On Friday, July 7th, we paid off our last student loan payment… which makes us officially debt fuh-rreeeeeeeeh! If you read Our Journey, you know that we had accumulated his and her student loans, credit card and car loan debt. [Not fun!] From the beginning of our marriage, we made decisions that ultimately accelerated our way to debt freedom.
Here are some of the steps we took that may help you in your journey to debt freedom:
1. Car Pool
Mentioned in a recent post, we only own one car. Since we began that way, making it work seemed reasonable. Full disclosure: We currently work the same schedules and only a few miles apart! This makes commuting super convenient!
But it was not always like that.
At some point we were working two different schedules. Thankfully, my schedule worked out where I started later and left earlier than he did. So, there is definitely a drop off/pick up situation. However, withstanding this minor inconvenience prevented us from making major purchases like adding another vehicle, fuel, and another car insurance payment.
This also provided a good crash coarse on communication and sweet bits of travel quality time!
2. Cut the Cable & Internet
This was another thing that we started out with and never added. Internet did not become an option until after I started working. This means your girl would head over to the local Barnes and Noble, purchase a coffee at the Starbucks cafe, and open up my laptop for a couple of hours researching and applying for jobs. Truth be told, even if we wanted internet, we could not afford it!
3. Get to [Net]Work!
When I finally found a part-time job, I worked hard to establish myself in this new city, and networked, networked, networked. Networking is how I found all (with the exception of my last part-time) jobs in my lifetime! It can be as simple as volunteering in your community, joining a book-club, working in a public space. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and connect with people. Most importantly, be genuine! Look for ways in which, YOU can add value. And before you know it, the opportunities will find you!
4. Take Down the Savings
THEE hardest part of this whole journey was taking down the savings to $1,000 and pouring the rest towards our debt pile. I remember it like it was yesterday. We decided we were ALL IN- It’s like we were giving up our security blanket and it was the scariest feeling ever! That day something broke and our faith has grown so much stronger for it.
5. Limit Dining Out
We limit dining out to Friday afternoons and the weekend. Because we cooked and took leftovers for the majority of the week, we always looked forward to it… And nothing fancy too! Whether we ate at a burger spot, Chik-Fil-A , take out at Papa Johns, it was always a good time.
6. D.I.Y. Haircut
[Raises hand] I never had any sort of experience with barber-ship. But, for the sake of debt freedom, I tried… and succeeded with the help of YouTube and clip guards. Thank you, whoever invented the clip guard!
7. At-Home Dry Cleaning System
Instead of taking the work clothes to the cleaners, we used an at-home drying cleaning system [particularly, Dryel]. Works like a charm! Although it takes some time and a little ironing here and there, it allowed more money to go into paying off debt.
8. Eliminate Credit Card Usage
I understand everyone has their biases with credit card usage… But since eliminating the credit usage, I personally have never been so aware of how much things actually cost. This was the best decision we made! Plus, just knowing where you stand, whether hot or cold, with debt is absolutely invaluable. When going into stores and asked “would you like to open up a rewards…” without a shadow of consideration, I would respond “no, thanks.” Simply because I knew my stance on debt.
9. Cut Down the Subscriptions
It is hard to forego the big things like paying for the roof over your head, food, day-to-day travel expenses, etc… But, the little things, are typically the most overlooked because “eh…it’s only $15 a month.” But, having a buffet of subscriptions can easily take that $15 to $100 if you’re not careful. Our audible account fell under this category. Though only $15/month, we did not use it enough to justify the payment.
10. Skip Out on Vacations
Living in a city where tourist frequently pass through from Spring to Fall, we find ourselves hosting family and friends as opposed to travel. It also makes it easy to enjoy the city we live in during our leisure. Now that we are out of debt, we start making plans for the long awaited vacations!
So, there you have it! Both, big and small ways we accelerated our way to debt freedom.
What are some of the things that helped move your journey along?