I try to keep things positive on this blog.  No one reads a blog to listen to someone whine or complain.  People read an article to learn something, to feel inspired, or to be empowered to improve their lives in some way.  Many bloggers focus on reaching goals, celebrating successes, and showing others how to do the same.  This is awesome, but sometimes we only see the positive side of things.

Photos are edited in Photoshop until they look perfect, posts are cheerful and uplifting, and sometimes you may wonder if you’re the only one who doesn’t have your sh*t together.

But this isn’t reality.  No matter how someone presents themselves on social media or their blog, you aren’t seeing the whole picture.  Often, you may be comparing your behind the scenes life to someone else’s highlight reel.

It’s no secret that paying off six figures of debt in three years is not easy.  I’ve written plenty about the sacrifices I’ve had to make in order to make this goal possible – such as living with my parents, driving a 16 year old car, and implementing a three-year spending ban on outings with friends.

But what I haven’t mentioned yet is this: the road to financial freedom isn’t a straight, linear path.  It’s more like a curved road with loops, speed bumps, red lights, and other obstacles that block the path temporarily.

I started 2016 feeling optimistic about my goals – I had planned to really buckle down and start paying down my student loans even more aggressively.  But life had other ideas.

At the end of December, I bought my first pair of glasses (for $385) and I finally put $1,000 toward car repairs which I had been putting off for the past month.  I wanted to have a good chunk of change in savings before dropping $1,000.  After I had spent the money on car repairs, I had planned to start putting thousands of extra dollars toward my student loans.

Instead, some more unexpected expenses came up.  I received a medical bill for $330 – my insurance provider is refusing to cover a service that I thought was covered under my (expensive) insurance plan.  My insurance company is also not willing to cover a couple of my prescriptions anymore.

The company my husband works for made a mistake on one of his paychecks and underpaid him – which he is still trying to get resolved.  He is a contract employee, which means that he doesn’t receive holiday pay.  His checks for the past few weeks (with Christmas and New Year’s) have been very low.

He also recently turned 26 and was removed from his mother’s health insurance plan.  He does not qualify for insurance through his employer as a contract worker.  He signed up for 2015 private insurance without knowing what the rates would be for 2016, and the rates increased 50%.  Yes, you read that correctly.  50%.  That makes his health insurance premiums $360/month for single coverage.

To make things even better, the insurance company made an error and canceled his plan, which means he now has to file an appeal in order to get insurance.  In the meantime, he is without insurance for the month of January.  He has at least one doctor’s appointment that he can’t miss and one prescription that he has to refill.  We will be paying for these expenses out of pocket.

This definitely wasn’t how I had planned to start the new year.  I’m not writing this to complain or to make you feel hopeless about your own financial situation.  I am saying this because it’s important to know that the road to financial freedom isn’t a straight line.

You might not pay an extra $2,000 every month on your student loans until they’re paid off.  You might pay $3,000 one month and $0 for the next three months, or $1,000 one month and $500 the next.

Unexpected issues will come up, and there’s no way to plan for all of the potential issues that could happen.  This is why it’s incredibly important to make sure that you have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund – if you put your unexpected expenses on a credit card, you will only bury yourself further into debt.

If you’re experiencing some financial setbacks while you try to pay off debt, know this: it will get better.  This will not last forever.  It is okay to not hit your goal every single month.  There may be times later on when you can put extra toward your goal to make up the difference. If not, you might have to make some adjustments to your goals.  And that’s okay too.

What matters is that you are doing everything you can to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.  This isn’t an easy thing to do, and you should be proud of yourself.  Stay motivated!

One step forward, a thousand steps back...the path to success isn't a straight line. It looks more like a scribble.