundry soap, very minimal dry cleaning, and occasional small purchases are included under “sundries.” My closet and drawers are bulging with clothes, including some recently acquired winter gear; I really don’t need anything else. I’ve budgeted $100 for entertainment, but besides Netflix I don’t expect to spend that much most months. I’ll eat out even more seldom than I do now. To spend time with people, I’ll mostly invite them for dinner at my home.
I’m currently scheduled to teach my class twice, but I think the fall schedule hasn’t yet been put together and will include a third session. If that’s the case, and if I get a fairly steady flow of freelance editing throughout the rest of the year, my income will be better than ever. With frugal practices like the above, I should be able to pay $700-1000 each month on the debt.
Happy new year!
I started working on this goal (with other wording, under my other 43T profile) a little over two years ago. Since then the debt has basically increased. Here are the major expenses I’ve had in the past two years:
- my lawyer, $2500 (put on card; after she went through this retainer I was able to pay further charges with cash)
- X’s lawyer, $2500, taken as a loan from one of my retirement accounts (at least it’s low interest)
- major car repair/maintenance, $2475
- tickets to my brother’s weddings, $600 (to Colombia – great price) + $300 (FL)
- replace doddering Mac, $1600
- laptop + Office + tech support, $600
- futon frame to replace the one X broke, $150
- stand-up desk, $150
- special assessment in my building, $300
- one trip to Boston, two to LA
I won’t look up the amounts of those last trips on the list, because it’s clear that I’ve had a LOT of extra expenses. Actually I’m doing well not to have increased debt very much given all of this.
But I am still concerned about getting the debt paid off just as soon as I possibly can.
I did get a REALLY good deal. I’m thankful they’re much less expensive than they used to be. It’s the first laptop I’ve ever had (welcome to the 21st century, GL!).
Thankfully, this will be a tax write-off, as I’ll mainly be using it to keep up with freelance work while on the road.
But I have to keep myself honest here. I really want my balance to be going in the other direction. I’m already living quite frugally, but maybe I can figure out some other things to cut.
My car’s clutch quit working a week ago, and my mechanic was finally able to inspect my car thoroughly last night. He called this morning to talk through the situation. The upshot is that it needs $2400 worth of work. That’s for the following:
- replace clutch and several related parts – nothing defective or misused, they just wore out after 17 years and 120,000+ miles
- replace timing belt – recommended at 100,000 miles; I’ve been lucky it has taken me 20,000 beyond that – along with some ancillary parts
- replace spark plugs and do major tuneup
- a couple of bonus things he’ll throw in: replacing a light, replacing the driver’s-side mirror, the cover of which I broke last year
Pete is a cautious, reasonable guy whom I trust completely. He gave the frame/body of my car a thorough inspection and is impressed at how little rust damage there is, despite all the salt used on roads in winter around here. Thank God for a garage to keep it in.
My car is a ‘95 Honda Civic hatchback, and I’ve always planned to maintain it and keep driving it till it truly expires. I get great gas mileage and usually drive it only about twice a week, since I can use public transport for my work commute and can walk to many other places.
Over the years I’ve thought about giving up the car and using only public transport and Zipcar. But it’s really convenient to have the right-at-hand driving option, I don’t spend much on gas despite today’s high prices, repairs overall have been so few, and my current insurance (Progressive!) is quite inexpensive.
So we agreed that it’s worth keeping. He expects to have it ready for me Saturday afternoon.
I’m disappointed that I’ll have to put this on a credit card; I basically have no savings except for retirement $$ because I’ve been focusing on paying off debt. But I will be OK. I’ll just keep plugging along with the freelance work and the debt paydown.
I had been wondering what to do with the third session, since my plan neatly enfolds grammar issues in the first session, punctuation in the second. As I was writing today, I suddenly realized that the most practical use for the third session is a hands-on workshop. Students will need to bring a business document or two and we will edit all of them in class, applying the rules we’ve been learning.
I’m very happy with the plan. Now all I need to do is assemble the in-class exercises for sessions 1 and 2. I ran a little contest on Facebook for the best “lame sentences,” and I’ve been having fun writing my own and harvesting bad sentences from various blogs and such. So I think the exercises will come together pretty quickly.
And then I can invoice for the curriculum work, which will help debt paydown. Yay!
Why? I guess several reasons.
1. Having worked extra several days recently, I decided to leave work early tonight to hear a poetry reading at the Poetry Foundation. It was short and gritty and just what I needed. Bought the poet’s two books (I mostly avoid buying books these days, except for poetry books – my means of encouraging my fellow poets).
2. Stopped for a modest slice of carry-out pizza at a new neighborhood joint on the way home. Came home to a solitary house and a kitty who was very glad to see me. Opened some pinot noir and enjoyed some of it with the pizza and a wonderful jicama salad I made the other day.
3. Read a delicious book to relax. (Reading yummy books is my substitute for the sugary foods that I’m minimizing these days!)
All of this is listed under my “pay down debt” goal because . . .
4. Tomorrow I’m going to ROCK that curriculum writing for my upcoming teaching gig! I’m going to put together some really fun exercises for my students, to help them really get a handle on issues like dangling modifiers, misplaced quotation marks, apostrophes for plurals, etc., and how to avoid them. I will get a modest payment for the curriculum development, and then a bigger chunk for the class each time I teach it. First round is in July.
5. My confidence with this is boosted today because a colleague, who is very bright and the public face of our department through her publications and blog, consulted me (as she periodically does) on some grammar questions and I was able to help her out with sensible answers that she really appreciated. It continually amazes me to have the role of the go-to grammar person in the manuscript editing department of the largest (or 2nd largest?) university press in the country. I keep thinking back on that nerdy little girl who finished her 5th-grade English text when she was just 7 because she helplessly, passionately loved language, its structure, its beauty. How thrilled she would have been to know she’d get to make her living wielding language!
So maybe I’m a little overblown here because of the pinot noir. I only had a glass and a half, though. :-)
I got another invitation to teach. This one would be online, which in itself could be fun. But it would be another curriculum to put together and I’m struggling to finish the current one. I want to pay off debt, definitely, but not increase stress in the process!
I’ll make a polite inquiry about the pay (no specifics were provided), and unless it’s a fabulous amount, which I doubt, I’ll decline.