Like sands through the hourglass, so are the debts of our lives… (Part 1)
It was April 2014, about five months after our wedding, and we were ready to call it QUITS! Oh… Not with each other, with our financial advisor and our life insurance agent. They were very nice people, but we were frustrated about not having a plan of attack for our excessive student loan debt and crazy high life and disability insurance payments.
The advice we were getting was not specific to our new situation. Being married is financially different than being single. It’s a two income household now, but it was like our money wasn’t working to our benefit. We weren’t saving or investing as aggressively as we knew we could, and our student loan debt definitely was not decreasing as quickly as we wanted. We didn’t have a plan!
Rewind back five months to when we were first married. Thankfully, we cash flowed our wedding with our paychecks, so we had no wedding debt. (But that’s another post for another day.) We started with a combined debt of over $850K which included student loans, honeymoon, a rental property mortgage, and taxes. And interest was accruing! On top of all this, we were paying over $6200 per month for life and disability insurance. And by January we bought a much needed second car, but on credit, adding $14K to our debt. Ugh!
We had paid off the tax debt and the honeymoon debt in about two months after our wedding with our first couple of paychecks, some of our savings, dipping into investments, and Nii’s sign on bonus for the new job. It took a modge podge of cash sources to pay those off. We knew that a month-long honeymoon was going to be expensive, so we saved up for most of it beforehand. We also didn’t want to be in trouble with the IRS, so we looked in every cash corner we had to get them off our backs quickly! But what about the rest?
The remaining loans and rental mortgage debt seemed so overwhelming! Seriously, $800K is a big friggin’ number! But it’s our number and we have to get it paid – no excuses! Fast forward to April 2014 again. At this point, we realize that there is no reason that with a two-income, two-person household, we shouldn’t be making more headway in our debt and savings. It’s just the two of us; why can’t we make our money work the way we want? It was time to pull out the chopping block.
The first two things to go were our insurance agent and financial advisor. Again, very lovely people, but the services and products they were offering us were too expensive and just not working for what we needed, especially for what we were paying. Did we need a professional? Absolutely, not! Like many couples, we are perfectly capable of making our money work for us. We contemplated doing this on our own, but decided that a financial advisor would help expedite the process. By May 2014, we chose a new financial advisor. (We will talk about choosing a financial advisor and life/disability insurance plans in another post.)
Our new advisor helped us devise a very detailed outline of how much we make and where the money was going. We also discussed how to best approach insurance and investment products as a married couple. He presented us with a plan for paying off our debt in 10 years rather than 30 years. After reviewing his plan, Nii and I adjusted it so that we could pay it off even faster. Game on!
Stay tuned for the second half of Debts of Our Lives to find out how we paid off $130K of our debt in six months! In the meantime, we’d love to hear your breaking point with debt. Thanks for stopping by!