The Kinky Green

On Sacrifices and Liberation

Once I set my mind to the task, Project: Debt Rolldown became my reality.

Money came in, and it went right back out to its various destinations. I scheduled bill payments on payday and watched the numbers on my momentarily fat(ish) bank account dwindle before my eyes in a matter of minutes. What was left, I lived on. No credit card splurges. No dipping into savings for non-emergencies. No exceptions.

Of course, the tallies in my handy spreadsheet (have I mentioned I love a spreadsheet?) were somewhat heartening, if slowly so.

The emergency savings account was gaining monthly, just as it always had (thanks to auto-deductions). Notably, though, for the first time, it was retaining its balance for more than a month or two at a time. No more reverse transfers to cover airline tickets or those tight few days at the end of a pay period.

The credit card balances weren’t showing much of a difference initially, but in the event of… well, an emergency, the emergency savings would keep me from undoing the progress I was making.

I was feeling accomplished in the financial realm. But the day-to-day reality of living within my means didn’t take long to start wearing on me.

Being a Southern gal by birth, learning to politely decline invitations with some version of “thanks, but no thanks” was hard enough for me. But being someone who is already prone to put things somewhat bluntly and living in the land of Facebook-fueled TMI and boundary-less peer pressure, I found myself feeling obliged to explain my reasons for begging out of this dinner and saying I’d have to skip that concert.

Frankly, that just made everyone uncomfortable.

I mean, in the age of buy now, pay never, who wants to hear about one of their friends living on a budget and paying off debt? It’s a total downer, right?

It’s just pizza and a few beers… What’s $20 in the grand scheme of things… Or $40… I’ll get you this time, and you can pay me back… You know (hinthint), I just opened another credit card the other day… What’s one more bit of plastic in the wallet… If things get tough, you can always file… 

Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually hear all of that. But very closely related sentiments were directed my way.

So while I had some friends who were supportive, I had to start putting my foot down with others. I had to stand firm with my vague but polite “no thank you” when the invitations and my budget weren’t aligned.

Let me tell you something… that shit got old. Quick.

There I was, a gainfully employed professional in my late 20s, and I was sitting at home alone because catching a movie with the girls wasn’t in my budget?  Bollocks.

The trusty internets led me to blogs and books and articles galore detailing how to “find” money in my budget. Sure, I got a few useful tips, but what I really learned was that I had already become a tightwad in my actual budgeted expenditures.

No cable. No internet. No home phone. Super low utilities due to my willingness to bundle up and jog in place in winter and strip down and deal with the ‘glisten’ of summer. No real affinity for fancy coffee shop brews.  No car payment. Close to nothing spent on gas. I already cooked most of my meals at home and brought my leftovers to work for lunch. No monthly entertainment subscriptions. The most I typically paid for a book or DVD were whatever late fees I accrued at my local library.

Pulling pennies out of thin air didn’t seem likely to happen, but a few weeks into Rolldown I knew I needed money for beer and bourbon and general badassery.  So I got another job.

A couple of days a week, I put on a T-shirt and some khaki pants, smile at strangers, and make sure they have enough sweet tea in their cups and ketchup for their fries. In return, I walk away with money in my pocket that allows me to get beer and bourbon, join my friends for nights out and weekends away, and buy myself pretty new dresses and cute new shoes. All without disrupting the Rolldown.

It’s a win-win!

I soon learned that revealing this bit of information has a surprising effect on quite a lot of people.

Me: Blah-ti-blah-ti-blah. I have a part-time job.
People Who Surprise Me: Oh… I’m sorry. 

Apparently, working two jobs is a big indication to the folks around you that something in your life has gone terribly, terribly wrong. (And, apparently, some folks’ mothers didn’t teach them to save their pity toward you for polite discussion over a dinner table at which you are not present.)

What these people who surprise me failed to see is that a second job has been my liberation. Yes, it takes up a bit more of my time. And, yes, sometimes it’s tiring. Sure, I could have chosen to sacrifice my fun times and pretty things for my budget, or vice versa. But I didn’t. I chose to keep my D-Day set in stone and to have some fun while doing it.

For me, a second job was what I needed to make all the pieces fall into place.


One Response to 'On Sacrifices and Liberation'

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  1. jamy said,

    You know you’re doing something right, right? 🙂 I’m very impressed! Keep up the good work.

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