It’s our 3 month anniversary!
We started documenting our journey out of debt on Instagram 3 months ago and we’ve paid off $14,076.71 since!
Here’s a little background about us. We were $115,956.54 in debt circa 2015 and just paying the minimums on everything (student loan, credit cards, car loans, 401k loans, financed phone, and our mortgage). We were spendy to say the least, and had no concept of saving or paying off debt. We heard about Dave Ramsey and dabbled a little into his plan, but didn’t get really serious about debt repayment until March 2017.
In March 2017, we paid off the last of my student loans with some of our income tax refund; with this, our debt was down to $88,232.17. It had been a goal of ours for years to pay off that student loan, and it was an amazing feeling to be rid of that debt! This accomplishment created a desire to continue attacking our debt. The goal: to be consumer debt free in 24 months (by March 2019). Three months in, it’s June 2017, and we’ve paid off over $14,000! Here are 6 ways we did it:
1) Dave Ramsey
I had purchased Financial Peace University – DVD Home Study, in 2015 – Dave Ramsey’s 9 lesson (9 week course if you do the class in person) all about how to handle your money. I also purchased Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (via Audible), and the accompanying physical workbook, The Total Money Makeover Workbook, in 2015. I dusted those babies off and dug in! Dave Ramsey has a clear plan on how to get out of debt and build wealth. He walks you through organizing your finances, getting on a written budget, and starting the Debt Snowball method to pay off debt. Needless to say we are huge fans and are following his game plan AKA The 7 Baby Steps. I can talk about him all day, let’s just stay this was our foundation for getting our money right.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links above, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t personally used.
When I get into something, I go all in! I was talking my head off to anyone who would listen about our finances and my Dave Ramsey obsession. My poor husband and poor co-workers were sweet to listen, but I knew I needed another outlet. I took to Instagram because Instagram is my current favorite social media platform. There was a place that I could blab all the details of our journey! I found the #debtfreecommunity where there were people just like us trying to become debt free! And, this community of people are encouraging, supportive, and super inspirational! Instagram has kept us accountable and motivated these last 3 months, and has been an essential part of our success so far.
3) Work = Income
We’re fortunate to have a great income. For those who are not aware, we are a single-income family. I am the income earner and work outside the home; I work in Marketing. My husband is in charge of our home. Simply put, our goal, since we got married, was to gift our children the presence of one parent at home – my career just got us there first. For a long time, we spent everything that came in and more!
Excerpt from the book, The Millionaire Next Door:
Wealth is not the same as income. If you make a good income each year and spend it all, you are not getting wealthier. Your are just living high. Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.
Dave Ramsey made us realize that the greatest wealth building tool is our income. Now, we are honoring our income by using it wisely. Saving more than spending – well, currently not saving as we’re paying off debt. However, when that debt is gone, all that money will be repurposed toward saving and building wealth (think retirement).
Note: If we didn’t have enough income to pay bills, we would find work, work more, and find more work. You get it.
4) Getting Frugal
We have a great income, we just needed to learn how to keep most of it! We cut our expenses drastically. Examples:
- We cut the clothing budget to basically nothing until we’re out of debt – specifically, we cut our clothing subscription boxes (ThreadBeast for him, and Fableticcs for me).
- We downsized our cable bill to the basic package – I honestly wanted to cut it, but there were compromises.
- We pretty much eliminated eating out and set a strict budget for groceries. Food can definitely bust a budget!
- I stopped buying Shakeology and cancelled Beachbody (Coaching Fees and Beachbody on Demand).
- I’ve stopped going to the salon for my hair and nails. I do my own hair coloring, eyebrows, hair removal, and nails. My daughter and I are growing out our hair so no haircuts in the near future. My husband does his own hair and our son’s hair.
- We buy generic as much as we can, and only buy necessities. Just say no to spending!
5) All Cash, No Credit Cards
It hurts to pay in cash, literally. There are no feelings involved when you swipe plastic. Changing just this one thing is huge! We spend less and save more simply because we don’t want to part ways with our Benjamins. Each payday, we withdraw our cash clips money (budget categories that we spend in cash). We make the following cash clip budgets last us until the next paycheck:
- Gas for our cars
- Beer (hey, I have to keep my husband on board somehow)
- Misc (household items)
- Kid’s commission (we make our kids work for their “allowance”)
- Personal spending money
To make sure we didn’t revert back to our old ways and use credit cards, we simply cut and closed all our credit cards and credit card accounts – all 23 of them! This is outrageous to a lot of folks. But, we’re serious about becoming debt free. Credit cards have no place in our future. And, If we really wanted to get back into debt, we would have no problem finding a company willing to charge us to borrow money – believe that.
6) Extra Funds
Any extra income we find in our budget, we throw it at our debt! We’ve had income tax refunds, bonus checks, husband’s side jobs income, and profits from selling our stuff. We’ve also had some unexpected income from escrow overages and cancelling our car warranties, thus receiving refunds.
We still have a little over $74K left in debt, but we are well on our way! If you want to follow our journey out of debt, you can find us on Instagram at @smartsncents or on Facebook at facebook.com/smartsncents.