But first a little back story. Brian graduated in 2009 with a handful of student loans, I graduated in 2010 with a handful of loans, in 2011 we bought a car and financed the whole thing, and then we had a baby in 2012 over two insurance years, and had to pay 2 years of deductibles which were on payment plans. We also moved cross country, and went 3 months without either of us working in-between jobs, which added on some credit card debt. So come January 2013 we realized we were sitting on $35,000 of debt, and only paying the minimum payments on everything. The rate we were at, we were going to be making payments for what seemed like forever, and quickly realized this was not the way we wanted to live.
One of the downfalls of Brian working in a job that is 100% commission, is that some months we could significantly contribute to our debt pay off, while other months we were scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by. So another way that we didn't totally follow Dave Ramsey is that instead of only keeping $1,000 in our emergency fund, we kept $5,000, knowing that some months (the slow months) we were going to have to tap into this.
In June of 2013 we found out we were pregnant again, and once I was through the worst of the first trimester, I added more hours to my schedule, and instead of working 15hrs/week, I went up to 30hrs/week. I had the mentality that I could do anything for 6 months, and if we wanted to significantly pay off debt, this is what it was going to take. More then once (more like every weekend I worked) I would begrudgingly go into work, however having the mindset that this was temporary definitely helped. We were gazelle intense!
Also in February, Brian started a new job that was again all commission, so those first few months not much money was coming in. At all. I look back on those months and wonder how we got by, but God provided as he always does, and we came out on the other side in the green.
June 2014, I went back to work, but instead of working like crazy, I worked an average of 12/hr a week. We eased off being gazelle intense, and instead paid what we could, but enjoyed life along the way. We also took my parents up on an amazing opportunity to move to one of their vacant houses, and rent out our house for some extra revenue. You'd think that decision would be a no brainer, but it was a tough choice for us to make to, not wanting to leave our newly purchased house, and not wanting to move, again, for the 6th time in 5 years. However wanting to put ourselves in a better financial situation, we went with our head and not our heart and moved to generate some rental income.
While I feel like most people start slow and ramp up, we kind of went the opposite. We never fell off the bandwagon, but the first year we paid off $25,000, and second year $10,000. Granted circumstances were much different the two years. We always kept the mindset that we were going to do our best to pay off debt, however we did buy a house, travel to Florida and Colorado, and went on a once in a lifetime vacation to St Lucia in those 2 years. We never ate rice and beans for every meal, actually we still bought mainly organic. I told you we are no financial experts....
However some things we did do:-Significantly cut back on eating out. Having kids big time helped with that considering going out with them is not fun at all...
-Started shopping 2nd hand for clothes. It amazes me how many cute, in style, brand name clothes with tags on are at thrift stores.
-Stopped shopping the clearance section at Target. I was really good at convincing myself because something was 70% off, it was worth buying. I'm learning that if I wont pay full price for it, I don't need it.
-Read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and let this book be our guide
-Made our own laundry detergent and household cleaners
-Learned to coupon
-Said no to many things. There were times when we wanted to go out, or buy something, but instead stuck to paying off debt.
-Continued to give of our money. It's really never our money to start with, so we gave a portion to our church monthly
-Instead of grocery shopping at Whole Foods, we grocery shopped at Aldi
-Stopped buying things we wanted, and only bought what we needed
And a few anti Dave Ramsey things we did:
-We still contributed to Brian's 401K with each paycheck. Brian's employer matches up to a certain percent, so we felt like we were throwing away money but not optimizing the employer match
-We still contributed to the boy's college fund.... don't ask me my reasoning, we just did.
So there ya have it! The nitty gritty of how we became debt free. Now onto building our emergency fund, and saving our money for a minivan, because I have minivan fever like you wouldn't believe.