A Little Bit Of History
Over the past ten years, I have accomplished some pretty major things. I purchased my first car, complete with a monthly payment. I moved out. I went to college and obtained a bachelor’s degree. I met the love of my life, got engaged, became a wife and then a stay-at-home mother. All of these are milestones I am proud to have achieved. However, through all of those experiences, in the background, I had been “achieving” something I am much less thrilled with…a massive pile of debt. And by massive I mean approaching-six-figure-massive.
Some of it was my own, some of it was my husbands…but now that we are married the entire debt is ours. Like many others and maybe like you, the majority of our debt is student loans. My husband and I both ended up switching majors in college, causing what was supposed to be a four-year experience to stretch into a six year one for each of us.
Although I had a job while I was going to school, I worked only enough to cover my living expenses. Sure, I could have worked more hours to help cover the cost of schooling, but I told myself that I needed to borrow money to pay for school so I had more time to study (or socialize). So, with each passing year, I sunk further and further into student loan debt to pay for school. I didn’t worry about having to pay it back later. Everybody borrowed money for school. It was normal…the status quo.
But our debt doesn’t end there. Not even close. We also have a few thousand dollars in credit card debt from buying things we wanted but didn’t need as well as two car payments because we didn’t save the money to purchase them outright.
Coming To Our Senses
Early on in our marriage, we were living on a very small family income so we told ourselves we couldn’t pay down debt because the money wasn’t there. And really, that is true to an extent. We were stretched thin. But eventually, our income rose when my husband landed a new job. While I would like to say that we spent any leftover funds wisely and directed them towards our debt…we didn’t. In fact, our new income level gave us a sense of freedom that we hadn’t experienced before. We felt as if we had a little financial breathing room and we would find ourselves buying things simply because we could.
You see, we didn’t have that luxury of “purchasing power” before. The last thing we wanted to do was throw it on our debt so we continued paying the minimum on each of our debts each month.
However, after about a year or so on our new salary, I started thinking about our debt and how long it would take us to pay it off if we continued down the minimum payment route. I can’t remember the exact number I came up with, but I do remember being shocked by it. We were looking at being chained to these loans for the indefinite future. That’s when I knew we would have to get serious about paying off debt if we ever wanted to move forward with our dreams.
The thing is, we could look at debt as something that is normal to have. We could accept that we will always be giving our money to lenders each month, just so we can have the things we want but can’t afford right now. We could do that and no one would really bat an eye. But even though it’s considered the standard way to live, we personally don’t want carry debt our entire lives, especially because it’s hindering us from creating a life we envision.
To help us stay on track with paying off debt, we needed to know our why for doing so.
- We want to put down roots and build a home so that our children have a place to grow, play and explore. We want to to be able to create fond memories in a place that was their home, not an apartment that is only temporary.
- We want to have the ability to travel to explore and experience the world.
- We want to build wealth to pass on to our family, and give more generously to those in need.
Committing To Changing Our Financial Future
We know that the life we want is possible only if we work hard to get out of debt. In order to change, we know we have to make a commitment to do so. We have to be purposeful with how we spend and save money. I know the habits we have created regarding finances won’t change overnight and will be extremely difficult to adjust. But I know that with determination, a positive attitude, and a lot of prayer that change is possible and we can achieve our goals. We know it won’t be easy. We will slip up every now and then, likely in a two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of way. We won’t follow our plan perfectly, but that’s okay. We are going for progress, not perfection.
I would love to share our journey to become debt free with you as we go through this process. You can follow our story here through my monthly Destroy Debt Series! Each month, I will share our current balance of the debt we are working to pay off, fill you in on our financial progress made that particular month, and how we plan to move toward our goal to be debt free the following month!
Want to learn how we paid off $860 in debt our first month? Click here!