Yesterday was the first day of my debt detox and it wasn’t terrible. My co-workers went out for ice cream and offered to buy me some when I refused to buy my own. I declined because I didn’t want to be a mooch. But I walked with them to Ben & Jerry’s and went to the CVS next door to pick up my allergy medicine while they got their ice cream and it was an enjoyable walk and nice to spend time with them outside of the office. I also felt great about saving $350 a month in commuting costs by canceling my parking pass and getting a monthly public transportation pass, instead. And my son loved taking the commuter rail and the shuttle in – he kept saying that he was so excited to get to ride a train and a bus to school!
The next step on my debt detox journey is to log into the plethora of bank accounts and credit card accounts that I have and figure out how much I really owe. Prior to today, my sense of how much debt we were in could be described as foggy at best. This was an eye opening experience – especially since I noticed that the minimum payment on my husband’s student loan debt isn’t enough to cover the interest being accrued and the balance is actually getting higher every month!
Credit card debt: $51,684.47
Personal debt: $4,000.00
Combined student loan debt: $86,782.41
Mortgage debt: $102,908.78
Total debt: $245,375.66
Holy guacamole, that is a lot of debt! But that’s okay. At least now I know how much I really owe and can come up with a plan to tackle it.
However, there’s no denying the fact that thinking about paying off $245,375.66 of debt is soul crushing. Instead, it’s best to look at the different categories and prioritize them. The purpose of this particular spending fast is three-fold.
- Pay down my debt so that when the promotional 0% APR runs out on my credit cards I’m not accruing quite as much interest
- Raise my credit score to at least 720 (it’s at 683 right now)
- Build up our savings account so that we have enough to pay first, last, and security if we decide not to renew our lease next June
In her book The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living, Anna Newell Jones talks about how she didn’t put any money into savings when she did her year-long spending fast. I wish we could do that, but we won’t achieve goal #3 that way, so I’ll be splitting all of our “savings” 50/50 between extra money going to the credit cards and extra money going into the savings account.
Speaking of all of our “savings”, let’s take a moment to define that term. For the purpose of the debt detox, savings is the money left over each month after paying for everything in my “needs” column. So when I talk about how much money I save per month, that’s very different than talking about how much money I put into our savings account per month.
With this in mind, I will be reviewing the amount that I can send to the creditors at the end of each month and reporting back to you. My current minimum credit card payments add up to $659.91 per month, so anything above that is a win!
From now on, I’ll be giving bi-weekly progress updates about my successes, failures, and how much I have saved.
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