More recently I have begun to grow up and take responsibility for the ridiculous amount of debt I have been so good at accumulating. Every chance I had outside of work, I was digging a bigger hole for myself to crawl out of – hanging out with friends which almost always included a few drinks followed by a late night stop at the local diner. Every day was a special occasion that warranted a meet up at the local bar. Everyone was doing it. We worked our asses off and felt like the bar crawl after was well deserved!
Trust me, it was fun while it lasted and I’m not here to make you feel bad if you’ve done that yourself. I had a blast and met some amazing people (others, not so great). I would probably do it all over again – but I’d bring my own road sodas as opposed to spending $3-$5 a beer. 🙂
I was just living the “normal” life to everyone around me, and it just seemed like the way things were done. I had no one telling me otherwise and I seemed to fit in pretty well. And because I wasn’t exactly a fan of math and looking hard at numbers, I just paid the minimum payments shown on my statements and forgot about them for another month. Little did I know I could have paid off my loans and been out of debt by now…but hey, math just isn’t that fun, right?
At the age of 26, I had started realizing I couldn’t keep living life this way, but I still hadn’t really done anything about it. How I really got started? Well, I got sick of listening to the music on the radio. Yep, that’s where it all began. Listening to the same songs, every morning, over and over again was really annoying me. So I went looking for something else to listen to on my way to work and started listening to e-books and podcasts instead. What a productive, grown-up way to spend my commute! It got me excited and motivated to see what else I could change. I was listening to podcasts from Suze Orman who is a special lady and definitely knows what she is talking about. But I just got so un-motivated when I saw how long I would be in debt. Aside from Suze, I heard so many conflicting ways to pay down debts, but it was always too overwhelming.
One night I sat down with my computer, opened a blank Excel file, and spent the next 4 hours playing around with the numbers. I went over every possible scenario trying to figure out what the best way to pay down my debt was going to be. I looked at all of my debts in one place, how long each would take to pay off, the amount I could really be using to pay down my debt each month, and learned how interest rates were really calculated for each debt. It was a lot of work, but I ended up with the beginning of my “modified debt-snowball.”
I was determined to figure out a way to pay off everything without spending the next 30 years doing so. And I did. It just took a lot more of my income each month going towards it and was going to take a ton of determination.
No more happy hour after work, no more impulse buying, or traveling all over creation “just because”….basically, no more spending money I didn’t have. What a concept! And I figured out I would only need to do this for about three years, and then I could go back to spending my money how I wanted. I can do that! 36 months of spending next to nothing, so I could live a “normal” life at the end of it. That sounds way better than 30 years in debt, doesn’t it?
I got really excited and decided I wanted to share my story, and prove that it could be done. So here I am. I’m counting on you guys to help me along the way too. Debt and finance are not something we can figure out overnight, so don’t expect me to know everything either.
In the next few weeks, I am going to figure out a way to share that Excel sheet system with you so you can have somewhere to start. After all, getting started was the hardest part for me.
Photo by _Fidelio_