When I started this blog, Traveling Wallet, I wasn’t in the death grip of debt. Actually I was about to make my escape.
I have written a few posts about my debt and my repayment journey. But I really wanted to take the time and give you the whole big picture.
When I look at the numbers it just really amazes me. And I think its inspirational. That is why I am sharing.
Like I’ve said before when I graduated I had a ball and chain of student debt attached to me to the tune of $46,695. With $10k of it at a horrendous rate of
Can you say Wow!
But that wasn’t all. I had a car and no mechanical experience. To translate I knew nothing about this machine and when it started giving me problems and I drop some money into it just to have it give me problems again. I said if a fix is going to cost more then 1k then I’d rather “invest” it in a new to me car.
I didn’t want to get into more debt. I wanted to conquer my student debt before adding anything onto my plate.
But as green as I was in the whole matter well all I could see was that I needed a car for work. The used cars at dealerships were not really a good deal. If its going to cost me that much I might as well buy new. Long story short say hello to $18,417.81 more debt. The bright side? it was at the much more affordable interest rate of 2.99%. When you don’t know what you don’t know any one can convince you that was the right choice.
I just didn’t know enough. I didn’t know how to go about buying from a private party and I didn’t know it would be cheaper.
So instead I did what I knew about, I bought new and with in a few months since graduation my debt climbed to 65k.
Mr. Roamer and I were married in 2012 so our finances weren’t combined until then. But to simplify we will just take a snap shot of his debt at the same time Jan 2011 after graduation.
Actually scratch that. Let’s just make a time line and save ourselves the trouble.
- Jan 2011
- The Roamer graduates 46.7k of debt
- Mr. Roamer graduates ~29k of debt
- May 2011
- The Roamer buys a car 18.5k of debt
- September 2013
- Mr. Roamer buy car ~20k
- July 2014
- Paid off all debt totaling ~ $114,200. One hundred fourteen thousand dollars
So all in all we paid off 114.2K in 3.5 years. Now that is what I call aggressive debt repayment.
Still its slightly bittersweet because seeing that I think wow if only it was all assets instead. So much dropped on cars I regret it now. How much sooner would I be able to retire with another year of spending saved up and earning interest.
I’ve even considered selling. But for now the Roamer family isn’t ready for that change.
So how did we do it?
From the beginning we both had really good habits. Before we were married Mr rented a room out in California and reduced his costs. He naturally started to accumulate money in his account.
I focused on aggressive debt repayment right from the beginning. Going from a student to a worker meant there was a huge increase in my earnings and I made sure that a chunk would go straight to debt. Working to reduce costs I shopped around for the most affordable housing. I tracked my spending and I created a budget.
I also read. A Lot. about debt repayment. I learned about the snowball and I used small tips like rounding up my car payment of $332 up to $335. I learned and understood about interest and so I purposefully focus on my 10k loan first.
I was aggressive by general standards but never as aggressive as I could be. I had this need to have a cash cushion and so I also started to accumulate money.
During this stage I know that what I did involved going to work and then coming home to my son. Spending as much time with him as I could. I don’t remember feeling like I sacrificed but I was the sole provider for a family of 3. My mom, my son and me.
There were challenges being the sole provider in our family situation but there were benefits too. I got and still get “free”childcare.
But during this time I also experienced a major personal loss that could have derailed me financially one day I’ll talk about it more. So much just in 2011.
Then when Mr. And I got engaged we moved in together further lowering our costs. We discussed bigger spaces and even looked around but I just didn’t see the need. So we stayed put saved up and then had a meaningful wedding. One that focused on the marriage.
I never had the option to not be smart with my money. I had people depending on me as soon as I graduated college. I had no family to fall back on financially. But I could count on my family to help out in other ways. Like for example the free childcare.
Do you have a debt Mountain to climb.
Your challenge might be tougher because you’ve already succumbed to life style inflation. But maybe you are ready to buckle down or maybe I’ve caught you at the perfect time right after graduation and meager college living.
What ever your circumstance I believe these steps will help you.
First steps to pay off Debt
- Get you mind in the right place. This means take a moment and think about what you truly value.
- Track your spending. Why? Because now you need to see if your spending is in line with your values.
- Adjust spending to = values. Lower your spending drastically on all the expenses that fall outside of your circle of values
Sometimes two of your values will conflict and it will turn into a would you rather scenario. Would you rather have your own space or would you rather pay off your debt. I’m not saying there won’t be some tough choices but at least you’ll know that they’re in line with your values.
It really is inspiring to hear other peoples debt stories. That is why I Roamer around other peoples blogs.
Leave a comment and tell me are you in Debt? Are you seeing the end of the tunnel? Or did you just cross the finish line?