Debt, Growth and Goals

I’ve been blogging about my financial life for a little over 2 years now. And yet, when I take a look back through my net worth updates, it looks like things are just now starting to move ahead. It seems like I really struggled to make any progress at all the first year. The second year was better, but nothing compared to what I’m accomplishing now. For a while, it had me really scratching my head. What was I doing for the first two years?!?

When I started looking into it, I came to a realization: Debt and houses are expensive!

I started this blog in February 2013 with a net worth of -$1,754. I ended 2013 with a net worth of $1,216. Sure, I was finally out of the negative, but that’s only $2,970 in growth. Where did my money go? Well, a lot of it went into fixing up the house. Between the cost of hooking up to the new city sewers (which was mandated by the city), and the cost of other improvements around the house, plus school and medical costs, there wasn’t a whole lot left to work with that year.

In 2014, I finally started making some progress: I ended the year with $11,696 in net worth, which means I grew my net worth by $10,480. Much better than 2013, for sure. I barely achieved my goal of growing my net worth by $10,000. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it. Six months later, this seems completely weird to me. After all, I’ve already grown my net worth by more than $10,000 so far in 2015. Sure, the proceeds from selling the house helped me reach that goal so soon. But even still, I’m looking towards growing my net worth by another $10,000 before this year is done.

Why does growing my net worth by $20,000 this year seem so much easier than growing my net worth by $10,480 did in 2014, or by $2,970 in 2013? Sure, I’m making more money now that I was when I started this blog. But, not that much more!

Honestly, making debt repayment and selling my house a bigger priority has made a huge difference in my financial picture. When I think of all the money I was paying in interest, it isn’t a wonder that I wasn’t making much progress financially. Add to that the money for taxes, and insurance, and utilities (on a home I wasn’t even living in!), and it isn’t any wonder I wasn’t making much progress. It’s a big part of the reason paying off my car loan has become such a priority for me. Think of all the extra money I’ll have when I don’t have that payment every month! I could be putting so much more into my retirement accounts. I could be saving towards our future. We could be further in our journey towards financial independence!

I think about how little our lives will actually cost once we’re debt free. Even though we still have to pay rent every month. Having fewer expenses means we can save more money. But it also means we’ll have more choices. There won’t be anything tying us down if we want to move. Our expenses won’t tie us to higher paying jobs. We’ll be able to afford to take more vacations, and spend more time on the things we love. We still can’t have it all; We’ll have to prioritize what is most important in our lives. But our choices will definitely expand once we’re debt free.

– Cindy W.

Comments

  1. You are so right: interest payments and housing costs are huge! They drain away money, often without anything to show for it (unlike paying down principal.) Being debt-free is great; I’ll acquire more at some point in the next few years (car payment, possibly mortgage) but for the moment it’s really cool that my rock-bottom basic expenses are probably something like $600 a month.

    1. I’m definitely looking forward to the lower monthly expenses once I’m debt free. I just keep thinking what an “extra” $1,500 a month can do once my car payment is gone!

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