DH = Dear Husband
On the right track – and it’s weird!
November has been a month of monetary abundance. (See post “Debt and Guilt . . .”) A few weeks ago, we dared to hope that with our insurance reimbursement, DH’s expenses claim, and my three-paycheque month, we might be able to finish off Debt #2 by November 30. As it turns out, we didn’t even need to wait for my third pay. This past week, DH and I drove to the bank and eliminated Debt #2!
“Do you feel secure not having Debt #2 anymore?” DH asked me as we exited the bank. We both felt a giddy light-headedness and a slight loss of equilibrium, but I thought he was joking. “It’s been with us for at least five years, and now it’s gone.” While driving from the bank to the wholesale grocery store we’d gone to a thousand times before, we sat in stunned silence. DH got confused about where he was and almost made a wrong turn. Getting out of debt is disorienting! Who would have thought it?
The end of November marks the first six months on our journey out of debt, and it’s time to look back at our progress. We’ve focused on Debts #1 and #2, but our mortgage has also decreased.
Start of June: Total Debt = $257, 400
#1 New Car Debt – $8,600
#2 Old Car & Course Debt – $12,800
#3 Business Debt – $80,800
#4 Mortgage – $155,000
End of Novemeber: Total Debt = $231, 400
#1 – $0
#2 – $0
#3 Business Debt – $80, 830
#4 Mortgage – $150, 570
We’ve paid a grand total of $26,000 off of our debt in six months! If we had never listened to or read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover – if we had continued with the course we were on in the spring of 2012 – things would be significantly different. Remember, we weren’t terrible with money at that time. We were paying $1,000 per month off of our new car; $600 per month extra on our mortgage; and $700 per month off of the business debt. On a regular basis, we were paying $2,300 off of our debt – that’s on top of the regular mortgage payment – each month. That’s not bad.
But not every month was regular. We weren’t working together, mainly because I had a strong aversion to financial details; we weren’t communicating about money matters except to bicker. As a result, we were never current. Tax bills and Visa bills and regular monthly payments and sudden needs/wants were coming in chaotically, leaving us (mainly DH) with no sense of our actual financial status at any given time. So we would occasionally skip our debt repayment, or even back track on it. Last spring, for instance, DH borrowed $3000 from our line of credit for Debt #1 so that we could pay our property tax bill. Although $2,300 in debt repayment, on top of the regular mortgage payment, was our goal every month, we did not always attain that goal.
My guess is that if we hadn’t started this focused journey out of debt, we would have paid off about $17,000 (including mortgage) in the last six months. That means we’ve paid $9,000 more than we otherwise would have. We’ve increased our debt repayment by about 50%. Last spring, we failed to maintain regular payments, on top of the mortgage, of $2,300 per month. For the past six months, we have averaged over $3,500 per month.
If you asked me how, I’d have some quick answers: I taught summer school for the first time in fourteen years; I didn’t go with DH to his annual convention as I had the previous two summers; DH and I spent much less on our anniversary than we had the previous two years; we no longer pay for house-cleaning; we missed our camping trip due to DH’s illness; we sold some items on Kijiji. But I’d have less tangible answers too: I have faced down my aversion to the details of money matters and have become a partner with DH in the management of our household finances; DH and I are recognizing our own agents of inner-sabotage – things like guilt and worry and self-identification with middle-class debt (more on that later); when there has been more money than we expected, we’ve resisted the temptation to indulge and have put more against debt; we’re learning to identify the fine line between needs and wants.
At the beginning of June, I compared our journey out of debt to a 10 km road race (see post “Here We Go!”). “If you’ve ever taken part in a road race,” I wrote, “you know how effortless it feels at the beginning. Surrounded by fellow runners, cheered on by well-wishers, adrenaline pumping, barely conscious of your legs beneath you . . . It’s as if you are carried by the crowds through that first kilometer or so.” Well, we’ve completed the first kilometer. One tenth of our debt is gone. We’re doing so much better than I would have thought possible. And now that the adrenaline is subsiding, now that the psyched determination of the start is quieter, now that we feel the effort we’re expending, it’s going to be our challenge to keep pace. The second kilometer of a road race is still pretty sweet. I say bring it on.