I really need to get better about reflecting on my blessings and reminding myself of everything I have to be thankful for throughout the year, not just around Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the planner I’ve been utilizing this year has a spot at the beginning of every month to list three things you’re thankful for, which has been helpful. I’ve found that some months I struggle to list three things I haven’t already listed in a previous month, which is crazy to me. If I really sit down and think about it, I should be able to come up with at least a hundred! I decided to develop a post highlighting five personal finance-related things I am thankful for. My awareness of and dedication to becoming debt free and financially independent has blossomed over the past year or so, and it’s important to look back and be appreciative of the situations that have allowed me to find success.
- My health. Everyone knows healthcare is expensive (at least in the United States). Even with “good” insurance from my employer (the State of South Dakota), my basic, annual exams and minor procedures add up quickly. Saving up for my wisdom teeth removal in January has also been mind-boggling, as that’s $2,000+ I would really like to invest or deposit into my high-yield savings account. This is also motivating me to take a serious step back from my current eating/lack of exercise habits and reevaluate things. High blood pressure, diabetes, and a myriad of other health problems await if I continue the path I’m on. I have no excuse besides laziness and being busy (but hey, we’re all busy – it’s all about prioritizing). I’m hoping 2019 will bring positive changes to my health and nutrition habits so I can reduce my risk of exponentially higher healthcare costs in years to come. I am thankful for being a relatively healthy person without regularly occurring medical bills.
- A variety of side hustles. You hear it time and time again from personal finance experts – diversifying your income is extremely important. There are no guarantees in life, so reducing your income to only one source can be dangerous. As I’ve mentioned before, in addition to my full-time state government job, I am also an adjunct professor for my alma mater, a waitress, and a nanny (and in my last post, I even discussed how I worked as one of Santa’s elves at the local mall for the last two holiday seasons). As much as I complain about waiting tables (which is often, trust me!), I am thankful to have these opportunities to increase and diversify my income.
- The ability to quickly pay off my master’s degree student loans. The increased and diversified income is a major factor in my ability to quickly pay off the student loans from my master’s degree. I am proud of myself for paying off $22,000 in 18 months on a very modest salary, but I know that is not possible for everyone due to wage inequality, tough job markets, etc. After teaching/facilitating eight courses (I have two under my belt currently), my degree will have paid for itself. I’m also hopeful that it will eventually further pay off with a full-time job in the future, where I will be compensated for having advanced education in the field. I am thankful for the ability to pay off my debt quickly so I can free up that money for savings and investments.
- Having a reliable vehicle. My initial purchase of my brand new 2016 Honda HR-V was a little irresponsible, as I managed to incur $400 car payments for five years, but fortunately I’ll have it paid off soon (I’m hoping within the next six months). I plan to keep this vehicle for several more years and hopefully pay for at least half of the cost of my next vehicle in cash, but for now, knock on wood, I have no issues with my vehicle. My biggest upcoming vehicle expense will be new tires, which I’ve already created a sinking fund for and will pay for in cash next year. My boyfriend is able to do basic maintenance such as oil changes, which further reduces my vehicle expenses. I am thankful for having a reliable vehicle that safely gets me where I need to go, is relatively fuel efficient, and has sufficient storage capacity for my needs.
- This platform and the world of personal finance bloggers. Even if nobody reads my words every month, it is a method for me to maintain accountability and force myself to write an article once per week and recap my progress, income, and spending habits once per month. I have learned so much simply from reading articles and conducting my own research to find what works best for me and my situation. I am thankful for a platform to share my story and connect with and obtain inspiration and strategies from other knowledgeable bloggers.
What are some things you’re thankful for this holiday season (personal finance-related or not)?