Joan’s Financial Journey
I started reading Man Vs. Debt in early 2010 and followed along with my husband, Chris, as Baker and Courtney paid off all their non-student-loan debt, took down their college loan balances, grew their assets and built Man Vs. Debt as a business … all while living the life they chose.
And I had a crazy thought: If they could do it, so could we.
In early 2011, we got serious about getting out of credit-card debt for good, in large part so we could gain the freedom to homeschool our daughter, Sarah, who’s 12. Once I joined the MvD team in late 2011, I realized that publicly sharing the details of our fight against debt – or, as the Bakers call it, radical financial transparency – could both motivate our family to keep going AND maybe motivate other members of the community as well.
So I put it all out there in my introductory post from early March 2012: “Are You Sick and Tired of Being Broke and Tired? Meet Joan Otto. When we started sharing our updates, we’d already paid down about $20,000 from our highest balance. But we’d come almost that far before, only to face setbacks.
This time, we’re in it ’til they’re all zero.
By The Numbers
(As of April 14, 2011)
(As of March 8, 2014)
|Very Next Step|
|Hated BoA Mastercard||$36,013.71||$14,549.45||under $14,000|
|Citi Mastercard||$21,718.53||$14,732.31||under $14,000|
|Bank line of credit||$7,572.56||under $7,000|
|Union Plus Mastercard||$8,860.23||$6,664.91||under $6,500|
|Citi Visa||$7,386.89||$4,519.19||under $4,500|
|Springleaf loan||$4,998.13||PAID OFF|
|Tires Plus||$628.13||PAID OFF|
|Joan 401(k) loan||$1,639.59||PAID OFF|
|Chris 401(k) loan||$1,216.32||PAID OFF|
|TOTAL WORST-EVER CREDIT CARD DEBT||$89,687.23|
|(as of Jan. 1, 2011, four months before I figured out the numbers above)|
|TOTAL CURRENT DEBT||$51,769.65|
|AMOUNT PAID OFF||$37,916.58|
- March 2014: Taxing Decisions (coming March 10)
- February 2014: Commitment and Overcommitment
- January 2014: Setting Financial Goals for 2014
- December 2013: A Look Back at the Ups and Downs of 2013
- November 2013: More Than $35K Paid Off
- October 2013: Big Decisions Involving Big Dollars
- September 2013: What Really Matters Most
- August 2013: Things Are Looking Up
- July 2013: We’re People Who Try
- June 2013: When It Rains, It Pours
- May 2013: Slow, Steady and Straightforward
- April 2013: The Taxes Are Paid
- March 2013: It’s Amazing What You Can Do When You Hustle
- February 2013: The One with the Tax Fiasco
- January 2013: Pay Down $10 Million? Absolutely!
- December 2012: Still Rolling Despite the Bumpy Road
- November 2012: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- October 2012: Are You Tracking Your Debt-Payoff Progress?
- September 2012: The Cat Cost Me $600
- August 2012: Whoa, We’re 30 Percent Debt-Free!
- July 2012: $25,000 in Debt Paid Off, and How We’re Going to Fit In a Vacation
- June 2012: A Hot-Water Heater and New Tires Didn’t Stop Us
- May 2012: 25 Percent of the Way to Freedom
- March 2012: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Broke and Tired? Meet Joan Otto
- Check out all my posts on Man Vs. Debt here.
Track With Us
Debt-Payoff Tracking Spreadsheet
Part of our six-item Man Vs. Debt free resource kit available exclusively for email subscribers
- Stay motivated while you’re paying off debt
- Learn the secret to setting goals that keep you going
- Use the system I credit with helping us pay off more than $30K in less than 2 years
We had hoped to be debt-free except for our mortgage as of March 2015 when we started tracking our progress here on Man Vs. Debt. Thanks to some changes in our income, we’ve had to adjust that target, and our newest goal would have us done with consumer debt in April 2016.
That has us paying $2,000 total per month on our debts (minimums plus extras), which at our current income levels is heartily ambitious and maybe not even quite doable – but we’re committed to trying!
That said, that seems ages away, and as we’ve said before, we truly believe that by hustling, we can cut a significant time off of that. The hard part is deciding just how ambitious to be, so I decided to set a “range” of goals.
- Marathon finisher award medal: Paid off “on time,” or by April 30, 2016
- Bronze medal: Paid off by December 31, 2015 (4 months early, about $7,850 “extra” required, give or take)
- Silver medal: Paid off by August 31, 2015 (8 months early, about $15,450 “extra” required)
- Race-winning, Olympic-qualifying, crazy-awesome gold medal: Paid off by April 30, 2015 (a full year early, about $22,740 “extra” required)
So Where Do I Go From Here?
I really appreciate all the support I’ve received so far from the Man Vs. Debt and You Vs. Debt communities. It’s not easy owning up to these numbers, but I’m confident I’ll be able to get them down to zero.
I look at this as my chance to come full circle. I watched Baker and Courtney do this, and I was inspired. I hope that by sharing our story, maybe it will inspire you to tackle your own debt – or to STAY debt-free!
I’d love to hear your comments, both on our journey and your own struggles and successes. Feel free to share those below!