There’s no sense in burying the lede: Our mortgage finally dipped below six figures. Specifically, we now owe $99,884.
And I can’t stop smiling.
Mathematically, very little has changed. Technologically, it was just a few clicks and a single payment.
Mentally? Psychologically? Emotionally? That is another story, friends. We all know that money is never just about math. And I’ve been living and breathing that truth all weekend.
It isn’t as if crossing this threshold is going to help us pay off our mortgage faster. We are moving at the exact same pace that we’ve been moving all year, and only a few paces ahead or behind where we’ve been the entire length of the mortgage.
I still have debt. I still have a lot of debt. But the mountain has been moving so glacially I couldn’t feel it until this moment.
Now it just feels different.
I Can’t Do That
When I first started blogging, I told myself that we were debt free. But then I begrudgingly admitted to myself that just because we *could* pay off our cars at any given moment, didn’t change the fact that both my husband and I had car loans.
So, I acknowledged that we had a little debt.
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Months into our journey, though, I realized something else. A mortgage is debt. Actual, real, owe-lots-of-interest-to-the-bank debt.
It isn’t a crippling amount of interest, but it still adds up to thousands of dollars each year. And I don’t care how many people put the word “good” in front of it. It’s still debt.
I was shell-shocked.
In a matter of months, I went from thinking we were debt free to realizing that I had lots and lots of debt. Over $200,000 worth of debt to be precise.
And I wanted it gone.
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That’s when I started reading every post and article and interview about debt payoff stories that I could get my hands on. Each story had two things in common:
- The excitement was palpable, and
- the amount that these couples were paying off each year were more than my husband and I made combined as teachers.
In short, the advice didn’t apply to me.
No matter how much I wanted to feel the same excitement and motivation and determination and dedication, the math just wouldn’t shake out. Because when you don’t make six figures in a year, you can’t write about paying off more than six figures.
It’s not possible.
But I Can Do Hard Things
This isn’t where I tell you that the only thing holding you back are your thoughts. This post doesn’t come with a Pinterest-worthy image that urges you to manifest yourself into a millionaire.
I’m an optimist. But I also live in Real World, USA.
Most of us don’t have a mindset problem so much as we have a math problem.
But just because the numbers don’t shake out, doesn’t mean those posts aren’t worth reading. There’s a great deal to be learned from things that don’t apply to you. There’s a reason we look up to people we can never become. And it isn’t just social media sorcery.
I spent years honing my skill as a volleyball player in elementary and middle school. But as my skills grew, I did not. The year I went from team captain to just above the cut I realized that I was never going to be An Actual Volleyball Player.
But to this day, I can’t stop watching the career of Kerri Walsh Jennings. Ditto Misty-May Treanor before she retired. You cannot peel me away from the screen when volleyball is on during the Olympics.
I’ll never be on that court. I’ll never play like anyone on that screen. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t inspire me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from them just because I won’t ever be them.
I can’t do that exact thing. That much is true.
I can do hard things. That is also true. I can overcome challenges. I can make plans and backup plans. I just have to do them in a way that suits me. My life, my career, my personality, my beliefs, my talents, my 5’6″ frame if I really stretch and the nurse at the doctor’s office doesn’t push down my hair too much.
Once I learned how to work inside my own skill set and on my own time frame, I realized that I, too, could pay off mounts of debt ahead of schedule.
In just under seven years, our mortgage has dropped from $214,000 to under $100,000. I am a teacher. My husband is a teacher. We have a toddler, and I took a very pricey unpaid leave to spend the first five months of his life with him.
There’s been help and hard work, privilege and problem solving on this journey, and it’s not over yet. But in seven years, we smashed six figures of debt.
We accomplished something really hard.
Will our story garner the fame or glory that these other posts got? Of course not. I’ll never make it onto the Olympic podium for Beach Volleyball or Debt Payoff.
But I don’t need to collect a medal. I don’t want fame or glory. That was never the goal. The goal is to get out of debt and to do it quickly. And that is exactly what we’re doing.
So Tell Me…What hard things are you working on?