I remember the moment like it was yesterday. The moment we decided we had enough. The debt had to go. Our story is not uncommon or crazy but it did work and so, here it is! We were normal people with normal jobs and normal financial circumstances. Our debts were too high but not catastrophic, although they were smothering a huge chunk of our monthly income. We had not been adding any extra debt for some time, but we could not get ahead on the debts already established.
Know Your Why.
Deciding to pay debt off is a classic case of “Know your WHY.” We had several WHY’s but a big one for us was “We’re tired of making financial decisions. We just want to make decisions.” We found ourselves making financial decisions about issues that should have been heart, common sense, or convenience decisions. In other words, why does every decision conversation have to end with “but… money…” We want to be responsible with our money, so naturally, money plays into every decision. We wanted the flexibility, however, to not always have to take the cheapest route when something really mattered to us. We were not looking for luxury, we were simply looking for margin.
Something is better than nothing.
When we decided to pay off debt, we jumped straight on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon. Is it the best way? Is it the only way? Who cares!!! We had no way! So it was something and doing something is exponentially better than doing nothing! We jumped on. I listened to his podcast every.single.day. We read his books and used his budget. In the beginning, we only had about $50 extra a month to put towards our debt. This was going to be the slowest moving debt snowball in the history of snowstorms. Sllloooooow. The first year it was comical (read: frustrating) how slowly it moved. But slowly, slowly, we trained our minds to think of our life in the context of the snowball. By the end of the first year, we had a whopping $150 extra we were applying towards debt (have I mentioned it was a slow snowball?).
The Needle Will Move.
Some months were better than others. Sometimes it moved up, sometimes two steps back. Surprise purchases inevitably came up and we would hold off on the extra debt payment and pay for those surprises with our debt money. It was frustrating at times, but as Uncle Dave promised (we affectionately refer to him as Uncle Dave to this day), the snowball would grow. And the following year it did. The tax return, a small bonus, working overtime, side-hustles, giving tuition the boot … eventually, all of the extra little effort started making some progress and our snowball grew and grew. By the end of the second year, we were so close and our tax return put a big dent in what was left. By the third year, we were able to officially pay off our list of debts!
We still have some debt in our life. The difference is, we consider them responsible debts, like a mortgage, a debt that has some value to it as well. No more revolving, lingering, pestering, income-sucking debts! I remember the time when this journey seemed impossible. You have to start somewhere and I encourage you to start today, even if you only have $50 extra dollars per month! It will likely happen more quickly than you think and the freedom of living without debt is incredible. In the end, I cannot emphasize enough how much the freedom has been worth the sacrifice!