When we got married I had about 33k of student debt and was SO passionate about becoming debt free quickly. We were not making a ton of money, but we just hustled and worked so hard!
I wrote a post about the practical steps we took to become debt free.
Our society teaches us that having debt is normal + even good. But we’ve also been counter-cultural with our finances (and just about everything else ?) and the idea of carrying debt for years + years just never sat well with me!
After we paid off my student loan, we continued to practice the same financial habits to eventually save up for a house, and now to continue to renovate our home!
We’re NOT perfect but we’ve always taken our finances seriously, and I think that’s one of the most important life skills to develop!
That being said, there have been seasons in my life and in our marriage when we are more stringent with our finances.
Here are my mindset tips to get you in the right place to start tackling debt.
DETERMINE YOUR WHY
Have a super clear purpose behind WHY you’re doing this. Mine was just that I HATE debt and did not want it in my life. Your reason might be so you can buy a house sooner, or so you can quit your job, etc…but you have to have a reason and it has to elicit an emotional response for you.
Every year I’ve created a vision board of my goals + dreams for the next few months + years.
Selecting photos that have significant meaning to YOU is a powerful exercise!
REMEMBER THIS IS TEMPORARY
Let me clarify – being financially responsible ISN’T temporary. That’s a life-time habit. BUT, making serious sacrifices is temporary. Maybe temporary looks like 6 months, or maybe it looks like 6 years.
“If you make the sacrifices now that most people aren’t willing to make, later on you’ll be able to live as those folks will never be able to live.”Dave Ramsey
Remember that the sacrifices you’re making now are for the long term benefit of becoming + staying debt free!
BE ON THE SAME PAGE
If you’re married or doing this with a partner, you need to be on the same page. Even if you don’t have the exact same mindset, you need to work together as a team. My husband was not nearly as passionate about paying off debt, and wanted to do it slower so that was a compromise that we made!
In my situation, my husband felt more secure keeping a savings account while we paid off debt. I would have preferred to use that money to pay off the last of our debt (as Dave Ramsey recommends), but it was important to me that he felt safe + comfortable during the process so we made compromises.
YOU HAVE TO MAKE SACRIFICES
You need to be ok with the fact that you HAVE to make sacrifices. These sacrifices will be different for everyone.
Some people sell their house and use the equity of their home to pay off a huge chunk of debt, most people do less extreme things like get a part-time job on the weekends, give up eating out, rent out a room in your house, move in with family members for a few months.
We have chosen to have one car as a way to save a huge chunk of money. You cannot become deft free quickly if you don’t make any changes.
MAKE A BUDGET
Make a budget and tell your money where to go. If you say “I’ll just see what I have left over at the end of the month and put that towards debt” you are NEVER going to pay off your debt!
A budget will maximize how much you can put towards debt. We decided at the beginning of the money how much we were putting towards debt payment every month and acted accordingly!
Budgetting sounds restrictive at first, and sometimes it might be! But it also creates freedom. I’m someone who always feels guilt about non-essential purchases. But when those things are responsibly built into my budget, it relieves the guilt!
CONSIDER USING CASH
We loved using the envelope system for budgeting! I know, I know – everyone claims they could NEVER do a cash budget. But I’d urge you to just give it a try! You might be surprised by how well it works!
However, there are so many different budgeting methods, so it’s important to find something that you actually enjoy!
LEARN TO SAY NO
You have to learn to say no to things. Your friends will ask you if you want to go out for dinner, out for coffee, etc…You have to be ok with saying no even when they don’t understand! At the end of the day, it’s your finances and your goals, and no one else can make it happen!
If your friends suggest going out for dinner or for manicures, politely suggest a free activity instead! You’ll likely find they are equally as happy to save money.
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”Dave ramsey
MY FAVOURITE FINANCIAL BOOKS
Here’s the thing with books. Everyone has a different opinion about how to make, save and spend your money. And that’s OK!
There will never be a single book that you 100% agree on everything they teach, but hopefully each of them helps you develop your OWN thoughts + opinions on money!
Rich Dad Poor Dad: This is probably my FAVOURITE money book. Basically this book talks about 2 men who make the same amount of money, but one of them makes decisions that build wealth which the other makes decisions that make him “poor”.
Dave Ramsey – The Total Money Makeover: You’ve probably already made up your mind on whether you love or hate Dave Ramsey. But if you’ve never actually read one of his books – I’d highly recommend you do. Like I mentioned before, you don’t have to agree with everything he (or anyone) says, but just give it a chance and maybe you’ll learn something!
You are a Badass At Making Money: This book is pretty woo-woo, which isn’t totally my thing. But if you are stuck in “I’ll never be wealthy” or “I have bad luck” this is a great place to start.
Capital Gaines: Chip Gaines (Yep – Joanna Gaines husband) makes brilliant and BOLD financial decisions. This book probably wouldn’t be considered a financial book, but his insight into life + finances have taught me so much.
I hope this was encouraging. Just know that you CAN pay off your debt! There are so many success stories out there of people paying off an insane amount of debt! If you’d like more tangible tips about paying off debt, click here for my newest addition to my “debt free” series!
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