The Day Our Debt Clock ($20,001) Was Reset to Zero!

Michelle Crushes $20,001 In Debt…Bye, Felicia!

•  3 minute read

At 8:02 PM we met our goal of paying down $20,001-worth of debt. Here’s looking back on nine very frugal months.

When my husband and I decided to get out of debt, we didn’t know how much debt we actually had! But when we finally looked at our finances, we hatched this crazy plan to spend this year paying down $20,001 worth of debt.

 

I’m incredibly proud to announce today that… we’ve done it!

At 8:02 PM we met our goal of paying down $20,001-worth of debt. Here’s looking back on nine very frugal months.
Not only that, we did it with two months to spare – we made our goal today at 8:02 PM. (who’s counting?!)

 

Unlike other years, when I’ve just paid a few hundred to debt whenever I could, this year taught me the secrets of debt repayment.

 

It helps if you have a major life change going on.

 

Our move from Chicago to rural Wyoming really did end up being our secret strategy. It took us away from urban temptations like eating out and easy shopping, forcing us to re-evaluate our lifestyle.

 

Now, I wouldn’t recommend everyone move three states away just to pay off debt. But any life change is a great excuse to take stock, because while one part of your life is shifting, you can take a closer look at your “baggage.”

 

THE CHANGE BASICALLY FORCES YOU TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT – AND YOU CAN MAKE PAYING OFF DEBT THAT DIFFERENCE.

 

You’re going to be the bad guy.

 

When we got word that our tax return would be 20 times higher than in previous years (thanks kiddo!), all my husband wanted to do was spend, spend, spend. But I had to be the mean ol’ money-grabber.

 

The truth is, when you’re paying off debt as a team, somebody has to be organized, driven, and committed to the cause. That sometimes means being the bad guy.

 

It sucks, but know that it’s temporary, and that you’ll love that person when you see all those zeros on your balance sheets.

 

Money is a vehicle, but it doesn’t have to be Porsche.

 

I used to think it was a waste of time to do a transfer from my checking account to my credit card balance if it was under $20. Now, I regularly make $1, $5, and $10 payments because, well, why not?

 

Those $5 a day payments add up. They get me where I need to go. It may not be pretty, but it works. I even set up a $10 payment plan every two weeks with my daughter’s hospital to pay off some of our debt. I don’t think they were too happy with that arrangement, but I was pleased to auto draft that.

 

The best Monopoly strategy is to always have some cash.

 

I also learned quickly that I needed to follow every money expert’s advice and have an emergency savings fund. If you don’t have one, stop reading this and figure it out.

 

Otherwise, you shall not pass “go” and you will not collect $200. Because if you land on someone’s Boardwalk hotel, your family is out of the game.

 

Want to keep playing the game of debt repayment? Figure out the worst-case scenario and plan for it. For my family, I chose the cost of a car accident.

 

And guess what happened this year? Yep – a car accident. Luckily, I could afford to pay $500, and I had great auto insurance to back me up. If not, I certainly wouldn’t be here writing this success post!

 

The finish line isn’t as exciting if you have more to go.

 

I wish I could tell you that $20,000 was it for us. But like most Americans, we have much more to go – for us, it’s car and student loans that we still need to pay off. So, today, at 8:02 p.m., we didn’t break out champagne or throw up credit card confetti bits into the air. Honestly, I don’t think I have told my husband yet!

 

While it put a smile on my face, we must push on. So this is me announcing that we are going for more. Instead of just stopping at $20,001 in 2016, we’re going for $23,500.

 

And we’re kicking butt already. Last month, we paid off $1,184-worth of debt, bringing us up to a year total of $21,060. Over the next two months – including the holidays – I’ll have to play the bad guy and double up on my dollar bill payments as we try to hit that $23,500 goal by December 31.

 

This is part of a series chronicling Michelle’s road to debt payoff. To see the previous month’s update, click here.