We’ve been debt free now for about five months and there have definitely been some aha moments since. You know, “if I had known then what I know now” kind of thing. Paying off debt is a complicated road. At some point, you have to decide which direction to take and run with it. You do the best you can, make the most of it and move on. Now that we’ve had some time to reflect on the process, there are certainly a few things we would probably do differently. Here are some of our debt payoff mistakes.
We would have sold a whole lot more of our stuff! I really thought we did a good job pairing back our stuff and selling what we didn’t need/want to pay off debt. Truth be told, we have sold a whole lot more to build our savings account than we ever did to pay off debt.
It’s been incredible decluttering and seeing our savings account grow but had we started earlier, we would have paid off debt a lot quicker. There have been a few times in the last few months where Dallas and I looked at each other and said, wow, we should have sold this junk sooner!
We didn’t contribute to our retirement accounts! Yep, you read that correctly, we stopped contributing to our retirement accounts once we started paying off debt. My rough calculations tell me we missed out on about $5,800+ of employer matching funds as well as any interest we would have earned on that money plus our own contributions.
The thought was, if we don’t contribute now, we’ll have more money to pay off debt. That was true, however, we probably missed out on more employer match funds and interest than we would have saved in debt interest. This one is definitely personal, so if this is something you’re struggling with, do a bunch of research, make a decision and stick to it. Sure, we’d probably do it differently now but we’re not going to beat ourselves up for it. There’s no point to that.
We didn’t manage our debt free expectations! I’ve got to be honest, not only did I unreasonably expect fireworks when we paid off our debt, I also expected things to get easier when it came to money decisions. The truth is, our budgeting and spending didn’t change at all. We hunkered down and got to work to build our savings account and save for a down payment on a house.
While we followed our plan to a T and have achieved our goals pretty quickly, we expected our post debt life to be all unicorns and rainbows. We’ve worked just as hard, our hard work just shifted from one goal to the next.
We focused on one plan and didn’t branch out! Ok, this one is bittersweet. Part of me thinks that we had to find one plan and stick to it. How else could we have accomplished what we did! The other part of me thinks that we should have been learning from multiple financial gurus, not just one. Both Dallas and I have started branching out and gaining knowledge from some really brilliant authors and teachers. Knowledge is power and my regret here is that we didn’t start learning some of this stuff sooner.
None of these regrets are earth shattering and while we might have tweaked our approach a bit, we’re both ridiculously grateful to have accomplished what we have. My point to this whole article is to remind you that this stuff is extremely personal. Don’t just listen to what others are doing or saying, do your research and find the approach that best works for you. And never, ever give up!
Until next time, spend safely!
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