- DH = dear husband
- DD2 = dear second daughter
Overall progress from June 2012 to September 2017
DH and I have been on a journey out of all debt since June of 2012. We started off with:
- $21,000 in consumer debt
- $81,000 in business debt
- $155,000 in mortgage debt
- A grand total debt of $257,000
Since that time, we have:
- paid off all consumer debt
- paid off all business debt
- paid $87,000 off of our mortgage
- Remaining debt – $68,000
Mistake = lower payment in September
For the first 3 years of our trek to debt-freedom, we kept our mortgage payments low and steady as we tackled our smaller debts first. Now that we have no other debt besides the mortgage, we put as much as we can against it each month. DH runs a home business, and so our monthly income varies. To accommodate this reality, our strategy in attacking the mortgage has been to give ourselves some flexibility.
The terms of our mortgage allow us to pay off extra each month to a maximum of doubling our regular payment. We can also make one lump sum payment off of the principal each year.
Every month, we try to double our mortgage payment – which for us means putting down $3,000. If we can’t manage a double payment, we put down as much extra as we can. That means that each month a few days before the payment is made, DH communicates to the bank how much our extra payment will be.
Only for September, he forgot about the long weekend. So he missed the deadline to make the extra payment. For the first time since June of 2015, when we became debt-free except for the mortgage, we paid our basic amount of $1,500.
But that’s OK …
I always like to see our debt numbers go down as much as possible each month, so while it was disappointing, DH’s mistake was OK on three different fronts:
- The closer we get to ZERO, the more confidence we have in our overall finances. The great thing about confidence is that it allows us to take mistakes in stride with a not-a-big-deal attitude …
- … because it’s not a big deal. We will be making a lump sum payment for the year in December, and any money we put aside in September that didn’t go towards that monthly payment will go towards the big payment …
- … only we didn’t end up having any extra for September because of over $1,500 worth of van repairs.
So it actually worked out very well.
My discretionary account: hard to release judgment
The other subplot developing in these monthly reports is about progress in my discretionary debt payoff. DH and I give ourselves a generous discretionary allowance each month, and he is way better at managing his than I am at managing mine. While he has saved and even invested from his, I have gone into debt with mine. Ugh!
Willpower hasn’t been the answer, so in the last couple of months, I’ve been trying what I call no-judgment-tracking of my discretionary spending. I just deleted the mark of C that I originally included in the subtitle for this section. I’m SO programmed to evaluate! Releasing judgment is not as easy as it sounds. My goal here is simply to track – NOT to evaluate or come up with better strategies or to seek advice. None of the above works. I know! (This is a very stubborn issue.) My hope is that a heightened awareness of my discretionary spending will lead to my successful management of it – in the black instead of the red.
No-judgment-tracking for September
First item of awareness: I really have a hard time keeping a steady log of my discretionary expenditures. It’s not from forgetting or not having time for it. It’s from shame. But what does shame come from? Judgment! I’ll do my best to stare down that shame – AND the judgment behind it – through October. For now, despite my digging around to fill in the blanks, I can only work with an incomplete record of my September spending.
Some day, I’ll be brave enough to include actual dollar amounts, but for now, here is where the money went:
- pizza party at a mini high school reunion (We all chipped in.)
- birthday celebration for DD2
- birthday gift for DD2
- tip for hairdresser
- tip for restaurant server (The meal itself was covered by a gift card given to us.)
- wedding shower expenses (3 aunts chipped in – and DH & I split my portion. Thank you Kalie and Kay. Your comments led to my discussion with DH about this!)
- wedding shower gift (Some of us chipped in. DH and I split my portion.)
- 2 breakfasts bought because I woke up too late to eat before work
- 2 lunches bought because I woke up too late to prepare a lunch before work
- took a friend out for dinner to celebrate her birthday
- baby shower gift
- charitable giving
- airport parking
- several (I’m going to guess 7 ) snacks
For extra detail, you might remember that we give ourselves our allowance when my first pay comes through each month. For October, that won’t be until the 13th, so I had to make sure my September money held out. It didn’t. But the good news is that I was owed some money for a boost that we gave ourselves in the summer (which allowed me to take a trip to Washington DC). So I was still able to move forward.
I put another $200 against my discretionary debt. After 2 months, from an original $1,669, it’s down to $1,286.
More on shame & judgment
You know, when I look at that list of expenditures from September, I find myself thinking there’s not much for me to be ashamed of. I have noticed before that there’s a shame spiral. You make a mistake (like wake up late), submit to the consequences (like pay for breakfast and lunch), go into some denial (don’t track that spending). And since you’re now functioning less mindfully, it’s easier to add to the denial (like buy snacks – and don’t track that spending either). In its hidden state, all that you’re in denial about becomes more dreadful. It takes some bracing to shine a light on it … but when you do, it becomes smaller – less powerful.
I’m hoping to gain more confidence in my discretionary money management so that when I make mistakes, I can have the same not-a-big-deal attitude that we had with DH’s mortgage mistake. Shame and judgment won’t be part of that confidence building.
Do you find it difficult to track your spending? Do shame and denial play a role in that difficulty? Your comments are welcome.
Image courtesy of Pixabay