Let’s face it, prudent personal finance is like swimming against the current. We spend wisely and save according to a plan that meets short-term and long-term needs; we’re paying down debt, and more than the minimum on credit cards, and we’re making some sacrifices along the way. There are trade-offs in every financial decision we’re making. If we buy this, then we can’t buy (or pay for) something else, and so we make the prudent decision and in some cases do without.
Yet it seems that a lot of people are buying everything that they want without a care: expensive cars, houses, boats, vacation homes, and many luxury items and designer fashions. Where does all of this money come from? It can be discouraging, and easy to think that we’re on this journey alone, that everyone else is on easy street with no debt, and they have a great salary. When we hear that the recovery started back in 2009, we might wonder if it passed us by.
But the truth is very often different from what we hear or imagine. According to a 2014 NerdWallet analysis, the average U.S. household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt. So apparently debt is financing much of the spending that we’re seeing, and as the recent past has shown us that’s a recipe for bad things. Bankrate’s latest survey of credit card interest rates sets the amount at 13.02%, so the average monthly interest being paid on credit card debt is about $162.75. This is just the interest payment. Saving $162.75 each month even at 2% interest would grow in one year to $2,137.04 and nearly $4,000 in two years. This interest is money wasted.
Staying motivated and on track can become difficult when it seems that our debts will never be paid off or when a setback interrupts our saving. We need to remind ourselves that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Elementary math proves that if we don’t increase debt and pay more than the interest, then the debt will be eliminated at some point. It also shows that untouched savings, especially savings with regular deposits will grow to large amounts. We know these things, but sticking with them is the hard part. If it were easy then everyone would be financially independent.
I encourage you to keep going. You’re not alone. Manage your finances and stick to your plan. If you’re just starting out, develop a plan for debt elimination and saving, and work to the plan. More and more people are joining the ranks, and cutting spending and paying down debt. They’re taking the steps to better financial health, and it isn’t easy for them either.
Check out some of the other blogs on this site and re-visit posts and articles that motivate and encourage you. Track your debt reduction progress and savings growth, and look for areas where you can make minor improvements. Once debt is eliminated, you’ll breath (and sleep) a lot easier, and you’ll be glad for every sacrifice that you made along the way.
Thanks for reading!