• DH = Dear Husband
  • DD3 = Dear third daughter

October progress: slow

We started our journey out of all debt in June of 2012, and at this point, over 5 years in, we can see the finish line.

  • $21,000 in consumer debt – GONE
  • $81,000 in business debt – GONE
  • $155,000 in mortgage debt – down by $89,000
  • Our grand total of $257,000 in debt has come down to a $66,000 mortgage

In October, we weren’t able to pay as much off of the mortgage as we had hoped to. After a low September payment, it was discouraging – especially since we anticipate a low November payment too.

Gazelle intensity* wanes

One reason I’m not really worried about our current  spate of lower payments is that we have had great long-term progress, and it absorbs this slow-down blip easily. Another reason is that I’m preoccupied by other things. I don’t know about you, but when there are significant worries in other areas of life, that gazelle intense focus on finances wanes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m convinced that healthy finances are part of a strong foundation for all areas of life. They are very important. It’s just I don’t always have the bandwidth to keep our finances a point of focus. Like now.

My mom’s health

Of greatest concern is my mom’s health. Her blood pressure has gone out of whack again, and besides a trip to the hospital by ambulance, it has meant a battery of medical tests; multiple visits to various doctors; frequent visits from her children; and a constant stream of emails among us, about updates, to-do lists, and decisions to be made.

My mother is 92-years-old and very fortunate to have lived such a good and long life. She won’t live forever, and she accepts that fact with perfect peace. But uncertain health is no picnic at any age. It’s been a roller coaster of crisis, hope, and emotion. Thank God she did her trip to Italy in September. It wouldn’t have turned out well if she’d gone in October.

DH’s business

DH operates a home business, and there are always ups and downs with it – resulting in variable income, and variable debt-repayment. DH’s business is currently undergoing a stress test. We’re all feeling it. I can’t say much more than that.

My book

I’ve recently put a lot of work into a marketing initiative for my children’s book. I’m at the wait-and-see point now. When you take on something like this, you have to be ready for the possibility that it goes nowhere. And it’s not easy. “Going nowhere” would be a real disappointment for me.

If I look at it  philosophically, I wrote Ella Builds A Wall for DD3, and not for anyone else. Still, I have boxes of the book in my room, and it would be really nice if they sold. If they don’t, I’ll figure out something. Again, not the end of the world. Just a raw, anxious thing.

Our dog

Poor Rocky has had fleas and an ear infection. And blood-work indicates that there’s more on the horizon. In the name of frugality, we have chosen a veterinary clinic that is a significant distance from our home – because its services are reasonably priced. Trips back and forth to the vet are no small deal, and the looming question mark of expenses, even for relatively inexpensive veterinary care, add an element of dread to our concern for Rocky’s health and the complicated logistics involved in getting him seen, assessed, and treated.

To anyone committed to debt-elimination, I would strongly advise not to get a pet. There are too many unpredictable expenses involved. But we bought Rocky years before we started our journey out of debt, and he’s a beloved member of the family. Rocky is 11 years old. It is very, very tough to navigate the maze of decisions coming our way as he ages.

No discretionary log for this month please

I’ve been providing a log of my discretionary expenditures over the last couple of months in an effort to get my discretionary account out of the red. I’m going to excuse myself from having to provide such a log this month. Whenever things are out of balance in my life, I spend more – especially on food. I’ll tell you this much: it happened again.

Sorry for the less-than-perky tone of this post! I try to keep it real, and this is where we’re at.

Do you find that your financial focus blurs when life goes off kilter? Your comments are welcome.

*(“Gazelle intensity” is a term used by Dave Ramsey, whose steps towards debt-freedom we  follow.)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Join the Conversation


  1. I definitely agree that financial focus gets blurry when there are other concerns going on, and you certainly have your share of them right now. But I’m glad you can put this blip in context of your overall journey. I hope November brings you fewer worries!

    1. Thank you, Gary. My mom was feeling better when I visited her yesterday and took her blood pressure. Rocky actually slept through the night last night too. 2 promising signs for November : )

  2. Life events certainly have a way of taking priority over financial focus. Your previous hard work has set you up well for a bit of a lull in activity. Wishing your mom the best. 92 years young, god bless her. Agreed on pet ownership. They can be a wildcard. We had an unexpected $101 bill this month. Hope Rocky is on the mend too.

    1. Thank you for the kind wishes for my mom, Brian. Day by day, things continue to be uncertain.

  3. I could relate to what you said about pets. I got pepe when I was working full time, but could have never predicted the ups and downs of life. And although I do not regret getting him at all and has brought me so much joy, if I had to do it all over again I’m not sure I would. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I’m really glad she got to go to Italy when she did. I’ll be sending you good thoughts. And good thoughts for the hubby’s job and book too!

    1. Your feelings about Pepe are the same as mine about Rocky – though my 2 younger daughters would not think much of that. He is so, so precious to them. Thank you for all of those good thoughts, Tonya. They are all very welcome.

  4. Sorry everything is at sixes and sevens right now, Ruth. Even though your debt-repayment is not at a high level, that’s okay because you guys have the tools in place to not let debt get out of control when things go awry in your everyday lives.

    Prayers for your mom and your family, including Rocky 🙂

  5. I am so sorry to hear that you are in an uncertain place with your mom’s health, your dog’s health and your financial health. Sometimes we tend to feel like Job in the Bible. But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and we just have to be patient and search for it, praying and believing that things will get better. Remember, you are not alone in your walk – you have your on-line friends, your family and friends and most importantly, you have God. Blessings Ruth.

    1. So lovely, Nancy! Job had it a lot worse than I do, but I am feeling the weight of multiple worries. I don’t feel alone in my walk, and better still, my mom doesn’t either. We had a good talk today when I visited her after work. Her health is still very unstable, but “it is well with her soul.” She’s got the best perspective. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  6. I am praying for you all Ruth. God Bless and I know you will keep the Faith as always. The devil’s really been working overtime lately. The Good News is, he hasn’t much time left.

    1. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m not feeling guilty about our focus being less than gazelle intense. I’m just saying it IS less. To everything there is a season – and this is a season for that gazelle to take a break : )

  7. As I recently wrote about, I believe there are financial seasons where your focus waxes or wanes. Sometimes you just have to survive. Like you said, having a long-term streak of progress behind you is significant and shows you’ve formed new habits, even if those sometimes get broken during stressful times. I’m glad your mother got to go to Italy last month in better health!

  8. Aging is hard on all of us, not just the ones who are doing the aging! I know that our pets will cost us money and I factor that into all our decisions because they bring us so much joy I cannot imagine life without a beloved canine. Or I can – those were the most stressful 9 months of my life. Despite all the extra work and costs, Seamus is more than worth his weight in gold as stress relief. But it IS extra work and costly! The only way I was able to afford pets during my debt paydown time was because I had employee discounts for their care by the time they needed it, saving me many tears and hard decisions. It wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

    All the best wishes for your mom, Rocky, and your family.

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