With my next loan payment, I was set to make it to the 50% mark. I would have paid off 50% of my $47,554 balance in six months! I was really looking forward to it. As a reward for my hard work, I was going to purchase a new bicycle. I had been saving money just for the acquisition. I had my bike picked out and everything. It was going to be an awesome summer, riding on the bike trail that runs along the river.
But, on Monday, I got some unexpected news. I was awarded a grant to attend a professional conference at the end of May. It blows my mind. I wasn’t expecting it. I only threw my hat in the ring as part of my exercise in putting myself out there more. I’m deeply honored to receive the gift – both from the city and from the universe. The only problem – the ONLY problem – is that the award covers all but about $300 to $400 of what it will cost to attend. I need to pull that cash together like yesterday.
In addition to the trip I’ll be taking at the end of the month, I found myself handing over an $80 co-pay at an Urgent Care yesterday. Everything is fine – especially now since they took such good care of me – but I wasn’t expecting that expense, either. We’re looking at $500 (counting a prescription) of my loan payment money dissolving within a couple of days.
I know that’s what emergency funds are for, and to be honest, I’m truly grateful that I didn’t even have to dip into my emergency fund to cover the co-pay and prescription. Or the remaining costs of the trip. I had that money in a bank account and I was able to spend it on improving my life. By “improving my life,” I don’t mean “new clothes” or “extravagant purchases.” I mean “a conference that could potentially change my career” and “a health issue resolved and no more pain.”
It’s hard, though, to look at that big win, that payment that got me down to 50%, and not be disappointed that I will most likely not make it. I mean, I could rob my bicycle account. I might. I could rob my emergency fund. I might. At least for the medical expenses. It’s all such a delicate balance – maintaining separate accounts and allotting funds from different gigs to go to different goals. The moment I have a blip in my plan, I was shaken a little.
I was shaken a little. I can’t emphasize that enough. Six months ago, I’m pretty sure a blip in my plan would have rocked me. I would have despaired. Now? It’s so much easier to feel gratitude – for my existing progress, for knowing that I can get back on track next month, for the opportunities and access that created the blip in my plan. I feel gratitude for the personal finance online community, without whom I would not have made those first payments. The debt payoff process has been extremely empowering, and I would not have applied for the grant had I not been making such progress.
This opportunity has already changed how I see myself both in my community and as a writer. I cannot say enough good things about taking chances. For a long time, I was so invested in outcomes, I would freeze over applications and pitch letters. When you have several irons in the fire, it makes putting things out into the world a little easier. It makes possible rejection easier. And, it makes acceptance that much sweeter.
I might not make that 50% mark this month. I might not make that big progress toward my debt payoff. But, in my career progress and my health, I’ve made big strides. That’s nothing to frown at. The debt payoff delay can be a happy one. There’s no sense in getting derailed when good news lands on your doorstep.