Prudence Debtfree’s Debt-Reduction Graph

  • 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 …

2012

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).

2013

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.

2014

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.

2015

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:

  1. We saved up for renovations that DH did near the end of the year.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)

2016

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!

2017

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.

2018

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.


 

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

    • The graph does look simple! I actually wanted it to look more complicated 🙂 I will have a greater appreciation for line graphs from now on.

  • Love the recap! (and graph) It’s so encouraging for others to see your journey, and I’m sure it’s fun, emotional to look back at the highs and lows for you. I kept a spreadsheet during our debt payoff. It was a highlight each much to enter in the new balances and see our progress.

    • I hope that it IS encouraging for others to see our journey. I wanted the graph to depict the uneven progress we made – because some people get discouraged if everything isn’t perfectly balanced over time. Smart you for keeping a spreadsheet all along!

    • Thank you, Tonya. And thank you for following our journey so consistently. As I looked back on my old posts, I saw some of your comments from WAY back. I appreciate that!

  • That graph says it all – the steely determination and the winning outcome. Are you going to frame it? Congratulations!!

    Have you heard from Dave Ramsay yet? How are you planning to celebrate your debt freedom?

    • Framing it is a very good idea. Thanks for that! And I’m glad you said “steely determination”, because I recognized it as I looked back through my old posts. Especially in the middle of slow pay-off of the business debt. Ugh! No, I haven’t heard back from Ramsey 🙁 We do have plans in place to celebrate though. More on that later 🙂

      • I just re-read your very first post where you talked about envisioning your final debt payment – and here you are!! I’m getting excited for you – reliving that feeling of victory 🙂

        • That’s a generous sentiment, Nancy. I hope that like you, I will also experience that vicarious excitement of others reaching their debt-freedom.

  • This is amazing! Sticking with a debt payoff plan for the better part of seven years is absolutely astounding. I hope you continue to encourage many people to start journeys of their own.

    • Thank you so much Hannah. Dave Ramsey says that it takes the average household 7 years to get to a point of total debt-freedom following his steps. So we were anticipating a long road when we started. I REALLY want to be an encouragement to others who wake up to their financial mess – like we did. There is a way out! Even for late-starters.

  • G’ah now I’m going to get my geek on to do this! I hope you have something cold and bubbly waiting to be opened when you reach financial nirvana. Do you ever wonder where you would be now if you hadn’t started on this journey?

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