October & November 2016 Report

Sorry for missing October’s update! I was in over my head through the fall: big project at work early October; a niece’s wedding the next week; first debt-reduction public speaking engagement early November; and ongoing developments for the children’s book I’ll soon be self-publishing.

Where our debt now stands

For each month – October and November – we paid $3,000 off of our mortgage. That means that our June 2012 original debt of $257,400 has now been reduced by a total of $164,700.

  • Our $21,400 consumer debt is gone.
  • Our $80,800 business debt is gone.
  • Our emergency fund is saved.
  • Our mortgage, which in June 2012 was $155, 200, now sits at $92, 700.

Here’s a fact: As our mortgage gets lower and lower, the temptation to quit our intensive focus on debt-reduction increases. At this point, our debt and our debt-to-income ratio are significantly lower than most people’s – including those in our age group (50s). I know a few people who hover around $50,000-$100,000 in mortgage debt who stay there for a long time. It’s not a debt load to get anxious about, and it’s often casually extended by a trip or renovations.

DH and I are feeling a growing sense of, “Is it really worth it to make such a fuss about getting to zero? Nobody else seems to think so.” In fact, without my blog reading and writing, there’s a good chance we would have taken our eyes off the prize by now. Fortunately, I am still reading and writing about debt reduction, and despite the temptations to change focus, we’re still committed to reaching zero.

Where this blog now stands

I’ve been on a bit of a blog journey for the past couple of years. When I started Prudence Debtfree in May of 2012, I wrote once per week. In the last half of 2014, I gave the idea of biweekly writing a try – including mid-week guest posts. That ended up feeling like a stress though, so I stopped it.

I was unsettled. I had a nagging sense that after more that 2 years of blog writing, it was was high time for me to find a way to make it a source of income – as so many other bloggers had. And although I sought out and got advice to make this happen, I never developed much of a clue about it. In part, my problem was limited time, but at least in equal part, my problem was that ever-present tech-phobia which made each little step towards writing-for-income seem too daunting a task.

In March of 2015, I joined Laurie from The Frugal Farmer in creating Fruclassity.  I felt SO fortunate to be working with someone like Laurie. We were two debt-bloggers with different life experience and in different situations, but we also shared a lot in common, and we were on the same page when it came to our outlook on personal finances. Laurie was better connected, more widely read, and in command of better business sense than I was, and unbalanced as the partnership was, I was determined to give it my best.

Writing a weekly post at Fruclassity and another one at Prudence Debtfree proved to be too much for me. It’s been a messy transition, but I’m satisfied that I’ve found a new normal: I write at Fruclassity once per week, and I give a monthly update at Prudence Debtfree.

Writing goal #3

You might remember that in August, I wrote about goals for writing that I’d had for my summer off work. “I had three writing goals. And I’ve met each one. They’ll all take a bit of time to come to fruition . . .”

  1. Goal #1 was to step out of my comfort zone in writing and to give a public presentation about debt-reduction – which I did in November.
  2. Goal #2 was to self-publish a children’s book. The book is on it’s way. I’m waiting for the illustrator to finish her work so that it will be ready early in the new year.
  3. Goal #3 was finally to break into paid blog writing. And it’s happened!

Early in the summer, I received an email message from a magazine editor who asked if I would be willing to allow the publication of a post I’d written a few months before – for a small payment! I was thrilled! It will be another 7 months before it’s published, so I’ll give more details later. The point is, my very fist paid blog writing fell into my lap.

My next few were the result of Laurie’s connections and business savvy as well as both of our work. Fruclassity has hosted and written its first few paid posts.

It’s a modest beginning, but it IS a beginning – one that was a L-O-N-G time in coming. I’ve earned my first few hundred dollars from blog writing!

Thanks to mentors

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how absolutely clueless I was to start with, and how slow I’ve been to begin catching on. I’d like to thank a few mentors who have helped me to navigate my way to this goal.

  • Thank you, Travis Pizel from Enemy of Debt.  Your mentorship got me into the online personal finance community and gave me an understanding of social networking. I was essentially in my own bubble of blogging until you extended yourself out to me.
  • Thank you, Melanie from Dear Debt Blog. Besides letting me write a Dear Debt letter (which I really loved doing!), you confronted me about an obstacle I didn’t even know I was imposing against my writing goal. I felt guilty about my desire to earn an income from writing. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but it was you who brought that false guilt to light.
  • Thank you, Catherine from Budget BlondeYour mentorship to this technically-challenged learner was one of great patience. I was a slow student, but I did learn. I remember you emphasizing the range of writing niches in the personal finance community and the importance of finding the right fit. I believe I’m getting there : )
  • Thank you, Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.  It is an honour to run Fruclassity with you! You’re the one who brings the savvy to our site, and I’ve been a beneficiary of your know-how. I believe that we’re getting somewhere with our mission to offer hope and a safe place for those stressed by debt and poor financial health. There is supportive community between the two of us, and that’s a great foundation for a broader community of people who need support.

Do you think we should keep our focus on zero? or should we let up a bit? Does guilt play into your relationship with money? Your comments are welcome.


 

Image courtesy of Pexels.

 

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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Congrats on earning your first income blog writing!

    I’m sure it’s tempting to give in a bit on the mortgage, but when I saw the number was under $100K, my first thought was under a 100K you’re making great progress. When we got close to the end of our consumer debt I just wanted it gone. The momentum really began to build near the end.

    No guilt here about money, other than I wish we would have had a plan sooner for it. 🙂

    • Thanks, Brian : ) You know what strikes us as we pay down the last $100,000 in mortgage? $100,000 is a lot! It’s SO much easier to borrow $100,000 than it is to pay it off. But we’ll plug through it!

  • Congrats on finally earning some income from your writing. I found two blogs to be too hard to keep up. I couldn’t give my full attention to one. It’s tough to answer the mortgage questions because I think it’s a very personal decision. My thought is to never do anything to leave yourself cash poor, so if you’re not doing that, then why now put more towards your mortgage if that’s what you guys want to do. I’m taking a break from hardcore savings this month and allowing myself to purchase some wants. I do feel a little guilty about it, but I’m trying not to go there. There are just a few things that need major updating!

    • Thanks, Tonya. Our cash is modest, but better than ever, so we’re set up to keep attacking the mortgage : ) After so many years of watching every dollar, I’m sure it feels unfamiliar for you to be “updating”. But I hope you enjoy it thoroughly! As long as you go in with a plan and a budget, you’ll be fine. That continues to be a pitfall for me when I buy new clothes (which I very rarely do). I go in determined to be frugal, but without a plan, and I gradually get too spendy.

  • Speaking from personal experience, I vote going for the mortgage free scenario – you will be on a drug free high when it mentally sinks in that you owe nothing to no-one. If you can pay a bit extra each month – then it will be gone sooner. Brian is correct when he states that as you near the finish line the momentum builds and it is almost a high unto itself to keep things going.
    Congratulations on earning some money for your excellent writing skills – you could put that towards your mortgage pay off lol.

    • Thank you, Nancy. As someone who has experienced that mortgage payoff high, you are an authority on this topic. We aren’t quite close enough to be feeling that finish line momentum – but I can imagine it. I’m actually free to put the money I’m earning from blogging into my discretionary account – since I pay for all blog related expenses from that account. For now, I’ll use it to pay myself back. Once I’ve broken even, I might well use it to ramp up our mortgage payoff. Every bit counts!

  • I am SO excited that your blogging efforts are beginning to pay off monetarily. While sharing your story and experiences helps others in unimaginable ways, it’s a very nice feeling to be rewarded like this for something you love to do, and put so much time and effort into (I know you have)!

    Many congratulations to you, my friend, you deserve it!

    I am humbled by your thanks, and the thought that our mentoring discussions helped you in some small way. Your voice is special, genuine and sincere. Never lose that, Ruth. Your email, and the mention in your blog has put a huge smile on my face, as well as my mind.

  • Our mentoring discussions have helped me in much more than “some small way”! Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Travis : )

  • Dear Ruth,
    Your stuff is WAY too professional to NOT get paid!
    What’s with the guilt?
    You are providing a valuable service to so many!
    Please take a victory lap ~
    One Of Your Biggest Fans,
    kay 🙂

    • Thank you, Kay! The guilt is a weird thing – and I wasn’t even aware of it until I read something that Melanie had written on the topic. I reacted with something like, “No! I don’t feel guilty. No way. Not at all. Nothing to feel guilty about.” A little too much denial… There’s a burden of false guilt that I think many women brought up in the church carry – and it’s not a genuinely Christian thing at all. I could write at least a few posts just about that!

  • Congratulations on your first income from your blogging. Being paid isn’t just about the money it’s also about recognition and acknowledgement. I’ll feel like a true artist when I start selling my art.

    I can’t wait to see your children’s book.

    I have no mortgage, or debts and there is a sense of security. But as I reach 60, and the knees are giving out, I also feel that one day I’ll wake up and I won’t have the time or the physical ability to do the things I wanted to do.

    So I have a very low interest line of credit on the house. I’ve gotten it back to zero but I will let it go up to travel when I can ( never higher than $15,000).

    • Shelly thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! The sense of “use the time that you have while you have your health” is certainly one that I’m hearing more loudly lately. It really would be sad if we paid off the mortgage only to have one of us too unhealthy to travel. I’m sorry to hear about your knees. Perhaps you’ll travel with new knees some day? Dave Ramsey would say, “Save the $15,000 before you travel,” but I certainly won’t fault you : ) I look forward to your first art show! Maybe you can become a paid artist sooner that you think.

  • Wow, $30,000 in two months is awesome debt-payoff! I’m sure you need a break sometimes, but overall I’m of the “keep it up” camp when it comes to debt payoff. The break when it’s all gone will feel so much better!

    And congrats on your paid blog writing!

    • Oh, I wish! I should have used the word “each” instead of “both” up there to show what we paid for Oct. & Nov. (I’ll fix it and make it more clear.) Your eyes added an extra zero in there : ) I’ll stay in the keep-it-up camp : )

  • Great!!!!!! And thank you for the shining report of me. 🙂 You are so kind.

    Regarding your mortgage, Ruth, get the thing paid off ASAP. The sooner you “owe no man” the better prepared you’ll be for what comes the world’s way. You guys are doing GREAT, but kick that mortgage to the curb, ASAP.

  • As someone that has paid off their mortgage. Not having that anchor tied around me is one of the best feelings in the world. Since I was able to pay it off I feel less guilty about indulging on things that my wife and I enjoy. Before I would think oh we could be applying that towards the mortgage. So for us it was the right move. Good luck in your decision!!!

    • I can safely say our decision has been made: We’ll keep our focus on mortgage payoff – It will probably not be quite as fired up as our previous debt-payoff was. More a matter of will than passion. The image of freedom from “that anchor” that you paint is very appealing! Thanks Mustard Seed Money : )

  • I say keep your focus on paying down your mortgage, if only to give you peace of mind at a time you may need it most. The statistics are already starting to prove that even though people plan to work until 65 or older (to pay down debt), many are forced to retire early due to situations out of their controls such as downsizing, and health challenges. It’s really one of those “hope for the best, plan for the worst” kind of situation. If everything turns out fine and you can work until you’re 65, other opportunities open up if you’ve eliminated a major expense like a mortgage.

    • You make a very good point in saying situations outside of our control might happen. As we advance through our 50s and into our 60s, there will be no guarantees – and having the burden of a mortgage completely gone will give us lots of latitude no matter what the situation. Thanks LPC. That mortgage is going to go!

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