- DD3 = Dear third daughter
- DH = Dear Husband
Dogs definitely understand certain words: walk, ball, treat, milk bone, breakfast, lunch, supper, ball, park, Granny, Mommy, Daddy, tricks, car, kitty cat, doggy, squirrel . . . Our dog Rocky gets so worked up when we say any of these words to him. His tail wags, and he starts to spin around or bark in excitement, sometimes even whimpering with the agony of anticipation. That was the case Tuesday when I got home from work and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk “with the BALL?” He could hardly stand the wait as I put on my boots and looked for the ball and thrower.
Spring vs. winter
Spring time means different things to different individuals, and to Rocky, it means we get out the BALL again! There were still patches of icy snow here and there Tuesday afternoon, but it had been melting back steadily, and large expanses of grass were proof that spring was winning over winter in the battle of the seasons. Rocky ran in a state of sheer joy as he chased the ball over and over again. And I soaked it in too. There is nothing like spring for a winter-weary soul.
A few hours afterwards, it was time to meet up with DD3 on her way home from her work shift at a nearby grocery store. “Do you want to go for a WALK?” Tail wagging, all eager to go, Rocky endured another period of waiting before I finally opened the door. I don’t know which one of us was more shocked to see what had happened to our spring landscape: It had turned back to winter! Snow was falling heavily, and not a blade of grass to be found. A dainty creature who doesn’t like getting his feet wet, Rocky stopped dead in his tracks so that I had to pick him up and carry him for part of the way.
Episodes of the unpredictable in the seasons of debt-repayment
There is nothing steady about the experience most of us have as we work our way to debt-freedom. The journey unfolds through different seasons – which often include episodes of the unpredictable.
After almost four years of debt-reduction, DH and I have encountered at least three different seasons, and we’ve experienced freak weather along the way.
Spring: storm & drought
Year #1 was our best in terms of actual numbers. From the start of June 2012 to the end of May 2013, we paid off a near 20% chunk of our total debt (consumer + business + mortgage) of $257,000. But we got a shock at the end of July – barely two months in. Twelve hours before flying home from his company’s annual summer get-away convention, DH suffered a gallbladder attack. The convention had been in Las Vegas, and we live in Canada – and DH had not brought his international health insurance card with him. He had to pay a $2,500 deposit for a stay of a few hours in a Vegas hospital – where he was diagnosed and pumped with morphine for the flight home. In Canada, we pay nothing (except high taxes) for medical care, and $2,500 was unbelievable to us . . . until we found out that the total bill would be over $6,000! We launched on a mission to straighten things out with our insurance coverage, and after a very long 3 months (during which DH had emergency gallbladder surgery), all was resolved, and we were completely covered. Phew!
Through March and April of that first year, we experienced a drought. DH’s business slowed down so much that we couldn’t make any payment against the business debt (originally $80,800) that we had just started to take on. It was depressing. I lacked perspective and felt stuck. Only later would I recognize this dry period as a blip in a year of overall great progress.
Winter ice storm: frozen
We made our slowest progress during year #2. From the start of June 2013 to the end of May 2014, we paid off just about 11% of our total debt – a big drop from the previous year’s 20%. But we knew in advance that it would be a slower one. We had to pay for a new roof – $10,000, and we were determined not to go into debt for it, so debt-reduction gave way to saving.
What we didn’t know was that we would also have to cut down a dangerously rotted tree in our backyard – $2,000. We didn’t know that our dog would develop bladder stones either – $4,500. Ugh!
Summer: sunshine, rainfall & bumper crop!
Year #3 was one of encouraging progress. From the start of June 2014 to the end of May 2015, we paid off just about 18% of our total debt – way up from the 11% of Year #2. But what was even more encouraging was the unexpected bonus we received a couple of weeks after the end of Year #3 – when DH experienced some freak weather in his business. June is not typically super-profitable for him, but in June of 2015, he had his best month in 6 years of business – by huge margin. About half-way into June, we wiped out the last $5,500 of our business debt (the one that started out at $80,800), and entered a new era: Debt-free except for the mortgage!
Seasons to come?
This week, Laurie posted a great article on what her daughter’s self-defense class taught her about debt. In a particularly tough exercise, facing men twice her size, Maddie felt stuck: “Well, at first, I thought ‘There’s no way I’m gonna be able to do this.’ I felt like all of my attempts were pointless. Then I realized that Jon (the instructor) wasn’t going to let me get out of this, and I knew that I had no choice but to fight my way free.” And she did.
Will there be episodes of the unpredictable ahead in our journey out of debt? Will there be freak weather? Probably. I don’t expect the seasons to be steady, but I hope that my effort will be. I don’t want to be like Rocky, refusing to budge because of an unexpected change for the worse. I picked him up and carried him, but nobody is going to carry me out of debt. I want to be like Laurie’s daughter Maddie, and fight my way free.
Have you ever experienced an episode of the unpredictable while trying to reach a financial goal? How would you describe the “freak weather” you’ve encountered? Your comments are welcome.