Getting out of debt was one of the most challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and exhilarating processes we have done.
We had a goal and we worked really, really hard to get to it.
I spoke about it briefly in the Digging out of debt to stay home with baby post, but not a full outline of the process.
I want to start by saying that this is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for someone who thinks they want to go through the motions. It’s not for a married couple who isn’t on the same page.
Starting this process and quitting will land you in possibly worse shape than you’re in now.
Still with me?
Okay, good! Let’s talk this out.
Back in 2015, we were married less than 2 years and staring down the barrel at over $100,000 in debt ($107,612 to be exact).
We had medical bills, money owed to the IRS, credit cards, student loans, and a vehicle loan. As fans of Dave Ramsey would say: we didn’t meet a debt we didn’t like. That’s code for we had ’em all.
About 30% of our monthly income was getting poured into principal and interest. That’s not even including our mortgage.
We were broke, and money was flying everywhere. We lost control of where our money was going, and we were living paycheck to paycheck because of it.
It was utter chaos.
I was fed up living like that. Worried about paying our bills, if things were going to line up right. I wanted a plan. We needed some structure, and I had no clue where to start.
I scoured the internet, looking for a plan that was already created and we could follow.
Then I found the debt snowball plan.
Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball
A plan! Yes! Just what we needed. He outlined how and when to pay off all of your debts (except the mortgage), and it actually made sense. I structured a monthly budget using this spreadsheet and could really see how our monthly finances were playing out.
We listed out our debts, smallest to largest, which gave us structure for where we should allocate money in the monthly budget.
The debt snowball plan states to list out all of your debts, smallest to largest, and begin to throw every extra penny at the smallest debt until it is paid off. Once that is paid off, you take all the money you threw at the smallest debt to the next smallest debt. You continue this until you have paid off everything.
Our smallest debt was a medical bill of $388.20. So, going down to the bare essentials in our monthly budget, we paid that debt off quickly.
Next, we took the money we paid monthly for the medical bill and every extra penny we could find and threw it at our next debt: a mattress we financed.
From there, I think you get it.
How long did it take?
It took us 25 months to pay off $107,612. And those 25 months were tough.
We cooked at home when we really wanted to go out. We got rid of cable. We pinched every penny we could during that time.
AND IT WAS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.
It wasn’t just worth it because we cut a giant beast out of our life. It was worth it because the sinking feeling every month we had to pay on those debts was gone.
It was worth it because it got my husband and myself on the same page about money and had us working on that goal together. And it made our marriage stronger.
And it was worth it because our money was ours again.
Were we perfect the whole time? Heck no! But the important thing was that we always got back on track. Back on the same page as a couple. And back to working on that goal together.
Think you have what it takes?
That’s a trick question. Everyone has what it takes. You have an income, you have the tools it takes (the spreadsheet I mentioned, or so many other tools online), and you have your reason why.
The only missing piece is actually doing it.
It’s not an overnight process, and it will require diligence and patience (things I struggled with).
One thing that was incredibly helpful to us was having a visual. So, we put up a piece of paper on the fridge with a meter showing how much has been paid and how much was left of each debt.
It helped so much to be able to see where we were, and to be able to mark off how much was paid every paycheck. We could see and feel that we were making progress!
Whether your income is $20,000 or $200,000, you have what it takes to pay off this debt. Get after it!