Allow me to be completely honest and upfront. We did, in fact, pay off just over $5,000 of my student loan debt in July ( you can read my goals update posts for the total of what we’ve paid off so far this year ), but we could not have done this when we were first starting out on the debt-free journey.
We are just over two years into this debt-free journey and as such, we have a lot more breathing room in our budget than we did when we were first starting out. The reason I say this isn’t to discourage you, but to encourage you to start now. Even if you can’t throw $5,000 towards the debt-monster this month, throw $5. I know that seems silly, but trust me, every little bit helps and that’s how we got this ball rolling so read on for what we did to pull off our crazy month, but keep in mind that this isn’t going to happen again for us this month and it may not happen again for another several months. We’re far from having this battle with the debt-monster over.
Reason for the Budget
Here’s the thing, if you don’t have a budget, it will be extremely difficult to defeat the debt monster. The reason being is that without a budget, you’ll have no real concept of where your money is going every month and thus, you’ll have no real idea of where you can cut expenses.
You’ll have to ask yourself difficult questions like if you really need to eat out every week or if going for drinks with friends is something that you must do every weekend. It’s not fun to have to slash your expenses but honestly, had we not made this a habit when we first started on this journey we wouldn’t have been able to pull off this last month.
If you aren’t sure where to start with budgeting, try some of these older posts:
Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
Our One Income Budget for Our Family Four (this is our yearly go-by budget and usually has to be adjusted every month but it keeps us from re-inventing the wheel every month)
The Half Payment Method (a.k.a. the stop living paycheck to paycheck method)
2018 Budget Planner (this the updated planner that we use in our Budget Binder to keep us on track)
Personal Capital (this is a FREE budgeting software program that we’ve used many times before – it’s super awesome!)
Save and Save Some More
If you follow my weekly email updates you know that we’ve been hit hard by Murphy’s Law these past couple of months and thus that has required us to pay for things that were definitely not in the budget (like fixing our A/C, my Daddy’s funeral, and our dryer breaking). The only way we were able to survive, those hiccups are because we have money in savings.
We only have money in savings because we have a plan for where those pennies that we’re pinching every month should go. We have money set aside for things like the A/C breaking or my hubs’ truck breaking down. This allows us to keep attacking the debt monster with minimal distractions.
Posts about our savings plans:
Generate More Income
In this post here, I go into detail about the various ways that you can make generating more income easier on yourself. In truth, this is where the majority of our debt-payoff extravaganzas came from. After all, my hubs’ paycheck is way less than $5,000 a month…like a lot less so trust me, the majority of our debt-payoff came from means outside his paycheck.
Here are the places:
Digit — I absolutely love this savings account. We don’t use this for an emergency fund (simply because pulling the money out is super easy – you send a text message, and that is too tempting for us to use it for non-emergency things), but we do use this as a way to generate additional debt monster slaying power. It makes saving money easy and better yet, when you refer people you know, you get $5 for every person. Pretty awesome way to build up a savings account quickly. ***Update 7/18/2018 We don’t use this account anymore as they started to charge a significant amount of money for it. We switched to Acorns which has an investing focus but is still an amazing way to accumulate extra money.
Swagbucks — I took some of the money that I’ve earned from Swagbucks out in order to apply to our debt. I didn’t take all of it because this is how we’re paying for Christmas this year. I love using Swagbucks as a way to earn additional income and if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know this isn’t the first time that I’ve used my SB earnings to pay off debt. 🙂 Head here to get started with Swagbucks.
Ibotta — Y’all are awesome sauce because it was you, my awesome readers that let me know of this amazing app that lets you earn money on things you purchase and goodness, has it helped us with our debt-payoff! So, THANK YOU! Head here to find out more about Ibotta and to sign up (it’s free).
Rebate Money — We got two rebate checks (one expected and one unexpected) that helped us with our debt-payoff goals. One of the checks was from Ebates where you earn cash back for shopping. In fact, I go through Ebates before I shop anywhere online (even when I booked our hotel when my Daddy passed away) so I can earn cash back on my purchases. The other rebate check was super small and came from an apparent bank dispute with a bank I used to use. Like I said, the second check was totally unexpected and even came in my maiden name which tells you how long ago this dispute must go back (I’ve been married 6 years)!
Blog Income — It’s no secret on here that I earn an income from my blogging endeavors and even though July was a lower than usual income month due to higher than normal expenses, we still threw every extra penny of the income I earn through my blogging activities towards the debt monster.
Change Your Mindset
Just as I mentioned above under Rebate Money, we received a small unexpected rebate check that I’m sure many would just spend on something for themselves and truth be told, my hubs and I both were tempted to do that. However, because we changed our mindset long ago that defeating the debt monster was priority number one, we knew there was literally nothing that was going to make us feel better than to hit the debt monster with another blow.
To me, that’s a key element to this journey towards debt-freedom — changing your mindset from wanting more stuff to wanting more freedom. You’ll only get more freedom when you don’t have a huge mountain of debt weighing you down.
I’d love to hear the various ways that you have managed to defeat the debt monster! I find y’alls stories so inspiring so please feel free to chime in below! 🙂
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