Dustin and I have now been at our debt free journey for 434 days (since November 15, 2018). We were sick and tired of being sick and tired. That, and the realization that it shouldn’t have taken SIX+ years to pay off my car (a VW Beetle named Betty), we knew we needed to get our poop in a group.
Since then, we’ve gone through some ups and downs of budgeting + realizing that WE were the cause of all the stupid debt decisions up until this point. We have paid off just over $75,000 but still have a long way to go – $116,000+ to be exact.
So…what are some tips and tricks that have helped us along our debt free journey?
We cut the cable cord. We cancelled insurance on our phones, once they were paid off. We evaluated our memberships and whether we really needed them.
There are some non-negotiables in our debt free journey.
One of them is Sirius XM and internet. Slowly, year after year, our bills continue to go up. It took a couple calls and speaking with a few different reps, but we were able to negotiate our bills down. Not by much, but month after month, it adds up!
SiriusXM took our bill from $25/month to $15.58/month. Spectrum, who we use for internet, had just increased our bill past our year promo to $75/month. After calmly stating we were going to cancel our service due to budgeting purposes, they took our bill down to $55.02/month. Please note, we had no plans to cancel. That’s just the way I framed the conversation.
This takes time.
It’s not always fun, and you don’t always get hits on things. Or, you post things and just know that they will sell, and they don’t. Other things you thought would never sell, but that you’d post just because sell in hours! We looked around our house and garage and decided on the things that we hadn’t used in forever had to go!
Less Road Trips
We are lucky in that my parents live 3.5 hours from us, and we all get along very well. We were going to visit them 2-3 times a month. The cost of doing so kept adding up. We came to an agreement with my parents – we would visit them once per month and they would visit us once per month.
Establish More Comprehensive Sinking Funds
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I am a very firm believer in sinking funds. If you’re new to that concept – check out this article here. We started with just a few high priority ones – car, Mark and life insurance.
Now, one year later, we have added several more to the mix – clothing, health/wellness, medical, moving and taxes. The moving one and the taxes one will go away after we move and after we pay our taxes (we somehow always owe!).
I am lucky in that my husband and I are 100% on the same page.
If your spouse is not, don’t worry. Yes, it’s going to be tough being on two separate pages, but there is a community out here (go #debtfreecommunity) that you can follow and find some great accountability partners.
Or maybe you’re doing this plan as single person with no kids, or you have kids, or you’re an empty nester. Whatever the instance, find that support. Find that person that you can talk about your journey with at any time and they won’t get sick and tired of it. I promise it helps. If you need me to be that person, I really will!
This is a big one. If you have never had a budget outside of “paying your bills,” that’s OK! I have a sample budget that you can download in excel here. I am a firm believer in zero-based budgeting.
This is where you budget per paycheck. If you get paid every other Friday, you have a budget for every other Friday. If you get paid twice a month and your husband gets paid once a month on a different day, you have three budgets for that month. Or, if you are like me, and you and your husband have the same two paydays per month, you have two budgets per month that include both of your income from those two days.
Also, go in knowing that you probably won’t get it right the first time. Or the second or third. It takes, on average, three months, to really refine your budget. You’ll get in a good groove. I promise! Just stick with it. Track all your expenses, and more importantly, review those expenses. What can you eliminate? What can you not cut out?
While there are other things I can add to this list, I wanted you to see the ones that were of highest value for us.
We still have a long way to go. We are sure we will have more ups and downs as well. But we now KNOW we will become debt free. It sucks having to cut back and put alllll our extra money on our debt, but we are the ones that got ourselves into this mess and by golly we are going to dig our way out.
We FINALLY see the light at the end of the tunnel, albeit, it is still a long tunnel.
Where are you in your debt free journey? I’d love to connect
with other people on the same path as me!