My family has come a long way in the past two and a half years since we started this serious debt elimination journey. When we started, almost half our monthly income went straight to non-mortgage debt, and it had a huge impact on our everyday life. The idea that someday we’d pay off over $30,000 and have less than two hundred dollars a month that *had* to go towards debt was a dream I wasn’t sure we’d realize. But we have, and even though we’re almost done – the journey isn’t over yet.
The final stretch, when you’re at the start, seems like it’ll be the easiest part. As you eliminate debt, more resources become available, and more can be allocated to fight the good fight. Momentum is on your side – the snowball rolls downhill faster and faster until it seems nothing can get in the way.
But, that isn’t always the case. Just as any other part of the debt elimination journey, setbacks can appear at the end as easily as the start. The length of the journey itself can be daunting – that initial adrenaline about completion can only last so long. And as more things creep into sight, debt elimination seems like it might have been the least complex part of the puzzle.
I haven’t completely lost focus – we’re still making progress (which I need to update on the numbers page, we’re closer than that currently reflects). But it has been much easier to get distracted into dealing with other things. As the debt becomes less, it almost seems less urgent – at the beginning, it was so much as to be overwhelming, and put a serious weight on our finances that felt almost inescapable. But as we’ve beaten back that debt monster, the threat of imminent destruction to our finances has become less (or at least, has felt less) because of debt. It has been easier to prioritize other goals before the final debt elimination. It has, in a word, become less urgent. Not in fact, but in feeling.
And the less urgent the debt elimination feels, the easier it is to not focus on it when other things get in the way. And that’s how the home stretch becomes an endless silent struggle. A lot of things have changed for us in the past two years. A lot of good, and some bad as well. But even though there may be other things affecting our lives that we never anticipated, this final debt elimination stretch will not continue to drag on. The refocusing of our finances back to where it began starts now.
First on the list – making this month’s student loan payment and then updating the neglected numbers page. Nothing like a Tell All Thursday to get things back on track. I doubt we will completely eliminate the non-mortgage debt by the end of 2009, but I’d like to beat the original December 2010 goal by as many months as possible. And figuring out where we are is how we’ll get to that point.