After reading countless stories of millennials and gen-Xers who shoulder many of the same debts, we asked ourselves how we ended up in the same situation as everyone else…
“When did we decide that ‘debt’ was something we could afford?”
With that unanswered question in mind, we made 2015 the year we change our lives. We embarked on a journey to achieve debt freedom.
It took two years, but we’re happy to report that we’re 100% debt free (no mortgage!).
How We Achieved Debt Freedom in Two Years
To achieve debt freedom, set two personal finance goals: cut our expenses and increase our income.
Cutting our expenses and increasing our income at the same time meant we had more money to apply to our debt, so we paid it off faster than if we had only used one of those two strategies.
March 2017: $0 (We paid off the last student loan, so we are 100% debt free!)
February 2017: $10,286.53
January 2017: $10,679.54
December 2016: $23,785.73
November 2016: $24,495.32 (We paid off the small house mortgage!)
October 2016: $38,005.47
September 2016: $41,241.00
August 2016: $42,012.70
July 2016: $54,686.12
June 2016: $60,048.36
May 2016: $65,981.97 (We sold the big house and shed its mortgage!)
April 2016: $219,071.25
March 2016: $223,946.70
February 2016: $227,062.32
January 2016: $227,913.35
December 2015: $234,443.56
November 2015: $240,352.35 (We took on a mortgage for the small house.)
October 2015: $188,455.59 (We paid off our credit card debt!)
September 2015: $194,844.52
August 2015: $197,673.60
July 2015: $200,098.43
June 2015: $200,941.46
May 2015: $202,583.02
April 2015: $204,971.31 (We include the mortgage, student loans and credit card debts.)
March 2015: We decided to take control of our personal finance situation and get out of debt. The debts we had at the start of our personal finance journey (a month before we started blogging)…
- Credit Cards: $16,515
- Mortgage: $156,013
- Student Loans: $36,079
How We Cut Our Expenses to Save Money & Pay Off Debt
1. PF knowledge: On a regular basis, we read personal finance books, blog posts, and listen to personal finance podcasts to learn more about managing money.
2. Budgeting: We created a budget for our money. Once we knew where we were spending our money, we were able to make adjustments to reallocate more money to our debt repayment.
3. Cutting housing-related expenses: We downsized to a small house to cut housing-related expenses, including utilities and taxes.
4. Cutting transportation-related expenses: We’re a one-car family.
5. Shopping ban for clothing: We hadn’t purchased clothes for two years while we were getting out of debt.
6. Cutting cable: We did this several years ago and haven’t looked back. We don’t have Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, either.
7. Coupon clipping: We clipped coupons for fresh berries from Driscoll’s. We used the grocery coupon app Ibotta to clip coupons; sign up here (aff link) and use Referral Code rnkaeoy to get $10 just for signing up.
8. Cutting restaurant / going out for meals: We stopped going out for meals and started cooking at home more often.
9. DIY: Whenever we can, we do it ourselves. We maintain our own home, fix our car, make our own food, and much more.
10. Water: We drink water. It’s a free or cheap, no calorie drink, so we stopped buying bottled drinks of all kinds; our favorite water bottle is the Hydro Flask (aff link).
11. Coffee: We make espresso with a Bialetti.
12. Lawn Maintenance: We DIY. Our lawn at the small house is quite small, so we’re able to push a mower around fairly quickly.
13: Home Maintenance: We painted our own fence and porch. We clean our own house.
14. Cell Phone Service: Since we pay for only one of our cell phones, we switched to Ting Mobile to cut our bill significantly.