Did you know that you can eliminate your debt with just a single dollar?
I’m not trying to trick you on this one. Of course, you can’t just wave a magic wand (or a magic dollar bill) and make your debt disappear. However, a single dollar really can go a long way in keeping your payment plans on track.
November has been a rough month for us. While I had big dreams of paying down another couple of thousand dollars towards our debt payoff goal of $23,500 by New Year’s, we got derailed by the holidays.
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Falling Off the Debt Repayment Wagon
Because we’re cash- and debit-only shoppers now, we used our extra income this month to pay for travel back home, buy some presents for family, and have a decent Thanksgiving meal.
But we did pay off something – exactly $39.80 towards our debt.
No, you read that right. We paid just under $40 this month spread across two credit cards and a medical bill – or roughly $13 per debt.
Insignificant? Yep. But it was still one of my proudest accomplishments in debt payoff yet.
In a normal month, I would have seen paying down so little of our debt as a failure. If I couldn’t pay down a huge chunk of it in a big lump sum, why bother making anything but the minimum?
However, looking back, I now realize that this sort of thinking led to more months where I paid off nothing and spent the small sums on useless things, which led to a debt spiral.
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The Debt Binge
This spiral is called a debt binge, and it’s quite common for goal-setters, especially in the early phases of debt repayment. You can compare it to dieting. You spend your first 10 days eating healthy, homemade meals.
On Day 11, you know you’re going to have to eat dinner at a super-unhealthy restaurant, but instead of making better choices leading up to dinner, you convince yourself that it’s a wasted day and eat a doughnut for breakfast, soda with lunch, and candy as a midday snack.
The good habits you were developting over the previous 10 days have been sucked down a spiral of bad habits!
Well, that’s exactly what I used to do with my debt payoff in the past. One bad month with zero pay offs led to another – and another, and another – until my bad decisions had left me with more debt than I started with.
But I couldn’t let that happen this month, regardless of the holidays and the expenses I would be taking on. That’s where that $40 comes in. Forty bucks is exactly what I had left over after bills, minimum debt payments, and holiday expenses.
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Admittedly, I felt silly typing in $13 or calling in a $10 payment for a hospital bill. But when it was over, a heavy weight fell off of my shoulders. While I hadn’t made my grand goal, I had done something.
That’s what I mean about a single dollar helping you pay off your debt. It won’t be the biggest payment you ever make, but you’ll be taking yet another small step, and after a while, those small steps can pay off. Paying something is always better than paying nothing.
With that $40 payment this month, our family has paid $21,100 towards our revised goal of $23,500. While I am unsure if I will be able to find $2,400 this month to end our year, I will still be happy with just one dollar more.
This is part of a series chronicling Michelle’s road to debt payoff. To see the previous month’s update, click here.
Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any partner bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other partner. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.