In an effort to find my motivation, I did an exercise to really think about what getting out of debt means to me. In the short-term, it’s really so my meager income can afford basic living without paying $450/month for minimum debt payments. I’ve never been super comfortable financially and there’s no reason I have to limit myself to that.
Looking ahead, if I stuck with my minimum payments (which will go up to $720/month after my interest-only period ends in 2015), I will be paying off this debt until I’m 50 – just short of my mom’s age right now. Are you kidding me?! Hell to the no! I couldn’t imagine raising two kids and managing adult life with a mortgage and car payments in addition to a regular $720/month. I will never make nearly enough to be comfortable with that and why would I even want to? By knocking out this debt in a few years, I will not only be saving hundreds, if not thousands, on interest but I will be able to supply for my future self and family more comfortably.
But that is such a vague goal. Currently my head is so wrapped up in slowly decreasing my loans one at a time that I haven’t thought about the “then what?” I think having some specific long-term goals in mind will help my motivation through this rut I’ve been feeling lately.
A lot of my parents’ friends are starting to retire and my dad lets me know almost daily how much he wishes he could join them. Instead he will remain at a job he doesn’t love for quite a few more years. Seeing this example is a great lesson for my future so hopefully I can join or even beat my friends to retirement! I currently contribute 6% of my income to my 401K because my company matches every .5% up to 3% – sounds confusing but I think I’m doing it correctly. I don’t want to miss out on that “free” money but that’s the most I can contribute until my debt is gone. Once I knock it out I will up my 401K and teach myself all about Roth IRA’s and set myself up for a decent retirement.
Starting with this past paycheck I have a decent savings plan and that will certainly continue after debt. Most likely I will increase this savings plan to build a decent nest. Maybe I will learn to invest some? Learning about all of my options will surely keep my motivation up there!
A new-to-me car
I love the car I currently have. It was passed down to me from my parents when they got their new car. Technically it’s totalled from an accident my dad was in but his friend fixed it up and it works great (knock on wood!). However, it’s older with probably 170,000 miles on it so it won’t last forever. My plan is to maintain it the best I can and run it into the ground before I need to buy a new one. Hopefully this timeline lines up nicely with when I’m out of debt! If I were still in huge amounts of debt by the time this car dies, there’s no way I could afford simple transportation. Being able to provide for myself is certainly important and motivating.
I can move out!
I certainly appreciate living at my parents’ house and it’s a fairly comfortable set-up but at almost 25, I can’t do it forever. I’m sure I will get roommates to ease the cost but having a little more independence will feel great. I’ll even have some savings to buy furniture and support myself.
Let’s face it, travel has always been a part of my budget even when it really shouldn’t have been. I was born with the travel bug and have loved ones all over the country. Buying a plane ticket or planing my next adventure is my favorite time and money spent but being able to do this (relatively) guilt free would be incredible. It would mean I could be in attendance to all of my friends’ weddings and explore other parts of the world without serious worry.
I know getting out of debt won’t suddenly make me rich. Sometimes, though, it’s still fun to daydream about luxuries that might be possible down the road without $702/month in debt payments. For example, my parents have a great jacuzzi tub. In my head I daydream about affording a home that has a jacuzzi in the master bath but I like to go one step further. I like to imagine it next to a big bay window (over looking a private area of course) and I also like to imagine having a TV on the wall. Most of the time I really enjoy that time as a way to shut out the world and sometimes I’ll read. However, when your hands get wet then the book gets wet and then I’m left in their to twiddle my pruned thumbs. My dream home will likely always be just that but the possibility is still fun to think about.
Being in debt has taught me so much about how to manage money and how much different my future can be by changing my habits. Honestly, I’m thankful for this opportunity. However, it’s not a lesson I want to hang over my head until I’m 50. If a more comfortable life is in my reach with a lot of hard work, why wouldn’t I go after it? After a bit of searching, ladies and gents, I think my motivation is back!
What makes getting out of debt worth it to you?