Timmya shares her money journey from serving in the Peace Corps in Eswatini with almost $80k in debt to starting her path to financial freedom. Read what Timmya spends in a month as a millennial in Georgia.
We’ve got another awesome guest post lined up for you, fam! Timmya’s story is one I definitely relate to. After spending a few years volunteering for the Peace Corps, she came to the end of her service and had a dream offer– teach full time at the University of Eswatini where she had been serving! She was ready to dive in, but?
Money was an issue and she had to say no.
I think most of us can relate to having to say no to our dream <insert something here> because money wouldn’t permit.
Anyway– check out her guest post where she shares how she decided to get started in budgeting, where she’s at now, and her spending report that shows exactly what she spends her money on as a millennial in Georgia.
Watch the Interview Between Timmya and Clo Bare
Hello! I’m Timmya, a single female with one income living in the Southeast. I started my Instagram page Timmya’s Tiny Budget in September 2020. I made the decision to share my journey of what I spend in a month and more because I wanted accountability, and I wanted to create a non-judgmental, empowering space where I could discuss money without shame.
My “Oh Shit” Moment
In January 2018, I was finishing up my last year as a Peace Corps volunteer in the beautiful Kingdom of Eswatini. Not only did I live and work in a rural community, but I also got the amazing opportunity to teach Social Work at the University of Eswatini for one semester. I loved the students and the classes I taught. However, my time as a Peace Corps volunteer was ending and I was expected to return back to the United States by August 2018.
Then one day, staff from the University of Eswatini approached me and asked if I was interested in applying to a full-time teaching position.
I was also told by staff at the Peace Corps there was a possibility that I could stay a third year and work exclusively at the university as a volunteer.
I was super excited and was ready to stay, but then reality hit me: I had almost $80,000 of student debt and $200 to my name.
I did not even pursue this opportunity because I was BROKE!
My financial situation controlled me, and it made me realize– I was not comfortable with continuing to ignore my debt.
By August 2018, I returned back to the United States and immediately started looking for work. After one exhausting job fair and a few interviews, I landed a new job in a new city.
In January 2019, I had to relocate for my new job. I had about $4,000 left of my resettlement money from the Peace Corps. All of this was used to cover my moving expenses.
Budgeting and Paying Off Debt at First
Now with a new job and salary, I told myself 2019 would be the year I started paying off student debt. I worked with my friend and created a budget and a plan on how I could pay off my debt. But did I follow the plan….NO!!!!
It took me a few months to get my apartment together, and once I did I started saving $400 a month. By the end of the year, I had about $2,400 saved up.
In January 2020, I got a $13,000 raise. I did not want to blow this money. So, I made a promise to myself that 2020 would be my year that I finally get my money together.
My Last Financial Mistake
But before I got serious, I made one last financial mistake and took a trip to Ghana in February. I did make a budget for my trip but I didn’t follow it. Instead, I used money from my savings to cover the extra expenses for my trip. After my trip, I had an accountability call with my GoalFriends and was ready to get serious for real for real this time.
So now that I was done being money reckless and finished reading Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide To Money, I was ready to make real money moves. I decided that I would save $5,000 by June for my emergency fund, and then I would start paying off my debt.
Then Came the Pandemic
Then the pandemic hit full force and changed my entire plan.
In March 2020, my employer transitioned to work from home, which I was extremely grateful for because every day I was hearing a new story about someone being laid off or furloughed.
As the Pandemic continued, I became a bit pessimistic that my job would be next. So with those thoughts in mind, I decided that it would be best to save as much money as possible. I decided to save my stimulus check and made a plan to save $1200 a month. By May 2020, my employer announced that by August 2020 there was a possibility that I would be furloughed. Hearing that was a bit nerve-reckoning however, I felt I was prepared.
Luckily, the furlough did not happen and thankfully I can say that as of today, I am more financially prepared than I was in March. But before we talk about that, let’s first look at my spending report for October 2020.
Timmya’s Typical Spending: What She Spends in a Month
In October 2020, Timmya sent in her budget and actual numbers. Let’s take a look at what she spent in October 2020, and what fuck-ups and wins she had!
The Fuck Ups Explained:
Wrong Budget: Tax Deferrals
I made a huge fuck up this month, but I caught my mistake within the first week of October and corrected my budget. I miscalculated my total earnings for October. I totally forgot about the tax deferral. My checks increased by $156, and I decided that I would save this “extra” income each pay period. However, when I made my budget for October, I forgot to add the tax deferral for each pay period. Therefore, it appeared I had “extra” income to allocate somewhere else. Luckily, I caught this early in the month and amended my budget.
No Fun Intended: Entertainment
The second Fuck Up is that I did not include any money for entertainment/fun in my budget. I did not plan to do anything for October. I legit told myself I would not be going anywhere ALL month. I thought this was a realistic goal because you know Covid-19. I quickly learned that’s not realistic and that I should always include something in my fun budget. Although my plans ended up getting canceled, I did decide to go for a walk and get Starbucks to accompany me. This pushed me over my dining out budget by $5.87. Not too bad, but still over. Lesson learned! Going forward, I will add a little something something for my fun expenses.
I knew this month I wanted to buy a hoodie so I budgeted for the hoodie. Then, I desperately needed socks. I know that sounds extra as fuck, but I legit needed them. Lastly, I donated to a blanket drive organized by a young lady. How could I say no to such a great fundraiser, plus I wanted to support a young kid getting involved in the community.
The Major Win
I was under in my food budget. Need I say more??
Being under my food budget balanced out the overspending in the other categories. (I tend to forget that everything is taxed)
The Big Takeaway
I need to add entertainment/fun expenses to my monthly budget, don’t forget taxes, and I can definitely decrease my grocery budget.
Debt and Savings Numbers
As of now, I have $10,800 saved for my emergency fund. I currently have no credit card debt and I have about $77,000 in federal student loan debt. I’ll be working to aggressively pay down that debt, while also saving for tax deferrals AND saving for a used car.
What Financial Freedom Means to Me
For me, Financial freedom is being debt free, not living paycheck to paycheck, being aware, and in control of money. I have made so many money mistakes, but I will continue to strive to do better.
For me, being in debt is exhausting and at times when I wanna beat myself up for being financially irresponsible, I say this mantra:
I forgive myself for my financial mistakes. I will not let these mistakes define me. I will reflect on the lessons learned and commit to making better financial decisions for my future.
I am so motivated to release my student debt burden!
Where to Find Timmya
Want to follow along on Timmya’s journey to debt freedom? Give her a follow at @timmyastinybudget on Instagram and be sure to say hi!
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Interested in guest posting on the Bare and sharing your financial journey as well as everything you spent your money on in a month? Drop Clo Bare a line by heading over to Clo Bare’s contact page. Be sure to include “Guest Posting” in the subject line.