A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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Six Month Progress Report and An Ambitious New Plan

As I mentioned in a recent post, we've been on our debt repayment journey for the past six months. It was back in April of 2017 that we assessed our debtload, made a budget, and started allocating $1600 a month towards repayment of our $76K+ in credit card, car loan, and student loan debt.

This was what our debt looked like by June, the month I started tracking every single penny (keep in mind that our actual starting amount in April was even higher... but I don't know what it was because I wasn't documenting the total at that point):

Talk about some big, bad numbers.

Six months after setting off on this journey, I can tell you that we've made some major progress, and we're more motivated than ever. Some highlights:

(1) We paid off Credit Card #1. We did this at the end of July, once we realized that we had enough money in savings to make it happen. Although the original balance of $1553 was nowhere near as high as the other CC balances, paying it off felt like a big accomplishment, and it motivated us. Plus, it freed up another $150 for CC#2.

(2) We ditched our car loan! We paid it off last week as my 39th birthday present. With a balance of only $600, I just wanted to say goodbye to this monthly bill. So we shuffled some money from savings to checking, called the bank, and made it happen. That's another $300 we can allocate to CC#2.

(3) We saved some money! Right now, we have an emergency fund of $1000 and a holiday/sinking fund of about $1200. We're planning to continue contributing ~$600 a month to savings. Yes, paying off debt is the priority, but we also want to build a more secure financial safety net. Our savings account is one component of that endeavor.

(4) We increased our incomes by taking on worthwhile side hustles. I'm kind of obsessed with the side hustle concept right now because it's really helped us with respect to saving and debt repayment. We were able to pay off CC#1 and the car earlier than planned in large part because we had those extra earnings available.

(5) In total, between June and now, we've dispatched more than $5900 in debt! If we count the debt we repaid in April and May, that total is >$7000 (To be honest, I'm too lazy to go back and calculate the precise number). Moreover, if we continue with our current rate of debt repayment ($1600/month), we will be completely out of debt by March of 2022:

(5) WE'VE DECIDED TO PUT OUR DEBT REPAYMENT INTO OVERDRIVE! After crunching the numbers again, I realized that if we increase our monthly debt repayment budget from $1600 to $2200 - something made possible by our side hustle income - we could be debt free BY NOVEMBER OF 2020. 

According to the $2200 plan, the payoff schedule looks more like this:

And this isn't including extra cash that could come our way in the form of raises, bonuses, or tax refunds, much of which would go right to debt repayment and further expedite the process.

I'm... astounded. I thought this would be a five-year process.

Of course, this new, ambitious plan depends on us maintaining our side hustles (Fortysomething and I both want to, but the gigs aren't guaranteed over the long term), and who knows what unexpected expenses could derail us, but I think it's worth a shot. Worst case scenario: we'll have to back off a bit if we have some tight months.

Bottom line: I'm thrilled with where we're at after half a year of highly imperfect yet dedicated debt repayment. Now we just have to keep going!

Disease Called Debt


  1. Awesome progress!!! Keep up the good work and you will be debt free before you know it. The snowball is growing and I bet you pay it off even earlier than Nov 2020. Cheers.

    1. Thank you! Paying it off early would be amazing!

  2. Excellent progress!

    Do you have the ability to take advantage of 0% interest balance transfer offers? That has been a complete game changer for me.

    1. Yes! We are definitely looking into that. It's a great idea. Thank you!

  3. Great work! It's wonderful that you're putting money into savings as well as getting rid of that debt. Becoming debt free isn't easy, but I'm sure you'll get there sooner than you think.

    1. I sure hope so! I think we will, especially if we manage to get a tax refund. My husband is eligible for bonuses, too, so we'll see how that pans out. And ideally, I'll be able to find a higher-paying job.

  4. Keep working, and as someone said, look at one of those 0% balance transfers.

  5. Wow! It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it! I third the 0% balance transfer offers-but only if you know you can pay the whole thing off by then end of the promotion. Keep up the great work!

    1. Exactly! I think we *can* find a deal with a card we can pay off by the end of the promotion. Hoping to get one card paid off in April!!!