Debt. That four letter word no-one wants to hear. A lot of people actually in debt don’t even want to think about that four letter word let alone face up to it. Yes, being in debt is fairly tough and the hubby and I often used to feel totally fed up about our situation. But over time, we’ve changed our perspective to that of a more positive one and now when we look hard enough, we can see a glimmer of a silver lining. Even with a great big pile of debt still to pay off!
I’ve been in debt for 14 years, ever since I was old enough to get credit. The same for my hubby. Together we’ve struggled with debt and there have been times when we’ve hit an all time low emotionally thinking that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Until January of this year, that is.
Something just hit us that no matter what, we had to get rid of the debts. Obviously we’d been thinking this for years on and off, but somehow this time it felt different. The timing was right! But the question at the forefront of our minds was: “How on earth can we even start tackling the debts properly when we are earning less than half of our salaries compared to just a few years ago?”
Our combined income three years ago before having our daughter was around £67K per year (almost $107K USD). We were struggling with debts then and couldn’t afford to pay more than the minimum (or so we thought). Now due to a change in work circumstances and a relocation, we earn around £31K (just over $49K USD) between us and we now also have a child to support.
To our own surprise, and quite frankly amazement, we have paid nearly £7K off our debts so far this year, which is more than we’ve ever managed before. We have all the usual household bills to pay but we don’t buy luxury items or services at all. In fact, we pretty much don’t spend on anything other than bills and overpaying debts!
And you know what? We don’t mind. Honestly, we really don’t. We’d do pretty much anything to get rid of these debts now once and for all so not spending money is a reminder that we’re doing everything we can to get rid of them. That makes us happy!
For the first time since being in debt, we’re feeling positive about the progress we’ve made.
And now for the silver lining?
As the title of this post gives away: debt has given me a taste of freedom. I’m talking about my silver lining here and not the hubby’s – although he has his own silver lining to think about. Let me explain about mine.
Three years ago, I was tied to a job which I didn’t enjoy and where I worked long hours with a relentless overflowing in-tray. I had zero work life balance and at one extremely low point, I was diagnosed with depression. (I still didn’t take any time off work though!) One night whilst seven months pregnant I actually worked until 11pm (from 7am) because I had to deliver on a project deadline. Boy oh boy, this was not a happy time for me.
For several years, I thought I couldn’t leave this job because of the massive debts we had – surely we both had to earn a decent salary to keep us afloat and make sure our house didn’t get repossessed?
When our daughter was born, I decided happiness was really important and at that time felt strong enough to make the decision to leave my job which coincided nicely with relocating to be closer to the hubby’s business. After desperately looking around for jobs in a new area (unsuccessfully), I decided to set up a small business from home working around my daughter as a temporary measure, in order to bring in some income.
With me working at home, luckily we don’t have to pay for childcare now but our earnings have dropped significantly. Yet we’re managing to pay off the debts now at last as well as surviving day to day with a roof over our heads and making sure we live a reasonably full life!
Not only am I now working at home with a bit more work life balance, I can see that in the future, paying off these debts will set me free. By this, I mean that I won’t have to worry about the debts before making decisions about what I want my future to look like.
If I can survive now and help to support my family whilst we’re paying off a mountain of debt, I know that when the debts have gone, I will be able to do whatever work I’m passionate about. Instead of joining the rat race again when my daughter is in school, I can leave the 9-5 working environment, the stress, the office politics and bureaucracy, for good.
I can see more clearly the path that I want to take to ensure my work fits around what’s important: my family and loved ones.
Looking for something positive in any difficult situation can be tricky and being in debt is no exception to that. But being in debt and paying it back doesn’t have to be all bad news. A situation like this can come with all sorts of life lessons and opportunities along the way.
This post is part of The Gift of Debt Series an eight-day, multi-blogger extravaganza designed to give you the permission to kick up your heels, embrace your debt with glee and look forward to finding the gold at the end of the rainbow. Follow along in the series as we tell the story of our gift and encourage you to find yours.
- I will not give in: the cycle of debt has been broken!
- Keep Calm and Carry On! Part 1
- Keep Calm and Carry On! Part 2
Image courtesy of Taynia at The Fiscal Flamingo