15 Ways I Paid Off $80,000 of Debt in 18 months

15 Ways I Paid Off $80,000 of Debt in 18 months

Last week I told you how paying off debt added freedom in my life and career in this post.  I told you how paying off debt really does influence your career choices.  I know this isn’t a finance blog and I am not a financial expert. But, I do know that zero debt has allowed me to be able to have work that I am passionate about rather than just working at a job I hate to pay my bills and student loans.

This is a quote that I found in a book called No More Mondays by Dan Miller.

“It’s the person who, each day, goes to a job he or she hates, just for the money, there’s the person who has made money his or her God.  There’s the person who focuses on and loves money.” – Dan Miller

Today I am going to tell you how my husband and I paid off our $80,000 of debt.  Hopefully, this will give you some ideas of how you can also pay off your debt so you don’t have to go to a job you hate just for the money.

  1. Read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. After my post last week I already heard from someone that they purchased the book and is taking action!  Awesome!
  2. Make a commitment to yourself. Write down your goal and how much you want to pay off by a certain deadline. Make sure you make it a reasonable goal and tell your friends and family about your goal. When you can’t go out to dinner with them, you don’t want them pressuring you!  You need their support to make this happen.
  3. Create a budget for each month.  Recording all of our income and expenses is how we got ourselves out of debt and in control my expenses.  Each month, make a goal and then try your best to meet it!
  4. If your expenses are everywhere, use mint.com to keep track of everything.  This way you only need to go to one account to find the information you need, rather than opening a ton of different accounts to update your budgeting.
  5. Be creative.  Is any of your money tied about in accounts that you don’t really need.  For instance, I had some money sitting aside in an investment account that I never touched.  Meanwhile I had all this debt that I was working my butt off to get rid of. I decided to take the money from the investment account and apply it to my debt.  Now we have started investing again but without the headache of debt clouding our decisions.
  6. Sell, sell, sell.  Yes, that’s right.  I didn’t need that butter dish like I thought I did when I got married.  So on ebay it went.  This allowed us to unclutter our lives and really think about the items that we wanted to keep. It was hard to sell wedding presents but some of them we hadn’t used in the 5 years since we were married. So we knew it was time for them to go.  We also both had all of our textbooks from college and grad school that we never looked at.  Those were sold on half.com as well.  You might not think you can make much money from selling small dollar items but trust me, it adds up quickly!  I even sold clothes on ebay that I never wore anymore.  Not only will this help you pay off debt faster, but you will also feel so much better living in an uncluttered house.
  7. Evaluate the car your drive.  We had two major loans on both of our new cars that we had recently purchased. We thought long and hard about selling our cars and getting used cars instead when we decided to get out of debt.  At that point in time though, we realized it would be better in the long run if we just paid more on the loans each month and knocked the loans down faster. But, if you don’t see an end in sight for your car loans, buy a used car instead and use the difference from your sold car to pay off your debt.
  8. Focus.  One of the reasons that I think it took so long for us to make this plan to get out of debt is that every financial expert tells you to do something different.  I had always heard that you should pay off your largest debt or largest interest rate first and that just seemed totally overwhelming so I never did it.  It wasn’t until I heard Dave Ramsey’s plan of paying off the SMALLEST debt first did the light bulb click for me.  I do love my checklists and the faster I can check stuff off, the better I feel.  So this allowed us to pay off our first debt in a matter of weeks because it was so tiny.  So, even though it might not make as much “sense” to pay off the smallest debt first if it doesn’t have a high interest rate, what really matters is that you stick with it and that is the more important than worrying about interest rates.
  9. Review your wardrobe.  Yes, I do love new clothes too. But for almost a year, I rarely bought anything new.  I learned to try new combinations in my wardrobe and found a bunch of stuff that was hiding when I actually sorted my closet.  I know all your friends are always buying new stuff and you may not fit all the latest trends.  What I noticed is at some point something triggers where even though you might have worn the same thing last month, you feel happier about who you are and the goals that you are meeting that you just don’t care anymore about trying to fit in anymore.  I am all for looking great and stylish, but you don’t need new clothes all the time in order to do that.  As long as you have the classics and you feel comfortable in them.  (But,  if going on an interview, please get yourself a nice suit.  This you can fit into the budget because Classy Career Girl says so)!
  10. Be creative with your living situation.  When my husband and I were getting closer to paying off our debt, we really wanted to decrease our living costs but it was just something that we could not figure out how to move. (Normally, I would say get a cheaper rent but at the time we had a mortgage and we were stuck).  So we decided to offer our spare bedroom to one of my best friends for a very affordable rent.  This did two things. 1) It helped us get out of debt faster. 2) It helped her get out of debt. Win and win!  Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with their best friend everyday!
  11. Track your expenses at the grocery store.  I was notorious for using a grocery list app on my phone when I went grocery shopping so I knew exactly how much I was going to spend when I left the store.  I planned what I needed beforehand and what I thought each item was going to cost and then I adjusted at the store. So if I saved a couple dollars on one item, it allowed me to splurge and get something that wasn’t on the list.  We also used coupons that were available online and in the grocery store handouts.  Don’t overlook the free offers!
  12. Carpool.  My husband and started driving together to and from work. Even though it was a major hassle because we would get done at certain times, we saw our gas bill go down so it was worth the hassle!
  13. Cut the TV channels.  Do you really need the million channels you have right now?  You know all you do is flip the channels over and over anyways so why not just have 5-10 channels to choose from.  It makes decisions a LOT easier.  We went down to basic cable and didn’t miss trying to find a great show in a million channels.
  14. We ate in, a LOT.  It’s much cheaper to cook at home and eat leftovers.  (Plus, it helps that my husband will eat anything I put in front of him including the same thing for a few days:)
  15. Stay positive.  You will do it.  Just imagine yourself at the end and how great it will feel. It will be SO WORTH your hard work now so that you can have freedom to do want you want in your career and life.

It doesn’t take an accounting masters to be able to pay off debt in a smart and efficient way.  Through budgets, determination, and a little creativity, you can put your life in a better spot financially.

Can’t wait to hear your stories soon about how you got out of debt and that you aren’t trapped in your career anymore!  If I can do it, you can do it!  Good luck!

P.S. I know this isn’t a marriage blog either but I do have to share one other thing about getting out of debt.  Over and over again I hear couples arguing about money and my husband and I used to argue about money as well. But, we don’t anymore.  Why? Because we don’t have to argue about bills, loans and each other’s expenses anymore.  We are now on the same team.

(photo credit: Alan Cleaver)

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About Anna Runyan

Hi! I’m known as the leading authority on getting women unstuck out of careers they hate. For the last 5 years I’ve been helping clients transition into careers they love. I have worked behind the scenes helping hundreds of professional women find fulfilling, challenging and purposeful careers. Make sure you sign up for my Free ‘CHEAT SHEET’
– 7 proven steps to get out of a job you HATE and into a career you LOVE.

Comments

  1. Brittany Lee says:

    Great tips! Thank you!

  2. Razia Sylvester says:

    Hi
    You speak about the “snow ball” method of reducing your debt in point 8 and yes you are right- this really works if you focus and stay committed. I am using this method and seeing results I must just stay string and remain focused. Thanks for the reminder. Will do my best to be successful and financially independent.

  3. Great tips! My husband and I are about to start on this journey as well. Would you mind sharing the grocery app you mentioned above? Thanks!

    • Funny that you ask that Cara! I was totally going to put it into the post but then I couldn’t find the app on my phone anymore! But I went back and found it today. I think they just changed the color so I totally didn’t recognize it. Anyways, the app is called GrocerEaze and it’s on the iphone. I would list out everything I would need and the price before heading to the mall. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

  4. The tips are practical and doable. Many thanks!

  5. Thank you for sharing this- it’s relieving to see that it CAN be done… reading this gave me encouragement that I can get out of my student loan debt too. Thank you.

  6. Also, you can use creditkarma.com to check your credit for free! It has helped me a lot

    • I second this! I love having that resource! It doesn’t spam you either, but does remind you after six months that your score is probably outdated. You log in, hit update, and it tells you how well you’re doing! Or, in my boyfriend’s case, reminds you how much student loans can suck… But oh well!

  7. I took Dave Ramsey’s class at my church Feb 2011. I began paying off all my credit cards immediately and saving $1000. In July of 2011, I was able to purchase my first home which was a forclosure. My boyfriend & I knew we would have a lot of work to do to get the house looking great but it has 2800 square feet, is in our ideal location, & has beautiful original hard wood floors we fell in love with! At $100,000, I was able to purchase the home and finance it for 15 years!!! We were married in Feb 2012 & before my husband proposed, he too had paid off all his credit cards! We now live in a beautiful home, have just welcomed our new baby girl, and my crdit score is up to 790! Dave Ramsey rocks! I use an app on my phone called EEBA that really helps me do envelope budgeting within my checking account. Check it out, its free and it works!!!!

    • Jennifer says:

      I just started the envelope system this week. Thanks for sharing the envelope app, it looks like it will help me with the new system.

  8. Love your tips! My husband and I are young, with 3 children! We have been very blessed and smart with our money for the most part! Including our vehicles and house/land and a few other thibgs we have 67,000 worth of debt we have committed ourselves to paying off in the next 2 years where we would be debt free and be able to build us a home! We’re going to be using Dave Ramsey as well. When we see how much my husband makes, we are now tracking everything rather than saying “where does all our money go?!” We’re very confident we can do it!

  9. Ugggh – I really want to pay off all our debt. We are a family of six and its the unexpected expenses that kill us…not to mention food and gas. J just get so overwhelmed!

  10. Congrats!! We did the same thing 80K in 18 months with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. It feels so good to be debt free!

  11. Great tips! I’d add: think about getting rid of one (or even both!) cars, at least temporarily. If you live near work and other places you frequent or have decent public transit available, you may be able to live without a car. Or replace with a car sharing service like Zipcar or set up a share with a friend if you only need one periodically. You might be surprised how much you can save each year by not paying for gas, insurance, registration, and repairs, not to mention that selling a car can allow you to make a big immediate dent in your debt.

  12. Love love love Dave Ramsey! Paying off the littlest card (or whatever) before going for broke – pardon the pun – with the bigger stuff? Genius! I am also a huge supporter of savings is silly if you’re drowning in debt….my personal “secret weapon” I use strictly for holidays? All the money I saved at the grocery store (BJ’s, Target…) using a store card or coupon I hid in cash, in a safe spot. $7.92 one week; the week I danced out of the market having saved over $60; all told, this Xmas, I had over $3000 tucked away. Now we’re doing Xmas with no credit card hangover in Jan!!

    *this is also our Holy Cow I Can’t Believe That Happened account. New tires this year for me, brakes for Hubs….

  13. My name is Helen jean, I am a happy woman today? and I told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, I will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave happiness to me and my family, I was in need of a loan of $100,000 to start my life all over as I am a single mother with 3 kids I met the God fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $100,000,he is a God fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan contact him tell him that is Helen Jean that refer you to him. Contact Mr. Adams bond via email; excellcommunitybankloan@gmail.com May God bless Mr. Adams bond for bringing happiness to my life and my family life.

  14. I am familiar with Dave Ramsey and his plan. Many of the families I know don’t even earn $80,000 in 24 months time. This comes off as a rich girl whinning when there are families who can’t afford medical care. I am guessing you have no idea how much it costs to insure a family of four and pay for copays and prescriptions. BTW, this family of four has not paid for tv since 2002. We paid $100 for a justice of the peace and $30 for a marriage license and that was the total of our wedding. Our only trip was a trip I won when I was on tv. My vehicle is just under 100,000 miles at 10 years old and has been completely paid for, for years. Do I care any more whether I have a penny in debt or not? Nope. You can eat all the ramen noodles you want, I don’t, and the next thing you know your doctor tells you that you have cancer. Yes, at the age of 36 with two small kids at home and a cancer diagnosis I realized I would rather be happy and if that means spend money than live like a monk, I am going to do it.

    • Just realize that the debt you make now doesn’t just go away when you die, your husband and then your children will have to pay it. My mom died of cancer and 4 days later my dad of a broken heart. I am thankful the only debt they have is a second mortgage and a small credit card bill. My husband and I are commiting 30 years of our life to pay it off so that we don’t loose my family home. I’m not trying to lecture you but show you what it’s like from someone that’s been there. Don’t strap your kids with your debt.

      • Your kids can’t be held liable for your debt. They can go after anything in your estate and leave your kids with no inheritance, but they can’t make kids pay for parents debt. Some debt they can’t even go after spouses for, like student loans.

        I’ve read the book and it does have good advice, but if you don’t make the money it just isn’t going to work. You can only cut costs so far and sell so much stuff. and it’s never worth risking your health with crappy food or skipped check ups to save a few bucks.

    • Actually Dave Ramsey would tell you to stop your debt snowball and fight the cancer, and save up if possible.

      And her estate will be held responsible, so it would impact her children.

      • My husband has excellent health insurance benefits through his employer so we paid only $50 for my cancer treatment. With what I had there was no chemo or radiation just surgery that leaves me infertile and now in menopause. What a treat! I only have appts now every three months for the next two years and am not expecting any large bills for my future care. United Health Care took care of all the $500 office visits and $40,000 in hospital and surgical fees. I also had a life insurance policy in place before my cancer diagnosis. We don’t run up a credit card or have student loans to pay off. We just figured up our 2012 income taxes and had an AGI of less than $65,000. Dave would hate it I am sure but the bank just pulled our credit scores yesterday and told us how great they were. We knew this all ready.

  15. This is fantastic advice! My husband and I paid off $60k in debt a few years ago using these same methods. One additional thing that helped me was to make weekly small payments on the loan instead of once a month, this helped to keep me motivated as well as reduced the interest (since interest is calculated daily on many loans). Good luck to everyone! It’s definitely worth it in the end!

  16. We didn’t have quite that much, but paid of $25k plus saved $30k in the span of 2.5 years. We weren’t able to get the 15 year loan, but paid off enough debt to give us a great enough score to really help us out on our first home and fully intend to pay it off early. I listen to Dave’s radio show all the time and also went to FPU. I loved the support in the class! Dave is a great motivator!! It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to be able to pay off that last school loan! It’s all been such an eye opener and lifestyle change for the better for our family. It’s great to set a goal and achieve it, but know you always have to keep setting new goals for yourself. Plus, don’t be afraid to have big goals.

  17. This is really inspiring. I’m 26 years old w/ abt 25k of debt built up from college. I really want to travel more and start saving towards my future home but my horrible spending habits of eating out all the time & not creating a monthly budget leaves me in a bind. Needless to say, this is really inspiring. Ill definitely pick up Dave’s book and hopefully I’ll have my own inspiring story to share ;)

  18. Excellent info. We will be using each of these tips for our “Get out of Debt program”! Thank you

  19. Julie Brady says:

    We have so much debt that I cannot even tell how much we have, I get very over whelmed because I don’t know where to even start or how to tell what or who we still owe money to. Most of our debt is medical bills, I had so many surgeries in a short span of time, my question to you is where do we start, shouldn’t we pay off the oldest medical bills or other bills we owe from the past years first?.

    How do I tell what/where to start as far as who to start paying first, we also owe both federal & state taxes for the last three years. They do not take no for an answer and if you miss payments that don’t like that either, I need someone to tell me where to start.

    • Start with your taxes sell things do whatever you can but you have to pay those off as soon as possible. Then sit down with all your bills and make a list of who you owe and how much. Try calling the hospital they have people there that help people make a payment plan. But you must do everything you can to pay off your taxes tomorrow sell, sell, sell! Good luck

    • We used Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s method of organizing ourselves to begin the long process of digging ourselves out of the hole we’d made! She has lots of great resources to help you figure out HOW to organize your finances so that you can see everything, and how long things will take to pay off (she doesn’t recommend taking longer than 3 years to pay everything off). It’s hard work, but worth it to look at my “Credit Available” and see how well I’ve done (since there is now “credit available”!!!). Her website is here: http://www.gailvazoxlade.com

    • Julie, we used a non-profit company called debt management group to help us get out of debt. They call all of your bill collectors for both medical and credit card debt and will work out a deal with them. You then pay just 1 monthly payment to the debt management group and they will distribute the money to all of your bills. We were able to be completely debt free with a year and didn’t have to worry about debt collection calls anymore! The credit card companies stopped charging as much interest because of working with this group and we could pay more money on the months we had extra cash around (like when we got our tax return). It was VERY worth our while!

        • I’d like to know if you saw a negative impact on your credit score because of using this service. I’ve always been afraid to use these because, while I want/need to pay the debt off, I don’t want my credit score to go down because I’m using a service like this. We’re there any bad/negatives to using them? Thanks so much. We’re also drowning in debt. 2 young kids and 3 older (from previous marriage in college). Husbands law school loans are killing us. :(

  20. Hi, I am hoping to start on a similar journey but minus one income (my husband had been out of work and stays home with our daughter) I wanted to share with you the grocery IQ app is really nice also it links your items as you go with coupons from coupons.com! Just thought I would share that and thanks for all the advice I will be getting the book first thing Monday and then starting on this terrifying but exciting journey!

  21. david gregory says:

    Just wondering Anna, what was your combined income? My wife is stay at home, and I take home around $2000/ month. It’s hard to save a lot on such a little.

    • This is a good point to bring up, it is impossible to save/reduce debt as quickly as Anna has without a comparable income. People who are successful at paying off debt and saving large volumes of money are often neglect to share their income as part of the success story. Though it is wonderful when people, no matter their income, can live wisely, it can be very frustrating for those earning less be told by the wealthy how to have similar success.

    • David, I totally understand where you are coming from. I’m a single mom of 4 with an income of about $2300/month. I live in Canada and live in a province that has a higher minimum wage at least. To all the teenagers Stay in School!!

    • Thank you for this question!! I can’t stand it when people cite successes like this without giving us some more info about their financial situation. I love my job, but I make less than $80 000 in 18 months, so this kind of success is not even wildly realistic for me. For the people who say that anyone can be this successful if they only put their mind to it . . . you haven’t got a clue.

    • I’m not sure if you’ll consider us rich, and by many measures we are, but here’s our story. We bring home $2680 a month. There is just me and my husband. From that, we tithe, and then we put aside $1800 a month to pay off debt. If we bring home any extra, it usuaaly gets added to the debt payment. We have seen many blessings along the way…ie we haven’t budgeted for clothes this year at all, since we are ” in the home stretch”, but without really knowing our situation, have had 3 friends give me good professional clothes and shoes. Gods been taking care of us. We only have $5,000 to go, and our house will be paid for.

  22. Hi~ I don’t know where to start… I work part time and make about $1600- a month. The big problem lies with my husband, he been laid off about 5x’s in the past 5 years!!!! He’s working now.. But.. It’s not great. Every time he does have a “good” job we get caught up but then it happens again!!!!! Then we fail behind!!! We have 2 car payments and are CC bills are about $2000, cell phone ect.. We moved in w/my mom to hope to get ahead. We have 2 children., we never go out to eat or buy clothes ( only for the kids if needed) What! What! Can we do?!?

    Totally at list!!!

    • Hi Tracy,

      I know it’s hard but I really recommend the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. The reason I liked this book so much is because he put getting out of debt into really simple steps and it helped me get through the overwhelm of where to start.

      Unfortunately, I am really not a financial coach but a career coach. But I would love to help you if I could by sharing my experiences. Let me know if you have any other questions and if you have read this book?

      Thanks,
      Anna Runyan

  23. not sure where to start. 40K student loan. plus 40K credit card past due, plus 40K car loans. I need to do something. great info. thanks,

  24. My husband and I have 6 weeks to total freedom! At that point we are going to hammer out the mortgage! Dave Ramsey’s books are what got us started too! We have also lived happily without cable for almost a year and we have 3 teenage children. Netflix for $7.99 a month is much better than dish for $80.00 per month! Like anything else it requires determination and commitment!

  25. My husband and I are on a 5 year plan. We are at the start of year 3, pre tax refund and are down to less than half of where we started. I am a stay-at-home mom of two and we have done a great job with the one income. We used all the pointers that you mention on here and have hit lots of speed bumps along the way but thanks to our dedication we have recovered well every time. Keep up the great work. First step in being debt free is admitting fault and taking full responsibility for it. Then just CHARGE AHEAD! Happy 2013 everyone.

  26. Amber Arp says:

    Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I started the Financial Peace University last night at our church. I can already tell it is going to be a life changer. Also, I loved your post about not being stuck doing a job that you hate. I have been waitressing for 8 years, putting myself through college and taking the long route to avoid expensive student loans. It was definitely worth it. Now, however, like you, I want a different job to explore my creative side (I just graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art). It feels good knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way. Thanks for the encouragement, I plan on finding something that I am good at and love doing.

  27. Congrats on paying off your debt! My husband and I also went through Dave’s baby steps (which he lists for free on his website.) We didn’t even read his books until we were on Baby Step 4, 5, and 6. And in the middle of paying off that debt, we paid cash for the birth of twins. Our lives have forever been changed since we no longer have debt. And to all the people that have left comments saying that they can’t do it, then if that’s what you think, then you will forever be living paycheck to paycheck. I want to make sure that my kids have what they need, and not be left with a mess to clean up. The people you owe to can’t make my kids pay, but they will take everything to settle a debt. And for all the people who are starting on this journey, there will be tough times. Hang in there, it’s all worth it!! Best of luck to you all!!

  28. I like how you are helping people to think beyond where they are, just with what you have done. Mainly financially, but it overflows into everyday choices, values, how we view things, and then a willingness to try and even fail. To me, the most awesome thing is impact all of this had had in the lives of everyday people. Keep it up!

  29. I love it! I’m currently learning how to really stick to a budget. I’m 21 and a lot of my friends are in the “constant shopping” mode. I just need to say no!

    One thing that helps me is that I have a part time job at a YMCA. I love working there, and it also gets me a free membership. So, if I’m looking for something to do I can go to one of the classes there or go workout. It occupies my time and for free!! Plus, I feel a whole lot better that I’m using my time for something that benefits my mind and body rather than my closet. (sad face, sometimes) hah!

  30. I’ve worrying about how much debt I have accumulated and no idea how to get rid of my credit card debt. I heard of snowballing it and a friend who does financial consulting gave me printouts of my debt with which to pay of first and how much to make payments etc. I thought cool! and kept track for a couple months, was offered a limit raise at a time when I really needed it and dug an even deeper hole. Last month I found an app for my phone – DebtPayOff Pro that does the same thing and I add each payment I make and watch the numbers go down. It keeps track of everything – payments, the interest rate, the total. I thought I was about $8000 in debt but found I was actually closer to $12,000!!! I must get rid of this!
    I’m going to try some of your tips as well. There must be something around here I can sell LOL Which shopping list app do you use?

  31. Deborah Smith says:

    My husband and I have reduced several costs by going with prepaid phones. We pay $33.00 a month for two cell phones (even cheaper than a land line around here) as opposed to the $120/month were paying with ATT. We got rid of cable and just use Netflix for our entertainment needs. I called my credit cards to see if I could get lower interest rates. I found out one was an excellent rate for the current market so I asked about a balance transfer and was able to transfer a card balance from a bank unwilling to lower my interest rate to what the other card had. I refinance my car at a credit union and that cut $40.00/month. We also became a one car family and moved closer to work to save gas. And I’ve been leaving my credit card at home so I can’t decide that the lunch I brought to work doesn’t sound very good even if I don’t have the money in bank account and buy something different. These changes have made a huge impact on our financial situation. And, of course, we also subscribe to Totally Money Management. Listening to the positive peer pressure of paying down debt on Ramsey’s radio show is also inspiring to keep up the sacrifices.

  32. I’m about to embark on this journey, but my husband and I have separate finances so I’m not sure how easy it will be. Thanks for all of the pointers. I just graduated nursing school and I’m starting my first job in a few weeks…I cannot wait to be out from under the ridiculous amount of student loan debt I have!

  33. What grocery app did you use? I have an iPhone & use electronic coupon apps but would like to be able to track spending while I shop to help keep me on budget.

  34. Thank you so much for this post! I graduate in May and currently job searching. It’s great to see this all in one place. I do some of this already, but it’s nice to have someone else point these things out to my fiance!!

  35. This was so helpful and encouraging. Thank you so much!

  36. This is a great post Anna! I started using Mint.com and absolutely love it! There’s even a Mint app, if you go over on a budget it will send you notifications!

  37. Medical expenses can put a dent into your budget. I am trying to get out of some debt as well. One of the things I am doing is cutting coupons. It has been saving some money. money. Also planning trips to the grocery store in reference to the products on sale. I have also been taking my lunch to work. Getting back to the medical expenses you can negotiate theses and get some discounts. I also refinanced my house from a 6.375 percent to 4.25 and from 30 to a 15 year. Things will get better with time.

  38. I graduated almost 4 years ago with only oweing 16,000, I’ve accumulated so much interest I now owe almost 35,000….I have two children and work at a job that’s not in my career field….I’ve talked to lenders and I’ve talked the Dept of Edu, and I’ve qualified for forbearance and financial hardship, but I’m still behind and still accumulating interest I’m not getting anywhere….I’m scared for our future, and we (my husband & I) own nothing except our vehicles. I do not have credit cards or other debt expenses, so I’m at a lost…I cannot afford the minimum payment they want, my loans were broken into 5 seperate loans and sold to two lenders, I do not qualify for consolidation or bankruptcy….please help us!!

    • Sounds like you have private loans. There is no way a federal loan would’ve doubled like that in 4 years. You should speak with an attorney.

  39. The smartphones need to go, too. How stupid is it to be broke — whether or not it’s because you’re putting all of your money into your debt snowball or not — yet have an iPhone and a $200/mo phone bill?

  40. allison says:

    We have only our house note but I’d like that gone too…
    We bought 7 years ago for 430k and owe 228k. Our kids go to private school to the tune of 20k per year – combined. We do not go on vacation for pleasure, rarely spend on clothing for ourselves, but our food bills for groceries are astronomical. I suppose part of it is that we only buy organic, but the flip side to that is that none of us has any health issues – period.
    Long way to get here but what if your husband doesn’t recognize that we’d all be happier if we sold some crap and got out of debt? How do you convince your spouse to lighten the load?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m with you. Can’t get my spouse to curb the spending habits. It’s so frustrating. He acts like he understands the gravity of our situation, but it doesn’t stop him from making unwise decisions financially. How do I get him to look beyond the moment and see how the spending will affect our lives?

      • If he won’t listen, I would just model the behavior as best as you can. My husband and I set up a “Date” to go to a coffee shop and create a budget. I tried to turn it into a fun thing because we could talk about our goals and dreams and what we could afford once we accomplished our goals. That way we accomplished them together and it was exciting. Whatever you do, try not to nag. If he won’t listen, tell him that you want to be in charge of the budget and spending and tell him the amount of money that he can spend each week. Maybe he just doesn’t want to think about it so if you offer to do it, he would be happy to have you be in charge. Once he sees how much you can now save each month, he will get excited. Make it a competition (MEN LOVE COMPETITION!!) to see which of you can save more each week and make a goal at the end of the month for a big present or event you will get if you both do great on the budget. Hope some of these ideas help! I think another tip I have is just to be honest and tell him your goal and how you will never reach that goal if the spending doesn’t get into control. Do a budget and tell him just to work with you for a few months to see how much you can save.

        • Hello, my name is Maria. I’m the one that runs the finances at home. I used to spend a lot of money a month (around $500-$1000 in unnecessary clothing, eating out, buying unnecessary things) but finally realized I had to stop spending and start saving instead. So, I started selling all my unncessary items and now I’m starting a small business (I still have 25,000 in debt but plan to pay it all but the beginning of next year).

          So far, my business is prospering (yayy..making around $1000-1500 in profits per month) and my husband who sometimes would argued with me about where all money went, its helping me now. So, what I try to demonstrate it’s that you should talk to your husband and tell him that both of you can help each other. He needs to listen to you, be open-mind and change his spending habits (I told my husband that if we could continue spending like this, by the age of 50 we would never had at least $1000 in our bank.).
          That made him and myself realized how important is to create a budget. NOw, We only buy necessary things and have seem our bank account go up to $2000-$2500. We are also knocking down our debts (we give more money into our loans than the minimum amount, and put the rest into the principal). So everything is possible.

          Another thing I suggest that early we start saving, the better for our ourselves and our children, its really wonderful to feel the freedom of being out of debt…(we are almost there….did I mention that he had over $60,000 in student loans and we paid it all in 2 years and that I am stay at home mom???)…yes everything is possible. Unlike our friends, we decided to pay our debts first and then go on vacation..like most young couples do…but its something we decided in order to be out of debt as soon as possible.

          So, for now I will continue growing in my small business and hopefully all our debt (aorund $25,000) will be paid by the beginning of next year or maybe who knows by the end of this year.

          Try to focus about the positive things that saving money brings rather than spending.

  41. I have $0 debt and I do almost all of these. There came a time when “having” just wasn’t what I had always thought it was. I started to ebay and enjoyed the challenge of trying to make at least one sale on a regular basis. Also, now a lot of communities have a “buy, sell, swap” page on FB. This is a fun way to get rid of stuff and meet new people. I also got rid of the channels, the texting phone (use Yahoo or MSN, facebook, etc.) and try out new recipes on my family instead of trying a new restaurant. If your family and friends care, they will help you with this not criticize.

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  43. I’m a financial advisor that makes you do all the work. I don’t charge a fee but accept donations. I do this bc it was done for me so I pay it foward. All done through emails and I just ask for a reference letter when you no longer have debt so I can show my clients! It is not impossible and when you fell it is God is good with impossibilities. Please email me!

  44. OMG this is freaky! I have been wanting to put order into my finances for years and in my searches I ran accross Dave Ramsey’s program – I took the info but didnt buy the program or anything – left it as a good intention. Years later I hear that our church is holding a financial university – by Dave Ramsey. Oh ok there might be something to this – I go to amazon and buy the book and the envelope system -yet I don’t read the book or implement the system… A few months go by and I go to a convention where the key note speaker was talking about getting out of debt and living withih your means – I didnt recognize the name – but it turned out to be Dave Ramsey’s Daughter!!!! It gets better – I run accross Anna online- I sign up for her event and go to check her website out and noticed she got out of debt – so I click on this article… Dave Ramsey? Do I need a brick wall to fall on my head or what? I need to do this NOW!!!!
    And even though my husband and I don’t argue much – and with money it is mostly becasue he is like a stork with his head in the sand in the sand – when we have argued it has been because of money… and I want us to both feel empowered about our finances and be a team!
    Can’t wait to meet you in person!

  45. My name here says:

    Good tips, I use a lot of these myself, but may I play devils advocate? It would take me 3 years to earn enough to cut 80 grand if I didn’t spend a single penny. Having said that, my basic needs (cheap mortgage, food, toiletries, transportation, phone) account for almost half of that…so in reality that would take me about 5 years if I didn’t spend a single penny. I think all my belongings would go for under 10 grand. This isn’t very realistic for single people who don’t have big incomes.

  46. Great tips, but what if you live paycheck to paycheck? Our rent is one of the lowest in our neighborhood. The payment on our car is as low as we could get them to go (we need this car to get to work a couple towns over, and hybrid means gas money is as low as its going to get) we pretty much only eat in, and not even good food at that. I eat ramen for lunch every day. We really don’t have anywhere to cut costs. I work a full time job and its exceptionally frustrating not being able to get anywhere.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] As soon as you determine that you want to attend graduate school, begin to reduce your living expenses. This will help you save more, but also prepare you for the barebones student budget that you will be expected to live on when you get to school. That may mean limiting the weekend shopping trips – sorry ladies – or eating in a bit more often. I wasn’t so forwarding thinking on reducing my expenses before graduate school; I simply benefited from going straight from poor undergrad to grad student. Anna has some great tips though on how she reduced her expenses to eliminate $80,000 in debt (click here to read). [...]

  2. [...] Of the three things I mentioned, this is the one that I struggle with the most. It is not easy. But just because it is not easy, doesn’t mean it is impossible. Anna is proof of that on this post. [...]

  3. [...] of my most read blog posts here at Classy Career Girl is the 15 ways I paid of $80,000 in debt in 18 months.  I firmly believe that eliminating debt is a huge factor to being able to succeed in the career [...]

  4. [...] of my most read blog posts here at Classy Career Girl is the 15 ways I paid of $80,000 in debt in 18 months. I firmly believe that eliminating debt is a huge factor to being able to succeed in the career of [...]

  5. [...] Read more about how I paid off my debt: 15 Ways I Paid Off $80,000 in 18 Months [...]

  6. […] Bonus#6: Anna shares how she and her husband paid off $80,000 debt in 18 months! […]

  7. […] 15 Ways I Paid off $80,000 of Debt in 18 months (90 comments!) – This post I actually wrote in 2012 but it continues to be one of my most […]

  8. […] My husband and I gathered 6-month savings in the bank. In 2012 we got out of debt and now are following Dave Ramsey’s plan.  Read this post to learn more about how we got out of debt. […]

  9. […] I am sharing with you more of my tips on how to get out of debt. One of my most read blog posts was this post about how my husband and I got out of over $80K of debt. As we learned last week, debt has a huge impact on your career if your life is controlled by […]

  10. […] of the biggest inspirational stories (and most read blog posts) I have is how I got out of debt (15 ways I paid off 80K of debt –my most read blog […]

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