If you haven’t been reading this blog from the beginning, when you read my recent Tell All Tuesday posts, you may have some similar feelings to what I have had in the past when I first started reading personal finance blogs. When I first started working hard to get out of debt, I would read posts from people who paid hundreds or thousands extra on their debt each month, and although I would be happy for them and feel inspired by their progress, at the same time, I would think “Well, I can’t do that, so what’s the point?”
When I started this blog, and a significant commitment to debt reduction, I was barely paying the minimum required to debt each month. And my goal was to simply pay $100 over the $810.41 required just to meet the minimum payments each month. This was June 2007, and even with only paying around $100 over that required minimum, over time, I calculated that we should be able to pay off a little over $36,000 in debt in about 3 1/2 years. By only paying $100 over that initial minimum required payment per month, every month. I would read about people paying enormous amounts to debt at a time, but I would reassure myself that it can be done with small amounts too, as long as I just kept at it.
The key was consistency. Even just a small amount extra than what was required, done month to month, eventually added up to a big difference. What began as $100 extra a month became $300 extra a month once the credit card was paid off, without adding another penny to the amount we were paying. Of course, other factors changed too, and we now pay a lot more extra to debt each month than I could have initially imagined. That has been an exercise in patience and perseverance – working hard to find small ways to boost our incomes, and then grabbing onto opportunities we created. I won’t pretend that it has all been skill, but it hasn’t all been luck, either. The longer we focused on debt reduction and made it a priority, the more we were able to find opportunities to increase the amount we paid to debt. I started out selling things on Craigslist and taking online surveys, and ended up at this point working two more part time jobs than I was when I started. Being open to opportunity has helped a lot.
But even if we had never significantly increased our income, and I was still only paying a little over $900 to debt total each month – we still would be able to pay off $36,000 in debt in about 3 1/2 years. Which really isn’t as long a time as one might think. Whatever your situation, however much extra you can put towards debt, just keep at it. Little by little, mountains do move.