The startling find I made while de-cluttering: Our debt-reduction chart . . . from 20 years ago!

DH = Dear Husband

“How To Get out of Debt And STAY out of Debt”

Every once in a while, I come across the title of a blog post that goes something like this: “How to Get out of Debt And STAY out of Debt.” My response to such titles has always been, Why would anyone need advice on how to “STAY” out of debt once they’ve dug their way out? – and I move on, in search of a post that speaks to me.

DH and I have been on a journey out of debt for three and a half years now. Our story is a common one: Bad money habits, followed by financial crisis – in our case, a prolonged period of under-employment for DH – followed by better fortune – in our case, DH’s successful launch of a home business – and the resolve to manage better. Since June of 2012, we’ve knocked an average of $3,300 per month off of our $257,000 grand total of consumer, business, and mortgage debt, leaving us with $116,000 (mortgage only) to go. Once it’s all gone, are we really going to need advice about how to “STAY” out of debt?

Déjà Vu

Over the Christmas holidays, I set aside an afternoon to de-clutter one bedroom cupboard. It was full of “keepsakes” – everything from our daughters’ childhood works of art, to years’ worth of birthday cards, to old newspaper clippings . . . I threw out about half of it and organized the rest. The most startling find of that afternoon’s effort was a hand-written chart, taped onto two pieces of large yellow construction paper glued together, with the title, “The Slow and Painful Death of our Massive Debt: March 1994-March 1997.” Déjà vu!

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  1. Bad habits are the cause why people put themselves into debt. I think we should be addressing the difference between planning to be out of debt and staying out of debt with advice on getting the good habits and avoiding sliding again to bad habits.

    1. It’s absolutely a matter of habits, James. It’s not a temporary modification – to get out of debt for instance – but a permanent shift in thought and behaviour that’s needed.

  2. Wow what a find! I think it’s easy to repeat past “mistakes.” I feel like a lot of people get out of debt but then repeat some past habits (i.e. spending too much on a given category, lifestyle inflation) and end up in the same place. I’d be curious to hear some statistics on it.

    1. From the number of article titles I’ve seen about avoiding getting back into debt, I’d say it’s a pretty common phenomenon. We have short memories! The issue with debt is our approach. “I’ll deal with this problem,” makes us think it’s about the money. “I’ll deal with my faults,” is more difficult because it’s humbling – but it’s more likely to keep us out of debt for good.

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