We just hit the 9-month mark of being on our debt free journey. We became Dave Ramsey obsessed shortly after we paid off my Beetle. I explain in this post how it took us WAY too long to pay off that car. Making that final payment on November 15, 2018 was our a-ha moment of wanting to get out of debt. Then over the Christmas/New Year timeframe, on one of our weekend road trips to my parents house in Oklahoma, we began our obsession with Dave Ramsey’s podcast.
We could not get enough podcast episodes in – we were hooked! There were real life people, just like us, that were sick and tired of being sick and tired! Our debt was consuming our life. We were slaves to our debt. Not a great feeling. Especially being parents of a toddler.
To recap, here is our starting point. It’s real and raw and quite ugly! I know I don’t have to say this, but this is a judgment free zone. I won’t judge your debt and you won’t judge mine.
November 15, 2018 – Starting Debt: $158,933.78
- Miscellaneous: $713.30
- Student Loans: $51,000.87
- Credit Cards: $50,942.37
- Personal Loans: $43,912.24
- Cars: $12,815.00
How in the world are we going to raise our son while being burdened with all this debt?
Have I mentioned that we don’t have a mortgage?
In nine months, we have paid off just over $50,000. Did you read that right? FIFTY-THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!!
How have we made it this far? Below is a laundry list of ways we have saved money, tips for staying the course and more!
It takes a quick Google search for you to see that in being a surrogate, comes compensation. We decided to do surrogacy long before we started our debt free journey. I would NEVER recommend doing surrogacy if you are in it for the money. You need to have the heart to do it.
(2) Cancelled cable
We were spending about $110/month, and that bill was about to go up after our promotional 12-month period. We had DirecTV. We knew if we cancelled we would take a hit of $20/month for each month left in our contract. We called DirecTV and begged them to waive that fee (ours would’ve been about $400 total). Guess what? THEY DID IT! We cancelled for free!
(3) Cancelled cell phone insurance
You know your monthly payment you pay to your phone bill? Ours was $24 per month each for Dustin’s phone and my phone. In addition to that monthly amount, we had phone insurance at $12 and $13/month. We were paying $73 a month for our phone payment and insurance. Once we paid off our cell phones early, since they fell early in our debt snowball, we cancelled the insurance. Our phone bill is now $100 per month. We get unlimited everything and each have a hotspot. That savings of $73 is great on our budget!
(4) Cancelled our gym memberships
We had a great deal through our previous insurance company and were paying $25.06 per month for each of us for hundreds of gyms across the metroplex and the nation. But… we weren’t utilizing them. Cutting them out of our budget opened up $50.12 to go towards our debt!
(5) Less road trips
We were going to my parent’s house 2-3 times per month. On a typical weekend going to Oklahoma, we would spend $100-$140 a week. We absolutely love spending time with my parents, but we also realize we are on our debt free journey and should limit ourselves to going to Oklahoma once per month. We have compromised with my parents and they have agreed to come to DFW once per month too. So it’s a win-win!
(6) Don’t walk into Target
Enough said! 😊 But for real. I find myself doing way less unintential spending. What do I mean by that? I used to go into Target, just to go into Target. Next thing you know, I’m spending $100+… and that is unacceptable given our current goals!
(7) Eliminate monthly subscriptions
The only subscription box I had was StitchFix. I was loving the maternity options. But, with each box, I spent $20. And then I felt compelled to keep at least one or two items. Not good for my budget!
(8) Move to a more affordable location
Last September, pre-Dave Ramsey, we found a great apartment that was bigger than the one we came from and had way more features and amenities. The icing on the cake? It saved a lot of money!
(9) No new debt
This is huge for us, and one we always keep at the front of our minds. During our debt free journey, we do not want to accumulate any new debt. We do not use credit cards. We do not buy anything unless we have the money for it. It’s as easy as that. I’m very happy to say that since November 15, 2018, we have not accumulated any new debt. YAY!!!
(10) Budget, budget, budget
We are a zero-based budget family. Every paycheck has a budget. Every paycheck gets zeroed out. This is gold for us! We know where every single penny we earn goes.
(11) Be realistic
It didn’t take us a few months to accumulate this debt, so it’s not going to take us just a few months to get out of debt. Stay the course. When you feel discouraged, look at how far you’ve come. This includes not just looking at the dollar amount you have paid off, but how you have sacrificed to start to build a better life for you and your family.
(12) Celebrate the wins
…no matter how big or small. Is your monthly payment to your lowest snowball payment $50, and you were able to make a payment of $125. AWESOME!! That’s an extra $75 going towards that debt. Every. Dollar. Counts!
(13) Sell things you don’t need
OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace have become my best friends. Check out this post here on some tips for selling things online. We’ve made probably upwards of $1000-$2000 in the past year from selling things online.
(14) Sinking funds are life savers
This one is huge for us. We will never again go a day without having sinking funds. Check this post out here where I explain our sinking funds. They have saved us a few times when it comes to car repairs and such.
(15) Stay the course
I know I’ve already said that a few times here, but it is a mantra that I repeat a lot. We didn’t get into debt over night, so we won’t get out of debt over night. Visualize your life in 5 years or 10 years. If you are doing this journey with a spouse or have supportive friends and family, talk to them about the future. Dustin and I tend to have long and detailed conversations about what our life will be like years down the road when we have zero debt looming over us. With every dollar we pay off, these visualizations are that much closer to becoming a reality. And we can feel it!!
(16) Come up with a plan
You probably already know this from following me, but we follow the debt snowball plan. It is where you pay your smallest debt first. Once the smallest is paid off, you move to the next smallest. You pay only the minimums on all your debt, and then throw all extra cash at the smallest debt. I am vaguely familiar with the debt avalanche. This is where you pay your debts in order of interest rate. We have found success with the debt snowball and do not plan on changing that; however, I encourage you to go to www.undebt.it. Here you can input all your debt and the details (i.e. monthly payment, due date, interest rate, balance, etc.) The website will tell you how long it will take you to pay off your debt given your income. It will also tell you how long it will take if you do the debt snowball method versus the debt avalanche method. When I entered all our numbers, the two – debt snowball/debt avalanche – were only off by one month. So, it’s settled, debt snowball it is.
(17) Find free or cheap entertainment
We love going on “adventures” every weekend with our little man. He gets so excited to go on adventures. We have found some great parks, free festivals and some fun and unique places to walk around in DFW.
(18) Google success stories
I might be one of the only people to do this, but I love reading about other people’s journeys to becoming debt free. I find satisfaction in knowing that they were once exactly where we are. I like to know how they sacrificed, how they stayed the course and how they overcame the doubters, even when the doubters are you (or your spouse). The point is, thousands and thousands of people have been in the same exact position as us, and they are no longer there! If they can do it, so can we!
(19) Coffee at home
It took me a hot minute to get this one down, but I no longer need to go and get my coffee fix before heading into the office. I buy some cold coffee from the grocery store; I throw a scoop of my caramel latte protein powder and some half and half. It tastes SO delicious! It also is a quarter of the price!
We are almost 33% done with tackling our debt, and nineteen is all I could come up with for this list, but I’m sure over the course of tackling the remainder of our debt that this list will grow and/or change.