Author Topic: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?  (Read 8066 times)

frugalfedmom

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Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« on: February 08, 2015, 02:26:56 PM »
We just paid off our car and even though it took 4 years, it is our first big accomplishment in a multiphased plan to become debt free and it's also a lot better than the original 6 yr plan when we first bought the brand new car pre-MMM. We've spent the past year or so putting every extra dollar towards this debt and were so motivated/excited about finally having zero car payments. Next on our list is a 50k student loan with plans to pay it off in 1.5 yrs, which is basically the last thing to go before we switch to saving mode (maxing retirement accounts and saving for house) 

The thing is, I thought it would feel so great to have knocked out a loan payment but it just feels so anticlimactic... not sure if it is because after this, we still have (an even larger) loan waiting for us but it's almost like I got more joy out of the waiting and obsessively checking the balances than the actual payoff! Just wanted to see if anyone else has had similar experiences. Maybe it's still too early to have sunk in or it will be different once we're completely debt free and start seeing the savings pile up?

Davids

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 02:34:56 PM »
Congratulations but I understand what you are saying. You should still be happy and if you want even do a mustachian style celebration and buy some ice cream.

Riff

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2015, 02:46:40 PM »
It's been a month and a half since we became debt free, and I know what you're talking about.  Me too.  Every milestone was great, but the excitement was short lived.  Hopefully now the fun will be watching the investments grow to FIRE levels.  As long as the market is going up it will be fun, anyway :)

morning owl

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2015, 02:51:33 PM »
Congrats! I also found this, when we paid off our mortgage. The time leading up to it seemed like an adventure. Can we make it by our target date? Where are we at now? I counted down the days as we got close. We obsessed and talked about it all the time. And then, we were there. Life didn't change too much. It freed up some income to put towards savings, but it did feel a little anticlimactic. We celebrated with some bubbly, and then that was that.

Sometimes I wonder if FIRE will be similar. It's such a buildup to the date... And then what happens next? Though day to day life will be different, of course, we will still be the same people. The journey is what's important, ultimately.

jms493

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2015, 03:10:48 PM »
I loved paying each sticking loan off and never going back.  Sure are there fireworks...no.  Knowing that I am on the right path financially and each month that passes I am more firmly planted on that path is a great feeling.  Knowing that I owe nobody anything and my risk of being in trouble if I were to lose my job is dropping each month.

Once my mortgage is gone I will say goodbye to debt forever.  By the way if you missing being in debt...you can always go get a loan!

CopperTex

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 03:13:39 PM »
Exciting? Not really...peace is more the emotion I derive from paying off debt.

kpd905

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 03:15:39 PM »
Don't expect fireworks at each milestone, just keep chugging along knowing that you're making great progress.

capital

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 03:22:22 PM »
Quote
Itís all on auto-pilot, and all there is for us to do is go to work during the week, and pack some fun into the weekends. There is no drama in your financial life. Many people would kill for a situation like the one youíre in.. but yet youíre bored. What is wrong with you?

Congratulations. That odd, slightly bored feeling you have is the feeling of becoming rich .
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/08/16/what-it-feels-like-to-become-rich/

frugalfedmom

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2015, 03:22:46 PM »
Thanks for sharing! Glad to know it's not just me.

By the way if you missing being in debt...you can always go get a loan!

Lol...maybe I will! (totally kidding!). But seriously I feel like at some point this debt paying process has almost become an addiction!

enpower

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 03:40:50 PM »
I paid off my student loan a couple of years ago.

I (like you) tracked it every month, saw it go down, wanted to put every extra dollar into paying it off and was very impressed with myself after it was paid off.

I then had to think of a goal of what I'd save up for next. I decided I wanted to own an investment property with my fianc'e so we saved up the deposit over the last couple of years and bought our property about 6 months ago.

It is critical you set up a next goal to save up towards. Otherwise I felt there was nothing to track and I was always tempted to splurge on something like a holiday or new bike.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 04:45:02 PM »
I think you may be missing the forest for the trees.  Focus on the *real* goal.  Paying off debt is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  It's fun to track payment of debt, but I think you need to remember the underlying question:

"What is my goal?  Why am I doing this?  Why am I reducing my spending and increasing my savings and paying off debt?"

cjottawa

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 05:25:37 PM »
Nope, totally get what you mean.

When my net worth crossed from negative to positive, there were no fireworks and no fanfare. IMO, you should celebrate a bit! Doesn't have to be expensive - have a movie night in with popcorn, whatever.

I'm with zolotiyeruki: the end game is, well, whatever your end game is. (retirement? FIRE?) Crossing into positive net worth is just another point on a line graph that won't peak for years or decades.

rmendpara

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2015, 07:27:14 PM »
We just paid off our car and even though it took 4 years, it is our first big accomplishment in a multiphased plan to become debt free and it's also a lot better than the original 6 yr plan when we first bought the brand new car pre-MMM. We've spent the past year or so putting every extra dollar towards this debt and were so motivated/excited about finally having zero car payments. Next on our list is a 50k student loan with plans to pay it off in 1.5 yrs, which is basically the last thing to go before we switch to saving mode (maxing retirement accounts and saving for house) 

The thing is, I thought it would feel so great to have knocked out a loan payment but it just feels so anticlimactic... not sure if it is because after this, we still have (an even larger) loan waiting for us but it's almost like I got more joy out of the waiting and obsessively checking the balances than the actual payoff! Just wanted to see if anyone else has had similar experiences. Maybe it's still too early to have sunk in or it will be different once we're completely debt free and start seeing the savings pile up?

It's been a while since I paid my last debt, but I also recall the excitement waring off fairly quickly.

I also recently hit 200k NW, and it was also pretty uneventful even though I hoped the 2nd goose egg would feel like more of an accomplishment.

Oh well, I suppose finances should be boring.

dividendman

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2015, 07:36:42 PM »
How much was the payment?

Even if it was a couple hundo it should make a difference to your cash flow! Celebrate. Have a $10 pizza and get on those student loans :P

willow

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2015, 07:42:59 PM »
I know what you mean. When we paid off our car it felt good, but it never felt like a momentous occasion. More of the fun comes in the following months when you don't have the payment anymore. I think it also helps to reward yourself a bit, you just opened up $200 a month in income? If you can swing it buy yourself something small as a reward.

Though for me, watching money go into our account is a reward in and of itself, but to each their own; people have different motivating factors.

Gremlin

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2015, 08:42:15 PM »
When I was paying down debts, I had a similar feeling to you.  I had set up automated payments to my home loan.

I knew that ultimately I'd be automatically crediting that money to investments.  However, when my loan was paid off, I deliberately chose not to AUTOMATICALLY credit the same amount to my investment accounts.  I still credited it, but I did it manually for each of the first four months.  Each time I transferred the money, it was a positive reinforcement of what I'd achieved in paying down the debt. 

"This is the money that's no longer going to pay off my past, it's now going to funding my future." 

Doing this certainly overcame the potential for it to be an anti-climax.  Once the "new normal" became ingrained, I switched it to automatic crediting.

SingleMomDebt

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2015, 08:55:12 PM »
Quote
Itís all on auto-pilot, and all there is for us to do is go to work during the week, and pack some fun into the weekends. There is no drama in your financial life. Many people would kill for a situation like the one youíre in.. but yet youíre bored. What is wrong with you?

Congratulations. That odd, slightly bored feeling you have is the feeling of becoming rich .
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/08/16/what-it-feels-like-to-become-rich/

Well, least I know I'm driving on the right side of the road. Cross my fingers I don't look for some consumeristic fun to fulfill my life with false-excitement. Ha. that won't happen. But seriously, now I have to rely on myself to fulfill the time. Oh joy, this should be a hoot.

frugalfedmom congrats!  Keep up the awesome work to the path of financial freedom.

11ducks

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2015, 12:33:45 AM »
Sometimes you need to make your own climax..... (wow, that sounded so... wrong).

Anyway, you've done something excellent, you should find a way to celebrate it. Climb a mountain, have a glass of wine, do something to reward yourself. 

JLee

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2015, 07:39:18 AM »
I generally feel a sense of relief more than excitement, so I wouldn't say that's unusual at all. As strange as it sounds, I was almost glad to have another loan (investing ~3x more than my car payment, which is at a lower rate than my mortgage anyway) just so I'd have something else to pay off. Given that it's costing me less than my house to finance, I shouldn't be in such a rush to pay it off, but I will anyway.

What motivates me now is watching my balances climb. I will let my checking account float up to $2-3k higher than what I consider my minimum desired balance, then send a lump sum off somewhere (investment, loan, etc) and then let it build back up again. Every once in a while I'll check my 401k and stock plan to update YNAB, but I try not to watch those too much. Bank accounts are directly affected by my behavior (instead of the stock market, lol), so those ones are more fun and less stressful to keep a constant eye on.

morning owl

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2015, 08:33:55 AM »
There may actually be a sort of hedonic adaptation to savings and debt-payoff goals. But rather than wanting to own stuff, we're wanting to reach financial goals, and then once the goals are met, a new goal pops up, in a never-ending series of goal-seeking. The goals get more lofty, and we spend a lot of our time thinking about those goals rather than being happy with what we have. It's like we are never satisfied.

Just a thought. I've noticed that some people here who have reached FIRE have their next financial goals lined up. There's no end to these goals -- FIRE is not like some sort of heaven where we are relieved of all fears and feel entirely secure forever and ever.

When we were saving to pay off our mortgage we imagined our lives being totally different after this goal was met. And there IS a difference -- there's a sense of relief -- but now we are JUST as obsessed with the next goal of FIRE. It's like the relief is barely felt, because we imagine this next level to be so much MORE stress-relieving. And no doubt it will be a relief of some current worries, but then what next? Will we be happy and worry-free? Or will we find other things to worry about, will we start to obsess over building a log cabin in the woods, or whatever it will take to move on to our next level of freedom?

The point is -- we can all be free here and now. Life is not just about chasing down the next goal. Beware of the hedonic treadmill. I am posting this here as a reminder to myself as well.

BBub

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2015, 12:46:48 PM »
I had the exact same type of feelings when I was paying down debt.  I had a car, heloc & 2 SL's.  After paying the first loan off I became more restless than before, then after the second even more so.  However, once the last one was paid off I had a nice sense of accomplishment and feelings of peace, calm & reflection.  It was never an exhilarating rush .. more like quiet contentment.

I now have only a mortgage, so while not debt free, I'm comfortable carrying the mortgage debt at the moment.  It doesn't eat at me like the other debt did.  I do still sometimes pause to consider how drama-free my financial life is without multiple debt payments every month.  That's a great feeling.  Keep at it.

lexie2000

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2015, 01:05:13 PM »
Maybe it's like the rush you get when people buy something, but for frugal people.  Maybe there is a release of saratonin or some other chemical when you see that balance falling that soon fades after you've finally paid it off.

frugalfedmom

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Re: Debt payoff - anticlimactic?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2015, 04:54:08 PM »
When we were saving to pay off our mortgage we imagined our lives being totally different after this goal was met. And there IS a difference -- there's a sense of relief -- but now we are JUST as obsessed with the next goal of FIRE. It's like the relief is barely felt, because we imagine this next level to be so much MORE stress-relieving.

Yes, this is EXACTLY how I feel! Even with the "extra" cash flow, we won't even be seeing it because we'll roll it right into the student loan. Then after that loan is done, we'll save up a bit, only for it to get added to a mortgage... but I think people are right in that I've almost forgotten about the bigger picture and I need to ask myself what is my end goal and how is all this debt-payoff going to help me get there?

Sometimes you need to make your own climax..... (wow, that sounded so... wrong).

LOL...sounds good to me! Maybe this weekend we'll do a Valentine's/Car Payoff celebration with pizza and ice cream. I'm sure the kiddo will enjoy that :)