At that time, we had two non-mortgage debts left: a business credit card balance and a home equity loan. As of this month, the business credit card debt is gone. Finished.
Here’s a snippet from the most recent credit card statement. It was a happy day when I saw it in my inbox.
We’ve been paying $1000/month toward the card for the last eleven months, so this will be like getting a $1000/month raise.
That is an awesome feeling and I know right where the $1000/month will go: to our last debt, the home equity loan.
Making Extra Payments with Found Money
I’ve been making our regular payments toward the home equity loan, and adding in some extra payments when I can. Even when those extra payments are really small, like this one.
This week, I was able to use found money to send an extra $369 to this loan. Here’s the breakdown of where this most recent found money came from:
- $210 earned through several Craigslist sales. I blogged about them here.
- $39 I earned for selling an unused $50 gift card to Plastic Jungle (referral link). Here’s my super-quick Plastic Jungle review: Went as planned, got my money promptly. They accidentally issued me two checks, but contacted me quickly and asked me to cash only one. I would use them again.
- $20 in Target gift cards* I earned $10/each for filling 1 new and 1 transferred prescription at Target. I used coupons that came from joining the Target pharmacy rewards program, but they are also regularly found in the Target Sunday newspaper ads.
- $100 in PerkStreet rewards that I redeemed in the form of a Target gift card*. PerkStreet (referral link) pays me cash back for debit card purchases. Since the fall of 2010 we’ve earned $657 in cash back from PerkStreet.
* I turn gift cards into debt payments by spending them on groceries or other things I would have normally purchased, and then sending that amount from our checking account to our home equity loan.
Where That Leaves Us
I am so excited, happy, and proud to say that since October of 2010 — 17 months ago — we’ve paid off $49,613 in debt. That doesn’t include the amounts we’ve paid toward mortgage debt.
We have $9,685 to go. That’s what’s left on our home equity loan.
When that last debt is gone we will have done what feels to me like turning around a ship. A very large ship.
Lessons Learned So Far
I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been easy. The urge to spend and acquire and consume in this culture is strong.
And there are no shortage of worthwhile places to put your money. Education, a nice home, travel, retirement savings, quality healthcare, etc. just to name a few. It’s not as easy as skipping a latte or canceling cable.
But it’s been so worth it. We’re so much more intentional and purposeful with our money now. Even when we have setbacks or make decisions we wish we wouldn’t have, it’s a learning experience.
Are you on a journey to pay off debt? What are you learning from the experience?
See: More how I got out of debt inspiration.