That’s right – I’m back!  The past few months I’ve been going through some major transitions and life changes.  I usually wait to share about transitions on social media, but now that the dust has settled, I’m so excited to share what’s been happening in my life and tell you about the three things I want to focus on this year in my personal life.  You're sure to see those carry over to the blog as well!
 
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. That just means that I may receive a small commission if you buy a product linked on this page.  It sure helps towards paying off those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosures page.
 
This year, I'm focusing on 3 things. 1. Be a prayer warrior. 2. Build healthy relationships. 3. Pay off a MASSIVE amount of debt. What about you? | https://www.thecafescholar.com

#1 New Job

As you all know, I’m trying to pay off my debt as fast as possible.  In fact, paying off a massive amount of debt is one of my main areas of focus this year (more about that below).  I had been at my job for nearly 6 years, and the problem with starting at the bottom and working your way up is that sometimes the salary never catches up.  That’s definitely how it happened for me.  I looked at my debt and my salary and my goals and the math didn’t work.  I also realized there wasn’t much room to grow there, and I needed to acquire some more diversified experience.  After months of prayer and asking God where to go from here, I started applying for jobs and started my new job in January.  This transition was bittersweet; I left behind some close friends that I miss working with every day, but was also so excited for a new adventure.  It was really important to me to “leave well,” and I hope I was able to do that.

#2 New Home

Got the keys to my new apartment! A move is a great time to build new habits! | https://www.thecafescholar.com

I had been renting from my parents since starting my grad school several years ago, and in January I moved to a new apartment.
I hit pause on my debt snowball to achieve this goal. In November I started saving money to cover moving expenses, security deposit, furniture, etc. I bet you guys think a budget is restricting.   Let me just tell you how freeing it was to be able to buy what I needed for the new place and have the money for it.  Setting limits allows you the freedom to choose where you want your money to go.  I actually have a little bit left in my moving fund still, but I’m trying to stretch it as far as I can for the last few things I want.  (Know anyone who wants to give me a stacking washer & dryer? 😃 ).
I didn’t go all out; the Goodwill Clearance Center, Dollar Tree, and Walmart were key in stretching those dollars as far as possible.  Several friends and neighbors gave me hand-me-down furniture and kitchen supplies to get started.  My God is such a good provider!

 

When you start up an apartment, there are all these things you need like cleaning supplies that may not have moved with you, and I felt such peace and victory knowing that because I had planned and prepared for this expense, I could get my new home set up without worrying about money.  If you want to feel that level of freedom and peace, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover.  It's a quick read, not too heavy, and this book has really helped me get on a budget and make “forward motion” decisions. You can tell it's good stuff when 12 people have it on request at the library!

#3 New Car LoanI don't want to be a slave anymore! My focus this year: paying off lots of debt! | https://www.thecafescholar.com

One of the things I keep hearing on The Dave Ramsey Show (I listen to the podcast on my commute to work every day) is how harmful it can be for your relationships to borrow money from family members or to cosign on a loan.  The borrower is slave to the lender, and you don’t want that to be the relationship you have with your family! My parents had generously cosigned on my car loan after the accident last summer to help me save on interest.  Even though we weren’t having any friction about it, I decided it was time to set them (and myself) free and refinance the loan.  With my improved credit score after paying off debt the past few months, I was still able to get a low-interest rate.  It was not as low as before, but I’m going to pay it off so fast it won’t really matter!

#4 New Focus

I have three things I’ve chosen to focus on for this year.  First, I want to be a Prayer Warrior.  Second, I want to build healthy relationships.  Third, I want to pay off a MASSIVE amount of debt.  And I want to do all of these things within a framework of healthy habits and self care.  Little habits, repeated consistently, bring big results.  So these first few months, I have focused on getting settled in the new home and new job, building those good habits slowly, one at a time, and spending some much more consistent Jesus time each day.  I’m starting to invest in friendships as well, and once I moved, I kicked that debt snowball back into gear.  I want to pay off $40,000 this year.  That’s a really aggressive goal, and with my current salary and expenses, the math doesn’t work to meet that goal just yet, so I’m going to have to really kick some side hustling into gear.  I just don’t want to be a slave no mo’! So far in 2018 I have paid off $6,134.28, so I’m already about 15% of the way there!  It was so cool to get a “paid in full” notice from one of my student loans this month.
I’m looking forward to sharing more research paper madness, study tips, and my own experience paying off student loans on this blog.  The research paper series will pick back up next week, and you’ll have to let me know what you want to learn!  But now it’s back to you: what big changes are you making in your life this year?  What little steps can you take to get there?

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