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Our Current Monthly Debt Payments


For this blog, I decided early on that I would only really discuss our credit card debt even though we have more types of debt. Credit card debt was the most damaging to our finances, and it really shows when I compare our monthly minimum debt payments from April 2006 to our present monthly minimum debt payments.

Back in April of 2006, things looked like this:

April 2006
Mortgage: $337
Auto Loan: $258
School Loans: $208
Credit Cards: $950
TOTAL: $1,753 / month

That number still gives me the chills. That is WAY too much money that we were paying a month for past spending.

Here’s what it looks like today:

February 2009
Mortgage: $330
School Loans: $238
Credit Cards: $99
TOTAL: $667 / month

We have reduced our minimum monthly debt obligations by $1,086/month. That is an awesome chunk of change.

When our credit card debt is paid off, our only debt obligations will be to our mortgage and student loan. Our current plan is to start hitting our mortgage because our student loans have a lower interest rate and with ours we can try to qualify for a forbearance if certain hardships occur. My husband and I both have loans and we never consolidated them together. So if something happens to one of us, the surviving spouse would not be responsible for the other one’s student loans. I really don’t like thinking about things like that, but it was a factor in our decision to pay off our mortgage next.

We will also start working on saving money. We’d like a bigger emergency fund, a new car fund and we need to get cracking on retirement savings. It will be a big period of financial catch-up after we’re done paying for past financial mistakes.


  • Reply Susan |

    Great job Trish. How much longer is your car loan?
    What’s your mortgage interest? Is it worth refinancing your mortgage?

  • Reply Sandy |


    Congratulations many times over for the outstanding job you have done with your debt reduction! Also, I think you have started early teaching your son good, sound financial practices.

    About the choice to pay off your college loan or the mortgage — it seems to me that given the current economic situation, which may well get worse before it gets better, you may be pouring money into a house that may lose value and thus lose your extra investment in it. If for any reason you either had to move or wanted to move, you might not recoup your money. I know my husband and I have quit putting extra money into our mortgage at this time. For your family, even though the interest rate is lower, paying off the student loan in this economy would seem the better choice to me.

    I wonder how other people feel about this.


  • Reply Jeff |

    how did you manage to get your credit card payments down so low?

    also, you have an amazingly tiny mortgage payment – what part of the country do you live in? That would even be low by Cleveland standards!

  • Reply Nadia |

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have made unbelievable progress in just 3 years! If you can do that (with kids, no less) there is still hope for me yet!!

    I am sure you are itching to start on your next financial goals but… Have you considered putting that $1,086 each month to the last of your CC debt, just to knock it out in 5 months? and then apply the $1,187 to your student loans and so on….?

    Or am I misunderstanding, is the $667 only the minimum you must pay, worst case scenario, but you actually pay more?

    Thanks for chronicling your experience it is very valuable for the rest of us to learn how you are getting through it.

  • Reply Margot |

    Wow! Those numbers are stunning. To think of how powerful it is that you have an extra $1000+ to put toward things other than credit cards is amazing. No one would ever go into credit card debt if they first took a moment to realize how many more times the price tag an item will cost after having credit card interest added to it over so many years! Congrats on getting this far, and more importantly, congratulations on making permanent life changes with your relationship to finances.

    Sandy – I think your thinking is flawed. First, all of us need to stop thinking short-term. Our bad economy is only short-term. Make the best long term decisions for you and your family. Paying off a mortgage is always a good idea for the long term. Thinking a few months or a year in advance won’t get you far financially. Second, you chose to take out a loan for your house and promised to pay it back. So, unless you decide to take the easy road out and get foreclosed on, your house will sell for whatever it’s worth when you sell it and you’ll either get the balance or owe the difference. It’s not going to hurt you to pay extra between now and then, it will just save you on interest.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Susan – the car has been paid off since later 2006. It’s been nice not having a car payment πŸ™‚

    Our mortgage is at 8%, but so far I haven’t had any luck trying to refinance. Our mortgage value compared to our home value is too low and the amount to refinance is too low. Many places won’t refinance for under $100K.

    Jeff – right now the $99/month payment is for the balance at 0%. If we were paying interest, that payment would definitely be higher. As for my mortgage, I am in Upper Michigan and the real estate can be pretty cheap up here. We did get what we paid for, though, and while our home is livable it can use some work – especially before we sell it.

    Hi Nadia – Sorry! I re-read what I wrote and I wasn’t very clear. Those numbers are the minimum monthly debt payments. We have been paying a lot extra to pay it all off. But the minimum obligation per month was what I was looking at for how it changed. I added the word “minimum” up there to help clarify. Thank you for mentioning that!

    As for kids, we have one son πŸ™‚

  • Reply Chris |

    That is great… congrats… however I do have some bad news… If the two of you are on the mortgage and something happens to one of you, the other will be responsible (for the student loan) because it will come out of the house. So whatever is in the estate will have to go to cover the unpaid portion of the student loan…

  • Reply Eddie |

    The ability to both retain, and pull-up the historical data is very, very informative for a responsible consumer, and always helps you to encourage the positive steps one needs to take (and keep at) to plan ahead, and get ahead.

    Well done!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Chris – according to the terms of our student loan holder, a discharge would take place if a death occurred and the estate would not be gone after. There is also a provision for discharge in the event of a permanent disability, as well as some other things.

    In our case, we would be okay. I’m not sure if that is the case with all student loan holders – so if any of you are wondering – check those Terms & Conditions.

  • Reply Kristine |

    Congrats! And thanks for sharing–seeing your progress gives me hope! I only wish I could go back 2 years and compare my financial situation back then to my situation now πŸ™‚ At least now I know how important it is to keep track of it.

  • Reply Emmi |

    Your rational regarding which loan is best to pay extra principal on really shows how one gains “smarts” in these things over time, once you jump into it.

    I’ve been reading the paperwork my financial and insurance institutions send me. You know the ones, printed on that super thin paper in tiny print. I’ve been reading them in the tub since I don’t care if they get wet. Very educational. You need to know the details to make these kinds of decisions and most people who already feel out of control, shy away when they really need to do the opposite and engage.

  • Reply anonymous |

    I might consider paying off the student loans first. If you ever had to file for bankruptcy, your deficiency on your house is dischargeable, your student loan debt most likely is not.
    I am so glad you have learned through this experience, and I imagine it is quite empowering, but it pains me as one who researches in bankruptcy to think that you could have filed for bankruptcy three years ago, discharged your $37k in credit card debt, and today could have paid off your house with the money you’ve sent in unsecured debt to those miserable credit cards. (And your credit score probably would have recovered by now thanks to your good habits!)

  • Reply Emmi |

    Anonymous 8:14, I think as Tricia says in her newer post, it isn’t about the money, it’s about growth and improving your priorities. If they had BKed they would not have grown. They would probably still have the mortgage, and be back in debt, this time on cards with even more ridiculously usury terms.

    Giving money to people who have not learned to manage money makes the situation worse. Hence the insanely high BK rate for recent lotto winners.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Emmi – I completely agree. While it stinks we messed up and got into so much debt, we have gained so much from this experience as a whole.

    If we declared BK, I’m pretty sure we would have went right back into debt again.

  • Reply Jean G |

    that’s great! way to go! do you write off the interest you pay on your student loans every year? i have been, and it really helps! i just heard about it 2 years ago

So, what do you think ?