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Pay Down $10 Million? Absolutely: Joan’s Mid-January Financial Update

in Joan's Posts, Our Financial Journey, Pay Off Your Debt, People & Products

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

I didn’t hit any of my Very Next Step goals on our five remaining debts this month. I didn’t quite top the $30,000-in-debt-paid-off mark. (Though that’s coming next month!)

But I DID commit to something big. More on that in a minute, but first… if I’m still $60,451.85 in debt, why on earth do I think 2013 will be a great year?

Where we’re starting 2013

  • Still to pay off: $60,451.85
  • Paid off to date (since Jan. 1, 2011): $29,235.38
  • Percentage of debt paid off: 32.60%
  • Amount paid off since last month: $914.65 (with another payment of $600 to come in the next 24 hours, for a total of $1514.65)

I recap all those on my Joan’s Finances page, which you can see any time, but I wanted to put them out there loud and clear as we kick off our first full calendar year together.

We’ve come a long way. Being almost a third of the way to credit-card-debt FREEDOM is huge for us. It took us two years to get this far, and THANKFULLY it won’t take us four more years to knock out the remaining two-thirds of our balance.

Our 2013 goals

The big number: Our plan shows that we’ll be right around $40,000 still owed as of Dec. 31, 2013. Of course we want to be SURE we’re under that, so that’s Goal #1 - Total debt under $40,000.

The other big number: That matches up with the other “half” of the number, and that’s the one I’m more interested in celebrating. If we hit Goal #1, we will also almost certainly hit Goal #2, which will just be a slight stretch more work - Total debt paid off OVER $50,000!

The BoA Constrictor: Our most-hated debt, the thing we’re hitting with our debt tsunami approach, is our Bank of America credit card. It had at its highest a balance of about $40,000. Right now, it’s down to $19,220.11 (yeah!)  This is the mega-goal. The one that will be hardest to reach. Goal #3 is… drumroll please… Have BoA paid off by Dec. 31, 2013! That’s not going to be easy (in fact, we’ll need to be almost $5,000 ahead of schedule to reach it), but what fun are goals if they’re not audacious?

Being part of something big

OK. So. Audacious. Let’s talk about that.

Late in 2012, I agreed to join the Debt Movement, which has a goal to help its combined group of participants pay off $10 million in debt.

THAT’S A LOT OF DEBT.

If I were 100% consumer debt free, that would be less than 1% of the group’s total. If I were debt-free including my mortgage, it’d only go up to between 2% and 3%.

That’s why it’s a community thing – and anyone, not just financial bloggers, can join at www.debtmovement.com. (Yes, this means you!)

I’m audacious in a lot of ways. Not the smallest one is that I’m willing to air my financial dirty laundry here (and also in an interview for the Debt Movement site that you can read here). The goal in me telling this story over and over, as many places as I can? To help other people know that there is hope, and that you CAN get out of debt, even if your total is pretty honkin’ big. I hate looking at the big number, but yet it’s oddly motivational.

In the case of the debt movement, though, I love looking at that big number – because of how amazing it will feel WHEN we accomplish it!!

I’d love for you to join me at The Debt Movement. Joining basically means you agree to keep track of your debt-payoff progress and report it (without your name attached) for the big huge debt-payoff counter.

There will be Google hangouts for participants with some personal-finance bloggers and experts, there’s the option to track your payoffs with ReadyForZero, which is a neat web app I’m enjoying, and there are even some scholarships (where you can win money to put TOWARD your debts, how cool is that?)

So what’s your audacious financial goal? Tell me in the comments!

Can’t wait to cheer you on!

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Welford January 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Well done you! Massive achievement. I have been following your journey with interest.

My question is a long term one. What are you going to do once the consumer debt is gone? It looks likely by December 2014 you’ll be debt free? Will it be your mortgage? What will you reward yourself with? An amazing holiday? a party? I’d be interested to know.

Jonathan

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Still working on that, Jonathan! The first and most immediate thing will be to save cash for a new vehicle – we KNOW the Taurus of Doom will expire at some point not too long after the debt-free date. After that, there are some home repairs (again, saving the amount we had been putting on the cards and using cash to pay for them) and then a couple of mid-range savings goals (three month’s worth of all living expenses, etc.) That said, that’s only another 3 years or less for all of that, then there will be bigger things like mortgage, and, oh, in 5 years, our daughter will be ready to graduate from high school! So there’s that… ;-)

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Philip Campbell (Freedom From Student Loans Blog) January 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM

2013 will be the year of the BOA out of your life party. Awesome work Joan. I love seeing your updates and watching the debt go down with you. I can almost see the smile on your face as you work your plan.

Way to go!

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Thanks, Philip! I will post a HUGE SMILE picture when we get there. I’m going to look ridiculous – and I can’t wait! :)

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Brian J. Foley January 14, 2013 at 1:43 PM

I like the community idea here.
Regarding what to do after the debt is paid: put that money toward savings and investments. You will be amazed at how fast it piles up.
If you want a humor break, check out my website – I have a satirical financial self-help book available.
Happy debt destruction …

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Brian, we definitely have a lot of savings goals – it’ll definitely be fun to see that number grow too! I’m not one to plan that far ahead, though – what we want most at that time may be very different than what we want now. So we’ll see!

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Rebecca January 14, 2013 at 2:31 PM

I want to pay off my credit card balance, and also pay off one student loan so that way I can then work on the monster student loan and get that paid off so I can finally be debt free. Hoping to get the credit card and student loan paid off either this year or next year that is my goal.

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Rebecca, those are great things to aim for! I encourage you to set a date and go for it! :)

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TB at BlueCollarWorkman January 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM

You’ve made great progress and will continue to make great progress — great work!

It’s always disappointing with debt that we rack it up so quickly and easily and happily, and then it takes YEARS and forever to get it paid off! It sucks. But that’ sjust the way it goes. Great job, keep it up!

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Thanks, TB!!

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Leah January 14, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Joan, I’m continually inspired by you! Thank you for this post and for the audacious Debt Movement goal too! Really cool!

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Thanks, Leah! I truly hope and believe that the $10 million is doable – if a lot of people commit!

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Michelle January 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Hi Joan! Thanks for sharing this with us! You have made some amazing progress on your debt. You’ve inspired me to sign up for the Debt Movement! It’s a fantastic idea. I currently have $38K of consumer debt on my own and I plan to have it paid off by August 2014. I like your idea of setting targets for each debt to be paid off! I’m trying the same thing to see if it works for me too. All the best! Keep going!

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Joan January 14, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Thanks, Michelle – and so glad to hear you’re part of the movement!! YEAH!

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Brian J. Foley January 14, 2013 at 10:33 PM

Thank you, Joan!!

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Darnell Jackson January 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Have you ever contemplated all options concerning the debt?

There’s that story that Donald Trump once told about his debt problems, When you owe the bank a little bit of money it’s your problem when you owe them a LOT it’s THEIRS.

you know what he did?

Filed BK.

He’s now a Billionaire less than a decade later.

Also attorneys could be hired to dispute items for a percent of what you’re paying and keep your credit intact, another trick of the super rich.

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Darnell, I’ve got a whole post about why we didn’t do that and won’t be! http://manvsdebt.com/bankruptcy-debt-settlement-consolidation/ – I hope you’ll check it out!

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Kenny D. January 14, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Is this for consumer debt only, or do mortgages count too? We’re debt free except our mortgage thanks to Dave Ramsey’s teachings and using YNAB (You Need A Budget). Our big goal for 2013 is to see how much of that we can knock out and still save a decent amount for retirement.

I’m still fiddling with the budget, but it looks like being debt free mortgage and all may happen in 5 years or less. Maybe sooner if we apply what we’re learning from Man Vs. Debt. too!

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Cay January 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM

GREAT JOB, Kenny!!! I graduated from FPU in 2007. We should be debt free by Dec. 2014 including our mortgage!!! Keep up the good work.

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:16 PM

You guys, that rocks!! We’re not doing the mortgage just yet (but each person’s plans are different – so our debt tsunami approach works on whatever you want to pay down!)

We just needed to go in phases – and Phase 1 for us is this consumer debt! I can’t wait to join the club you guys are in! :)

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Alan January 15, 2013 at 1:17 AM

Dave Ramsey is the bomb. Best method. Count me in Joan. I don’t have the consumer debt now. Had enough in the past. Since short sale was 6 months ago can’t get regular mortgage now. My goal will be to save for the $100k down payment for 2013 or sooner

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Alan January 15, 2013 at 1:18 AM

I volunteer to man the I Hate Bank of America booth at your party

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:16 PM

HA Alan! :) I’ll fight you for it!

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BC January 15, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Our 2013-2014 financial goals:
1. Pay off $7,400 student loan
2. Pay off $6,000 car loan
3. Pay off $12,000 car loan
4. Save $20,000 for emergency fund
5. Begin putting max in 401ks and IRAs
6. Begin saving $50,000 for down payment on house

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:16 PM

BC, those are AWESOME! Very tangible, very forward-thinking, and you are just going to rock it, I can tell!!

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BC January 15, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Thanks Joan! I love your posts too, especially your very next step goals.

We killed our cc debt last year. (Yay!) Before we got started I realized that we needed post-debt goals from the start so that we would not fall back into our old ways after the debts are cleared.

Keep up the great work and intensity! We are rooting for you!

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Cay January 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Our HUGE goal, that we can’t possibly do on paper is to pay $2810.88 on our mortgage just this year. In the year, 2014, to pay $2207.88. (the mortgage prin will be bigger that’s why the amount is different). It’s a God thing and only thru his help will we succeed, and succeed we will!!!!!!! We are SO gazelle intense that we are putting lots of stuff on Craigs list and putting that money totally on the prin only of the mortgage. We have given all our dollars names but not our coin. We pay in dollars, the change (coin) goes into a jar. At the end of the month, that coin goes directly to prin only mortgage payment. Last year alone, we put over $800.00 in coin on our house note. Every little bit helps. Joan, I follow your post each time you post. It encourages me and I tell others of your dedication to getting out of debt. It really is an eye opener to know that there are alot of people here in the US in the same shape. I encourage Joan, stay gazelle intense sweetie!! We are family and we can help one another stay on track. Thank you for your post. Have a very wonderful day!

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Cay, you bless me every time I hear from you!!! I am committed to that intensity and I am so thrilled and encouraged by your kind words when I share where we’re going. We WILL get there, all of us, together!! :)

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Alan January 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM

BC, Cay – good job on Dave’s FPU. It is awesome. I am coordinating FPU now. Working on getting everything in place. My goal is to treat this as if I am paying down a mortgage so I can do Dave’s 100% down payment in about a year or two (or close to it). We met Dave in Denver. Anyone, I highly recommend going to a Dave event if close by.

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Cay January 16, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Thanks Alan! You can save that money for your down payment. One of my goals in life is to actually Dave Ramsey. Missed him when he came to Atl. last year. Keep posting so we can encourage you to your goal!

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Alan January 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM

I am assuming you meant to say you want to meet Dave Ramsey. If you are in Atlanta, his office is not too far. I got to get my picture taken with him here in Denver. It was awesome and I got to him we were debt free. He said “Awesome”. (very brief meeting). Go to his event anywhere near you. I will keep posting and providing my encouragement also. It is a few of us against the big banks and other debt peddlers.

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Cay January 17, 2013 at 12:23 AM

Yes-I meant to type “to see Dave Ramsey in person”.

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Alan January 17, 2013 at 12:38 AM

I hope you do. Post your thoughts. Seeing him come into the reception room they had set up for FPU coordinators was almost a surreal experience. He was so pleasant and personable. He posed for pictures with everyone and had his own photographer. It was very quick. Then he spoke to the small group for 40 minutes. Then we had close seats for the main event, which he spoke about 2 more hours. Jon Acuff also spoke. He was terrific also. Such a simple concept, stay out of debt, and the few of us here trying to live that. Life is so much better debt free than being strangled and choking in it. And I have been both. I hope to help all free themselves of that bondage. And recognizing and starting there is half the battle.

Travis Scott January 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM

This year I am trying to pay off the last little bit of CC debt and pay off our van. I am hoping to do that by finding ways to increase my income rather than finding ways to just cut back. Hopefully this will work!

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Travis, that is EXCELLENT. You can and should do both – you’ve nailed it! Spend less, earn more. HUSTLE. That is what has helped us get this far. (At one point, we had something like 8 streams of income! http://manvsdebt.com/make-money-with-side-hustles/)

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Alan January 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Cutting expenses is great. But I definitely agree with Travis that increasing income is absolutely crucial. Go for it.

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Bilgefisher January 15, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Joan,

I like your goal and am glad to see you’ve set your sights further than you can see. I always love to see people push their limits, only to find out their limits are much greater than they first thought.

Most importantly, how do you plan on reaching that goal and what steps will you take to pay down that extra 5k? I know you’ve blogged on this in the past, but I would like to make a reader request to see your plan for 2013. “Goals without plans are nothing more than dreams” Brian Tracy.

My wife and I have a plan to knock out a similar 20k amount of debt. It will be nice to reduce the debt but that is not nearly important to us as increasing our passive cash flow. Our goal is to double our cash flow this year, through rental properties, p2p investments, and 2nd note investments. I am also opening a 2nd business in that field to increase my exposure to our investment vehicles. 2013 is going to be the year of action for us.

Jason

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Joan January 15, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Great point! I haven’t talked recently about the “positive side” of our balance sheet – assets and income – and that would be a great post. (And that’s how we keep doing what we do, so I hope if I write about it, it’ll pretty much directly answer your question!)

The biggest part? Pay $1,500 or more on BoA every month – and that’ll be at least a thousand above the minimum by about March! More when we can, but even this is kind of a leap of faith! :)

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Alan January 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Joan. I liked reading your reasoning for doing the plan the way you are. I went through BK and the short sale. They are very difficult. The short sale was through BOA as the lien holder. They were horrible to deal with. So, I wish you the best to pay down ASAP and that people are learning. You have some of here rooting for you, and everyone else. And I like your insistence your way and feel it is your best option. Get income up and kick BOA down the street.

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Jennifer W January 15, 2013 at 6:04 PM

We ended 2012 CC debt free!

2013 Goals include:
Remaining CC debt free
Paying off our 1 remaining consumer debt
Paying off 1 of our mortgages
Increasing savings amount to 3 months

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Joan January 16, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Jennifer, WAY TO GO! No more credit cards? That’s great! I can’t wait to hear how you hit these new goals this year!

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Cassi January 15, 2013 at 11:13 PM

That is pretty exciting! Good luck on achieving your goals next year! I’m currently looking at big numbers as well. Tuition fees. Not quite as much, but I already am stressing. Lets hope 2013 is a good year!

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Joan January 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Cassi, I believe it will be – you can do it! Don’t stress TOO much – just enough to keep you motivated :)

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Isra {TheFrugalette} January 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM

You are doing great Joan! I’m a big advocate of having a support system when you are getting out of debt, it helps tremendously to be accountable and get advice from others. We got ourselves out of 56k in 3 years (with 3 kids and 1 income in Boston). I’ve become pretty active on G+ and would love to join or help out with a hangout..it’s just what I was hoping to get involved with! I’m going to check the debtmovment site, a great source to recommend to my readers, thank you!

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Mike January 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM

I’ve always loved this site! We erased nearly $100,000 in debt in the last two years, including about $55,000 in eight months once we really got serious about it! Now we are focusing on a balanced approach of accumulating assets (P2P loans, savings, etc.) and paying down our last debt, our mortgage, more aggressively with principal payments, all of which we’re also blogging about!

And this is just as much fun as buying unnecessary stuff for sure! I love watching interest come to ME every month through my Lending Club loans!

Keep up the good work and the great writing! I love it!

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Alan January 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Mike. $55k in 8 months. That is absolutely awesome. What is this Lenders Club? I would like to know more

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Isabel January 29, 2013 at 5:46 PM

What an amazing accomplishment ! I am really inspired by you. We have no debt. We own our house, our cars, and have no credit card or student loans. With all that said, I think that it is harder to dig out of something so big…….so you are very inspirational.

Our audacious goals are to do some house repairs with minimal dipping into savings. It may not work, but we are going to save and then see what we can do with it.

Continued good luck !!!

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