Don’t wait to pay off your debt!

Don't let time run away!

Don’t let time run away!

Up until January this year, the hubby and I were working under a couple of blinkered assumptions about paying off our mountain of debt.

One was that the debt was insurmountable and the only way to get through each month was by scraping the minimum payment together. The second was that hopefully something would happen in the future whereby we would ‘come into some cash’ in order to pay off this insurmountable debt.

Assumption #1: We could only afford the minimum repayment

When we believed that our debt was just impossible to clear, we were actually making sure that our finances would never improve. We honestly thought that we could only make the minimum repayments otherwise we wouldn’t be able to afford to eat and pay the rest of our bills. By only making the minimum repayments, we were prolonging our financial misery which obviously had huge repercussions in terms of our quality of life everyday.

As time has shown, this assumption was blinkered because lately, we have found extra money from time to time by making even more savings on our budget and making extra income through selling our stuff on eBay.

Assumption #2: We might come into some cash in the future

If we come into some money in the future, then we could surely pay off our debts then, couldn’t we? Because the hubby might be able to take a bonus at some point from his business. The value of our house which we rent out might go up in value in the next 5-10 years. We might win some money on the lottery. This assumption is blinkered because quite honestly, if we sit around and wait for good financial things to happen to us, we could be waiting for a very long time or even forever!

We batted back and forth from one assumption to the other for several years, at times stressing out completely and then at other times telling ourselves not to worry because ‘it would all be alright’ in the end.

Why you shouldn’t wait to pay off your debt

If you’re working under these assumptions, like we did before starting this blog, now could be the time to take action with your debts! Because paying just the minimum payment is not going to result in getting your debts paid off anytime soon. It could take years and years to become debt free especially if you’re paying interest on your debts. And who knows what’s around the corner in terms of obstacles which could get in your way in the meantime.

The possibility of coming into some money simply just can’t be relied upon so by sitting back and waiting for something good to happen, you could be prolonging the amount of time you’re in debt for. Why not start attacking your debts now and if you come into some money in the future, great! You might then be able to clear your debts and have money leftover to save!

Note: if you’re struggling to afford even the minimum repayments and have already squeezed your budget into oblivion, then you might need to ask for help and there’s nothing wrong with that. We had to take this step a few years ago because we really were struggling. You could contact a debt charity for advice or talk to someone you know to offload the mental burden of carrying around a load of debt everyday.

The principle remains the same in all cases – taking action against your debt now will inevitably mean that you’ll get out of debt faster and you could be on the road to financial security sooner than you think.

Have you been in a situation like us where you’ve been putting off getting out of debt?

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Comments

    • 2

      says

      I’ve been there too – had a good job but didn’t give my debt much thought and believed I could only afford the minimum anyway. It’s definitely a case of better late than never though! Well done on your progress over the last 9 months!:)

    • 4

      says

      Thank you Moneystepper! :) Waiting for the right time to pay off debts is not the best move as something always gets in the way anyway to hinder progress!

    • 6

      says

      That’s great to read Holly! I hope that’s the case with us – I do feel like we’re making more progress than ever before thankfully!

    • 8

      says

      I haven’t worked out just how much I’ve spent over the years with all the interest added on. I can’t bring myself to do it! Far too scary!

  1. 11

    says

    Those are great observations: we often labor under faulty assumptions. Our big false assumption was that our income was static. We would only earn X, or maybe get a slight raise from X. We read a book sometime around 2010 (Think and Grow Rich) and performed a silly little exercise: write down a big income goal for the year: something way above what you earn now. We thought it was a lame trick but, every year, we’d find a way to earn that (much) higher income. One year it took until January of the following year, but it did happen.

    Anyway, we do that every year now and it’s worked every time. Challenge those assumptions!
    Done by Forty recently posted…October Budget PornMy Profile

    • 12

      says

      I need to read this book! That’s really interesting about how you managed to exceed your income once you wrote down a goal that was higher than you thought! I’d love to know how you found ways to increase your income to achieve your goals! :)

    • 13

      jim says

      doneby40,
      we did the same thing – OMG! I can’t believe we’ve pulled it off (so far – still have another 2 years to go). our “normal” mortgage payment is $1350. spouse said “what if we just threw $4k/month at it and got the $132K paid off in 3 years (or less). i sooooooooooooo did not believe that was possible – but we did it – at least for 12 consecutive months. $48K down in 2013. and you know what – once we got over being nervous about doing it, it all just seemed so normal and we’re not starving or otherwise deprived. sure wish this had occurred to us many, many years ago.

  2. 14

    says

    When I think about the mess our finances were before having a kid knowing what were were making without having to pay for things like daycare, and baby-related things it KILLS me. Somehow we’re now able to pay for daycare and things she needs….yet before her we only ever paid minimum payments. Like many things though, until you’re ready to get serious you don’t know what you’re capable of.
    Catherine recently posted…Friday Life UpdatesMy Profile

    • 15

      says

      That’s so true Catherine and what you’ve described here is so similar to what happened to us. When you have kids, you have to spend more money there’s no two ways about it. So to pay off debt whilst doing is that not easy! It is really about getting serious and staying focused!

  3. 16

    says

    I was in financial denial for years with the exact same thoughts as yours thinking my debt would all be paid off one day! Debt won’t ever be paid off unless you take action towards getting rid of it. I wished I realized this years ago rather then just the beginning of this year but it is what it is. I can only learn from my mistakes and move on. Great post Hayley!
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…I ♥ Autumn TagMy Profile

    • 17

      says

      I wish I’d realised before too GMD! :) I can’t believe we didn’t get or know how to get serious about our debt before now. I could cringe at the amount of money the hubby and I have wasted over the years. But as you say, we learn from our mistakes and we definitely won’t be making the same mistake twice. P.S. the good thing about blogging is that hopefully we can help other people to avoid making the same mistakes that we have done! :)

  4. 18

    says

    I have been putting off getting out of debt for many years. I knew I could pay more towards my debts rather than simply make minimum payments, I just chose not to! Instead I chose to spend my “free” cash on things I enjoyed ignoring my debts completely. I believed that “somehow”, “someday” my debts would just disappear, ha! Luckily, I don’t think so any longer and take action to get out of debt.
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…How I Spend Very Little on GroceriesMy Profile

    • 19

      says

      Us too Eva. I honestly thought something would ‘come along’ to take all our debts away. So not true! :) Taking action now is definitely the best way!

    • 21

      says

      Thanks Kevin – I agree focusing on progress is really important. It’s really nice to ‘see’ you here! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. :)

  5. 22

    says

    This was a really great post, Hayley. We all tell ourselves some tiny little lies from time-to-time. Some are more damaging than others. For instance, “You’ll fit into those old jeans you’ve kept since high school…don’t throw them out yet!” is one of the lesser lies. The two you mention tend toward the disastrous side.

    I know because I told myself those brand of lies early in life. But like you, I stopped the game, sucked it up and got out of debt. Now that I’ve been debt free for years, I can tell you that those lies are just that….lies and the sooner we understand that the richer life will be. And, I mean that on so many levels.

    Thanks for being a voice for the truth ~
    Ree
    Ree Klein recently posted…Survey Sunday: Can You Become Wealthy Without a College Degree?My Profile

    • 23

      says

      Thanks so much Ree! I’m really glad you were successful in getting out of debt, I bet that’s an amazing feeling having been without debt for years! :)

    • 27

      says

      That’s great that you’ve not had to deal with debt Stefanie! Lack of income is definitely an issue for a lot of people though. I feel the same way and I’m trying to get some sort of side hustle going to help with this!

  6. 28

    says

    It’s amazing how much our assumptions and limiting beliefs shape our experience.

    One of the techniques I picked up reading some Robert Kiyosaki is his habit of asking “how can I afford it” instead of stating “we can’t afford it.” It’s a simple difference, but completely changes how you think about the problem.

    Applying that to debt, it’s important to ask yourself “how can I pay this debt more quickly.” Once you state it as a question, you start engaging the problem-solving side of your brain, and it’s amazing how quickly you can come up with a solution.
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted…3 Steps to End the Health Insurance NightmareMy Profile

    • 29

      says

      Great comment Jack thank you. I imagine there’s all sorts of ways we could use this technique e.g. How can I earn extra money? How can I change my job? Thanks so much for this tip!

  7. 30

    says

    Yes, Hayley! We’ve been there, done that. Denial is a devilish one. Sometimes I still think I’m going to get a large sum of money in the mail. Delusion at its best.

    When we got serious and started accounting for all of the money we were spending (and owed), it was clear that we had to start putting more money toward our debts and no money on buying new things. We simply stopped buying almost everything – well, except groceries! We stopped buying almost all clothes and no accessories (jewelry, shoes, sunglasses, nothing!). If we do buy new clothes, we have a discussion first, and usually we decide we don’t need it. I feel better having less to choose from – saves time!

    I am so happy to hear you were able to find the money to pay off your debts – even if it’s not a ton or all the time. We are working on ours too. We don’t let it get us down because we know we’re in it together and we are not deluding ourselves any longer. I hope you are finding the same!

    • 31

      says

      We’re the same – we literally don’t buy anything we ‘want’ anymore although we do still seem to fritter money away at times just on groceries (ok chocolate and stuff). I play the lottery though – hey you never know! I’m glad to read that you and CJ look on the positive side re your debts – we try to do this too. As you say, we’re not deluding ourselves anymore so that’s great!

  8. 32

    says

    Basically, the entire time I’ve had debt! But now I’m beginning to worry about my retirement, my mom’s retirement and I want to get married and have a kiddo. It’s a lot to consider and debt keeps me from moving forward on what’s important to me-my family, piece of mind, the ability to live my life the way I would like, financial stability, and travel. It will take 3 years of focus to make a huge difference in my life. Three years is not that big a deal.

    • 33

      says

      Eeek – retirement! That’s something that’s been nagging on my mind lately too. I just feel like I can’t focus on that yet with paying off debt being such a massive part of our lives right now. I’m so hoping we’ll be clear of debt in three years too. Like you say, that’s not long in the grand scheme of things!

  9. 34

    says

    Done By Forty has captured my thoughts exactly and from reading your post, one can see that beliefs and our thoughts about something tend to materialize. So for example, when i think debt is crushing me, even the minimum payments become tough putting together.
    When we change that mentality and believe we are in control and are on track to paying off our debts, I guess our minds become so trained on that we start seeing opportunities and stuff we can do to reduce our debts. What we think we do become!
    Simon @ Modest Money recently posted…How Much Money Should You Have In Savings Before You Invest?My Profile

    • 35

      says

      That’s so true Simon. It goes to show just how important changing your mindset is to be able to break free of all those beliefs that are holding us back!

    • 37

      says

      Sometimes, we just plod along doing what we know! And it’s only when we really think about the opportunities that we could take advantage of should we make financial changes that we actually get on and do something about it. :)

    • 39

      says

      Yes, I still think things like that too! I let myself dream sometimes to escape from the harsh reality which is that hard work will get me out of debt! But in the background, I’m busy chipping away at the debt the only way I know will work for sure – saving and trying to make extra cash!

    • 41

      says

      “You’re already in debt so what’s a little more debt.” I’ve felt exactly this way before. The damage that attitude can cause can be long lasting! One key factor in getting out of debt is not to rack up any more! :)

    • 43

      says

      Yes, I agree Marissa. The progress is progress attitude is great once you know the direction you need to be going in and can stick at it. That in itself is taking positive action and not delaying things even if you can only overpay a small amount one month and none the next! :)

  10. 44

    says

    LOVE this, Hayley. This is the exact situation we were in in January, and I’m SO glad we started paying off when we did, because, as of this moment, the lottery hasn’t come in, nor has any other “windfall” or lucky thing that just smashed away our debt. Your line: “taking action against your debt now will inevitably mean that you’ll get out of debt faster and you could be on the road to financial security sooner than you think.” is right on the mark, Hayley. Thank you!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…7 Uses for Pumpkin SeedsMy Profile

    • 45

      says

      Thanks Laurie, glad you can relate to this post. It’s a case of tomorrow never comes I think with paying off debt! So there’s no time like the present! :)

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