Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Short-Term, "Free Spending" Days Are Coming To An End...

I started my debt snowball plan some time in July or August last year. At the time, my car loan had a balance of $8,500.50 and my credit card had a balance of $12,943.59. I paid off my car loan in February and I paid off my credit card debt in October.

I have to admit, it was a freakin' struggle to pay off $21,444.09 + interest in a little over a year! During that time, I had to deal with my jealousy /inferiority demon when I was with my financially better-off friends. I didn't have any money to spend to go out with my friends since my food + entertainment budget was $8.70/day. This budget was driving me nuts since I'm a total junk food junkie and I love eating out. But there was no other way I could afford paying $788/month in car payments and $265/month in cc payments in addition to $865/month in student loan payments.

I know the debt snowball plan required me to immediately roll my now extinguished car and cc payments into my next smallest debt, which is my private student loans (current balance ~ $44,700). But I needed to take a breather. I gave myself until the end of the year to spend $1,053/month however I saw fit.

I'm not proud, but I truly did spend every penny of the extra $1,053/month since October. What did I spend it on?

1.) Side trips to Washington D.C. and Chicago. (Note: I took the trip in September but I had to pay the piper, i.e. my cc, in October.)

2.) Eating out whenever I felt like it.(Which was almost always.) I normally don't dine out at chi-chi restaurants. I heart my local ethnic hole-in-the wall eateries. But I do like to splurge on a meal every so often. One of my most memorable meals in the past couple of months (other than the dine-n-dash restaurant) was at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in Chicago. Since Frontera doesn't take reservations, my sister and I waited nearly 3 hours to get a table. We had hibiscus martinis and shared a Tostada de Atun y Erizo at the bar. The tostada was absolutely mind blowing! But by the time we got sat, we were tired and exhausted. I ordered a watermelon agua fresca, pork tamale, goat enchilada and flan. The food was excellent, as you would expect. But I think I would've enjoyed the meal more had I not had to stand around for 3 hours, elbow-to-elbow with other patrons, waiting for a table.

Is any meal worth a 3 hour wait? No. Next time, I'll dine at Topolobampo, the sister restaurant next door that does take reservations.

3.) White Gold (14kt) and Yellow Gold (10 kt) Hoop Earrings for about $80/each. I bought white/yellow gold plated earrings at Macy's last year for about $20/each. I love those earrings but unfortunately, the plating on the earrings either discolored or flaked off. I decided to replace them with something more substantial. I'm happy I did (despite the fact that the metal in the yellow gold earring is excessively malleable).

4.) Casual lounge wear: My mother often bemoans the fact that I dress like a hobo at home. (Being able to dress like a hobo without recrimination should be one of the benefits of being single!) My "fanciest" lounge wears date back to 2003. (Ha ha.) I didn't go too crazy with this purchase, though, since I got a couple of track suits from Old Navy.

5.) Michael Kors black trench coat: I totally splurged on this one at Nordies - - $148. But it's totally worth it because it's soooo cute. (And we all know that "cuteness" justifies any expense. Not!) I'll probably wear it over the next decade, so I'm not going to kick myself for this.

6.) New PJs, bras, panties and other misc. clothing

7.) Snuggie! ($19.99 at Costco.) Laugh all you want. I suffered a really bad case of the flu and bronchitis this year. While I was congested, I had to sleep upright and my blankets always fell off my shoulders. I thought to myself, I could really use a Snuggie. Although I bought it after I recovered from the flu, I still love my Snuggie.


I'm sure there were more stuff I bought or consumed that belonged in the "want" and not "need" category. But these were the highlights.

I enjoyed the past couple of months of hedonistic spending. But it's now time to tighten the belt. I re-did my budget and I'm going to start paying $1,478/month towards my private student loans in January. That means I have to go back to living on a budget in December. *Sigh*. But at least I'm going to treat myself to a monthly massage ($59 + $20 tip) from now on. :-D

I am so going on a spending binge once this frickin' private student loan is paid off! (I'm estimating 30 months or so.)


444 said...

You've got to live a little, you know?

I still remember when your car was paid off. And the credit card, too. You've done some really hard financial work this year.

Don't beat yourself up over enjoying life! You deserve those trips and earrings, etc.

me in millions said...

It's nice to treat yourself every now again, but you can't fall into that "I deserve it" trap. Have fun, but be careful!

Bonnie said...

I've been to Frontera Grill, and it's so worth it. :)