Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 0: 365 Days and $60,000 To Go

October 14, 2010

We have finally thrown down the gauntlet: pay off $60,000 in debt in one year. For you math heads out there, that's $5,000 a month, $165 a day. I'm pretty certain this means my life is officially over - at least temporarily. Goodbye J Winery club membership. So long Kate Spade Friends and Family sale. Farewell eating out when I feel too lazy to cook. Duke, we're downgrading from Natural Balance to Kibbles 'n Bits - and we're going to have a serious discussion about the cost of bones. 

Why the hell am I doing this again? And who the hell am I anyway? I believe I represent the average American lifestyle - I grew up in a household where debt was a way of life. My dad was in debt most of his life - only two months before he died this year did he finally become debt free. He was 73 and it was one of his proudest moments. My mom has no concept of due dates and check registers. Paying bills makes her break out into a full blown panic attack most months. Coming home from school to find a utility cutoff notice was nothing out of the ordinary for me.

Growing up I was constantly reminded how important an education was and that school loans were my ticket to a better life that was carefree and absent of debt collectors. Consequently, I decided to do whatever it took to get through undergraduate and graduate school - including taking out a bunch of student loans. Now every month I make a payment to Sallie Mae that is the equivalent of a mortgage for a very nice home. On top of that, I thought credit cards were made for living expenses in my early twenties. Not until recently did I realize that there is something very wrong with this picture that I just painted.

I'm now in my early 30's and I actually make a "good living" - at least I thought I did. But when your good living goes right out the door every month to pay for living expenses and debt it doesn't feel so good anymore.

The good news: I paid off $22,000 in the last 18 months.

The bad news: Combined, Mike (you'll hear from him soon) and I have $110,000 to go. Just writing that down makes me feel nauseous.

The goal: Pay off $60,000 in the next year.

The fantasy finish: I'll let Mike speak for himself because I'm fairly certain he has his own ideas, but I envision us standing next to Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira on The Today Show holding a giant check made out to Sallie Mae (evil of all evils). Jimmy Buffett has just finished his Friday concert series performance (do they still have those in October?) and is handing me two front row seats to his next concert.  And for all of our hard work Al Roker informs us that he told the annual Today Show wedding winners to piss off and we are the much more interesting, better looking replacements!!

So why am I writing about paying off debt for the whole world to see? I must admit I'm not usually the sharing type. My biggest reason: accountability. Even if I only have five readers the entire year, I will feel like I disappointed these five random strangers if I don't achieve my goal. Second reason: I want people to know that living a debt free life is possible. Definitely not easy, but possible. I want to show people it can be done.

What's coming: Day 1 is a big day for us - find out why. Meet Mike. Learn more about our plan of attack (or lack of). Feel inspired. Have fun.

Stay tuned,
Sarah
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