Yay! It’s Gettin’ Guesty time!
This week we have the wonderful Jenny from Ex-Consumer
Jenny writes about getting out of debt, becoming more frugal, living lighter, exploring the world of minimalism and all the life that falls in between on her blog, Ex-Consumer.
Decide to Be Done With Debt
I am so excited to be contributing a guest post for And Then We Saved! Anna has been a great inspiration to me as she shares her story of her debt ditching successes. Reading about how she achieves her goals has motivated me during my own quest to debt freedom.
Making the Decision
Here’s the thing about getting rid of debt. About 85% of it is just making up your mind to become debt free. Once you’ve decided you don’t want the debt anymore, it’s easy to make plans to ditch it for good.
Up until early last year, I had never even considered a life without debt. Sure, I’d always been diligent about saving for retirement, but financing cars and using credit cards were things I did regularly…and planned to do indefinitely.
Through a series of new ideas I was exposed to through books like Your Money or Your Life and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Make Over, and blogs like And Then We Saved and Get Rich Slowly, I began to question all of my previous assumptions about debt.
As it sunk in that I didn’t have to finance my life, I started to get excited. And motivated. And hyper-focused on getting out of debt as soon as possible.
Running The Numbers
Early last year, I started to really consider how much we were paying in interest on the credit card balance we were carrying. I realized that for a $1,500 balance (typical for us) on a card with almost 10% interest, we were paying about $150 per month in interest!
When I started to look at carrying a credit card balance as blowing an extra $150 each month just for the privilege of delaying payment, it all started to seem pretty silly. So last April we paid off our credit card balance and haven’t carried a balance since.
Starting 2011 With a (Debt-Smashing) Purpose
At the start of 2011 I began making additional cuts to our budget. We canceled cable, nixed our landline, stopped eating out, and tightened up our energy consumption to lower our utility bills. Before I knew it, were we paying $100s less in expenses each month.
All of this money we’re saving each month goes towards paying off our consumer debt.
Where I Am Today
I won’t bore you with all of the financial details, but my husband and I started this year with over $25,000 in consumer debt, and as of the first of April we’re down to owing about $11,600.
That means we’ve paid off over $14,000 in consumer debt so far this year! Here are some of the things we’re doing to free up — or create — the money needed in order to pay those debts down:
- Pay off our credit card and then stop using it.
- Cancel cable.
- Disconnect our landline and begin using a self-hosting phone service called Ooma, which costs $3.50 each month (after the initial $200 investment in hardware).
- Install a water saver shower head.
- Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
- Caulk the windows and exterior outlets in our home.
- Turn the thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer.
- Sell things we no longer want or need on Craigslist and eBay.
- Sell the gold jewelry I no longer wear.
- Sell our old books, DVDs and CDs to Half Price Books.
- Stop eating out.
- Stop buying things we don’t need.
All of these things individually would have made a small difference. But when they’re combined, the difference they make is astonishing. I’m so encouraged and motivated by the awesome progress we’ve made so far this year that I’m consistently looking for more ways to save — or create — more money to get these debts paid off for good.
Once the consumer debt is gone later this year, I’m planning to beef up our emergency fund (currently only $5,000), and start a car fund so we never have to finance a car again. Then we’ll be aggressively paying down our $180,000 mortgage, with plans to have it completely paid off in the next seven to eight years.
Again, deciding to pay off your debts is easy once you make up your mind to become debt free. For years I was content to carry debt indefinitely, until one day I wasn’t. Once I made the decision to rid myself of all of the debts for good, the process built momentum.
Now I know it’s only a matter of months before my consumer debts are completely gone, and that is a great feeling!
Jenny ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!