Top 10 Things I Did to Pay Off Debt in 2 Years – How one woman never lost hope and got out of $81,400 in debt in 2 years!
Who doesn’t love a good debt payoff story! In our world that is so consumed with debt almost everywhere you look, it’s so important to hear these stories about people who took the tough step and got out of debt.
None of these stories include the writer winning the lottery or being the beneficiary of a large trust fund. No, these are stories of real people just like you and me. These stories include a lot of persistence and hard work, and in the end, the payoff is being debt free!
I want to introduce you to Jane, who got out of $81,400 in debt in 2 years. Her story is amazing!
Less than three years ago, my husband and I had $81,400 in consumer debt holding our paychecks hostage. I know money is called currency but our money was flowing in and out of our bank accounts so fast we weren’t capturing any of it for our future
When we finally sat down and looked at our bills, we realized that $1,200 a month was going to minimum payments on our student loans, two car loans, and one credit card. It made us sick to realize that our debts totaled a mortgage payment.
It took us over a decade to get into that much debt and we knew it wasn’t going to be simple to pay off. We buckled down, learned everything we could about saving money and we made huge sacrifices (including moving twice!) that resulted in big results.
Now, a little over two years later, we are 100% debt free. And today I’m going to share the top things that contributed to our wild success.
Top 10 Things I Did to Pay Off Debt in 2 Years
1. I found MY frugal people.
There’s a reason this is my number one tip – it’s important! You need people. I learned about Dave Ramsey as soon as I started getting serious about debt repayment. He taught me that my wild idea of paying off debt was possible. Second, I found a handful of money-saving bloggers that shared awesome advice about living on less.
You can’t force your closest family, friends, and co-workers to spend their money wisely. But you can fill your mind with positive stories, ideas, and frugal inspiration. Find someone who motivates you. Find someone who speaks to your soul. And stick with them until the end.
Related post: How to Make Saving Money Easy
2. Find a budgeting method that works for you.
There are dozens of different methods for budgeting. You can use a budgeting app, a website, a free printable or even a Google Sheet. My biggest tip is find something that you’ll actually follow each month.
Related post: Budgeting Books You NEED to Read
3. I wrote down my goals. And I looked at them often.
Once I figured out the amount of money we could squirrel away each month to pay off debt, I made a chart of how long it would take to pay off $81, 400. It was so motivating to have the debt divided into small chunks and to have an end date in mind.
If I focused on the total number, I would have been paralyzed with the fear of failure. But instead, I focused on the next pay cycle. I told myself over and over again, “I can pay off another $500 by the end of the month! Let’s do this thing.”
Related post: 6 Steps to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
4. I ruthlessly cut down expenses.
Do you know how much money I “found” in my budget after I started cutting out extras? More than $500! I saved $100 by switching to Republic Wireless for my cell phone. I saved $80 a month by shopping car insurance. Also, I saved $300 by sticking to a cash grocery budget.
Related post: 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
5. Then, I even cut out the expenses that I was afraid to cut.
My husband and I were afraid to break up with cable. We grew up in homes with premium cable packages and we never pictured life without on-demand. I know it sounds silly, but we thought we couldn’t live in that kind of depravity.
But you know what? Our life is SO much better without it! Our kids watch more educational shows (whatever is on PBS or Netflix) and they aren’t inundated by commercials. Now my husband and I spend more time doing things that we enjoy, like blogging.
I also found that cutting cable was the one thing financial cut that changed everything. Once we realized we could make the “scary” cuts and survive, there was no stopping us.
Related post: Money Saving Hacks from an Extreme Cheapskate
6. I found cheaper ways to enjoy the things that I loved.
Instead of depriving myself of all the things that I used to enjoy, I made a game out of finding ways to enjoy that same products or services for a fraction of the cost.
I discovered how to drink Starbucks coffee for .20 cents per cup. And I found the best stores to buy name-brand secondhand items for my kids. I was surprised to find that my quality of life didn’t change at all. In fact, now I live a better, richer life for less.
Related post: 5 Side Hustles That Pay For My Groceries (and More!)
7. I used my talents to earn $30K.
Okay, this is a big one. My family paid off the remaining $30,000 of our debt in 10 minutes. It actually took 6 months of back-breaking work to buy and sell a fixer-upper, but we were able to pay off my remaining debt the day the home sale profits hit our bank account.
I know flipping a home is a ridiculous goal for some of you. But my husband is a residential homebuilder and I’ve been in love with home design and decor forever, so it was a natural fit to use our God-given skill set to make some moola.
I’m positive that there is something that you are great at, too! Blogging is a great option if you love to write!
Related post: How to Start a Profitable Blog the Right Way
8. I dealt with my grocery budget.
I have a love-hate relationship with my food budget. Groceries can blow your whole budget if you’re not careful. Meal planning was the single most powerful strategy that helped me stay on track. Luckily, there are hundreds of resources online to help you tackle your grocery budget.
9. I fell in love with all things used.
I mentioned it in #6 and I’ll mention it again – but I love buying things used. In fact, I saved $2,000 on my kitchen remodel by purchasing appliances off Craigslist!
Used does not always mean old, raggedy or cheap. Sometimes used means that you own really nice, expensive things that other people paid for. 🙂
Related post: 7 Things Never to Buy Used
10. I never stopped dreaming or believing that it was going to happen.
Even when I was buried in debt, I pictured my student loan accounts going down to zero. I pictured how I would burn the papers when I was down. And I pictured my family going on a vacation to celebrate. It’s important to daydream and think positively to stay on track.
My favorite part of our debt repayment story is that it actually makes no mathematical sense that we were able to pay off $81,400 so quickly. Once we started rolling, we were flooded with opportunities to make and save additional money. It wasn’t easy. We worked harder than we’ve ever worked in our entire lives. But it so was worth it!
More money-saving resources:
- 10 Habits of Highly Frugal People
- 20 Things Frugal People Don’t Do
- How Much Should I Budget for Groceries?
- Budgeting Allows You to Spend MORE
- How to Save Money When You Don’t Feel Like It
- What Do You Do When You Get Behind on Bills
- The 2 Biggest Budgeting Lessons to Make Your Budget Stick
- Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Starting Your Blog!
- Everything You Need to Start Cloth Diapering
- How to Earn a Full-Time Income from Etsy
- How We Lived Well on $17,000 as a Family of Four
Have you ever paid off a large amount of debt? What worked (or didn’t work) for you?
About the author
Jane and her family were able to pay off $81,400 in consumer debt in a little over 2 years through a combination of good old-fashioned frugality and flipping a fixer upper. She blogs about saving money in creative ways at JaneSaves.com.