You guys… January was productive and I mentioned a lot about what we did (nonprofit work, building an oil business, running Amanda Hedgepeth Photography & creating Workflow lists for photographers, etc) – but we only mentioned in a newsletter to our Salt Air Entrepreneur readers that we paid off $20K MORE IN DEBT!!! OUR SIENNA IS PAID OFF!!!!!!!!!!! This puts us officially at FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS DOWN…with $19K left to go.
Us. The people who were TERRIFIED to open the Dave Ramsey book..so, we let it sit on the shelf for years. But you know what? A girl in my DMs changed everything. She asked in summer of 2017 if we had ever done any posts about fighting debt and because my answer was no, but I had plenty of debt….I was pretty much OUT of excuses not to be able to finally say YES to an answer like this. If I had all this debt, but I’ve tried nothing intentional to get out of it – it was just time to start. So…we signed up THE NEXT DAY for Financial Peace University online. (Links to all of our previous posts will be at the bottom of this blog!)
Everything changed. We learned what a debt snowball was…listing your smallest to largest and paying it off in THAT order. This helps inspire you, build momentum and it also helps you to close more debts faster. We immediately paid off a Care Credit $245 credit card bill right in the beginning and it felt SO wonderful! Imagine if you did this right now. Imagine if you were brave and did the hard thing and checked your credit, found all of your debt, listed it from smallest to largest and started to pay attention to your food spending, your shopping, etc and put a little (or a lot, whatever you CAN!) toward those bills…and then the monthly payments started disappearing as you paid things off.
What would this do to your life? HOW FREE WOULD YOU FEEL!? As we paid off card by card and debt by debt…our monthly expenses went DOWN. Think about it. If you owe $25 a month to this card, $40 to this card, $75 to this card, $100 to this medical expense, etc… that’s $240 a month. That’s $2880 a year. What if you combined paying these off with budgeting your food and instead of $1000 a month on food…you spent $650? That’s $350 EXTRA a month, $4200 in savings a year! Do you see what I’m saying? EVERY LITTLE BIT ADDS UP. We have eliminated over $1000 a month in expenses by paying off our debt! We feel so inspired by this!
The first step, however, is to create a $1000 savings. You can read more about the baby steps on Dave Ramsey’s site, blogs, podcast/radio show, books, courses, etc. We always have our $1000 tucked away in case we need it, but we are 2/3 of the way through Baby Step TWO and then we’re on to Three where we’ll save 3-6 month worth of expenses. After that, Baby Step FOUR where we work to pay off our mortgage.
We are feeling so good about this you guys…we want you to know this joy, too! We justify and rationalize owing a lot of money for things we couldn’t buy as being normal. It’s “normal” to have debt we repeat over and over and over again so we don’t feel guilty but deep down, it haunts us and it sits there and it adds up. Debt is COMMON, but it’s not something we should keep justifying by calling normal. I know there are extenuating circumstances (medical debt, etc) and this is NOT to make you feel bad. You are not BAD for having debt!! MOST people do! But that doesn’t mean it’s a way we should continue living, digging ourselves into a deeper hole just because we don’t want to face it.
BE BRAVE WITH ME! Face it! I was terrified to know the total number…but once we found out, it made it more of a reality to work with and get that number down. Knowing the number did something that really surprised me, it made me feel FREE. I wasn’t playing naive and I wasn’t avoiding. I was bravely looking at that number and finally able to do something about it.
I asked on Instagram yesterday and people gave me really good reasons why they were scared. A lot of people were so afraid to lose their “freedom” in spending when they want on what they want, yet they were upset that they had debt. The debt WILL NOT go down if you continue spending freely, so you have already LOST your freedom!!!! There is something to be said about will power and contentment and being able to focus on your debt for a few months/years instead of accumulating. This doesn’t mean you have to go bare bones and go without things you need, but you can get freedom back by being really disciplined about what you spend on.
Setting a grocery budget is the BIGGEST help of all for us (free simple download here to track your grocery expenses!), we used to also spend a lot on carryout food and now we save thousands and thousands of dollars a year being mindful of this. We are over 2/3 of the way done with our debt because we have been challenging ourselves not to spend extra on things like decor (so glad I don’t like too close to a Target hahahah!), clothing (although we lost SO much weight when we changed our food budget that I had to spend on this last year, we have finally replaced what we need and are on a clothing spending freeze again, for now!) and other unnecessary items.
YOU CAN DO THIS. I promise you! Think about all of your fears when it comes to starting a debt journey. Are they worse than continuing to pile on the debt? Is the idea of shopping less WORSE than accruing debt and having it burden you monthly with payments? What would your life look like right now if you have no student loans, no car payments and no credit card debt? Do not count yourself out of this. Do NOT feel hopeless. People with more debt than you and less money have gotten out of it and so can you. I promise, you can do this. Soak up all the Dave Ramsey for guidance and listen to James Wedmore for ways to shift your mindset.
LINKS TO DAVE RAMSEY POSTS:
Dave Ramsey “Diet” (LOL)
Want to keep up with an Outer Banks mama of three sweet (and oh so wild!) little girls shooting weddings & small business photography while making time for the things that matter most? Click on the links below and let’s connect! Instagram Facebook