I Never Thought to Pay Off My Debt
January 30, 2022
Being debt free is one of the best gifts that I could have given to myself, and my family. I would not change the financial freedom and peace of mind that we now have, for anything in the world. Being debt free has given us options. We can now say “Where do you want to go?” as opposed to, “Can we afford to go on vacation?” That is the joy of being able to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
But, how did I come to achieve this peace?
Like many people I know, I had my regular monthly payments that I made mindlessly. I was waiting for the day that my loan would finally mature and I would make my last payment. I was religious about making my payments on time, because I was obligated to, and did not want it to affect my credit score. I never thought of my monthly payment as debt that I need to get rid of, I was just paying until my obligation was up. Every month as I made a payment, I would get excited about being one step closer to not having to make that payment again and I would look to see how much longer till maturity. At this point, I knew I did not want these monthly payments anymore.
Once I started looking at my bills as debt, and not my regular monthly payments, things changed for me. It’s amazing how a simple change in perspective can change a persons outlook, and inspire action. Debt meant I owed somebody, and I do not like owing anything to anyone. So, I sat down one day and I added up all of my outstanding debt and I was shocked at the number that was staring back at me.
No longer was it $200 on this bill and $350 on that bill, it was $68,000 of debt that I had to pay off. I then added up the amount of money I paid monthly to creditors and I realized I was spending over half of my monthly earnings on debt. This is not ok. Our paycheck is our biggest wealth building tool. If we give it away, how are we going to better ourselves, our family and provide the financial stability that is crucial to family security?
By looking at the whole number, instead of its parts, I was awoken from the state of routine and normality, and decided that I had to get rid of that debt.
Must be willing
Paying off debt is not an easy road. You will get weary and feel that it is taking forever, but I am here to tell you, do not give into that voice. It is possible to be debt free but it will take sacrifice, determination, intentionality and sometimes sheer will.
When my husband and I decided that enough was enough, and began tackling our debt, paying off the first few debts was exciting. We were motivated and full of energy, but as we kept going and making the sacrifices necessary to get ourselves out of the hole that we were in, we found ourselves, at times, getting irritated and annoyed.
We did not eat out,
We only bought the necessities,
We eliminated any unnecessary expenses, such as cable,
We created and stuck to a strict budget, and anything we could do ourselves we did, such as bake our own pastries, make our own juices with the fruits we bought, and so forth.
We knew this was only a temporary situation and that it must be done so that we could live the life we want, but we are also human. Some nights I would look in the pantry and I just did not know what to cook. My creative juices were depleted and I just wanted something else to eat, and so did my family. My poor kids don’t even want to hear the word “rice” anymore.
Even though we had moments of weakness, and moments of “I wish I…” we would remind ourselves of our goals and all of the options and opportunities that we would have once we were debt free, and that would give us the strength and vigor to keep pushing. We also decided to look at what we have gained instead of what we were giving up.
I am now a great baker, and as a result of taking staycations we are very familiar with the hiking trails in our town and parks. We have built a lot of great memories together as a family that cost nothing, from having a picnic in the backyard to hunting for bugs on our hikes.
How I did it
How did I pay off all that debt? I used the debt snowball method. Debt snowball method is where you list your debt smallest to largest. Make a minimum payment on all of them, while you attack the smallest payment with everything that you have. I find that paying off debt with this method will give you little wins, and is a great confidence booster for when you have to tackle the bigger loans.
I encourage everyone to sit down, pull out all of your bills (car, personal loan, student loan, etc.) and add up all of your debt so you can face that number, then act. As a financial coach, this is a great exercise that I give to my clients. Many of us do not know the debt that we are dragging around, and we have to know what we are working with before we can create and implement a plan. If you find that you need extra help in getting your finance in order, reach out to a financial coach, like myself, that will provide one on one guidance in your journey.
When did you decide to get out of debt? What was your turning point? Leave a comment, I would love to hear your story.
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