Last week, J.D. at Get Rich Slowly wrote a post about debt snowflaking and linked to several of my past snowflaking posts. The post was generally well-received, but one comment has since stuck in my mind. The comment author felt that putting every penny towards debt was letting debt rule your life, and wrote, among other things:
Why the obsession with paying off debt so quickly?
And my immediate response to that was:
The obsession, for me, with paying off debt so quickly is that while I wasn’t – debt *was* ruling my life. The more I pay off, the freer I become.
And it is true. I may seem quite obsessive in my snowflaking and paying down debt, with my multiple tables and charts and goal updates and neverending quests for snowflake earning. And in fact, I am. But it is an obsession that is making my life just a little bit more free every day.
Debt right now dictates just about every financial decision we make, and has for the past 5+ years. Our “debt snowball” is $810.41, which at one time was our exact minimum payment to all our non-mortgage debt. Now that we have eliminated quite a bit of our credit card debt, that magic minimum payment number is actually $630.41, and that means we are $180 freer in how we decide to use our money. We choose to plow that into further debt reduction and pick up even more momentum towards becoming debt free, but the key word there is choose. We now have a choice for what to do with $180 more of our money than we did when we started getting out of debt.
$180 a month might not seem like a huge amount (although to us it is pretty significant) but eventually, that $180 will become our full debt snowball, $810.41. We will have $810.41 more each month to spend, save, or invest than we do now. $810.41 that is free for us to decide how to use. To us, that is a significant amount of financial freedom that debt is currently keeping us from achieving.
My debt does rule my life. And my single-minded obsession with paying off debt is how I fight back. The less debt we have, the freer we become.