Tag Archives: Work

My student loan gave me Stockholm Syndrome

I have $107 left on what was once a $19,000 student loan. I’d planned to pay it off today, but for some reason…I…am…stalling…

What’s going on here? I figure one of two possibilities is at play.

1) I have Stockholm Syndrome. Perhaps after 13 years of being held hostage by my student loan, I identify more with its hold over me than I do with the freedom I’d have without it. I can honestly say that I NEVER thought I’d pay this bad boy off. I thought we’d be together forever. If I even tried to imagine this very day (TODAY!) when I finally paid the last cent back, I’d force the thought far from my mind. I sincerely believed it wasn’t possible, so why even bother fantasizing about it, right? Because I existed so long in this sorry state (I mean, c’mon 13 YEARS!!!), it’s possible I’m in complete denial that this day has finally and truly come. Or…

2) I’m savouring the moment. Here it is. This Moment. This amazing, glorious moment when I finally no longer owe anyone or anything for my education. It’s my education now. I own it outright. This shinning, bright, sunny-day moment when I have the degrees without the debt is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. This light, airy moment is my own financial TSN Turning Point; it’s the moment when I can stop looking back at the financial mistakes I’ve made and start looking towards the future at my financial progress and prosperity. This moment might be one of the best in my adult life.

And I want it to last just a little bit longer.

~HS

sunrisePhoto: Heather Setka

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My one-year (super boring) challenge: fiscal responsibility

At the start of 2013, I read several stories about one-year (and somewhat gimmicky) challenges.

There’s the mom who only plans to eat Starbucks. (Gross.) And the mom who plans to spend $0 on her child. (Love her, and I totally approve.)

I love the concept of a one-year personal challenge. It’s long enough to make a difference in your life, but it’s not a life sentence. Plus, it gives you an out. You’re not saying: I’m changing my life forever. You’re saying: I’m changing my life for now. What ultimately ends up happening is that you do change your life. How can you not?

A year ago, I told myself I’d spend one year blogging about money, and talking about money. The idea was that if I was completely open about my financial life, then that life would improve. I believe that hiding stuff only makes it worse, and that talking about something opens it up for growth and (so sorry, about to drop an Oprahism, here) healing (bleech! sorry!).

So…I opened up about my personal finances. I TMIed about my debts, and I pontificated (OK, bragged) about my savings. Disposable income and debt repayment suddenly became part of my vernacular. And…

It worked!

I can’t even believe it. I went on vacations last year. Yes, that’s plural. I went on more than one vacation. In more than one year. WITHOUT putting them on credit. I can’t even tell you how amazing this is. It’s nothing short of a damn miracle.

It’s all so unreal to me, that I’m secretly terrified it’s not real. I am suspicious of this financial wellness. Sometimes, it doesn’t sit right. I will have money left over at the end of the month, or enough money to buy, say, groceries, and it will astound me.

But I’m going to take it while I can. Anything could change, and I want to enjoy it while it lasts. I have the tools now to move forward, but I know that I’m not always in control of the outcome. Stuff happens. I was saving money for new flooring to replace the stained and worn carpet in my condo. Then, my 16-year-old water heater started leaking. The sexy, sleek vinyl flooring I’d fantasized about (yes, I aim love in life) will have to wait.

That’s OK. My one year of fiscal responsibility has taught me patience. It’s taught me that good things can come to those who wait. And save.

~HS

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

PS I told myself when I started writing this blog a year ago that I’d revisit whether or not I wanted to continue in February, 2013. I’ve published 55 posts so far (my goal was 52), and I didn’t abandon it after a few posts like so many other blogs I’ve started. I achieved my blogging goal, as well as my financial goals. Yay! Even though my initial idea was that I’d give it up after a year, I think I’m going to continue. I won’t write as often as I did last year, but I will still be here. Thanks to those who read, and commented. You made it more like a conversation for me. And that’s all I ever wanted. XO

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