A Self-Imposed Deadline

I have a new goal: Become debt-free by 40.

Paying off my debts is already a goal, but that’s focused on my credit card debts. I want to have zero debt whatsoever. No, I don’t care about “leveraging”. Owing money in no way makes me feel good. It really serves only to give me anxiety.

Credit cards: $6,230

Community college: $3,629.10

Student loans (estimated*): $23,000

Private loan: $7,081.59

Total debt: $39,940.69

* (I graduate in December, so I estimated this number based on the amount of loans I already received, and rounded up. I also have loans from a previous school I finished.)

Let’s round up and say $40,000. I don’t have the remainder of the student loans yet, but let’s say at this moment, I’m $40,000 in debt altogether. My 28th birthday is in next month, which means I am giving myself twelve years to pay down $40,000 worth of debt.

($40,000 / 12 years = $3,333.33 per year) / 12 months =$277.77 per month.

I’ll round it up to $280. I must give a minimum of $280 per month to my debts to be debt-free by age forty. In twelve years, that would total $40,320.

Why did I choose age forty? Because I feel like if I don’t have my life together by that age, there is no hope for my life in any capacity. I am embarrassed to not have my life figured out when I’m nearly pushing thirty. It took me too long to figure out what I want to do as a job. It’s not a good look to have the life of a 20-year-old (school, work, living at home) while everyone else your age, older, and younger is getting married, has kids, new houses and cars, travels, and vacations. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. I’m the only one of my friends who will have completed college, and while it is something I want, it really feels like it pales in comparison because they’re in the place someone around my age is expected to be. At thirty, you’re expected to have the career, the marriage, the kid(s), the car, the house, and the trips. Not all of them have all of that, but all of them have at least one. So, what the heck am I doing? Don’t answer that.

I’m not “young and fresh” anymore. I’m not the future. I’m not a 16-year-old who everyone looks at and thinks of having a bright future ahead. I don’t have all the time in the world. On the contrary, I’m running out of it. If I wanted kids, I have no idea where I would fit them in. I couldn’t imagine where I would fit them in if I went on the standard path, so I can’t imagine how I would fit them in on the unusual path I’m on.

That said, I’ve thought about that a lot, so I want to map it out.

Ages 14 to 18 would be high school.

Ages 18 to 22 would be college.

Work right out of college, so career at 22 (I know that doesn’t always happen, but it’s presumed)

I don’t know when marriage would happen, but I wouldn’t want to marry while in college. No idea when I would meet someone, but I met my boyfriend a few months before my 21st birthday. I would want to wait at least four years before marrying (yes, I know the length of time is irrelevant; it’s a comfort thing), so let’s say 25.

Married at 25, and working for three years. I highly doubt three years is enough to consider yourself “established”. At 30, I would have eight years in the field if I didn’t stop working, but it goes without saying having even one child would interrupt that. I also wouldn’t want to have a child right after getting married. Maybe I wouldn’t wait five years, but I must admit I’m unsure how I’d plan that.

Come to think of it, no one ever says what to do after college. Go to college to get a job. After that, what do you do?

But my point stands, so I repeat: if I couldn’t figure out how to fit a child into my life when I’m doing things right, I have no clue how I’d do it when I am doing everything wrong.

Of course, with 40 being 22 years since adulthood, being debt-free and having a college degree is very little to claim for one’s self. My friends with kids will be halfway done with child-rearing by then, and will no doubt have many more accomplishments (and that of their kids) to their names. And I know it sounds weird to talk about all of this since, as I said, I don’t want kids. But I do occasionally wonder if I’m supposed to want them. The feeling didn’t really happen until one of my friends became a parent, and I sincerely like kids, so it’s not a hate thing. Of course, that would mean I want to be a parent to fit in, not because I want to be a parent, which is a terrible reason to take that plunge.

I also grew up in a family that cared excessively about their image to strangers, absolutely chastised me (and that’s putting it mildly) for not caring, simultaneously sheltered and abused me, and I faced bullying throughout my all of my K – 12 school years. So, that’s probably also influencing my thoughts.

Hopefully, this degree will lead to a job where I make enough money to afford therapy.

My Attempt At YNAB

Since April, I kept a budget, and since I have a strange enjoyment of organizing, it turned out to be easier than I thought. I became interested in YNAB because I wanted to know 1) why anyone would pay for a budgeting app when, even if you suck at spreadsheets, free apps exist (like the one I keep my budget in) and 2) if it’s as life-changing as the claims… claim.

I signed up, but changed my mind, so left the account. However, I forgot to delete it, so the free trial was close to running out when I remembered I had it. I started using it at the end of August. So far, it’s… meh.

Apparently, it’s based on a budget strategy called the envelope system, and I think real envelopes might be more useful (not that I keep envelopes anywhere). I essentially do the same thing I do with the free app I use. The one annoyance I have is I cannot budget my paychecks until I am paid. Considering I have my budget planned to the end of November, this is extremely irritating to me, so my budget in YNAB is not planned to the extent it is in the other app.

The reason I say real envelopes might be more useful is I move money around a lot. Apparently, this is encouraged, but since I can easily attain extra money if I want it, I alternate between categories like I’m playing with a pinball machine.

Supposedly, the idea is not to budget future money because anything could happen and you may not get that paycheck. Frankly, I want to know what crap jobs people are working for that to be a concern. Even when I worked in retail – a job that made me borderline suicidal – I never had to worry about not being paid. If the concern is losing your job, that’s different, but that would throw most people for a loop anyway.

All this said, I don’t think YNAB is bad. I enjoy playing around with it more than I probably should and, similar to why I use Mint (solely for my credit cards and student loans), it’s nice to see my accounts in one place. Speaking of which, the reason I was initially turned off by YNAB is they take a shot at Mint in their advertising. I’m not a fan of childish advertising, but I guess competition is nothing new.

The one thing I can praise YNAB for is customer service. I submitted a question to ask why I couldn’t connect one of my credit card. I got much more thorough answer than expected and an additional two weeks for my free trial, which I didn’t request or expect. Can’t argue with good service. I considered subscribing, so they ultimately cemented the decision.

I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. Even if moving between categories is encouraged, I can’t imagine you’re supposed to treat the software like a pinball game.

Only a week and a half passed since I began using YNAB, so I will give it more time. Some users are veterans of this software, so I suppose it’ll take a lot of time.

Jealousy

This is probably the pettiest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and if it’s not, I’m scared to search through my archives and find what is.

The gist of it is: My boyfriend makes more money than me and I’m mad.

Yeah, that’s it.

Okay, that’s not really it, but most people wouldn’t read beyond that. If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re willing to, so I’ll explain.

It’s not him personally. It’s that the only reason he makes more than me is he lives in a state with a higher minimum wage than the one I reside in, and we’re both paid only $2 above our states’ respective minimum wages. The cost of living is higher is in his state, but our living situations make that factor irrelevant on both sides.

I suppose that doesn’t make how I feel better. He doesn’t make the minimum wage laws, and I’m certainly not trying to insinuate he shouldn’t make a livable wage (I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage nationwide; no, I don’t think having to work a low-skills job means someone should be unable to afford food, clothes, and shelter). My frustration is when it comes to our personal situations, the only reason he makes more than I do by chance. He happens to live in a state with a higher minimum wage than me. He works hard – I’ll never deny that – but I work hard as well, and knowing that is what sparks the jealousy to begin with.

Since I am the worst person at hiding my feelings, he knows this and I unintentionally made him feel bad. Of course, he shouldn’t feel bad, but I could’ve said nothing and he still would’ve figured it out (note: he’s very good at sensing something’s wrong with me; where and when he picked that up, I’m also clueless). I confess I also feel bad because when I was the only of us making money, he felt guilty I paid for most of our outings and constantly insisted on paying me back, despite my protests he doesn’t have to (thankfully, he hasn’t tried to pay me back for all of that; paying for our outings wasn’t a loan!). I’m happy he does have a job and he is making money, especially since his self-worth was crumbling before he was, but I’m bitter about the reason he makes more than I do.

I guess in the end, almost everyone has something that gives them an edge, even a tiny one. Now, if I could only find mine.

The Burden of Being Responsible

I am going to say right now this post is essentially one long whining rant. Maybe satirical, but whining because I’m in a foul mood. If that won’t amuse you, please skip.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Scared

There. I said it.

What am I scared of? A lot of things, in particular, my efforts amounting to nothing.

I’ve been struggling so much about what to do regarding college and reading anecdotes of doing “the right things” only to keep failing only confirms my fears.

Science-related subjects are considered to be the most lucrative careers that exist.  I’ve never heard anyone speak lowly of pursuing these degrees and, in my experience, you’re told you’ll always have a job because they’re in high demand. When people say they got college degrees and still can’t find work or are stuck in dead-end jobs, it’s typically assumed they got a “useless” degree, such as something in art, philosophy, or gender studies.

This just tells me you can work hard and still not get anywhere. It seems like it doesn’t even matter. I already fear returning to college for a degree and ending up right back where I started, but what I want to major in is art-related. To go for something in STEM and still end up right back where I started? I’d kick myself for the rest of my life.

On top of that, I’ve been told there are many different paths to success, but I can only find three. Go to college, go to trade school, or find a job and work your way up. I’ve heard of trade school being more profitable than college, especially because you’re not saddled with debt for an extremely long time, but I can’t think of a single trade I’d be capable of. If web design or art/animation were a trade, I’d go for one of those, but unfortunately, they’re not. I’ve also heard, unlike college, you cannot get financial assistance for trade school. You have to pay for it out of your own pocket. I’m still unemployed, so that’s not possible. My only option is finding a job, which I am having a very hard time with.

The only thing I’m sure of right now is that I am a terrible adult. I cannot figure anything out. I’ve been an adult for three years now and I still have no clue how to be one. I’m already upset that I can’t avoid debt, meaning I will owe someone or something money for as long as I live, and I’m honestly afraid I am always going to be in this position. If I end up going back to school, I want that venture to pay off. Not to throw shots at anyone, but I do not want to end up like my mother, going back to school multiple times in an attempt to better my life and getting nowhere except into more debt.

It’s terrifying and I know adults are supposed to do everything themselves (pretty much the point of being an adult), but I wish I had someone to guide me through all of this and help me get somewhere. I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing or how I’m going to get myself anywhere except where I’m already at. I know what I want. I can’t figure out how to get it. I wish adulthood came with a manual for these situations.

Really, all I want is not to be so useless. Clearly, I’m not doing that well.