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?
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 🙂. 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.
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—those 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.