Last week I shared my story of game planning getting myself out of debt — but there’s a flip side to that story. (Isn’t there always a flip side?)
Today I want to admit what I’m not doing to help pay off my debt faster.
“Girl, you’re crazy.” I know. And I’m here talking to myself while I type up this post, so it’s extra true. Super true.
Hear me out though. While I am serious about paying off my debt instead of letting it continue to add unnecessary stress to my life, I also recognize that if the pendulum swings too far in the other direction, I’m not doing myself any favors.
If I sold all of my worldly possessions, lived off of canned beans and never left the house, I would be pretty miserable as well. Would it be temporary? Yes. Would it cost me most of my friendships? Probably. Would I look forward to each day? Highly doubt it.
Point made, hopefully.
While I wrote out some ideas for ending the spending cycle that I had developed, I made a few notes of my non-negotiables. These are defined as items where I felt like the cons outweighed the pros of changing. So I’m sticking to these habits.
Not going to $0
Maybe it’s the Dave Ramsey book I immediately fetched from the library. Maybe it’s the therapy sessions about my savings account balance. Maybe it’s my anxiety steering the ship. Whatever the reason, I could not bring myself to drop my savings account below $1,000.
Even though that money would cover almost all of my high interest debt, what would I do if a big ticket expense popped up? Another round of credit card debt. No bueno.
So in the interest of keeping myself from digging additional holes, I followed the first step of the Total Money Makeover rules and kept my $1,000 savings in tact.
If I’m being honest here, which I can’t imagine how much more honest you can get than confessing your debt to the internet, having $1,000 in my savings account makes me feel like an utter failure. More so than the actual debt does. This detail hurts.
I know, I just talked about following the Dave Ramsey system and now I’m going to buck it. But whatever, I make the rules.
Ever since we converted our construction loan to a mortgage, my husband and I have paid a little bit extra each month. We were into the idea of paying off our house early and knew that we could afford what amounts to be almost two extra payments every year.
While I could easily put my share of those extra payments towards my debt, doing so meant 3 things to me…
- Telling my partner in crime that I couldn’t uphold one of the only goals we’ve set together.
- Dealing with the process of changing our automatic payments (since we both pay from our own individual accounts.)
- Possibly stopping the momentum of something that I think is really good for us long term.
Do I want to be out of debt pronto? Of course I do!
However, I’m smart enough to know that this will take some time. Which means that I don’t want to pause our extra payments for a few years while I figure my crap out. Plus, if I stop the payments now, imagine how easy it would be to not increase them once my debt is gone.
Just like the mortgage bonus payments, I really don’t see the benefit in stopping my retirement contributions in order to pay of my debt. I get compound interest, why would I stop that amazing math power in my early 30s?
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but my high interest debt is low enough to see it being paid off in less than 60 days. While the size of my debt is causing me a mountain of stress, that stress is primarily self-induced. I am lucky enough to have 0% interest debt on a few gadgets and the rest borrowed from individuals who are not looking to profit off of my health issues and bad choices.
So for now, I’ll keep contributing 15% of my income to my retirement account. Wait… isn’t that a Dave Ramsey step? Am I doing them all out of order now? Darn.
Almost all other habits and systems are fair game for changing. And if I can quit Diet Coke in the second week of this ordeal, you outta know that I mean business.