2017 Debt Repayment Recap

Happy last few days of 2017, everyone! It’s been a crazy December for me. I got my gallbladder removed and there was a death in the family right before Christmas. I’m not one of those people to say an entire year sucked, but 2017 was probably one of the most emotionally challenging years of my whole entire life. The highs were high and the lows were rock bottom lows.

But I am alive, I am breathing, and I have made it through every high and low I’ve faced this year and for that I am so grateful.

SO MUCH happened this year. I’ve been doing a lot of looking forward to 2018: figuring out what is important, setting goals and coming up with a plan of action. But I’m excited to keep on keeping on with my our debt free journey.

At the beginning of the year, I was one year into dating Justen. We’d talked about getting married but nothing had happened. I was working two part time jobs. I started to aggressively pay off my debt, and in February I was credit card free. In March, we got engaged and I decided to spend the summer in Nashville with the Halters. I stopped paying off debt so I could pile up money for my move across the country, for a place to live with Justen, and for the wedding.

I didn’t get a job when I came back, and instead casually began babysitting and reselling clothes on Poshmark. We got married (with $0 owed on it when we came back from our honeymoon) and furnished our apartment and decided to hold off on aggressively tackling our debt until after the new year so that we could be prepared for Christmas.

That’s the overview of 2017. Here’s where I started and where we ended up.

January 2017
Car: $16,894.50
Credit Card: $699.16
Total: $17,593.66

December 2017
Stephanie’s Car: $14,394.65
Justen’s Car: $5,987.04
Southwest Credit Card: $1,631.44
Stephanie’s Phone: $849.99
Disney Credit Card: $547.26
Justen’s Phone: $251.02
Total: $23,661.40

A few things to note. One: our credit cards now have a balance. Honestly, I only recently activated my card for our credit union, our main bank account. I’ve had a LOT of mental hurdles to get over with sharing a bank account with Justen. I’m trying to break out of the habit of saying “your bank account” or “my bank account” and being a team. My credit card has taken some of that heat, because when “my” bank account was running low, I’d purchase things on the credit card. Or we’d budget for things that were automatically charged to the credit card but wouldn’t factor those into our monthly payments. It as messy. But we sat down and got on the same page and today I used the credit union card for the first time ever. Little victories, people!

Two: We’re counting our phones. I want all of the money we can squeeze out of our monthly budget, and that means paying off our phones. We added them to our debt snowball. Debt is debt. If I’m paying someone back for something I already have/experienced/enjoyed, then that’s debt, phone included. Plus, Justen pays $11/month for his phone and I pay $35, so we’ll be getting $46 back in our wallets each month for paying off debt once we trim down our phone bill by getting rid of device payments!

Three: I currently have a bill for $20,487 due for my hospital stay. We’re waiting for our insurance to be applied to that number, but our debt is either going to go up (worst case scenario) or stall (best case scenario) in the first few months of the year because of those bills. I had a meltdown one day as we were talking about this, and so Justen and I sat and budgeted out his paycheck and took care of necessities and bills and figured out a plan of attack and now I can breathe.


Now. Specifically. December.

Disney card: $588.48 547.26 {-7%}
Southwest Card: $1,229.35 1,631.44 {+32.70}
Justen’s Car:  $6356.62  5,987.04 {-5.81%
Stephanie’s Car:  $14,595.50 14,394.65 {-1.37%}

Stephanie’s Phone: $849.99
Justen’s Phone:  $251.02

Total Debt: $22,769.95 23,661.40 {+4.19%}

While it sucks to see that number go up (sucks is quite possibly the biggest understatement of the whole entire year) I’m trying to be easy on myself. This month, I lost a week of work because of my gallbladder. I was sad because of the death in my family, and I was busy with holidays. Life happened and I wasn’t able to make as much ground as I’d hoped. But that’s why we have a plan so that we can get back up and move on forward.

One of my goals is to drop our debt by 33% this year, which means that at this time in 2018, that “total debt” number would be $15,853.14 and we’d be THISCLOSE to paying off Justen’s car.

We’re kicking off 2018 with a No Spend Month for January. I’ll share more about the parameters soon, but we’re hoping to start the year throwing a crap ton of money at this debt.

Keeping this at the forefront of my mind, though:




  1. Bailey @ Becoming Bailey
    December 29, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    You are doing great! That is smart to consider your cell phones as debt…. I honestly never thought about it like that, even though I’m locked into my contract until January 2019(!!!) Did you and Justen decide to combine finances or keep them separate?

    • December 30, 2017 / 10:37 pm

      thank you!!! i figured that paying off the phones gives us more money each month to throw at other debt which is the whole debt snowball mentality, so that made sense. you should see about paying yours off early! the only bummer is that it has to be paid in full so when we get to my phone we’ll have to save up the money to pay it off.

      our finances are combined. 🙂

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