In part two of destroying the debt monster I talked about how I figured out a way to eliminate debt by deciding to become financially responsible. However, with having a newborn I was going to be tested. I needed to see if my determinedness to stay financially responsible would hold up. And the only way I knew if my newly acquired financial know-how would hold up would be to put it through the test.
Part 3 of Destroying the Debt Monster
My wife and I were very excited about being new parents, even if we didn’t know what we were doing. Everything I learned about being a parent I learned from my parents. Since I was the oldest of four (a difference of 11 years between my youngest sister and I) that meant I could help my parents out such as changing my youngest sister’s diapers, getting her dressed, and combing her hair. Being given that responsibility really helped me out.
However, what I didn’t know was how expensive kids were. Just to put this into perspective, I had friends that were in their 20s going out on the weekends, enjoying the nightlife. They would spend their money out on the town while I was spending mine on diapers, baby wipes, baby food, and baby clothes. Now I am not complaining at all, it’s just that I had NO IDEA how much these little things cost which ultimately hit our pocket book.
Kids are expensive! How do I save money now…
So remember when I shared before how I was able to cutback on my expenses so I can apply extra money to my debt? Well, after having a baby all of those cutbacks now formed into brand new expenses I was not prepared for. What was I going to do? And, how was I going to get control of my expenses again?
Just a few years into having a baby, some of these new expenses turned into brand new debt. Because with a new baby the two door Acura Integra wasn’t going to cut it – so we bought a – get this – a MINIVAN! I know, I know. Trust me, I never thought I was going to be one to have gotten a minivan. However, it really did pay off and I will share why a little bit later with another surprise. 😉 Anyhow, this minivan came with monthly payments and it was time to do something about it.
I got a new job! I was making significantly more money than I was and with that extra money we were able to get control of our finances – again. My wife and I were both contributing to our 401ks, a Roth IRA, and we were able to save money for a rainy day. Things were looking really well and our family of three (plus a golden retriever) were truly blessed. In fact, things were going so well that we bought a new house and stayed there for about two years while we were enjoying life. We sacked away some extra money and we both felt we were ready for another child.
We were dropped a bombshell
We attempted to get pregnant and very shortly after we found out we were going to have a baby. My wife and I were so happy to hear about the news. A few weeks later my wife was experiencing some complications (at least that’s what we thought) and we knew it wasn’t normal. So, one day it had gotten worse and we decided to go to the emergency room. We were very nervous for the baby and certainly my wife’s health. After they finally took us to the back room, my wife explained her symptoms and shared that she was pregnant. They thought the best thing to do was to take a look inside and to see what was happening. Shortly afterwards, the person that completed the procedure said, “Everything is ok and in fact you’re going to be surprised!”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t provide us any more information than that and the doctor would have to tell us. We both looked at each other and said, “We know that we are pregnant, what else could it be – twins?” We didn’t think that was the case and my wife was brought back to her room. I needed to leave to pick up our first born who was at daycare – he couldn’t stay any longer. So after picking him up my wife called me on my cellphone and I was like, “What’s up? Is everything ok?” She said, “You’re not going to believe this but we are going to have TWINS!” We couldn’t believe it but they confirmed it and we felt blessed to be given this wonderful opportunity. Now, how were we going to handle all of these new responsibilities, along with double the amount of baby expenses?
By this time my wife had also gotten a new job, so our combined income was pretty solid but the only problem was the house we were in was way too small to accommodate a family of five. So, we set off to buy a new home and of course was more than the cost of our previous home. Thankfully we didn’t have to buy a new car because that minivan I shared before really paid off.
With the new home, some of the debt started to pile up again. I knew what we needed to do but all of these new responsibilities were just too much to handle and we let it get out of hand for a few years. Sure, over the course of the years we got pay increases which did help but the expenses were just too much. So again we looked at how we could cutback and found a few opportunities to help our bottom line. The only thing this time was I needed a stronger plan and then is when I came up with the perfect plan to eliminate debt forever.
The snowball debt plan!
Have you ever heard of the snowball debt plan? I first learned it from Dave Ramsey in his book The Total Money Makeover. If you haven’t heard about it, it is pretty simple and can be summed up in four easy steps.
Step 1: List out all your debts from smallest to largest (don’t worry about what the interest rate is).
Step 2: Pay the minimum amount required to all your debts except the smallest debt amount.
Step 3: Pay as much as you can towards that smallest debt and continue to do so until that debt is paid off.
Step 4: Tackle your next smallest debt amount (Continue this until done with all debt). Apply the minimum payment you were making towards your debt PLUS the amount you were paying to your previous debt.
Here is how it looks and assume you have an extra $100/month.
|Debt||Monthly Minimum Payment||Monthly Actual Payment||Debt Amount|
With Debt 1, we take the extra $100/month we have and directly apply it to that one while we continue paying the other debts minimum payment. Please note that you should not be using these cards anymore otherwise this will never work. After you finished paying Debt 1 off, you proceed with the next one.
With Debt 2, you take the $100/month (applied to Debt 1) and add the minimum amount $72/month you were paying towards that card. Now you’re paying $172/month. After you finished paying Debt 2 off, you proceed with the next one.
With Debt 3, you take the $172/month (applied to Debt 2) and the minimum amount $101/month you were paying towards that card. Now you’re paying $273/month.
After you finish paying off all your debt you take that same amount and save it. The trick that will prevent you from getting into this position is that you keep the pattern you have come accustomed to by simply saving it. So, when a high ticketed expense comes up you’re able to pay for it because you have the savings.
This plan is so solid that today I don’t have to worry about debt. Sure, I have credit cards today but when I use them I pay them off in full each month.
Do you think this is a useful strategy for destroying debt?
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