RIP Line of Credit: what we're doing so we don't end up in debt again

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by Robin

With a whisper and a quiet high five we celebrated reaching our goal.  The whisper was because we are both a bit superstitious: we believe as soon as we pay off debts, something breaks.  Usually our van.

So, out of ear shot of our 10-year-old minivan, in a hushed voice, I said to Ed, "We did it.  Today we sent our last payment to our Line of Credit."  We officially have no consumer debt.

We high fived because we are dorks and we didn't know how else to celebrate.  This has been a major goal we've been working toward for close to a decade.  Seems like we should have had a bit more fanfare, maybe streamers, marching band or sky writing?

But, the celebration is coming!  You might remember, we shared our Family Vision Statement: "Once we've paid off our Line of Credit, we will celebrate with a family trip to Costa Rica."  We sure will, but true to our goal, we are saving up for it.  (Otherwise, we'd have to put the trip on our Line of Credit - which would nullify our goal reaching.  Catch 22, of sorts.)

In the weeks following that quiet, life altering event, we've been doing a lot of talking about "What Now?"
  • What things will we keep doing?  
  • What will we stop or do less of?  
  • And, now that we have more room in the budget, what will we do more?  

Here's our plan...

What we'll keep doing...

Tracking Our Spending.

  • Carefully watching where our money goes gives us great information for making decisions.  It really doesn't take very long and I've built a very sexy spreadsheet to do it in. (What? You don't find spreadsheets sexy?  Um..ok..weirdo.)

  • Tracking our spending is like a financial GPS.  We know exactly where we are and where we're headed.  That makes for a peaceful journey.

 Keep sending that lump sum to the bank.

  • We were sending close to a grand each month to clean off the Line of Credit.  We set it up as an automatic payment long ago.  Now, that lump payment is headed straight into our savings account.  Instead of paying off debt, it's ear marked for replacing our old van (bo-ring.), plus saving for our next family travel adventure (super-fun!).

  • If we let that money pause in our bank account, it would get spent.  Out of sight out of mind - and we're moving closer to our next goal.

Buying used.

  • Buying used stuff is affordable, interesting and better for the environment.  We're keeping this up. (Our No Fail Frugal Steps will still be our guide.)


  • We are DIY nerds.  We love itComing up with an idea and seeing it through together is our version of a good time.  Neither of us could imagine handing this off to someone else - where's the fun in that?

  • There is something about a limited budget that expands the imagination. We're keeping this budget line modest still.

One Vehicle Living.

  • This may change as the kids get older and more involved in activities, and we turn into taxi drivers, but so far so good.

Keeping the Cable Cut.

  • Anymore channels and we'd be watching more TV.  We find it's easier to live fully in other areas of life, without the distraction of television.  For example, I actually do more projects around the home and garden when I'm not parked in front of HGTV.  (Besides, you can watch full episodes on their website!)

What we'll do less...

Pay interest!

  • This one's obvious, but worth saying.  It used to frustrate me when we were pinching pennies on diapers, yet each month hundreds of our dollars were going toward interest payments.  Some months a whole day's pay would be eaten up by interest.  No more.  
  • We are going to do our best to pay cash for everything.  (I'd love to be able to say, "From here on no more consumer debt!", but we're driving on borrowed time with our old van, sadly a car loan may be in our future.)

Making Do with Things That Suck.

  • It had been driving Ed crazy that we were still using the towels I bought during internship (15 years ago!).  I kept telling him, "They don't look THAT bad and they dry us just fine".  Well, they've dried their last butt cheek (um - sorry about that - "butt cheek" is our kids' favourite phrase these days - it seems to have crept into our vernacular).  We found new towels (on sale at Target) and donated the old ones.

Saying No to Fun.

  • Too often we've had to pass on fun activities we've been invited to, like concerts, overseas weddings or weekends away.  That's probably been the toughest part of our debt paying journey.  We've added a bit to our Entertainment line in our Spending Plan.  Bring on the fun!

What we'll do more... 

Saving for the Kids' Education.

  • From birth, we've sent money each month for the kids' education savings.  As room was made in our budget, we'd send a bit more.  Now we're maxing it out and it feels so good.
  • Between ourselves, and contributions from my parents, what we are now putting away each month should total what we will need to fund their schooling.   

More Giving.

  • We've always had a budget line dedicated to giving to causes we believe in.  Now we can give more - that feels awesome.

Spend a bit more on clothes.

  • We both work in professional jobs and we feel better when we look the part.  Sometimes, we've been making do with clothes we'd rather be rid of.  For example, there's the pair of black pants Ed's used a Sharpie on to make the pocket seams look less worn.  We'll splurge and get him a pair of all-black pants.
  • I used to have fun dressing.  Along the way, I've taught myself to not let it matter as much to me, or at least make the best of it.  I plan to ease up on my restrictions here.  I won't all of a sudden look super stylish, old habits die hard and I still can't bring myself to buy that pair of boots I covet.  Which is ok for now.

More Pro Haircuts.

  • Up until about 5 years ago, I cut all of our hair.  I kicked Ed out of my barber chair when I realized: I'm not very good at it.  His hair is really freaking hard to cut, he's got this crazy unique swirl in the back that I am not capable of disguising.  I started to worry that his students would mock him - assuming they hadn't already.
  • The kids have never had anyone but me cut their hair.  They both refuse to have anyone else cut their do's.  I'm ok with that - their hair is super easy to cut and they aren't very picky about it.
  • I've been wearing my hair in an easy to maintain style where I could get it cut twice a year.  It looked, well... serviceable.  High praise, no?  Now I'm getting regular haircuts with a talented stylist. 

More Fitness.

  • We value fitness.  We feel better, look better and sleep better when we work out.  Now we're dedicating a budget line to it.  
  • We're trying to learn tennis - we'll replace our borrowed racquets with our own.  Our game can only improve.

More Travel and Family Adventures.

  • We will still travel on a budget, but we plan to do more of it and move further afield. 

More Date Nights.

  • Life just feels like less work when we have regular date nights We can connect with each other as individuals who fell in love, not just managers of tasks and naggers of children.  (Now, to just find the time between work, kid activities, coaching, volunteering...)

Final Thoughts...

What struck us as we talked about this post was how little we were actually going to change.  

We aren't planning to up our lifestyle spending in any major way.  We're not planning to buy much more stuff.  The most significant change will be spending more on is experiences.  Having the money to live an enriching and entertaining life together is incredibly exciting.

Over the years, this frugal thing has moved from being a tool in our lives to our lifestyle.

RIP Line of Credit - and don't go reanimating yourself.  We've had it with debt and zombies.  (An update: in 2015 we found ourselves back in debt, for a very good reason, but we buckled down and cleared it out by mid-2016.)

What will you do differently when your debts are paid?   What will you do the same? 


  1. We are just starting the journey of paying off debt. It seems like such a challenge, but is helpful to read inspiring stories of others. It almost seems possible now. :) Way to go!

    1. You can do it, Tiffany! It is a challenge, for sure, but oh so worth it. We feel free and that's an incredible feeling. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. Congratulations!

    We hope to soon be mortgage free. We only have a few years left on our mortgage, weekly payments and a tiny fixer-upper has allowed that. But the area we live in is a designated growth area and we feel it. Much less pleasant to live here now- am & pm rush hour in our small town and our former side road, now fully residential, has become a freeway as town/subdivisions have encroached on our rural road. Time to get out of dodge. Moving back to the area my husband grew up, will afford us a better & bigger (not huge) home for less. We expect that we either have no mortgage left or a small difference that we can pay off using our former building fund.
    Without a mortgage, I expect that we will still be frugal- we have a single income since we homeschool. As it is, we scrimp and can't save much for anything. Soon, we can have savings for unexpected car repair or replacement (we drive older cars, too), kids' education and maybe even a vacation (we have never taken a vacation since we met 10 years ago).
    Glad to hear you news! I hope your minivan didn't hear ; )

    1. Almost mortgage free! That's amazing! Does the encroaching subdivision affect your current property's value?


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