They say the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. I say this holds true with a wedding cake… And getting out of debt.
From the beginning of our matrimony, we collected a combination of his and her student loans, a car loan, and several credit cards loaded with impulse purchases to our wedding. We found that we had accumulated so much debt, our minimum monthly payments were increasing every month and the definition of a tight budget gripped us like no other.
So we strapped in and held on to the following staples throughout the journey.
1. Give and Trust God
My mother-in-law is, legit, the most generous person I know and is so wise when it comes to finances. So naturally, I lean in to hear any advice she has to offer. One advice I hold near is “when you give, give the first and the best, because God will always provide what you need.” When it comes to finances, I tend to need a whole other level of help. Because, here’s the thing: I will never know what tomorrow brings and your job may be here today and gone tomorrow. So, if I am going to get on a journey to reach any type of goal, I will need help from the One who has control over the things I cannot.
2. Gauge the Debt Comfort Level
We literally sat and discussed how comfortable we were with a little/some/or a lot of debt. We recognized that based on our level of comfort was how we were going to tackle debt. Since our plethora of monthly payments made us feel stuck, our comfort level went from low to no tolerance, to say the least. This led to our decision to start using cash for all purchases and eliminate credit card usage, completely.
3. Keep Expenses Minimal
I mentioned earlier that we began our marriage with one car loan… this comes from the only car we own. We decided, early on, to keep the one car and carpool until we absolutely can’t bare it. We simply couldn’t afford to buy another car outright and weren’t planning to add more debt to our pile.
To this day, we are still able to keep one car and don’t regret it one bit. This kept fuel costs low and car insurance minimal while maximizing debt payoff in the smallest amount of time possible.
BTW: Keeping it minimal does not limit you to having one car. This is just one way we kept expenses low since we simply found no need to have more than one car, as of yet. You can limit dining out, excess grocery shopping (so much food, some spoils), subscriptions, vacations, etc…
4. Always Remember the Why
Along the journey, you can easily feel weighed down from sacrificing dining out or shopping for new clothes, choosing to opt out of vacation for another year, and feeling broke after throwing heaps of money at debt payoff. I get it. Especially, when you’ve squashed a few monthly payments along the way and feel like you can breathe a little. [warning: this is when your comfort level is tested again]
But, when I remember the day we decided, that never again will we allow the overwhelming amount of monthly payments invade our quality of life. Never again, will going out and having “fun” feel more like a burden than anything. Never again will we hesitate to give and meet a need. And never again, will conversations about our dreams, be few… that is enough to get me all fired up again and continue plowing through until the work is complete.
My friends, if you are in a tight spot because of debt, you don’t have to be there forever. One bite at a time… remember that!
If you are on a journey to debt-freedom, feel free to share in the comments below. 🙂