The Disappointment of Debt

In my December Progress Post I mentioned I was disappointed that between new purchases and payments on our credit cards, we’d only managed to pay off a positive amount of $600, especially because that’s basically the minimum payments on our four credit cards. Several of you commented to me that I shouldn’t be disappointed, because $600 is a lot. One person even took the time to calculate that at $600 a month, we’d be debt free in three years!

I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Really, I’d just love to see this debt disappear. To suddenly win the lottery or some other lump sum of money – to pay it all off and raise my net worth from a dismal double negative number to something that at least doesn’t appear in red! (The sale of our previous home will help that, too, of course!)

But would that change the way I interact with money? Probably not. In fact, coming into enough money to pay off our debts may be the worst thing I could have happen to me.

Paying off this debt is a learning process – not a punishment. And the time it takes to pay off this debt may very well be proportionate to the amount of time it takes for me to realize that having the debt paid off is not what will make me content with life.

So part of me is still very disappointed that it will take up to three years to get out from under our credit card debt. To be honest, that part of me was shocked that this couldn’t get done in a year, although it is a rather unrealistic part of me. It’s even harder to think about the fact that my student loans are the same amount as the credit card debt, and our mortgage is 4 times that size! (Can you tell I’ve become accustomed to immediate gratification by the fact I want it done now?)

My practical side is starting to see that this is a great opportunity to be forced into doing something good for me – something I want to do, but would never accomplish on my own without some kind of coercion. Each step we take is one more step along the right path – a path toward financial and material freedom.

Talk about baby steps! Sometimes the fact that I am waiting until I go out to run my weekly errands to get an item I want instead of going out just for that item is an accomplishment (there’s that immediate gratification being nipped in the bud.) Other days it feels great to find a new way to repurpose an item to fill a need, or to know the value of hard work.  Other days, it’s a struggle for me to not be depressed at the hole we’ve dug ourselves.

So I’ll keep on going, because this path is a long one. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and reminded me that I am accomplishing quite a bit!