Mary, a Sheenazing Nominee FYI, has this awesome blog called Let Love Be Sincere, and if you don’t read it, then you are missing out on a lot of truth, a lot of family cuteness, and a lot of sass. Why are you missing out on that? Don’t miss out on that anymore. Go there. Be her friend. And, thank her for taking care of my postpartum self with this awesome post. I may or may not be in dire need of this advice. Hint: I may.
So psyched to be guest-blogging in Jenna’s world. As I told her, this pretty much makes me famous, and famous people are awesome, therefore I have become awesome! SCORE!
To begin with…a story. When my husband Aaron, and I married three years ago, we began our blissful life together $87,000 in debt and a desire for me to be a stay at home mom. After 30 months of hard work, sacrifice, etc…on June 30th, we will be debt free and I will be able to quit my job to stay at home with my three children (yes, um, I did just say three kids…in three years).
What I’d like to do today is give you 10 tips that Aaron and I have discovered along the way. The path has not been easy. It has been hard work, it has taken a ton of communication, but we have learned at thing or two. First things first, you have to know WHY you are doing it. Our goal was for me to be at home with my kids, that was our motivation, when it was hard. Oh so hard. So, without further ado, I would like to present to you my Top 10 Ways to Get Yourself Out of Debt (even if that debt is closer to $100,000 than $10,000).
1. RUN TO THE STORE AND PURCHASE THE BOOK ‘TOTAL MONEY MAKE-OVER’ by Dave Ramsey
This book is to financially irresponsible people, what Weight Watchers is to overweight people. He will say nothing that is shocking, but he puts forward a comprehensive program to slowly pay off debt, no matter how much or how little you have, and to attain financial freedom. The book will have you set up a budget (not a dirty word) that will lead you down a path towards paying off debt.
2. MAKE ENOUGH MONEY
Often times, those of us that want to be financially free, figure we can’t do so because we just don’t have the resources to make it happen. My solution? Find the resources. If I could have, I would have quit the day I had my oldest son. BUT, we couldn’t afford that, I owed too many people too much money. So rather than bury my head in the sand, blaming someone else for my decisions, I continued to work for the last 1.5 years. Every day away from my children was torture, but I am so proud that I can say that I have paid my debts and can become a SAHM because of hard work.
3. WATCH YOUR PENNIES
We have cut back, A LOT on things that sometimes, some people, take for granted. Cell phone? We got ourselves a non-fancy version (saved- $100 a month). Eating out? Doesn’t cooking at home sound good? (saved- $200-300 a month). Clothes? Thank goodness ‘thrifting’ is now, like, a thing cool people do (saved- $100 a month). It is amazing when you begin to find things you can save on, how quickly things add up. See how I just found us an additional $400-500 a month…and that all goes to debt.
4. DON’T ASSUME CAR PAYMENTS ARE NECESSARY
Buy yourself a beater until you can afford to buy something nice. Before going on this debt- free journey, a car payment was just a given to me. But, friends, check it! Without a car payment (or two) you can easily save between $200-$800 a month! That is a crud ton of money. Sure, driving a clunker stinks, but…do you know what doesn’t stink? Paying off $87,000 of debt.
5. STOP FANCY GROCERY SHOPPING
Om lowercase g. This one was hard for me. Super hard. I love walking through a fancy grocery stores like, ‘Whole Foods’ or our local, ‘Holiday Market’. Grocery shopping used to be fun for me. It isn’t anymore. We go to the cheapest place possible (for us it is Aldi- check out aldi, it is amazing). Grocery shopping is not fun anymore. But do you know what is fun? Saving a crud ton of money on groceries. I fed 15 people for $35 last year at Thanksgiving from Aldi, and that was with all the trimmings. All extra grocery money? That goes to paying off debt.
6. BE EMOTIONALLY MATURE
If you can’t afford it, without having to borrow money via a loan/friends/family…then you shouldn’t have it. No matter what it is. This one is really hard for me too. It takes a really emotionally mature person to tell themselves, ‘no’ when it comes to buying things one can’t afford (and if you have debt, any debt, you probably can’t afford anything besides necessities). For me, I had to totally change the mindset I grew up with. It’s been hard, but, in a couple of years I can pay cash for fancy things…it will be worth it.
7. START WITH AN EMERGENCY FUND
This little tid-bit changed our lives. Since beginning our journey to pay off debt, our basement flooded, we had two c-sections, our water heater, dishwasher and air conditioning broke, brakes went out, etc… Life happens. And when life happens, costs add up. The current ‘American way’ is to put it on a credit card or take out a loan. We decided we wouldn’t ever be doing that again, so we started our journey with an emergency fund, before we paid any debt. And, when we had to use that fund, we replenished it before we continued to pay debt.
8. TREAT YOURSELF
I need treats to be successful, it’s just a fact. So, every time we paid off a loan, we did something significant to celebrate. Car payment gone? Super fancy dinner! First school loan paid off? Another fancy dinner. College debt paid off? Hotel trip for two nights of relaxation and celebration. Treats get me from point A to point B, I highly suggest them
9. BE REALISTIC
We wanted to be intense with our budget, but also realistic. I have siblings that live in lots of different states. I get antsy if I don’t go somewhere at least a couple times a year. Knowing that, before we started, we left a pretty large amount of money in our ‘travel fund’ each month. This fund became essential, because I felt like we were still ‘living’ life, even though we have been sacrificing a lot of what is normal to other people.
Paying off debt is a journey, they husband and I had to constantly re-evaluate where we were at, where we were going and why we were doing this. When all is said and done, after lots of fights/make ups/struggles and joys…this journey has brought us closer as a couple and more united in what we want for our family.
There is nothing worse that feeling like your money problems are so significant a way out is not possible. I remember waking up daily in my twenties with stomach aches, wondering how I was ever going to really live life strapped to $80,000 of student debt. Now, I wake up feeling free, feeling like my financial life is in MY control. And that my friends, is an awesome thing.