- DH = Dear Husband
- DD2 = Dear Second Daughter
Producing my graph
“If you had kept a spreadsheet of our debts month-by-month, you could have produced a graph in a few seconds,” DH told me earlier today. But I have not keep a spreadsheet. Instead, I’ve written dozens of updates on our debt-reduction progress. And these are interspersed through 277 posts that I’ve written for this blog over the last 6 years and 3 months. So it took a lot longer than mere seconds to produce my graph.
For several days, I’ve been digging deep into the archives of Prudence Debt-Free: One Couple’s Journey out of Debt. In my efforts to pin down an account of our debt totals for the 76 months of our trek to debt-freedom, I spent hours filling up 10 pages with dates and numbers. After that, it was a matter of bribing DH (with food) to take my data and make the graph.
4 of the 10 pages of notes I took
If this graph could tell its story …
After a very encouraging start in June of 2012, we had to put our debt-repayment on hold for September and October. DH had been to a conference in the U.S. and he had suffered a gall bladder attack. He’d had to give a deposit of $2,500 for his few hours in a hospital, with another $3,000+ owing. It took weeks to sort out the insurance coverage.
Everything settled in our favour with the insurance, and our financial stars aligned to allow us to pay off a lot all at once. November brought us to the end of our consumer debt ($21,400). DH’s over-the-top business in December allowed us to pay $10,000 off of our business debt ($80,800).
Our debt-payoff rate decreased through most of 2013. We had to save for a new roof, and in the spring, DH’s business slowed down. I had to learn patience on both fronts, and the big victory of the year was that for the first time in our lives, we paid for a big purchase – the roof – with money on hand.
After having paid for the roof, we were eager to speed up payments against our huge business debt. Our rate of repayment increased overall, but there was nothing smooth about it. A month of great income and low expenses would be followed by a month of slow business and vet bills. One month, we paid a whopping $5,000 off the business debt. For two months, we couldn’t pay off anything. It was a bumpy ride through 2014, and as our attitudes did some re-shaping, we began to recognize in ourselves a draw towards greater simplicity and minimalism.
The bumps of 2014 continued into the first half of 2015, but then … we paid off the business debt! We were debt-free except for the mortgage! From June of 2015, our debt-repayment pace became smoother and slower. Why slower? 3 reasons:
- We saved up for renovations that DH did near the end of the year.
- We supported DD2 financially in moving out of the house and closer to her university and track facilities. We did this for 2 years – from July of 2015-June of 2017.
- In following Dave Ramsey’s steps, we started to save for our big emergency fund. (Just 2 months ago, our e-fund allowed us to buy a new-to-us car with money on hand when our ’99 Dodge Caravan bit the dust.)
I found it difficult to get excited about the slower progress we were making now that we were dividing our financial focus between savings and debt-repayment. I had been more motivated when it had all been about taking down the debt. As 2016 started, my resolution was to hold steady – like a plank – and to keep strong in all aspects of our financial efforts.
Our big mile-stone for the year was in going from a 6-figure debt to a 5-figure debt. From our original total debt of $257,000, we had less than $100,000 to pay off! I could see the finish line on the horizon!
Our debt-repayment continued steadily in 2017, but DH and I found ourselves shifting towards a greater appreciation for investing. Now that our big emergency fund had been saved, we were investing 15% of our gross income (as per Ramsey’s plan).
My mother’s health started to decline in the spring of 2017. She passed away in November after living a long and full life. Her final illness was mercifully brief, and she was surrounded by all 5 of her children at the end.
The inheritance that I received has sped up the last leg of our journey to debt-freedom. We were aiming for a debt-free date of June 2019, but that date moved up to September of 2018. We were able to make 2 lump sum payments against our mortgage to bring it down sharply – without incurring a penalty.
In 3 short weeks, our mortgage – and the last of our debt – will be down to $0. Our journey out of debt is almost over.
If you are paying off debt, how do you keep track of your progress? Are you aiming for a specific debt-free date? Your comments are welcome.