I’m an all-or-nothing person, but until I read Anna’s book, The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living, it never sank in that perhaps I should try that approach toward my debt.
I’d reached a point where my debt was piling up over my head and beyond. I couldn’t always make minimum payments with my part-time paycheck. I felt embarrassed every time I had to ask my mom or dad for a loan, and the stress of my bondage (er, debt) was screwing with my health.
Don’t let me fool you–I took some convincing. I read the book and had intended to start in May/June 2016, but it was several months later, in September, that I truly began the Spending Fast.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before Anna, when the “I AM DROWNING IN DEBT – IT’S TIME TO SWIM” vibe struck, I’d do something to make some headway. I tried to set up an emergency fund before tackling the debt (Dave Ramsey style), but the lack of progress (as I kept spending the emergency fund on new medical bills/car repairs) was too discouraging. I sold my book collection, clothes, furniture, etc. but that only allowed me to break even. I was treading water, not swimming.
In June, just after reading her book, I decided I had to get a new job. So, I sent out tons of resumes and filled out tons of applications. Joy-of-all-joys, I got a new job that would triple my part-time income and give me AMAZING health insurance (goodbye surprise medical bills intended to make me die). I just had to wait a couple of months before I could start full-time and see that increase.
Which brings me to the month when everything changed. I moved into my first apartment (necessary though costly), turned 22, started working full-time, and started my Spending Fast. God bless that September of 2016!
Things finally were looking up.
Every spare penny went to paying off debt. I cut corners on my groceries, saved on gas (new job was closer, so that helped), and didn’t buy new things (which was pretty easy as I had adopted minimalism in 2015). I worked my butt off between work, pet-sitting, and book-sale-ing (I sold a bunch of books my dad no longer wanted).
I was shocked when I unexpectedly received a Thanksgiving bonus and, aside from tithes, it went directly to debt. Then a Christmas bonus came in and I did the same thing.
Then a couple months into the new year, and I hit a brick wall. You know the one – you’re exhausted, you’re wrecked, and you’re tired of watching your money disappear (*cough* I mean kill debt *cough*). I conceded to myself and stopped the Spending Fast. But I didn’t give up! Instead, I switched to a “diet” (instead of a “fast”) and became determined to put $500 toward debt every single month, and let myself breathe (I mean spend) the rest. I didn’t end up doing that long.
On Monday, May 22nd, I received a surprise bonus that KOed the remaining debt. FREEDOM BELLS RAAAAAANG.
I spent yesterday running all the figures, and I’m amazed and proud to say that I paid off $15,799.95 in combined debt and interest – IN NINE MONTHS. I said goodbye to the last of my medical debt, incredibly stupid purchases debt, and a couple hare-brained self-employment schemes debts.
And to this day, I’m not sure how I did it.
Okay, I am sure.
It was the bonuses; lots of “no” when I wanted to say “yes;” lots of boredom and thumb-twiddling; and lots of reading and visits to parks and nights at home. I caught up on sleep (that’s for sure) and made more time for just chit-chatting with the family and friends. I modified my own clothes and accepted hand-me-downs instead of new things.
It was a lot easier for me than it would be for some. I’m single and not all that interested in “dating.” I have a studio apartment in a little Ohio city. I live a mile away from work. I have a medical condition that I can use as an excuse to opt-out. And a good chunk of my debt wasn’t interest-accruing.
But if I, a person who puts zero stock in money and can spend it without any feelings of guilt before you even blink, can do it…
I know you can do it, too.
I hope this little tale of my journey to freedom will help me finish my own path; I hope it inspires you to keep going – I’m in your corner. You’ve got this.
Rachel Carpenter works as a full-time office administrator and plays as a part-time world adventurer. She spends her free time chilling with her family, dancing for Jesus at church, blogging about new adventures, and counting pennies with her finance support group.
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!