Well, 2017 is coming to an end. Hard to believe that we are just a few days away from beginning a new year! Are you looking forward to it?
At the beginning of 2017, Scott and I had a goal to pay off $17,000 in debt. We were ready to quit piddling around with this debt-free thing and start making it the priority not just a priority. Did I think we could actually make that happen? To be honest, I wasn’t very confident. I figured we could do $12,000 but $17k would be a bit of a stretch. Historically, we’ve not been the greatest at delaying gratification in order to reach financial freedom. We’ve wanted to “have our cake and eat it too” as the old saying goes instead of foregoing one in order to really make a difference in the other.
We’d bought a house the summer before and were in full on “make it ours” mode. We get antsy and want to get out of town for a few days. We like to eat out more than we care to admit. And on and on.
But, goals are good to have. At least, specific goals. So we set our goal and made a commitment to make it happen.
And now, as we sit here at the tail-end of 2017, I am happy to report that we achieved that goal. In fact, we surpassed it. In 2017, Scott and I managed to pay off a total of $26,000 in non-mortgage debt!
Did you catch that?! Twenty-six-thousand-dollars. That’s $9k more than we had committed to paying off!
I know. I’m just as stunned as you are. I didn’t realize we’d done that well. In fact, I was kind of kicking myself because, despite me saying at the beginning of the year that “all the ‘extras’ in life can wait,” we actually bought a new-to-us car in May.
Did we need the car? Eh, that’s debatable. Would having two vehicles make our lives a bit easier? Yes, for sure. Did we need that second vehicle to be a $20k one? Absolutely not. We could have scraped up $5-$8k and paid cash for another – not as nice, not as new and not as fun, for sure – car and been just fine. Did we want this particular $20k car? ….obviously so. But, doing so had the direct opposite effect on our financial freedom journey than we’d set out toward at the beginning of the year. Instead of getting closer to being debt-free, we just piled on more debt.
To say that decision was one that I struggled with afterwards would be an understatement but I was also happy with the car. So, we did the next best thing. Before we even bought the car, we committed to having it paid off in no more than 12 months.
And, we followed through with that commitment. We bought the car in May and in October, we made our last payment on it.
Now, the realistic, cynical, self-defeating part of me says, “You know, if you hadn’t bought the car, you’d be six months closer to being completely debt free. Way to go, genius.” And that’s very true and not something to dismiss.
But, what’s done is done. So there’s no sense in wallowing in guilt or self-pity about it.
Instead, I’d rather focus on the fact that, even with the new-to-us car, we managed to not only reach our 2017 financial goal but exceed it. And, in doing so, we are now in a place to be debt-free by the end of 2018.
…so, guess what 2018’s financial goal is?