How We Paid Off $17,600 of Consumer Debt in 15 Months!!!
Blogger’s Note: Hey yall…I started writing this blog a few months ago before Felice and I got married, and if you are familiar with our story, then you will know that I have brought a significant amount of debt into our marriage. Initially, my goal was to pay off all of my consumer debt before we got married but that didn’t happen when it came down to the “nitty gritty” while we were planning our wedding. With that being said, you will see “I”, “we” , “me” and everything in between while you read this blog post since we have combined our funds to pay off this consumer debt. Happy Reading!!!
You want that new 70 inch 4K TV for Christmas? Just swipe your Visa credit card! You want that 2018 7 Series BMW? Just sign your life away on the dotted line! You want that new winter wardrobe from Banana Republic? Just sign up for their credit card that offers TONS of rewards and cash back!
In a society that pressures EVERYONE into consumerism, it is almost impossible to avoid any form of debt that comes along with it. Like most people, I have racked up thousands of dollars in consumer debt over the years and I regret every last penny of it.
About 15 months ago, I had a balance of $2,194 that I owed on my Banana Republic CC, $4,992 on my Bank of America CC and a remaining balance of $10,456 on my car loan with PNC Bank. All of this totaled $17,642!!! YIKES!!!
Long Story Short: Within the first month of starting this debt free journey, I paid off the balance on my Banana Republic CC. And then, I paid off my Bank of America CC in March 2017 and eventually we paid off my car (2 years earlier than expected) this month.
Since we all are effected by consumer debt in one way or another, I felt compelled to share this part of our debt free journey as a way to encourage you to continue to tackle your debt and also be that “kick in the butt” if you’ve lost hope in becoming debt free.
Here are a few things that we have done and are still doing throughout our journey to becoming debt free!
Changed Our Perspective on Personal Finances
Oddly enough, this journey started after Felice said YASSS! It was something about beginning a “new life” with her that instantly made me want to change my financial situation before tying the knot. I knew I was bringing a significant amount of debt into our marriage and I didn’t want us to have this burden for the rest of our lives, so SOMETHING had to HAPPEN!!!
Sidebar – Check out one of my previous blog post titled, “Bringing Debt into the Marriage” where I wrote about dealing with debt as an engaged couple and how it has strengthened our relationship at this LINK .
Early on in this journey, I got hipped to personal finance expert, Dave Ramsey, and read his book “The Total Money Makeover.” This book changed my thinking (and eventually changed Felice’s thinking as well) on personal finances and really gave me the wakeup call that I desperately needed. The teachings and stories in the book inspired me to be more serious about my money and gave me the hope that being debt free can be a reality if I was intentional with my actions.
As a result of this new mindset, I closed all 12 of my credit card accounts and ever since then I have challenged myself to pay cash for EVERYTHING. Initially, I was reluctant to close them because I didn’t know how life would be like without having a credit card. But, I’m happy that I closed the accounts and now I truly understand the value of paying cash for stuff and not relying on credit to build my “DEBT SCORE.”
Created an EFFECTIVE Budget
Budgeting has been a tremendous help for me throughout this journey. When I first started back in September 2016, I couldn’t wrap my head around on how I was going pay off any of my debt until I got hipped to Zero Based Budgeting.
With this type of budget, you lists all of your income sources and expenses for the month (or even by paycheck) and subtract your income from your expenses as well as deduct any funds you plan to spend, save, give and/or invest for a given month/paycheck.
By using this budgeting method, it allowed me to “beef” up my DEBT SNOWBALL and really helped me attack each debt aggressively until all of them were paid off. At times, I was dishing out anywhere between $500 to $1,500 a month towards the debt. YIKES!
At first, it took some time getting use to paying that much money in a given month, but it was definitely worth it in the long run. By sticking with the budget, it provided me with structure and kept me focused on getting rid of my consumer debt.
And now that Felice and I are married, using a zero based budget for our finances has been extremely helpful with our debt snowball for the other things (student loans…ugh) that we have to pay off.
Got a Part Time Job & Used “Extra” Money Wisely
Get’chu side hustle on. Whatever your side hustle is, LEVERAGE the money you make from it to pay down your debt.
Early on, I got two side hustles to increase my cash flow for my debt snowball. My first side hustle was delivering food for Postmates and then I started working part time at Target as a sales associate and cart attendant.
All of the money that I made from these side hustles was directly applied to the debt that was part of my debt snowball at that time. I also used the money that I received from coaching basketball, my bonus check, the funds from the household items we sold and my entire tax refund check to pay down my consumer debt.
My side hustle money along with the money from my full time job really accelerated things for me and put a huge dent in my consumer debt a lot sooner than I expected.
If I can leave you with anything after reading this post, I would encourage you to determine whats’s your “WHY”, come up with a plan and EXECUTE that plan. Yeah, it’s easier said than done but you will be amazed how one minor change in perspective can yield a lifetime of benefits.
I hope this portion of my debt free journey has helped you in some way while you are on your journey in achieving FINANCIAL FREEDOM!!!
And always remember what the great philosopher, Jay-Z, once said, “Financial freedom my only hope, F**k livin’ rich and dyin’ broke.”