Yes, it’s true…we paid off 100K in debt. Insane!!!
That number seriously seemed impossible for many years. I thought we would continue to plan around the debt, and continue to be as wise financially as we could. I basically accepted that we would probably die with debt.
Think about it…who could possibly gain that much extra money to pay off that amount without winning the lottery!
Let me backup a little and share about our debt, our journey, and how we were able to do this.
My hubby and I have been married for 15 years! A few years after college, we realized we weren’t making the best decisions with our money. Something had to change or we would never get ahead in life, or truly build any sort of financial legacy.
But…we were broke, and I mean really broke! Even with a college degree, we struggled. Little did we know, this was the experience of a lot of people.
We began using credit cards, but sparingly. My parents always warned us of credit card over usage, and we would use them mainly for car repairs, emergencies, but we sometimes used credit cards for our daily needs.
When your income is super low, paying off even $500 to a credit card can feel like a huge amount of money.
We had student loans from me and my husband’s undergrad degrees, and his MBA. These totaled 100K.
My parents provided financial advice along the way, and shared their stories about changing things from being financially tight to financially free. Many of their steps lined up with Dave Ramsey’s and that worked really well for us.
The number 1 key to success: Prayer!
We started praying about our debt and for God’s direction to getting out of it. We wanted to glorify Him with the money he blessed us with (no matter how little), and we knew His will wasn’t for us to be in bondage for our entire lives.
We then listened to the advice of those making financially sound decisions, and we started to do the research for making a change.
This brings me to our next step: Have a Budget!
We created a budget, on pen & paper. Through the years, we discovered programs and websites such as Every Dollar, helping us track our expenses through websites.
The key to budgeting well for us was tracking EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR and allocate a place for it to go. Nothing was FREE money. It all had to have a place.
Some months, the numbers would be in the negative on what was needed to make ends meet. We prayed, however, trusted in the Lord, made sacrifices, and it always worked out…miraculously.
We would always take care of housing and utilities. We would work with the other categories to designate money to gas and groceries. Yes, we would drive less to stretch gas and planned our meals around the items on sale at our local grocery store. This would help us pay a little more toward reducing our debt.
We also included giving in our budget. I know…this sounds crazy! How can you afford to give anything when you’re struggling financially yourself?! Trust me, there were months when we thought the same exact thing. We always believed in the importance of placing God first in this process…having complete faith in Him. Giving to our local church, helping friends and family, even providing minimal support to important causes are the types of things we included in our budget.
We truly believe God continued to bless us because we didn’t hold on to it tightly, but fully trusted Him with the little we had.
We would have weekly meetings that expanded to monthly meetings about our finances. Mainly we wanted to hold each other accountable and prevent money from being spent on fast food or random things from Target. With a strict budget, those types of things needed to be cut.
There are people that cut EVERYTHING when paying down debt. This is not a race, but a marathon. We needed to keep ourselves encouraged for the years ahead.
This brings us to another step toward eliminating debt: Find reasonable ways to reward your progress.
We would treat ourselves to a meal out once in a while, looking for kids-eat -free deals. We would still go on vacation once a year…but we would drive and cook meals during the time we were away. We would do these things with the end goal in mind, encouraging ourselves along the way.
Another important key to eliminating debt: Smart side hustle!
Over the years, I found side hustles and would help me create anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars a month. The focus was to add this to debt.
I sold Mary Kay, was an assistant, did childcare for other people’s children all day, was a mystery shopper, got into referral programs, and the list continues.
All of these helped along the way. I was always doing something to aid. My main job and focus was…Saving us money.
I took it on as a full-time job along with raising my babies. I would spend hours meal planning, cutting coupons, looking up the best deals to keep us within our smaller budgets. It took time, planning, and self control. In the end it was well worth it.
A key breakthrough for us was blogging and me becoming a social media influencer. I had no idea God had this in mind, or what it would become.
Over the years, I doubled my income every year. Again, we still enjoyed the fruits of our labor along the way. We also stuck with our plan no matter how large our income got.
There are people make 6 figures who are drowning in debt. This is due to a lack of planning and increasing their lifestyle standards with their income. For this reason, as our income grew, we still bought a home well within our budget and cars that were super affordable.
We still have the mentality to look for deals, and avoid using money just because we may have it.
My income allowed us to complete paying off 100K in debt pretty rapidly. As of last month, we are DEBT FREE!! The amount of freedom was worth all the stress, the pity parties, the patience, the prayers, the self control, the tears, and the frustration.
We are so grateful God did this for us, that He rewarded us trying to be smart with the little and trusted us with more. We are grateful He gave us my parents that would tell us stuff like… “No, a tax refund is not extra money…don’t blow it…put it towards debt.”
We are thankful God has been faithful and to have that load off our backs. We plan to give back in as many ways as possible. I hope this has encouraged you. No matter how long the road…if you stay consistent, and stick to a plan it will all pay off!
For more articles on saving money, check out 15 ways to cut your grocery bill in 1/2!!