The Light at the End of Our Tunnel

You know what’s crazy?  When Rachel and I got married, we owed more to creditors than we make in a year.  Even if we gave every single penny to them before we bought food, shelter, or anything else for an entire year, we still wouldn’t have been out of debt.  But, you know what else is crazy?  We’re almost a quarter of the way through paying it off.  And now that we’ve made some progress, we’ve gained some momentum, and we’re beating our payoff projections by months!

We’re making a lot of sacrifices right now, but it’s becoming more and more real every day that we won’t have to forever.  Beyond our monetary goals like retiring well and providing college for our children, we’ve got some life goals that are going to be so much easier to accomplish once we’re out of this tunnel.

1. Celebration Cruise

Disney Dream
We WILL sail on you again, you magnificent monstrosity of a boat!

The first thing we do once we make that final payment?  We’re going on a cruise, yo!  We took our first cruise on our honeymoon aboard the Disney Dream, and it was the most amazing thing either of us have done.  Even pulling back into port for the last time, we knew we had to go again, and it’s item #1 on our to-do list.  Not having payments of any kind is going to make it that much sweeter, since we’ll be able to do whatever we want without worrying about the bill when we get back to shore.

2. Save for a House

Little bit of a fixer-upper, but that view is unbeatable!

Right now, we rent.  We may not be in the same apartment for the next however-long-it-takes to pay this beast off, but we’ll rent somewhere until we’re done.  Being able to buy something of our own is something we both want, and freeing up all the money we’re currently throwing at Sallie Mae is going to make that a breeze.

 3. Give Spontaneously

This is Chad, probably. All Chad wants is to spend a week with his friends in the mountains of Wyoming. Here you go, Chad.

When I was a kid, I spent several summers at church camp.  It was never a given that I’d get to go, though.  Every spring, I’d nag my parents constantly: “Can I go?  The other kids are going, I don’t want to be the only one left here.  I’ll help pay for it!”  It wasn’t that they didn’t want to send me, it was just that sometimes, there were other things that were more pressing vying for their money.  Somehow, they always managed to send me, and I know of at least one year that it was only due to the generosity of another family that I was able to enjoy that week with friends in a setting that truly helped me grow.  Some day soon, Rachel and I would like to pay that trip forward, over and over again.  How awesome would it be if we could give some of our money to a family that would really appreciate it instead of a faceless bank that only wants it so they can make a profit?

4. Reclaim Our Time

When I’m at home, I usually look like this.

Right now, I’m working two jobs to the tune of about 60 hours a week.  Rachel works a 40-hour job, has various side hustles that claim her time here and there, and a commitment once a month that takes up a whole weekend.  We’re not doing this because we like it (although we do like the work we do), we’re doing it to pay our bills.  When we first started out, we wouldn’t have even been able to cover our minimum payments if I hadn’t taken a second job.  With my working 15-hour days, it seems like we only really see each other once or twice a week.  Once we have those payments knocked out, we can have that time back and actually enjoy being married!

5. Buy Fancy Toys

Why use a boring old regular board when you can use something with a SCREEN??

Everywhere I look in the personal finance world, I see things like “Don’t spend any of your money now, save it all for retirement!” and “Buy cheaper, off-brand stuff that you might not like as much, but gets the job done!”  And I admit that I’ve been and will continue to be guilty of offering those same types of advice from time to time because doing the opposite of those things is what contributed to this mess we’re in.  But there’s a balance to be struck, and once we’re done with these stupid debt payments, I’m gonna buy some stuff!  My iPhone is almost four years old.  My car is almost ten.  I don’t remember the last time I bought a video game that came out the same year I bought it in.  Has my thinking changed around buying “stuff” and what I “deserve” to have?  Absolutely.  But I still love flashy things, and as soon as I can pay cash for something that scratches that geek itch without setting other areas of our life back, I’m doing it.

What about you?  What are the goals that keep you motivated?

12 thoughts on “The Light at the End of Our Tunnel

  1. Goals are very important while paying off debt but as we’ve found being debt-free now they’re more important as we have to decide instead of the debt snowball telling us where it should go. Ours is saving for a house.

    1. That’s true! It’s almost like our priorities are decided for us right now, so continuing to have goals on the other side is probably even more important.

    1. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, I tell ya! I absolutely appreciate the extra income, but I also love spending evenings on the couch with my wife, so I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to do more of that in our next season of life.

  2. We would like to become snowbirds! Yeah, I know. It’s an old people thing. lol In all seriousness, my hubby does have a job he can do from any location so we could potentially do this long before reaching the “old people status.”

    1. That’s a great goal! And according to my grandparents, getting old is all in your head anyway, so don’t worry about waiting until you qualify for the early bird discount at the Golden Corral, move when you want!

  3. Great idea to set up a huge reward to go on a cruise once your debt is paid off!

    We have set similar goals, but in our case the rewards tend to be a little more frugal, like a meal at a high end restaurant in the city. The closer we get to retirement, the less we want to splurge and prefer to save it instead.

    1. Oh, we’re under no delusion that our celebration cruise is deserved or responsible in any way, haha! I agree about retirement, though! If you can see it on the horizon and aren’t afraid of it because you’re ill-prepared, it’s so much easier to delay that spending even more. The toned-down rewards will likely be in our future too, as we hit various milestones after paying our last bill. Gotta live like no one else… 😉

  4. Awesome list Kyle! We’ve never experienced a Disney cruise and that is on our bucket list when we’re debt free!! It’s easily 2-3x the price of other cruise lines, but I think it would be a lot more fun with the kids. Also #4 – reclaim your time…often overlooked, and very important. All this hard work will pay off.

    1. It’s SO worth it! We don’t even have kids, and we had a blast every single day. We haven’t experienced the other lines, but Rachel told me that they’re not even an option anymore with how amazing the service, the food, and the entertainment was. And yes, I like my part-time job, but we are both so looking forward to the day that we can live a “normal” life.

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