The Truth About The Debt Repayment Journey

So do you want the good news or bad news first?

How about I start with the bad news bears so we can end the post on a positive note?

BAD NEWS

The Debt Repayment Journey is HARD. In fact, I don’t think I have ever experienced anything so painful but my engagement ring getting stuck on my finger during J’s proposal and having to spend over 3 hours in the Emergency Room to have the doctor yank it off my bruised and swollen-like-a-hot-air-balloon finger comes in a close second! On a side note, how come doctors and nurses don’t have sympathy for the poor Girl with the big rock stuck on her finger? :P

Ever since I was 18 years old and received my first credit card and student loan, I thought of debt as normal. It actually never even really occurred to me until I was the ripe old age of 29 that I would have to take aggressive action and make drastic lifestyle changes if I wanted to pay off my debt as soon as possible. Debt won’t be paid off “one day” unless I take action now. I won’t take credit for this sudden financial light-bulb moment though since it was actually J who straight out told me that debt is bad and I needed to get my financial act together pronto.

At first, it was a challenge. Cutting back little luxuries that had become a part of my daily routine was making me feel like I was “depriving myself.” At times I even felt angry and resentful towards my “past” self. After awhile though, being frugal just became a part of my new daily routine.

I also fell victim to debt fatigue many times during the past year. I felt like I was working so hard but my debt balance wasn’t shrinking fast enough to reflect my efforts. At times, I would burst into tears feeling ashamed of how stupid and wasteful I was with money in the past. I felt anxious worrying how I’m 30 years old now but haven’t really started saving for retirement yet because I have so much debt.

At times, I felt like giving up.

GOOD NEWS

I didn’t give up. And I will never give up. This Debt Repayment Journey has been one of the most difficult challenges I have had to overcome but it honesty isn’t as difficult as I first thought it would be! Yes, it’s damn hard, but it’s not impossible. You just have to truly yearn for financial freedom in order to be successful.

For the longest time, I felt like I “plateaued” in my debt repayment journey until I paid off my $12,000 credit card debt in 9 months and now with just one student loan debt left, the momentum is picking up and I can see the numbers dropping much faster. I started 2013 with over $57,000 in debt and I’m hoping to end the year under $40,000. $17,000 paid in one year is something I would have thought impossible even just one year ago but now I’m so close to reaching that goal, I can see, smell, hear, taste and touch it!

I’m never going to say anything ridiculous like I’m happy I have debt because it has made me a stronger person but since I do have debt, I will say that it is not all doom and gloom. The process of paying off my debt has taught to really value the priceless things in life, like love, family, pets, friends, and good health. It’s also challenged me to look for more frugal fun activities and I have really embraced hiking and walking because of it.

The best news about the Debt Repayment Journey? It’s not permanent. There is a finish line and the prize is one that ironically money can’t buy.

What’s your truth when it comes to debt repayment? Let’s hear the good and bad!

62 Comments on The Truth About The Debt Repayment Journey

  1. kathrynNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm (5 months ago)

    What a great attitude :)
    I wish more people took responsibilty for their debt.
    Many times we need to chase people thru the courts for debt (we’re landlords) and it ruins their credit. We always offer them the chance to make payments first…and a couple have actually taken us up on this offer.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm (5 months ago)

      Thanks kathryn! I wish I took responsibility for my debt sooner but it’s better late than never. :P

      Reply
  2. Little Miss MoneyNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm (5 months ago)

    You’ve come a long way – I’m impressed, and putting 17000 dollars to your debt is a great, great accomplishment!
    But oh my God… that engagement ring story had me laugh out loud, although I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time. :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm (5 months ago)

      The engagement story is funny now but it sure was devastating then! ;)

      Reply
  3. Brent @ VosaNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm (5 months ago)

    Way to stick with it and work hard to pay down your debt. $17k in a year is a great accomplishment and something you should be proud of!

    I can’t figure out why a big rock stuck on your finger didn’t garner you any sympathy at all!?!? What is this world coming to!!??!?

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm (5 months ago)

      Thanks Brent! I don’t know why the big rock literally stuck on my finger garnered ZERO sympathy!?!?!? I guess it will remain a great mystery! ;)

      Reply
  4. AmandaNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm (5 months ago)

    I think you’re doing great! $17k in a year is nothing to sneeze at :)

    Our mortgage amount drops really slowly too since we pay so much interest and not much principal, but I try to think like Dory – just keep swimming!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm (5 months ago)

      Ironic fact – I don’t know how to swim. I don’t even know how to float! If I fell in the water, I would immediately drown! But I will keep “swimming!” ;)

      Reply
  5. Budget and the BeachNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm (5 months ago)

    Yes debt fatigue is no fun! :( But you do have a great attitude and you’ll get there! BTW I feel the same way about my income. It’s increasing, but not as fast or as much as I’d like. I get fatigued trying to bust my balls having enough income to live in LA and have fun and save for retirement. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel and go live in some cheap-ass place or city. :) But I don’t. ha ha

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm (5 months ago)

      You and me will never throw in the towel Tonya. We are champs. ;)

      Reply
  6. kelly @stayingonbudgetNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm (5 months ago)

    Yeah, I am so glad it’s a journey with a final ending–debt freedom! The plateau is where a lot of people get stuck–so way to push through it!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm (5 months ago)

      This journey does have an ending and the prize couldn’t be sweeter. :)

      Reply
  7. Dear DebtNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm (5 months ago)

    Debt is a process that makes you feel like you are moving three steps ahead, two steps back (literally, with the interest). I think the hardest part for me is adjusting my lifestyle. I don’t have extravagant things or anything like that, but I feel like if I want a drink, or to go out to eat, then I deserve it! It’s hard to see all these little things just get thrown towards debt. Every month I have nothing left over (because I’m putting so much towards debt) and it can literally make me feel empty. I run with a low grade anxiety almost everyday because of it. I want to go one day without thinking of money, but hasn’t happened yet!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm (5 months ago)

      My bank account and my spirit can literally feel empty too after debt repayment but I just keep reminding myself that it’s not permanent. It’s not permanent M!

      Reply
  8. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennialNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm (5 months ago)

    I think it’s amazing and inspiring that you have made off so much debt already, including the $17k this year. That, and the fact that you have such a sincere, honest approach to telling your story, make you someone very worth admiring!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm (5 months ago)

      Awwww you’re too sweet Kali. Thank you. :)

      Reply
  9. Tara @ Streets Ahead LivingNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm (5 months ago)

    Positivity is the way to stay motivated! Plus, now your payments are either low or no-interest for your student loans so your money will have more bang for the buck in the loan repayment snowball. I’m sure you can have this paid off in two years or even less!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm (5 months ago)

      My student loans are currently on interest-relief at the moment so I am definitely getting more bang for my buck with the debt repayment unlike the credit card debt which had 11.65%. YIKES! 2 years is a bit too wishful thinking but I’m ambitiously aiming for December 8th 2016. 4 years from when I first started the blog. :)

      Reply
  10. Stephanie @ Six Figures UnderNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm (5 months ago)

    I would say the “bad news” is thinking of all the things your money could be doing (saving for the future, you know, gaining interest instead of paying it). The “good news” is that as soon as the debt is paid we will be so used to living on nothing that in the future we will be able to contribute more to savings than our old selves would have, had we not gone through this debt repayment adventure.

    It’s nice that there is an end in sight, even if you need a high-powered telescope to see it.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm (5 months ago)

      I punish myself and think about all the money I could be saving for retirement all the time but you are so right about the fact that once this debt is paid off I will be so used to living on so little that I will naturally be saving like a rock star later.

      Reply
  11. MichelleNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm (5 months ago)

    I wish you had posted a picture of your finger. I can’t believe it was so bad!! And yes, debt repayment is hellish but worth it in the end :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm (5 months ago)

      Believe me Michelle. My finger was worst than you can imagine that night!

      Reply
  12. Grayson @ Debt RoundupNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm (5 months ago)

    The truth about it is that it eventually ends (hopefully) and then you get to work on growing your money and making better financial decisions.

    Reply
  13. Done by FortyNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm (5 months ago)

    That’s a pretty candid insight into the struggle with debt. While it’s not something we actively seek out, I don’t think we’d be as committed to personal finance if we did so having never paid off significant debt. We value money differently after the process.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:06 am (5 months ago)

      I know I value money much more after starting this debt repayment journey!

      Reply
  14. Clarisse @MakeMoney Your WayNo Gravatar
    November 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm (5 months ago)

    From the very start I was afraid about debt because my parents always taught me not to get into debt. I totally agree with you giving up is not an option but a sign of weakness.

    Reply
  15. Alicia @ Financial DiffractionNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 2:59 am (5 months ago)

    I cannot believe you paid off $17000 in one year – amazing! I know some people are just naturally financially savvy, but I agree with Done by Forty, that a lot of us wouldn’t have become financially literate without the “mess to clean up”.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:16 am (5 months ago)

      Well I haven’t paid off $17k yet…That’s my end of year goal. :) I do have a big ol mess to clean up but my financial plate will look so sparkling clean when I am done!

      Reply
  16. Holly@ClubThriftyNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 4:53 am (5 months ago)

    You will definitely pay it all off with that attitude. Go, you! =)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:18 am (5 months ago)

      It’s not a typical romantic engagement story but it sure is a story!

      Reply
  17. MichelleNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 6:16 am (5 months ago)

    Ha! I love the ring story.

    I am reminding myself constantly that debt repayment is just temporary. We’re closer every day to this not being our reality anymore.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:19 am (5 months ago)

      “We’re closer every day to this not being our reality anymore.” – YES!

      Reply
  18. Kasey @ Debt PerceptionNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 7:40 am (5 months ago)

    The truth about debt repayment is that it sucks! The interest makes it easy to want to give up. I don’t know the exact numbers but I paid probably close to $1000 towards my debts this past month yet only see a $79 decrease in the overall reduction. It’s hard to keep motivated but you just have to keep on keeping on!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:20 am (5 months ago)

      You truly do have one of the best fighting attitude towards debt that I’ve come across Kasey!

      Reply
  19. Jamie VNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 8:40 am (5 months ago)

    I got serious about my debt this year and even trying to work out my budget so I can start making significant payments is hard. I can’t imagine paying the debt off, month after month, large chuck of money after large chunk of money. I am eager, though, in a way, to see the sacrifice and the results from it. I hope in January 2014 I can start this plan!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 9:20 am (5 months ago)

      You should start your plan now Jamie!

      Reply
  20. Newlyweds on a BudgetNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 9:25 am (5 months ago)

    When we started our debt repayment journey a little over three years ago, with more than 45,000 in debt, I really thought we were going to be broke for a VERY long time. Surprisingly, we will be debt free in January, about two years earlier than we thought. And while it was HARD, I am so glad we’ve come so far. Hang in there, it will be SO worth it.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 10:28 am (5 months ago)

      I’m still a long ways from being debt-free but I have a feeling it’s going to be SO SO SO worth it! :D

      Reply
  21. Shannon @ The Heavy PurseNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 9:48 am (5 months ago)

    $17,000 in one year is so amazing, GMD!! You go!! Debt repayment is never easy and I have seen plenty of people give-up. But for those willing to do the work, the payoff is huge! You’ve got a great attitude and that light at the end of the debt tunnel must be getting pretty bright. :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 10:30 am (5 months ago)

      To be honest, the light is still pretty dim but at least I can see it! ;)

      Reply
  22. Broke MillennialNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 10:10 am (5 months ago)

    $17k in a year is absolutely amazing! Before you know it, you’ll have to change your blog to “Girl Who Not Longer Knows Debt.”

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 10:30 am (5 months ago)

      “Girl Who No Longer Knows Debt” sure has a nice ring to it!

      Reply
  23. Hayley @ A Disease Called DebtNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 10:15 am (5 months ago)

    Thanks for sharing this truth GMD! I’m so glad that you didn’t give up! It’s great to hear how the numbers seem to be dropping faster now that your consumer debt is all paid off. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you to reach that goal of $17K by the end of the year – I think you’ve done brilliantly already and this would be even more awesome! :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 10:33 am (5 months ago)

      Thanks Hayley! I need as many fingers crossed as I can get for the $17K goal by end of year with the holidays around the corner!

      Reply
  24. E.M.No Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm (5 months ago)

    The truth sometimes is that a little part of me wishes I never went to college, or somehow did something differently so I didn’t graduate with the amount of student loans I did. The other part of me knows it will be over soon enough, but it’s just not fast enough right now! Interest is the other bad part. However, I don’t think I’d be the same person if I didn’t see my parents struggle with their debt, or go through it myself. I sure know the value of a dollar now!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm (5 months ago)

      I’m sure all of us who have debt all wished we did something different in our past but it is what it is.

      Reply
  25. annaNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm (5 months ago)

    LOVED this post, GMD! I’ve for sure experienced the same cycles you have, so what you wrote was very relate-able. I also didn’t think anything of debt, until a debt-free person in my life advised that’s bad. It’s a sad light bulb moment, but I’m glad it’s something that at least came on. I agree that this is all transient – you are doing so amazing, my love, keep it up! :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm (5 months ago)

      Thank goodness me and you are both marrying those debt-free men who made us see the sad truth eh? ;) Glad you enjoyed the post Anna. xo

      Reply
  26. Dee @ Color Me FrugalNo Gravatar
    November 19, 2013 at 5:12 pm (5 months ago)

    You have done a really great job on the debt repayment, GMD. You will reach your goals! Also, it sucks that you got no sympathy at the ER but be glad they did not have to CUT your ring off. I’ve had friends that happened to!!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm (5 months ago)

      I was very happy they didn’t have to cut off my ring!!

      Reply
  27. MackenzieNo Gravatar
    November 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm (5 months ago)

    I think you are doing AWESOME with your debt repayment! Keep up the good work :)

    Reply
  28. RebeccaNo Gravatar
    November 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm (5 months ago)

    Paying $17,000 in a year is amazing! Way to go! The hardest part is what another commented said, you feel like you take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back with the interest. At least once of my loans cuts the interest rate after every year of on time payments by 1-2%. My goal for next year is to pay off $15,000 of my debt, I can’t wait to keep going.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm (5 months ago)

      Debt repayment really is 3 steps forward and 2 steps backwards but you just gotta keep trucking through!

      Reply
  29. FehmeenNo Gravatar
    November 21, 2013 at 11:06 am (5 months ago)

    You’re not the only one who feels debt-repayment is hard. In fact, a few days ago, I read an article that compared debt-repayment to running a marathon! People often lose motivation, get confused about which debt to actually pay off, and actually wonder if it all will ever end. There’s a silver lining, as you pointed out – the journey does end and when it does, you look back and think all the hassle was worth it. Nothing good in life is easy, and the same goes for being debt-free!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 21, 2013 at 11:10 am (5 months ago)

      I can definately understand the debt repayment and running a marathon comparison. I’ve never been a runner but thank goodness I’m doing OK with the debt repayment. ;)

      Reply
  30. Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The LoansNo Gravatar
    November 25, 2013 at 11:57 am (5 months ago)

    As my dad would always say, “Pain is temporary”. It sucks now, but it isn’t a lifelong situation. Can’t wait until I’m debt free!

    Reply

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