This week’s lesson was rather huge. Maybe it seemed so big to me because this is where we are in the baby step process and we really want to learn the lesson… dumping debt!
For starters, the husband and I kind of stared at each other when asked the question: “How would it feel to be 100% debt-free – now and forever?”
Um… we have no idea. We have never been without some kind of debt in our adult lives. Even when we clawed our way out of a mound of debt several years ago, we still had a mortgage.
Watching Dave’s talk on debunking debt myths was rather sobering and I know we’ll be referencing that in the weeks to come. While we are totally on board with living without debt (once we get out), I cannot begin to imagine what that would look or feel like. We’re even a little afraid to “dream” about it because we feel overwhelmed by how far behind we are in planning for retirement.
For now though, we are committing to working our debt snowball and practicing being content with what we have. That’s really all we can do at this point. I had already tried to estimate how long it would take us to pay off our debt, but this week I searched for a debt snowball calculator that would give me a more accurate result. Turns out I was dead on with my guestimate of December 2019.
Obviously, that date is if we just applied the minimums from the date we started this and kept applying that same amount each month. We are hoping to do it faster than 39 months.
Stop Borrowing Money and Start Saving!
We’ve stopped using our credit cards and the husband even cut up one of the two he kept in his wallet. The other one… well, we’re just not emotionally ready to slice it up. We’re getting there though. With each passing day, I feel less loyal to that old creditor (first one we got as a married couple 20+ years ago). When we applied for that card, we wanted it “just for emergencies”. What a joke. I really wish we’d known then what we know now.
Of course, we would have had to act on that knowledge and like most young couples, we thought we had plenty of time. We hit snooze on our financial alarms and now we’re waking up and feeling late for the party.
Anyway, in the process of stopping the use of the cards, I didn’t realize we had over $240 in subscriptions and such being auto billed to our credit cards every month. Yikes!
We justified signing up for payments with our credit cards because we’ve had our bank account emptied twice in the past few years and were fearful of that happening again. Of course, fear can make you do some really stupid things. At first, we were paying the balance each month, but then we got lazy, had some unfortunate events which went on the cards, and before we knew it… BAM… our debt was like that giant boulder chasing Indiana Jones… Huge and threatening to squash our financial future.
So, in the past week, we’ve either cancelled the subscriptions or moved them to our debit account. It will take a month or so for all of that to readjust, but I’m thinking we’ve lowered our outgoing expenses by at least another $100 a month just by reevaluating what we were automatically being billed. At a minimum, it’s coming directly out of our checking account now rather than being hidden away on a credit card somewhere.
We also cancelled a gym membership we decided wasn’t being used enough to justify the cost (about another $100 per month), especially when we have trails and workout DVDs we can use for free while we dump debt.
Dave also says to Sell Something so we’ve started discussing what we could sell. We actually started purging things from our life in the past year and donated a bunch of stuff during that time that would have ended up on our “sell something” list. I’m not saying we’re minimalists, but we definitely have less stuff than we did.
Overtime isn’t an option for salaried employees, but we are tossing around the thought of one of us getting a part-time job. I have no idea when we would fit it into our schedules and stay sane, but it is something we’re praying about.
In the meantime, we’re working on plugging the holes in our financial ship, streamlining our budget, and tossing any extra money at our debt snowball. We got a raise just by converting our food money to cash only purchases.
And finally, Dave tells us Prayer Really Works. I certainly agree with that. One of the things I wrote down for my “one-minute takeaway” was: “Do I believe God or man regarding debt?” It was after prayer that we decided to move all of those auto-bills off our credit cards. Do we trust God or don’t we? That was a tough pill to swallow, but I actually feel relieved that we stepped out in faith on that one.
Once we get all of our October statements in, I’ll post a progress check on our Baby Step #2. I know we’ve made a small dent in the number, just not sure how much.
My prayer this week is asking God to restore the lost years.