Today is the day I have been working so hard to get to. It is the day that the bad choices of my past cease to hold me back. It is the day that my goals shift towards the future. Today is the day I paid off my credit card! Today I am debt free!
Becoming Debt Free
If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ll know a bit about my debt free journey. It started in March 2020 with the first Covid-19 lockdown. I made the choice to continue working my customer service job throughout the pandemic. My company did well and rewarded us for the hard work our whole team did to keep things running smoothly. The government helped out too, by providing some extra funds. I know that both of these factors sped up my progress and kept me motivated to keep going. But most of all my wonderful partner took on the full responsibility of caring for our children and managing our household, which enabled me to continue working.
I saved money on daycare and kids activities. I eliminated all non-essential shopping, as was asked of us all, and I mostly refrained from online shopping. There was more money coming in and much less going out. And as I saw my back account balance at a steady 4 digits, I knew it was the best chance I would get to reduce my credit card debt.
In April of 2020 I put $1500 towards that debt, which became the catalyst for the debt avalanche that ensued. It felt so good to see the balance on my card in the 17 thousands, and I vowed to never let it get over 18 again. This became a great tool to keep from running up my balance again. Every time I hit a lower thousand dollar threshold, I mentally made that my new limit, and promised myself to never go over that. I still needed to the card occasionally to make online purchases, but I would not allow myself to use it if it would increase the thousand number on my balance.
By the beginning of September I was down to $10,000! Those first 5 months saw the fastest progress. The next 3 months I only reduced my balance by $1000. I needed to divert all available funds temporarily to a new goal. I had bought a house! Roughly $3000 would be needed for closing costs by December 1st. It was the most difficult part of my journey, with the most sacrifice from my whole family.
By the time I moved in my credit card balance was at $9000. I had also incurred two new debts – $5750 in down payment assistance from Nova Scotia Housing, and roughly $115,000 in mortgage debt. But at 0% and 1.79% interest respectively, and a very manageable long term payment structure, these did not weigh on me the way my credit card did. While technically this is still debt, it is leveraged debt which will make me more money in the long term, thus I don’t count it against my debt free journey.
It took me almost a year to pay the remaining balance off. A new home comes with new expenses, and I made a few significant purchases. The house didn’t come with a washer and dryer, so those were essential. We needed additional tools, a lawnmower, and I bought a few pieces of furniture and some decor items. I regret none of it. I love my home and how I feel spending time in the beautiful space I created. This is the first time I have ever had a home that actually reflects me, and it makes me proud.
I was still set to pay off the card by September. Unfortunately one more setback got in my way. I got my drivers license.
We were very fortunate to have been given a car. But I only had a learners permit, and with various lockdowns and my procrastinating nature, getting in for a test took longer than I had hoped. The expected costs of getting licensed and getting the car registered and insured were not terrible. But because she was neglected in our driveway for a number of months, by the time I got her on the road she needed a battery and brakes for about $1000.
I wasn’t happy to have to push back my debt pay-off date. But life is full of surprises, and I know that being able to pay for those repairs without additional debt is a luxury not everyone has. So I recalculated and moved on.
Today, November 19th, happens to be a special day. I chose this day because it is the day that I get paid from my job as well as receiving my child tax credit, which boosted my cashflow enough to pay the last $1000 with enough left over to cover 2 weeks worth of expenses. But the coincidence of paying off $19,000 in 19 months on the 19th day of the month can not be ignored.
This is the day that my two biggest goals have been achieved. I am a home owner, and I am credit card debt free. My financial journey is far from over, but I will be shifting gears going forward. I still want to write about debt, money, and the tools that helped me get to this point. But I am also exploring money in a new way – making it work for me.
Be sure to follow my socials to keep up to date with my latest posts. Share your thoughts on your own journey, or what you’d like to read more about in the comments. And if you have and great Canadian F.I.R.E. resources, I am all ears!
Thanks a million times over to my family and friends for the support, child care, manual labour, encouragement and love. Thank you to my love, without whom I can’t imagine where I would be today. So many thanks for the unlimited tech support and the innumerable other ways you have helped along the way. Thank you to my employers who made sure we were taken care of physically, mentally and financially during these exceptional times. And thank you to all of my readers, especially Kathryn, for all the wonderfully kind words that have warmed my heart and made me keep writing.
With so much love,