- We stopped adding on more debt
This was the hard part. In January we had 4 credit cards. 2 of those were lines of credit from our banks (Wells Fargo and USAA) and the other two were retail institutions (REEDS Jewelers and Best Buy). When I added everything up we had about $51,000 in debt – which included over $10,000 in credit card debt. One of the most important things you have to do is cut up your credit cards and stop adding to your already overwhelming debt. There’s no way to dig yourself out when you’re continuing to bury yourself.
- We started with the smallest debt first
Getting out of debt is all about the momentum. It’s so easy to look at your overall amount and feel like it’s never going to happen. If you list out your smallest to biggest debts and start chipping away at your lowest, you’ll be surprised with how quickly you can pay it off. Each debt we paid, I could breathe a little easier AND I felt the motivation to continue on to our next big goal. Take on one debt at a time and throw all of your money at it.
- We have support
In being very public about our debt journey, I have made great accountability partners and friends. From my husband and best friend, to my community of Instagram debt fighters, there’s encouragement every time I turn around. If you don’t have support and understanding from those in your life this is going to be 10x more difficult. Find someone, ANYONE, to help you stay motivated. Find someone you can’t wait to share your latest pay off with, freebie with, or goal you met. It really does make a difference.
- We worked
You aren’t going to get out of debt without working your ass off. Up until June I worked about sixty hours a week at two jobs. James works overtime more than any other human I’ve met. I sell my used clothes online for some extra income and we both got raises and put that money toward debt. We also sold A TON of items we didn’t need. There are no quick fix alternatives and consolidating your debt is the worst idea in the world (That’s a story for another day). Your biggest tool against the fight of debt and interest is your income.
- I drive a really old, beat up car
My car is a 2004 Saturn Ion. It is two different colors, has 160,000+ miles on it, a destroyed interior, and rattles when you accelerate. But you know what? It’s free and fuel efficient. Not having two car payments has saved us so much money. I will drive it until the transmission falls out.
- We don’t pay for cable
Cable is stupid when there are other alternatives that you can purchase for a fraction of the cost.
- We (typically) live off of one income
When I get my paycheck, I divide it in half and it goes straight toward whatever debt we are currently working on. The rest of the money is reserved for my student loan, and savings. If you have the ability to put a full income on debt and savings, I highly suggest you do this. It’s a very effective way to pay off debt.
- We didn’t travel
Ten months of virtually staying home made it possible to put more towards debt. Traveling is expensive, and unfortunately, you have to make sacrifices if you want to see results in the long run. Once we got rid of our ‘little debts’ we decided that we could travel later in the year. I was able to visit my best friend in California, we saw family in Texas, and I went to the NC Mountains. This was only possible because we SAVED CASH for these trips and made it a priority to pay off our debt first.
- We made it visual
Motivation is half the battle. I wanted a way to get myself excited about the progress I was making, so we made the famous Hill Debt board! My favorite thing to do is take pictures, or film when we move up another thousand or pay off a debt. It’s pretty, it’s fun, and it’s something both my husband and I love to see.
- We realized that we eat out… way too much
This is probably the biggest pit fall in our spending habits – and everyone else I’ve ever talked to has said the same thing. Food will take up the majority of your budget outside of rent/mortgage – and if you don’t budget you’re probably spending way too much money on groceries and eating out. At one point, James and I were spending well over $1,000 a month on food alone. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. That’s crazy talk. A quick way to boost your income is to stop stuffing your face in restaurants. Meal planning and budgeted grocery trips are helpful in toning it down. I’m not saying you can’t go out to eat, but I am saying you should budget for those meals on the town.
- We educated ourselves
The biggest thing I’ve learned throughout this journey is that paying off debt and financial responsibility is a learned skill. You don’t automatically come downloaded with how to manage money (wouldn’t that be lovely). You have to educate yourself and research the best ways that work for you. If you’re like me, and got tired of having no money, living paycheck to paycheck, or wondering if you’d have to choose between your student loan payment or food – I implore you to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It changed my life and my entire relationship with money. I read the book, did some research, and now we only have two major debts left within one year of implementation to go before we’re debt free. At the age of 24, I will have paid off my entire student loan in full. It’s not easy… in fact it’s one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do – but if I can do it, you can do it.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to talk to you! If you’re on Instagram, follow my debt free journey @veefrugalfox
These are some people that always give me inspiration:
*I’m not affiliated with Dave Ramsey in any way and I was not paid to promote his programs or his books.