I went for a run yesterday afternoon through the snowy streets of Bend, Oregon, and I felt light. Not the kind of light that comes from well-rested legs, but my soul felt lighter.
You want to know why?
It was because I paid off my credit card debt yesterday!!
As soon as I woke up I was thinking about it. I was SO ready to click the ‘pay now’ button and be done with it.
I have had zero credit card debt before, but paying that off was different. I would charge up around $2,500 knowing that when I got my tax return I could pay it off. Getting my tax return those few times and paying it off didn’t really do much for me – I didn’t hustle and budget to get rid of that debt. I didn’t learn to change my behavior. I just felt like I got bailed out each time and would typically go shopping with my credit card again within a week.
No lessons were learned.
This time is very different. When I committed to paying off this debt of mine 18 months ago I knew the grind of baby step number two would create lasting change in my money habits. I have consistently felt the squeeze of ratcheting down my budget, selling things, and re-calculating my overall debt number every single month!
As I ran around town last night I couldn’t help but smile. I finally wiped out those credit cards, and even paid a few thousand dollars down on my car loan. I have equity in my car for the first time since I drove it off the lot in the fall of 2016!!
I savored the feeling of hitting this milestone. At times I felt like I was gliding above the snowbanks and icy patches.
I have said no to a lot of things, canceled subscriptions, bought generic brand food at the grocery store, and stayed out of the North Face store for months. Every day I have felt the habit change and (mostly) embraced it, knowing that I was changing the course of my future.
This weekend I am still savoring that victory, but I am also looking ahead to the next few months as I attack my last debt – my car! My previous goal for paying that off was Halloween, I have moved it up to July 15th – 127 days from today!!
Financial tip – Know your exact debt balances! I’m talking to the penny!
It is painful to do this, especially if you haven’t looked at your balances for a long time. That was the exercise that finally made me see my debt for what it was – a massive pile of mistakes and impulses that I wanted to get rid of! I hear people say they are ’20 or 30 thousand dollars in debt’, and I’ll point out that’s a ten thousand dollar difference! You should really look to see the exact number! Just writing out that exact number and keeping it in front of you will be a great catalyst to start changing your money habits.
Starting debt number: $40,611
Total debt number as of March 9th: $12,023.51
70.39% paid off!!
Cheers to hitting the home stretch!!!