Figured Out the Funk

Day 105 | $50,944 paid | $39,773 till freedom

I think I figured out why I’ve been feeling like crap lately. And, by the way, big thanks for all of your comments –I really appreciate the encouragement and support. Anyway, looking back, I can point to the Monday morning after Thanksgiving when I started really feeling out of it. I had just paid $16k on my loans that was funded by the sale of my second car and motorcycle, and I had just written the post where I expressed some frustration over spending $50k on a piece of paper instead of on a sports car. I had just enjoyed a relaxing, fun-filled four-day weekend. And then there I was, back to another exhausting 55+ hour workweek. Now, 55 hours probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but when it’s filled with back-to-back meetings all day long, working through lunch and dinner, and receiving 150 emails a day and sending 100+, it can become a grind, no matter how exciting some of the stuff is that I get to work on.

Before NMHD, I had come to view work as a gas station. It’s where I get fuel–money–to fund my fun. Before NMHD, it was a place where I went to get more fuel for travel, nights out on the town, dates, a second car, my motorcycle, my road bike, my hobbies. I wouldn’t say that work is where I go for fulfillment, or where I go to make a difference in the world.

When I went back to work on Monday, I was going back to the gas station to work for more fuel. But for the past three months, that fuel has not been funding any fun, and that became painfully clear during the Thanksgiving weekend when I paid down $16k of my loans that was partially funded by the sale of one thing that provided me with a lot of fun–the motorcycle. And looking forward to the next seven months, my workdays will be providing me with only more fuel to pay down the rest of my student loans.

It’s a massive mentality shift. Work used to mean money for fun. Now work means money for loans. It’s completely demotivating, and that’s what has led to this malaise, this funk that I’ve been in.

But I think that identifying the source of the malaise is the most critical step in solving the problem. Now that I recognize the problem and its cause, I can start the work of shifting my mentality for the next seven months. No, I’m not getting the fuel I want right now, but I’m getting the fuel I need.

Now, of course, this whole discussion begs a much larger question: if–and that’s a major “if”–I can find a way to be happy with getting by on $40k/yr and the lifestyle associated with that level of spending, do I need a job that pays six figures? Maybe, maybe not. I do want a family at some point, after all–not now, and not in the short-term, but eventually, yes. And from what I hear, families are not cheap.

NYE Plans Established
Speaking of fuel for fun, it’s time to start planning New Year’s Eve. There’s no way I’m sitting this one out–I’m simply not. Not to save $65 to $85.

I’ve decided to go with three of my good buddies to a hotel party in town. It’s $45 to get in and it’s a cash bar. The fourth guy has a room at the hotel already with some other friends, so right now we remaining three are in the midst of debating whether or not to spring for a hotel room where we can crash afterwards. A room is $120, so split three ways, it’s $40/each. Alternatively, a cab back up north to where we live is $60, so that’s $20/each split three ways.

I’m actually in favor of getting the room because we can easily save that incremental $20 by putting a bottle in the room so we don’t have to pay for drinks at the party itself.  I’ll bring the flask, we  can order Cokes/Sprites at the bar, and just do flask refill runs throughout the night. Genius.

Instant Popularity
If you ever want to feel really, really popular, give something of value away for free on Craigslist. You guys all know about my distaste of selling things on Craigslist, so when I wanted to donate a shelf and floor lamp but couldn’t coordinate a pick-up with the local goodwill, I decided to just let it go for free on Craigslist instead of going through the pain of listing it and dealing with flakes and hagglers.

I posted the ad and included some pics and within ten minutes, I had seven text messages, five phone calls, and four emails, all from different people. Insane! The most popular man alive.

After the first person to claim them flaked out (seriously?!), I gave the items away to a nice couple who came  by within 30 minutes  of their initial text. It felt really, really good to give the stuff away. They were clearly appreciative. After I helped them disassemble the shelf to fit it in their car and they shook my hand in gratitude, I told them Merry Christmas–my first  Christmas wish of the season. It felt great. When I took the other stuff to Goodwill earlier this weekend, it felt okay, but definitely not as good as this experience.

Buffalo Exchange
Speaking about the other stuff that went to goodwill, I took Zeona up on her suggestion and tried to sell the jeans to Buffalo Exchangeinstead of taking them to goodwill. The six pairs of jeans were in great condition and name brand–Lucky, A&F, Gap. Buffalo Exchange was interested in only two of the six pairs, and they offered me $21 total. I was extremely disappointed–I had easily spent $150 between the two of them. I pushed aside my shock aside and agreed to it. The “buyer” told me to take the receipt to the cashier on the other side of the store. I turned around to see where she was pointing, and I saw a huge line with 20+ people in it. First they lowballed the hell out of me and then they expected me to spend 30 minutes of my Saturday to stand in line for 21 measly dollars? Pass. I told the buyer no thanks and got my jeans back and took them to goodwill along with all of the other stuff.

The garage is now clean, and my life is a little less cluttered. Feels good.

Christmas Shopping Complete
I hopped online today and knocked out my Christmas shopping for my parents and sister in about ten minutes. They had very easy lists–nothing obscure or hard to find. My parents read this blog, so I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but financially speaking, I spent $400 on my family last year for  Christmas and this year I spent $120. They’ll appreciate whatever I get them, and in this case, the items were directly from their lists, so I should be in pretty good shape. And like I said in an earlier point, I won’t be there to see any disappointed looks on their faces when they unwrap their gifts from me!

Actually, I take that back. My sister moved from Chicago to San Antonio for her job a month or so ago, and I’m driving down to check out the lights on the River Walk and bake cookies with her this weekend. I’ll be giving her gift to her then, too, so I might want to consider prepping myself for maybe one disappointed look.

$120 is $120 more than the budget allows for, but it really wasn’t painful to do the shopping. Again, I know they’re  going to appreciate their gifts.

That Is Low
Some chick has been using a dating service to get free meals. For shame. That’s messed up. Of all the things somebody could do to get a hand-out…

Another Wedding…Or Not
I got a Save the Date for a friend and former HBS classmate’s wedding in April. I cursed aloud when I opened it up and saw the wedding was before July (I wonder how many people curse when they get a Save the Date?), but I went to go put the date on my calendar, anyway, as I still haven’t made a decision on wedding attendance yet. It turned out that it falls on the same weekend as Luke and Faith’s wedding. Theirs is in Chicago and this one is in Dallas. So I guess that’s lucky? I’m not sure how many people are happy with conflicting weddings–I’m in such a weird spot right now!

USAA Gave Me Some Money
My dad was an officer in the Navy, so I get to use USAA for my auto insurance policy. They give a dividend to their members every year, and this year they gave me 47 bucks. Christmas come early!

For more than 89 years, USAA has been there for our members when they need us. This year, despite being the costliest catastrophe year in USAA’s history, we continued to maintain our financial strength. As a result, we are pleased to put money back in your pocket with this year’s auto dividend.

Work Update

Bonus: something given or paid over and above what is due (
We’re covering a lot ground here, so I’ll sign off after this last topic. I can’t go into specifics, but during my eight or so weeks ramping up in my new role in business development, I’ve brought in enough money for the company that it could fund a Harvard MBA education for many, many people. I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented but, well, maybe I would…

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that all of the hours at the office have not been spent in vain from a results standpoint–I’m definitely driving for results and making a substantial bottom-line impact. But the big question still remains: will this be reflected in my bonus? Again, I can’t go into specifics because this blog is barely anonymous and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist (are you smarter than a fifth grader?) to figure out who I am and where I work  and I don’t want to be fired for critical remarks, but let’s just say that the bonus where I work is just that–a bonus. If I get one, then bonus! The bonus is always a gamble–pretty much by definition. Unfortunately, this gamble has a huge impact on my goal. I’m shooting for $12k pre-tax.


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6 responses to “Figured Out the Funk

  1. Brandy

    It is hard working when all you are doing with that extra money is paying off debt instead of playing. I totally understand the funk! I am almost done paying off all my non-mortgage debt and I never want to buy another thing again that I cannot outright buy, including a house. I think it will be so freeing to not have debt and have money in the bank so when I am ready to get a new car, I can just buy it. In less than 2 weeks, I will have my car paid for and my husband’s student loan paid off. I am so pumped! You will start getting more excited too when you get closer to the end.

    I feel like I sound like a cheerleader on your site, but you can do it!!! You are almost there! You are doing great! Don’t give up!!

  2. Christeen

    I have commented before that you had set yourself a very audacious goal so there are bound to be some downs along the way. What is good is that you have recognised it, thought about it, but not fallen into the trap of giving up. GREAT!!!

    As for your MBA, I am sure you really know that this is an investment in your future. Yes it sounds like a lot of money but in the scheme of things it will be totally worth the effort. You could be in the position of my husband who has no formal qualification in his field of accounting and now at 48 it is starting to become an issue. He left school and did his National Service in The Netherlands and straight after that he got a job in an office doing accounts. He worked there for nearly 21 years and then we decided to move to Australia(where I’m from) and he is now working in the first job he got when we arrived nearly 7 years. Just recently there was an amalgamation with another section of government and his section and the staff came over. In that was a new Assistant Accountant. He isn’t really performing and they have asked my hubby to do more in that area to make sure it is performed correctly after the AA made a huge mistake. While my hubby likes the idea of doing more he has been told that he can’t be made the AA as he doesn’t have the degree needed. Now it is starting to annoy my hubby because he knows that the AA position is nearly double his salary. His new supervisor is pretty sympathetic and has suggested he start a study. He thinks he is too old but his supervisor started her degree when she was nearly 40 with 2 young children after a divorce. So you never know he may end up with a HECS debt in his 50’s!

    As for Christmas presents, I’m sure your parents will be happy with whatever you got them. I’m guessing they are probably proud of your goal and knowing that you will be financially secure. Afterall you did write that they put you through college so that would have required some sacrifices from them, so knowing that you are secure is a present in itself. I’m sounding like an old mother aren’t I? Sorry.

  3. Kevin

    I totally understand what you mean by funk. You have made huge huge strides though in completely changing your mindset on how you live your life now versus just a short few months ago in your journey to become debt free. I do think that you need to reward yourself from time to time. You deserve it especially after working 55 hour weeks and making a gigantic payment of $16k to your debt. That is huge. Make sure you reward yourself whether it be some Go Karting to replace the feeling of motorcycling or splurging on a new gadget, clothes, or an awesome night out no holds barred with a chick or your buddies. Keep up the good work and thank you again for being such a huge inspiration to us all.

  4. GT

    Good on you for working our what was making you funky.

    I’d go the room split with your boys for NYE.

    And I hope all your hard work pays off at bonus time.

  5. A

    did you think that $21 to stand in line for 30min is an hourly wage of $42 an hour (more than your x-scaping side gig) not saying donation is bad, it’s great. but I wouldn’t ignore money if you are on this pay down roll. keep de-cluttering and more money will come your way!

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