The graph below summarizes my short term debt progress across all of my individual loans. The blue column represents my debt totals for individual loans as of August 1, 2014, and the green columns represent my debt totals for individual loans as of August 31, 2014. Looking at the debt progress in this format really emphasizes how paying more than the minimum has a HUGE impact on your debt decrease. My ACS Student Loan was my focal loan, and I completely paid it off by the end of August because I paid as much as I could above the minimum requirement. In contrast, loans I am currently paying only minimums on decreased by an average of just 1.4%.
The bar graph below represents the long term and short term progress I have made on my overall debt. The grey bar represents my original total debt amount, the blue bar is my total debt one month ago, and the green bar shows how much debt I have today. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you are making progress when you look at your BIG number on a month-to-month basis, but looking back to the beginning can remind you how far you have come!
Having ONE TARGET LOAN will increase the rate at which you can pay off your debt and decrease the amount of money you will pay towards interest to help you become debt free sooner!
Because I was paying above the minimum monthly requirement on my focal loan, the percentage being paid towards interest was very small—only 3% of my total payment went towards accrued interest. In contrast, 38% of the total amount I put towards the loans I am making minimum payments on went towards interest!! You want to pay as much as possible toward the principal because that is what helps speed up the process of eliminating debt. The chart below gives you a visual representation of these numbers.
Tell your Income Where to Go
The pie chart below summarizes where I delegated my earned income during the month of August. Just over 51% of my earned income went toward debt—that includes my minimum monthly payments and extra cash flow. Just below 49% went toward my living expenses (food, rent, etc.), and no money was put into long-term savings this month.
Roadblocks: I did some “back to school” aka “back to work” shopping that was a specialty category separate from my allotted spending money for the month, but I kept that expense fairly low (probably lower than the amount I used to allow myself for clothes alone each month…yikes). I also had a credit card bill that was higher than normal because I used it to purchase a couple of plane tickets to head back to the Midwest for a wedding midmonth. We actually had two weddings we wanted to go to in August, but budget and work schedules only allowed for us to attend one
August Dollar Hollaaas: No significant increases in income this month, and I am aware that it will probably be that way for the rest of the year…so I am mentally prepared!
Up until this point, I have been choosing my focal loan based on its size. In order to reach my short term goals of paying off individual debts quickly (thus reinforcing my efforts with something to celebrate a couple times a year), I have made the smallest loan my focal loan and thrown all extra cash at it at the end of each pay period. Starting in September, I am going to tackle my debt a little differently.
Because my car loan has a very low interest rate, 97% of my minimum monthly payment is going towards principal. In contrast, my Great Lakes Student Loan 3 has remained stagnate for a year, and this is because less than 20% of my minimum monthly payments have been going toward interest. When that happens on such a large loan, it becomes nearly impossible to stay afloat— and more importantly, impossible to get ahead. That is why I have decided to start tackling my largest debt now.
The most crucial piece of keeping momentum to paying off your debts is to find ways to stay motivated. I know that watching the most stubborn loan I have FINALLY start to decrease will be more motivating than anything else, including paying off my car. Even better, my car debt will continue to decrease at a steady rate as I make only minimum payments—so I will have visible progress across two loans.
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