Monday, September 1, 2008

The End of an Era

I cancelled my TV Guide subscription yesterday. I cancelled my People subscription too, but that wasn't nearly as traumatic. I have been a TV Guide subscriber since 1992, ever since I got married and realized what a necessity it was. Now, 15 years later, I say goodbye to my friend TV Guide. I have to admit that I don't need it in this day and age of the internet, and the $80 renewal would just mean less money for scouts and baseball and art supplies and car payments, and well, food! Ditto for the $115 People renewal. Yesterday, I cancelled my magazines. Today, I start saving money.

We were in debt before - lots of it - to the tune of 40K+ in credit cards alone. I'm not proud of that, but I'm not ashamed of it either. It was what it was. Being under that much debt is like living under a dark cloud, the weight of which is enormous and indescribable. That fear is always there, that fear of "What if Mike loses his job? What if someone gets sick? What if there's an accident? What if something happens to the house?" The what-ifs were terrifying. Making the changes necessary to pay it all off was terrifying too, but we did it. Three years ago we moved to Arizona completely debt free, the weight on our shoulders gone.

Two years ago, we bought and remodeled a house, fully intending to live in it for a year then flip it for a profit. Of course as everyone well knows, God had other plans, and the market changed - NOT in our favor. That was the start of our new debt. Then the "what-ifs" we'd feared before started to happen one by one. I needed my wisdom teeth pulled, Spencer had eye surgery and oral surgery, Everett spent 3 days in the hospital with a stomach virus. And then the pregnancy! No less than half a dozen ER visits, the birth, and a 5 day hospital stay 3 months later to remove my gall bladder. After that it was back to the dentist for me, for two root canals and two crowns and counting. The debt ticked up, up, up.

So here we are, no worse for the wear, with a few less teeth and no gall bladder.... and a beautiful baby girl who was worth every second of it. I am thankful that we're in much better shape financially than we were the first time, and I'm thankful that Mike's job, while boring at times, puts food on the table and clothes on our back. I'm thankful that we're in this together, and that I'm not married to someone who feels the need to "keep up with the Joneses."

But it's time to ditch the debt. All the time, I hear people say "I'm debt-free except for the mortgage and car payments." I want to be debt-free, period, with no qualifiers. I want to get off the merry-go-round and get out from ALL the payments. Today, right now, on September 1st, we have $324,564.07 in debt. That includes our two mortgages, our cars, and our credit cards. I share the number because 1) it makes it real, and 2) it keeps me accountable. It's going to go down, and I'm going to document the journey.


Beth said...

YAY JEN! I'm proud of you for attacking the debt! So cool that you are going to blog about it along the way. I, too, despise debt and aspire to be debt free, including the house. We are years away from that, of course, but in the meantime, we are plugging away at what we have. I look forward to watching you find new ways to save money and attack your debt! Beth

Erika Seirup said...

Atta girl Jen! We're on the same road, although it would help if we could get Doug working at the department full-time. We paid off our car and one credit card. We've got three more to pay off (low balances) and then we have the two mortgages...OUCH! We have the same goals as you, I'm glad you made this blog :)