DH = Dear Husband
I was interviewed by the host of CBC’s Ottawa Morning on Tuesday, and many people have checked out my blog as a result. I’d like to welcome those of you who are new readers. As you know from the interview, my husband and I have been on a journey out of debt – $257,000 worth – since June of 2012. I’ve written 75 weekly posts since that time, noting progress, obstacles, and lessons learned along the way.
We paid off $50,000 in our first year. That’s more than 300% what we had paid off the year before. There was not a significant difference in income between these two years. There was a huge difference in focused intention.
Obstacles to debt-reduction fall into two categories: Those that are beyond our control and those that are within our control. Beyond our control have been the obstacles of slow business months for DH, who is self-employed, in the spring, and huge expenses, including a new roof and tree removal, in the summer. Within our control have been obstacles like my excessive love of eating out and DH’s rare but powerful compulsion to splurge on something decadent.
Lesson One: The level of personal debt in today’s society is extreme. Twenty-five years ago, the average debt-to-income ratio in Canada was 90%. So for every take-home dollar, 90 cents was owed in debt. Today, we’ve shot up to 165%. That’s $1.65 owed in debt for every dollar we take home. “Everybody” is in debt these days – just as “everybody” smoked in the ‘60s. It doesn’t make it a good idea.
Lesson Two: There is a Debt Matrix out there. Banks, credit card companies, and merchants of goods and services combine to bombard us with messages from which it is difficult to unplug. Often our friends and family add their voices to those messages: You only live once! Buy it now! To get out of debt, you can’t go with the flow – you have to go against it.
Lesson Three: Your debt is likely, at least in part, a result of your pettiness. That’s a humbling thought. I like to think of myself as being bigger than envy and too lofty to need to keep up with the Joneses. But I’ve had to come face-to-face with my less-than-stellar qualities in my fight against debt.
If you’re interested in getting an idea of our journey out of debt so far, I have listed below seven posts that give an overview of it. I publish a new post every Saturday morning. I’ll make a plug for comments here. I love getting comments from people who read my blog. Comments that add insight to the issue under discussion; comments that encourage; comments that challenge a point I’ve raised . . . Your comments make my day.
Thanks for your interest. If you are someone who is hoping to make a dent in your own debt, I’d like to cheer you on. Let’s share the journey.