Saturday, October 16, 2010

The "Am I Ever Going To Get Out Of Debt" Blues

How many times have I read bloggers who make statements about how their life is going, and say they're fine with it, when anyone can read between the lines and easily see that they are not fine at all?

Time to count Grace in that crowd.

I took a look at where I was financially when I started this blog in June, 2007. I then compared it to where I am now.

The picture is NOT pretty!

It is, in fact, worse than I expected.

On the savings side, things are the brightest. I had $167,166 in my 401(k)when I started. That fund now stands at $195,871, an increase of $28,705.

But debt?

I kinda thought that paying attention to my debt, becoming frugal and entering a learning curve regarding smart financial practices would put me on the right path. If so, there have been a lot of potholes on that path!

My total debt HAS gone down in the past 3.3 years--a whopping $1034!

Longtime readers know that's not the whole story--I HAVE been paying down my debts, but along the way was the van that dropped dead, a rental that needed first a new furnace and then a new roof, children that needed various bail-outs, not to mention a wonderful but not exactly frugal trip to Japan.

But what am I telling myself?

That I'm OK, that I would have been in even worse shape had I NOT paid close attention to my spending, that once my mortgage is paid off (in 4 years) I'll be able to throw that entire monthly payment at my debts and have them cleared out by the time I retire.

It's not a great plan, but at the moment, it's all I've got.


Jake Stichler said...

WOW - and here I though *I* was having trouble pushing my debt down. Just make sure you stick with that plan of snowballing the mortgage payment into everything else, otherwise, yeesh, who knows? Obviously at your age retirement contributions pretty much have to come first, but how much of that is going to be gobbled up by debt service?

Anonymous said...

I don't see any debt figure in this post, but $195K in a 401(k) is nothing to sneeze at.

Beats the heck out of having zero assets and a very low income.

Nicole said...

1. Keep plugging! You want to keep putting money in the black instead of the red. You can't count on emergencies stopping once your mortgage is done. That high interest debt is just a drag that makes it more difficult to get anything done. If you let it keep inflating the mortgage payment may not be enough to help.

2. You ARE in a better situation than you would have been if you hadn't done anything. And you're weathering the van and the roof etc. much better than you would have been if you hadn't paid attention and turned things around. You do deserve a pat on the back. BUT that doesn't mean you should stop. That just means you have evidence that what you're doing is working!

Maybe you can do better, maybe not. But you should definitely not stop! You've made progress! And once ALL the debt is gone, it will be easier to get ahead. Debt interest slows you down. Keep chipping at it!

Sharon said...

You also forgot to mention that you are a caring and loving mother who has been taking care of your children both emotionally and financially during that time period. Four years is not a long time, I envy you that you will be done with the mortgage! The debt will go down. You'll do it!!! And, of course, you are one of my favs, so I'll be with you the whole way cheering you on!!!!

Louise said...

oh Grace, some days it really is hard isn't it! Just keep plodding along, it so different when you have kids, you take such good care of them and you certainly aren't wasteful with your money. If were local I'd shout you a cuppa and we could have a good chinwag about it all :)
keep going, one day we WILL get to post 'debt free' on our blogs!

In Debt said...

Hang in there Grace! At least you can see the end of the mortgage. I have the blues all too often myself.

Better to keep on keepin' on than to ignore it and do nothing!

Anonymous said...

Grace kudos to you! Debt repayment is a struggle here too. I try and try and there is always a huge pothole in that path that trips me up. Like you I am whittling down my debt but not by leaps and bounds that I would of hoped for. Times are tough, but I haven't given up on the fight yet. Keep going, you're not alone, keep the shovel handy and we'll dig ourselves out together.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Just imagine where you'd be if you hadn't focused on your finances over the past few years, Grace. Don't stop chipping away at it.

Maureen said...

I know you are feeling down, but I envy you the fact that you are eventually going to end up Mortgage free and in your own home. Plus a great retirement package, although I would still keep chipping away at those debts.

Anonymous said...

Can I sing back-up?

In all seriousness though, I think that you're right-- the trickiest part of working your way OUT of debt is not being able to really grasp what a great job you're doing BECAUSE you don't see all the decisions you made right-- ie all the things you did NOT buy, all the things you bought WITHOUT credit, etc.

You know how we have to track our spending? We should track our NON spending too. Just saying.

Deb said...

and...AND... you weathered the van and the roof without having to sink further into debt. That's huge! Far too many out there would have had to take on more debt for those items.

And that trip to Japan? SO WHAT. If we were to all wait until life is absolutely perfect and every dime is in its place prior to having a once in a lifetime experience, we would never have the experience. And those experiences make life worth living!

It could all end tomorrow, Grace. The roof will leak again, the auto will need repair, the fridge will need restocking. But you'll always have Japan. :o)

Grace. said...

Ah Deb--would that it were true. But I did go further into debt in order to finance the van and the new roof. That's why it looks like I only paid down $1300+ of debt in 3 years. I paid down much more, but then piled on another $12,000!

But you are right about the trip to Japan--it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I don't regret taking it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be the party-pooper, but you have not paid off your debt because you have not made it a priority to pay off the debt. Instead, you allowed yourself to be derailed by your kids and grandkids. Until you start saying no to them and yes to debt repayment, you will never make any real progress. You will retire with your mortgage paid off, but you will simply substitute the added income from that for the difference between your job income and your 401k/Social Security income. You still won't have enough money to pay off the debt.

Get the kids, grandkids, and soon to be great grandkids off Grace's payroll. Then you can make some real progress on the debt and even start saving outside of your retirement accounts. Think what a fat cash cushion would do for you when the next roof, transmission, or similar emergency comes along.