By Jonathan Timar 19 Comments

I Went From Being $15,000 In The Hole To Being Debt Free In Six Months

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?

Wrong!

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:

$28,000.

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.

19 Comments

19 Comments:

  • I know it is crazy! We are trying to pay more each month on or mortgage so we can pay it off years sooner and save a ton of money in interest! NCLM

  • Very nice article, and I congratulate you on paying down your debt! I also spent several years in debt prison. I can tell you that there is no better feeling than being debt free.

    So everyone who reads this, bite the bullet, make sacrifices and pay down your debt as soon as you can do it. You will never regret it!

  • I have large amount of debts to pay myself and I know how difficult it is to pay them. You have achieved quite something by becoming debt free in such a short time. I am going to use us as my inspiration to pay off my debts.

  • That is great! I wish all Americans would read this and follow your advice. Good debt like a mortgage or car loan is ok, assuming it is a reasonable loan for your income. But the credit card debt in this country is ridiculous.

  • Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I would argue that car loan debt is not any better than credit card debt. Just as with credit card debt, you are paying interest on something that has already depreciated.

    That being said, a car is often a necessity, so a car loan is not automatically a bad thing, and for that matter neither are credit cards, so long as they are used properly.

    Even a mortgage is not necessarily a good debt….

  • I don’t know if it’s realistic for some people to pay their debt off. The sad fact is they create so much debt with credit cards ect. that they can’t dig them self out.

  • If only people would take a step back and really look at the big picture, they would see banks and credit card companies, not as “friends”, but more as opportunists. There’s a reason they keep raising your credit card limit, and it certainly isn’t to help you out.

    Steven

  • Hi Jon,

    Your post is encouraging. I am motivated how you sacrificed a lot just to pay your debts in just 6 months — that’s totally awesome. I just wish I can do the same, but I think it will take me a year or two before I could settle my debts.

  • Your post is very inspiring. But, of course, not all people can do what you’ve done. I wish I could do the same for myself. I’ve been having a hard time with my mortgage. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s consoling.

  • It can be difficult to pay off a mountain of debt, but paying a little over the minimum a month is better than not paying at all.

  • I am very solidary with your cause. I too found a way to fight myself and recover from -1500$ on the bank account and 4000$ on the credit card. I currently am renting a house to live with my girlfriend that wasn’t possible last year.

  • Surprise! Finance companies are in business to make money off you. Your mission is to thwart them. Ideally, credit should only be used to buy things that make money for _you_.

  • Paying off debt creates its own momentum. Once you see the progress and know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, it motivates you to get to the end quicker. Getting that first loan paid off is a big accomplishment, but even better is that you’ve now changed how you approach your finances in the first place.

  • I can agree with this 100%! I was suuuper young when I went into debt (16 years old I was over $12,000, by 18 I was $15,000)… Mainly because of auto loan and college/credit cards…

    I know exactly where you are now though… I am 21 years old and am debt free, aside from my house which I own, but it is an investment rental to be once I’m done with the remodel.

    This is a great post that really lets others know possibilities do exist, you just have to be willing to go after them… once you get past the trials and tribulations, the doors of opportunity do open up!

    Take care,
    Christopher Scott

  • Trying to avoid finance charges when possible is the key. With that said, you should consider buying on credit when possible. Everyone can’t save up and pay for a house but you can pay cash for washing machines, refrigorators etc. Consider a used one if you can’t afford a new appliance. In a few years you will be able to pay cash for a new one with the interest you saved.

  • My wife and I took a vacation to celebrate when we were completely debt free! It was a fantastic experience, easily the best vacation I have ever been on, not because of the location or events of the vacation as much as the reason we went.
    It is worth the sacrifice to become debt free.

  • Here’s a tip y’all…..DON’T MAKE DEBT! Do NOT buy on credit! Yes, you might have to go without some things for a while, or even a loooong time, but it’s worth the peace of mind and enjoyment of life in the long run. Buy only when you have the cash for it! It works, trust me. If you think about it, one can live quite well with just one car, a house with 2 to 3 bedrooms (if you have kids), clothes when you can afford it (and before they look shabby). It can be done. I have no debt, and also no regular job at the moment, (and no, I’m NOT living off the state OR pole dancing, etc! for a living) I am a single mom and we always have to shake our heads incredulously at my siblings who have 3 to 5 incomes in their families and are stressed out completely because of money/debt! It’s crazy! I know that although unemployed right now, I am much richer than they are! because if they lose their jobs, everything they own will be taken from them by the banks and the shops they owe. At least we owe our things. After I realised my (Debt) mistake 10 years ago, I took myself to Debt administration and declared myself legally bankrupt. It allowed me to continue paying off my debt at a monthly rate I could easily afford, in peace, whilst still being able to feed, clothe, transport, house my children and I am so glad I did this. My family was ashamed that I’d done this. How strange. It was explained to me that I would not be able to get anything on credit for as long as I was under administration and for a good while thereafter. My reply was “thank goodness!” I’d decided, never again debt for me, and it has been well worth it. I may not have a job right now, but I also do not have the stress of those demanding and ever-increasing bills on my doorstep. I will never make debt again. I am cured. It truly is not worth it. At least for me. Think about it, it might be an idea for you.

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