Making Big Goals

Just this past week I had the pleasure of sharing my story about how I paid off my student loans on Budgets are Sexy.  I listed 5 tips that helped me achieve paying off my student loan debt.  One of the tips I want to talk about today is setting a goal and going big with making goals, here’s tip #2 in full detail, if you want to check out more head on over to Budgets are Sexy and tell J. Money “Good Day Sir” from Even Steven Money.


#2. Set a Goal and GO BIG

Setting a goal for paying off my student loans was one of the biggest steps for me in paying off my debt. It meant I was finally serious.

When you set your goal, set a goal that you WANT, not a goal that you think you can do – Go Big. Making $200 payments each month might be what you think you afford, but it is not setting you up to Go Big. Saying I want to pay off my student loans in 12 months – over $2,000/mo! – is Going Big.

Setting a goal tells you where you are today, and where you plan to go tomorrow. Without one, you are wandering the road of life with a backpack full of debt, and each step gets heavier and heavier with no end in sight.

Don’t Forget GO BIG

Over the past month I have been analyzing and putting numbers in spreadsheets and figuring out every which way to take the “Free Money” from my budget and put it towards investing (401K, IRA, taxable investment) or paying off debt( mortgage, rental mortgage, personal loan) and I realized something today, I wasn’t doing exactly what got me here, I wasn’t going BIG.

Every goal that I put into my spreadsheet was small and based on my previous goal that I just accomplished, I was short changing myself.  I decided that my goal needs to be BIG.  I am going to pay off the last part of my personal debt, a loan to my parents, except I’m going to go as big as possible, which based on some calculations is paying off every single dollar of my personal debt (not included are mortgage and rental mortgage) by the end of the year.  I’ll look to detail more in August when the plan officially begins.  Essentially I have declared 2015 the Year of Debt Freedom.

Debt be Gone


The Concrete Jungle of Chicago on a Foggy Day

As I have previously mentioned I have literally been going back and forth on what I should do with the next step in my financial picture.  While it would be nice to pour a few extra thousand into the 401K or IRA, the thought of being able to say I have no debt besides my house is one I want to write on the chalkboard a 1000 times to show everyone.  I actually get a little tingle of happiness inside me thinking about having no personal debt makes me want take the week off and go grab a beer type of happiness.  It’s been decided, I’m going to stick with what makes the most sense to me and that’s paying back my personal loan to my parents.  It’s the best thing not only for me, but for them as well.  I ran some numbers, (Spreadsheet Geeks Unite!) and found a plan that can have the last remaining personal debt paid off by the end of the year.  Starting the beginning of 2016, my payments will be my mortgage, utilities, groceries, cell phone, and eating out/entertainment.  That’s nothing.  I’m basically saying I need food, water, shelter, and a cell phone to make it in this world.  Even putting the words down makes me feel like I could be thrown in the concrete jungles of Chicago and come out a survivor.  Debt be Gone.


Pride and Our Money

During the repayment of my student loans, I came to a cross road.  I had the option to have Mrs. Even Steven help pay off my student loan debt, save a few dollars in interest, and complete the repayment to the student loan provider months earlier than my personal payments could do.  I know many of you who are married treat debt, income, and savings as “Our Money”, we have decided to do things a little differently in the Even Steven Money household.  Each debt that came into the marriage we are personally responsible for, so every cent of my student loans was paid by me and me alone.  Mrs. ESM is the most supportive wife in the world and besides words of encouragement, she has done things over time like pay all of the utilities, instead of splitting the cost, split our tax refund 70/30, and become the saver of the family who keeps a nice size emergency fund/savings while I keep next to nothing,  especially since I sold my Emergency Fund recently to pay off my student loans.  For my student loan cross road, I decided it mattered more to me that I was paying off my student loans myself than getting done earlier and saving money, sounds counter intuitive I understand. I think it may have been pride and the need for accomplishment, I didn’t want to look back in a few months and see my last payment come from Mrs. Even Steven, I wanted it to be all mine.

This time around, pride is not a factor in any way.  I want the personal debt to my parents gone, NOW!  So the plan is to have Mrs. ESM throw a little fuel on the fire to start the debt repayment fireball, this will save money on interest (while this is a loan from my parents, the money was borrowed from a financial institution) and make the repayment to my parents go that much faster.  I will still be ultimately responsible to pay back Mrs. ESM but she has given me an interest free loan to be paid back at my leisure or less than 1 year (My leisure=My plan, 1 year or less=Mrs. ESM plan).  In the end it comes down to Mrs. ESM giving a helping hand and I gladly will accept this go around.

Helping Family

At this point in my financial life, I can say with some conviction that we are doing pretty well for ourselves, while I don’t share net worth or our income with our readers we have come a long way from my days of Mercedes Benz, credit cards, and my first job out of college.  In that same breathe I say that we are doing pretty well, but one always needs to be ready for a financial storm and not the cool Debt Tornado™ debt repayment strategy that I have made popular;)

debt tornado pic

The loan that I owe to my parents is at a small interest rate with a small monthly payment that I have been making for what feels like since the year the Cubs won the world series……1908 for you playing at home.  It is not my place to share other people’s financial incomes, debt, or net worth, but I can share that a similar loan amount is available to pay with a higher interest and a higher monthly payment.  The decision was made that paying this higher interest rate and higher monthly payment off would help my parent’s financial situation more than it would to pay off the smaller interest rate and monthly payment.  This was actually one of factors that put me over the edge in my decision to invest or pay off my remaining personal debt.  The opportunity to help my parents financially in any small way makes me feel good and like this is clearly the right decision for me, regardless of numbers and spreadsheets.  I’m very happy to be able to pay off my last personal debt and even happier to help out my parents at the same time.


I am still taking the month of July off financially, I’m not making any extra payments or big decisions, I am going to sit back enjoy not having a student loan payment in the world.  When August comes around, I will be back to my Go Big strategy in my debt repayment plan and I look forward to it, I hope you are too.


Are you Going Big with your goals?  What would you do in my situation?  Pay off debt or Invest?





21 Responses to “Making Big Goals

  • I think you made a great decision! I’m in the minority, but debt repayment comes before investing imo. And I beleive this 100% of the time if you have already started investing in the past. You’re not a computer. I understand interest compounds. But so does peace of mind. So does a family relationship. Talk about BIG goals! Good luck!

    (Shameless plug alert: I wrote about it on my blog) 🙂
    Luke Fitzgerald @ FinanciallyFitz recently posted…What Is Your ‘Why?’My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      Thanks Fitz, it’s not a decision I take lightly or decided to pursue based on a whim. Family, being debt free, having big goals, those are what brought me to this decision……Debt Free I can see it now

  • I’d say it would depend on the interest associated with the debt. If you can get better return on your money investing it, I’d invest and then keep plugging away at the debt. If the interest on the loan is more, then pay off the debt and then invest.
    With our car loan, we were all set to finance it, and then just pay it off in 2 years to leverage some of that capital staying invested. However, when we got offered 0.0% financing for the life of the loan, no way in hell are we paying it off early.
    Our BIG goal, was saving $150k this year in our ER funds on top of the traditional plans through work. It’s been a stretch goal, but even with missteps, we’re on target to hit it. I thought Mrs. SSC was crazy, but hey, we’re doing it, so had we aimed lower, we would have saved less.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Kaboom, went the budget!! June 2015 UpdateMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I won’t argue with your approach on debt versus investing, I really think it is a personal preference both with the numbers and psychology of the choice you make. Saving 150K, that is a HUGE goal, I’m excited for you guys to reach that…..Big Goals

  • I think that’s a great decision ESM! It’s not all numbers and spreadsheets. Sometimes you just have to do what’s right, personally. Way to go!

    My one “Go Big” goal that I recently have decided to attack is max out 401k by first week in September. I’ll most likely have a post about it 🙂
    Fervent Finance recently posted…2015 Mid-Year Goals ReviewMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I like any goal to pay off debt or make a big investment so it’s definitely approved on my end I look forward to reading the future post.

  • I’ve got a big goal (to ramp up side income so I can stay home next year), but I need to make a constant reminder to keep on hustling even if it doesn’t seem to be paying off right now.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      One of the things that helped me with my goal was seeing it everyday so when I did the thermometer progress of my debt repayment it really did help.

  • Sounds like a great plan.In less than six months you will debt free. Are you going to do a debt free scream Dave Ramsey style? WOO HOO!javascript:void(0);
    Jason recently posted…Potentially Refinancing Our MortgageMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I’m not sure Dave Ramsey would let me on the show since I don’t exactly follow his plan but it would be fun to yell im debt free. I have thought about that since I listen to it all the time and I was thinking maybe he will let me on when I pay off everything.

  • I heard a quote recently that said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Great quote.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I definitely like the quote maybe I’m not scared enough for my big goal

  • Hi Steven – this is great that you decided to go BIG on paying back your debt.

    It’s not all being rational and excel spreadsheets, there’s also an emotional factor having debt. You might feel ok with some (house mortgage) not so much with others (car loan, student loan, …).
    Eventually it’s best to do what makes you feel good, financially or emotionally, so congrats for making the decision!

    One of my big goal this year is to reach a savings rate >50% and see how much is reasonably sustainable. It’s looking good so far, but until Christmas has past, we never can be so sure.

    What will EvenSteven become once Steven is Even? 🙂

    TheMoneyMine recently posted…The key reason why the stock market is ready for a crashMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I like that you have a goal of a 50% savings rate that’s a great goal to have I’m sure you’ll reach it. Becoming even steven is the goal I can’t wait till I reach that point but of course with reaching a goal a new goal will rise and that is reaching financial independence.

  • While it might not seem like it, I’m going BIG with my goal of $1 million within 11 years. If you see my YTD performance, it’s an incredible challenge for me to find the funds to contribute every month to this goal.

    I think it’s really exciting that you want to be completely debt free, but I’m completely biased to the investing side of the equation, so I’d love to see you get your investment plan rolling 🙂
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…Investment Plan Island Interview with….. Mr 1500!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      11 years 1 million dollars I consider that a really big goal I definitely hope you reach it and based on everything I’ve seen on your site and your drive and motivation I’m sure you will. I know how much of course you enjoy the investing side of things this is actually one of the bigger struggles for me and my decision I had originally planned to take a break and just make the regular monthly payment but I was am so close to being able to just pay off everything that I couldn’t pass that opportunity up for just a few extra months.

  • I prefer to have all the debts paid off. Just they way I roll. I am working on a BIG goal, finding a new job or possibly starting my own.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      I just recently read about the job loss on your website. That’s a tough thing to manage so I hope you do find new work opportunities that you love. Everything happens for a reason.

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