Most of my posts of late have been detailing the measure of success we have had eliminating our credit card debt. Today, I want to focus not on the progress we are making, but how we got to this point.
When our process started, my wife wasn’t working hardly at all (part time retail). We made all the minimums, but not much more than that. At best, we threw an additional $100 each month against the cards. Then several things happened… First off, we moved from a $750/month apartment to a $680/month apartment. The added benefit to this was that it was about 10 miles closer to work for me, and it was a newer complex, with smaller square feet. End result: It was much cheaper to live there than in a larger, less efficient apartment further away. Rather than adjusting our lifestyle up, we adjusted down. Then, every time I got a raise or a bonus, We treated it as an opportunity to put more money against debt. No major lifestyle changes were allowed.
One of the pitfalls we fell into along the way was when my wife got a full-time, but temporary, job making pretty good money. We adjusted our lifestyle a little to allow for her working. We had a weekly trip to Cracker Barrel on Saturday mornings, and we ate out at least one other time every week. We bought a new TV, which was a GREAT deal, but it still slowed our progress. We bought a new computer. All of these things added up, not adding to our debt, but merely slowing our progress. The amount of progress we are making now, we could have made back then, but we lacked the commitment. We were committed to getting out of debt, as long as it didn’t hamper life in any way.
That changed earlier this year. My dad passed away, and I saw the shortness of life, and how important it was for him to have spent his last few months with my brother, still at home, and my mom. And what I saw was that, as long as I didn’t commit wholeheartedly to getting rid of my debt, I would be forever stuck in the cycle of paying on debt, and halfway living life. I don’t want that for me, or for my wife, so the cycle had to stop. Focus was what we needed, and intensity.
This blog has been one of the most important resources to keeping the intensity. The fact that I have readers who watch our progress keeps me motivated to make progress. My wife has been 100% behind me and continuously encourages me to keep intense and focused on eliminating our debt.
Those two factors are probably the reason why we are as far along as we are.
Over the next few months, given the recent news, I’m sure that our focus will shift. One thing that will happen first, however, is that the American Express will get paid off. As much progress as we’ve made on that card in the last two months, I think the biggest motivational move is to be completely done with it. I would have liked to be completely out of credit card debt before a pregnancy, but we are very, very close to the end of it now.