Before I start on today’s post, I wanted to encourage you to check out my guest post on Three Thrifty Guys today. There I’ll talk about how all those pennies and dimes we spent got us into debt, and are getting us out of debt. Check it out!
Are you deeply buried in debt? Do you want to get out, but are so overwhelmed by your situation that it seems like an impossibly journey? I know how you feel. We are them.
“I Have Too Much Debt. I Just Can’t Pay it Off”
Do you feel like this? We did too. Still do some days.
As of today, we’ve rid ourselves of less than 2 percent of our total debt load, after nearly 6 months of very hard work. For nearly 6 months, we’ve been scrimping, saving, and doing without so that we can get out from under our mountain of debt. Debt payoff total to date, including the mortgage? Roughly $5900.
Why so little? Because we’ve got a median range income and LOTS of debt. We’ve really made a mess of our situation through years of improperly managing our finances. And not big purchases either – it was the nickel and dime stuff – a simple lack of tracking our spending, that got us here.
SO, you might wonder: Why on earth are we torturing ourselves and our children for a goal that is going to take years to achieve?
Because, like Adam over at Money Rebound wrote about recently, the hardest things in life are often the most worthwhile.
If you’re like us, deep in debt, every day is a struggle. Every basic expense puts you over the edge, emotionally and financially. Unexpected expenses traumatize you, crushing your spirit terribly.
Is this you? Is your family so deep in debt that you’ve decided that it is easier to live with the debt and ignore it, because you know in your heart that it’s too deep to get out of?
YOU ARE WRONG.
You can do it. There are ways. Options for every family and every situation. Just ask my blogging friend Grayson, who, not too long ago, kicked 50k in credit card debt out the door. Or Travis, who at one time owed more than 100k in credit card debt. He and his wife, Vonnie,
finish their debt repayment program early next year finished their debt payoff, after several years of hard financial work.
These stories, and others like them, are what motivate us to whittle away at our once 65% debt-to-income ratio. Is it difficult? Yes, more so than I ever imagined it would be. Every single week we have days in which we are “this close” to saying “Screw it. What’s the point? This debt will never go away.”
But then, there’s the other voice. The voice that says:
“You have to do it. You can’t live this way anymore, and you shouldn’t have to. Neither should your kids. They don’t deserve – and you don’t deserve – the mountain of stress that comes with being a slave to your creditors.”
Finding Your Why
I’ll share a secret with you. You will only succeed at getting out of debt if you find a good reason why you want to be debt free. When you’re working to discover your why, I want you to think BIG. Think about how you hate being tied to your job because you need the paycheck. Or how you hate when an unexpected car repair comes up and you have no cash, knowing that now your credit card balances will be even higher.
Think about what would happen to you and your family if you walked into work today and were handed a pink slip. Use your frustration and fears with your money situation to motivate you instead of debilitate you. Use them to motivate you to buck the system, stop caring what the neighbors or anyone else thinks and start making a better financial life for yourself.
Recommended Reading: Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want
If you’re sick and tired of feeling like the plain old nice guy or girl that somehow got into a debt mess and is now being chased by the mob, and you’re sick and tired of running from them, you have to choose freedom. You just have to. You really can’t go on like this forever.
And you want to know a secret?
As hard as the days of paying off your debt will be, they will never be more difficult than dealing with that sick feeling of running from your expenses, your mailbox and your telephone as you work to stick your head in the sand and hide, albeit temporarily, from your debt.
The Hardest Things in Life Are Often the Most Worthwhile
Your journey out of debt may take years. It may take decades. But whether you’re 30 or 60 when you cross that finish line, I know you’ll be happier than ever that you ran the race. At least this way, victory does exist. And you deserve the victory that comes with living life debt free.
This post is part of a 4-part series on How and Why You Should Get out of Debt. Join us later for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and thanks for stopping by!
Seeing other people who have paid off debt before you really helps. I know reading about other peoples debt payoff progress helped me to get to the point that we are at now. It can be daunting, but every little bit counts and in the end you will be better off for paying the debt off faster.
Glen, you’re so right. And I agree about every little bit counting. That’s one rule we learned quickly.
Very well put Laurie! As you’ve outlined, it really does help see & learn from others who have made it through debt payoff that it really is possible. Yes, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but it is so worth it in the end.
You should know, John. You and Nicole are another fine example of success in this area. Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many!
I am glad that my story could have some impact on you Laurie. It helps to see other people go through the struggles. I saw other stories and that helped me keep up the motivation. Keep working hard on tackling it and you will be much happier! I appreciate you mentioning my post.
Thanks, Grayson, and thanks for being willing to share your own story with so many. It really does help to see others who were once drowning in debt and are now free.
There’s really only one way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time! Debt free doesn’t happen overnight for anyone, but hating the journey with others can definitely ease the load. Congrats on the progress so far!
SO true, Mrs. PoP! LOL, yes, having others to struggle with really does help. It’s nice to be able to encourage others who are going through the same thing.
Awesome post, Laurie. I’m so glad you and Rick are totally on board with paying off debt. It will be so worth it when you finally have no debt. Just keep picturing the end goal and make sure you’re doing everything you can to get there. Motivation is key, so do whatever you can to stay motivated. I know you’ll get there.
I can’t wait, Jake!! Yes, we are doing LOTS of picturing the end goal. Just imagining ourselves debt free is super motivating, no matter how far off it is. 🙂
Hey Laurie, I personally think you’re doing a great job. Once you start paying less interest because of debt payoff then your ability to chip away in larger amounts increases. Thanks so much for the mention, I really appreciate the help! Hope you had a nice relaxing weekend. 🙂
Thank you, Adam, for a great post! Yes, for us, it really does help to see the interest payments going down. The less money we “waste” each month, the better we feel, as we know it increases our progress.
Great post, I love your attitude towards debt Laurie! It’s such a tedious thing to deal with, but I believe paying it off can build character and you learn valuable lessons from it. We will come out stronger and happier for it! I also agree that it helps to read about the journey with debt others have taken. I can’t wait for the day my student loans are paid off.
Oh, E.M., I just HATE it! I agree about coming out on the other side stronger and happier. Can’t wait, for both of our situations, until celebration day arrives!
Encouraging post, Laurie. It’s important to work towards debt payoff and not let it consume your life. Even if it takes years, if you slowly pursue it you WILL get out of debt.
Thanks for the encouragement, DC. Some days it feels like we’ll be doing this forever, but I know that’s not really the case.
Great stuff Laurie. There’s never an easy path to the things that matter. It’s always hard work and a long series of small steps. You guys are doing an awesome job and are definitely an inspiration.
Thanks so much, Matt. Can’t wait for that debt free day to come. 🙂
Great post, Laurie. While it is always harder to get out of debt than it is to get into it, it can be conquered! Every day you get another step closer to being debt-free and even though you may wish you were farther long – you’ve already come so far in a short period of time. Don’t ever lose sight of that either!
Thanks, Shannon!!! Yes, we’re keeping the end goal in sight. It really does help veer us away from discouragement. 🙂
The difference that you’ve made from careful tracking is very heartening–lifestyle changes need not be totally intrusive in order to combat debt, it seems.
Yeah, we’ve done quite a bit of lifestyle changing, but it’s not too bad, most days, to deal with. 🙂
SO true, Jenny! We’re fast getting used to being frugal, and it’s fun lots of time to manage your money properly. 🙂
Finding stories of others who got out of debt certainly inspired me. I would also read stories of people younger than me who paid off their mortgage. It seemed impossible, but now I believe we can be there sooner that we ever thought. Keep sharing. Remember there is always someone out there worse off than you who is inspired by your $5900 payoff.
Kim, thanks so much for your encouragement. It truly has been your story and the others like yours that have kept Rick and I going. We look at where you’ve been, where you are now, and it inspires us to keep going – thank you!
I think the best news is that you’ve now become a role model for people who come here because they’re facing the same beasts. I think people see you making it work and it’s inspiring.
That is totally our goal, Joe. I think about all of the others out there, who, like us, are in deep and feel there’s no way out. It’s such a terrible feeling, but if we can all support and encourage each other, I know those mountains of debt will disappear!
We have friend that reminded me of exactly what you described. They feel they are so far in debt that they forget about it and think there’s no way out. We’ve heard bankruptcy pop up in conversation and if so it will be the second time. I’ve done as much as I could to motivate but sometimes people need to take control on their own. I hope they have as much motivation as you both do to get out.
So true, Mr. CBB. We have people in our lives too that are on their second and third BKYs, and we try and share what we are doing, but they just, for some reason, can’t, or don’t want, to hear it. It’s tough sometimes, facing that kind of mountain, so I totally understand that. But victory is so much sweeter than letting the debt demons win. Best of luck to your friend too. Feel free to send him over here. I’d be glad to encourage if they’re interested.
I think its great that you guys are working so hard. It shows dedication, having goals and sticking to them. 6000 in 6 months is not easy task. I look forward to the rest of the posts. Its great to be able to see and know that others are going through the same things that you are and it helps give you motivation.
Thanks, Thomas! Yes, we’ve been so blessed by all of the PF bloggers out there who are sharing their stories in hopes of helping others. It’s what keeps us going!
Darn right! Debt is just monster thundercloud that keeps following you, ready to completely dump rain and hail on you at any moment! Ugh…a horrible feeling BUT your cloud is 2% smaller now! Imagine what it will be like with no cloud! You will be able to “see” finally into the future and you can do anything! Love the post Laurie. Keep on keepin’ on.
SO true, Deirdre! I can’t wait till the giant thundercloud passes for good! 🙂
I think seeing other people who have paid off debt is an inspiration and your attitude about debt is inspiring as well. I don’t have much debt at all just a loan I took out to buy the trailer its $226/month for four years. I look at this more like a rent or mortgage expense. For me my struggle is making it out of the low income bracket. I know it will take some time but I see other people making it and I know that with time and work I can do it too!!
You can do it, Alexa. My mom had a super low income too, while raising us three kids. It was really difficult at times, but as she worked every month to evaluate her expenses/spending habits and worked on managing better, things became better. And you’ve got a leg up on her b/c you’re actively seeking additional income for your family. I’m confident, Alexa, that you will achieve all of the goals you’ve set for your family.
Part of the reason I started blogging was to share my story with others and tell them that it can be done (even when it feels like an all uphill battle). It’s not easy but once you get motivated it’s amazing what you can do.
SO true, KK! We really are capable of far more than we think we are.
Getting out of debt is not easy but it can be achieved. You are right. It doesn’t matter if it takes decades. A debt-free life is a wonderful life to live.
Thanks David – I appreciate your encouragement!
Paying off debt makes our life full of challenges. Getting out of debt means to have a full control on your finances. In short you will have a financial freedom once you can control your financial matter.
SO true, Walt! Can’t wait until we’ve achieved our goal and have arrived at debt free!
You are not torturing your kids – you are giving them a valuable life lesson! It’s a lesson no one else can or will teach them, and when they are debt-free adults they will thank you 🙂
Thank you SO much for your words of encouragement, Anne. That is our biggest goal, instilling in them to avoid debt when at all possible.
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