5 Lessons From Our Pay Off Debt Year
Each year I choose one specific goal to work on. I’ve found when I split my focus it becomes confusing, and hard to achieve. I declared 2006 our “Pay Off Debt Year”.
Our monthly bills were just too high. I made two thirds of the income and my husband is a performer with a variable income. There were months in the winter when he had no income at all. If I wanted to quit my job, we needed to take control of our money.
Adding up all of your debt is not fun. I knew that we had a ton of student loan debt, home equity loan and a new car, but I always ignored the specifics.
I remember the moment of adding up all of our debt so clearly. I was on my computer and looking up the bills online. I had a little piece of paper where I was writing the numbers. It hurt to write them down…
Student Loan 1 $3,400…
Student Loan 2 $22,780…
Home Equity Loan $24,560…
Honda Civic $19,300….
Those numbers looked big on their own I didn’t want to add them up. I hesitated.
I was in $70,040 of debt.
I was 24 years old. How did I let myself get into all that debt? I know technically each one of these loans was my choice. I just wish I knew then what I know now!
We’d bought the Honda Civic two months beforehand. Brand new. It seemed like it would be the perfect family car for when we had children. What I didn’t realize was that those smaller decisions were stopping me from having the life I wanted.
I didn’t like my job. I worked 60+ hours per week and was stressed to the max. But I didn’t correlate the car as a chain to my job. I just wanted a new car.
Adding up all of the debt made me admit to myself that I hadn’t made the best choices. I realized handling your finances over the internet with options such as certificates of deposit are a good way to keep a track of expenditures.
I kept saying that I hated my job and wanted to quit, but I wasn’t doing anything about it. Actions really do speak louder than words!
Here are a few things that I wish I knew that day:
1. The pain of getting out of debt is temporary. We made the decision to never get into debt again. Once that $70,000 was gone, it would be gone for good.
I know we tend to think about the hardship we have to go through now, but the truth is, even if it takes 3 or 4 years to accomplish that is only a small piece of your life.
2. You don’t need to live for tomorrow. My husband wasn’t on board at first. He said, “Why live for tomorrow when you could die today?” He had a valid point. What I realized was that, if we didn”t at least try to do it and work toward our goals, we would never live the life we truly wanted.
I don’t like the statement “living for tomorrow” when it comes to getting out of debt. Not buying a lot of things doesn”t mean you are only living for tomorrow. Enjoying each day fully is not dependent on going out to eat or buying stuff. It’s an internal game.
3. Accountability and support really helps. Telling people we were getting out of debt was important. My husband and I used each other as ‘accountability buddies’. He would check up on me and I would check up on him. He would support me when I was feeling down and vice versa.
You get used to it. Really. It’s a total lifestyle change at first, and you may feel consumed with numbers. Heck I like numbers, but I still felt totally overwhelmed. My budget was all wrong for the first few months and I wasn’t sure what else I could be doing. But it gets SO much easier.
4. The learning curve feels very steep. It it so much easier to go back into the normal routine of buying a coffee or forgetting the budget at the beginning of the month.
I promise you, it gets easier. I’ve been doing this for four years, and now I can sense when I need to create a budget. I automatically think about my personal fund when I go to Starbucks.
5. You enjoy the simple things in life more. Selling a lot of our stuff made me appreciate how much we had that we never used. Even selling things that I loved (like the new car) made me realize what really mattered in life.< I learned that stuff was not more important than having time and being with my family. Yesterday I took a 30 minute cat nap at 11am. My kids will be home at 2pm today and we get to carve pumpkins. I remember running around like a chicken with my head cut off every single day at my old job. Not anymore. I actually took control of my life. And let me tell you, it was worth it.
How are you taking control of your life now?
For more info on making more money- check out: 32 Ways to make money from home!
Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.Learn More