You may have noticed that there was no debt check in back in November, and I’m sorry about that!  But this series is not something I want to stop doing, because it keeps us accountable to our debt payoff plan.  And I hope it helps you fight your own debt, too.

We started paying off this debt at the beginning of 2016, so we’ve been at it for nearly 2 years now.  We’ve made some serious progress, which helps us get through the rough months.

Our SMART Goals and Debt Payoff 2017

The plan for paying off credit card debt and how we're making progress in December.

Home

Our #yearofno and #presson years mean that we aren’t spending any unnecessary money.  That means no paint, no updates, no cute holiday decor (even on clearance!).

I’ve spent most of this year decluttering and rearranging the home.  It feels better to live in a home that isn’t packed with “stuff”.  And that means we’ll be ready to paint and decorate the rooms better once we’re out of debt.

Remove all items from each bedroom and start fresh.

I’ve hit every room in the house at least once!  These days, I try to do a general declutter of a smaller area or two each week.  It’s a simple task now that there isn’t as much to sift through.

Shelves in Dining Room

Cable bridge over our backyard creek.

Still to go:

  • Repair dining room ceiling (beginning to think we won’t get to this one)
  • Build a small platform for the middle schoolers to use our zipline. (Because of unexpected expenses, I’m not sure we’ll get to this after all.  Maybe next spring?)
Simple DIY Christmas decor

We’re creating Christmas decor using what we have on hand.

Family

  • Take a beach vacation (So fun, so affordable!)
  • Continue to practice swimming.  The kids became even more comfortable in the water this year.  Woohoo!
  • Two hiking/fishing/camping trips per month in warm weather.  Warmer weather is over, and we did a better job about this one!
  • One on one time for each child, every month. We didn’t get as much one on one time in November due to a lot of illness in our home.

Marriage

  • 12 Dates in 2017
    • January: Garth Brooks!!
    • February: Dinner date
    • March: We had a sad road trip for a family funeral, but it meant we got alone time.
    • April: No dates. 🙁
    • May: Crazy, no dates.
    • June: Vacation, we had a nice walk on the beach
    • July: Reds game!
    • August: No time, no dates.  🙁
    • September: 2 Dates!!  That makes up for August anyway.  😉  We went to our 20 year high school reunion and also went to a Bob Seger concert.  (How’d we afford that?)
    • October:  We got two little dates, which we spent at local election debates.  (Yes, we actually enjoy that kind of thing!)
    • November:  Wine tasting party!

Wow, ten dates in one year is probably a record for us since the kids were born!  December is always busy, so if we can find the time for one date I’ll be happy with this goal.  (Heck, I’m happy with it now!)

Personal

  • Yoga and movement: The mornings that I make time for yoga really set my day up well.  I feel far less stress.  Still, I’m not doing it nearly as much as I’d like.
  • Read On Writing: I’ve started it!
  • Read through the New Testament:  Still chugging along.

#PressOn: How We’re Knocking Out Debt in 2017!

#PressOn

The Goal

Since January 2016, our goal has been to wipe out our credit card debt.  We started with 3 cards that were basically maxed out.  The first card we tackled was a giant debt that accounted for half of what we owed.

What a sweet relief it was to get rid of that one!

At the end of April, we had credit card #2 down by 45%.

At the June check in, this card had only moved to 47% paid off.

July we got busy and brought the card down to 71% paid off!

August we hit 85% finished!

September we had the card down to 96% done!

Then, in early October, we finally got rid of credit card number 2!

Our goal was to be done with that card in September, so we missed it by thismuch.  But I can’t feel bad about the progress we’re making!

Credit Card #3

So, now we get to focus our full attention on our final credit card debt.  We’d like to have card #3 paid off by March.  That’s not far off!  It feels like crawling though a muddy tunnel for miles on end, and we can finally see a tiny ray of light at the end.  But we aren’t there yet, and this isn’t the time to coast!

We have been making minimum payments on this balance since January 2016.  We transfered this balance to a Discover card when they sent us an offer for 4.9% interest for 18 months with no balance transfer fee.  Usually the math doesn’t work in our favor with a balance transfer fee, but I jumped at the chance to get a lower interest rate!  Our dollars work harder when we don’t send half to interest.

For math purposes, we’ll call the balance we owed in October 100% of what we owe on the card.  I’ll warn you that we haven’t made a lot of progress on this card so far.  Many expenses have been popping up, and December will not be better.  For now, we’re trying to coast through until we get to the winter months when (hopefully) we can be more effective in our payments.

I’m not saying that to make excuses, but because I want to encourage you to keep going, even in the hard months!

By the end of October, we had the balance down only to 98%.

And at the end of November, we were down to 96%.  You can see that we are basically making minimum payments while we cover repairs and expenses that have popped up.  We don’t expect December to be much better, as we do everything we can to keep gift giving off of the credit cards.

But come January, we’ll ramp up all of our efforts to getting rid of this balance!

Extra Ways We Paid Off Debt

We didn’t have any extra ways for the past two months.  All of our “extra” money has been put towards pop up expenses.  Once we are done with this debt, we’ll focus our energy on building a contingency fund and increasing our emergency fund so these types of expenses don’t continue to derail our goals.

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Progress, not perfection.

This is my mantra as we wrap up 2017!  We’ve had a good year, making progress on our goals even when it was hard.  While we are going out with a whimper, I’m choosing to focus on the good things we were able to accomplish throughout the year.  Next year, God willing, we’ll leave credit cards behind us.  And life will be very different!

I’ve written a book with over 500 different ways to save money while you pay off debt.  (And none of them are “stop buying lattes” or “cancel cable”.  I assume you’re tired of reading that same old advice over and over!)  If you’re interested in purchasing this (super affordable) book, become a subscriber right now!  (Hint, hint…subscribers get deals, money saving idea, etc.)

How did your goals for 2017 go?

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