‘The Year Of No’ monthly report: January

We are making good progress.

It makes sense to me that if I’m going to continue to record the emotional progress of our debt snowball, that I should also record some numbers as well.

I don’t have real solid data from long ago, but as evidenced in the audio recording from 2005 in my last post, we had around $68,200 in 2005.

Then we did a few things right and a million things wrong. We had some kids, bought a house, yada, yada, yada. And finally, after more than a decade of screwing around, decided to get really serious about paying off the debt going all in.

I officially count the start of our debt snowball at July 25, 2016, the day our former house sale was finalized. At that time, we owed $34,076 in consumer and student loan debt combined, plus an additional amount that I borrowed from my parents to help us move. The parent loan was paid back immediately after we received money from the sale of our house, leaving us with our other debt.

We started Financial Peace University on Sept. 11, 2016, with $34,076 in debt. We used whatever was left from the sale of the house, and threw a bunch more at the debt to reach around $29,000 by the end of 2016. That was pretty good progress, but the bulk of that were proceeds from the sale of the house.

My goal for 2017 was to try and pay down an additional $10,000. It was a lofty goal, but one we didn’t hit. We slacked off a bit in the summer, but still did OK for the year. At the end of 2017, we were down to around $20,000 left in student loan debt.

Which brings us to the present.

January 2018

There was a lot of hustle happening in January. To really get things moving, we did some radical things:

  • Said “no” to the kids over and over and over about buying “stuff”
  • Said “no” to ourselves a lot on buying “stuff” as well and stuck to the budget very strictly
  • Stopped going out to eat once a paycheck (I am paid twice per month)
  • Stopped the monthly “kids night out” at our local YMCA and date night with it
  • Changed cell phone plans to a cheaper rate
  • I found my name on the KansasCash.com website and found a small amount of money the Kansas State Treasurer’s Office was holding for me
  • Sold one of my guitars
  • Stayed home a lot, but mostly because it was a cold month
  • Received some additional money because of changes to the 2018 income tax withholding tabes
  • Took steps to increase income from freelance work, which should begin to solidify in February

Because of all of that, we were able to pay down a whopping $2,170.53, bringing our remaining debt down to $18,666.54 to start February.

We started a Debt Chain for our kids, with each link representing $1,000 and a final one that says “Debt Free!” It’s a $20,000 chain made out of construction paper, but today the kids got to cut two rings off the chain.

That feels pretty awesome. Now let’s see what we can do in February.

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