September 2016 Report: 6-Figure Debt Now Down to 5 Figures!

One risk of self-publishing? Boxes and boxes of books.

  • DH = Dear husband
  • DD3 = Dear 3rd daughter

Milestone: $100,000 barrier broken!

Our $257,400 debt from 2012 is now under $100,000. Consumer debt? GONE. Business debt? GONE. Mortgage debt? Down to $98,100. We have broken the 6-figure barrier! The finish line is still 3 years ahead of us. But I can see it.

Writing Goal #2

Last month, I wrote about my trial run at financial freedom in the summer, and the opportunity I had to write more. “I had three writing goals. And I’ve met each one. They’ll all take a bit of time to come to fruition, but I’ll share one for this month’s post.” The goal I wrote about last month had to do with my venture into public speaking about debt reduction. Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch, November 7 from 6:30-8:00. There will be plenty of nervous energy going into that event!

Goal #2 has nothing to do with debt reduction. Here it is:

Two children’s books

I wrote and self-published two children’s books way back around the turn of the millennium. The first, published in ’98, I dedicated to our eldest. The second, published in ’02, I dedicated to our second child. For each book, there is a personal connection to the daughter for whom I wrote it. From ’98-’02, I was either working part-time or I was home on extended maternity leave (I actually resigned in ’01), and it was such a privilege for me to be able to devote some time, energy, and money to these projects. For a few years, I marketed books. I sold about 5,000 of them (not bad for the Canadian market) and even went to local schools as a visiting author.  I can’t tell you how much I loved that.

An abrupt halt

In 2002, it was clear that I had to return to work, and that part-time would not be an option. DH had become a casualty of the NORTEL ship sinking, and his high-tech career – which  provided our family’s bread and butter – was spinning. We didn’t know it then, but there would be years of uncertainty and financial stress ahead of us. All I knew then was that I had to go back to work full-time.

Marketing the hundreds of books that I still had in boxes at home? Not even a remote chance. I hoped that our situation would be short-lived, but as the years passed, those books became a burden. I ended up giving away a few thousand of them to different school boards earlier this year.

DD3’s book?

If you have 3 daughters, and you write a children’s book for each of the first 2, there is no way that you are NOT going to write one for the 3rd. Since 2002, I have known that I had to write a story to dedicate to DD3. I trusted that the right time would come, but my time was swallowed up. And money was so, so tight for so long. The cost of self-publishing a children’s book with illustrations is significant, and we weren’t even close to being able to justify such an expense. Furthermore, with boxes of unsold books hanging around the house, there was some dread at the thought.

But the book had to be written.

DD3 never said anything about it, and I was grateful for her patience. Last year, though, she asked me frankly, “Mom, are you going to write a book for me before I’m dead?” OK! I felt an urgency to get going. It was DD3’s question that made me decide to stay home for the summer of ’16 instead of teach summer school in the name of debt reduction. As Laurie wrote in a recent post at Fruclassity, “Every person/family has things that cost money that are important to them; more important than dumping debt.” DD3’s book was more important.

Time and money: DH’s negotiation

Once I had decided to take the summer off, I got an idea for a story, and I was excited about it. It would be about a girl named Ella and how she learned to deal with a school bully. July came and my test drive of financial freedom began. I liked it! Rest, exercise, socializing, family visits, blog writing, preparations for my talk at the library . . . I just couldn’t focus on writing the book. July became August, and as the first and second weeks of the month passed, I became worried. What was my problem? Why couldn’t I just sit down and write the story? Why was it locked in my head?

Mid-August, I was sitting by the bar-b-q with DH, and he started to talk about the guitar he was saving up to buy with his discretionary money. “I don’t think I can wait until next year,” he said. He wondered if we could do a planned splurge with our common money – which would mean holding off on aggressive debt-repayment for  a while. The last time we had agreed upon such a splurge, it had been at DH’s request too. He wanted to go to Whistler for snow boarding a couple of years ago, and I had automatically been in support of it. We planned a few months in advance, and gave ourselves each a “bonus” for our discretionary allowance the month before his trip.

But then when I  – at the last minute mind you  – and because of my poor management of my discretionary money – wanted a mini-splurge of $200 to go away for a week-end with friends this past spring, DH had not supported the idea. “If you managed your money better, you’d easily be able to save up that amount and go.” He was right of course, but still . . .

“No,” I said. “You’ll just have to save up and wait for your guitar.” That felt good. I had the power. No more automatic agreement from me! “Isn’t there something you really, really want?” DH asked me. “There is nothing that I want more than debt-freedom,” I said in a burst of self-righteousness. But before the words were out of my mouth, I knew they weren’t true. So we struck a deal.

Knowing that I had the money to self-publish DD3’s book made all the difference. Within 4 days, I had written the story. DD3 loves it! I have sent the text and a proposed layout to the publisher. A former student is preparing the illustrations. It feels SO satisfying to be at this stage. After a wait of 14 years, DD3 will have her book.

Debt repayment opens doors

I said that goal #2 had nothing to do with debt reduction, but that’s not quite true. Our debt repayment has allowed money stress to evaporate. And all of the good things that had been stifled by that stress now have their chance to breathe. Among them are DH’s guitar playing. And my children’s book for DD3. Passing the $100,000 mark is worthy of celebration, and I think we’ve chosen the best possible way to celebrate our growing freedom – by using it.


Do you celebrate financial milestones? Your comments are welcome.

Thanks for reading our report for September ’16! Please check out my weekly posts at Fruclassity.

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