What a difference 611 days can make.
Nobody says that, but that was the magic number in my credit score equation. As you can see from the two scores above, I’ve come a long way in handling and managing money well. In September of 2017, my wife and I were just married, freshly moved to Oregon for her graduate school, and I was scooting around the greater Portland area in our Prius trying to hustle up a few bucks working for Uber and Lyft. The consequences of my poor financial planning were taking their toll, as my 614 credit score indicated, but we were getting on the right track at that point, beginning to budget well and make better decisions about what we bought and what we passed on.
Fast forward those 611 days and the story looks much different. My wonderful wife graduated with her degree in Speech-Language Pathology, has a new job back in Missoula, MT, I am student loan debt free, we have no credit card, car or other debt other than what she has left on graduate student loans. We have a ways to go, but we are white-hot on the path to being debt free. The goal is in sight and we are excited about where we find ourselves going.
Moving back to Montana after these two wonderful years in Oregon is a dream come true. We weren’t sure that Jos would be able to find a good SLP job in Missoula, so she went with the shotgun approach when applying for jobs, looking for anything from Kalispell to Hamilton, Missoula to Billings. God provided an excellent opportunity for her to work as an independent contractor for a great organization, and I could not be more proud of her.
For me, I am fortunate to hold onto my remote IT job, enabling me to take a strong wage back to a state with lower living expenses. And speaking of those expenses, we find ourselves even more blessed in regards to those.
My father and mother-in-law have been generous enough to take us in for at least a few months while we get our feet under us and get settled back into Missoula. Their generosity will help us expedite and catalyze our debt repayment efforts. With any bit of luck, we are still on track to have the remaining $67,850 in student loans cleaned up by next summer. You’ll have to stay tuned to see if we make it.
One thing that strikes me as I sit here this morning is that to win, you need to be willing to be humbled. At nearly 28 years old, I honestly did not think I would reach this age and still having lingering debts, little to no savings, and still be renting. But that is okay. If you look around in the news, millennials and student loans are in the headlines everywhere. Whether you think we millennials are a bunch of screwups, or you empathize with the trying circumstances we find ourselves in, there are plenty of us out here that are doing something to pull ourselves up and out of our slow-start situations in life. Our education and loan-issuing systems need to be fixed, but perhaps that topic is for another post.
My point here is that for those of you that are fighting to get out of debt, don’t be afraid to humble yourself. Take the pizza delivery job a few nights a week, even if it seems like the position is “below your pay grade.” Be willing to say no to trips or friends that want to go out all the time, blowing through your would-be budget. Say yes and “thank you” to those who are willing to help you get a hand up on your situation, just like my wonderful in-laws. Don’t be too proud.
What was a humbling experience you’ve had in making your way out of debt? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. As usual, thanks for reading as we continue to Figure Out Finances.