Becoming Debt Free
I was never a person who put any sort of thought into my personal finances or debt.
This sounds crazy, I know.
When I got my degree I actually thought to myself “This is a problem for Future Me”, and amassed a large amount of student loan debt. This was not including the debt we incurred as a family with kids who only had one person earning income.
It wasn’t until student loans were harassing me despite my monthly payments that I realized just what a mess I had gotten myself into. My husband, who is far more savvy and money-wise than I, formulated a plan and budget in order for us to pay off our enormous debt. With the use of some online spreadsheets, he began to collect all of the info regarding our debts and interest rates and developed a budget that included making payments towards our debt in order of interest rates (largest to smallest) using the “Debt Avalanche” strategy (for more info about this strategy check out this article).
How We Began to Tackle Our Debt
This began an experience that would change our lives completely. If you would have asked me in 2012 if I would be willing to write down every cent that I spend, put every bit of extra towards debt, and obsessively check a graph for when results would happen (even if it was years into the future) I would have said you are out of your fucking mind!
However this is exactly what happened. My husband was always on board for this, however, I was surprised how interested in this I became. There was something so satisfying about checking our graph and watching our payoff date change to a sooner month in the future after we would put extra money towards it. It was also fantastic to see how much interest we were paying, and with every extra sum we added to the minimums, that number would decrease (Sorry banks, no more free money for you).
We originally forecast that this would take us 6 years, however with discipline and determination it only took us 4. There was a time that I thought that 4 years sounded like a long time, and that in those 4 years you could miss out on so many good times and fun experiences, however in these economic times getting out of debt is probably one of the BEST things that you can do for your family and overall wellness.
We live in one of those most expensive places in Canada and it looks like things are not improving any time soon for some of us. It’s immensely relieving to not have to worry about the burden of debt when the costs of living just keep rising.
Some Tips on Starting a Debt Repayment Plan
If you are looking to get out of debt the number one thing to do is be patient.
I was looking for a way to get out of $80000 worth of debt fast. This is the WRONG approach. It wont be fast. It will be grueling, and frustrating and overwhelming… as most things of value don’t come easy.
Know Your Debt
This sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it was not. I had no idea what I owed collectively, or my interest rates etc. My advice to you is to KNOW THIS SHIT. On a few occasions I had student loans make mistakes, or try to say I owed more than I did. I started a binder that I used to document correspondences with them to ensure that I was taking a hands on approach to tackling my debt.
Watch Where Every Cent Goes
Many times, people get all gung ho about paying off debt and start a budget that isn’t realistic. After that, it’s very easy to get discouraged and quit or feel like paying off the debt will be impossible. It really doesn’t need to be this way! First of all see where your money is going without changing a damn thing.
In our case, we did not go on vacations or spend money on frivolous things. We were simply not being wise with money in our everyday lives. That shit adds up FAST.
Stay Motivated by Treating it like a Game
I strongly suggest trying the Debt Avalanche technique and watching closely at all the interest the bank WON’T be getting as you start paying off the debt. Nothing motivates quite like spite!
For us, treating this like a game was super motivating to pay it off faster, and kept our minds from slipping into a “deprivation” mindset.
Check In Often
In our family’s case, we had to take a good long look at what we considered necessary, and at little everyday ways we could save more. We had to keep this as a topic of conversation so we could keep each other motivated and look towards the future. We had to check in often and make sure the budgets we created were working for us (make no mistake these are not set in stone. They are fluid and you WILL change them often).
The important thing to remember is that getting out of debt is investing in your future. Future you will thank you!
PIN THIS SHIT!