Are you looking to get out of debt but don’t know where to start? Then you are going to love this Debt Pay off Story guest post by Mandy from The Well Balanced Mom.
I used to think that debt was a normal part of life. Growing up, it seemed like everyone had credit cards and car payments. I didn’t think it was a big deal until the day I realized that my debt was holding me captive in a life that I didn’t want.
But I’ll start at the beginning.
My mom encouraged me to get a credit card when I was 18. She said I should “build my credit,” so that I could finance a car and eventually buy a house. Of course, she encouraged me to be responsible with my credit card usage. And I was— mostly. I did purchase things before I had the money for them, but I also managed to pay off my credit cards regularly.
But that’s not really when my getting-into-debt story began.
What Led Me to $40k of Debt
It wasn’t until I was a young wife living outside of my parents’ home for the first time that my debt began to spiral out of my control.
At first, debt was a means of survival. My husband and I had moved out and bought our first home (with almost nothing down) and no savings to fall back on. We had no idea had to budget.
We frequently found ourselves with no money in the bank, but I still had a wallet full of cards with available credit. So, we ended up racking up relying on borrowing money to feed ourselves in between paychecks. It felt as if I blinked and suddenly we were in a $40,000 hole.
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What Didn’t Help
Eventually, we both progressed at our jobs and started to earn more money, so you’d think our problems were over, right?
Wrong. Making more money wasn’t the answer.
As we got raises and started to bring home more money, our debt situation continued to get worse. Instead of using the extra income to pay off our debt, we changed our standard of living. For example, I got promoted at the jewelry store where I was working and got a pay increase of about $500 a month. Only a week or two later, I bought a new car, because I felt like I “deserved” it.
Meanwhile, my husband and I continue to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck. The struggle continued as we brought two babies into the world in two years.
After my second daughter was born, I started desperately wishing that I could be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t talk about it a lot, because it seemed far-fetched for us. We were living paycheck to paycheck and I was bringing home thousands of dollars each month, so how could we possibly afford for me to quit my job?
I realized that part of the answer was: Pay off the debt. If we could pay off our debt, we’d save over $1000 in monthly bills. So that became my mission.
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Changing My Mindset
To pay off the debt we’d accumulated, my husband and I needed to change our mindsets about money. We knew that we could make more money, but if we didn’t learn to think differently, it wouldn’t matter.
First of all, I had to give up my entitlement mentality. I needed to stop believing that we deserved to purchase certain things because we “worked so hard.” Instead, I adopted the mentality that we didn’t deserve anything until we saved for it and paid cash for it.
I also had to give up any idea of “keeping up with the Joneses.” I had to stop caring what my neighbors were driving, or what my friends were wearing, or where my co-workers were going on vacation. Instead of impressing others, I decided to focus solely on the goal of getting out of debt.
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The Road to Debt Freedom
After changing my mindset, everything got easier. I started budgeting for the first time in my life. Every extra penny I could find would go towards paying off our debt. I used the “debt snowball” method, so I started paying off our smallest debt first.
To get the process moving faster, I took a promotion at work. That promotion meant extra hours and extra responsibility, but it was a shortcut to debt freedom. I simultaneously built a home-based business. All of the income from that business was extra money to throw at our snowball.
Meanwhile, we curbed our spending and didn’t add any new debt. We cut up our credit cards and vowed never to live above our means again. I made every effort to reduce our monthly bills (including ditching cable and shopping around for rates on electricity) and I started shopping at discount grocery stores like Aldi.
By increasing our income and decreasing our spending, we successfully paid off $40,000 in debt in two years.
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The Happy Ending to This Debt Pay Off Story
Today, my husband and I are still debt-free except for our mortgage. I was able to leave my full-time job 3 years ago. As a result, I am free to spend more time with my family. I also started my dream job as a blogger, and I now work mostly from home on my own time. I don’t have the burden of owing anyone anything and I feel FREE. Paying off our debt was exactly what I needed to do to thrive during this special stage of my life!
I encourage you, no matter what your situation— whether you have survival debt or debt from living beyond your means, whether you’re buried in student loan payments or you’re nearing retirement— you got this! You can pay off your debt! Come up with a plan and trust the process. There’s freedom on the other side.
Related: How to Get Rid of Debt and Manage Your Credit Score
Mandy Youtz is a certified life coach turned blogger and the owner of The Well Balanced Mom. She’s also a Christian, wife, and mom of three little girls. Her goal is to help you find balance and wellness during the crazy journey of motherhood.
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