“That’s never going to happen.”
She held a binder in her hands with papers, charts, and projections outlining the process of how she and her husband might gradually replace the income they each earned through working with income that comes from their accumulated assets.
Otherwise known as a retirement plan.
“Now hold on a minute,” her husband said, thumbing through his copy. “We may not be able to do all of this right now, but we can do some of it. And as we get more and more of our debt paid off, I think we can actually do all of this.”
He was the hopeful member of the marriage, but sometimes his optimism let them bite off more than they could chew financially. She was the more cautious, keeping them out of trouble but also running the risk of keeping them right where they were forever.
On average, they were perfect.
She was painfully aware of their lack of resources right now. Like so many young couples, they had allowed their debts to pile up to the point where they were paying some 35 cents on every dollar they earned on debt payments.
What good would it do to save $200 or $300 per month when they are paying $2,500 each month to creditors every month? It made her physically ill to realize they were paying 10 times as much in debt payments as even their most ambitious savings goals might permit.
All she could see was their visible limitations. She had no vision for breaking through them. And because she had no vision to even imagine a breakthrough, she had no energy to explore creative solutions or new directions to get there. She was quitting at the starting line.
While she was convincing herself their future was bleak, he began punching numbers in a calculator and writing on the retirement plan.
“OK, all we’ve got to work with now is $200,” he admitted. “But what if we put that $200 to work paying down our debts? Instead of investing it, why don’t we reduce our debts with it?”
“But it’s only $200…” she reminded him.
“True, but we can use that $200 to slowly pay off the debts that we’re now paying the $2500 on each month. Every time we can pay one of those off, we can add what we were paying to the credit cards to our savings each month.”
This time she took the papers with his writing out of his hands to study it more closely.
“You’re saying that if we do this, we can have all our debts paid off in less than ten years and be saving all that $2500 each month that we’re now paying on debt?” she asked incredulously.
“Well, that’s what the calculators says,” he said.
“So, once we have all the credit cards paid off, that means we’ll have an extra $2500 each month to spend?” she asked cautiously.
“No, it means we’ll finally be able to put back serious money for our retirement.”
“True that,” she said. “True that.”
She was thinking out loud, “So we do this for ten years, and we are forty-five, debt-free and saving $2500 a month towards retirement. Forty-five. Lord, that’s ancient.”
“Or,” he added, “we can keep doing what we’re doing, and in ten years we’ll be forty-five and still in debt.”
“Good point,” she agreed. “So, you really think we can do this?” she asked.
“I do. What choice do we have? Do you want to be this deep in debt ten years from now?”
She made a face.
“OK, this is definitely going to happen,” she said.
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