I grew up a spender. When we wanted something, we got it if it was reasonable. I kept doing that even though I didn’t have the kind of money that my parents did after 30 years of working. I am fighting against a lifetime of spendthriftery. If nothing else, this should be good for me by forcing me to learn how to say no to myself. To pause before I spend. I have struggled with this tendency to spend without thinking for a few years now. Before that I didn’t see it as a problem. I just figured debt was something everyone had all the time and that it was totally normal and acceptable. Then our debt reached around $15,000 on the credit card and two car payments and I started worrying a lot. I started reading about how to pay it down since I didn’t seem to be able to figure it out on my own. That’s where all this started about three years ago, I think. Now we’re almost back to square one. The difference this time is that I’m optimistic. I know it’s possible to pay this all off and be debt free. I just need to learn from my mistakes this time and not fall right back into my old spending habits as soon as we’re out from under this.
Hear me out… Hubby makes a lot of money. He was in the Navy for 20 years as a nuclear mechanic. He has been working another five years as an instructor of radiological control for the military as a civilian. He makes enough money that there really is no reason for us to be in debt except that we tend to go overboard on things. When it was time to redo the roof, we decided that, since it needed to be done anyway at some point, we’d redo the siding and windows as well, even though we couldn’t afford it all at once. Credit! Little things here and there that we don’t actually have the money for right now, credit! We were actually out of debt totally for about three months at one point. But, we went overboard on the house and got back into debt. Once there, it was easy to say, “Oh, this little thing won’t matter!” It adds up over time and we found ourselves in debt big time again. I am not one of those miraculous people who is getting out of deep debt on a $30,000 a year salary. I have all the respect in the world for them and they impress the heck out of me. It is from them that I am learning and taking inspiration. But, we are working with quite a bit more money. I almost feel bad admitting it, like it’s somehow something to be ashamed of in the frugal community. But, I want to get out of debt just as much as anyone else does. It weighs on me just like it does everyone else.
Here’s the thing, we have $11,887.51 in credit card debt, and another $34,095.97 in the auto loan. The car will be paid off in five and a half years making regular payments. The credit card we’re working on. I know I’ve never talked about actual numbers here before but I figured it was time to get serious. We are lucky in that we have enough money to be able to pay this all back relatively quickly. It’ll take a few years to get the car loan gone, but we’ll be able to pay off the credit card in seven months (six with overtime from Hubby). My goal is to send $1,675 a month to the card. That’s using Hubby’s retirement money, and scraping every other cent I reasonably can from our budget. That leaves us with about $250 in actual play money (for two weeks) after the groceries, gas, bridge tolls, and the like are taken care of. That may seem like a lot, but it’s less than half of what we’re used to. I have cut our regular budget by $400 a pay period to afford to send that much to the credit card. That’s a huge cut. While I’m not on an official spending fast yet, I’m going to have to get there pretty quickly to make this work right.
So, that’s our situation and where we sit. We’re going to be living off of what, for us is, very little for the next year to be able to pay off the credit card then save money for the move. The good thing is that it’s possible to get this done. Once we get this year taken care of and we’re in the new house, we’ll start working on the car loan, starting a savings account, and paying off the house itself. That alone will take at least 18 years, but it’d sure be nice to not have a house payment. We don’t really see any reason to move from the next house ever. We’ll be in it at least for the next 10 years, until the kids are out of high school. We won’t have it paid off in that time, but we’ll have a good start on it.
It’s still really strange to me to be thinking this far out with our money. I never used to think past the next paycheck. But having goals makes it easier to do what we need to do now. Now if I can just get the impulse spending under control, we’ll be in a much better position.