Finances

Mile Marker Celebrations

Mile markers are crucial when you are on an adventure of achieving a big goal! When you are working towards being free, what short-term celebrations do you have in place?

Michael and I started around $109,000 left owing on our house when we decided to start paying off our mortgage. We thought we would put down any extra we could here and there when we first started. So, when it came time for our tax return, we took some extra savings plus our return and got it down to around $105,000. Then we stalled for a few more months. That’s until I read the “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Then it sent me into overdrive!

Once we decided how aggressive we could be at paying down our mortgage, we set some short-term goals in place. We went out for dinner when we reached $100,000. After lots of talk, we decided our next marker would be getting under $50,000. That was the big one for us. That meant that we were under half way left to go with more money being applied to the principle vs. interest.

We dreamed about that moment for quite some time. When we would reach a $5,000 or $10,000 payment mark, we would revisit our dream of celebrating our $50,000 marker, as well as our end goal dreams. By doing that, it kept our motivation and excitement alive.

Well, in September of 2019, we managed to reach our $50,000 goal. We had discussed going somewhere nice for the weekend to celebrate. However, considering we hadn’t reached our end goal, we didn’t want to spend too much extra money. So, we had reduced it to a great meal out at the Keg restaurant. 

Unbeknownst to my husband, my parents sold some of my old tires for me, and I stashed the extra cash away. I had taken some time to save up my “allowance”. With that and the money from the tires, I was able to rent an AirBnB, a car, and pay for our dog to stay at the kennel. I made reservations at the Keg on the very day we were to have our colouring party (see post on Goals here)!

I had an appointment in a city about 2 hours from home on the Thursday. So Michael didn’t think twice about anything going on, since we have to travel and stay overnight beforehand anyways (I don’t travel well). I packed our bag with some dress clothes and overnight belongings while Michael was at basketball on the Monday night.

I was able to store everything in our car while he was out walking the dog on the Wednesday afternoon. I drove him over to the car rental company and explained that I had a little surprise for him. While at the rental place, the car I rented hadn’t been returned yet, so we even got a free upgrade!

We headed up to Hamilton, Ontario on the Wednesday night. I told Michael that we were going to stay at an AirBnB that night and I would take him out to dinner. He didn’t even clue in that it was the Keg. As we were approaching the city, he began talking about Montana’s and how he was thinking it would be nice to go there. Oh no, not today! So, I set him on course, and gave him directions, until he pulled into the Keg and realized what was going on. I pulled out the clothes from the back seat, gave him some options to change into, and we stealthily changed in the back of the car!

We had a lovely waitress that helped make the night special. She even gave us a free dessert to help celebrate our achievement. We were a bit surprised as we hadn’t completely paid off the debt yet, but we were very grateful for the gesture. We spent the dinner celebrating what we had achieved and talking about we would like to do when we are completely free. We talked about who we would like to bless, and what we would like to save for. It gave us a taste of what being completely free would look like, and stirred the excitement of that in us once again. 

I would say our next celebration will be at the $25,000 mark. However, that one will probably just consist of a delicious ice cream out or something. Knowing us, we won’t want to spend the extra money because we will feel like we’re so close to the end goal. We will want to save as much as we can, to get there as fast as we can.

We were stalled when we had to cancel the extra mortgage payments due to the vision therapy costs. Now, thanks to those who have paid for my vision therapy, it has allowed us to get back on track to paying off our mortgage. Here we go again!

If you’ve lost all income due to COVID, don’t forget to keep dreaming. This will pass. What do you desire for your future? If you still have some income but are nervous to pay down debt right now, work the opposite way. Set small mile markers when you save a certain amount. If you still have your income, keep paying off that debt and work towards your freedom. 

What are your short-term goals? What are you doing to keep yourself motivated? How are you celebrating your mile marker achievements?

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