OK, I’m Debt-Free. What’s Next?

This is also not my 2015 goals post, although my thinking here may end up informing some changes to that.

Technically, I’ve been “debt-free” since early December, when I put through a $287 payment to my credit card. But I still had almost $900 in business expenses waiting to be reimbursed. This is what my accounts looked like on December 14, with the business expenses plus what I’d spent on various (budgeted!) stuff in early December.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.06.54 AMUgly, right? $2000 less than my last published net worth update, between having paid rent, withrdrawn my grocery cash, other early-December expenses, and all those business things.

It got better the next day when my first December paycheck hit, followed by my reimbursement check, and I could pay the card down to zero at last. Woo! Meanwhile I was getting things transferred over here (one of the December expenses I had to pay off was the domain purchase) and processing my feelings.

To be completely honest, my very first impulse was…to buy something. 🙂 Not immediately, exactly, and not something totally crazy and frivolous. I’ve talked before about the really sad state of my wardrobe, but one thing I’ve never had, ever, is a pair of nice black leather tall boots with a heel high enough to be dressy but blocky enough to be “sensible” (and that I can walk long distances in and teach/lecture in.) My birthday is in late January, and I’ve been really scrimping lately; maybe I want/need a reward/present to myself. (Downside of being single: no husband to ask for boots for my birthday.) I’m still kicking the idea around, but I may go try on some pairs when I’m home for the holidays — I have three brands (Clarks, Born, and Frye) in mind as decent possibilities — and run the numbers.

This got me thinking about all the other things that are either worn out completely (sneakers with holes) or getting there (jeans I’ve worn countless times over two years, pilling sweaters and dresses, a coat that needs the lining replaced, and, most worryingly, my laptop, which at just over 2 years old is starting to show signs of the intense regimen I put it through — it’s often in use 10-12 hours a day, sigh. I’ll use it as long as I can, despite the obnoxious spinning beach balls it’s giving me way more often these days, but whenever it goes, it’ll cost around $1100 to replace, because I’m not switching away from Mac to PC for a variety of personal and professional reasons.) I’ve been putting everything off, but I’m going to need to do some spending this year, on my wardrobe and on travel; hopefully I can do all that and health/vehicle expenses without touching the EF, but my net worth might not grow as much as I’d initially thought it would.

Throughout the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking of 2015 as my “saving year,” and I certainly intend to make it that — $500 a month to the EF is a must, and I’m not stopping my $1000 retirement fund contributions either. But I’d been kind of thinking of my potential net worth growth as therefore being an average of $2000 a month, and I’m realizing that’s probably not realistic; if I actually spend from my travel fund, buy some clothes, and god forbid need that laptop sometime in 2015, I wouldn’t be able to net $2000/month without some serious luck and/or hustle in the freelance department.

So I’m thinking, now that I’m debt-free, that where I’m going next is: saving and spending. Gee, what a surprise 🙂

12 thoughts on “OK, I’m Debt-Free. What’s Next?

  1. I like that you’re making your first year debt free your saving year.

    I’ve been putting off some purchases for a few years too. Those boots sound pretty awesome! I guess it’s about putting all that spending into your budget and making sure that you’re comfortable with how your net worth will grow.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yep, that’s the key — balancing what I want from my net worth growth (Extreme! Savings!) with making purchases I can afford, but which will cut into my ability bank every last penny.

      I really think I am going to do something about boots, though. If I’m doing it at all, I want to get something high-quality that I really like and can wear for years (with care and occasional re-soling) but I hope I end up liking an option that’s about $250 rather than one that’s about $500 🙂

  2. we made 2014 our saving year, since 2013 was the year we became debt free. We were able to save enough to put 10% toward the down payment on our home. In 2015, we hope to continue to save for various goals, and start investing seriously, while continuing our retirement funds. It takes a little bit of a mental change to go from paying off debt to saving, but my only piece of advice is that you can buy ANYTHING, as long as you have the cash to pay for it. Let’s say you do need that computer in 2015? $100 a month will allow you to buy it by next Christmas! Or break it down further, $25 a week will have that baby in your arms by October! Just break down those big expenses and it makes it very doable!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I’m still so impressed by your 10% down payment in a year — in SoCal! I don’t think I’ll do that well, but I hope to do enough to feel more secure, for sure. And the saving bit-by-bit is good advice, too. Thanks!

  3. I think saving goal for 2015 is great. So many people only could wish to be able to save money vice spending their time to get out of debt (like me), It’s great that you have achieved becoming debt free at an early age. I wish you the best of luck.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, having spent the last 18 months getting out of debt, I don’t really want to go back down that road (maybe a low-interest car loan one of these days, but not credit cards or student loans again.) I wish I’d achieved it a little younger though! We can’t be that far apart in age, I’m almost 36. 🙂 Thanks for the good wishes and the same to you — let’s make 2015 a killer financial year.

  4. James says:

    Looks like you should be able to get your EF to where you want relatively soon and then start crushing the retirement fund in 2015. Excited to see where you end up in 2015!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I’m hoping to hit my EF goal by mid-year. Then the big challenge will be not touching it for non-emergencies 🙂 That’s the nice thing about retirement funds — they are locked up, so I can’t impulsively go to Italy on them or anything.

  5. Cindy says:

    I haven’t been so great in the clothing department either. The negative to being in a relationship: When your boyfriend looks at you and says ” You need new clothes. I think my mom dresses more fashionably than you do!” Ouch! I mean, really, she’s in her late 70’s!

    Sounds like you have a good balance for the coming year. Congratulations on being debt free! Can’t wait to join you in that club!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I hope you will be here in debt-free land very soon! And yeah, ouch, I get away with a lot because, no boyfriend. On the other hand: probably a reason there’s no boyfriend 🙂

  6. Tawcan says:

    Loving that you’re making 2015 a savings year. You can treat yourself by buying something but most of the money can be put into savings. Let the savings grow!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      That’s the plan! One treat, some travel, some necessities, and the rest to savings. Thanks for stopping by!

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