My First Month of Living Alone (Again)

January 30, 2012

I have a confession to make. In December, when I was looking at apartments and saving for a deposit and my first month’s rent, I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I could save enough for January 1st, or for February’s rent, and I definitely didn’t think I’d have any extra money to put on my credit card debt.

I couldn’t stop worrying about what I’d be moving away from. For six months before, I had been putting an average of approx. $1,666 per month on my debt. Fearing that I’d only be able to pay the minimums, once I was forking out for rent and utilities, I almost didn’t want to move. I knew I wanted my own space again but I was paralyzed with the fear that I would once again move, go on a spending rampage to fill my home, and wind up with more debt.

If you’re new to my blog, you may not know that that’s exactly how I racked up my credit cards. In 2008, I went through a breakup that quite literally broke me. I moved out on my own for the first time and made myself feel better by buying all new furniture, accents, etc. for my home. Despite then having a beautiful home to entertain in, I went out and partied. A lot.¬†Then I took a trip to Toronto and Montreal, moved to Toronto for a few months, and finally came back home completely maxed out.

Rather than spinning my broken record (you know, the one that talks about how being maxed out changed me), I’ll just say this: instead of being scared to move out, I should have recognized how different I am now compared to that girl. I don’t party every weekend, I never visit shopping malls, and I even avoid Amazon (which used to be my biggest addiction).

This isn’t to say that I don’t have a list of things I’d love to buy. I know I want a mirror hanging in my front hallway, a cream-coloured rug and new coffee tables in my living room, and artwork for every room in the apartment. But I don’t need it. Wiping out my credit card is much more important than buying a new surface to put my laptop on.

Because of this attitude, I’ve survived my first month. My cash budget has stopped me from swiping my credit card and from having any more fun than I can afford to have. And it has also helped me put just over $400 on my credit card debt; that’s on top of the $532 I make in other loan payments. What a great start to 2012!

How was January for you?

  • A+J January 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Great job, C! January has gone pretty well. We went *way* over in food budget, but I was doing a really strict meal plan (organic chicken, wild-caught salmon, lots of organic produce, etc) so hopefully we can rein it in this next month. I successfully started our automatic savings plan for the house ($1650) and I believe we’ll actually have another $200 to throw on top of that. Just gotta double check our figures tomorrow!

    February should be pretty good, too, except we have a day trip to go snow tubing with friends, and that could get expensive…

    • Cait January 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      What a great start to your house fund, A! I still want to see your savings goal drawing :)

  • Amy January 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

    So inspiring! Glad everyone is going well. I’ve been cost-cutting and am excited to drop a $500 payment on my credit card for February. I also fell in love with a super basic spreadsheet for budgeting, which I find so liberating and empowering!

    • Cait January 30, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Did you create this spreadsheet, Amy, or find it online? Would love to see it, if you’re willing to share!

  • LittleFrugalista January 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Amazing! As for your past few years, sounds much like mine. Friggin breakups, eh? I did the same thing – went on a crazy spending spree because I ‘deserved’ it and went off to Paris for a month. I think the turning point was in Paris when I realized that my life has become all about consumption. Now I’m just like you and am far happier paying off a chunk of my loans than buying something I want. Kudos!

    • Cait January 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Wow, we used to be crazy! Although, I still don’t regret anything that I did. Interest or no interest, I am who I am now because of things I did in the past. I’ll never regret my trips to Toronto/Montreal, just as you shouldn’t regret Paris. :)

  • belowhermeans January 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Cait, that’s so awesome. You inspire me a lot. Is that photo at the top of a wall in your apartment? It’s pretty!

    • Cait January 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      What a nice thing to say! Yes, I should’ve explained the photo in my post, haha… I put those up over my couch this weekend.

  • mznatural January 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I think you’re my new fav finance blogger… one because you inspire me and two because I feel like we’re at a very similar stage in our financial journey. Still wished you lived in Toronto (of course for my own greed) but am happy to hear you had an awesome January and are right where you are because this is where you’re supposed to be. It sounds like you jump started 2012 on the right foot :)

    • Cait January 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Oh, trust me – I wish I was still in Toronto, too! Thank you for posting such a nice comment. :)

  • Ashleigh January 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Wow, I really needed to read this. I am in a state of mortal terror right now, as I am moving in the next few days and it is taking every cent I have to make it happen! I am so scared I am not going to be able to do it, there is just no room in my budget for error. And I have this little thought in the back of my head that I’m just gonna rush out and buy a bunch of crap for the new space that I want but don’t need. But I know that’s not the truth. The reality is I can make do with what I have, because like you said, putting money down on my credit card is so much more rewarding than shiny new coffee table. Getting back to that place where I feel in control of my life rather than at the mercy of my budget is going to be so sweet!

  • Monthly Update – January 2012 | Digging Out and Up January 31, 2012 at 4:03 am

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  • Country Girl January 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Yay! I’m glad to hear the cash only budget is working so well for you. I am in the same boat as you with the wishlist a mile long of all the things I want for my house. It’s tough keeping the cards in my wallet sometimes.

    The debt repayments you’ve made so far this month are impressive. Keep up the good work girl!