Paying Down Debt – October 2016

Oh my gosh, you guys.

Oh. My. Gosh.

We are SO close to being debt free {other than our home}.  Click HERE to see our current balance.  Eek!

I am hoping this is the last post I will ever write as a person who is enslaved to debt.  And if you have debt, a slave is exactly what you are.  The Bible even says so:

Proverbs 22:7b – “The borrower is slave to the lender.”

Debt ties up the financial freedoms you could have to give, invest, retire stress-free . . .

So it is my dearest hope that I click and clack on this keyboard as a FREE woman next month.  I already have what I want to share with you all drafted in my mind.  It’s been drafted for months, actually.

Today I want to focus on how it feels to be “Almost There.”

First, it’s hard to grasp the concept that we are “Almost There.”  For the past 12 years of our marriage we’ve been drowning in debt.  It seemed like it would just always be around. Actually, if we would have paid the minimum payment on our student loans, it would have taken 30 years!  No, thank you.  When we got serious about paying off our debt, we figured we could get it done in five-six years instead.  The mindset changed from feeling like we would just be in debt forever to: “Man, I guess we have to work our butts off for a long time . . .”  We did work our butts off, and after countless nights of only getting about five hours of sleep in order to make extra money, we have gotten “Almost There” in just three short years instead.  It kind of snuck up on us, so it’s truly difficult to believe.

The “What If’s” are starting to creep in.  We are only $2,426 from being debt free, y’all.  Now I’m thinking back to every unnecessary purchase we’ve made in the past three years.  Like: “If I hadn’t bought that package of Ramen Noodles, we’d be $0.20 closer, dangit!!!” Seriously though, we’ve cut out so much from our lives the past three years and we’re like practically the poster children for the word FRUGAL, but it does make me think: “What if I wouldn’t have traveled to Ohio over the summer . . . ?” or “What if we wouldn’t have dined at that restaurant . . .?” or “What if I hadn’t taken the kids to that amusement park . . .?” All of those expenses could have added up to almost $2,500 over time, and we could have been done already.  Meh.

On the other hand, by being “Almost There” I’ve noticed that the desires to be more lax with my budgeting/spending are so strong it ain’t even funny.  We’re miraculously slightly ahead of schedule, so I constantly have thoughts like: “Oh, it won’t be a big deal if I buy those shoes . . .”  I have to really watch myself.  Don’t be alarmed if you see me slapping myself in the face as I walk past department stores at the mall . . . drooling at the cute outfits on the window mannequins and uttering, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”  Have no fear – I didn’t buy the shoes . . . but I do have a small bruise on my cheek {wink}.

Lastly, let me tell you about interest.  This part always fascinates me—probably because I love crunching numbers.  When we were $82,000 in debt we were dishing out $11.79 just in interest A DAY.  That’s $353/month and $4,246/year.  Now that our balance is a wee $2,426, our interest is only $0.35/day.  It’s super fun seeing more and more of our payments go to the principle instead of down the drain.

Anyway . . . let’s get to the hard work.  In the month of October we paid off $4,220!  Here is how we did it:

  • I had an unusually profitable month with my Bondbons business again.  That included catering two weddings.
  • My husband continued painting and working on cars for people.
  • I supervised the ACT test bright and early on a Saturday morning.
  • I supervised several Saturday morning detentions and subbed during my plan period.
  • We referred a friend to the school our kids attend.  The school was doing a special offer this year {thanks to an awesome donor} that gave a HUGE credit toward school tuition for referrals.  Because of that credit we didn’t have to pay any tuition in October, so that money went to the debt instead.  We also won’t have to pay for November or part of December.  Talk about perfect timing!

Please stay tuned for our update next month.  Like I said, it’s already drafted in my head.


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Paying Down Debt – September 2016

The daily Facebook “memories” are a funny thing.  Most of the time they remind me of adorable pictures I posted of my kids from when they were itty bitty, or a super funny moment that I had since forgotten.  Sometimes the “memories” show an old side of me that doesn’t even exist anymore.

This past month, I came across something I posted back in 2009:


I remember “that girl” from 7 years ago.  Even though she was frugal, she didn’t have a budget.  She put everything on her credit card—she made sure to pay it off each month, but when that time came, there was little room for groceries or anything else.  “That girl” from 7 years ago was in denial that she and her husband were racking up $25,000 just in INTEREST on student loans because they didn’t “have” the money to pay on it, so they annually deferred it.  Because of that, they were ignorantly accumulating over $80,000 in student loan debt to pay back.  “That girl” from 7 years ago saw no hope of ever getting ahead financially.

“That girl” from 7 years ago felt stuck.

I’m not “that girl” anymore, and I’ll never be again.

Just over three years ago, my husband and I started our Financial Peace University class. I learned to get on a budget, how to reallocate our money for our benefit, and we never turned back.  Bills are no longer stressful for me.  To be honest, paying them is kind of fun (did I really just type that?).  I especially love seeing the balance of our student loans go down every few weeks.

Speaking of that, in the month of September we paid off $2,976 (just $24 short of our monthly goal).  You can click here to see our current balance and progress.

Here is what we did to make that possible:

  • I supervised the ACT on a Saturday morning.
  • Randy’s painting business has slowed down quite a bit, but he was still able to do some painting jobs to contribute.
  • I subbed several days during my plan period, line-judged for volleyball, completed some curriculum committee work, and supervised Saturday morning detentions—all of which I received “extra duty pay” from my school.
  • Our gas and water bills were both lower than we have budgeted, so that extra money went to the debt.
  • My Bondbons business had a ridiculously good month.  Part of this is due to the fact that I catered 80 dozen bondbons for a wedding at the beginning of September.   That’s 960. Just take a look:

Almost 1,000 bondbons for a beautiful wedding in September.

That’s covering my entire kitchen table, by the way.

This.  All this. The wedding catering and the current balance on our debt are true testaments of patient endurance.  When I started Bondbons almost three years ago, no one would have placed an order this enormous.  It took time for me to prove myself to others, to build up clientele, and learn how to take decent looking pictures from my phone.   And the debt.  It’s been a long, stressful road, but it’s almost over!  Every amount of money, small or large, that was thrown at the debt has made a difference and gotten us to where we are.  If we never would have buckled down and got serious, 90% of our monthly payment would still be going to interest, and I’d still be “that girl” from 2009.

I like “this girl” from 2016 better.

Stay tuned for our next update from October.


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Paying Down Debt – July 2015

You guys,

I’m pretty pumped.  This July was probably the most productive month we’ve had since we’ve gotten intense about paying off our debt.  On average, we typically pay down about $1,000 a month, but this month we killed it.

We paid off $4,561.


You can check out our debt snowball progress here.

We also finally got our balance below $50,000 for the first time ever.  If you haven’t read our full debt story yet, $50,000 was Randy’s original student loan amount when we married in 2004.  After denial + accruing interest {that grew an additional $26,000} it took us 11 years to get our debt back down to that original amount.


Isn’t that dumb?

If we would have tackled our debt back then, we wouldn’t be in this situation.  All we can do now is push forward so we don’t have this regret in the future.

So . . . how did we have such success this month?  We made some smart moves and worked our tails off.  Fortunately we are both teachers and have extra time this summer to do so.  I usually catch up on my sleep during the summer.  Not this year.

Here is what we did to put such a huge dent in our debt this month:

  • I taught summer school for a month.
  • My husband put in about 70+ hours a week with his Promise Painting & Contracting business.
  • We both supervised the ACT test on a Saturday morning.
  • We were able to lower our monthly home security bill {money saved applied to debt}.
  • Our kids didn’t have piano lessons for the month {money saved applied to debt}.
  • I changed one of my checking accounts.  This account grew interest, but I had to keep a minimum balance of $500.  With the interest rate now only 0.01%, that means it only grew about one cent/month.  So . . . I had $500 just sitting there to gain $0.12/year? That makes zero sense.  I called the bank and switched to a non-interest earning account and put that $500 toward the debt.
  • Randy fixed a couple of cars for people {he used to be a certified mechanic}.
  • We had a garage sale.
  • I taught several cake pop classes. 
  • I was fortunate to get a lot orders for my Bondbons business—including a large wedding this month.
Pretty monogrammed bondbons for a July wedding

Pretty monogrammed bondbons for a July wedding

Phew.  There were some nights I was up until 2:00 AM dipping bondbons in chocolate with tears in my eyes—wanting to give up.  Then I see results like that and it reminds me that it will all be worth it.

Stay tuned for September 1st for our next update.


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