under the influence

…of angst. This is sort of my equivalent of posting while drunk, I guess 🙂 I’m mostly just tired today — didn’t sleep til late last night, still had to get up at 7 am, have been stumbling around most of the day — but the money thing just feels like a wall I’ll never get over right now instead of like an interesting challenge that I’m getting through ok.

The problem is that my disposable income and my wants reallllly do not match up right now, and some of those wants are shading over into needs. Good moisturizer (drugstore stuff makes me break out); summer sandals (my current pair is three years old and has holes in the soles, but I’m going to drag them out for another month); shorts (both pairs also three years old); work dresses/skirts (what I have is a) not enough to cover all the days I need to dress nicely and b) mostly aging and pilled/stretched/otherwise beginning to look not so nice); sneakers (about three years old, also developing holes); a big canning pot that would fit quart jars; angst-free plane tickets to see a friend over spring break.

I was so focused on retiring the student debt the last few months I had it, and I enjoyed killing it in huge chunks — $1000, gone! $2000, gone! $2500, GONE! The remaining CC debt is so small by comparison, and yet it’s feeling almost insurmountable. It’s harder than I thought it would be, mentally, to not address it at full intensity; I decided that it was a small enough amount that I could pay it off a few hundred dollars at a time while also saving for an EF and travel AND having enough left over for the random bills that come up, like the car stuff I had to do this month and the CSA share I have to pay for next month. But it’s surprisingly a big downer to look at how the balance of the CC isn’t dropping that fast even though the net worth is improving.

10 thoughts on “under the influence

  1. Isabella W says:

    You have been so focused on paying off debt (and doing so well!), that I think you are having a little burnout! Take all your clothes out (especially your work clothes) and assess what you have. See what mixes and matches. Sometimes just adding a scarf or a new sweater will give you some mileage. If you have a couple pair of dark slacks (black and blue) and one dark skirt, it will really help you to build a basic wardrobe for work for fall and winter. Add several neutral colored blouses or dressier tees to wear with sweaters. Also look on eBay. Right now, I have bids on a sweater and shoes (like new for both) that I know will work well and are very economical. I look for brands that I like and that I know fit me. I also keep in mind what is the max I will pay so I don’t get in a bidding war!

    I know a lot of people go to thrift stores and consignment shops, but I love to buy online–saves so much time.

    1. This is all SUPER good advice. I use the ebay trick for sweaters a lot (and not coincidentally, sweaters are the one area I’m well-supplied in; my work wardrobe will improve a lot once it’s sweater weather, although I really need a new basic black skirt. The two that I have are both well over a decade old and the fabric is just wearing out.) I’m super picky about cut, which is part of my problem; pencil skirts look awful on me, and for some reason nobody seems to be making knee-length A-lines anymore. I may have to just make one myself; how hard can it be?

      Anyway, you are totally right that assessing everything at once and making a priority list is the way to go. When I’m less tired 🙂

  2. That last little bit is always the hardest. The last few months we were paying our credit card months were tough – I was exhausted. It’s ok if it takes a little longer than the original plan. You’ve come a long way and you destroyed those student loans. I’m both impressed and a tiny bit jealous. I’m sure you’ll break through that credit card wall soon – Mr. Kool-aid style.

    1. I’m sorry you had a hard time at this stage too — but it’s kind of comforting to hear you say so. It’s like the last bit of climbing a mountain, isn’t it?

      I like the Mr. Kool-aid image! I’m gonna want a medal, and also never to get myself into debt again 🙂

  3. Isabella W says:

    Cecilia, I’m a pretty big fan of Land’s End clothing. (I am an elementary schoolteacher.) I’m a “mature” woman, but their clothing is rather simple and classic for all ages. It’s quite reasonably priced and good quality. They have a lot of cute skirts on their site that are knee-length A-line or flair cuts. They frequently have sales of 30% off one item or more. (They just had one with schools opening.) Check online at their website to see if sales are on.

    If you have a Lands End store near you that doesn’t have what you want, you can order from their catalog at the store and have it shipped to your home for free. Last year I bought several pretty scarves there on sale to go with my eBay Lands End sweaters and my basic slacks and skirts. I don’t like to make too many decisions about clothing for work, so I keep it simple and mix and match and add a bit of jewelry too. Would you be able to set aside about $125-150 (or even stretch to $175?) to replenish your wardrobe a bit? I mean, you have rocked that student debt and feeling good about how you look for work is important too!

    1. Land’s End is a good idea — I just took a quick look at their site and they also seem to have been bit by the pencil skirt bug, but I’ll check into them more. I think now that I’m getting older, I just want things that are a little more conservative than in the past, but still have some flair to them; I’m not quite ready to just give up and wear LL Bean all the time, as I intend to once I pass 50 🙂

      I really want to set aside some wardrobe money; I was just hoping to wait til I had my CC paid off. I think I can push for that; it would mean waiting until the spring to buy new clothes, but I have a better winter wardrobe in place, so if I can just get through this last bit of summer with what I already have, I think I can wait.

  4. I agree with Isabella, it sounds like you’re getting a bit burnt out! I’m having the same issue with work clothes and shoes. I know I’ll also need about 2 pairs of dress boots for the winter since mine kicked the bucket last year. Sometimes you need to treat yourself to good quality items you know will last 🙂

    1. I am a little burnt out, yeah. It seems silly with such a short amount to go, but there you are. Luckily I am in good shape on winter boots; I bought some awesome lined snow boots last fall on sale for, I think, $40; one of the best investments ever given the winter we ended up having! I have a decent pair of dress boots, too, although they need mending. Luckily it’s something I can do myself with a leather needle and some waxed thread, and I don’t need a cobbler.

      I do love good quality clothes. I try not to buy stuff I can’t wear for at least a few years, and I prefer stuff that won’t wear out for ten years or until I don’t fit it anymore! I guess I’m just getting to the end of a few cycles at the wrong time.

  5. I hear ya. I had a major case of the wants recently. And if I’m honest with myself I still do, but I am trying to keep them at bay as best I can. I’d love to just remake my entire wardrobe from scratch with solid, good quality clothing, but then I balk at the sticker price. I’m not determined enough to go thrifting and my area isn’t wealthy enough to have good second-hand clothing.

    I’m all for throwing a scarf or a necklace on to give myself a different outfit. I’ve also been working on hair styles so that I can look different even if my clothing is the same. Sounds silly but an outfit looks a heck of a lot different with a sleek bun versus loose hair.

    And I think you should totally splurge a little bit. I’m not saying to go blow $1,000… but give yourself a break. You’ve been kicking ass!

    1. I’d need to grow my hair out for that! It’s really, really, really short. But I should learn to wear scarves. My mom has a million of them so if I figured out how to make them look good on me, I could have probably half her collection 🙂

      I want so bad to just donate EVERYTHING and start over. It’s like having a fever, because I even want to get rid of things I really love a lot. Just restless, I guess.

      The thing is I’ve already been splurging! In August I bought an Art Institute membership, a theater ticket, and a new phone and ate out three times, and in September I’ve already committed to buying a CSA share (I wouldn’t have on my own, probably, but my roommate asked me.) And I’ll need an oil change, and I want to drive to visit a friend one weekend, and…. Either I need to really commit hard to saying NO to EVERYTHING, or I need to relax my budget and save less, because I’m definitely feeling pinched/fatigued but also guilty about spending.

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