When I graduated from Broadcasting School I had fifteen thousand dollars in debt hanging over my head. The primary debt was student loans, a car loan and a sprinkling of credit card debt for good measure. I carried that debt for a few months out of necessity before making a conscious decision to eliminate it. Less than six months after making that decision I was debt free and had a positive net worth for the first time in my adult life.
If I had followed the recommended payment plan, that is, the plan my debtors wanted me to follow to provide them with the greatest profit, it would have taken me over ten years to pay off everything I owed, and I would have paid an additional five thousand six hundred dollars in interest! To put it another way it would have cost me more than twenty thousand dollars to pay off fifteen thousand dollars of debt. That’s not even counting the interest that has already been paid. Now if you’re like me, you just read that and said to yourself, “that’s insane!”, and it is, but what really scary about it is that most people never stop to think about what their debt is costing them. The never see past the monthly statement, and figure as long as they are making the payments, that’s all they have to do, right?
Making the minimum monthly payments on any debt is the worst thing you can possibly do for your finances. Just look at my case. If I had made only the minimum payments on my debt I not only would have paid more than five thousand dollars in additional interest, but it would have cost me on average $130.00 in a month just to maintain those debts. That much money invested with a ten percent rate of return over ten years would amount to, and get ready for this:
That’s right, the savings, and the interest earned on a measly one hundred thirty dollars a month would have resulted in nearly thirty thousand extra dollars in my pocket after ten years. Therefore, not paying off my debt as quickly as possible could have cost me as much $33,600 over and above the actual amount of the debt. That means a fifteen thousand dollar debt could have cost me almost fifty thousand dollars! Staggering isn’t it? If you thought that credit card balance was costing you the amount you see on your bill every month, I hope you have changed your mind now.
Was paying of that much debt in a short amount of time difficult? Yes, it was. I had to sacrifice a lot, and sometimes I even felt deprived, but it was, as they say, short term pain for long term gain. Being debt free allows me the mental and practical freedom to explore new opportunities and take risks that I would otherwise not be able to take. And it affords me the opportunity to get rich, something that is never possible through debt.
In an upcoming article I will discuss practical ways to take control of your debt and earn your freedom.