Everyone has their own journey that they’re on in this life. Throughout your lifetime, there could be many journeys that you experience: A Journey to becoming a first-time home-buyer, saving for your dream vacation, saving for retirement, or becoming your own boss and finally taking that leap of faith.
My current journey: paving the way to financial freedom and living a life free of debt. Let me tell ya, it’s a long – but rewarding – journey that not many people take.
I contemplated for some time whether I should post updates on my debt-free journey instead of just the tips, tricks, and wisdom that I’ve been learning along the way. I LOVE hearing stories from others about how they paid off their debt or how they’re currently making it happen for themselves, so I thought, why not? Maybe I can inspire others to do the same and prove that it’s not difficult, scary, or daunting as many may think.
Money is taboo to speak about publicly with friends and family, let alone strangers. I want to change that! My hope is that you can follow along on my journey – and roadblocks along the way – and know that you, too, can start your path to financial freedom!
But first, if you want to know the exact steps I took to pay off over $25,000 in just 11 months, you should check out The Busy Girl’s Guide: 6 Simple Steps To Pay Off Debt.
If you’ve been following along each month on our debt-free updates, feel free to skip down to the November Recap!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use them I may receive commissions, at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
The Wild Hair
I started this journey mid-January 2017 when one book I read changed my entire perspective and way of thinking when it comes to all things finance. For some time, I had been stressing over budgets, savings, and paying down debt that my husband and I had accumulated over the years.
I was looking for some sort of roadmap to guide me.
I had a latte in one hand and a Barnes & Noble gift card in the other and set out one day to find a book that would resonate with me. Boy, did I find it. I stumbled across Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Revisited.
After reading this book, you could say I got a wild hair up my ass (that’s how my husband puts it). That’s also when I discovered his book The Total Money Makeover, which I always suggest reading first if you’re just starting out.
I immediately followed Dave’s advice in The Total Money Makeover, created our budget, and committed to sticking to it for at least 90 days.
Where We Stood
When first creating our budget, we had to come to terms with where we stood with our debt.
We had a total of $41,896 in debt that came from 7 credit cards, 1 personal loan, and 1 car loan.
For some strange reason, it felt good writing out all of our debt. Seeing it written down, all in one place, made our situation feel a little less scary and daunting.
As you probably guessed from the title of this post, we became credit card debt-free! We completely paid off our last credit card that had $2,153 remaining.
This means that from the beginning of our debt-free journey in January 2017 to December 2017 we were able to become credit card debt-free paying off over $25,000 worth of debt. Holy sh*tballs, this is amazing and I just want to toot my own horn for just a second!
If you want to follow the exact steps we took to become credit card debt-free in just 11 months you can grab a free copy of The Busy Girl’s Guide: 6 Simple Steps To Pay Off Debt.
We stuck to our budget using the envelope system that we only committed to sticking to for 90 days to see if it would work for us. You could say it definitely worked for us!
We reduced our spending drastically by cutting cable, meal planning, sticking to our budget, saying “no” to a lot of social invites, and just being more mindful of what we were spending our hard-earned money on.
This budget thing is not rocket science. It does not take someone with a huge amount of willpower to master. All it takes is someone determined to make a better financial life for themselves. Which, my husband and I are adamant about doing.
If you’ve missed our earlier updates leading up to this one, you can always go back and binge read our monthly Debt-Free Journey Update!
Goals for January
Our goals from here on out will be a little different now that we have paid off all our credit cards and are focusing on preparing for the birth of our baby in April.
According to die-hard Dave Ramsey fans, we should be stashing away all our extra funds from the debt snowball until the baby gets here. However, It’s hard to put all that momentum on hold when we’re making such great progress. Also, our goal since we started this journey is to be 100% debt-free by July 2018 and that goal hasn’t changed now that we’re expecting a baby.
My husband and I plan to do things a bit differently than the steadfast Dave Ramsey followers. We both agreed that we would do what worked best for us and that is not stashing away all our extra funds but rather saving half of our debt snowball and putting the other half towards our last remaining debt, our car loan. It’s a win-win really!
So for January, that makes 2 goals that we want to stick to:
- Pay about $290 extra towards our car loan, and
- Put the same amount extra into savings.
Easy peasy, right? I’d say so!
I advocate on my blog to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. For me, up until recently, that has meant material things like cars, houses, clothes, etc…
What I didn’t realize was that included comparing yourself to others on this debt-free journey, as well. If you’ve noticed in my first few updates, I never posted our numbers on where we stood. I would only write about what goals we hit that particular month. That is directly caused by me comparing my journey to that of others paying off their debt way faster than I was and I didn’t feel confident enough to post my own numbers.
What I sometimes fail to remember is that we have been lucky enough to cash flow SO MANY vacations this year which has led to us not paying off our debt as quickly as we’d like. This journey is not only about becoming debt-free but about learning to handle your finances in a way that allows you to have some freedom! And that we have, my friends.
“Truth is, as long as we’re working towards our own goals, we’re doing it right.” – Sami at Eat Pray Budget
So ending the comparison game, here is a running tally of where we stand today.
*Starting balances are where we stood in January 2017 when we made the decision to start our debt-free journey*
First Financial Bank USA (starting balance: $185): PAID IN FULL 2/15/17
Bank of America Credit Card #1 (starting balance: $606): PAID IN FULL 6/23/17
CareCredit Credit Card (starting balance: $823): PAID IN FULL 6/26/17
Capital One Card #1 (starting balance: $1,478): PAID IN FULL 9/6/17
Cap. One Card #2 (starting balance: $2,121): PAID IN FULL 10/30/17
Cap. One Card #3 (starting balance: $2,510): PAID IN FULL 10/30/17
Bank of America Card #2 (starting balance: $5,760): PAID IN FULL 12/14/17
Personal Loan (starting balance: $7,000): PAID IN FULL 10/30/17
Subaru (starting balance: $21,413) – Balance Remaining: $16,510.02
Starting Debt: $41,896.00
Remaining Debt: $16,510.02
Total Debt Paid Off: $25,427.00
Total Payments Made Towards Debt in December: $2,607.92
Resources to Start Your Own Debt-Free Journey
For me, motivation is the key to starting and maintaining any journey that I’m on. Check out the blogs posts below to help get you started with some extra motivation and helpful info.
Blog posts to get you started on your debt-free journey:
Additionally, these are the resources that I have used (so far) to motivate and inspire me along the way.
- Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Can you tell I’m a fan of the Ramsey? Although Financial Peace was the first book I read before starting out, I recommend reading Total Money Makeover First.
- Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Revisited. This was the first book I read that motivated me to start this journey.
- The Secret. Ok, stick with me on this one. Many have their own opinions about The Secret, but this book entirely changed my life and way of thinking. Positive thinking is essential on a debt-free journey and The Secret absolutely helped in that regard.
- Free debt snowball vs. avalanche calculator. I was able to see exactly which method would work best for my financial situation and how much money I’d save if I went with one method over the other.
- Cash System Wallet. When first starting out with the envelope system, this really helped to eliminate the all the annoying, loose envelopes in my purse. I hated having to pull out envelopes at the grocery store or wherever I was. This wallet is a fashionable alternative and organized in a way that keeps my cash separated into categories.
- Easy Budget’s Debt Snowball Calculator. I am a very visual person and this calculator is perfect for determining exactly when you will become debt-free. Easily compare the snowball method and the avalanche method to see what will work best for you.
- A good support system. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good support system on your journey. Whether that is your friends, family, or significant other, having someone to keep you accountable and motivated will be influential in your success.
A Final Note
No matter what comes your way or how slow your progress is, you CAN live a life free of debt. There’s no stopping my goals for financial freedom and debt-free living. Join me today and start your debt-free journey.
“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” – Dave Ramsey
I will see you next month for December’s update! Eeeek, the last one for the year!
Question for you: Have you started your debt-free journey? Share your tips with me on what you do to help pay down your debt quicker!