(Mis)Adventures in Side Hustling Vol. 3

Hello, and welcome to my blog where I document our family’s journey to a positive net worth. Currently I’m reliving my misadventures in side hustling because I’m all about self-deprecation and it makes for good story telling, so why not?

In late September on my commute to work, on a rare occasion I had the radio playing. Even rarer there was a commercial on and I listened absently. They were advertising a grocery deliver service called what I thought was Shipped. Wonder how that works? I thought and promptly forgot all about it.

A few days later I was scrolling my Instagram feed and saw a post asking if anyone had any side hustle suggestions. I quickly read through the comments because I’m always looking for extra income. At the time I was still waiting for my dreaded haunted house side gig and not looking forward to it.

One of the commenters gushed about Shipt. Aha! That’s what it’s called! I forgot I wanted to look in to that! I thought. Through further reading I learned that this woman made $5 per delivery + 7.5% of the order total + tips. “It adds up quickly!” she added. Hmm.

I found out that Shipt was hiring in my area so I applied online. In a couple of days I had an interview where I recorded myself answering a couple of questions. There were some essay questions: “Imagine a customer has organic raspberries on her order but all you see in the organic section is one carton of organic raspberries with a bit of mold. Please write a text to the customer explaining the situation.” One of the dreaded recorded questions: “Why do you think you would make a good addition to the Shipt team?”

After about a week I received a welcome packet which included a Shipt tee shirt and a company credit card. I was excited about this last bit because I figured that I would be buying the groceries and being reimbursed. I had plans to set up a separate bank account with $500 in it to replenish with reimbursements and to take my profits from once a week.

I was happy to learn the process was much easier than that. All I do is grocery shop with the app, scan the bar codes to make sure I have the exact item the customer requested, pay with the company card, and collect my paycheck once a week! It’s all very seamless.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, of course. That’s why I’m writing this post! Now, I want to mention that while there is definitely a learning curve to being a personal shopper I feel as though some of these things I didn’t know could have been learned through research or reading the weekly newsletters sent out instead of just jumping right in like I did.

What I didn’t know right away was that when you add yourself to the delivery schedule, the hour window is the hour of delivery not the hour worked. For that reason, I was very late on my first 2 orders.

I also didn’t know that the items on the grocery list give you a location ID which corresponds to the aisle, the shelf, and the position on the shelf. Had I known this I wouldn’t have been near tears in the freezer section desperately looking for chipped beef. I had no idea what chipped beef was much less have the ability to locate it in a grocery store and deliver it to a customer.

Now I can find anything as long as it’s in stock!

My absolute worst experiences with Shipt involve not being able to locate the customers to deliver their orders. This story I’m about to relay is extremely embarrassing, and I really don’t want to share it.

Here goes.

I received a pretty simple order: A bunch of diet coke, bleach, and sugar. The customer was not responsive to my text messages but that was okay since the order was easy. We have some standard text messages we send out: I like to first thank the customer for their order, and let them know what to expect in terms of contacting them if I have problems with their order. I then shop the order, ask about substitutions if some of their items were out of stock, check out, and then let them know I’m on the way. I sent all these messages with no reply.

A lot of our Shipt orders deliver out to the country. Our customers are pretty savvy because not only are they saving time by not doing their own shopping, but many of them live pretty far from the store so they’re also saving on gas.

That was the case with this order as well. I was looking for a house number and having the hardest time finding it. By process of elimination, I narrowed it down to a little yellow house, but the house had no house number on it.

There was a car in the driveway so I knocked at the door. No answer. I tried contacting the customer again by text and phone but got no answer. I went to a neighbor’s house and asked if they knew where I could find the house number on my order but they weren’t sure either. They thought it could be the little yellow house because there was a little old lady that lived there, but her name didn’t match the name on my order.

They advised me that there was another house behind the house on the other side of the yellow one (boy this is getting hard to follow even for me and I lived it!). They advised me that there was a dirt road I would have to take to get to the home in the back. So, off I go to the other side of the yellow house and found a young man working on a car in the driveway. I asked him if the dirt road next to his house leads to another home behind his. He said yes, so off I go on the dirt road.

God, this is embarrassing.

I drove down the dirt road and it’s horribly rutted. I prayed my car wouldn’t get stuck in the mud and that I wouldn’t bend the frame of my vehicle taking this “road”.  I glanced behind me and noticed the young man standing there watching me and a woman has joined him. His mother. The guy jogs up to me and says “Um, this is our back yard.”

After completely dying inside, I apologized profusely and proceeded to leave these people’s yard as their dog attacked my car.

Eventually I got a call back from the customer. The story was the customer put in an order for her grandma and forgot to let grandma know to expect someone at the door. The customer then went back to work and forgot about it. Grandma was a bit of a recluse and was hiding from me in her little yellow house. Granddaughter let grandma know I was safe. She let me in and offered me ice cream and beer 🙂

I have learned a lot about Shipt shopping since that mortifying night.  I now allow myself one shop a day after work. It’s quite relaxing; I compare it to doing a puzzle. I look where I need to go, find the product, scan it, and get a satisfying ‘beep’ and the item disappears from my list.

As long as I allow myself plenty of time it’s really a fun job. Any time I stray from that rule I get super stressed out and start shaking from the anxiety!

What happens if I’m late to deliver an order? Well, the customer often doesn’t mind at all. But Shipt keeps track of how your customers rate you, how often you reject orders that are offered to you (so you aren’t picking and choosing only large ones with a bigger payout), and how often you are late. The worse your stats, the less shops you are offered.

I like this rule because it makes you desperate for any offer you finally get (I’ve been there!) so that you will do anything to not screw it up.

If you are considering becoming a Shipt shopper, you are probably doing your research if you’re reading this. Good for you! Once you become a shopper, join the Shipt Shopper lounge immediately. There’s so much great information there.

A gem I learned recently is that once I have an order I should remove myself from the schedule so I don’t have to reject more orders that come in while I’m shopping the first one. Remember, rejecting orders would hurt my rating. That’s good information because if I accept the offer to prevent damage to my acceptance rate, I’d probably be late on both which would do much more damage to my ratings.

I’m so glad I have most of the kinks worked out now. When I get paid from Shipt I put 30% back to save for income taxes (Shipt is a 1099 employer), I fill my gas tank, and the rest goes toward Navient.

If you follow me on Instagram you will see a breakdown every pay day of how much I was able to send to Navient.

I’m so grateful I came across this side hustle, I really enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

December 2017 Statement of Net Worth Upate

Hello and welcome to our December 2017 net worth update! We were able to pay off our Equinox lease this month and I am so excited! Cue the confetti! We paid $475 a month on this debt and it is going to free up so much money in the future. Even though it was a 0% interest debt, we went forward with paying it off because of the sheer amount of money it would free up.

That’s our big update for this month! We had some short comings as well that were kind of sort of planned. We usually do splurge for Black Friday so we went ahead and did that but we didn’t spent very much at all. We got a couple of Christmas presents so those are taken care of, my husband got a new recliner for his game room, and I bought some Hunter rain boots and a North Face jacket. I also got an Ancestry DNA kit for myself which I have been wanting for eons.

But, even though we had our little splurge session above (about $500 worth) we were still able to pay off debt which I am ecstatic about. Without further ado, on to the breakdown!

December 2017 Breakdown

Assets

Looks like the home is on the rise again! When I checked Zillow.com our home is projected to raise 7.2% in the next year bringing it to $90,000! Don’t mind if I do!

The car insurance fell a bunch because we paid the car insurance this month. I have our car insurance come out of our credit card automatically every 6 months, so we get a 5% discount from the insurance company for paying in a lump sum and we earn 1.5% from our credit card rewards program for paying it through them! Discounts on discounts? Yes, please.

The Savings – Emergency account is growing unusually because I have been chucking my tax savings from Shipt in to it since I don’t have a Savings – Tax  account currently. Hubby is also earning bonuses now and he wants to open another savings account to keep that separate for big ticket items in the future. Not sure where he’s going with that, but it’s his bonus so he can do what he pleases. Anyway, I think a trip to the bank is in the future in order to set up a Savings – Bonus and Savings – Tax account so we can track these more accurately.

All other assets are fluctuating as normal.

Liabilities

We have two stars of the show over on this side of the ledger. The first being that the Equinox is at a zero balance! Hooray! Seriously, where is the confetti?

The second is *drumroll* our Navient account for the first time EVER in the 14 months that I have been tracking our net worth for the world to see did not grow! We are now in for 11 more months of increased payments due to the reevaluation of my income based repayment plan, and Shipt looks like it’s something I’m going to be doing for the long haul. I feel really comfortable that I have worked out the kinks in my learning curve and I know exactly what I’m doing now.

I’m pulling an average of one order per weeknight 4 nights a week, and 2-3 orders on Saturdays which makes it possible for me to pay $50-$75 per week on my student loan in addition to my regular monthly payment.

The Visa went up a bit because my hubby took off without me to make his recliner purchase so he didn’t have the credit card with him that we pay off every month. And I haven’t paid it off because I’m still a sort of naughty human who is trying to break the “debt is okay” mentality.

Debt Pay Off

I’m not sure how much debt we will be paying off this month with Christmas coming up, but I do think we are going to be paying some extra.

Our smallest 3 debts as of 12/1/2017 are:

  1. Navient #9 – $939 (6.5% interest)
  2. Home Depot – #2,450 (0% interest)
  3. Personal Loan – $2,75 (9.5% interest)

This is where I’m going to stray from the Dave Ramsey debt snowball method. Home Depot isn’t costing me anything to pay off slowly, and I’ve broken this down to an amount to bring the balance to $0 way before the promotional period expires for our new furnace. In or around April I may start focusing on this debt because we need a new central A/C unit. The one we have currently uses so much electricity so I think replacing it will pay for itself and I plan on using the 0% option again when that time comes.

I mentioned last month that I’m not particularly motivated to throw even more money at Navient #9 than I already am because it doesn’t change my payment in the short term.

I am choosing to work on our personal loan next. It has the highest interest rate that we currently pay, and paying it off will reduce our bills $150 per month for good. Our CP Visa account is also 9.5% but once we pay extra money on to it, it’s possible, and maybe even probable that we will just re-spend that money so it won’t necessarily stay paid down. However, once the personal loan is done, and depending on what’s going on with how long that takes we may work on the CP Visa Account or Home Depot next. But, that’s at least 2-3 months in the future. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

I am also still waiting on the 0% balance transfer option from Capital One which just has not wanted to spawn for me! If that comes available, we will be getting rid of both CP Visa and the personal loan! If that were to happen, I’d probably be forced to work on my student loans next since some of them have the next highest interest rates at 6.5% and lower.

But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Conclusion

We were able to pay off $1,518 worth of debt this month and we increased our net worth $3,359 in one month! Our net worth is now $(43,049). Since we started our journey our net worth has increased almost $25,000! That’s amazing for only a little over one year! I am betting that we will become worthless in 2018! 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!

Dolores

November 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello and welcome to our November 2017 Net Worth Update. This is an exciting update because this is the month that reflects the changes I decided to make in October. I signed up to be a personal shopper through Shipt, and decided that any money I made over the amount to pay for gas and save money for taxes would go toward my student loans!

This is also the last month with my tiny $90.61 minimum payment so I really think that this should be the last month that any of my liabilities grow instead of gradually coming down and dropping off.

Nov 2017 SNW

Our home is the asset that dropped the most this month, but that’s nothing compared with November 2016 when it dropped over $1,000!

Our Christmas Club account matured November 1st and was added to our regular savings account. We are going to use the funds at the end of November for Black Friday shopping, after paying off a debt of course. More about that below.

Our Savings – Car Insurance fund also dropped because my hubby borrowed money from it for a table top arcade system he’s been wanting. The game system is pretty cool, and it’s this consideration for each other’s wishes that makes our debt free journey possible. It can’t be all work and no play so I’m okay with this every once in a while. We will be replacing the lost funds at the end of this month and paying our car insurance December 1st. The charge will actually hit our credit card November 11th and earn us 1.5% cash back and we will pay the credit card December 1st.

Liabilities

Only one account grew this month: Navient, and by a whole lot less than usual! That’s because every week I paid an extra $25-$50 with the money I earned from Shipt. As of December 1st my minimum monthly payment increases from $90.61/mo to $217.47/mo. So I really don’t think we should see this one growing anymore.

Speaking of which, I have been really reviewing my statements lately for my Navient Posts and I have student loans that have grown SO MUCH. Ones that started out at $6,000 and are $8,000 now. I think I’m going to make a post about each one and how it’s grown.

In happier news, check out the Equinox account! We had money left over after paying all the November bills and we paid an additional $554 on the Equinox! Once this bill is gone we will save $475/mo until we have to get a replacement car in March. We haven’t been saving up for a replacement car because we’ve been focusing on debt pay off instead. Even though the Equinox doesn’t charge us interest I chose to pay this one off because it frees up so much money per month.

Debt Payoff

At the end of this month, we are planning on paying off the Equinox and then using the rest of the money for Black Friday shopping. This is when we will get a start on our Christmas shopping and really treat ourselves to whatever we want this one day a year. Last year I got 2 boxes of Tupperware, a crock pot set for keeping our Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners warm, leggings, boots, a basket set with fabric liners, and a couple of chenille knit throws which I adore.

I haven’t for sure decided the next debt I want to attack, but I think it will be the CP Personal Loan. Both it and the CP Visa are my highest interest loans with 9.5% each. I really looked forward to doing a balance transfer through Capital One but I haven’t gotten an offer in so long I’ve kind of given up on that option.

If I were to get the balance transfer option, I would probably then start working on my debts in the typical debt snowball fashion: from smallest to largest. As of right now my smallest 3 debts are:

  1. Equinox – $800 (0% interest/ $475 per month)
  2. Navient Account #9 – $1,165 (6.5% interest)
  3. Home Depot – $2,625 (0% interest/ $175 per month)

As of right now, my motivation isn’t particularly high to work on Navient any more than I already am with my side hustle. For one, I already give it extra money and for two, this debt doesn’t “hurt” as much. It should! While paying it off doesn’t make my payments any less, intrinsically I know it betters my future so hopefully my feelings on that will change in the future.

As for the next couple of months I’m not sure if there will be a lot going on in the debt pay off department what with our annual Black Friday splurge and Christmas spending and recovery coming up, but we will see.

I’ve also been thinking about adding a line item to our debt snowball to get rid of the PMI on our home loan. Right now our mortgage payment includes $54.54 going in to escrow to pay our private mortgage insurance. This will stay on our loan until our balance is at 78% of the original value of our home according to the appraisal done when we purchased it. Our home appraised for $72,000 then and our balance is now just under $62,000. We would have to have a mortgage balance of $56,160 in order for the PMI to fall off on its own and without us beeding to pay for a second appraisal. We are currently $5,621 short of that. Do you guys have any thoughts about accelerating our mortgage principal payment to get rid of PMI? We would of course continue paying the same mortgage amount we have been all along so that $54.54 a month saved would go right on the principal. So the $5,621 would save us a ton of interest over the life of the loan, and then the $54.54 extra every month thereafter would also save us a ton. I’m seriously thinking about it!

Conclusion

At the end of October we were able to reduce our debts almost $2,000 and increased our net worth $1,580 for a total net worth of $(46,408)!

Thank you for reading and please check back for more information on my progress paying my student loans down!

XOXO,
Dolores

October 2017 Student Loan Review

For a long while I have wanted to closely observe and document how my student loans grow every month. In October 2016 I started my blog documenting our family’s journey to a positive net worth, and here I was able to list my Navient account as a whole and see exactly how much interest was being added every month. Prior to 10/4/2016 my head was in the sand. I had no idea what I owed and every time I was forced to look I would be shocked to find that the balance had grown by hundreds, if not thousands, from the last time I looked.

If you want to change something the best way to start in my opinion is by tracking it. Since we started tracking our net worth it has grown $20,000 in a year some by hard work and some luck, which I think were caused by the magic of tracking the changes and reacting to them.

I started this same habit by looking at my loans individually. I started writing down all of my student loans and their balances but I continued to make my minimum payment, which was based off my income. If you have been reading my blog, you know that my minimum payment was about $125 too little each month. I wasn’t even keeping up with interest!

While I was tracking how each individual account was growing, I struggled with coming up with a clear and concise way to display it to my readers. Also, I may have been a little discouraged because I was still working on catching up on our regular monthly bills, and I had a few smaller bills to take care of on my debt snowball.

A couple of things came together to really get me encouraged to start chipping away at this debt. And I do mean chipping! I am making very small jabs at this debt now, but I’m beyond excited that I’m finally doing something.

First, a person on the Instagram debt free community recommended Shipt as a side hustle to a woman that I follow. That morning during my commute to work I heard a commercial on the radio advertising Shipt for our local grocery store. It didn’t occur to me then to look in to it but I was a little curious so that post reminded me that I wanted to research it. It turns out Shipt is a grocery delivery service! I signed up to be a shopper: I get a grocery list on the app, scan each item as I grab it, pay for it with a company credit card, and deliver it to the address provided in the app.

That was a very readers’ digest version of the job, but I plan to make another post in the near future about the side hustles I have attempted in the last year.

Shipt pays me $5 for every delivery I do, plus 7.5% of the order total, plus tips. It can add up fast! My very first paycheck I brought home $76.97 after completing  shops the week before. I put $30 gas in my tank, put 30% away for taxes, and paid $25 extra to my smallest student loan!

From then I made a goal: Deliver as many orders as I can until I get to $100 and divide it as follows: 30% tax, less than $30 gas, and $25-$50 extra payment on my student loans.

But still I struggled with how to document and share the journey? During one of my drives to a delivery last night, I started talking out loud outlining my spreadsheet and got it figured out. I came home and plugged in all my numbers while watching Orange is the New Black and waiting for a load of laundry to dry.

Navient.October 2017 Corrected

Figuring out how much interest is added each month to each individual loan is still a bit wonky, because I can’t find it listed on my statement. The best I could figure was taking the previous statement from Navient and comparing the total interest with the total interest for the new month.

This has been a humbling experience. With the Sum feature on my table, I found that I accrue $121.06 of interest each month AFTER my $90.61 payment. We sort of already knew that, but when I looked at the total unpaid interest from the previous month is when the real shock kicked in. This is a huge hole. This is where not making any payments on your Income Based Repayment Plan will get you. This is where hiding from your problems gets you: Nearly $6,000 of unpaid, capitalized (compounding) interest. I’m going to start doing something about it. Or so I said.

Next, came time for my annual Income Based Repayment Plan income review. After submitting my documents and waiting a couple of months I learned that my minimum payment would be more than doubling! I am going from $90.61 due each month to $217.42. I am pretty happy about this because I can afford this payment, and I’m now being forced to at least keep up with interest if I do nothing more than make the minimum payments. No more glowing red accounts on my net worth statements!

With my side hustle going strong, and my minimum payments increasing, we should see these shrinking over the next year. I’m excited to look back 10/2018 and see where I am then. I hope you’ll be here, too!

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Instagram @networthnegative for daily updates on our debt free journey as well as other shenanigans I get up to.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

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October 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello and Welcome to our October 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update! It’s been 1 year now since I started tracking our net worth. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun. Our net worth has increased nearly $20,000 but our debt has stayed nearly the same (an increase of $80) in one year.

I feel like the next coming year is going to bring some drastic changes because 2016 going in to 2017 was spent cleaning up a lot of small messes like balance transfers and medical bills. As of October 2017 we have only 2 bills that cost us over 6% interest each month: CP Personal Loan and CP Visa, both of which are 9.5%. I’m choosing to concentrate on bills that are first of all a low balance so that they are within firing range, and I’m also keeping my eye on those with interest over 6% because paying these bills off give us more return than investing in the stock market (assuming the average rate of return of 8%).

We have many bills coming within firing range that will free up a good chunk of money which can then go toward the small balance bills or the high interest ones.

I’m getting ahead of myself. On to the breakdown!

October 2017 Corrected

Assets

It looks like our home is finally stopping its wild run to the top of the market this month. That was great! Let’s just hope that is doesn’t fall drastically like it did around this time last year.

Our Dart also fell a bit in value, but nothing too concerning.

Of course our decrease in savings is a reflection of the normal fluctuations seen after we pay bills and start building up funds for the next month.

The only unusual change this month is our Christmas Fund falling $50 instead of the regular increase of $25. I took money out of this account to pay for a birthday gift for my daughter. We were a little short on funds and I didn’t want to use the credit card so this was the solution, and I don’t regret a thing. I think it was a good choice!

Liabilities

All of our liabilities fell as usual in accordance to the regular monthly payments we send each month. We made more of a concentrated effort to give some love to the CP Visa since we have been abusing it as of late.

Navient of course continues to grow, but we have an exciting change coming up that I am going to talk more about in an upcoming post. Basically, my Income Based Repayment Plan was re-evaluated and my payment changed from $90.61 a month to $217.47, an increase of $126.86. Navient grows typically less than $125 a month so this increase will keep me about even with Navient instead of growing each month. I think in 2017 we are going to see these student loans start to be paid off one by one.

Debt Pay Off

After paying all our October bills we had $275 remaining. My husband and I discussed it and decided to put that extra money toward the CP Visa since it was nearly maxed out. We have been very good since then about not using the card at all.

We are also waiting on the 0% balance transfer offer from Capital One. Once we receive that we will move the CP Visa balance as well as the CP Personal Loan balance on to that to pay off in 18 months and save the 9.5% interest.

We also have canceled our trip to Puerto Rico due to the damaged caused by Hurricane Maria since I updated this spreadsheet so at the time of writing this post, we actually have a credit balance on Capital One which frees up money for the next 2 months.

At the end of October I think we should be very close to paying off the Equinox which will free up $475 every month and the Equinox doesn’t need to be turned in until 3/31/2018! We will have about 4 months of no car payment at all so lots of opportunity to work on more debt pay off.

Conclusion

It’s absolutely crazy how much change can happen in 2 short months. In September we made it in to the 50s, and this month we are well in the 40s for our net worth! We had an increase of $2,408 this month for a net worth of $(47,988).

I hope you continue to follow us on our journey to a positive net worth because I feel like we are going to move up in leaps and bounds this year. We are making smarter decisions, making more money, and just overall dong better. I’m excited to see where we go and I hope you’ll be a part of it.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

July 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello, there. Pardon the lack of enthusiasm, I am a bit annoyed at myself. You see, here I am ready to write out my August Statement of Net Worth, and I find I never posted July! And then when I go to post my July Statement of Net Worth I find that I never even wrote it!

So now I’m going to try to write this post a month later, and try to conjure up the level of enthusiasm I would have had, had I wrote it on time! On to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. July

Assets

The house and the Dart continue to fall in value, sadly.

Our savings account appears to have fallen a great deal, but that’s because I ran our numbers just after paying the bills, so the holding account was at $0. Normal fluctuations there.

Liabilities

We have a new account here: My husband opened up an Amazon Store card. This is a card I have been interested in for a while due to the 5% cash back on regular purchases, and special financing options (0%) on purchases greater than $150. He purchased parts to build a new computer. This is 0% interest for the next 6 months, so we will be decreasing this by $100/mo in order to pay it off before the promotion ends.

Other than adding the Amazon account, all our other liabilities decreased nicely! Aside from Navient, of course. I’ll come for that eventually…

Debt Payoff

At the end of June, we were able to pay off RAC: $127.43, and we were able to pay an additional $206 on our next smallest debt, Vermuelen’s! $100 remains to pay on this debt.

Our smallest 3 debts now are:

  1. Vermuelen’s – $100
  2. Radiology – $346
  3. Amazon – $516

You may notice that Radiology is at the same balance as our June 2017 Statement of Net Worth. I had another math error somewhere along the way, this is the correct balance.

We have a very modest increase in net worth of $484. World’s better than an decrease! So we again are at an all time high net worth: $(65,669)!

Thank you so much for following my journey.

XOXO,

Dolores

What Happened When I Stopped Asking “How?”

HowIf you had asked me a few weeks ago how I would go about achieving a goal I would have told you I follow the SMART Principal…. Loosely. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. I didn’t actually know this acronym off the top of my head, I had to look it up. Anyway, my long term focus has always been on what it reasonable and attainable. I realize now what is reasonable and attainable is a matter of opinion and can change drastically.

July was going to be a short month for me, and I wasn’t going to be able to put any extra income toward my debts.

One of the people in the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram posed the question, “What is your goal for July?” Without asking “How?” for the first time ever, I responded “Have something extra to put toward debt.” That was neither reasonable nor attainable for me in that moment because I wasn’t even sure if I was going to have enough to make my minimum payments! Add to that the fact that I enrolled my daughter in driver’s education for a cool $330 (something I had already been putting off for some time), I had no idea how I was going to pull any of this off aside from dipping in to the savings for August bills. This goal was not specific, it was not really measurable ( …greater than $0?), and about the only thing it had going for it was that it was Time-Bound. By the end of July, I would have something extra to put toward debt, I just didn’t ask how I would pull it off, and how much would be a success.

Then funny things started happening.

I got a raise. I got overtime for the first time in 4 years. The Driver’s Education price dropped to $305 and wasn’t due until August. My husband who is typically not cooperative with our debt free journey sold his unused TV for $400 and paid off 2 debts on his own. We now have a surplus for the end of July, and we have already paid $400 extra to debt!

A couple days ago while doing dishes I watched a YouTube video called Napoleon Hill Secrets to Financial Freedom (you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj9Ny3kv0zA&t=310s). The narrator said “Asking ‘how?’ is what failures and losers do. Winners and successful people never ask ‘how?’ first. They define their dream first.’”

This seems to be in direct contrast with the SMART Principal outlined above. Perhaps when I was making sure that my goals were reasonable and attainable all I was really doing was underestimating myself and the universe’s funny way of giving you exactly what you need. Here is a poem written by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse that I discovered while reading The One Thing that sums this up perfectly:

I bargained with life for a penny
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store

For life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menials hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.