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2016 Financial Year in Review // December 2016 Debt Repayment

December 26, 2016
AUTHOR: Emilie
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s start by briefly looking at how I did this last month.

December 2016
November December Change Percent Change
Car Loan (USAA) 16090.32 16130.48 -40.16 -0.24%
ECSI 8180.38 8121.46 58.84 0.71%
Upstart 4002.35 3858.55 143.80 3.59%
Credit Cards
Southwest (Chase) 1904 1719.39 184.61 9.69%
Amazon (Chase) 905.11 0 905.11 100%
Discover 2274 2228 46 2.02%
Combined Debt 33356.16 32057.88 1135.72 33.84%

Okay, so December has felt OMG soooo long money-wise. I don’t have enough self-control for the holidays. Let’s be totally real here. It’s so HARD. I spent way more than I should have and came way under on my money goals. Did you notice I really didn’t share anything on my holiday budget? It’s because I CAN’T KEEP ONE. I know that this is a weakness of mine. Unfortunately, I thought I had this “under control” this year. False. I did not set up enough boundaries for myself. I did really poorly and I know it. Ugh. I will have to be better at it next year. Note to self: your spending was out of control this month. That being said, I still paid off debt, but I would have liked to have paid off another $1000 which if I could have if I had been better.

So how did I do this year?

2016 in Review
January December Change Percent Change
Car Loan (USAA) 0 16130.48 -16130.48 -100%
ECSI 8686 8121.46 564.54 6.50%
Upstart 5860.96 3858.55 2002.41 34.17%
Credit Cards
Southwest (Chase) 4576.42 1719.39 2857.03 62.43%
Amazon (Chase) 1340.34 0 1340.34 100%
Discover 864 2228 -1364 158%
Delta Amex 801.21 0 801.21 100%
Combined Debt with Car 21226.18 32057.88 -10831.70 -51.03%
Combined Debt without Car 21226.18 15927.40 5298.78 24.97%


I started off the year making $38,000, taking home barely $2000 in a city where I paid $800/month in rent and 140/month in parking. Half of my paycheck was spent just for a place to park my body and my car.

Then I got a raise to $48,000/year. This was my salaried income for most of the year. On this salary, I 1. transitioned to living on last month’s income, 2. moved from Baltimore, MD to Raeford, NC, 3. watched my sister graduate from the University of Miami (FL), 4. had mouth surgery that I did not have dental insurance for, 5. visited Columbus, GA (when Casey was at Fort Benning), Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, Naperville, IL, Baltimore, MD, Home in New Jersey, Nashville, TN and San Diego, CA for my first ever FinCon, 6. supported my dad who has been unemployed for most of the year, 7. spent loads of money on maintenance on a car that traveled me far, but wasn’t worth the money, 8. finally caved and took out a car loan on a gently-used 2015 Honda Civic., and … some other things. Overall, it was a busy year.

This month, I transitioned jobs and now make $65000/year from my salaried position, plus any freelance income.

A note on freelance income: Burke Does is now profitable. Not just slightly, nicely. I mean this year. 2016. Burke Does made more money overall than I spent on things I wanted in the months where no money came in. I did a bad job of planning my freelance income and instead let these all go to lifestyle inflation. In 2017, I will be considering my freelance income part of my regular income. I will also have to set aside money for future BD projects- something I did none of this year. I have also decided I can spend ZERO money on blogging education until I’ve made it through EBA and SEO SS in full. Some of my long to-do list is here. Also, I aggressively set aside money for taxes this year, so I’m sure that I will be able to bless myself with a nice chunk towards my debt once my taxes are done.


For the most part, ^that section is the facts. That is some of the things I did. But it’s not how I feel. One thing I really learned this year: it is a lot harder to clean up a mess than it is to make it. Really. I had paid off over $7K of debt before that got side tracked by the second half of the year. If we’re being totally honest, after moving I feel like I never really bought all in. I found myself meeting people for coffee or drinks- things I would have definitely declined when I was living in Baltimore. I got lazy. We started getting into the habit of not-lazying in the second half of the year, but by then I was repairing new damage instead of just continuing on my journey.

What I’ve been working to do (with Casey too!) is change some of our small spending patterns that really add up. For example, we really like Friday night pizza. If we don’t have a frozen pizza (<$5 at Aldi’s), we order Domino’s Delivery which costs $15. If we grocery shop at Aldi’s, we can keep the bill to less than $70. If we go to Harris Teeter, we will always break $100. Aldi’s is the further drive, though, so it’s hard to justify it if it’s not for a big grocery shop.

Coming the new year, I’m going to start keeping a “spending log” of what I bought and why I bought it. I need to make spending more of an emotional process. I need to know my own boundaries better. I need to stop thinking I can just “peruse” LuLaRoe (hint: I can’t). I need to make spending painful again, so I will.


My calculator thing in my excel spreadsheet tells me I should pay 14,400 towards 12,000 of principle this year. I would like to pay TWENTY THOUSAND dollars of debt off  in 2017 (maybe 16K in principle?). It is absolutely a reach goal. I’m going to find an extra $500/month on what already feels like a tight as can be budget. It is ambitious. I have no business setting it, but I am determined to get there. I hope you’ll stick around with me this year as I work really hard to hit this goal.

That is not my only goal. Here they are:

  1. Build emergency savings fund to 4K.
  2. Be financially prepared for Ricardo’s Wedding ($2000 by August) and FinCon ($1500 by October)
  3. Pay off 20K of debt

Did I just set 30K worth of goals? Why, yes, folks. I unashamedly did. You know why? I just told you that I make $65,000 + freelance income. I can live comfortably at 1801 month. Going into the new year, I’m sucking it up and getting it done.

Current Debt-Free Date: April 2019.

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