This is the most exciting debt report to write because WE FINISHED! That’s right, our consumer debt is no more!
Five months earlier than originally projected, no less!
First time joining me on these debt payoff reports? You can follow my story from the beginning or just recap here. I’ve paid off $26,167 in consumer debt in just over a year.
“Found” Money was Clutch
First of all, I want to emphasize the importance of what the finance gurus call “found” money. This is that extra cash you get outside of your regular income.
It’s when you get a bonus at work. Or when your side hustle has a good month. Maybe it’s when you get some kind of inheritance or an investment that pays off. Or in my case, it turned out to be a raise and a few stimulus payments. And some “extra checks,” as I like to call them.
Extra checks aren’t really extra, though. They’re just those third or fifth checks you get in a given month. If you’re paid biweekly, it’s that third check you get about every six months. If you’re paid weekly, it’s the fifth monthly check you get about once a quarter.
Still, because you can’t really work your budget to include them, I consider them “extra.” I work my budget around the more reliable first two (or four) paychecks I get a month.
We Changed Our Plan
We got serious about our debt just when the pandemic hit. Everything was uncertain, so in the beginning we decided that all extra funds would go to savings as a backup plan in case the proverbial poo hit its requisite proverbial fan.
Our main fear was losing a job. And we wanted to be prepared.
As the pandemic wore on and it looked like our jobs were more secure than ever, we changed those plans. And that’s okay! We started being more aggressive with our payments. And as we “found” money, we started putting that cash toward debt.
The result is that we ended up paying off all our consumer debt in one year. Two weeks. And five days. The last payment went onto the last debt on March 26th.
Take that, consumerism. You don’t own me.
(At least not today.)
Here’s a look at what we did in March. Remember that we received stimulus payments. That made a huge difference for us, and we were able to pay off our remaining debt much faster than we anticipated.
March Debt Ledger
In addition to tracking monthly progress, I’ve also been keeping a running tally of overall numbers.
Overall, we paid a total of $29,688 to pay off our debt since March 2020. Of course, $26,167 of that was the principal, but the other $3,067 of that was interest.
It’s painful to realize we spent over three thousand dollars in just one year for principal. I keep thinking about what I could have done with three thousand extra dollars in my pocket.
We could have bought a nice vacation with that money. Or we could have invested it in the stock market. I mean, imagine buying $3,000 worth of extra stocks at rock bottom prices at the beginning of the pandemic.
$3,000 is half of the cost of the Invisalign treatment I’m currently saving for. I’d be halfway there!
Just imagine paying that $3,000 (or more!) year after year.
Our average total monthly payments were $2,284. This is largely due to found money sources like extra checks, the raise that kicked this whole thing off, and stimulus payments. Without found money sources, our average would have been closer to $1,600 per month.
Here’s my final chart. You can see where we really were able to beef up payments at the end due to these extra income sources.
Time for Some New Goals
This is a huge milestone for us. We still have Kyle’s student loans to pay off, but we’ll be using a different strategy for those.
We’ve got a lot of things we’re still working toward, so prioritizing our goals is next on our to-do list. We know we’ll want to get my Invisalign treatment done, and we still plan to move as well. The move will be very costly since we’re looking at moving out of state.
Also on our list is rental property investing, as well as purchasing our own home. These will take some time to save up for.
We could speed up the achievement of these goals. We would need to either find ways to reduce our spending, or find ways to increase our income.
Personally, I’m a fan of the latter. Yes, we can and should do both, but I’m more focused on income generation because it can help with financial stability. If I lose my job, I can only cut my expenses down so far. But only my drive and ability can limit my income generating potential.
We’ll be sharing our new goals as soon as we’ve got them established. It’s quite possible that this will be a rebuilding and foundation-setting year.
I’m going to do the Invisalign because I’ve been putting it off for about ten years. But then we also want to make the move to a location with a lower cost of living and build new sources of income.
This will position us to quickly achieve our other financial goals, which will in turn help us focus on retiring sooner.
And that’s the end game. I want my time back!
That’s a Wrap!
That’s it for us—this goal gets a big ole check mark next to it. This will be my last report for this series.
Where are you in your debt payoff goals? Drop a comment below and let me know how you’re tracking and how much you have left to go.
View the February 2021 report.