This is the final installment of a three part series of our get-out-of-debt story. We join your previously scheduled broadcast already in progress…
While we were preparing for our new adventure, we sat down to figure out the finances of our move from Utah to NYC. Moderate 15% salary increase? Check. Enough money in our bank account to cover the move? Check. Cost of living increase of 125%? Chec… owwwwhatt?! We knew NYC was expensive, but that’s just instanity. And not the Virtual kind. So we pushed some numbers around in our freaking budget and figured out a way to survive. And that meant pressing the big red STOP button on our get out of debt goal and settling for the monthly minimum loan payment.
$15,000 – 15% salary increase + 125% cost of living adjustment = $15,000 + …gulp
We packed the contents of our $1000/month, charming, 1500-sq ft. Utah townhouse rental into a 16’ rental truck, drove across the country, and unpacked it into our $1650/month, dingy, 400-sq ft. box on the Upper East Side. But we were living in the Big Apple, so it was hard to complain. To celebrate our already limited apartment size, we decided to adopt a kitten in hopes of making bank off her potential YouTube stardom. She has yet to deliver.
It took some time to learn how things worked in the city: the subway system, all-the-time-rudeness (a FedEx man made Joanna cry our first week for signing his clipboard too slowly), your regular neighborhood crazy people, cash-only businesses, etc. But the biggest adjustment was figuring out a way to make our freaking budget work.
Throughout our newly-newlywed days, we learned to live on very little, so we went back to living like that. We eliminated almost our entire new clothing budget, shared an unlimited metrocard, went to museums on free days, joined up with our friends AFTER they had gone out to eat at NYC restaurants, and schlepped our bulk-item purchases from Costco in big duffle bags via bus to avoid paying for a cab ride. I always enjoyed the looks I’d get from the Costco highlighter dudes at the exits when they saw two bags over my shoulder and another in each hand.
The longer we maintained this lifestyle, the better we got at it. And that started paying dividends with our budget. So we decided to get back on the horse and try to meet our January 2012 goal of being debt free.
$15,000 – $6,000 over nine months = $9,000
And just as we really started feeling like regular Yankees, life called an audible in October 2011 and we found ourselves moving to Boston to try out a unique, exciting job opportunity. It was a temporary position, but it paid well and was another interesting city and adventure we could chalk up as a life experience.
Despite the chaos of moving, changing jobs, and learning yet another dialect of the American language (don’t correct me), we cracked the whip on our debt payments. In order to reach our goals, we would need to sacrifice just a little bit more to make up the ground we lost in NYC. So in October and November, we threw down $2,500 each month.
$9,000 – $2,500(x2) + wicked smahts = $4000 + I still don’t really understand Bostonians
With the end in sight, we knew December would be our Debt Monster’s final hurrah. And on one fateful December night, I grabbed Joanna’s finger and joined it with mine to press the “Submit Payment” button on our final debt payment… BOOOM! Actually, it was sort of anticlimactic. I was kinda hoping that they would reward us with some sort of “You’re so awesome and you have lots of friends!!” message, or an animated celebration like the cascading cards after beating Solitaire on Windows 95. But even without it, we felt like winners. And that was good enough for us.
$4,000 - $4,000 = $0
And that’s how we killed the Debt Monster. [Microphone dropped]