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Paying off our debt was definitely one of the toughest challenges we’ve faced.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m extremely grateful that we did it and I don’t regret the process at all.
But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times I questioned whether it was worth it or not. (It is)
We were 25 year old newlyweds with no kids when we locked in on paying off debt.
In our minds, we were supposed to be traveling the world, doing brunch with friends, going out to fancy dinners every night, and all the other stuff you think adulting is when you’re a kid.
Having gone from a negative net worth to a 6-figure one in less than five years, I have to say those sacrifices are worth it though.
Here’s just a few things we gave up to pay off $61,000 worth of debt in only 16 months.
1. Our Excuses
Your old mindset about money is the most important thing you can get rid of when paying off debt.
When we were dating, we both tried to budget our money several times and failed miserably.
As you can guess, we eventually gave up.
But once we committed to paying off our debt no matter what, we didn’t look back.
We created a plan and actually followed through with it this time. No excuses.
I lost my job while we were paying off debt. No excuses.
Taylor got sick and missed about a month of work. No excuses.
We completely committed to the process no matter how long it took and the result was paying off $61,000 worth of debt in only 16 short months.
2. Wingin’ It With Money
Once we finally committed to not making excuses, we had to come up with a plan.
After all, wingin’ it all those years was what got us into that mess in the first place.
The first thing we had to do was really learn how to budget.
I already said we struggled in that area for a long time and the reason why was because we never really had a goal we were aiming for with our budget.
And we were trying to follow some crazy percentages that just didn’t work for us.
We found some resources that taught us how to do a proper zero-based budget every month and the rest is history. It’s almost 5 years later and we still follow the same process every month.
We also used our debt reduction calculator to keep us on track each month.
Telling our money where to go and seeing our progress with paying off our debt each month made the process go a lot quicker for sure.
3. A House
Now we didn’t go homeless or anything, but while we were paying off our debt, we definitely downsized.
I honestly never expected to move when we started paying off our debt.
But as we got further into our debt-free journey, the idea of downsizing to accelerate our debt payoff goals became more interesting.
After I lost my job, it became clear that it was the right move. So we moved out of the comfortable house we were renting and into a much smaller apartment.
This saved us about $800 per month after factoring in things like higher utilities, lawn maintenance, and everything else that comes with being in a house.
And guess where that $800 went? Right to our debt!
And because we downsized, we got to sell a lot of stuff we had and put that towards the debt as well.
The decision wasn’t an easy one. We loved our area, our neighbors, and the house itself.
It was the house we moved into once we got married and we knew the landlords would want to sell in the near future as well.
But the idea of significantly accelerating our debt-free journey was just too strong to pass up and we eventually pulled the trigger.
Today we’re on track to eliminate our mortgage in 10 years or less because we don’t have any debt and a healthy cashflow.
4. Randomly Browsing Stores/Amazon
I know I can’t be the only one to just mindlessly stop in a store and walk out with a new wardrobe.
Or maybe it wasn’t clothes that day. Sometimes it was stuff for the house we didn’t actually need.
Or some gadget on Amazon that would end up in the junk drawer in 3 months.
We were consumers. Hardcore consumers.
I mean our $61,000 was just credit cards and cars.
Televisions, jewelry, clothing, furniture- you name it. It was going on a credit card even if we walked into the store with the cash.
This meant that for us the most important thing was to quit putting ourselves in this position.
We stopped going to the mall just to do it and even got rid of Amazon Prime. gasp
To this day, we stay out of stores unless we absolutely need something and we function just fine without an Amazon Prime membership.
Of all the things on the list, this was probably the hardest for us to give up.
I mean the first time we calculated our debt, we were in the Florida Keys for goodness sake!
I’m not kidding when I say we took at least 3 vacations per year- yes even while we were broke we always found a way to vacation.
But looking at our budget and having goals to pay our debt off aggressively made the choice very simple.
Besides, we didn’t really have the money we were spending anyway considering it really belonged to the credit card companies.
I will say, though, that a mini getaway or staycation is a totally acceptable way to celebrate debt-payoff milestones.
If I could go back, we would have found an affordable spot near Houston to at least celebrate the 50% mark.
And if you have a spouse that struggles to stay on board with the debt-free journey it’s a great option for you too. Just don’t go crazy with a 5 day 4 night all-inclusive in the Caribbean.
Keep it short, simple, and most importantly affordable.
Okay so I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan at one point in my life. I mean I rarely ever missed a game on TV.
But when we got serious about our finances, I realized the Cowboys and my other favorite sports teams were costing me over $100 per month on cable.
And when it came down to it, I really didn’t like them that much.
Most people only have a handful of shows that they watch. But more importantly, most people only have a few hours between work and bedtime.
If you’re deep in debt like we were is the best use of that time really sitting on the couch being entertained? Or would it be better served finding a part-time job somewhere or starting a side hustle?
I thought it would be hard, but now that we are debt-free we still don’t have cable.
Not only did the $100 per month get us out of debt quicker then, but now the money we save from not having cable allows me to travel the country for live sporting events.
Like catching a Cowboys-Vikings Thursday Night game in Minnesota.
7. Clutter Around The House
Everything you used to own was, at some point, money.
Why not convert it back to money by getting rid of things you don’t need or even use?
Clothing, purses, shoes, electronics, patio furniture, and so much more was sold while we were paying off our debt.
And not only did it bring in extra money, but the lack of clutter made our house more peaceful.
We were not only getting rid of stuff that was only taking up space, but we weren’t buying things we didn’t need either.
What have you given up while paying off your debt?
This list could go on and on so in the interest of spending time with my family I want to ask you: what have you or will you give up while paying off your debt?
Let me know in the comments below.