Bewildering Financial Leap from Debtor to Investor

DH = Dear Husband

For the first time in 6 years of blogging about debt-reduction, I’ve hit a wall. I have had several ideas for posts in the last few weeks, but they just turned into unfinished drafts.

DH and I are striding to the finish line of our journey out of debt. In  September, we’ll put the last payment against our house. The $257,400 total debt that we had in June of 2012 – including consumer debt, business debt and mortgage debt – will be GONE! So why this writer’s block?

The impact of my inheritance: an escalator analogy

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that my mother passed away in November of last year. Mom was very supportive of our commitment to become debt-free, and she was always happy about our progress. Every conversation I had with her brought about the question, “How’s the debt?” The last time I was able to give her an update, we were down to $60,000. Awkward as I find it, I can’t write about the end of our trek to debt-freedom without reference to my inheritance – which has sped up the last leg of the journey like a banned substance.

I’ve tried to come up with an analogy for it, and here’s what has come to mind: Our journey out of debt has been like a pain-staking walk up 25 flights of an underground parking lot towards the ground floor. Not only has the ascent been steep, but the stairs have actually been an escalator moving in a slow downward direction. So each step up has taken the intention necessary to go against a downward pull.

After climbing up 20 flights, and with only 5 to go, something happened. The escalator suddenly changed direction and speed, and it shot up not only to ground level, but to the 10th floor of the building above the underground parking lot. And although the escalator then slowed down to its regular pace, its direction was a gradual upward, making all future ascent that much easier.

The downward direction of the escalator below-ground represents the interest that debtors have to pay as they try to make their way out of debt. Every $1.00 of debt knocked off really means a payment of $1.10 – or more or less. But the upward direction of the escalator above-ground represents the opposite – the interest gained on each dollar invested.

Not debt-free yet – but not struggling with debt

We’ve chosen not to take on the penalty that would come with paying off our mortgage early. We’ve maximized our payments by doubling our monthly amounts and by twice putting down the full lump sum that we’re entitled to once per year. That leaves us with a small balance that will be gone in September.

So we’re not there yet, but we are no longer struggling to get out of debt.

So how can I keep writing a debt blog?

“I’m thinking of stopping now,” I said to a colleague last week – after another weekend of writer’s block. “It doesn’t feel genuine to write about getting out of debt when I have this inheritance.”

“Why don’t you write about what you’re doing to keep out of debt?” she said. “It’s a real issue, and it’s not a topic that many people write about.”

I had to agree with her about it’s being an issue in our debt-normalized society. I know more than one person who paid off the mortgage only to take on a line of credit. And it’s common for people to decide the time has come to buy a new car once they’ve paid off the old one. Yo-yo debting is for real.

The view is different above-ground

So in my last few months of blogging on this site, I’ll be writing about our adjustments to the new normal, and our proactive steps to avoid getting into debt again – because we’ve done that!

Last Friday, I met DH’s financial advisor – now our financial advisor – and DH and I talked with him for over 4 hours. How bewildering it was for me to be talking about equities and bonds! I have SO much to learn about investing.

The upshot of our meeting was that with my teacher’s pension, with DH’s and now my portfolio – and with no debt – we’ll be in a position for me to retire at the end of the next school year – exactly when my pension becomes available. DH will likely continue to run his home business on a part-time basis for another 5 years or so.

At least that’s the plan. I have the option of working for a few more years. We also have the option of selling the house and both retiring next year. The point is, we’ve got the freedom to choose – which was the vision that motivated us to start our journey out of debt in the first place. We’re not stuck anymore!

End of writer’s block?

We’ll see if this marks the end of my writer’s block. Thanks for your patience 🙂


Is it of value to write about what we’re doing to stay out of debt? Have you ever been caught up in yo-yo debting? Your comments are welcome.


 

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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Please keep writing! Personally, I am interested to see what life is like once your debt is gone. My husband and I are paying off the house (3 years to go) and I am soooo curious to know what it’s like to live completely debt free AND truly own your home.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelly! I’m afraid I won’t know what to write about “what it’s like to live completely debt free”. Maybe a part of me just needs to catch up with our new reality. But I have also always seen this blog as being about our journey out of debt – with a clear beginning and a clear end. I think that most people getting out of debt share similar experiences. As for being debt-free, the possibilities of experience are so much broader – so that what I have to say about it might not resonate with anyone else. Anyway, thanks again Kelly, and all the best in accomplishing your mortgage payoff in 3 short years!

  • Well you may have writers block but I’m really happy for you that you’ve put yourself in such a great financial position. I think I’d rather have that then the debt that would give you something to write about! 🙂 Congrats! But PS, ideas WILL start coming back to you!

    • Good point, Tonya! I would not wish us back into debt so that I’d be comfortable with what to write. As I said to Kelly, maybe my head has to catch up with our new financial reality. And I’ll take your word for the ideas coming back again 🙂

  • I was just wondering what the next steps would be for you, with the mortgage pay off looming. Great to hear you and DH are thinking about the future, and have started planning. I like the idea of capturing what’s next. The learning will never end even with the debt gone. It will be important to stay focused, connected and not fall back into old bad habits. Maybe the blog and writing help in a small way.

    • The blog and writing and connection to other people working on their personal finances have been a help in a BIG way! You are right in saying I’ll need to stay focused. Before DH and I met with the financial advisor, I was definitely getting flaky with my spending – sort of feeling set adrift. Very true that the learning will never end. Thank, Brian.

  • I can understand why an inheritance would keep you from feeling genuine about your writing about debt freedom, but don’t let it! In real life, there are unforeseen things, both good and bad, and that makes up part of the journey. I’m so glad you and your family are in a good place and are making that transition to investing. Please keep writing for as long as you find it rewarding. I am certain there are lots of us who will find your insights valuable.

    • Oh that’s such a kind thing to say, Gary. And what good advice: “keep writing for as long as you find it rewarding.” I just might need a break – and the end of our debt seems like a good place to take at least a pause. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading other people’s blogs though. Thanks:)

  • I don’t think you should stop writing just because you’ll be done paying off your debt. I’m sure your readers will appreciate knowing that getting out of debt IS possible and the ins and outs on how you did it.

    • Thank you for stopping by to read and comment, Karen! You’ve summed up what I’ve always hoped my blog would provide: the message that getting out of debt is possible, and an honest example of the good, bad, and ugly that are part of the journey. The thing is that these things have been in the posts I’ve written while getting out of debt – six years’ worth of them! I don’t know if I’ll be able to add any more of value on those topics once the debt is paid off. Thanks again.

  • It would be a shame if you stopped writing about something – anything lol! Your voice would be sincerely missed, but I understand your wanting a break – the end of debt feels like, and is, a new beginning and you need to take some time to assimilate the emotions.

    If you get to Nashville to see Dave Ramsay, please write about your experience.

    I follow a retirement blog called A Satisfying Retirement and also a senior travel blog called Senior Nomads – both are about the positive experiences that being debt free can afford, written from fairly young seniors points of view. May I suggest that you take a look at them as they may spark you on to something new to write about (or experience) – I am sure you will have many adventures in your new debt free lifestyle that you could share with your faithful readers 🙂

    • Nancy, it means a lot to me to know that you would miss “hearing my voice”. I’m too “Aww shucks” to know how to respond, so I’ll just say thank you 🙂
      I can’t quite get my head into retirement living yet – but when I can, I’ll be glad to have those suggestions to check out. And yes, I will definitely let you know if we make it onto the Ramsey show in Nashville! Not sure if he accepts Canadian debt-free screams, but I hope so!

  • I have been following your blog for some time but have never posted before. I’m not looking for inspiration to get out of debt. But I have continued reading for the last few years because of the high quality of your writing style. You manage to write an interesting post from everyday situations, be it at school or regarding your family. I believe you truly have a gift for writing. You manage to write with a critical yet positive approach. Please keep on writing (even of not on your blog)!

    • P, it is wonderful to hear from you. For me, it’s gratifying to think that someone has been reading and appreciating my blog for years without my knowing it. I have been writing since the age of 10 when I first received a diary, and I’ve always found outlets for my desire to write. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I have no doubt that I will keep writing one way or another. Again, thank you:)

  • Yes, keep writing. We learn so much from others’ genuine experience which provides us with inspiration and knowledge for our own journeys. You’ve made others feel less alone with their debt struggles and offered them some valuable insights. I hope your retirement grants you the time to further explore your passion for writing. Keep your voice out there!

    • Thank you, Shirley! I really do hope that readers who struggle with debt have felt less alone with their debt struggles by following our journey – and I hope they have gained hope. “Genuine experience” is what I’ve wanted to share – even when it’s less than pretty. Thanks again for reading and leaving your kind comment:)

  • I got out of debt about 5 years ago while blogging and I found the opposite happened in terms of writing…I really started grappling with the “what now” question and exploring how to make life more meaningful. I blamed debt for a lot of things that weren’t really debt’s fault….staying in a Job I don’t like, needing to lose a few pounds, etc etc. in the end debt wasn’t really the main villain. It was my perspective on what is and isn’t possible.

    I haven’t written for years on my blog because I took on a big Reno project but it definitely was a great time to write. First time here and really love your writing style.

  • Thank you for reading and commenting, Sandy. VERY interesting what you came to realize: “I blamed debt for a lot of things that weren’t really debt’s fault.” I hope you have found your “What now?” Is financial independence a motivator for you? Early retirement? Or retirement on time (which many can’t afford to take now). I’m going to keep my eyes open for what I might have “blamed” on debt unfairly. Thanks again.

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