DH = Dear Husband
For the first time in 6 years of blogging about debt-reduction, I’ve hit a wall. I have had several ideas for posts in the last few weeks, but they just turned into unfinished drafts.
DH and I are striding to the finish line of our journey out of debt. In September, we’ll put the last payment against our house. The $257,400 total debt that we had in June of 2012 – including consumer debt, business debt and mortgage debt – will be GONE! So why this writer’s block?
The impact of my inheritance: an escalator analogy
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that my mother passed away in November of last year. Mom was very supportive of our commitment to become debt-free, and she was always happy about our progress. Every conversation I had with her brought about the question, “How’s the debt?” The last time I was able to give her an update, we were down to $60,000 of mortgage debt. Awkward as I find it, I can’t write about the end of our trek to debt-freedom without reference to my inheritance – which has sped up the last leg of the journey like a banned substance.
I’ve tried to come up with an analogy for it, and here’s what has come to mind: Our journey out of debt has been like a pain-staking walk up 25 flights of an underground parking lot towards the ground floor. Not only has the ascent been steep, but the stairs have actually been an escalator moving in a slow downward direction. So each step up has taken the intention necessary to go against a downward pull.
After climbing up 20 flights, and with only 5 to go, something happened. The escalator suddenly changed direction and speed, and it shot up not only to ground level, but to the 10th floor of the building above the underground parking lot. And although the escalator then slowed down to its regular pace, its direction was a gradual upward, making all future ascent that much easier.
The downward direction of the escalator below-ground represents the interest that debtors have to pay as they try to make their way out of debt. Every $1.00 of debt knocked off really means a payment of $1.10 – or more or less. But the upward direction of the escalator above-ground represents the opposite – the interest gained on each dollar invested.
Not debt-free yet – but not struggling with debt
We’ve chosen not to take on the penalty that would come with paying off our mortgage early. We’ve maximized our payments by doubling our monthly amounts and by twice putting down the full lump sum that we’re entitled to once per year. That leaves us with a small balance that will be gone in September.
So we’re not there yet, but we are no longer struggling to get out of debt.
So how can I keep writing a debt blog?
“I’m thinking of stopping now,” I said to a colleague last week – after another weekend of writer’s block. “It doesn’t feel genuine to write about getting out of debt when I have this inheritance.”
“Why don’t you write about what you’re doing to keep out of debt?” she said. “It’s a real issue, and it’s not a topic that many people write about.”
I had to agree with her about it’s being an issue in our debt-normalized society. I know more than one person who paid off the mortgage only to take on a line of credit. And it’s common for people to decide the time has come to buy a new car once they’ve paid off the old one. Yo-yo debting is for real.
The view is different above-ground
So in my last few months of blogging on this site, I’ll be writing about our adjustments to the new normal, and our proactive steps to avoid getting into debt again – because we’ve done that!
Last Friday, I met DH’s financial advisor – now our financial advisor – and DH and I talked with him for over 4 hours. How bewildering it was for me to be talking about equities and bonds! I have SO much to learn about investing.
The upshot of our meeting was that with my teacher’s pension, with DH’s and now my portfolio – and with no debt – we’ll be in a position for me to retire at the end of the next school year – exactly when my pension becomes available. DH will likely continue to run his home business on a part-time basis for another 5 years or so.
At least that’s the plan. I have the option of working for a few more years. We also have the option of selling the house and both retiring next year. The point is, we’ve got the freedom to choose – which was the vision that motivated us to start our journey out of debt in the first place. We’re not stuck anymore!
End of writer’s block?
We’ll see if this marks the end of my writer’s block. Thanks for your patience 🙂
Is it of value to write about what we’re doing to stay out of debt? Have you ever been caught up in yo-yo debting? Your comments are welcome.