I've done it. I've paid off my credit card debt in full! My goal for 2015 was met WAY earlier than I'd expected, thanks to my tax refund!
So what now? First, I'm focusing on building my Rainy Day/Sunny Day funds. I want to build up my Theatre Tickets funds again, and save a separate $1k from my Emergency Funds/Savings for mini-emergencies/unexpected in a category I call "Mayhem." I've seen others refer to it as Gremlins. Then, I want to build up a new appliances/appliance repair fund (separate from Mayhem and Emergencies). I am hoping these will keep me from touching the real Emergency Fund/Savings so I can accrue that (eventually) to the 3-months, then 6-months, then 8-months savings recommended by Suze. After Mayhem and Appliances, I will focus on getting out of student loan debt so I can really and truly be debt free.
This is going back to the method I learned in The Debt-Free Spending Plan. I'm still making the monthly payments on my student loans, of course, and that won't change. But the interest rate is low at 3.25% so I will keep paying the "minimum", if you will, and build myself a nice, fluffy safety cushion. I know at some point, just as with the credit card debt, I will start itching to be completely debt free - could be next month or in 2 years. For now, seeing category balances increase is what I truly value.
In other news, so far so good with Sylvia's job. She's a bit tired, as she is working 5 days a week while still in school and still dancing and working at the dance studio, but she's happy, and I'm proud. Riley and I are spending more time together in the kitchen, which we enjoy. Our family time with all 3 of us is getting more and more limited, so we just enjoy it when we can. (It's also nice that the girls are enjoying their time together more now that there's less of that, too!)
Oddly, it's not giddy excitement I feel that I'm consumer debt-free, but rather, content and relief. Unlike previous times, I'm pretty confident that I have slayed the credit card monster for good, so I thought I would be jumping for joy. Okay, maybe I am not as confident as I'd like to be, but that's exactly why I want to hoard as much as cash as possible for a while. I know how life goes.
Still, I feel like this time is different mostly because the girls are so on board with me. They've been totally supportive of every step I've taken to better our financial future. They offer to pay for their wants upfront, they agree that I need to make my own retirement a priority, and they stay within the budget. It might be too much to hope that they'll live a better financial life than me from the beginning, but at least now, I have more confidence that I can be of value to them if they turn to me for financial advice someday.
And hey, they'll also know that I have been there, done that, for almost any financial mistake they could make!