Being consumer-debt free: one year later

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A year ago, I finally became consumer-debt free, after being a slave to my monthly payments for close to 8 years.

I am happy to report that I have not incurred any new debt in the last 12 months. Although I am aware it may change in the future, for the time being, I am pleased with myself.

Getting into debt was, in retrospect, very easy. Getting out of debt was not. I definitely still feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Being consumer-debt free also impacted my life in very positive ways: I switched to part-time work, decided to obtain an MBA and took off for 4 months in South-East Asia.

If I still had all this consumer-debt, I am not sure I would have been able to do all of the above.

Something else also happened shortly after making the last payment towards to my consumer-debt: retirement came front and center.

Although I am still relatively far from retiring, I started thinking more about it. How I want it to look like. How much money I need to save. Before, it was more of a blurry concept.

I knew it was something I had to figure-out, but I left it at that for many years. I saved and invested some money, but that was about it. Not anymore.

Overall, I definitely feel like I have more options since becoming consumer-debt free. In fact, it is more than just a feeling. I actually do have more options as well as the time and freedom to explore them.

Although I am consumer-debt free, I am not completely debt-free. I still carry a mortgage. For the time being, I am not in a hurry to burn it -unlike Sean Cooper-. Making additional payments is definitely a future goal though.

For the time being, I will enjoy this fleeting moment of hopefulness….

Financial milestone: consolidation loan fully paid-off!

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Yesterday, I made a lump-sum payment of a little over $ 8 000, effectively putting my consolidation loan to its final resting place.

Beyond the excitement of being finally rid of this loan, I felt a huge relief and also like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

until i saw the balance at zero, I hadn’t realized how much this loan was weighing me down

I initially took out this loan in 2011 to consolidate my student loans, a pretty much maxed-out line of credit and a couple of credit cards. At the time, the total amount was about $ 25 000, with almost half of it in student loans.

If you are wondering how I got to be $ 25 000 in debt, please read my story.

Fast forward to 2014, the loan was down to $ 13 000.00. Clearly, consolidating worked for me.

Unfortunately, I had bought a condo in a building that was not in great shape and I found myself faced with a special assessment of $ 6 000.00 for repairs.

Alas, I did not have that money saved. I had bought the property the year before, and my savings were at around $ 2 000.00. So, I went back to the bank and consolidated again.

I was back to being $ 19 000.00 in debt

It was crushing, and not just financially. I started suffering from debt fatigue. I felt like I would never get out of debt. This loan and the payment amount associated with it started becoming a permanent part of my identity.

then, i decided to fight back

After all, I had dug the financial hole I was in, and it was my responsibility to climb out of it.

I decided to throw in an extra $100 per month towards the “beast”, on top of the bi-weekly payments I had to make.

I had calculated I would pay off this loan 9 months ahead of schedule by doing this.

i lucked out with the sale of my condo

Yes, the very same condo that got me further into debt got me out of it. Ironic, I know. I sold the property last year, at over-asking price. Initially, I hadn’t planned on selling just yet. You can find the details here and here.

So why had this loan not been paid off earlier, you are probably wondering. Because I also had other competing priorities, like a lot of people.

I repaid the amount I had taken out of my savings for the deposit on the purchase of my second condo. Then, I bumped up my emergency fund, which was, for me, a necessity.

The lack of emergency fund is what got me into debt in the first place. I don’t want to be in that situation again.

My parents also came to visit me, and yes, I used some of the proceeds to enjoy my time with them. I don’t regret doing that for one bit!

Last but not least, I initially wanted to pay-off my car loan instead, as the amount was slightly lower and I would have owned my car outright.

I debated quite a bit and it took time to reach this decision. I am glad I did. The consolidation loan amount was for a longer period and a higher interest rate. I also had it for too long.

i saved $ 2 000.00 in interests

My bank periodically sent me information about my loan agreement. If I had let this loan run its full course, I would have paid an extra $ 2 000.00.

i now have more options, and it is freeing

It is really liberating not to have that bi-weekly payment above my head anymore. I am now on to tackling my car payment and increasing my retirement savings.

2018 will be the year of becoming debt-free!