Do You Feel Like a Financial Failure? Cheer up!
The title of this post is directed at those of you who feel beaten down today, but it is also directed at me.
Last year, I made a goal to be student loan free by… well, today.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, what did happen was that shortly after making that post I went into a financial dry spell. As a college teacher, I wasn’t getting paid through the summer. My waitressing, dance instruction and tutoring salaries, even with my husband’s income, were not enough to cover our bills. We spent our emergency fund, and took on debt. Not a lot of debt, mind you, but enough that we needed to spend the entire fall semester and part of the spring semester catching up.
Other things that happened over the course of the year and even as early as last week:
- Our bathtub developed a crack that seemed innocent enough, but leaked through the floorboards and into a closet in the other room.
- A combination of bad weather and age finally took its toll on our porch, and we need to replace it soon.
- We have had two dog emergencies, costing nearly $2,000 and a parrot emergency that thankfully cost only $150. Our pet savings account is depleted.
- We experienced health issues, including diabetes and PCOS.
These are not excuses for me missing my goal; they are reasons. That is why I do not consider myself a financial failure, even though I did not pay off any of my student loans.
Despite these setbacks, this year showed me how resilient my husband and I are. It also had its own set of successes:
- I took on extra work throughout the semester, and just received $1,000 in payment from various schools this summer. This money was unplanned as far as our budget is concerned, and will be used either to pay down debt or make repairs on the house.
- My work load has increased for the fall semester.
- My scholarly activities have been productive, which will help me in future career endeavors.
- We paid off $2,500 in debt since the beginning of 2015, freeing up $500 in monthly payments.
- We saved enough money to pay for living expenses this summer, so that we do not repeat last year’s financial troubles.
The truth is, life is unpredictable. Having goals is great, but having the flexibility and insight to know sometimes it’s okay to miss or reschedule those goals is equally important. I did not give up on my quest for financial independence to purchase a new car, or a flight to Italy. I put my debt pay-off journey on hold to take care of other important things, like the lives I promised to protect when adopting my animals and the health of my husband and myself.
But the why of my quest for financial independence still stays strong. I know what drives me, and that motivation is keeping me strong to work hard this summer, despite feeling sick and tired often, to make extra income and keep plugging away at our debt: We’re having a baby.