This morning I opened up my "Debt Pay Down Worksheet" and realized that I had first created it back in 2015!
At the time my husband and I were determined to pay down our debt and so I created the worksheet to help us see the whole picture of how much debt we had, what the interest rates, payment amounts and due dates were. I also created a separate tab with the amortization schedules for each debt so that we could see the real -time effects of our pay-down efforts. This file made it really easy for us to decide which debts to focus on first and we did pay down two of our debts within about 3 months. But then the next in line was the Credit Card debt…. and that’s when our pay down efforts started to wane and eventually die off.
For me our Credit Card debt feels very overwhelming every time I look at it. I feel angry and resentful when it’s time to schedule another payment. I believe it’s because the other debts we have are loans and came with a specified number of payments and an eventual end date. With those debts I know that even if we only make the minimum payment due every month we are still going to eventually pay them off. The interest rates are very low for those debts so I know we are not wasting large amounts of money every month and they were incurred for items or events that were very important to us and still hold value in our daily lives. For example; car loan, student loans, mortgage for the house.
The Credit Card Debt on the other hand was used for purchases that for most part I cannot remember. It has a high interest rate and I cringe every time I see the interest charges due the high balance we have. It has no tangible value in my current life and in my minds’ eye it looks like a giant black hole sucking away our money and resources never to be seen again. So, for about two years I have been logging into our online account and making payments as fast as possible so I can close it and not think about it anymore. I have been avoiding this particular debt to the point of almost forgetting to pay it and then panicking when I remember, “Crap! It’s due today!!”
Since I started reading Kate Northrup’s book “Money – A Love Story” earlier this week, I have had a renewed sense of motivation to get clear about my finances and make significant progress on becoming debt free this year. When I decided to look at my “Debt Pay Down Worksheet” this morning it was simultaneously appalling and validating to see that we have made no tangible progress since 2015. I already knew that I had a problem, but taking a critical look at that problem allowed me to exam why I feel the way I do about my Credit Card debt. Acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step, and then understanding that problem and what has caused it is the second step which plays a crucial role in finding the solution.
In Kate’s book she talks about how creating an action plan for your finances without first addressing the emotional and psychological issues surrounding your money is the same as treating the symptoms of a disease instead of the cause. It’s a Band-Aid that seems to work in the beginning but quickly falls apart and becomes ineffectual if the cause is not addressed and treated. This has become very clear to me when it comes to my Credit Card Debt. I know that I need to reframe how I think about it and see it in a positive light. I need to find a way to feel good about paying the bill every month and even better about a Pay-Down plan.
And so I offer this card from the “Money, and the Law of Attraction” card deck by Esther and Jerry Hicks. We all need to first become aware of how we feel about Money and then change any negative feelings or thoughts to ones that are positive and abundant. This is the first important step in changing our relationship with money from one of ambiguity, anxiety and overwhelm to one of love and fulfillment.
Please feel free to share your money story or any part of your money experience that you are becoming aware of so we can support you.