Monday, July 26, 2010

Putting a new financial tool in my toolbox

I added a few links to the blog, including a debt reduction calculator. That find is pretty exciting, because it showed me in concrete terms when I can expect to get out of this hole I dug myself into.

I've crunched the numbers a couple of times. If I can stick to the payment plan the calculator spells out, I could be completely out of debt in four years.

Four years.

It's exciting, and daunting, all at the same time. The daunting part is wondering if I can maintain the discipline to stick to the plan after I start getting some things paid off. The second year could be the toughest one. I should be able to pay off a couple of accounts in the first 7 months. But I wouldn't be able to polish off the next account on the list until 23 months from now. Year three will pass without clearing off any more accounts, but then in year 4 I would clear off 6 accounts, getting through a new one every couple of months. It would be a very exciting year, after two very slow progress years.

The debt reduction calculator also showed me that two of the accounts, which are charging me some of the lower interest and carry the lower monthly minimum payments would stretch out payments, at the amounts I have been paying the last couple of months, for about 10 years. I would end up paying about twice the amount in interest I now have as a balance on a couple of my accounts. It was very informative and gave me the impetus I need to destroy a couple more credit cards. I kept one bank card in the event of an emergency. I also still have two gas company cards, but if I can continue to keep paying cash for fuel, I will soon have the confidence to trash those too.

Small steps. I know I should be making these decisions faster, but a lifetime of habits are hard to break all at once. I'm starting to realize there really is light at then end of the long tunnel. But it's not going to be quick to get through that tunnel, and there will be lot of dark days before I can emerge into the daylight on the other side. But there is something reassuring about facing the next four years and that's the realization that the older I get the faster time seems to pass. The past four years, in which I've dealt with the worst parts of this oppressive debt aggravated by a national recession, have gone by pretty fast, in spite of the panic. Four more, without adding to the debt, should be something of a relief. Right?

1 comment:

Gene said...

Sounds like a clear-eyed, objective analysis and plan.

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