Paying off debt, one link at a time...
Have you ever heard that saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is?” We want so badly to believe that there are easy and quick
fixes to our struggles and dreams. From fast workouts to easy meals, we’re making no time to take time and make permanent lasting changes. While there is a place for this logic, I also believe that sometimes, things are so good they have to be true! Allow me to explain.
I have never been a reader….ever…I used to listen to required reading books on tape even when I was in high school! My fiancé bought the physical book Total Money Makeover written by Dave Ramsey, but he didn’t read it. I read it at the end of 2011. At that time, we were both taking cash advances on our credit cards to pay other bills and I was still paying off student loan debt. I had also filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy at one point.
We got engaged in 2012 and we decided we didn’t want to live this way forever. On January 2, 2012, I sold the car that I had purchased brand new in 2007 and had refinanced once already. We immediately funded a small emergency fund with $1,000.
Then we started having monthly budget meetings. They were SO hard. Don’t get me wrong, the math part was easy, but deciding what changes in our behavior we would be willing to make so we could live differently later was NOT easy. We argued, we disagreed, and we worked at it every month. We would eventually come to some conclusions and make agreements about how our money was going to be spent for the month. The budget meetings in and of themselves were a huge change for us. We had many budget meetings that went well over an hour.
When we began paying off our debt, we created a paper chain link. You know the ones that the kids used to make for garland on the Christmas tree? Each paper link represented $1,000 in debt. We didn’t have any fancy-colored construction paper, so we cut up strips of 8 ½” x 11” white copy paper. We assembled it and hung it up in our dining room so we wouldn’t forget what we were working for and how far we had to go. Every month we were able to cut off at least one of the paper links. It felt the way checking something of the “to-do” list feels, so gratifying!
We bought very used cars, we ate at home more often, we didn’t buy a ton of clothes and we stopped our retirement contributions, temporarily. We also sold my house (mentioned in the previous blog post) and his investment property to make gazelle progress on paying off our debt.
It’s for this reason that I believe that sometimes things ARE as good as they sound. For in this example, when applying the Baby Steps outlined in Total Money Makeover good things started to happen!