by a.b.

There is no better feeling than paying off debt. Within the next two months, one of our credit card balances will drop to zero. I’m dropping the interest rate on another one to 1.99% via balance transfer.

When I first started blogging last year (pre-Modern Tightwad), I was determined to pay off all of our debt, as quickly as possible. I set up spreadsheets, and posted our net worth and how closely we met our budget each month; after four months, I was ready to cry.

There was so much out of our control. With the gas crisis, the value on my SUV dropped $3000 in one month, putting our car loan completely underwater. Our emergency fund wasn’t stout enough, so an emergency got put on credit card. I had no idea how to celebrate small victories, how to understand that setbacks occurred. Now I don’t post numbers; I may be wrong, but how quickly we get debt free, does not seem to be as important as the steps we take to get there.

What also seems to be most important, is setting attainable goals. Liz Weston wrote about downsizing your money goals last week, and it really hit me: I have no reason to feel bad about setting reasonable goals; it’s the smart thing to do.

I’ve felt guilty about this because it seems contrary to what I should want. I should want to be debt free as quickly as possible. I should want to move mountains to get there. But I don’t. What I really want is to show continued progress without giving myself an aneurysm. I don’t want to spend certain vital years postponing my life as a continued punishment for mistakes I made as a kid. What if I postponed having a child because I wanted to get rid of credit card debt, and it took so long I lost the ability to conceive?

Being debt free will be nice, and I will make a concerted effort over the next two years to rid myself of toxic debt, but I will no longer postpone saving for our future/retirement, or starting our future, just to scream “debt free.”

What are my current goals?

  1. I would like to have credit utilization rate below 20% by the time I’m 30 (in two years).
  2. I would like to finish an ebook that I have in progress by the beginning of next year.
  3. I would like to go to Hawaii for our five year anniversary (next year).

None of these are outside of the realm of possibility. In fact, even if I have a couple of serious setbacks, my goals are still attainable. Have you changed any of your goals lately?