If you’re new here, I post an update every couple of months that details how we’re doing on our debt payoff and other goals.  I also include some highlights of the months and what I’ve been reading and watching…because life is about more than just reaching goals.  As a Type A person (with debt), I easily get caught up in trying to be productive all the time.  It’s important to relax once in a while 🙂

January and February have been an eventful couple of months.  I paid off another student loan (yay!), our cat was diagnosed with kidney disease and had to be put down 🙁 , and I turned 28.

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Here are my successes, lessons, and highlights of January and February.

Frugal Successes

Debt payoff: I put an extra $1,900 toward my student loans in January and an extra $1,797 on my loans in February.  Keep in mind that these payments are on top of my regular $615/month payment.

These are some of the largest extra payments I’ve made and I was only able to do this because I was even more frugal than usual, I earned some extra income on the side, and I received some gift cards for Christmas.

Instead of blowing the gift cards on fun stuff, I used them to buy groceries and other necessities which freed up more money to go toward my loans.

It’s exciting to see the debt snowball in action…I finally feel like I’m really making headway and that’s an incredible feeling.  I’m down to 5 loans now (I started with 11) – 3 of the remaining loans only have a 3.5% interest rate (compared to 6-7% on the rest of the loans).

Spending ban: Overall, I did a pretty good job of sticking with my spending ban.  If you’re new here, I have a 100% spending ban on non-essential items (including outings with friends) while my hubby and I pay off our debt.  We still get together with friends often – we just find free things to do with them.

During the past couple months, we’ve done board game nights, dinners (at home), free holy yoga classes, and walks.

Frugal Lessons

Check your bank account often!  I don’t check my bank account that frequently because I spend so little money and I generally have a good idea of how much money I have in the bank.  However, I have the Mint app on my phone, and I recently noticed that I had a few alerts, so I checked it out.

It’s a good thing I did because I saw that my bank account was showing that I had written someone a check for $500, and I knew I hadn’t!  I had written a $50 check, and the bank had processed it as $500 in error.  Frustratingly, the bank promised it would take five business days to fix the error even though it was their mistake!

Luckily, I had enough money to cover it but this was a good reminder to keep a close eye on my bank account because mistakes do happen.  We’ve had other issues with the same bank recently…maybe all of these errors are an indication that we should change banks!  Anyone have any recommendations?

Highlights of the Months

-February was my best blogging month yet!  My page views were at an all-time high and my blogging income was higher than it’s ever been.  (It’s still not a lot, but it’s a huge improvement from where I used to be!).

This money I earned from blogging went straight toward the extra payments on my loans.  If you’re interested in starting your own money making blog, check out my free step-by-step guide that walks you through how to create a blog.

-The hubby and I took Herbie (our pug puppy) to his first (free) dog socialization event and it was a great time for us and the pup!

-I celebrated my 28th birthday with friends in January and it was so much fun (which was much needed).  This hasn’t been the best year (I developed chronic neck/shoulder pain that has had an impact on my mood).

I often feel old (I know I’m not, but my body’s always making cracking, snapping, or popping sounds), and whenever I feel down I remind myself of this quote: “Do not regret growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.”

In the past year, I’ve been to more funerals than I’ve been to during the rest of my life.  Too many lives were cut far too short this year.  Being in pain all the time isn’t fun, but I’m grateful to be alive, to be able to walk, and to be able to do so many things that many other people don’t have the privilege of being able to do.  I am so lucky and blessed in many ways.

My birthday + a train of pugs.

What I Read/Watched

-I finished the Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (one of my favorite shows on Netflix), The Fosters (also one of my favorites), and Schitt’s Creek (unique and hilarious), and started Switched at Birth (didn’t really like it at first, but it’s growing on me).

-I also watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  It wasn’t a lot of new information for me (I read a lot of blogs about minimalism), but it’s definitely worth watching.  The most interesting/disturbing part to me was how much technology has invaded our lives.

Did you know that the average person in the US checks his/her phone 150 times per day?  Kids as young as 1-4 years old are using iPads and companies are marketing to them.  That is nuts!

This quote from the film stuck out to me “We can never get enough of what we don’t really want”.  We often check our social media accounts constantly…never really sure what we’re looking for and never feeling satisfied.

I’ve been experimenting lately with banning myself from Facebook (for 1-2 weeks at a time), and I’ve been surprised to find that I don’t really miss it.  I’m WAY more productive without it, and it’s nice to avoid political rants and the other negativity that often bombards us on Facebook.

-I also saw a couple of movies in the theater – I received an AMC gift card for Christmas, so I went to see Hidden Figures and LaLa Land.

Hidden Figures was fantastic – it was definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s incredible how much the women in the movie accomplished despite having so many barriers standing in their way (racial discrimination and gender-based discrimination).

LaLa Land was okay – the actors (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling) are great and I liked the plot, but I’m not a huge fan of musicals.  If you actually like musicals, you’d probably love it.

-I didn’t read any books during these past couple of months (I’m taking a hiatus from reading while I work on getting my neck issues under control), but I did buy a few books.

I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas and I used it to buy Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze (Dave Ramsey’s daughter), Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan, and Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso.

ICYMI

-Guest posts:  I shared my tips for saving money as a vegan on Cheap Recipe Blog (an awesome blog with tons of super cheap and delicious recipes) and discussed how yoga relates to paying off debt on YogiApproved.

-On FM: I shared my goals for 2017, the dumb things we did with our student loans (don’t do what we did!), my favorite binge-worthy shows on Netflix, and my thoughts on whether or not someone should bring debt into a relationship.

How is your winter going?

 

Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
How We’re Preparing Financially for a Pug Puppy
Why I’m Grateful for My Student Loan Debt
The Appeal of Minimalism
9 Ways to Get Free Yoga Classes

Personal Finance Resources:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
YOLO: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug
Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
It’s Only Money and It Does Grow on Trees by Cara MacMillan

Blogging Resources:

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
365 Blog Topic Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox
Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by ProBlogger