our five year plan for getting out of debt

Over the years I’ve heard the term 5 year plan (or any other number pertaining to how long it will take to reach some goal.) My husband and I will reach the milestone of all 9 kids being adults in about 5 years. So after many discussions on how we will transition to this new stage of our lives, we have hammered out our 5 year plan.

First off, we felt we needed to clear up our combined pasts. With us both being divorcee’s, there are a bunch of legal fees, outstanding debts, and bad decisions we need to take care of before we can truly move on with our life together. We also felt we needed a clear vision for our future to make getting our financial life in order a priority.

Getting a handle on where we stood financially was hard work and took a few weeks to shake out all those long forgotten and often painful to admit financial skeletons of our pasts. Revealing and talking about our mistakes was hard and often loud. However, we are both so committed to our goal of being financially sound by the time my youngest graduates, we feel the sacrifices we are going to make over the next 52 months will be totally worth it.

First we ordered copies of our credit reports that don’t offer free reviews on line. Credit Karma is a great resource and will give you a free copy of one credit report each year. The site can  also help you dispute negative information you feel is inaccurate on your credit reports. https://www.creditkarma.com

Next I pulled out that pile of unopened mail that was cluttering up counters and various other places around the house. I know how it feels to not be able to open an envelope which you are certain you don’t want to know what ugly secrets it holds. But i’m here to tell you to rip that band-aid off! I resigned myself to do this alone so that I could cringe or tear up duplicates without having arguments about whose fault this mess was between us.

I was both sickened and shocked  by what I found in those envelopes. Almost half were duplicate bills- throw those right out! Some of them were mundane correspondence like surveys and reminders of appointments- those went straight in the trash as well. There were even some checks in there. Yes, reimbursement checks from doctors offices and rebates I had sent in for and forgotten about.

Then there were the ugly bills I knew I would find in there. Collection companies for old medical bills, tax liens for old city/school taxes that were forgotten to be paid, defaulted student loans,and various other outstanding bills. So while I was waiting for the credit reports to come, I listed all the hard copy debts and researched our options. I know I am talking as though I did all the work by myself, but that isn’t true. My husband did everything he could to help with this process. He’s the math guy while I’m the researcher.

After we had everything we needed to get the big picture of our finances we each did some soul searching on what was most important to us both now and in the future. We found we had similar visions for our future together, but somewhat different expectations on how to get there. My honey feels overwhelmed sometimes by the pressures of maintaining a home combined with the pressures he already has with his job (which is our main income.) I felt very strongly about keeping the home that his children and my youngest children had/were growing up in.

So after taking all the information, priorities, and other factors into consideration we decided consolidating and refinancing was our best option. We were thrilled to find out our home was worth much more than we thought is was which put our fear of being, “üpside down” to rest. We were also able to consolidate our debt to be paid off in 5 years. Does that strike a bell? Our kids will all be adults in 5 years. We couldn’t resist this opportunity. Please keep in mind refinancing and consolidating are NOT free. We will be paying a little over $8000 in fees total for this to be possible.

Our consolidated debt payment is less than some peoples monthly credit card bill and our mortgage payment is reasonable now. To make this work while we still have 3 teenagers, I will have to work full time for the remainder of the debt repayment and we will have to live on a strict budget, but we don’t mind because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. It’s a good feeling to know we are preparing for the future TOGETHER and that’s all that matters.