How did you do it?? Single, high student loans, multiple jobs

I love seeing the success stories, but I seldom see people like me, the new reality.  Single, middle adulthood, high student loans, and working multiple jobs just to pay basic bills.   There's nothing else to cut out.  How did you stop living paycheck to paycheck? ( It seems as if i'm robbing Peter to pay both Paul and Simon, lol.)  How did you pay down debt?

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  • This might sound a bit overly simplistic, but at least in my view, improving your financial situation basically boils down to two basic options: either you decrease your spending, or you increase your income.

    If there's really nothing left to cut, the only other option is to find a way to increase your income -- selling items you own, building a side business based on skills you have, finding higher paying job(s), marrying someone rich 馃檪.  Or maybe consider any potential benefits of moving -- maybe there's a way to decrease spending or increase income based on living in a place with higher earning potential or lower living expenses?

    Maybe there's a skill you have or something you enjoy doing that might ultimately be able to earn you more money, so it would be worth the investment to pursue improving? Even if it doesn't earn you more money right now, it may at a later date?

    Financial change often takes patience and consistency, and a long-term view. As much as I wish otherwise, my debts simply aren't going to disappear overnight.  It's about five years after college graduation for me, and while my loans were thankfully relatively small (finally paid those off last year), we're still working through my wife's debt. Especially for large long-term school debts, sometimes I found it helpful to not include the overall balance in YNAB, so I wasn't constantly reminded of how large a number we still had to pay. I only added those debts as accounts within YNAB once they were down to a more reasonable number (four digits, rather than five for example) that felt less overwhelming.

    Like 3
  • Hey pink_calrinet . First of all, hang in there. It isn't always easy, but the important thing is exactly what you're doing. Ask questions, try something, try something else if that doesn't work. I have a few thoughts, which may come out sort of jumbled, but will hopefully make sense anyway.

    Ben is right on鈥攖hose two options really are the only ones (we talk about it in some of the workshops about getting out of debt and saving for large purchases). We also sometimes talk about how this scarcity you are experiencing doesn't feel good, but that it can be a powerful force. It can open up your creativity to do what Ben is suggesting, or clarify your priorities.

    The power of small decisions is important. When you have a big goal like breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle or getting out of debt, it feels overwhelming. I'll never get there! And you actually can't get there all at once. So do the smallest thing that makes a difference. What something you can do today that will ensure one additional dollar gets diverted to paying off a loan or being set aside for next month? Check out our Guide Think Long, Act Now for some long-form thoughts on the idea.

    Simple ideas, but we know it isn't simple to do, many people have been there. But you can do it. Be sure to let us know how it's going!

    Like 1
  • And check out "Aggressive Debt Paydown" on our Workshops page pink_calrinet ! (I can't believe I didn't link it in that too-long message above 馃槉)

    Like 2
  • It's hard. I'm single, have a child (and therefore receive some child support), and have a ton of student loans and a decent job (thankfully - I'm lucky).

    I make it work by being VERY frugal. I'm enrolled in the public service loan forgiveness program and decrease my student loan payments by decreasing my AGI (hello 401k contributions!), and I bought a cheap house to lower my housing costs - even with ownership costs its cheaper than renting. I'm careful about groceries, I try not to spend much on clothing, and use as little childcare ($$$) as possible. YNAB helps me embrace my true expenses, and I'm trying to build up my emergency fund and true expenses savings now (almost there, using YNAB for 3 months now).

    Honestly, without child support I couldn't do it. I also have a secure and stable job with a middle class income - and zero desire to "keep up with the Jones." I've put quite a lot of effort into being happy with what I have, and not feeling the need to impress anyone with my money.

    Like 2
  • I am still in the process of paying my debt. I'm single, earlyish(?) adulthood (late 20's), high student loans, and working one full-time job. I support myself fully, and am also working toward getting out of my paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. 

    For me, it has boiled down to decreasing my spending, as Ben stated. I found ways to limit my budget through meal planning. Lately, I've been going for the less-expensive brands of basic foods and shopping at discount or conventional grocery stores vs. places like Whole Foods. I signed up for a meal-planning service that writes out a grocery list for me, and takes into account what's already in my pantry. I did pay $50 for a year of this service, and to me, it's been worth it. Meal planning without a service takes time, but it is so worth it in my opinion. Food is a big place where you may be able to cut costs. After tracking my spending in YNAB for my first month, I realized that I spent an insane ratio of my income dining out. I have since, been treating myself to restaurant food much, much less.  

    Additionally, I'm learning to prioritize my debt and loans. For example, I'm focusing on paying off my CC debt with high interest first before I turn to paying off my student loans, where I have consolidated and greatly decreased my interest rate. 

    Remember that Inch-by-inch is a cinch, yard-by-yard is hard. Take it one month at a time and really look into where you are spending your money and what you are spending it on. Is it an absolute need, or a luxury want? 

    Also, to echo Todd , join a workshop and ask questions!

    You've got this. 

    Like 3
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      g.359 what's the name of the meal planning service? me- working full time and part-time, for the most part i don't have time to plan meals and cook them, so maybe this will help stay with what you stated for grocery shopping.  with my schedule, i find buy cheap fast food for a meal ( usually $2-$5 total ) or buy cheap meals like ramen noodles (40 cents).

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      • g.359
      • Gold_Boa_675fa61a67a7
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      pink_calrinet I use PlateJoy. You can get $20 off your first plan using my link here: http://platejoy.com/r/WOA0RGU5

      When I signed up, they gave me my first meal-plan for free so I could test it out before being charged (heads up, it's one of those things that you have to cancel before the correct date if you don't want to pay for it)

      I *LOVE* using PlateJoy. It caters to what you want to eat, what your diet is like, and how many meals you want in any given week. Even details such as if you want to eat leftovers and how many people you're cooking for. The shopping list feature is great because you can check off the items that you already have in your pantry so it only lists the items you need and don't already have. You can choose your meals each week from their given cue, which is designed to utilize similar ingredients. There is a huge variety of recipe options and if you're craving a particular dish, you can swap it out with any dish you don't want. Play around with it, it's fun. 

      Using this has drastically changed my budgeting for food. As a health-nut, I will tell you that cooking at home will also drastically change the way you feel. Fast-food has so many preservatives and unknown ingredients; rarely is a bean and cheese burrito JUST beans and cheese. This isn't a health forum, I know, and since the topic came up, I beg you to try cooking from home over budgeting by eating fast food on a regular basis. I promise you'll feel better and it may even come up to the same dollar amount if you shop smart. 

      Happy eating!

       

      PS: I also want to echo that I know you are busy with multiple jobs. You can spend one day a week cooking your meals, invest in some tupperware, and pack it all up so it's ready to go in the fridge on your way out ;) ) 

      Like 3
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      g.359 thanks so much!  you are right, crappy food makes you feel bad.  (i used to eat so healthy!) thanks again!

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  • Believe most people feel exactly like you do when they come to YNAB.  I know I did. I remember thinking "How in the world is a budget going to help me?  My situation is different."  

    It takes time to learn the YNAB method.  It takes time to keep asking yourself "What does this dollar need to do for me before I get paid again?"  For me, it was a learning process that took some time.  I found I really didn't need that "cheap" fast food meal.   I found I could prepare a sandwich, soda and side for less than $1 instead of the $5 fast food meal.  When I did cook, I cooked extra to have leftovers to bring for meals away from home or when I just didn't want to cook, lots of options when you take the time to ask yourself "What can I do to reduce this cost?" That is just a start of the choices I have learned to make differently.  I went from "I don't have enough to pay my bills" to "Where do I put this dollar to save for future spending."  And all with no change in my income.  

    My suggestion:  Take the classes, all of them, over and over,  if it helps.  Keep asking yourself "What does this dollar need to do for me before I get paid again?" then "Can I do this for less?" and slowly things change.  You start with $1 left over, then it becomes $5, then $10.  Depending on your situation, it could take more or less time than it did for me  and things will get better if you keep at the budget.  It's kind of like an onion.  I got through one layer and things improved, then I discovered I could get through another layer and things improved more.  Believe I still have some layers to go through and things are so much better than when I started. 

     YNAB has changed my world.

    Like 3
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      TryingToGetAhead and that's where i am! what @Ben, @Todd, and g.359   mentioned, to keep trying again and again until something works.  i have been a ynaber for a few years now, and i get stuck too many times.  so i'm reaching out, thinking outside myself, and try other's ideas in order to find a solution.  so i will take all of your ideas, use them, and improve myself on them.  thanks again!

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    • pink_calrinet I am 42, single, and make a low middle income with high debt payments.  I started my journey 20 years ago when I graduated from college the first time and had $850 per month salary.  I decided to live like a pioneer and embrace it as fun.  I learned how to make my own bread for pennies a loaf.  On Sundays I would have 2 CrockPots and two large soup pots simmering with four different soups or chili's.  Each pot would give me eight or more servings.  I froze each serving in a container and by lunch the container would thaw (no need to refrigerate).  I would prepare these for a few dollars per batch.  I also would bake amazing muffins and freeze them in single serve packaging.  Before leaving the house I would grab a soup/chili/stew and a package of muffins and some fruit and I'd be ready to face the day (and the envy of the office when the smells would waft around!).  Keeping a hot water thermos helped me keep warm liquids in my stomach between meals so that I wouldn't be tempted to snack.  Calculating the cost of my food allowed me to drastically cut down the budget.  I used healthy ingredients and flavors and seasonings I enjoyed.  If I got sick of those four recipes I would mix something into it to make it a little different or add BBQ or salsa or something to change up the taste.  I also would buy a 10 lb. bag of potatoes and eat a couple of those with beans or chili, or salsa and veggies etc. on top.  Cheap and filling, but potatoes actually contain all the necessary amino acids the body doesn't make itself.  Once I got used to drinking water and making my own food I tackled entertainment.  I utilized the library and rekindled my love of books.  I made it a game to not drive to any unnecessary locations and planned my trips for best fuel efficiency.  I use apps like Shopkick and Ebates to get cashback or rewards gift cards for doing things I do anyways.  If I want to entertain friends we have a game night and a potluck, go for a walk or bike ride, etc.  I used a lot of old candles bought cheap (thrift store) and turned off the lights and lowered the thermostat while cozying up with a good book and a quilt to take some money off the utility bill.  Every single aspect of your life can have something you choose to change to lower the costs involved.  Have you negotiated the lowest fees for utilities, vs. switching to a competitor?  As for getting off the paycheck to paycheck cycle...create a YNAB category that every dollar you save by choosing to NOT spend it moves over to the new buffer category.  If you receive a raise, live on the same amount as before but the extra from the check goes to the buffer.  If you get paid bi-weekly or receive a tax refund it goes to the buffer.  That "free money" isn't for fun spending, it's for getting you off the paycheck to paycheck cycle.  I can tell you, I've been there, that getting to the point where my money paid at the beginning of this month funds NEXT month's budget made all the difference in the world.  I had three separate month's this year that my company royally messed up my paycheck.  I didn't have any stress over it, because the fix would happen in the next paycheck and next month was already mostly funded anyways.  It will take time.  It isn't easy doing it alone.  But, make it fun and think of it as a game and not drudgery.  Your creativity will go wild if it's a fun challenge rather than an awful circumstance.  You can do this!  :)

      Like 3
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      MendingPockets this wassss  awesome! thank you, i will try this!

      Like 1
    • pink_calrinet excellent!  I meant to write if you get paid bi-weekly take the two extra paychecks annually plus any tax refund and put it towards your buffer...  It will take time, but once you have the one month buffer and can live today on last month's earnings you'll feel a LOT less stressed.  :)

      Like 1
  • Glad you reached out.  Hoping someone gives you something that can help you with your budget.  Remember, it's a process, not one and done type of thing.  Keep asking yourself the questions, I'm positive you will find answers that work for you and your budget.  

    Like 1
  • Just seconding the suggestion to do the webinars- they are amazing.  I really didn't get YNAB until I took the classes, and they were sooooooo helpful.  

    Like 2
  • I have the same questions since I'm a unmarried mid-twenties young professional who also lives in Hawaii (which has an extremely high cost of living). I feel like there are a lot of guides written for people with families or those that can afford to live in apartments that cost $600 a month (which is like renting a cardboard box in Hawaii) and I don't see a lot of things that I can glean a lot of information from.

    If you ever start a blog about this with the information you get then let me know!

    Like 1
  • If you feel comfortable sharing your numbers, you might consider posting your budget template and asking us to challenge you on the amounts you think you want to stick to.  YNABers are not mean-spirited or judgey, but we will point out things each of us would cut out and suggest alternative and cheaper ways to obtain or enjoy.

    Here are a few on my list of life-style sacrifice:

    • shared an apartment (hated it, but did it anyway)
    • moved to a cheaper, older, (clean but tired) apartment building - 3rd floor walk-up
    • gave up my car (got another one a few years later, but this one was really hard)
    • sometimes didn't buy a buss pass for the month and walked to/from work
    • cut my food spending in half, then in half again. made soups and stews to stretch my grocery budget (six years later and the thought of venison stew still makes me not-hungry)
    • made all my gifts or gave home-made certificates entitling the recipient to a service I could provide
    • used a dinosaur flip phone
    • stopped frequenting the salon for beauty services
    • slashed my clothing budget to just enough for a few essentials and replacements
    • no restaurants. ever.
    • no coffee shops. ever.
    • no adult beverages. ever.
    • no travel. ever.
    Like 3
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance what length of time did you do all of those life-style sacrifice together?  looking at your list i have done most, but a few i could add. the no fastfood or restaurants (including alcohol portion too).  i like the food ideas everyone has gave me.  that's my next step on my day off tomorrow.   i did try (still trying) to find a roommate, but i have pets, so not many takers ( i adopted them, so its my responsibility for LIFE).  i tried selling my car for several years, but i was too upside down, to come out even.  i thought about the bus pass, but with multiple jobs, its not realistic, as public transportation in my area sucks!  

      Like
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      pink_calrinet 

      Two years on what I thought at the time was a super tight plan to get out of debt and stop living on next month's income, then after I got debt-free I eased up and began saving but allowed rather a lot of discretionary spending (I'm sorry to say) in order to compensate myself for previous austerity. And I thought it was over.....

      The extra savings turned out to be fortuitous (although not enough) as I suddenly and unexpectedly became unemployed. There I was applying for jobs with a significant number of other well-qualified people who had lost their jobs in the great squeeze known as the world economic meltdown, which was compounded by an oil price collapse in a city that is home to a significant number of petroleum companies.

      I had a three-month severance (which was taxed at 50% before it was issued) and 13 months of eligibility on unemployment insurance (at 60% of my former take-home) and the savings I had managed to bank and no credit cards. I cut my grocery spending in half, then in half again. I soon learned my previous tight budget had been luxurious. Two years later..... I got my current job and had to relocate to a different city on borrowed-from-family funds.  Going into an extended unemployment debt-free with some savings meant I came out the other side debt-free but totally broke, and still with no credit cards. My replacement job came with a 10K/year increase over my previous job, which felt like over-the-top luxurious after two years of austerity. I had learned my lesson. I allowed for a little discretionary spending, but this time I set very aggressive savings targets. 

      I had no choice but to cut back when I became unemployed. With no access to credit and a reduced income, I was suddenly very clear on the real definition of  wants versus needs. Looking back now, I think it actually served me well because I am still able to maintain a super tight budget on the essentials, I am alert to life-style creep, and this allows me to hit some very aggressive savings and investing goals.

      Like 2
      • pink_calrinet
      • Pink_Clarinet_cc86054d1
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance and this is what i think about often! if something big comes up or what if unemployment occurs what situation will i have to face.  having an emergency savings, living on last months income, and a savings, are so important for peace of mind.  thanks for sharing your story.  everyone's advice is very motivational.

      Like 1
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