Okay, here goes. Apologies in advance for the massive, tmi, brain dump of a first post. I promise to be more concise in the future!
My name is Kivrin, and I'm 25. I'm a full-time student, and a part-time employee. I owe $6983.04 (principal) in student loans for undergrad, and have $1299.00 (yes, exactly) in credit card debt (1 card).
I'm very lucky in that I live basically for free (no rent or utilities, occasional grocery trips), and my situation is stable. I have a car, a cell phone, and a website, all of which are within my budget--the biggest expense is the car: $50/month in gas, $600/year insurance, $80/year for AAA, as well as tuneups and maintenance; my cell phone is $88/month, and I pay $12/month for webhosting (the cell phone bill is actually less than $88, but I round up so that it and the webhosting add up to $100--just a personal preference for budgeting ease). I also have to pay $2000/semester in tuition for grad school, but that's also affordable.
My goals are to pay off the credit card by the end of June 2009, put $1000 in my emergency fund by August 2009, pay off my student loans by the end of August 2010, and have $10,000 in my emergency fund by January 2011. I've worked the numbers, and I think my goals are doable, although the $10,000 emergency fund might be pushing things a little bit--but I'm still going to try!
Since I'm a student, I only work full-time during the summer, which is when I make the bulk of my money, and why my goals are so centered around that time. Last year, I made $1300/paycheck, for five paychecks, during the summer. When I was figuring out the numbers, I used that as a basis, but I just found out today that I will be getting a raise, which means I might be done with my debts sooner than I'd thought!
I use zero-based budgeting, and try to account for every single expense I can think of.
For my credit card, I am paying $300/month in April and May--more when I can--and the final payment ($700) in June. I have already paid off about $800 on this card in the past two months, so I feel like I'm really making progress. I'm not sure how much I can expect from my tax refund, but know that most (if not all) of that money will be going into paying off this credit card.
The main reason that the credit card is my first priority--aside from the astronomical interest rates on it--is that I used to not have any credit card debt! I had paid it all off and wasn't using it, then took it on vacation with me, and of course ended up charging more than I thought I would. It felt great to not have any credit card debt, and I look forward to not having any again. I've already taken it out of my wallet and have not charged anything for two months.
In July, once I've paid the credit card off, I will start funding my emergency fund (to $1000) and paying my school loans. This summer, my main focus will be on the loans, then in October, I plan to start contributing more to my emergency fund. I am looking forward to getting this loan down below $5000. My ultimate goal is to have $10,000 saved by the end of 2010, at which point I should be graduating.
What I'm most excited for after I'm debt-free is being able to save money for fun stuff. I'm a big planner, so I've written out a sample budget for myself to keep motivated, and just seeing how much money I'll be able to allocate for gifts for others, charity, travel, retirement savings, and so on makes me so excited!