Well, there are about 2 weeks left in 2010. Just like everyone else on the net, I’d like to go over where I started the year at, and where I finished the year, just to track my progress (and hopefully to give you all hope). Hopefully my numbers for the year will help you realize that getting out of debt is possible, and is also a worthwhile goal. I’m sure that looking back I’ll notice spots where I took the wrong turn, but overall I think that I’ll be satisfied with the way that the year turned out.
2010 included a few firsts for me, and I’ll list them below:
- My first car payment (Jan 2011)
- My first paid off credit card!
- My first time being completely credit card debt free in who knows how many years
- and many others
Many of these firsts altered my way of thinking completely – I never thought I’d be able to get out of credit card debt, and with a bit of hard work, focus and sacrifice, I was able to do it! Very exciting stuff. I was also able to connect with an amazing community of PF bloggers, both in and out of the yakezie. You all have provided me with a lot of tips for frugal living, different ways to attack debt, and different strategies for financial management and saving. Obviously I can’t completely adopt your strategy to a T (this is personal finance, after all), I took bits and pieces of everyones tips/tricks and incorporated them into my own strategy. With out further ado, lets look at where I started 2010, and where I ended it.
Even though I’d been working to pay off my debts for 6 months by the time January 2010 rolled around, I needed a new ride and had to make a decision that ended almost doubling down my debt. I wouldn’t take it back, but it surely made this quest quite a bit longer.
My Debt in January consisted of 3 Credit cards, 1 Vehicle and 3 student loans (1 undergraduate, 2 graduate) broken down in the following way:
- Credit Cards: $6,026
- Vehicle: $21,502
- Student Loans: $25,046
There were certain caveats to this, mainly that I had just bought a truck, got slapped with a sales tax bill (that I was unaware of and had to put on a credit card), and student loans that I had just found out that I had. Excuses aside, the final number was:
- Total (Jan, 2010) $52,574 (!!!)
Update to December 31, 2010. I’ve been working 2 jobs for the whole year, which greatly increased my debt paying down abilities. It has also increased my time on the road and miles traveled and I’ve had moments where I just want to be like everyone else and live where I work and not spend a bunch of time on the road, but I have to leave that for another day.
I’ve done a few things that slowed down my debt repayment, but I wouldn’t take them back. I went to Hotlanta for a quick vacation, saw some great stuff and had some great eats. I went to Washington, DC to use an old gift card for the airlines and take advantage of a free ticket promotion. I volunteered at the rodeo (which was a blast). While none of these things really helped me pay off debt, they did give me a break from the extremes that I was living in and allow me some new scenes to find some deals and have some fun. While all of this probably amounted to 1,000 in spending, I always came back with renewed focus and wouldn’t trade these trips for anything.
Even though they added a bit of time to my debt repayment time, they were still worth it. When I started paying off debt, I barely knew where to start, given the fact that I had 6 different things to pay off (which I soon increased to 7 with a car loan), but as recently as last month, I started to wonder aloud which debt that I should pay off next (this one or this one), based on cash flow projections and amount of time to slay the beast. Here’s where we are now:
- Credit Cards: $0 (read about it here)
- Vehicle: $17,967
- Student Loan: $16,563
With some spare time this year (I dont really remember when, but I think it was in june), I looked at where I was in a handful of areas and decided on some goals for the year in a handful of categories. The one I set for my total debt level was $37,500 (at or under), and figured that if I stretched, I could make it. Well, as time would tell, I turned out to be wrong, and met that goal at the end of october. I guess next time I need to set some more ambitious goals (or waste more money….wait, no). As it currently stands, the total amount of my debt is:
- Total Debt (Dec 2010): $34,530
This means that I was able to pay off $18,044 of debt in 2010! This just over 1/3rd of my total debt, and I’m pretty excited about it. Now that I know what happened this year, it will help me plan for next year and establish some goals to keep me focused on my repayment and getting to the level of zero!
How did you do this year? Did you build up reserves, pay off debt, or do neither or both? What are you looking to do next year?