That’s been my experience, anyway…

The following is a modified net worth chart that only includes my checking account, my savings accounts, my credit cards, my auto loans, and any other debts that I’ve carried besides the mortgage dating back to July 1, 2007.

Modified Net Worth Chart

Really, this is my “actual” net worth not including all of the stuff that I have little or no control over.

The 401k isn’t included, the equity in the house isn’t included, the value of my cars aren’t included — I’m not even including the value of my private plane!

In essence, if I had to get my hands on some money on a moment’s notice, this is what I have to draw from.

So, at the end of July in 2007, I was around $22k in the red and it took me 12 months to break out of the red in July of 2008 when I finally had more available in my “pocket” than I owed on my debts.

Twelve months to erase $22k in debt is pretty impressive.

That’s averaging over $1800 per month.

But that number is slightly skewed as I barely made any progress for three or four of those months so I’m going to go all 10th grade geometry on you and drop in a slope line.

Modified Net Worth Chart with Debt Repayment Slope

See that?

If everything had stayed on track after I broke out of the red, my wealth should be growing at an alarming rate.

I mean, it literally should have been “off the chart” back in December 2008.

That didn’t happen.

I continued on the right course, I just leveled off…

Take a look at the slope of my wealth building:

Modified Net Worth Chart with Wealth Building Slope

Sure, it’s still not bad but…it certainly isn’t “off the chart” either.

(By the way — these charts looked a lot cooler in my head… Hey, at least they’re better than the last time I worked slope into a post.)

So why is this?

I think it’s because I had a hard target to meet while paying down the debt. The goal was a balance of $0 and I did everything I could to hit that target.

Once the target was met, yeah, I tried to keep the ball rolling but I didn’t really have a set goal.

And I still don’t — and coming out and saying something like, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna shoot for $25k ASAP” just doesn’t work.

It’s too fuzzy.

Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what to do about it (though tracking my expenses will surely help), I just thought it was interesting how my pace leveled off just as I found myself in the black (or green).

Coincidence?

I doubt it.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think that when you are so focused on paying off debt, there’s a sense of incredible urgency that comes along with it – knowing that the finances charges are chasing you each and every day motivates you to keep going as fast as possible.

    But once you get to $0, all that pressure just kind of dies off and you no longer have a goal, as you mention. No longer are you “bleeding” money, now you’re just getting paid a little interest here and there.

    The psychology of this is interesting, and I don’t have a clear answer about how to create the same conditions in wealth-building for motivation as those that exist in debt-repayment.

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