Financial CrossroadsIn three weeks time I’ll be eligible to call into the Dave Ramsey show and Dave will ask me how much I paid off, how long it took me, and what my household income is…

He’ll then ask my wife’s name and then we’ll do the countdown together, “Three… two… one… WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEE!” and he’ll hit the sound effect button from the movie Braveheart.

Then he’ll ask what the last bill I paid off was and what was the hardest part about becoming debt free.

It’s all very predictable. I already know how it goes, so I’m not going to bother calling in. I don’t like to think of myself as that exciting, you know?

Besides, my story is kinda bland.

The hardest part was waiting for each pay day — time was the hardest part. I knew how to get “here”, I just didn’t enjoy waiting for the paychecks to come in.

And the last bill I’ll pay off is a 0% interest credit card.

Hardly the type of story he’s looking for…

Anyway, I’ll soon find myself with a lot more cash on hand each payday. In fact, that’s already happened — I’ve spent a lot of money already this month just knowing that there aren’t any large looming bills to come in the mail.

That’s coming to an end in November.

So, I’ve started putting together a new budget that will continue to pay down our mortgage at an accelerated, yet comfortable, pace and one that will hopefully make my savings account grow equally as fast as the balance of my 401k has been dropping of late.

What am I saving for?

I’m not sure.

No, that’s not true.

I know what I’m saving for, I just don’t know yet how much I’ll need. And I’m afraid to find out how much I’ll need because it might be more than I can imagine saving for.

Make sense?

Plain and simple, the entire first floor of my house needs to be remodeled. And we’re not talking about a coat of paint and some new lamps…

It needs to be gutted. We need new floors, new walls, new ceilings, new wiring, new plumbing, etc… We need everything.

As it stands right now, it’s an embarrassment — so much so that I almost don’t want to hand out Halloween candy this year because of the small glimpse of the interior that the kids will be able to see.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

Hang on, let me take a picture.

See what I mean? This is the entryway to my home. Mouseover it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Not what you expected, huh?

It’s looked like this for over a year now. Really.

Now I’m sure you understand my plight.

I just spent all of the these years paying down my debt to get to this spot where I am right now…debt free. And now I’m in a position where I’ll need to spend $30k, $40k, maybe even $60k in one shot and put myself deeper in debt than I ever was before.

Yikes.

I can’t really imagine saving up $30k, let alone twice that! But seriously, look at that place? It *needs* to be done and the sooner the better.

One route would be to just deal with it for another few years (can you imagine?) and save like crazy until we can afford it.

The other route would be to get on the horn, get a few contractors over here for estimates, and get it done in the not too distant future while saddling ourselves with payments for next few years…

Obviously, I’m leaning towards the latter route. See, the roof and siding projects we took on between December 2006 and July 2007 cost us a little over $40k total — and here we are, already, lining up to be debt free in November 2008. While it felt like it took forever, it really didn’t.

History tells me that it’s possible for us to pay for a project this big, but my gut tells me that I want out of this $2500/month-to-creditors cycle… It’s worn me down.

Or maybe it’s walking into my house and seeing that scene above that’s been wearing me down…

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Just found your site and I really like it. One thing about becoming debt free (I’m nowhere near, yet) is that it is hardest waiting for the next paycheck. I have a plan and know what I want to do but I just have to wait until payday.

    Congratulations on your success and I’ll be following your “to remodel or not to remodel” story.

  2. I once had a bathroom look close to that bad! We showered on the back porch for the first six months we were in the house… (lucky for us it was summer and we’re in Arizona!)

    I’d say try and find a zero interest card and make a few trips to home depot! I guess I’m lucky tho… I could do most of the work myself (with some manly muscle just to help lift stuff)! Fly me out… I’d help ya guys!

    Or you could always call Bob Villa or Ty Pennington and ask them if they want to start a season of their shows in your entry way. :)

    Good luck!

  3. Well, the housing boom is over…in a few months, contractors will be short of work. So you will probably get better estimates now than you would have a year ago. I guess the problem with silver linings is that there’s still a big ol’ expensive gray cloud in the middle :(

  4. Ha! Funny you point that out. It’s definitely the “showpiece” in the room…

    Unfortunately, the novelty of a real upright arcade game wears off after awhile. That said, though, it’s always a hit with guests, but when the room looks like that, well, I’m not about to have any guests over…

    I will say that I have been searching long and hard for that game at pizza parlors, movie theaters and arcades all around the country.

    I imagine myself walking slowly up to the controls, dramatically inserting a single quarter, and then playing though the entire game without losing a single life as a crowd gathers behind me.

    Yeah, I know that sort of thing only happened in 80’s movies, but I can dream, right?

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