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Split Priorities

January 21, 2015


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This year I have multiple financial priorities and I think this will work better for me in the long run. It will help as I seek balance along my journey.If you’ve been around my site for any length of time, you’ll quickly realize that I’ve got split priorities when it come to my finances. Sure I want to get my debt paid off, but I also want to increase my emergency fund savings and use some of my money for fun things too. A quick look at my January budget reveals that I have some money going toward all three of these goals.

I’m not sure how you feel about having split priorities, but I think it’s key in finding balance in one’s life. Money should be used to bring joy to you and those around you, and when you have debt that isn’t always a possibility, or at least it’s a more limited possibility. Despite that fact that I have a considerable amount of consumer debt to finish paying off, I’m not letting it hold me back from pursuing all of my life goals.

I still plan to have some fun along my journey to becoming debt free. Of course, it will have to be more frugal fun most of the time, but I still plan to use some of my money to live my life. That’s why this weekend I’ll be travelling to see my BFF and her hubby. I’m really looking forward to our visit. This does not mean my budget is out the window. I have a strict budget of $150 for this weekend trip and I HAVE to stick to it this time.

One way I’ve gotten more serious about paying off my debt this year is by making multiple “extra” payments throughout the month as my side income comes in. So far, I’ve done great at it (thanks in part to my accountability buddy, Laurie). Each time my monthly cash flow shows I’ll have more than about a $20 “surplus” at the end of the month (after all expenses) I make an extra payment on CC#6 (the debt currently on my chopping block). I’m excited about how much extra I’ve put on that debt so far this month, so stay tuned for that info at the end of January. πŸ™‚

I’m not naive. I know that by splitting my priorities between ramping up my savings account, paying off debt, and having some fun with my money I’m slowing down my overall progress on each area. I know that if I were to focus 100% on one goal at a time my progress toward that goal would be faster, but I also know that I would not last more than a month if I didn’t allow myself to have a little fun with my money now and then. This is called reality. πŸ™‚

So I may not truly be “gazelle” intense, but this year my focus is on balance as I work toward meeting my goals. Last year I was more focused on one thing at a time and as you all know, that didn’t turn out so well for me. At the end of 2014, I had almost no progress to show for my first year of effort. I’m hoping that this more balanced approach will serve me better in 2015.

How do you feel about splitting priorities?

Photo courtesy of: Wonderlane

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21 responses to “Split Priorities

  1. This post came along just when I needed it! I am struggling with this big time at the moment. I’m currently in a position to wreck some debt, but I’d also like to start working on changing my (very inexpensive) living situation (with a roommate.) I don’t want to slow down the debt repayment, but I would like to start saving for a house. I should make a significant amount of money next month from some extra contract work, and I’d make a dent in the debt if I throw that money at it. I could also put some money toward a fixer-upper that would take constant resources away from the debt repayment. What a dilemma! And I’m not even adding retirement savings into the mix!

    1. MJ – I totally understand your dilemma. I did decide to split my priorities because it made the most sense for my situation. So, I’m currently saving about 8% of my gross pay (at my FT job) in a retirement savings account (and getting an employer match on most of it), saving to increase my emergency fund, and paying off debt. Plus, like I said I do want to have some fun with my money now and then too. πŸ™‚ Good luck with your tough decision!

  2. I’m with you on this, Kayla. It’s all about finding balance that will work for you. The whole “gazelle intensity” idea sounded good to me when I was reading DR books, but it just doesn’t work for my family. Paying down our debt is a huge priority, but so are ballet classes for my daughter and not eating just cheap processed food. I admire the gazelles out there, but I’m not one of them, and I’m okay with that.

  3. I just calculated this figure yesterday — we are saving 10% for retirement and 3% each month for emergency savings. Anything leftover is going to debt repayment after expenses. What those expenses are, though, vary. We definitely aren’t gazelle intense. Maybe when we get closer to making a final push we will. But right now, it is just not feasible for us to go crazy intense.

    1. I always say progress is progress. As long as I’m progressing on each of my goals every month then I’m ok with it.

  4. I have no problems with split priorities because balance is important. And sometimes when we don’t have balance, we do things that contradict our priorities. If all your money went towards debt repayment, you leave yourself vulnerable to creating more debt due to an emergency and we are all entitled to have mindful fun. You budgeted your fun, which was smart and set a reasonable amount of money to spend. This wasn’t an impulsive decision to splurge. Huge difference in my book!

    1. So glad you are on board with my split priorities. πŸ™‚ I know you have a lot of knowledge of PF and helping people get out of debt, so your opinion means a lot to me Shannon.

  5. I think a lot depends on self-knowledge and personality (personal finance being personal and all that!) I used to be really bad about split priorities in large part because I was prone to over-rewarding myself — I still am when it comes to non-financial things. Like, I’ll say “OK, write two paragraphs of this essay and then you can have a cookie” but usually I write a sentence and then decide that I’ll work better if I have the cookie right then, and then I’ll have *another* one after I finish the paragraphs…. I’ve done this with money too, where I say “OK, I just want to have a *little* fun” but I do that every single day and at the end of the month, uh-oh, what happened?! I’m better with the money thing mostly because I started being pretty strict about my budget — setting aside X for savings, Y for necessities, and choosing a Z for treats in advance of the month. Before, I’d spend on expenses and then put “whatever’s left over” to my financial goals, and that didn’t work at all because I was buying just for fun practically every day. Now to work on that cookie-reward problem….

    1. I do see what you mean and I do sometimes fall for the same problem as you describe. It’s kind of like the “I deserve” problem a lot of PF bloggers have talked about before.

  6. I think it’s really important to split priorities, once you have the basics (like emergency fund) down. I do the same thing as you – a little for debt and a little for fun. If I didn’t have something to look forward to, my 20s would be really boring and sad! And definitely not motivate me to work harder, so that’s why I need the separation.

    1. Exactly! You nailed it right on the head Melissa. By having something to look forward too, I can (hopefully) stay motivated the rest of the time.

  7. Absolutely love having you as an accountability partner, Kayla, it’s helped me so much! And I think you are being gazelle intense. Just b/c all of your cash isn’t going toward debt, doesn’t mean you’re not working your best at managing your money like a rock star, and you are. πŸ™‚

    1. Aww! Thanks Laurie πŸ™‚ I’m glad I’ve been some help to you too. We are gonna rock it this year!

  8. Mr. Maroon and I had a debate, we’ll still having it in fact, about what is better… Pay down mortgage debt or increase investments for early retirement. We naturally fell on either side, because why should it be simple enough to agree on everything. In the end, we are going to settle on a balance of the two so that we get the satisfaction of watching both areas improve.

    1. If you aren’t on the same side everytime that’s ok. By doing both progress will be a bit slower on each individual goal, but you’ll still be headed the right direction. Glad you found a solution πŸ™‚

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