If there is one thing in this wide world of ours that I hate, it’s unexpected expenses. Charges that come from out of left field and totally knock your budget and spending for a loop. Sometimes you can plan for them and of course you should have an emergency fund for the big things, but even when it’s just having to stop at a more expensive gas station or when you have to pay for a medication, they can be so frustrating when your income is low.
When there’s just not a lot of money you watch every cent like a hawk. At least I do. I have to know where everything is going and further more, WHY that money is going there. If I spot even a $3 charge that I can’t account for in my spending, you better believe I turn into the Financial Detective until I figure out where that went.
Every last dollar matters hugely to me, especially in the face of debt. I want to be able to send as much of my income towards wiping out my last bit of debt as possible. So when something is more costly that I realized or when something comes out of the blue and asks for some of my money I get a little…protective.
Just a few hours ago I had an unexpected expense come up. I was totally unprepared for it and it’s going to cost me a big chunk of change. $750 in fact.
It’s not that I don’t have the money. I will in fact be getting a paycheck of almost that exact size this week. It’s just that I had already allocated $500 of that towards debt payments and the rest towards rent this month. Now poof! It’s all gone towards this new expense.
I’m just so frustrated by this. I was so looking forward to putting $2000 towards my loans this month and now it’s looking like I’ll only be able to do $1200. That’s still a great month of debt payments but it’s also a huge blow. As I’ve mentioned before, my income is about to decrease dramatically this month and making large debt payments is about to be a thing of the past.
Having an expense of this size come up is enough money to derail my debt payoff by another month. While that may not seem like much time, I also have to earn that money back and that means, very simply, more work. More catering, more freelancing- more work, less free time. More work, less ownership of my time and money.
One of the things I am most looking forward to when I get out of debt is being more secure. Once I don’t have to worry about making a debt payment (of any size!) things like this won’t derail me so much. I’ll be able to build a bigger emergency fund, grow my investments and increase my net worth. Unexpected expenses won’t have quite so much power over me. Things that rock my world right now will become minor waves eventually.
Of course, I’ll still be a low-income person and so a purchase or expense of any large size will still sting to some degree. Debt freedom does not mean pay increases, sadly. I’ve been very lucky to receive some pay bumps throughout the year but I’ve pretty much maxed those out. I am where I am for the rest of the year.
Le sigh. It is what it is. I am going to pay off this charge with my paycheck this week and then I’ll keep doing my best with my loans. I do want to recognize I have been very fortunate in my debt payoff- I haven’t run into that many road bumps, I’ve been able to keep costs low and increase my earnings. I am deeply grateful for all those things and more. I am just soooo close and sooooooo ready to be done with my debt that this stings all the more.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.