I’ve been feeling pretty low about our prospects of meeting our financial goals in the next 12 months. I know that we can probably meet our main goal of paying down my husband’s student loans by the time I turn 37 (eep! that sounds so … old) in February 2017. We can hustle to make that happen. But can we pay off another $13,000+ (my student loans) by the same time? No, probably not without some kind of big changes.
I just don’t know what to do, and it’s totally stressing me out.
There are two options I see:
- Give up on the secondary goal and just do the best we can and hustle in the ways we planned to over the next 12 months, or
- View this as an opportunity to get rid of our debt so we will be completely debt-free by 12 months from now.
The second option sounds way better, of course! But after sitting down on Friday and really diving into what it would take (and it was an emotional experience for me), we would need to find at least $7,000 in the next 12 months.
Is that even possible for us?
If we wanted to really make that happen, we could, but it would mean my possibly taking on a second job that would require my being out of the house in the evenings or on weekends (which is our family time). Or trying to figure out a job that I could do online (which seems like a big stretch because while I think I have some of the skills that would make me a good online worker, I don’t know how to find the kind of job that fits my qualifications or time limitations). But … isn’t that what you do if you really prioritize getting out of debt? Is that the right thing to do? Won’t the sense of accomplishment be amazing if we manage it?
I made one decision on Friday: I will stop contributing to my Roth IRA for the next 12 months. At a measly $100 a month, that will give us another $1,200. I hate to not contribute (especially as my retirement is really quite low compared to H’s), but it’s a way to make up some of the difference. This may not seem like a sacrifice to some of you out there (I get that), it is to me because I viewed it as a mark of success that I not only was able to put extra money aside, but that I understand that it’s important to save for retirement.
But what else to sacrifice? There’s bills and expenses, and then there’s time.
Already, we have some very low expenses compared to our peers: we don’t subscribe to cable, we no longer have crazy-long commutes (so gas is way down for us), we only donate about $28 to charity each month, and our internet is under $40 a month. We just cut the $100 per month to the Roth IRA, but there’s only one other spot I really see as feasible for us to give up, and that’s food.
If we could save $200 a month on our food, then we’d be $2,400 closer to our goal. But can I do that? Surely I can feed our family on $400 a month, right? Surely! It would be a challenge, for sure (meal planning out the wazoo, most definitely). I might even enjoy the challenge!
But that still won’t get us where we want to be. That still isn’t enough to get to our goal. I feel so disheartened. I simultaneously want to say, “F*ck it” and “Any little bit will help, and the effort will make me a better person.”
Is it better to let my crazy stretch goal go (so that I don’t feel like shit for not taking on a second job that takes me away from my family, and I don’t feel like a huge stressball for 12 months), or is this opportunity knocking (a chance to stretch myself, learn something new, and be a better person)?
Will I be able to forgive myself either way, if we still don’t reach the goal(s) I set?