Recently, I interviewed Jackie Beck who is the founder of The Debt Myth and creator of Pay Off Debt (an iPhone app that’s helped tens of thousands of people use the debt snowball method) Jackie and her husband paid off over $147,00o in debt and she is now dedicated to helping people get out of debt and really learn to love their financial life. That sounds pretty good to me! Here’s how they did it…
A Q&A With Jackie Beck- “How We Got Out of Over $147,000 in Debt!”…
ATWS: How much debt were you in and how long did it take for you to get out of?
JB: We owed over $147,000, and we paid it off in stages that took anywhere from 5 months to 3 years each. The last stage was our mortgage, which we knocked out in 3 years.
ATWS: What type of debt did you have? What was it made up of?
JB: We were “normal”, so we had a bunch of different types: a car payment, student loan, home improvement loan, credit cards, you name it. Plus, of course, our mortgage.
ATWS: How did you feel having that much debt?
JB: Like many people, I didn’t give it all that much thought at first. (And I never even totaled it up until after we’d gotten it all paid off.) But I hated that my money didn’t really belong to me, and that it was spent before I even got it. I dreamt of the day my money would stay mine; the day we’d have a whole lot more freedom of choice.
ATWS: Is the amount of time that it took to pay off your debt longer or shorter than you anticipated it would take?
JB: I didn’t really focus on the big picture, so I didn’t have an overall time frame in mind. I know it seemed like an eternity before we got the mortgage paid off though, especially as we got closer and closer to hitting zero. It was like Christmas when you’re a little kid: the closer it got, the further away it seemed. But getting it done was awesome.
ATWS: Why was it important for you to get out of debt?
JB: One word: FREEDOM! Well ok, three words: freedom of choice :)
ATWS: Were you and your husband on the same page with getting out of debt?
JB: Yes, we were, and that made all the difference. I was the super enthusiastic one, especially at first, but then he started to get into it too.
ATWS: What methods did you employ to get out of debt?
JB: Nothing fancy. We just sent money every chance we got toward our target debt until it was gone. Sometimes we made as many as 8 payments in single month.
ATWS: What did you find proved to yield the best results?
JB: Not borrowing any more money. Your debt doesn’t really go away until you quit taking more of it on.
ATWS: What was the hardest part of the getting out of debt process?
JB: Changing our mindset so that borrowing money was no longer an option. It is SO common to look toward debt as a solution, or to be impatient, and we had to stop that. We learned to save up money for emergencies, plan for regular and irregular expenses, and say no until we had the money for whatever we wanted to buy. We bought some nice stuff during the process too — getting out of debt doesn’t have to mean a life of bread & water. We just did it with cash.
ATWS: And what was the easiest part of getting your debt paid off?
JB: Once we got our credit cards paid off, IT ALL became a whole lot easier because we automatically had more money available to work with each month. (Since we weren’t paying those payments any longer.)
ATWS: Are you still debt-free? If so, how are you maintaining your debt-freedom?
JB: Yes. It sounds simple but we’re just committed to it. That means we look for other options if we “need” something and don’t have the money, or we wait until we do. It’s actually a whole lot easier to stay debt free than it was to get out of debt.
ATWS: What’s the best thing about being out of debt?
JB: The ability to make choices based on desires instead of feeling boxed into a corner.
ATWS: What do you recommend to others who want to do what you did?
JB: Start now, and don’t stop until you get there. It’s worth it. If you want encouragement along the way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be glad to cheer you on :) (Also, check out the Community section for support!)
ATWS: What is the next step in your financial journey?
JB: We’re working on building wealth now, and are hitting retirement funds even harder than we were before. Also, my husband is saving up for a Lotus Elise and we’ve got some trips planned. Why not enjoy?