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Maybe It's Silly, But...

February 10th, 2013 at 05:57 pm

Sometimes I worry that I will be at loose ends once the credit card debt is gone. I mean we've been in it for almost ten years. And I've been working hard to get out of it since I started blogging in April of 2006. There were ups and downs along the way as we added to and subtracted from the debt, but more or less it's gone steadily down.

And in a few days it will be gone. It's just been such a big part of my life for so long. I've had this goal, this huge, challenging goal that frankly, at times, I thought I was never going to meet. But now I am about to. And it's leaving me with an unsettled feeling, like maybe I won't be firmly focused and driven anymore.

I've got other goals, of course I do. There's college and there's the Emergency Fund and there's the van loan and the mortgage. But somehow I just don't feel as pumped about those things. Take the van loan for example. It's a lot and it's got a pretty low interest rate, but it feels "okay" because when I look out the window it's sitting there. It's tangible. And it doesn't bother me in the same way credit card debt does.

Maybe that's because credit card debt is so intangible. You are paying for the past, sometimes for stuff you don't even remember you charged. Okay, and I have scars on my body that remind of each and every medical procedure I went through, but that's it. The meals out, and hotel fees, and all the things we did to help the family get by while I was recovering, I can't see those as tangible. So I hated having it, this debt that seemed like it gave us no value after the original purchase. The van does give us value still and will for many, many years to come.

Maybe I just need to adjust my focus and make that seem as big a deal as the credit cards did? It's hard though. I mean how do you change that if it's ingrained like this? And with the mortgage, well, I dislike it, and it's so close to being paid off, but when the house sells it will be paid off and then we'll start all over again with a new house and a new mortgage, so how hard, really should I try to work on it.

College is a bit easier. DD is a junior and we need to save $7000 for her first year and $7000 for her second year at the local community college. I can see that as a tangible goal now. And if she follows the plan and joins the peace corp after the first two years before coming back to finish at the local university with a $7000 scholarship, we'll have plenty of time to save up for her third and fourth years and DS's first year at CC.

Investing in their educations seems both tangible and intangible at the same time. I don't want them saddled with debt, but at the same time part of me is wishing college weren't so darn expensive. Part of me is not wanting to decide between funding retirement and starting the kids off on the best financial footing we can. I just hope jobs are more available then, because right now I don't know if they'll even be able to work to help pay for school.

The Emergency Fund is what I really need to worry about the most though. I want it at $18,000 by the time we hit 2015. I want it double that by 2017. And sooner or later, we really need to start putting money into the 401K. DH's work doesn't match at all so part of me has wondered if it is even worth it. I suppose for the pre-tax dollars, but maybe it would be better to just save on our own. I worry about the stock market crashing again just as we get back into it.

The economy worries me. They fiddle with numbers so much to try to say things are better than they are, they print money that isn't backed by anything, and they say it's getting better out there, but all I'm seeing is people that have run out of their unemployment so they are no longer counted as jobless, but they still are. The lines at the food bank stretch longer and longer every week (it's near my daughter's school so I drive by it frequently). Food prices are higher, gas prices are higher, interest rates drop lower and lower on savings. Maybe I just think too darn much.

Maybe in another week I can refocus myself, figure out which things are really the most important. All I know for sure is that I don't want to start frittering our money away.

7 Responses to “Maybe It's Silly, But...”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I get it. It can be difficult to change focus from paying down debt to savings. The savings goals are self inflicted for the most part. Debt you incurred is finite (plus interest)...it has an end game, which is somehow a little more exciting.

    I would definitely make a priority to fund retirement if you aren't right now. You can borrow for college, but not retirement. And your emergency fund goal is right up there too. Maybe you can do it all, but I think an emergency fund and retirement are the two biggest financial tasks many people fail to follow through on.

  2. Thrifty Ray Says:

    I dont think its silly at all. That debt has been a focus for so long it will take a little time to allow your mind to fully wrap around that its gone. And yes, those other goals will fill the void created by not having to worry about the intangible debt anymore. I am sure you are about to feel that perverbial weight lifted off your shoulders, and some homemade ice cream may be in order to celebrate!!

  3. Treeluva Says:

    I'm not there yet - but I can somewhat understand how it would feel like you don't have a tangible goal following this - but you do!

    As much energy as you put into getting the balances down - put it into getting your savings UP! Give yourself challenges, benchmarks - whatever it takes to keep you motivated!

    And - GREAT JOB!

  4. Amber Says:

    I agree I too do not think it is silly at all, I actually felt the same way when I paid off my debt a few years ago.
    I'm very proud of you LR Smile

  5. PNW mom Says:

    I'm so impressed with your focus and determination...you should be very proud of all you have accomplished!

  6. CB in the City Says:

    I made the switch from debt payoff to saving several years ago, and I can say it is really more fun to be putting it into savings! Be not afraid!

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    I totally get it, but I think you'll find things to get excited about. Like CB says, saving for positive things vs. paying off negative things has got to feel pretty uplifting! I'm looking forward to the day when I have no debt but mortgage and then, eventually, not that either. To be able to actually use money guilt-free for the present and future instead of paying off the past, that will be exhilarating!

    Yes, the economic future of our country (and the world) is really scary and uncertain. But at least we know we'll have better coping skills than most, to help ourselves and others deal with whatever the financial future looks like.

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