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Browsing posts in: Keeping Motivated

Visual Motivation: Debt Thermometer


We have had a couple conversations lately where I’ve asked for tips on how you stay motivated in the debt-payoff process.

I received so many great tips and ideas and I thank you for them all!

One thing that I thought would work well for us was to have a visual image of our debt lowering every month.

I’m a little “old school” in some ways and a 3-D physical paper seemed to appeal to me more than a graphic on a computer screen.

So, I made a Wells Fargo CC Debt Thermometer!


My arts and crafts skills leave much to be desired.

I have no idea why I did such random increments (increments of $1,000 in some places and only $500 in others), and I’m positive its not to scale. But I try.

On the right side I have the amount paid listed, capping out at $7,000 (for reference, I owed just under $7700 when I first started blogging in March); on the left side I have the amount due remaining. After my $800 May payment plus the $1,000 snowflake payment from March’s surplus, I’ve been able to color about $3,000 of debt paid off.

I am so excited to figure out how much we can put toward Wells Fargo from our April surplus! If our earnings stay steady, I should be able to have the card paid in full in less than 4 months (!!!!!!!) This is HUGE! And staying on this track will have us paying off our final credit card (Bank of America) by November or December (remember my “official” goal was March 2015, so this is really early)! CAN NOT WAIT!!!


I was originally going to make a debt thermometer with ALL of our debts, but I think I’m only going to make them 1-at-a-time for whatever debt we are currently focusing on. It makes it so much more motivating to see huge payments every month, instead of only small minimum payments being made. Plus, it will be fun with each new “debt focus” to make a new debt thermometer as a way to track our progress.

Thanks for all the suggestions and support along this process!


He says, She says


I loved when Adam and Emily did the “he says, she says” post. So fun to see their different personalities and spending-styles emerge. And like most couples, my husband and I don’t always agree on where to put our money (which currently is being thrown toward debt hand-over-fist).

Now, don’t get me wrong – husband is 100% committed to eliminating our debt. Most of it is mine and he agrees that it has to go (and he’s been involved in creating our budget and debt-reduction goals, so even though I’m primarily the one who writes out the checks and pays the bills, he’s totally involved in the process). However…..sometimes I find that even though he wants to be debt-free, he would perhaps prefer to do so at a slower pace that allows us more “free” money for spending, or adding money to our savings instead of putting so much directly toward debt each month (we put nearly $1700 per month toward debt when our bring-home is about $5,000 per month; so about 34% of our income goes straight to debt).

Side Note: You can see our full budget here, and our debts here.

Although I typed this up (husband isn’t much into blogging), this is almost verbatim transcript of a conversation we had the other day, so I think I’m representing him and his thoughts fairly:

Our Thoughts On Spending…


He Says:

Imagine going to the gym for months and months. You’re killing yourself by waking up early to hit the gym, eating clean, and passing by lots of opportunities for “fun” that could side-track your health and fitness goals. But then you step on the scale (or have your BMI checked) and you’re still in the exact same position you were in before starting your exercise regiment. Would you continue it? No way! You need to see results in order to be motivated.

It’s the same thing with money and paying down debt. Especially since my job is a very physical one. I go to work everyday and kill my body. I do it to provide for my family and improve our quality of life. If our quality of life isn’t going to improve for 5-10 years, then what’s the motivation? I need to see something that shows me my work is getting me somewhere. Be it a nice home, a new shirt, or a little family vacation. Those are the rewards that make killing myself at work worthwhile.


She Says:

I definitely see the analogy, but at the same time – the only way to true wealth is through being debt-free. Rewards aren’t on the short-term; they’re on the long-term. I never should have accrued so much debt, but it’s done now. And I think our focus should be on paying it back as opposed to continuing to spend money elsewhere.


So, what to do? The conversation had no real resolution. Just him stating his feelings, which I think is fair to do. He works very hard and his job truly is a physically exhausting one. It can be difficult to do that type of work and not see the fruits of one’s labor, since we continue to cut back more and more instead of gaining…I don’t know…wealth???

I listen to the Dave Ramsey radio show and LOVE the segments with REAL PEOPLE telling their debt stories and doing their “debt-free screams.” Dave always asks the same questions (what made you start this journey? what was the hardest? what was the secret to getting out of debt?) One thing I hear over and over is people say that it was absolutely crucial to be on the same page with their spouse.

I wouldn’t say my husband and I aren’t on the same page (at the end of the day, we both want to be debt-free), but maybe I’m one chapter ahead? Or I’m just reading the book at a faster pace???


What’s your money-relationship like with your spouse? Are you on the same page? What do you do to help motivate and encourage your partner?

Question of the Week – Tackling Debt


This is our Sunday series where we all respond to reader questions. If you want to submit a question, please go to this post.

Question of the Week

 Are you planning to tackle debt in an “all-out” kind of style or more of a “slow and steady wins the race” pace? – Jocelyn


Our plan is to sacrifice as much as we can stand to pay it off as quickly as possible. Life gets in the way sometimes but we just want that burden gone. 


To be honest, I am a little in the middle.  I am throwing the majority of our income, setting up our emergency fund and on debt.  But at the same time, there is a lifestyle that I have grown to love.  Being home when my children wake up, when they go to bed, and everything in between I simply love and for the most part am probably not going to change.  But as my income grows from all my ventures from home, more money will be thrown toward debt.


I did not even have to think about this one…I’m all in! I am so anxious to be out of debt and free up some of my income that every dime is thought and re-thought before it’s spent.  I have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets exploring different scenarios.  Granted, I have to balance my “all in” with four kids and their lives too, but I am pedal to the metal…all in!


Is it cheating to say both? To be fair, we’ve been paying down our debt for over a year now, but it’s definitely been at more of a “slow and steady” pace. Starting in January of this year we really got gazelle intense. I am SOOOO committed to eradicating our credit card debt. I am trying to tackle it with absolute dedication (examining all opportunities to cut costs, increase income, etc.). Our goal date for being credit card debt-free is March 2015 (one year after starting blogging here at BAD), but if I have it my way we’ll be finished by the end of 2014. But our credit card debt makes a relatively small proportion of our overall debt (which also includes a car loan, license fees, medical debt, and student loans). I see us staying focused and intense on paying off the car and license fees (and will continue blogging during this time). But If I am 100% honest, I feel much less urgency about the medical debt (which is interest-free) and student loans (which is NOT interest-free). Everyone I know with student loans basically finances it over the course of a mortgage:  15-30 years!!! I don’t want to be in debt that long, but the numbers are so huge and daunting, I would be lying if I said I am certain we can remain gazelle intense until its gone!!! I guess I haven’t fully decided regarding our pace of debt-repayment for these debts (medical & student loans). I’m hoping that as we continue along the journey, each additional “win” will help build momentum and make the process feel easier and more comfortable as it simply becomes our way of life. But if anyone would like to share a success story or tips for staying motivated, please leave comments! I find success-stories particularly compelling and would love any and all tips on staying motivated for the long-haul!

Stumbling Blocks


Hopefully ya’ll read this morning about how we paid off two of our credit cards.  Now, let’s talk about the bad news.

Ever since we heard about my moms diagnosis our strict adherence to our budget has gone out the window.  We haven’t gone buck wild crazy but we have been eating out waaaayy more than we were before, which was basically not at all. Also, I’m pretty sure we have been giving in to the kids’ wants a little more than before. Nothing major but little stuff here and there. I can’t really explain it.  Before, I was laser beam focused in on spending as little as possible so we could throw as much as we could at our debt. Since the deal with my mom I find that I’m having to really force myself to care about paying off our debt. Like I mentioned this morning, I seriously considered not putting all of the “extra” money towards those cards.  I know that it would have been crazy not to and I’m really hoping that this high that I’m feeling from getting two things paid off will help me to get back on that debt busting wagon.

The Struggle and then Love Steps In


I am really struggling.  The sacrifices for this debt free journey are tough. I am so thankful that I am a natural optimist or I think I would just quit and go get that pedicure I really want or even get my eyebrows waxed!  Yes, that is my reality.  We are eaten frozen meals and Ramen to fill in the gaps between our healthy, budget conscious meals.  And I am envious of my little ones regular movie attendance with their dad, even if it is to a cartoon movie.

Ok, I know I sound really whiny, but I miss shopping, new shoes, going out to eat!  I hate having to say ‘no’ to my friends when asked to go do something.  But I do and I will and I am determined. And as I’m feeling really down in the dumps about this…I arrived home to 3 GIANT boxes on my front porch labeled Amazon Prime.

My wonderful friend, without asking, without shaming ordered us a bunch of household stuff….I opened the boxes to tons of toilet paper and toothpaste, soap and detergent, cleaning supplies and shampoo.

You see, my friend used to live on our street and we spent countless hours together. Her kids were always at my house! And as she has worked toward her Yoga Instructor licensing, her kids have spent many a weekend camped out here.  This last time, when they came into town for one of these trainings, I had to break down and ask her for money to take care of her kids.  Not because I wanted to charge her, but because with our $150 a week budget, I just simply did not have the food to feed 3 extra kids for 4 days and her on the meals when she was here…

Of course, she gladly provided money.  But I HATED having to say anything, it completely goes against my nature to ask for help.  I hated showing her just how tight things are, I hated opening myself up to judgment, I hate being vulnerable.

So to come home this past week to this very generous “EASTER” present as she called it, all I could is cry and be so grateful for all the many, many, many blessings I have in my life.  This struggle is HARD, it’s exhausting and it’s really lonely, but she reached out in a practical way to show me that I was not alone and that it will be better.

Summer Plans


By way of update, I have provided everything my ex-husband needed to get the children their passports.  I learned that he and the kids had to stand in line for near 5 hours on Saturday morning b/c the location he chose was that crowded.  I don’t understand him but also know it is not my job to point out to him the multiple options that would NOT have a wait for a passport.  Sucks that my kids have to experience this sort of thing with him but it’s important that they see the reality.  So they will be going on their cruise in the late summer and I pray for the best out of the entire experience.  Nothing has changed in dealing with him at this point.  He did have the kids call to say they’d be coming by to get DD’s bathing suit on Saturday.  My first reaction was to get her swim bag ready but then I remembered that I have to approach things differently now. I asked to speak to him and then advised he needs to buy her a swimsuit.  He wasn’t pleased and hung up.  He seems to want to treat me poorly, dump the kids as he sees fit and then have me available to do what I’ve always done.  He can’t have it both ways.

As for my summer travel, I read and thought about all of your comments.  I’ve decided to challenge myself to save a separate little nest egg from my PC business and my ongoing selling of things on craigslist and ebay.  If I save $1,000 by the proposed late July travel date, I do.  If I don’t, I stay home.  I will not lose money on the airfare.  If I cancel I just get the credit on Southwest.  I won’t be putting money down on the condo so there’s no risk on that front.  I feel comfortable with this decision as it sets limits and both addresses the danger of impulsive decisions but also is realistic.  For the last few months (as I’ve shared) I’ve had some tough days where I fear I am about to go out and spend crazy, unplanned money!  So far I’ve done well to avoid bad decisions but remember I even had to take random purchases back to the store?  I don’t want to be a nomad in the desert.  I honestly worry that when the debt is paid off I am going to go crazy and in the span of just a short time, be back in debt.  I want to learn to be balanced and measured about it and I think this Puerto Rico thing is a test.  I’ll have to be very honest with myself and with all of you if this test is to work and be most beneficial.  Fingers crossed.

Now I’m off to find stuff to sell…


Moving Day!


I can’t get the keys to the apartment until 10 am when the office opens.  The movers will be here at 9 am to start loading up the truck.  I am so excited about this fresh start!  A long way from my freaking out over having to move, huh?  This entire process (my debt and divorce) has taught me I am so much stronger than I thought I was!  I’ve always had an edge to me but that was often a front overcoming internal voices telling me how I wasn’t strong.  Now I am strong!  And I am getting stronger each day it seems.  I have worries but my thought process when those pop into my head are completely different than they used to be when I was unhealthy.  I, like so many, used to shop to distract myself from whatever was going on in life.  I did not have a conscious realization of this but now I do!  When I moved in the past I would inevitably have a money bleed on buying new stuff for the new place.  There will be none of that this time!  We have everything we need–our trash cans are fine, our shower curtain is in good condition, our pictures and other décor is perfect…no need to buy new for the new place.  That is a huge victory for me to realize that!

Here’s to a GREAT moving day!