Entering Unknown Territory: Quadruple Digits

A few months ago, my good friend Laura and I were talking about my debt and this blog. In passing, she asked me how great it would feel when I finally had less than $10,000 of debt. I agreed it would feel great but, the truth is, that was a fairly empty response. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel. Maybe because the last time I had less than $10,000 of debt was in 2008. Or 2007. It’s been so long, I can’t remember.

I accumulated some of my old debt very slowly. I paid for too many dinners out with my ex. I treated myself to new books, purses, etc. whenever I wanted. And I never felt bad about it, because the majority of my purchases were in the $20-40 range. But they added up. In April 2009, just a few weeks after I financed my brand new car, I consolidated more than $12,000 of debt into a 5-year loan.

You would think that consolidating your debt into a loan would teach you a lesson, but I hadn’t learned a thing. At the time, the only thing I had learned was that I couldn’t have very much fun making what I made while also trying to pay off all my debt. So, instead of lowering my credit limits, I racked up my cards again. To the tune of $6,500. Add that to my car loan and consolidation loan and I was in way over my head.

june 2011 chart

In June of last year, I had more than $28,000 of debt and, with my assets, was worth -$14,000. As of today, I’ve paid off 65.6% of that debt and am officially in the quadruple digits.

chart 2

Ok, so pie graphs aren’t really my thing. I just love that the amount of debt I’ve paid off now closely resembles Pac-Man and he’s hungry for the remaining!

I still can’t say I know what it feels like to have less than $10,000 of debt, because it all feels the same at this point. Every penny of it is bad debt and I am sick of feeling weighed down by it all. While I’m now two-thirds of the way to a life without consumer debt, I know I am still months away from getting where I want to be: looking at the numbers on the sidebar menu and seeing “$0” beside “Current Debt.”

The one 4-digit number I am starting to feel positive about is my net worth. Even with a measly total of +$3,500, I feel proud. That number might sound small, even insignificant… but my goal for this year was to be worth +$1. That’s it. I think I’m moving in the right direction fast. Maybe being in the quadruple digits will push me to race towards the finish line even faster…

  • Congratulations on working on your goals. We all need to have some in this life. Now here’s one to aim for – just think of how great you’ll feel when you have that “first” $10,000 in savings ! That’s not just net worth – that’s clear savings! You’ve come this far, just keep going in this direction and this too will be achievable.

    • That’ll be nice, Rob! Probably a year or two away from it… but after my net worth reaches $10K, my debt will be paid off and my savings will start to climb!

  • First, let me just say that my heart gets happy when I see new posts from you in my reader. :)

    Congrats on the debt repayment, you are doing amazing things and I cannot wait to be where you are!


  • Awesome job Cait! I am patiently working to get there myself ;) And I love the idea of pac man eating your debt. When he’s done with you, have him come my way will you?

  • You’ve done amazingly! You may not feel it now, but once that number is less than your net worth, I’m sure you’ll really feel it.

  • Congratulations on being under $10k ! That is an amazing accomplishment. It fills me with excitement to think about the day when I will finally get there. Such a great inspiration! And now you have the tools to never get yourself into a debt problem again.

  • Congratulations on this milestone!

    Your post really highlights the little goalposts that you need to keep you ahead of debt fatigue. It’s like running a marathon – you need the mile markers to use as both encouragement and direction.

    You’re so inspiring! Keep it up!

  • Woot! You are nearing the home stretch. I find as we pay off the debt I get madder at it. Seeing the numbers go down makes the debt seem more real. I guess it’s easier to ignore what $18,000 really means because I’ve never held that much in my hands OR bank account before. The numbers get more real as they decrease. I remember paying off our credit card and owing $7 in interest the next month. I was SO MAD at that $7. Irrationally mad. Because $7 is completely understandable. I know exactly what $7 looks like and what I could buy with it. (Not much, but still!) xoxo

    • Haha, I can imagine how mad you were at that $7! But at least it’s gone now, right? I’m definitely starting to feel the motivation to get my total down to $0 now… mostly because I am beginning to imagine all the things I’ll be able to do, once I’m finally done paying off debt! I want my life back! xo

  • Congratulations Cait! I can promise you the debt repayment looks much faster from this point on. You’ll hit 3 digits soon and then *blip* it’s gone. Keep up the awesome work!

    • My friend Laura said I’d never hit the 3’s, haha. That might be hopeful thinking… but maybe I should have $1,000 set aside, so I can go from 4 digits to 0!

  • Great motivation! We just lopped of over 70 percent of our debt this month with a few overdue choices! We’re in the home stretch too!

  • I definitely hear you on not feeling any different because the debt total has reached an arbitrary milestone. But congratulations anyway! And I hope it does push you to get to your goal faster, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

    And wow, $3,500 is much higher than $1!

  • You can do it, it looks like you’ve made some great progress so far!

  • When I look at my loans individually they’re both quadruple digits lol ;) but together I’m still well in the five figures.

    You’ve made great progress. I’m looking forward to my loans being gone more than I am them dipping below the $10K mark — though that will be a huge milestone.

    Congrats! Not much left to go now ;)

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