I'm shouldering some changes I didn't see coming.
Good changes, I promise: I'll be living on my own soon.
I'll be the occupant of a one bedroom apartment with secondhand furniture, a fridge to myself, a shower I don’t have to share, a dozen fake plants...and the rent check to prove it. Bye, bye, cheap rent in your 20's.
As I transition to living on my own, my goals and expectations have shifted....or the goals shifted and the living-alone thing became a very clear next step. Chicken or the egg? I dunno.
What I do know is that my needs have changed, so my financial goals will too.
- Live with a friend and pay $350 each month in rent.
- Put $500-550 toward student loans each month.
- Be debt free in 12 months.
- Friend sells her house to move back to the East Coast.
- It’s time to try something new. I’m ready to live on my own.
- Apartments in Lincoln aren’t cheap. Expect to pay $650 minimum.
A big rent check means I'll be adjusting my financial goals. As much as I had hoped to, I will not be paying off my debt in the next year.
"Oh hey there, unexpected change..."
The plans that changed were entirely out of my control, but I’ve taken the opportunity to strive into something new — even if it scares me, even if it delays being debt-free.
Financial Goals Can Change
As much as I want to live alone, there’s still a very real thing about how much money you have to spend.
In the past six years, I’ve rarely paid more than $400 in rent and utilities in a month.
Some folks can afford $800 rent, plus utilities, each month. That ain’t me.
I had to take a good, hard look at my budget and make some choices. I didn’t want to spend more than $650 in rent and utilities each month.
I decided to take my extra student loan payments and put them toward housing instead.
SCREECH. HALT. I know.
Looking at the Numbers
When I look at my actual numbers and compare the options, I’m okay with making the choice to shift my financial goals, to make room for my new priorities.
I have $4560 remaining in student loans. That’s not a whole lot, especially compared to some folks’ debt. However, these are my real numbers — down from $21,265 in student and car loans less than two years ago.
So my new debt repayment plan came down to these options:
Keep living in cheap housing situations to allow for an extra $300-$350 student loan payment each month.
But what if another roommate decides I need to move out? What if I want to live alone and have a shower to m’self? I want freedom.
Pay off the entire loan using money from savings.
That would leave very very little in my savings. No bueno. I like my Emergency Fund, thank you.
Pay the minimum student loan payment of $170 and be paid off in the next two years, while accruing less than $200 in interest over that time.
That seems reasonable enough. And it would free up those extra $300-$350 payments that I could put toward housing instead. I like it.
Money is Personal
In all of the “debt must die” chanting that happens in the personal finance world, we forget that money is personal. I’m willing to sacrifice paying off my debt in the next year, but I’m doing it so I can have the lifestyle I’ve been so desperately wanting.
When I moved in with my friend a few months ago, I had a gut feeling that I should have moved into an apartment by myself. I love my friend, so that’s not the question! It was a matter of being 28, needing to have space to myself, and more importantly being able to leave my coffee cup on whatever table/counter/sink I wanted without worrying it’d be in someone else’s way.
Truth is: I’m not in a place where I want to sacrifice my living situation to save money right now.
Living alone will allow me to relax that part of my brain — the part that is always consumed with making sure my roommate is happy, my clothes are picked up and the music isn’t too loud (I’m so done with all of that).
As much as I hoped to live with my friend for a year, be debt free, and then move to a place by myself, the shift in her plans forced me to take the leap.
There's a laundry list of reasons why this move is such a good one (I've never lived alone, but it’ll be so great!) and also why it scares the hell out of me (ugh, what if Netflix can't suppress my loneliness?).
But I’m doing it. Even if it means shifting my financial goals to make it happen.