What No One Told Me About Paying Off Debt

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what no one told me about paying off debt

When my husband and I decided to get serious about paying off debt, we knew it would be hard, but I don’t think we realized just how hard on us it would be.

In a recent blog article I wrote, I mentioned that Bryce had some big projects in his handyman business coming up. His handyman business is his “side hustle,” and he works 50 hours a week at his full-time job as an industrial maintenance technician.

His side business has always just been for extra money in the budget, but since we’ve been paying off debt, every penny he earns from it goes to that purpose.

To get these side projects completed, he has to work in the evenings after his day job and on the weekends, leaving me to parent our four children and take care of the house by myself almost 24/7. I knew that would happen, but here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me.

This. Is. So. Hard.

I wish someone had sat me down and explained to me what the sacrifices we were both going to make would actually look like.

I wish someone had told me that I would be the most tired I’ve ever been. I wish someone had told me that “me time” is not going to exist until this is over. I wish someone had told me that I’d be doing bedtime by myself every night for the foreseeable future. I wish someone had told me that the only time I’d be spending with my husband is while we are sleeping.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining. I am complaining. I also know that some of my readers are single moms and have to do all of this every day no matter what. You are warriors. You have no idea how much respect I have for you.

But I’m not single. I don’t know how to parent by myself, so this is new territory for me. In no way am I comparing my current situation to being a single mom, so I don’t want to minimize that for someone else. All I’m saying is this sucks.

I’m having to remind myself daily (sometimes hourly) of why we are doing this and what it will be like when we are debt-free. Sometimes it gets me through the day; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes my husband will bring home Reese’s for me because he knew I had a hard day with the kids. I love him for that.

It will be worth it

My hope for this article is not to discourage you from going on this journey. I think everyone should be debt-free. Debt keeps us from living the life we truly want to live, and all these things I’m complaining about are going to end very soon for us.

Our lives will be so much more enjoyable when all this debt is gone. Here are a few things we’ll be able to do once we are debt-free:

  • More frequent date nights

    Right now we do one date night a month. That’s not enough. We need time to connect. We both always feel more connected and in tune with each other when we have time alone without the kids.

    My favorite date night was about a year and a half ago when we went to a big city about three hours away and spent the night in a hotel. We had so much fun walking around downtown, eating at a nice restaurant, taking a horse-drawn carriage ride, sitting in at a dueling piano bar, and ending the night with dessert at a french cafe. Those are the kinds of dates we will get to have more often once we are debt-free.

  • Save up for a “new” van

    I’m driving a paid-off 2007 Nissan Quest. It still drives okay, all the electrical things still work, and we’ve never had any major issues under the hood, but it does require maintenance more often than a newer car would need. Honestly, I just want a new one. It’s nice to not have a car payment, so our goal is to save up cash for one. We will start saving as soon as we are debt-free and have our 3-6 month emergency fund.

  • Save up for a work truck for Bryce

    Bryce drives a paid-off 1999 Honda Civic. It’s tiny! The fact that he’s a handyman means that sometimes he needs to haul a ladder or large pieces of lumber, and he just can’t do that with his itty bitty car.

    When the need arises, he has to borrow his dad’s truck, which is kind of a hassle because his dad lives 35 minutes away. He needs his own truck.

  • Take a vacation every year

    We had so much fun when we took the kids to Destin last year. We decided then that we wanted to do it every year, but we didn’t get to this year because of our debt-payoff goals. We are saving up for a trip to Disney World next summer even though we are not debt-free yet. Will be debt-free by the end of this year, so we decided to start saving for that now. Our goal is to take a vacation every year after that.

  • Buy land to build our house on

    This is THE dream right here. When we bought our current house in 2010, we knew this wouldn’t be our permanent home. When we were dating, we dreamed of living out in the country.

    We knew back then that we wanted a large family and enough room for the kids to roam around and do the things we got to do when we were kids. That has always been our dream, and we will make that happen.

    When we sell our current house, we will have about $20,000 to go toward a down payment, but we will want to save even more than that. So after we buy the van and the truck, we will tackle the down payment savings.

  • Give large tips

    The largest tip we’ve ever given was $50. We had a really good waiter, and we overheard him saying to the table next to us that waiting tables was his second job and that he had a wife and kids at home. We wanted to bless him with a large tip, but $50 was all we could afford at that time. It felt good to be able to give that much, but I wanted to give more. When we are debt-free, there will be more large-tip giving.

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To us, the good that will come from being debt-free far outweighs the sacrifices we are making right now. Your sacrifices might look different than ours, but you will have sacrifices. And there will be times that you’ll want to give up. Don’t. Just keep thinking about what your life will look like when it’s over. Write it down, post it up on your wall, do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that it will all be worth it. It will be worth it. I promise.

Until next time,

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