The Master Dukes of Dollars are the dynamic duo from The Duke of Dollars Kingdom. The two bloggers held court frequently, delving into lifestyle and personal finance discussions as they searched for ways to live an optimal life, eventually deciding to invite a global audience into their mindsets by establishing their own blog together. They believe anyone can build their financial kingdom – start building today!
Thank you Moose for the honor trusting me to post a bit of my story on MSoLife!
I’m Chris from over at Duke of Dollars, where for the last 16 months my main focus has been to rid myself of all debt in my life. Growing up, debt was a common word that many people used when talking about credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. It was a word brought forth when the house phone rings and no one wants to answer the “debt collector” calls.
Debt was this foreign concept to a young gentleman like myself, who never really had to worry about finances until college….where life happened, resulting in the realization that my future – the thing we all have dreams for – was totally in my own hands.
What the heck is debt?
Debt has an easy definition from Google:
- A sum of money that is owed or due.
- The state of owing money
- A feeling of gratitude for a service or favor
Starting with a definition means we’re all on the same page now, but there is a missing piece – the cost you pay for the opportunity to obtain money you must pay back.
Debt really boils down to you asking someone to help you pay for an item, and in exchange, not only will you pay them back, but you will pay them more money than you borrowed (interest).
On top of that, most debt acquired comes after signing for it – meaning you are legally obligated to pay it per the agreement you sign. Banks and lenders couldn’t care less about why you can’t pay, only if you whether or not you do!
Overall, in dire situations and large purchases like a mortgage, I don’t know many people with bank accounts full enough to pay cash for their house. This is why debt doesn’t always mean your making a mistake; it really depends on how your utilizing the money and what the cost is to borrow it.
Why Did I Use Debt?
Graduating from high school with no money and a dream to work in IT, college made sense. Let me be totally honest – I didn’t look at career prospects or even make an educated decision on why college made sense. Fortunately, my passion for technology made investment in education through debt worth it.
Does that mean it makes your college decision a good one? It depends.
Investing in education
Choosing a career and degree based solely on passion and happiness can’t be considered a bad option in your life, because it is your own. We only ask that you consider what cost you will be incurring to achieve a degree, and whether or not it is worth it to you. One should definitely consider other options for obtaining opportunities in your passion before traveling down the college route.
There are three questions that I think can help with that decision:
- What is the salary for someone with a college degree in this field?
- Check out this payscale table to check out average salaries per degree
- Will this career choice provide me with the lifestyle I wish to have and enjoy?
- If you absolutely hate math, then an Economics & Mathematics degree that pays 60K+ a year might not be the best move for you
- Balance for either side can be tipped, just recognize that you may work on tasks that don’t bring fire to your day but allow you to pay the bills and enjoy that hobby that does in your free time
- What does it cost and what will be my return on Investment?
- Scenario 1:
- I currently pay 30K (6% interest) in student loans for a degree that I semi-enjoy, but will earn me on average 120K a year within 10 years of working and at least 60K upon graduation. You will pay less than your starting salary in loans to potentially make 4x that in 10 years. The logic makes sense, even if you pay interest > 10K for a total of around 40-41K, you have earning potential much higher than that!
- Scenario 2:
- I pay 65K (5% interest) in student loans for a degree in my passion that will , but will earn me on average 45K a year within 10 years of working and at least 30K upon graduation. You’ll pay a total of 80K+ which is more than double your starting salary. This requires a hard consideration because although it will make you happy, you will be putting your life in a tough spot.
- Scenario 1:
Traveling by Car
A marvelous day occurred early into my career after college – I paid off my first car!!! The extra payments finally paid off as the extra cash flow entered into my bank account each month while I saved on interest from the loan.
A few months later, a driver totaled my parked car (which was early 2000s) that didn’t have collision insurance because the deductibles cost more than the car according to Kelly Blue Book. The adult who smashed my car didn’t have insurance, but I wasn’t worried since my younger self remembered having uninsured motorist insurance…welp that was a bust! Apparently it only covered bodily injury.
The only way I was going to get any money for the car would have been through court, since it was small claims, and the individual happened to hit two other cars along with mine – it didn’t feel like there was much chance of getting paid even if I won the case.
So yes, as you can see from the situation – I was out of luck. A person who tried a hit and run with no insurance, hit my paid off automobile with zero consequences. The car may have been old and not worth much to Kelly Blue Book, but dog on it, it was worth a lot more to me!
After a week of fuming, I realized that there was a few things to be grateful for from the accident. I had an emergency fund for a down payment, and thankfully suffered zero injuries in the event. A car is required based on the public transport being worthless where I live, so my best path forward was to buy one. This resulted in my auto-loan on a gas friendly model that was only 3 years old (w/ low mileage) at the time of purchase.
Two Reasons I’m at War
Once you sign that legally binding agreement to pay a lender back each month, negotiating or diverting from it becomes a tough task. Lenders aren’t quick to take pity on your life situation as they only have money for their business in mind. Additionally, It’s much tougher to say no, speak up, or take risks when your family’s livelihood depends on you not to.
By making the choice to pay off debt, the control lenders have over me will diminish. Take that!
Seriously though, the freedom comes into play when you truly are the dictator to the gold coming in and out of your treasure chest each month. This makes paying off debt tremendously appetizing because the control of your money, means control of your time!
Utilizing a loan amortization calculator (here’s an excel one) empowers and enables you to use math when determining how much you save by increasing your payments or paying off loans early.
The money saved can be used to invest into children college funds, take new trips to gain new experiences, or build your own nest egg faster. The sacrifices required make the debt free journey worth it as you will see those required payments turn into extra monthly moneys that makes your life happier!
With both of these reasons in mind – I decided it was time to go to war!
My War Strategy
Every single month, I provide updates on the war for those interested in following along and also for sharing any tips or progress in their own war.
As of this post, you can see my plan and current progress below:
Loan Pool Strategy:
At Duke of Dollars, we don’t believe in making extra payments in totality towards debt, but instead in paying off the full loan once you are able to. This philosophy really stems from being more risk averse in terms of life events, because we both would rather have the extra money saved for debt pay off in our control until cash flow would actually increase.
We prefer this because yes, you will pay more in interests, but you will still be able to handle emergencies that could really hurt your current lifestyle. At the end of the day, you are still paying the loan off early to save money overall.
Our strategy basically goes like this:
- Create an high interest savings account (like Capital One360 or Ally)
- Through budgeting or other sacrifices, send any extra money to pay off debt until your above the debt balance
- Pay off the full debt in one payment
- Enjoy your new cash flow!
Further, we do offer a hybrid approach to this as well. Split the money you would send to your savings account in half, send one half to savings and the other half to your debt. Enjoy the benefits of both worlds :).
Debt can be a huge deterrent when working to achieve the financial kingdom you desire. Paying it off early saves you money and earns you freedom.
I’ve shared the basics on why and how to do it! There are many debt pay off guides in the wild world of the web, with tips on other strategies and ways to save money. We’re old fashioned – make a budget, make required sacrifices, trim any fat you can, and have the discipline to say no.
We believe in you and we are open to any tips on improving our methods!
Thanks again Moose! And readers – may good fortune be with you in the war!