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Isn’t This Supposed to Happen MUCH Later in Life?


First off, I have a correction to make. I wasn’t completely honest with you and as much as that worked when I was dating (like when I said, “I absolutely LOVE football!” when the last game I watched was in the sixth grade), it’s not in the cards in my communication with you readers.

I’m not 27 as stated in my first post…

I’m 28.

I don’t lie about my age because I want people to think I’m younger. I lie about my age because I can’t remember how old I am. I honestly forgot I was 28.

Isn’t this supposed to happen MUCH later in life?

Why does this come up? My co-workers talk about my age a lot. They all assume I’m 21 or 22 and they act shocked when I break the news that I’m 27… er… 28. I guess the assumption is natural. I work for slightly above minimum wage and I’m surrounded by 18 year olds.

It could also be because, thanks to the greasy hot dog burner, I’m breaking out like a pubescent teenager.

Is it just me or does everyone feel 21 regardless of the emerging fine wrinkles and stray gray hairs?

It’s this mentality that continues to make me struggle financially. It’s OK to make stupid financial mistakes in your early 20’s. It’s not OK to continue those mistakes for the next 8 years. I guess I’ve always felt young so I always assumed that I’d live forever – and conveniently, that’s how long it would take to pay off my debts… including those club cover charges… from my freshman year in college.

But the reality is, if I want to retire before say… 2078, I need to take care of my responsibilities. I need a sense of urgency.

My financial class gives me that sense once a week but I find it wears away after a few days. By the following Tuesday I’m debating the necessity of Enya’s greatest hits or a discount cashmere sweater (fortunately I decided those were both non-necessities… for now anyway…).

Any ideas on how to keep that urgency? Other than someone poking me with a stiff cattle prod whenever I pull out my debit card?

How do you stay motivated?


  • Reply L |

    Welcome, Beks!

    How do I stay motivated?

    FEAR. It doesn’t work with some stuff, but it works for me on this subject. I made a spreadsheet showing how much I owe to everyone, what I’m throwing away every month in interest, etc., and I look at it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Having the huge numbers in my face did it for me. And I set up, in advance, how much was going to go to each place, including emergency savings (yes, even while paying down debt). Because the one month that I didn’t look at it every day, and kind of let slide what was to go to what, guess what happened? I bought crap instead.

  • Reply L |

    p.s. In addition to fear, which kept me motivated at the beginning, I now also use progress. Because I have kept meticulous records (something I’ve never done before in any avenue of life), when I get discouraged I can look at how far we’ve come. Or even just how much progress we made since last month.

  • Reply Jenna |

    I’ll agree with L! Fear and also staying on top of your finances every single day! I keep a spreadsheet of all the monthly bills (with a new tab for each month) and at the front is a list of all our current and former credit accounts. Looking at this every day keeps me in check.

  • Reply Emmi |

    Another thing that works well is public transparency about your actions. If you know you’ll have to explain why you had that moment of weakness, you’ll be stronger about it to avoid a public shaming later. (Or risk sounding like a 4 year old with no self control. Why did you do that? . . . I don’t know . . .)

    Sitting down with your hubby on a weekly schedule and going over every one of both of your purchases may be sufficient to give you this effect.

    Good post. You have a lot in the mix here.

  • Reply Katie |

    I also look at a spreadsheet I made in Excel everyday. I have one that’s the projected budget for the rest of the year, and another one that is strickly for the debtors, how much I owe them, with a nifty calculation of the interest I am paying and a calculation of the total debt. Each time I make a payment, I enter it into the spreadsheet and I see the balances go down.

    I have also gotten really specific about my debt reduction goals. Instead of simply saying, “I want to get out of debt” or “I want to pay off debt”, I have a timeline on when I want SINGLE debts paid off. Right now my timeline is July for Mohawak and June for Capital One.

    Paying off Capital One by June is going to take a lot of focus on my part. By looking at the numbers everyday, I remind myself what I really want – which, until it is gone, is to be done with Capital One.

  • Reply Jen |

    Hehe – I think after I turned 25 I started having trouble remembering my age. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. My birthday was a month ago, and just this week I had to do the math (2009 – 1971) to figure out that yes, I really was 38 and not 37. I honestly couldn’t remember.

    As for staying motivated, for me I try to be mindful of my goals. I have moments (lots of them) where I forget and I’ll buy a CD or something. But, I do try to ask myself, “Do you really need this? And will you really, really use it?” Also, the items I’ve been purchasing lately are items that have been on my “to get” list for a while, and things that I will use and do need.

    Fear sort of works for me, but not on a daily basis. What happens is I will get anxious and obsess over something. After a while, however, I will come up with a plan. I tend to analyze things a lot, so when I come up with a plan I like, it will be a plan that I know will work. And that calms me down. I then just follow the plan and tell myself, “Eventually, you’ll reach your goal.”

  • Reply Kev |

    First of all – Hello & Welcome.

    I have to agree with Katie and the others on this one. The key is total focus and I accomplish that by looking at Quicken (which I swear by) and some of my custom spreadsheets every single day. If you want this then you have to change into a goal setting, spreadsheet using, budget keeping, personal finance nerd. I admit… It can be a little rough at first, but it doesn’t take long before it’s totally ingrained into your very being. There is no way I could back to way things were before – there is no way I would ever want to.

    If your not using any kind of personal finance software currently (like Microsoft’s Money or Inuit’s Quicken) then I would recommend it. Quicken was the best fifty dollars I have ever spent.

  • Reply Rags |

    While I do think fear, as the others have mentioned above, is a great motivational tool, I think there’s another emotion that you can use to help you stay on track:


    I’m not talking about the desire to be financially free; you already have that. I’m talking about setting up some event as a reward for yourself once you’ve successfully become debt free (or maybe every 1/4th of the way or so), that way, you can have something to look forward to. “Once my debt is gone, my husband and I will _______________” and you just fill in the blank with whatever you and your husband (don’t forget to include him too =P) finds to be fun. It could be a weekend trip, a day at Disneyland, or whatever else you deem to be rewarding.

    That way, the next time you have the urge to spend, you can think “If I buy this here, it’s going to delay [whatever reward you chose] by [X amount of days].” Your urge to spend will be replaced by the desire to reach your goal.

    Best of luck to you

    – Rags

  • Reply Michael |

    I’m around the same age and forget all the time too, have to do the math. I thought I was the only one!

  • Reply Kev |

    Yeah… I forgot to comment on the age thing. I said something to my fiancee the other day about me being 31 years old, but something didn’t sound right after I said it. I looked at her and said “Wait a minute… Am 31 or 32?!” She looked at me strangely and replied “You’re 32”. My reply back to her was “Huh?! Well that sucks.”

    Its all one big blur anymore…

  • Reply susan |

    Like some of the others, fear is my great motivator, but it only became so as a I got older. When I was your age, I never thought about a budget, but I also was not in debt yet – the things that caused me to go into debt came later…. Anyway, I too have a spreadsheet, which I do by hand and leave on my kitchen table (unless I have company), one for 2009, one for 2008, for 2007). I have all the different debts listed, the monthly totals, payments, finance charges, etc. I look at this very frequently, at least every morning, and plan out which funds go where.
    I really really want to be out of debt and I will make it, unless something catastrophic happens. Once I am debt-free, though, I may have trouble staying motivated, I think, although I need to take the same amount of money and save it for retirement.

  • Reply Beks |

    I have started to use a financial software and it helps the OCD freakshow in me stay concentrated. And Kev, I’m pretty sure those words have come out of my mouth too!

  • Reply DCS |

    In your late 20s you stop remembering and have to figure it out. By your mid 30s you stop caring enough to bother and just say “I was born in 1971” (or whatever) and let the questioners do the math themselves if they want to.

    As for motivation – do a chart (like in Your Money or Your Life) and track expense categories. Eventually it becomes a lifestyle and you stop needing so much motivation. In other words, you don’t need motivation not to buy music because it never occurs to you to buy it in the first place.

  • Reply Rini |

    Yup, spreadsheet. Every day.

    Although for me, it’s less about the fear and more about the “what are we doing? how fast are we doing it? can we do it faster? when will we be done? when will we hit ? how much have we spent on this month? this week? last week? how about this time last year? how will our budget change when our rent goes up? when I get that raise? when child support inevitably rises?”

    So I guess “less fear, more obsession”.

    Our first ~6 months of debt reduction, I balanced our accounts AT LEAST once a week. Every weekday for certain accounts. I made plans and projection and budgets and trackers.. every view I could dream up. I still have two different debt snowball projectors that I keep up-to-date. (One uses simple estimation, but pulls its data directly from our financial tracker; the other is about as accurate as I can make it, but requires manual updates from time to time.)

  • Reply Dara |

    For us, it was constant communication on where we were at with our debt payoff. It was very motivating to see small debts paid off, then moving on to the next one.

    Also, Quicken used properly, is a great tool. But, just telling your money where to go each month is the key to being successful at debt reduction, and becoming wealthy. No matter what tool you choose to use.

    Listen to Dave Ramsey on Fridays. Hear all those weird people call in debt free, and that will for sure motivate you to keep on track.

    We paid off over $48,000 in about 18 months. It can be done!

  • Reply Beks |

    Dara – what an inspiration! $48,000? I couldn’t do that because of my mortgage but wow! I wish I could!

So, what do you think ?